Sunday, December 28, 2014

The 2015 Color of the Year and My Nomination for 2016 Color of the Year

Unlike last year’s cheery Radiant Orchid that supposedly evoked optimism and sophistication, Pantone’s selection of the muted, slightly muddled Marsala as its choice for the 2015 Color of the Year was greeted with mixed reviews.

Marsala, according to the Pantone’s press release, is the color that will enrich “our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability.” Its touted as a “subtly seductive shade” that promises to draw us in “to its embracing warmth.”

Well, not so fast, Missy.

Others have failed to see its beauty, spewing out less than favorable reviews. Most notably this from The Atlantic, “Think rust, the grimy, gag-inducing type that lines corners or frat boy dormitory-style bathrooms. Or blood, the freaky dried kind whose iron content has been exposed to the air long enough to evoke a dull brick.”

Jeepers creepers, when you put it that way, I’m not sure I want that around my house. But I actually like the burgundy tone of Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year.

More importantly, I like the name of it. Marsala. It reminds me of chicken Marsala, and, hey, what’s not to like about that tasty little dish? But I digress…

Still, it’s no secret that naming colors would be my dream job. I envision myself sitting in a fancy, schmancy corner office after traipsing around the world visiting exotic places (for inspiration) and coming up with extraordinarily creative names for colors for ordinary paint chips. And, all this, of course, while earning a bazillion dollars.

So Pantone guys and gals… I’ve already got your 2016 Color of the Year.

I call it “Taffy Tabby” reminiscent of Howard of the Shelter Cat. Here’s part of my bazillion dollar marketing campaign press release: “Taffy Tabby spins a luxurious mix of vibrant orange hues and esoteric vanilla enhanced creams evoking a fine zen-like balance between playful and serious.”

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it… why not me?

And Pantone, no need to thank me. Just pop my check in the mail.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Homes for sale in Red Oak & Selling Memories

I’ve never been much of a sentimental kind of gal. No siree, Missy. I trudge ahead, barreling forward rocketing into that great oblivion we call the future.  

I am not a looking-back-kind of gal.

So it’s a bit odd that I’ve been waxing a bit poetic and been a tad sentimental the past few days.

I recently sold a home owned by a former student of mine. At closing, she got a bit teary-eyed, and then that got the escrow officer teary-eyed. But, I (who remained dry-eyed) scurried off to locate a box of Kleenex. Finding none, I returned with a napkin I rustled up from the break room.

The sale was an emotional one for my client because it had been her first home. While she dearly loved that house, she needed to move on.

As I was driving back to the office, I made a mental note to start bringing Kleenex to closings because this (ad)venture in real estate has always been more than just selling houses. 

We sell memories, bringing the promise of new ones and new dreams.

And, at least for me, it’s a moment, a glimpse, a condensed vignette of a life moving forward with faith in the future.

I thought about my client again as I drove on down the road and realized I will always see her as that young teenager sitting on a blanket listening to Tom Petty belting out “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”

But isn’t that what we do throughout our lives? We're all just running down a dream… goin’ wherever it leads…

Monday, October 27, 2014

Howard the Shelter Cat & Pet Rent

Howard the Shelter Cat snubbed my latest idea that he should start paying his fair share in rent. I thought it would be a great way to supplement my vacation fund.

As usual, he just yawned and turned his whiskers aside showing his usual indifference to anything non-food related.

It's a good thing I'm such a sap for the furry guy. Otherwise,  he'd be getting his eviction notice speedy quick.

Apparently, charging renters an extra monthly pet fee is becoming more and more the norm, according to recent news reports. That extra fee is in addition to those hefty non-refundable pet security deposits. Most landlords are charging anywhere from 10 to 50 buckeroos extra a month for the privilege of having a pet.

The extra fees supposedly help to pay for those pet walkways, parks, waste bags and other expenses related to pets.

Lucky for Howie, we don't rent. We own a home. Chalk up one more reason it's better to own, then rent.

Still, if there were some way Howie could work just a bit for his room and board…

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Home Diva Unplugged

I wanted to post something interesting… and uplifting… and perhaps valuable. 

Instead, I've been feeling slightly snarky, and that snarkiness is flowing unabated like floodwaters after a torrential rain.

Heaven help us… We've got the Home Diva here Unplugged.

And that my friends is probably not a very good thing.

No siree, Missy. It's got me singing along with Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, "Got a real good feeling something bad about to happen…"

Since I launched my ad(venture) in real estate, I marvel at the number of people who aren't very fond of real estate agents and who begrudge agents a commission. 

I'm not exactly sure where these people think I live, but apparently they think it's somewhere in never-never land where I can work for free, pay my bills with monopoly money and eat pretend food. Jeepers creepers, if that were the case, I would look a lot more like Barbie than a Cabbage Patch doll. I'm just sayin'.

I wish I could blame the public's perception on Bravo's Million Dollar Listing reality shows where agents come across as self-absorbed prima donnas appearing to rake in a ton of moo-lah while barely breaking a sweat to complete a transaction. 

Instead, sadly, real estate agents need to shoulder some of the blame for this poor public perception. Like the public, I must say I have encountered agents who fail to return telephone calls, fail to communicate in a timely manner, fail to problem-solve for clients, fail to be pro-active, fail to ensure a transaction works… fail to… 

Well, let's just generalize: Fail to do their job. Period. Exclamation Point. End of sentence.

There. I said it. Yep. Home Diva Unplugged. I never said it would be pretty.

These agents are the ones who make it difficult for the rest of us who view this as a career (not just a job) and who really do care about their clients and providing excellent customer service.

When I started this (ad)venture, I read (and was told) that 90 percent of real estate agents drop out after their first year because they under-estimated the amount of work it takes to grow a business, and they didn't realize the financial cost of getting their business up and running. The costs–office fees, MLS fees, marketing, required association memberships, lock box and key card fees, insurance, brokerage commission splits etc.–come at a hefty price.

For me, that attrition statistic rings true. I think I'm the only one left in my office who started working about the same time I did. (An interesting little tidbit, don't you think? What can I say? I'm stubborn and snarky.)

And now, if we could just get those other ones in real estate brokerage firms all across the country who fail to do their jobs to move on… Well then, I think the public overall would have a more favorable impression of real estate agents, and perhaps, I would be a little less snarky.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

13 Years Later Remembering 9/11

There was a time when I walked through the day in a daze.

There was a time when I couldn't and wouldn't schedule anything on that day.

There was a time when I read vignettes from the 576-page Portraits of Grief book.

There was a time when I stared at the photographs of all the first responders who died that day.

There was a time when I tried to make sense of it all.

And so as we approach the 13th Anniversary of 9/11, I realize that life has crossed over into this day bringing bits and pieces of normalcy where none existed before. There are errands to run, appointments to keep, work to do.

And yet, 13 years later, I still have not forgotten you--each and every one who perished on that day. I still hear you like ghosts whispering in the wind.

I will always remember you.

I will never forget.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tips for buying a vacation home

Dear Home Diva,
What tips can you give me about buying a vacation home? --Ms. Summer Phun

Dear Ms. Phun,

Just like with your primary residence, you need to think location, location, location with your vacation home. If the vacation property is too far away or too difficult to get to, will you really use it? 

Experts recommend selecting a location no more than two hours away. Not only will it make it easier to enjoy your vacation home, but it also will make it easier to check on it and make repairs if necessary. According to the National Association of Realtors, beaches and mountains tend to be the most desirable locations for vacation homes.

Make sure you visit several times before you buy. Check it out during the off-season as well, so you know what the area has to offer. If you intend to rent out the property when you are not using it, consider the properties true rental potential and whether yours will provide the amenities vacationers seek. 

And don’t forget to put pen to paper and tally up the cost of not only buying the property but the upkeep as well. 

And finally, as always, find a realtor to assist you. --The Home Diva

Monday, May 12, 2014

All A Twitter About Followers

OK, I admit it. I felt a tad bit of excitement (maybe even a small flutter) when my iPhone bleeped and I saw that Top Agent Magazine was following me on twitter.

I’d like to think there was a real person sitting in one of those spectacular corner offices trolling through all the twitter feeds and landed on my latest blog post and said, “Wowie, Zowie, Kowie! Isn’t she just an amazing and insightful realtor!” (Notice I wrote “insightful” not “inciteful” although the later is probably truer.)

I’d like to think that person then buzzed the tech department and said, “Holy Moley, let’s start following this gal. She’s fab-u-lous!”

I’d like to think that person also notified the editorial department and screamed, “Stop the presses! I think we have our next cover girl right here.”

Yeah, I like to think a lot of things.

Like how I’d spend my millions when I win the lottery.

Or what I’d say to Oprah over a cup of coffee.

Or how I’d divide my time among a vast array of vacation homes.

Yeah, stuff like that.

In all likelihood, though, the real person sitting in one of those spectacular corner offices probably never even glanced sideways at my twitter feed or blog posts. 

Instead, it probably was some automated search machine scooping up key words and triggering twitter follows. It was probably just sheer luck that I happened to get caught up in their net. 

Their social media folks probably think that once someone gets a twitter following notification, that person will then return the favor. Since they have 11,200 plus followers, it appears to be working.

My social media folks are just me, myself and I. So yeah, go ahead and count me in. I returned the favor and hit the follow button. Let's see if that brings me any more followers.

In the meantime, I’m going to wait by the phone for the editorial department to buzz me even though my social media folks tell me it's a waste of time. What a bunch of killjoys.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Keeping It Real & Defining Oneself

Pretty soon I will be celebrating my one year anniversary since I started my latest (ad) venture in this world of real estate.

So let’s keep it real, Missy, and take a moment for something we all are so fond of—a little self-evaluation.

I went to an interesting seminar the other day loaded with tips on how to become a real estate listing machine. And, for an additional $900 or so buckeroos, I could sign up for a seven week dealio to improve my business life.

I wavered back and forth with the quintessential dilemma of “should I?” or “shouldn’t I?”  Right now, I just couldn’t squeeze it in with all the other stuff in my life. 

But all of that got me thinking, and jeepers creepers, we all know what happens when that happens. 

I kept thinking and stumbling over the word “salesperson.”  

I stumbled because I just don’t view myself as a salesperson, even though that apparently is the underlying definition of a real estate agent.

So that and because of my schedule, I put away my pen and didn't sign up (much to the chagrin of some of my office buddies).

I guess I’ve always defined myself differently. I view myself more as that person who wants to sit across the table from you and chat over a cup of coffee and guide you through the home buying or selling process.  That picture, at least to me, doesn’t quite fit under the traditional definition of “salesperson.”

I guess that’s because at my inner core I remain a teacher. I just changed my classroom from an industrial brick building and rows of desks to the comfort of your home and kitchen table.

Let’s see how that all works out for me in the coming year and whether that makes me a listing loser or winner.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nice Try But You Can't Scare Me Off

I read an interesting post written by Greg Nino, a real estate agent from Houston. He outlined his advice to people who want to get their real estate license. Sure wish he had written it before I opted to go into this latest (ad)venture. 

No, it wouldn't have stopped me at all. I just maybe would have had my eyes opened just a tad wider. 

The post was interesting to me because I'm less than a year into this latest (ad)venture of mine. 

It was interesting to me because I did have a few "AHA" moments, followed by some "Why in the Sam Hill didn't someone tell me this when I was asking a gajillion folks at the very start of my (ad)venture?!?!" 

And, it was interesting to me because, I also had a few "Well, duh?!" moments just like a seasoned veteran.  

After Mr. Nino  lists 42 reasons why someone shouldn't go into real estate, he does manage to end on a positive note. His 42 reason rant on why you shouldn't become a realtor wouldn't have and really doesn't deter me. 

After all, I taught high school for 27 years for crying out loud. It takes more than 42 reasons to stop me from doing something. You try keeping 30 or so kiddos with raging hormones entertained for 55 minutes--all while educating them with stuff that half of them don't care about or want to know, and let's see how that little gig works out for you. 

This real estate thing? A mere walk down the hall during passing period with a hall fight thrown in. I'm battle ready. You don't scare me, Mr. Nino.  So let's review just three of the 42 points he made and my little spin on them…

•Passing the exam is easy but creating a business with real income is a different story. Here I agree. At first, I guess I never really viewed my latest (ad)venture as being its own little business. I don't know why I didn't realize that. I should have realized that. Perhaps a more prudent person would have realized that. Instead, I guess I viewed it as more or less structured like a school. Each agent (teacher) working out of their own classroom (home office) but under one umbrella (the school and district in charge). It's that last part  I got wrong. Now I know, I really am the boss of me.

Mr. Nino claims the exam is easy, and I admit I really didn't struggle with it, but  as a former educator, I did have one big issue with that exam. Whomever makes up those convoluted test questions obviously was never a teacher nor a test maker. The goal of all good test writers is to actually test knowledge, not to write difficult to read or tricky questions.  I spent more time trying to figure out exactly WHAT the questions were asking me than actually answering the question. Jeepers.

•Now that you have your license, be prepared to lose friends and get your feelings hurt. I really wish someone had told me this one, but it really blindsided me. Everyone tells you to work your "sphere of influence"–friends, family and former co-workers. So naturally I just expected them to use me for their real estate needs. Instead, there were at least four people who didn't.  If someone had told me from the get-go,  I would have been less, shocked and angry.  

•Almost nobody will respect your time. Almost everyone thinks you are overpaid. Just as with any profession, I think if you allow people to not respect you or your time, that's what you get. If you allow people to walk all over you, they will. If everyone thinks you are overpaid and you don't educate or explain your fees, well their perception becomes their reality.  If you set boundaries and expectations, most will stay within those limits. I figure if it works with teenagers in classroom, it most definitely will work in this line of work.

So, the big question then, is why did I go into real estate since there apparently are so many reasons not to? 

Well, I enjoy being the boss of me. I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the hunt. I enjoy matching people to their dreams.

And who knows? Hopefully as an added bonus, Mr. Nino might actually be right, and the money might turn out to be good.