The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Yearly Archives for 2010

Winners!! Of Free Things!

This is a special Tuesday post to announce the winners of my giveaway yesterday (that was an announcement of the obvious. <-This is another of those. We could go on like this awhile…).

First I would like to thank everyone for participating. Participating makes you awesome. Well, actually winning makes you really awesome, but participating makes you still great in a slightly less fabulous way. It’s ok Participating Non-Winners, growing up in my family I was the participant and my sister was the winner. So I feel your pain. Maybe I should give all of the participating non-winners something and the winners nothing because they already get the joy of winning; what do they need free stuff for?

That sounds expensive. Back to plan A. Moving on.

Basically, if you did anything on the internet to acknowledge my new website, you were entered in the contest. If you commented or tweeted about the site or liked the Facebook fan page or liked any of my dozen facebook posts about it you were entered. My grandma even sent me a Facebook message saying she ‘liked’ the fan page and the new website. Which sort of misses the point of helping to promote the site by publicly liking it, but it’s ok, she’s 82 and I’m not sure she totally gets the internet (Love you Grandma Jean!) so she got an entry too.

And yes, I didn’t exclude people who are related to me. Please, that would drop my entries by half. Why should I hold the fact they are related to me against them? They already have the fact they are related to ME to contend with.

All in all there were 83 entries, so we have TWO winners!

Just so you know this was all above board, I used this random number generator to choose the winners. I even let Jonas push the button to choose the official winners just so you would know it wasn’t fixed at all. Plus, if it was fixed I would totally have made my sister the winner because I’m going to pick her up right now and I could just take us both out to lunch on her winning gift card. And she wasn’t the winner (SPOILER!).

The first winner of a $25 Paradise Bakery Gift Card and a Real Estate Tangent t-shirt is: Jessie Geroux!!!! She was number 6 on my list and number 6 was the first number chosen by the random number generator (<- obvious statements abound today). Jessie is a real estate assistant to her husband, Jason, who are both with my new brokerage, Thompson’s Realty.

The second winner of lovely free things is: Ann Carter!!!! She was number 14 on my list. Ann is totally not related to me at all. OK, she’s my Papa’s wife. She’s totally related to me. But like I said, no punishments for relatives, she still gets to win! Although I’m not completely sure they have Paradise Bakery in Florida, so she’ll get the equivalent if they don’t.

I will be emailing the winners today to get their shirt sizes and home addresses.

Again, thanks so much for chiming in and being a part of my excitement in the new website. This was so fun. No wonder the rich are so happy; they can just sit around and give away stuff all the time. Stupid rich people.


Holy crap and a half: IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. My new website is done!

I know, you totally thought it would never happen. You were predicting a status change on my facebook account any day now from ‘Married’ to ‘It’s complicated’, and then another in a few months to ‘Single’ while my poor pathetic website languished in 2005-design-land, weren’t you? You have no faith in my dear webmasting husband.

It’s ok. I had my own moments of loss of faith. Sadly, my husband and I both know if I divorced him I’d be screwed. Who on Earth would put up with me if he wasn’t around? I don’t know many men who would work all day on a Saturday and then stay at the office until 2AM finishing up his wife’s new website just because she announced in desperation, “I’m going to tear out all of my hair and eat it if you don’t get it done this weekend. And once I finish mine I will start on yours. In. Your. Sleep.”

But that is all in the past! It’s done and it’s glorious. Yes, yes, there’s still some features forthcoming. We’re going to beef up the MLS search and add a mortgage calculator. And I’m sure there will be some tweaks here and there in the upcoming weeks (months, years). Whatever. Right now I’m basking in the beautiful glow. He’s soo talented, doncha think? *Preening*

To celebrate the new look, name and function here at Real Estate Tangent I’m doing a contest/giveaway! The winner will receive a $25 gift card to Paradise Bakery (my favorite wifi/writing/gaining 10lbs eating lemon cookies and tomato soup spot) and a Real Estate Tangent t-shirt.

There are four ways to enter:

1. Comment on this post.

2. Like the new Real Estate Tangent Facebook fan page.

3. Comment on this post on facebook.

4. Retweet this post on twitter.

Every person gets one entry. If I have more than 50 people enter, I will pick two winners (and an additional winner for every additional 50 people, she said, wildly optimistically). Tell your friends, People, this is some good shit. Free cookies and sammies and whatnot. And a t-shirt you could totally wear to workout in.

Please tell me what you love, don’t get and/or would change about the new site. I’d love your feedback. Happy New Website day to you too!!

Subjectivity: In Homework and HVAC Repairs

You’d think there are lots of things in life that wouldn’t be subjective. Yes, ‘Does this dress look cute with this belt?’ is a question with a subjective answer. Also, ‘How many lemon bars can I eat before I’m so fat you’ll no longer find me attractive?’ is kind of a personal question. If I were to ask MY husband I think I’d get at least 15-30 (OK, I *hope*. Because that pan I made a few days ago is looking sort of empty.), but someone else might give me a -12.

Really, though, some things it would seem like should have a fairly black and white answer, right? I mean, ‘Is grass green?’ should have a pretty clear cut response, right? Likewise, ‘Can I drive my car from Texas to Hawaii?’ and ‘Do the Road Rules/Real World Challenge episodes just get even better the crazier, older and more alcoholic the people get?’ It’s an obvious Yes, No, Yes, there, doncha think?

Apparently, though, I should not assume that just because something seems like it should have an easy answer, it does. It’s important to remember people always have a point of view slightly askew from your own.

Take for instance, my eldest son. He’s 10 and in a new school this year. It’s set up like a middle school where he has 9 teachers instead of just the one he had last year. We were warned at the beginning of the year he would have way more homework and responsibility to get used to this year. I took it seriously and have been asking him regularly all the normal questions:

Do you have homework tonight?
Do you need any help with your assignments?
Do you have tests you need to study for?
Is there anything I can check for you?
How are you doing in your classes and on your tests?

In general, over the last semester the answers have come back like this: No, No, No, No, FABULOUSLY GREAT AND AWESOME (a variation of this is sometimes: oh you know, just fine. Perfectly fine.).

He was doing some homework here and there and I was helping him study for vocab tests and reviewing the occasional math paper or helping with a science project, but it was all pretty low-key. I was actually starting to think the whole ‘LOTS OF HOMEWORK AND PRESSURE AND HARDNESS’ drama they had spouted at the beginning of the year was just a boogeyman used to weed out the wusses. Or that maybe my kid was really just that much more awesome than all other kids ever. Oh this is the ‘high performing’ school for smart kids with good test scores? Yawn. My kid is kicking its high-performing ass.

Then, last week I got his third quarter progress report. Which looked more like a progress report from the Compton School for Derelict Boys Who Never Do Their Homework and Will Probably End Up Working for Auto-Zone and Living with Their Parents For the Rest of Their Lives.

Of course, when I talked to his teachers (which was no easy task with 9 of them to track down) the story they told was radically different from my son’s lovely-easy-happy-awesome one. He was just rampantly not turning things in. He was failing math tests. MATH. Which there’s just no excuse for. As a childhood-not-turner-inner-of-homework myself, I know you still learn the general concepts so that you can ace the tests. That’s how it works. You fail Social Studies tests, because who cares about that crap, but MATH is important. You USE it later in life. (I just had to go back and edit exclamation points out of the last five sentences. I feel strongly about this. Can you tell?) He was failing violin with utter abandon. GAH.

It’s a situation we’re still all coming to terms with. I have yet to extricate from my son where the breakdown in communication between ‘real life’ and the story he was telling me occurred. My sister (the high school English teacher) says it’s just that all kids are liars. My son’s no more horrifying than any other normal delinquent (I mean kid).

And OK, maybe that’s the truth. Maybe all kids are liars. But then how do you explain the story of my buyer under contract’s HVAC unit?

This one went like this (technical jargon interpreted by me. I’m kind of a genius about what-do-you-call-them… mechanical stuff)-

Inspector after checking out townhouse: Seems ok. AC is wonky, though. Split is wrong. (The split is the AC gnome who runs on a treadmill inside the unit to make it go. When it’s ‘wrong’ that means the guy is facing the incorrect direction and has pants on that are a size too small.).

First HVAC guy the buyer paid to come out and check the unit: The AC is totally effed. It’s leaking Freon into the walls and to find the leak we’ll probably have to tear out all of the walls in the house. (Freon is a sparkly green dust that makes the air colder. But if it gets into the walls termites will smell it and eat your house from the inside out because to them it’s like catnip. Or pot.) It’s going to cost either $1000 or $8000 to fix. But probably not anywhere in between.

HVAC guy the seller paid to come out and check the unit:
The AC is out of Freon, but other than that, it’s fine. The Freon is just leaking out of the edges of the unit in a completely non-invasive manner and once I refill it this will stop. (Sometimes this happens, and the AC gnome can jump off his treadmill really quick and seal the inside of the unit while he’s changing his pants and reversing his direction. But only if you have a really good gnome. Some are pretty lazy and like to attract termites to keep as pets.)

Sadly, the only exaggerations I made to this story were in the technical descriptions. The rest is pretty much verbatim. Guy #1: it’s screwed. Guy #2: it’s fine. They’re just like my son and his teachers.

So in this case, because neither of these people is 10 years old and assumedly the unreliable one, we’re getting a third quote tomorrow. I’m really crossing my fingers it doesn’t come back: The HVAC is totally fine. But did you realize you have a massive Radon emission problem coming from the master bathroom shower?

I'm Sorry; What Did You Want From Me?

Dear Internet,

I totally owe you a blog post for today but my brain isn’t working all that well so I’m just going to offer you the following examples of other things I’ve failed at in the last 24 hours just so you don’t feel alone:

1. This morning I was setting up showings, picking up my house for the cleaners to come, checking email, sniffing around to see where that odor of cat urine was originating from and applying makeup all at the exact same moment when apparently my multitasking abilities hit a maximum level and short-circuited out my brain. It was like when me and my mom and my sister all tried to use our hair-dryers simultaneously when I was a teenager and the fuse blew and all of the screens in the house began flashing, ‘DOES NOT COMPUTE’. Except this happened in my brain.

With a mascara brush in one hand and my eyes on the computer screen I picked up the phone to call a client to remind her to send me a document I’ve been waiting for and as the phone was ringing I became distracted by the pretty lights on my computer and forgot I was on the phone. My client said, ‘Hello’ and my entire mind went as blank as a sheet of paper. I couldn’t remember whether I had called this person or she had called me much less who on Earth it was.

I turned the phone’s face to me, hoping the number would jar a memory, but the 10 digits just stared back at me accusingly without providing any support whatsoever. Judgmental bitches. I spent the next 5 seconds (the longest 5 seconds that ever occurred in time) contemplating my two options: 1. Just hanging up like a 13 year old boy in a prank call gone bad or 2. Admitting to whoever was on the line that I had no idea who they were and looking like a mental patient to potentially another agent I had just called, or worse, a client.

Luckily, my client eventually (5000 milliseconds later) said, ‘Uh… Liz?’ which was enough to jumpstart my brain and remind me who I had called. Thank strawberry smoothies she’s known me practically 20 years and I’ve done way more embarrassing things than this in front of her before. I don’t think she’ll hold it against me.

2. In an attempt to be ‘helpful’ to a dear friend, I kept her eldest child overnight two nights ago while she was giving birth to daughter number 2. I borrowed her fold-up crib to let her baby sleep in and then forgot it at home when I returned the child. Of course, since they now have another baby who needs to sleep in that crib, they kind of needed it. Tonight.

As they live about 25 miles from me, I made a plan to drop the crib off on their doorstep when I was on that side of town for showings early in the day. I almost forgot to put the damn thing in my car as I was leaving this morning (3 minutes after the previous brain breakdown), but got it in the car at the last minute. I even stopped by the hospital to see the new little one and promised them again I’d drop it before heading back to the East Side (yo, Mesa, represent! What, what!).
Of course, I didn’t think of it again until I was back at home, seated at my computer 5 hours later and she texted me, ‘I didn’t see the pack-n-play on the doorstep. Where did you put it?’

3. My brand new fantastic amazing website is still not done. Oh wait, that’s just another way I’m failing you, Dear Internets. So it probably doesn’t make you feel any better to hear.

I’m 8.9 seconds from marching into my husband’s boss’s office and demanding that he let up on this actual-work-they-pay-him-to-get-done BS so that my webmaster can get back to finishing things for me that I really need completed. Unfortunately in this economic climate I’m worried that would be less ‘pro-active and assertive’ and more ‘insane and self-destructive’.

Love and kisses,
The Real Estate Agent Who Can’t Remember What She Was Talking About Just Now…

Buying After Bailing (Not to be confused with: Buying and Bailing)

I talked with some past clients/friends this weekend and they asked me the real estate question that makes even Google say, “uh… yeah, I’m gonna have to get back to you on that one,”: If I short sale or foreclose on my house, how long will it be until I can buy another house?

It seems like there should be a fairly clear-cut answer to this question, but despite the fact that I’ve heard it debated by dozens of agents and gotten information from several lenders on the topic, what it always comes back to is:

A. It depends.

B. I’m not sure.

C. As soon as you teach your baby to sing and learn choreography and she becomes a breakout Disney star and has the cash to buy you a house, but before she falls victim to the Disney child star curse and wastes all of her money on drugs, rehab and wigs to cover her freshly shaved head.

Assuming you love your offspring too much to put them through C and that you’d like a touch more information than B, let’s focus on the factors of A.

There are basically three issues with getting a loan after you’ve relinquished your house, whether it be through short sale or foreclosure.

Issue 1 – Your credit score. Lenders have guidelines about what range your credit score must fall into in order for them to loan money to you. Every time you miss a payment your credit score takes a hit. It’s impossible to know where your credit score will land after the process is complete. First there is the fact that the credit score algorithm is more inexplicable and unknowable than even the essence of life and soul and how they are tied together, more closely guarded and mythical even than the secrets of how Facebook decides which status updates go into your Top News stream. Next, we have to take into account what your credit score begins at, and then how long the process of short sale or foreclosure takes. Are you still paying your mortgage, or do you stop paying month 1 and then rack up 18 months of non-payment dings? Lastly, they say (and no, I don’t know who ‘they’ is. And yes, I’m suspicious ‘they’ is a palm-reader someone’s Aunt Millie consulted) a short sale will ding your credit less than a foreclosure will.

Issue 2 – The wait period in the lending guidelines by the Federal Housing Administration. These are actual timelines lenders have to adhere to in addition to an acceptable credit score. I have an email from back in July from a lender who listed the wait times for each of the different types of loans. She said if you had an FHA loan that you did a short sale on, you could potentially have no wait period (but only if you have no late payments and are left handed and were born with your second toe longer than your first toe but only on your right foot) and if you foreclose on an FHA loan, you will have a wait of 3-3.5 years. If you have a conventional loan and you do a short sale, the wait period is 2 years. For a conventional loan foreclosed on, she claims the wait is 7 years. I know I’m using a bunch of disclaimers here about this lender and what she ‘claims’, but that is just because of…

Issue 3 – All of the regulations and guidelines to this are constantly changing. Each lender also uses the guidelines slightly differently. As of the time I’m writing this, the most current information I was able to find about these guidelines is from last July. I’m not actually certain any of these time frames haven’t changed and I have absolutely no idea if they will be radically different or even just done away with by the time my clients are ready to buy. Maybe in 6 months the government will decide the only way to allow the housing market to recover will be to gift everyone over the age of 23.5 but under the age of 47.1 a yellow unicorn and abolish the system of FICO credit scores altogether. Or maybe the government will decide the only way to keep this disaster from happening again will be to punish people who foreclose by never allowing them to obtain a mortgage in any state but Ohio and only on houses with polkadots and stand-up showers but no bathtubs. These are things I just don’t know (though it’s possible Aunt Millie’s palm reader does… we should probably ask her).

The point of all of this is there are roughly 3.78 billion factors that come together to determine how long it will be until you are able to buy again after you foreclose or short sale your house. Many, if not most of the people who go down this road have no other choices. They must jettison the property (and likely more importantly, the payment) one way or another. The homeowner who is considering a short sale or foreclosure as part of a larger strategy for whatever reason just needs to be aware of the risks and potential pitfalls and ultimately, he needs to decide if it’s worth that leap into the unknown.

The Pros and Cons of Self-Employment

Pro of being a real estate agent: I am my own boss. If I don’t have anything super urgent going on at the moment (or the summer of 2010 as a whole), I can sit on the couch and watch an entire season of Arrested Development on Netflix while eating peppermint bark and wearing a camo-Snuggie if I want to without anyone yelling at me to get off my butt and file those reports! Not that I’m considering doing this right now. Stop judging me.

Con of being a real estate agent:
When I’m violently ill and something has to be done, there’s no one to pass it on to who can resent me for having the luxury of being home sick while they pick up my slack. I’m the only one left to resent me for being sick. I have to complete the task, continue to be violently ill and take on all the resenting that must be done all on my own.

Last Saturday morning started out lovely enough. At 9am it was the perfect temperature to sit in camping chairs on the soccer field in long sleeves and bask comfortably in the sun without feeling chilly or sweaty.

I had on the schedule:

Soccer games from 9-10:30am

Showings with a potential buyer from 11-1ish

Meeting to write up a BINSR with a different buyer after the showings

Not a heavy schedule, but I knew if I didn’t eat something first thing in the morning I wouldn’t likely get a chance until 2pm. As I have a tendency toward bizarre behavior like inappropriate giggling fits that take an abrupt left turn into sobbing jags when my blood sugar dips too far, I made a pro-active fast-food drive-thru run before the soccer game and grabbed an egg and roasted peppers breakfast burrito.

I need to interject right here to explain two things:

1. Eggs are not a super popular thing around our house. My husband hates them with the fiery passion of someone who once ate a plate of scrambled eggs as a child and then leaned over at the breakfast table and threw them up on the floor only to realize they look exactly the same partially digested and regurgitated as they had on his plate before he consumed them. I have always felt like I should like them more than I do. So every once in awhile I try them again and usually I feel nauseous afterward. Lately I’ve been feeling like maybe I’m actually allergic to them.

2. I often get stuck in a vicious cycle where I over think something and come up with a completely overwrought explanation (a zebra that is actually probably a horse, if you will). Then I over think my over thinking and decide I’m ridiculous and swing back the entire opposite direction. Then something happens that makes me feel like my original thought was correct and I berate myself for not listening to my own intuition. At some later point I usually decide again that no, I was being a crazy there. This is all called ‘being excessively self-aware.’

Anyway, Saturday morning as I was eating my breakfast burrito I was already midway through a vicious over-thinking cycle about eggs. I had decided, a couple of weeks earlier, after another failed attempt to like eggs, that I was really probably allergic and that I should just give in and start avoiding them altogether. But then, of course, when I drove through to get breakfast, it was tough to find anything appetizing that did not include eggs, so I decided on the spot that I was probably being a crazy and I should just get an egg burrito like a normal person and stop whining.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. The short version is that I made it through the games and the showings, but I began to feel sick within a couple of hours of eating that egg burrito. It started out the normal ‘egg-nausea’ feeling and quickly snowballed into ‘may have to pull my car over on the freeway to puke before I make it home to curl into the fetal position around the master bathroom toilet’ territory. I made it home before the bodily fluids began erupting, but let me tell you, some of the least pleasant hours I’ve spent on this planet were between about 1pm and 4pm on Saturday. And I’m including childbirth in that (what, I had an epidural!).

Of course, I immediately began the self-flagellation portion of the cycle and spent almost all of the sick-time agonizing over how I KNEW I was allergic to eggs and I was SO STUPID to eat them again. Stupid, stupid me.

You may remember, though, that I still had one more task on the to-do list for the day after the showings. I had a BINSR to write. A buyer’s inspection notice and seller’s response document about a house I’m currently under contract with for a buyer. Basically, this is the document the buyer submits to the sellers after they’ve completed their inspections to let the seller know what the buyer wants repaired to continue with the transaction. We have 10 days to do the inspections and by midnight on the 10th day this document has to be submitted or it is assumed the buyer accepts the property as-is and forfeits their right to cancel due to anything found in the inspection period.

Well of course we were on day 10 of the inspection period in this transaction. I usually write up the BINSR a couple of days ahead of time just to get it out of the way, but in this case we couldn’t get a roofing inspector out until Friday and I had just received the roof report that morning. I had told my clients I would call them early afternoon after I had finished with my showings and we would go over everything and get the sucker written up.

By 4pm I was standing over the toilet with puking-induced mascara tears running down my cheeks begging my husband to call someone else and tell them they had to do it because I physically could not leave the perimeter of the lavatory. Jason wisely advised me to give it another half an hour and if I was still just as sick, he would start making calls (to who, I’m not sure. I think was at the point where he was just saying anything he thought would possibly calm me down).

I did end up having a small window of time where I felt better enough to drag myself over to the phone and my computer long enough to get the BINSR written and emailed off. It may have been adrenaline or some kind of fight or flight response. For about 25 minutes I was that mother lifting the car off my baby. I got done what I had to get done.

Let me tell you, though, it was so very clear to me in that moment why it’s just really awesome sometimes to have a boss to call in sick to. Even if it means you can’t wear a camo-Snuggie while you’re working.

And just to complete my over think cycle: the next day two of my children came down with my very same egg-allergy. Puking and fever and all. Except they didn’t eat eggs. So maybe it was actually the flu and I’m not allergic to eggs after all. I still probably won’t ever eat eggs again, though. Jason was right; they do look exactly the same coming up as they did going down.

Offering Strategy for Non-Dummies

In the last couple of weeks I’ve written offers for two different buyers. Both offers were on non-shortsale properties and in both cases we went in low. The offers weren’t crazy-low, but in at least one of the two I was expecting a counter-offer. In both cases, however, the offers were accepted.

This is one of those ‘Yay!… ish… right?’ situations. While we were excited to have the offers accepted, the distinct lack of haggling made us feel like maybe we’d left money on the table. As the agent, I know I should just be thrilled that I obtained the property for my client at a price they found acceptable, but I’m kind of a cheapskate perfectionist, so the idea that we *might* have gotten it for even less gives me a little bit of an eyelid twitch.

When I go back through the information we had leading up to the offer, though, I know we made the best choice we could have. We accounted for the variables and played the odds. Could we have gotten the properties for a bit less? It’s impossible to know. We might have gone in lower and not gotten them at all.

I often have clients come to me with an offering strategy they want to use to obtain a property. Inevitably these are the clients who’ve seen 73 houses and this is THE ONLY ONE they can see themselves living in and being happy about. They then proceed to tell me we need to offer 20% under list price because they saw on the news the market is still sliding and they’ll be underneath the house if we don’t buy it for 20% under market value.

This is, of course, ridiculous for about 11 reasons that will make my head explode to detail out here (not the least of which is that 20% under ASKING isn’t the same as 20% under MARKET VALUE, you dummies) but it leads me to the six factors that come together to form a non-batshit-crazy offering strategy. These are the variables you need to take into consideration on each individual property in order to come up with a smart offer that will give you the greatest chance of acceptance at the lowest price:

1. Days on market – If the property has been on the market less than a week, it’s unlikely the seller is going to go for a lowball offer. Period. End of story. Don’t argue with me, sshhhh, no really, ssshhhhhhhh. We can wait a month and if it’s still on the market, try for a low offer, but as of right now, they’re going to tell us to ‘eff off.’

2. Comps – We’ve determined that YOU like this house and the pricing they had it at got us in the door, so it’s pretty likely it’s not radically off the market value, but you never know. We really need to see what other houses in the area have sold for recently to make sure what we’re offering is neither too high, nor too low. This can also give us a decent idea of the competition involved. If it’s priced at $220K and the same model down the block sold for $250K 2 weeks ago, this one is going to go quick, and it’s likely going to take an over-list offer. Conversely, if it’s a lovely house, but super over priced, you might not even be getting a decent deal with a lowball offer. It’s possible these sellers need educating.

3. Other offers – Just because a house shows ‘Active’ on the MLS, that doesn’t mean it has no offers submitted. A decent listing agent waits until the offer is signed, accepted and in escrow to put the listing pending. Before we even begin discussions about a price, I want as much info as I can get from the agent about offers. Sometimes an agent will tell me he has an offer but it’s not full price and sometimes he won’t even tell me how many offers he has, just that he has at least one on the table.

4. How bad do we want it
– Are you going to be utterly devastated if we lose this house? Is this the one and only house you will ever be happy raising your farm of Pomeranians and cuddling with your Star Wars action figures in? Or is it only ‘right’ at the right price? If you have to have it, we don’t have the luxury of taking a risk on price. We need to go in with an offer we’re pretty sure will be accepted. If you’re ‘meh’ about the whole thing, then a bit more risk is suitable.

5. Market conditions – In 2005, you couldn’t expect to close a deal for less than 10% over asking price and an appraisal waiver. That was an extreme case, but what’s going on in the market is always relevant and factors into an offer.

6. Overall strength of our offer
– If you are giving the seller everything else they could possibly want (quick close of escrow, no seller concessions, cash, etc) you can expect to wring the very best price out of them. If you’re FHA financing, with a tiny earnest deposit, a 60 day close of escrow and you write in that their fancy stainless steel front-loading washer and dryer convey, they’re going to be less likely to accept your $50K under offer.

If HGTV tells you differently on a show called, “Only Suckers Pay Anywhere Close To Full Price” please take a deep breath and repeat the mantra, “I will not make my real estate agent loony with unrealistic expectations.” 10 times before calling me.

Property Managment is NOT for Me

I’m in Con Ed hell. No, not that Nicholas Cage movie. That’s Con Air. Con Ed is much scarier and there’s even WORSE hair involved. It stands for Continuing Education. I have to take 24 hours of Con Ed every 2 years, and I always, inevitably leave it until the last minute. I was always that kid in high school who hadn’t even read the book the night before the paper was due (I was too busy reading what I wanted to be bothered).

At this point I’m 3 months out from my license renewal deadline and I just started my classes. You’d think I’d learn. But of course, you’d be wrong. If I would just learn to take one class every three months I would be fine. Maybe I’ll do that next time. And maybe Jonas won’t burn down the house before he reaches the age of 7. You never know. Miracles do occur.

Today I sat through three hours of Contract Law on the new Arizona Department of Real Estate Approved Property Management Agreement. I’ve been registering for classes only based on whether they fulfill the hours I need and whether they fit into my schedule, so when I walked in and took my seat, I didn’t even remember what I had signed up for.

As I don’t manage property, it wasn’t a class that was super relevant to my work. The material was interesting, though, and I picked up some new stuff.

Things I learned In Property Management Con Ed:

1. Holy crap there’s a LOT of legal liability in property management.

2. I thought I dealt with the crazies, but apparently I only get the crazies who are sane enough to support a reasonable credit score. Property Management gets the real fruitcakes.

3. The tax paperwork and implications involved in being a Property Manager are enough to keep me far far away from that profession.

4. is a good way to find out if the house you’re living is current on the mortgage.

5. is a great way to find out (and track for legal purposes) whether an email you’ve sent has been read. I might have to start using this in my personal life for those people who refuse to respond to my emails (you know who you are).

RVC and Why Tucson RULZ (Shut it, Haters!)

Sometimes your favorite real estate agent takes a vacation. It’s true. I know it seems like we’re your doctor or your teacher and it’s weird when you see us at the grocery store because who knew that we ingest food and buy things like Windex and yogurt with active cultures to promote healthy digestion? But we do. And of course, I wrote about what inevitably happens when we do go on vacation this summer, but I’ll paraphrase: the universe rains down business making it nearly impossible to adequately prepare for and enjoy said meticulously planned and already paid for vacation. Ah, Universe, you jokester, you.

I went on a vacation last weekend. Even though it was only a quick little 44 hour jaunt to the Old Pueblo (Tucson! Home of The University of Arizona! Sun Devils can suck it!) the trip required a fairly ridiculous amount of coordinating schedules, childcare finding and flying out, meal planning and groceries for when we were gone and the like. Add in an ear infection, a listing going under contract, a new client in town to view town houses and a broken garage door all in the few days right before we left and by the time we got into the car, I was wondering why we even bothered in the first place. Wouldn’t it be easier and more fun just to carve spears out of chopsticks and shove them under our own toenails?

That said I did manage to get antibiotics and groceries. I got the listing all contractually settled and inspections scheduled. I showed property to the out of town clients and got the garage door repaired and back to working order. I did NOT get the house clean or the laundry put away. Superwoman, I am, apparently, not.

But amazingly, I’m sure only because I was scheduled to leave town, my out of town clients chose a property from the 8 I showed them to write an offer on. I have to admit I have an intense love/hate relationship with the Realtor Vacation Clause. Yes, it sucks that I become so swamped with work it’s difficult to prepare for the trip, but it’s nice to have the business moving forward. How often have I showed a client one set of houses and had them write an offer? Um… let me think for a second… 1, 2… carry the 5… oh, right NEVER.

Luckily, the house my clients wanted was a bank owned property and the banks are closed on the weekends, so I was able to hold off on putting the actual offer together until I got home. I also managed to completely enjoy my trip, once I got down there and shook off the stress and drama.

I’m sure there are a bunch of AS-Poo lovers out there just waiting to comment about what a dusty hole Tucson is and how can I even like going down there. This is my website, however, so I’ve got the definitive word on the subject (in as far as Land goes):

ASU is an ugly, soulless, consumer-driven campus powered by orange, faux-tanned silicone boobs. UofA a gorgeous, creative community that thrives on hard work, culture and a desire to help our fellow man. If you actually prefer the Sun Devils to the Wildcats, Tempe to Tucson, you clearly have no soul either and probably visit the Humane Society just to punch puppies. It’s because of you unicorns are extinct.

My trip to Tucson was actually a 10 year reunion of my old crew in college. We came back from far lands to gather, drink, eat fabulous food and shoot the shit just like we did more than a decade ago. I was nervous things would be awkward or strange because it’s been so long since we’ve all been together. Some things were different, but it was amazing how similar the general feel of the group was. It was fabulous to catch up and just bask in the glow of the old group. Even the tag-along spouses and significant others fit in like they’d always been around.

Highlights of the weekend:

• Over breakfast the first morning we all went around the table and told first where we thought we’d be in 10 years when we’d graduated and then where we think we’ll be in 10 years from now.
• Karen to Eric, “So basically you’re an aspiring cult-leader.”
• Touring the campus and feeling old because of the insane number of computers available in the student center.
• Corn pancakes with sweet jalapeno syrup, a ham and cheese on sourdough topped with Béchamel sauce and melted provolone, backyard barbeque carne asada on homemade tortillas.
• The haunted room at Hotel Congress which turned out to be not scary at all.
• S’mores and margaritas over the bonfire.
• Visiting the UAMA (within 100 feet of which Jason and I met, had our first kiss and got engaged at various points over the last 13 years) and seeing the exhibit.

My college roommates! The lawyer and the doctor. Not that I feel inferior or anything.

Hotel Congress is like staying in 1954.

Adorable store next to where we had breakfast on Saturday.

Worst group photo ever.

Making the Switch from Gold to Blue

I finally did it. I changed brokers. I am now officially an agent at Thompson’s Realty (or a Thompsonite, some people call us). Let me tell you: it’s been a long time coming and it was not a pretty journey.

Leaving a brokerage is kind of like breaking up with a boyfriend. You always think going into it that you can stay friends and remain amicable. You loved each other once, and even though you can’t be together, you should still be able to treat each other with care and respect. One of you is always the one who wants to leave, though, and the other has hurt feelings which quickly turn into resentment and bitterness, reinforcing the leaving party’s decision to split. People say obnoxious things and steal old sweatshirts and CDs as mementos. Occasionally they stalk each other (what, you’ve never stalked an ex? Just me, then?).

Suffice it to say my old broker said some things I hope he eventually looks back on and regrets. However, as a gal who still keeps in touch with almost every long-term boyfriend she ever had (most of them were at my wedding), I feel confident hurt feelings can be overcome and in the end, we can all be friends.

So just in case you’re wondering what made me make the big leap from the safety and security of the gold blazer to the relatively small world of Thompson’s, it breaks down into three reasons:

1. The commission structure is way better. In the beginning, when I first started out in real estate, I needed someone to hold my hand and teach me how to run my business. I was willing to pay the big chunk of my commission required by my former brokerage to have someone help me through it all. As I’ve grown and learned I have had less need to lean on my gold jacket mentors. I’ve become ready to stand on my own and oh-so-very-much-a-lot ready to keep more of the commissions I bring in.

2. I respect the Thompson’s Realty business model. Jay has been blogging for roughly 8.3 million years and is widely respected as one of the most popular real estate bloggers. Many (if not most) of the agents at Thompson’s are big into Twitter and other forms of social media (blogging, vlogging, Facebook, FourSquare, Shnoodle [I made the last one up. But you didn’t know. You either had no idea what any of them were, or you knew them all but the last and just assumed it was the latest cutting edge thing you hadn’t heard of yet and were impressed with how tech-savvy I am. But then I ruined it by confessing.]). The office is of the ‘virtual’ variety (I was introduced to the office and the public via blog yesterday). The agents all seems to believe heavily in collaboration and technology. All of these are ingredients I want to bake into my business plan cake.

3. The people at Thompson’s are just sort of MY PEOPLE. Yesterday I was added to a group text thing they have set up for all of the agents at Thompson’s. You text one number and it goes to everyone’s phone with your name so everyone knows who is talking. This is how the first 7 texts went:

Hi, you’ve been added by Jay Thompson to the ‘Thompson’s Realty’ group text!

Shar – Yay!

Francy – Hey, Elizabeth, you’re going to love the group text!

Dean (who I totally know pretty well and has been bugging me about coming to Thompson’s for months) – Who’s Elizabeth?

Elizabeth – omg, I already LOVE the group text, yay! And suck it, Dean!

Francisco – Who’s Dean?

Jay Thompson has removed you from the group.

At which point I became a little paranoid that ‘suck it’ was more ‘locker room’ talk and less ‘first day at a new job over text to people who I don’t even know’ talk and that I was removed because I was in trouble. After about an hour of silence this all started funneling down in a shame-spiral manner during which I berated myself for my rudeness and vulgarity. Eventually I sheepishly emailed Jay asking why I had been removed from the text group. Agonizingly long minutes later he replied that he was fiddling with the phone ap for the text group and I must have accidentally been taken out.

Email from Me: Oh. Phew. I was afraid ‘suck it’ was not work-text appropriate and I was in trouble.

Email from Jay: Actually, my response to Francy after that text was, “well she fits in perfectly”