Sunday, April 2, 2017

Nesters and Investors

A couple of weeks ago, I read a book with the title, House written my Michael Ruhlman. Not a nail-biting-page-turner-can't-put-it-down kind of book for the masses, I suspect.  I, however found it very interesting.   As I was saying in my previous post,  it is the love of houses that keeps me semi-attached to my job as a Realtor. Conversely, it is the dislike of working with crazed buyers and sellers that is accounting for the semi-disconnection to my job.  It would make sense for me to put my real estate licenses on hold in the various states to which I am professionally bound, if for no other reason than not having to deal with their yearly renewal processes.  BUT, the thing is I continue to love to research the market, see all that is for sale and visit homes.   Now you might just think this is me being nosy but it's more than that.  I am fascinated with all things dealing with houses and how people connect with them.

Was there a time that bad floor plans redefined cultures?

In the case of Mr. Ruhlman, he tells the story of why he moved back to his hometown of Cleveland from New York City to buy a 100 year old fixer-upper. The book basically is a memoir of how he, his wife, along with their two small children searched for an historic home, lived in the attic for the better part of a year during renovations and the reasons he yearned to do this and why his wife didn't.  He admits that he felt something akin to  a fish swimming upriver to it's native spawning grounds to get back to the place he grew up in.

Michael had grown up in one home for the 18 years before going off to school, while his wife had moved  numerous times with her parents growing up.   She hadn't really connected to a place that she considered as "her home town".  Clearly these two have different visions of what constitutes a home. In their case, he yearned for a feeling of inclusion to a community.  He needed to know the neighbors, be near extended family, and be part of the continuum of his history into the future.  His wife wanted a decent house that met their needs and she would of preferred it to be in New York City. She conceded that Cleveland would be a good place to raise their kids.

There often seems to be a huge divide between how people connect to a residence. Some people depend on their home to be their sanctuary, while others merely consider it a stop gap from being caught in the rain.  Being emotionally invested  to a home is inherently different that  residing in house where the scope of your commitment is calling it  your "current address".

Often, I can get a sense  of  how emotionally connected a buyer or seller is to their home within a very short span of time. There are times, however, that people are hard pressed to separate the nostalgia and sentiment of their house from the financial and the investment potential. Most buyers and sellers can claim they are being objective but nearly every sales/purchase transaction has at least some emotional component causing someone to emotionally implode.

Removing outwardly signs of emotional attachments from peoples homes seems to be a trend.  When I started real estate, for example, people cleaned their homes, put away the clutter, made some repairs and such to get their home ready to market.  Then a couple of decades ago, STAGING happened.  At that point people started redecorating their homes prior to selling them so they could get top dollar.  To accomplish this they were more concerned  with the aesthetics of their house than either the functionality or the preventative maintenance.  At that point the flow of the floor plan garnered the same amount of value at the quality of the countertops or the size of the master closet.  This process of making homes more impersonal added the extra level of removing personal belonging and any type of personal memorabilia.  Photos became verboten.

Yes..the pendulum swung even farther.  Now homes are being stripped down to the bones prior to sale because there is a trend that says that buyers need to imagine their own things in a home so the seller must clear out any sign of personalize.  Pictures on the wall...heaven forbid!  Rooms painted anything other that subtle, trendy colors, don't even think about it! Even furnishings are being sent to storage to make "rooms appear bigger".  All of this, of course, is subjective.

Beyond the point of buying or selling though...there seems to be the nesters, investors, and dissenters
, .  Sometimes people are both.  The nesters of the world, love their homes and continually make them "their own".  Now "making them their own" is unique to every person.  To a minimalist it may be barren looking to most of us or to a hoarder it may be suffocating to most of us but then it's not really OUR home is it?  They don't care if their home appeals to the masses.  The investors are more cautious and want their home to appeal to the majority of potential buyers.  They make improvements based on possible future buyers than doing whatever they REALLY would love to do to their home.  The dissenters don't care about whether their house is their sanctuary nor do they care what someone else thinks of their house either.

Of course, it really doesn't matter how emotionally invested or detached a person is to their residence unless it is colliding with the point of view of the other people that reside in that same residence.  OR if they need a Realtor to help them buy or sell their house.  In that case. let's try our best to start behaving like investors.

So, my readers...are you a nester, an investor, a dissenter or a combination of two or more of those.  Do you love and cherish your home or is it a place to lay your head for now?  

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Is That Your Home or Is That Your House?

Shall I bore you with shop talk today?  I have been working on a few real estate transactions as of late. As most of my regular readers know, I have been a Realtor for a very long time. In fact, I have all but retired from it at this point.  However,  every once in awhile, I get a call and can't force myself to say NO.  I can only attribute this to, perhaps, the first signs of senility.

Every time I dip my toe into a real estate transaction, it reminds me why people should retire at some point from their jobs.  For me it's the blatant reminder how "unfun" the process of dealing with anything linked to banks, large amounts of money and people can be. It could be said that for most people the process of spending or trying to recoup large amounts of money doesn't bring out the best in their personalities.

Plus, a lot of things have changed since I got my first real estate agent's license in the mid-1980s.  Most of it "not for the better" as it relates to working in the real estate industry.  BUT, I have to say, I still find the topic of homes and how people live in them fairly interesting.  I am a sucker for those in our society that still put value in their home for it's sense of well being and security as opposed to just four walls and a roof.  After 35 years of doing this, I can quickly size up the "nesters" versus the "residers".   How these groups buy and sell homes is decidedly different. (More about that later...just a spoiler alert that will be another post)

Anyway, circling back to my current tasks in real estate, some dear friends are retiring and needed to sell their house to "downsize".  This deal was easy-peasy because our friends are sane.  I know one shouldn't have to make that distinction but given that most people lose their minds when selling or buying a house, the fact these folks didn't needs to garner your respect and admiration for them.  They priced their house well, it was spotlessly clean and they were agreeable, friendly people during the negotiations.  Hallelujah!

In one of the other deals  in play, the other agent involved called the sellers "salty dogs".  Does that give you an indicator how well that is going?  But this is the new normal, now.  In most deals there is a contentious environment. It's the buyers versus the sellers versus the agents versus the bankers.  With all that being said, there are sometimes ineffective real estate agents, (load of them, in fact!) crummy mortgage lenders, dishonest sellers, and naive buyers.  There are valid reasons for real estate transactions to be volatile.

As for all of the unnecessary animosity being so common today, it seems to be where society has landed in so many scenarios.   Negotiating just seems to have gotten more difficult for people over the years.  A common theme seems to be that expectations are set high and willingness to compromise is set low.  That  seems to be the current trend.

 In the dark ages when I began working in real estate, people buying homes were evaluating the  "bones" of a house.  Prospective buyers would walk through a house and look past any of the decor and contemplate things like the floor plan, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and (most importantly) if the price of the house reflected the quality and condition of the home. There was less emphasis on everything being exactly fine-tuned to the buyer's tastes.  Buyers weren't so quick to assume that they were being cheated and seller's didn't seem to be so fixated on getting more than the neighbor down the street because that house didn't have the beautiful custom mural of Augusta National Golf Course in the den. Who wouldn't love that?

 Sure there are still some buyers that are willing to take on a fixer upper for the right price. (thank you Chip and Joanna Gains and/or the Property Bros.) but for the most part people want what they want.  What they want currently is for  everything to be perfect  and it probably should include hardwood floors, granite, and stainless steel....oh and they want the house to be a steal of a deal.

Yes, there certainly been a lot of changes in the industry in the 30+ years that I have been involved, Probably two of the greatest impacts would be the Internet and HGTV.  It's changed people's expectations on how buying or selling a house should look and feel.  It's not quite as fun and entertaining as the house hunting TV shows might imply.

Ultimately, even removing my cynicism and the constant drip of nostalgia that reminds me of an easier time, I do LOVE when people find a home.  Not a HOUSE, mind you....but a home.  These are two very different things.

To Be Continued....

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It Wasn't Curiosity that Killed the Cat

Brace yourselves!  I don't want the shock of seeing a new post from me to cause any cardiac events.  Honestly, steady yourselves because with healthcare insurance in a flux, you may or may not be covered.

After a non-stop deluge of activity around here (and none of it particularly exciting) I have a bit of time to chat.

Just to catch you up a bit....we have been on a never ending "remodel" of our house.  What started out with the intention of remodeling one bathroom but that quickly morphed into multiple rooms getting a major "redo". Clearly, we are insane.

If my mind and house weren't in enough chaos, we had out-of-town guests for a few days last week.  Now...don't misunderstand me!  I love having guests.  Truly, I do!  Just come and visit me and I will prove it to you.  BUT...and this is a fairly hefty is often hard to entertain people that are very different in their interests and/or tastes than you are. No criticism, you understand.  It's just a case of different strokes for different folks.

This became painfully clear last week while trying to entertain people that live very differently in every aspect than we do.  That is not to say that their life is any better or worse than ours... but just different than ours.  Living in a large metropolitan city of over 3 million people is not everyone's lifestyle choice.  I get it!!  Traffic, congestion, lack of personal space seems to make people crazy if they are used to rural living.  I totally understand that.  I have lived in rural areas and small towns and find the peaceful, wide-open spaces wonderful.  Unfortunately, if you are staying in my guest room, I can't remove it from the geographical area of Kansas City.

Which is leading me to today's subject.  If you were in a new location (even if it was for a few days) aren't you even a least bit curious about "what's things are interesting?", "what is there to do?" or "what is there to eat?"  Are you a curious person????

Hubby and I are both major players on team "curiosity".  We are the type of people that drive the back roads to wherever we go, pull off the road to read historical markers, and visit museums that no one would actually consider to be a "real" museum. In cities that we are unfamiliar with, we seek out the local points of interest with the same fervor that the FBI tracks down one of the most wanted.

The subject of how different people's level of participation in "things to do and see" became evident recently when we were visiting a local museum here in KC in the River Market part of town.  There is a museum here that houses a pre-Civil War steamboat,  paddle wheeler (Steamboat Arabia) that was dug up from 45 foot under the Missouri River.  It sunk in 1856 while hauling 222 TONS of pre-Civil War goods to towns along the Missouri River.  Thanks to the glorious mud that sealed off all manner of air and light, the cargo came up not showing a bit of wear and tear.  Well...except for a mule that went down with the ship....he doesn't look quite as good as he did when the boat sank. I was saying about people with regards to their level of curiosity...there were a couple of people from New York in the tour that were totally fascinated by the artifacts and asked a lot of questions. (LOVED THEM!) and they mentioned that they had dragged their Kansas City relatives whom they were visiting to see the museum.  The Kansas kin folk had never visited the museum and it was apparent to me and anyone that saw them there was a definite lack of enthusiasm on their part for the sight of an enormous paddlewheel that was hauled out of the muck of the Missouri River.

Two days later while we continued to  force-feed our guests more KC tourist attractions, we signed up for the Boulevard Brewery tour.  AGAIN... I see different levels of enthusiasm among the crowd for drinking free beer.  OK...even if Boulevard Wheat or Pale Ale isn't your alcoholic cup of tea...IT's FREE!!!  Let's show some enthusiasm, folks.

I realize this need to see all that is to be seen stems from a long line of curious kin folk.  You might remember in long ago written posts,  that even as a small child riding around on the rear deck of my dad's old car (safety be damned in the 50's and 60's) we stopped to see every Civil War site, haunted house, cave, or "odd" museum that was in the continental U.S.  If there was a point of interest to be seen off of some random state highway, it beckoned us to stop and savor it's greatness.  There hardly exists a state that I haven't traveled the back roads to see some funky and unusual "claim to fame".

So, my blogger friends...I invite you to come to visit any ole time you want but beware that you will be wrangled into eating at old dive barbecue joints, visit random museums,  traipse around Country Club Plaza  and  you may possibly be forced to drink free beer.  Don't say I haven't warned you.  I hope you like adventures.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

I am a big fan of romance.  I swoon over tales of true love and adore tales of happy endings. I delight in  hearing people's stories of how they found each other and formed a mutual love.  (Sadly...I am also pragmatic and realize that  some of those anticipated happy endings didn't  always come out the way one would of hoped.)    Still....I tend to be a sap for stories of love.

I find it fascinating how miraculous it is that among the thousands of people we have met (or will meet) that we manage to find a person to love and be lucky enough to have them love us back.   To be fair, I guess it's not so much luck as it is choosing well.   Of course, there might be a bit of luck needed to recognize the person we are choosing,  for who they really are. 

This morning I was driving to the gym and heard the radio announcer proclaim that today was the most romantic day of the year.   Yes, today....  February 14th, ....the pressure is on.  We are to dig deep into our hearts (and possibly our wallets) to express our devotion for our mate, partner, husband, wife ....someone???...anyone??????

If you follow all the advertising and is the day for a grand gesture.  Flowers, candy, jewelry seemingly is the way we are supposed to recognize the amount we are loved.  One jewelry store chain comes right out and says that the quality of a diamond is an indicator of your level of devotion.  Forty-six (ish)  years ago when I chose my engagement ring I was going for beautiful while being "affordable" more than a measuring tool but I might of not been enlighten to how that was supposed to work.  My then boyfriend now husband, who was home on leave from the Army probably would of sprung for whatever I chose as his mood was pretty happy to be "home on leave."
Even then, I just wasn't into needing grand gestures.

As with all things.. some of this leaves me a bit conflicted about Valentine's Day.  (I'll bet you sensed that already, right???) The romantic side of me likes to think that loving gestures of the "non-purchased" kind are exchanged within couples 365 days a year and that not too much emphasis is put on a person to come up with a  "purchased" gesture for a single day.

Not that an occasional grand gesture isn't a great thing  but for me when I tell hubby that it really isn't necessary to buy me flowers, (which he is prone to do) candy, gifts  or any token of affection...I MEAN it.   Seriously, I am not one of those people that say don't and then get pissy because "someone" didn't.

On the subject of Valentine's Day....there is an anti-Valentine's Day contest going on over at  Life By Chocolate: Robyn Alana Engel's Blog.  It appears that I am not the only one that has some alternative/conflicting thoughts about this holiday.     I entered a few cartoons that leaned towards the lesser romantic leanings of the holiday. 

Crabby is trying to cut down on her use of bad words. wonderful readers, I hope you have someone that is worthy of doing a grand gesture for EVEN if it isn't needed or expected.  Have a great Valentine's Day.

This is how my other house mate would convey a sweet sentiment.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's Kind of a Big Deal

A few weeks ago I was reading an article in USA Today about a survey conducted by the Sesame Street Workshop organization.  As I have a vested interest in Sesame Street by the virtue of parking my two children in front of their program pretty much non-stop for the bulk of their pre-school years. (Don't judge me). In my defense, moms in the 1970's were brainwashed into thinking that Mr. Rogers, the Electric Company crew and the cast of Sesame Street would turn our uneducated 3 year olds into reading and spelling prodigies. Who knows??...  Maybe my children's later successes are in large part due to the efforts of Big Bird.  Sadly, I never sent him a thank you note.  Bad manners on my part I suspect. Regret is an evil emotion.

Well...Back to the subject of the survey.  Sesame Street is now in it's 47th year and tackling the subject of kindness with an emphasis on empathy. According to the article both teachers and parents are worried that today's kids are growing up in an unkind, unempathetic world. Sesame Street creators are going to try to enlighten the little heathens among us by teaching them  how to recognize kindness, emulate it and  how they might look at something from another person's point of view.

I have to think that this is a complicated mission.  The survey included the opinions of  2000 parents and 500 teachers and there seemed to be a lot of confusion between those surveyed as to what is constitutes kindness. Kindness means different things to different people. There is a lot of gray area between using good manners and truly possessing a generous spirit toward others.   If this  murky, undefined  concept of "what exactly constitutes kindness?" wasn't enough of a hurdle for their survey, there were many that questioned "what is the difference between empathy and sympathy?"

After the survey result were in, Jeffery D. Dunn, the CEO of Sesame Workshop said "This survey confirms our concerns. It is time for a national conversation about kindness."

Jennifer Kotler Clark, a researcher at Sesame Workshop said both parents and teachers overwhelmingly felt that being kind was more important than being academically successful. (Note: Hey kids...try using that line on your parents when you get a bad grade.  "Sure I got a D in Algebra but I sure treat my fellow classmates with the utmost respect.")

Kotler Clark went on to say that during the survey they substituted words to represent kindness including empathy, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, politeness, and manners.  When asked which is more important manners or empathy, 58 percent of the parents said manners. Katler Clark suggested that maybe parents assume if a child is mannerly that they are also empathetic. Not so fast, she cautioned.  Bullies are great at using good manners around adults.

While  the parents thought that manners were more important than empathy,  63 percent of the  teachers  ranked empathy as more important than manners.  Only 30 percent of the teachers said that parents are raising their children with values consistent with their teachers.  OUCH!!  Fifty percent of the teachers surveyed said they felt that being kind is not a top priority.  (Did they mean from the perspective of the children, the parents or themselves?  Hey teachers!...use complete sentences.)

According to the article, research has proven that self-regulation, and pro-social behaviors in children are a predictor for future health, financial stability, and academic success.  Supposedly, kids not only need to see and recognize examples of these types of behaviors but they need to practice them.

Rosemary Truglio said that this year Sesame Street is making kindness a top priority. She said they want to make it more explicit. (I am assuming she means that in a good way.) The show wants to get beyond the niceness of manners. (Although....let's not gloss over that too much...manners matter.)

So what's your thoughts, readers?  Is empathy being taken over by narcissism?  Are children not seeing and recognizing behaviors that teach them to be kind?  Collectively, are we becoming a civilization of  people that choose not to care how others feel?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Off to a Slow Start

New Years Day has come and gone and I have yet to scream and shout at the top of my much I want you all to have the BEST YEAR EVER!!!!

So let me do it now.  I am screaming it out at this very minute.  Can you hear me???? 

I know a few of my regular readers have mentioned various illnesses, broken bones, ongoing hangovers, incarceration (OK...I might not be entirely clear on that person's excuse).... but all in all... other bloggers seem to have  really valid reasons why they haven't posted or read blogs as of late.  I, on the other hand, will go with the general "catch all" excuse of being busy.  I realize that it's rather vague, unimaginative, and lacking of any detail but it also sounds far better than the words lazy and preoccupied.   

Our last house guest left 3 days ago and I no longer get  to sit around and talk someone's ear off, ply them with baked goods and haul them around Kansas City in search of the best barbecue  joints therefore, I should be getting caught up soon...real soon.

As I am now left to my solo endeavors in a amazingly empty house, I could/should  get crackin' on my list of things I resolve to accomplish this year.

I am not a resolution maker per se.  BUT....every January I feel the need to reevaluate, reorganize, and continue my quest to find balance in my life and home.  Oh yeah..  and let's not forget the all but obligatory.....I resolve to eat healthier and exercise more just like  99 percent of the population will resolve to do. 

I don't know why but every New Year I feel a pull within my soul to clean every closet and drawer within the confines of this house and decide what can stay and what must go.  It is only after the local charity drop off facility bans me from returning due to their space constraints that I  start to feel like I am accomplishing something.  Somewhere in my subconscious,  it seems, requires that having things tidy at the start of the year gives me a  boost for getting  the year off to a strong start.  I have no proof that it matters but still,.... we annually  spend the necessary time to get everything clean and organized in January.

I wish that I could clean up the other messes of the world as easily as a person can clean out a closet and divest it of the old and worn items.  I am wanting  generous amounts of "shiny and bright" to be infused in all things this year. Did any one else feel like 2016 was lack luster?

Here's hoping for a New Year that has more civility, less violence, more consideration and less contentiousness.

Hope your year is off to a wonderful start! I wish for you shiny and bright!