Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Random Year End Wrap Up

So, this is going to be quite an eclectic, scatter brained blog. I have so much to tell and so many cool things going on! I also have a rant building up that I just can't avoid!!!

Plarn--so today I met the mom of the person renting our other house. She was quite a unique lady!! She introduced me to a wonderful product she calls Plarn. Basically, she takes plastic bags (like grocery store bags) and cuts them into strips. She then weaves things out of them. She gave me a little mat of the stuff that she says is great for scrubbing pots and pans. she then showed me a picture of a KING SIZE bedspread she made out of the Plarn. She also had a purse made out of it and two huge laundry bags. I told her she needed to set up an ebay store and she said that she only gives it away. It was so cool. She had a little beret that she made for her granddaughter. She uses different colored bags to make patterns and everything. I was very impressed.

New House--Well, we moved. We are in the house and are in the middle of making several fairly lengthy renovations. First up is the kitchen--we are totally re-doing it. Cabinets, flooring, appliances, countertops, the works. Its pretty exciting but stressful at the same time. One of our first big "oh NOs" happened yesterday morning when Cindy woke up to find no water in the house. We assumed something froze so I spent the next few hours trying to figure out what froze. Finally Dad came over and discovered the water line running into the house was only about an inch under dirt right where it comes in. Totally unacceptable!! I foamed in the hole and covered it with about a foot or more of straw until I can get more dirt on it.

Gutter Helmets--here is a tip for you homeowners--don't get gutter helmets. I don't know all the brand names and such but basically I am talking about the little caps that are placed over the top of the gutters in order to keep leaves out of the gutter. The screens are a little better, but not much. The house we just bought has these caps on them. In a light rain they work great. In a heavy downpour, the rain just washes right over them. This has caused the dirt around our house to settle and wash away and almost all of the foundation is exposed. This also allows water to settle against the blocks (and slowly creep into the basement--not good!).

Success--2010 was a very good year for me business-wise. I started selling real estate in September of 2009. I sold one house in 2009. I sold 15 in 2010. I more than replaced my teaching salary in my very first year. Additionally, I had fun doing it! I got to help people with a very daunting task and I got to know some really awesome people in a way that would definitely not happen if I was still teaching. It was not all perfect, there were some downs. But the ups FAR outweighed the downs. Funny how God does that isn't it. He took what appeared to be a very bad thing (the first time I got fired, ever in my entire life) and gave me the drive and path to make a career for myself.
Bigfoot--so Santa got Jonas one of the coolest toys ever made. You probably saw it at Target in the little plastic box. It is Bigfoot. Bigfoot does flips, throws tantrums, sleeps, excercises, plays ball, cuts the cheese, and all manner of other stuff. So far, my dad and Derek Hickerson have enjoyed it more than Jonas. In fact, Jonas is actually scared of the thing. He will not touch it if it is turned on.

Taxes--Ok, my last random point. The smartest thing the US government ever did was to have employers take income tax directly from employee checks. This process almost completely detaches emotion from the taxpayer. In fact, most Americans are so detached that they are HAPPY when they get a return. In other words, because the system is so complicated, you were not able to calculate exactly what you owe and thus you paid too much to the government (AKA lent them money interest free) and the government is going to give it back to you and you will be grateful for it. I am learning a valuable lesson in my new adventures of self-employment. You really don't know how painful it is to pay income taxes until you are self employed. I had a cashiers check made today for my quarterly filing. I actually felt physical pain because of it. I understand that I have to pay my share and that I benefit from living here. I am ok with paying a reasonable tax. I am NOT ok with so much of the frivolous and wasteful spending of the money that I (very painfully) sent in. I never felt this strongly about it when the money was never in my possession to begin with. Now that I see my bank balance decrease by 4 figures (and I know it is much higher for some) once a quarter, I can actually feel the pain. Very strange indeed. Very much an eye opener!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glimpse of the Future

Ok, so first let me say that this blog has the potential to and probably will offend some of my friends. I am sorry if it offends you but sometimes people need to read the truth. As most of you know, I was a high school teacher for 4 years and I am now currently helping out at the Boys and Girls Club in Murfreesboro with the teens. What I am about to write comes from my experience in these two jobs. My only hope is that I can convey my feelings and observations in a totally objective and constructive way.

I have seen the future of our country. I am worried. I know that every generation looks at the next youngest generation and says, "oh no, they are lazy and have no respect and our country is doomed." I am aware of that. I know that my parents' generation said that about my generation and their parents said it about them. This is not that kind of rant. I am aiming this more at the parents (people my age and slightly older). I am scared that this group of "parents" is in the process of eroding the American way of life by creating self absorbed, ignorant (and proud of their ignorance, by the way), leaches that blame everything and everyone but themselves for their woes. Now begins the rant...

When I taught at McEachern High School, I met one person in particular that taught me a lesson I treasure and will absolutely never forget. Suzanne Willis has Multiple Sclerosis and was my department chair. MS is a degenerative disease (I don't know much about it) that basically makes her somewhat paralyzed from time to time. Suzanne would keep a wheelchair in her classroom in case a bad spell set on. She also told her students this--"I know that some of you have things that you have been diagnosed with--ADD, ADHD, anger issues, etc. You will not use that as an excuse in my class. I don't use my MS as an excuse. I know I have it and I work harder on days that it does not affect me so that I can work through it on days it does. You have the luxury of knowing one of your main problems. Adjust to it, overcome it and NEVER use it as a crutch." This is absolutely beautiful. I WISH that everyone adopted this philosophy. I get so frustrated when kids get diagnosed with some mysterious ailment and then proceed to tell everyone around them that they can get away with stuff because of the ailment. Here's the kicker--I don't blame the kid. I blame the parents. The kid is like water and electricity--path of least resistance. If I do something stupid and have a cop out--and haven't learned integrity and ownership--I am going to take the cop out. If the parents allow--even encourage this--it becomes part of the kid's character. I don't know how many times in school I saw a parent actually take a kid's side because of the kid's "anger problems" and argue with a teacher or administrator to let the kid stay around after a fist fight because the kid doesn't know how to control himself. That is completely stupid!!!!! And parents, IT DOESNT HELP THE KID!!!! WAKE UP!! An employer is not going to care if your little baby has ADD and that is why they couldn't meet their deadline. A judge is not going to care that junior has anger problems and that is why he assaulted his girlfriend.

But wait, I'm not done. It is becoming increasingly cool to be ignorant. Look at pop culture. We REVEL in stupid. On one side of things we have people saying we are falling behind in test scores and the world is leaving us behind. On the other, infinitely more powerful side we have "Short Bus Shawty" and Jersey Shore. On one side we have No Child Left Behind and on the other we have txt spk and kids that can't freakin' write a complete sentence--OMG! And are the kids ashamed? NO WAY!! I know it has always been uncool to be a nerd. I know that I have pretty much always been a nerd. I NEVER witnessed the level of harassment about making good grades that I see now. It is unbelievable.

Finally, lets talk about self absorbed leaches. Many of the kids (and this probably goes back to just before my generation, really) see nothing but their little world. They feel that everyone owes them something just because they are here. Many have never truly had to work to earn something. It is especially scary to me to see this. Why? Because this leads to a dependent society. When their parents are finally tired of supporting them, who will? I will. We have more tax takers now than we do tax payers. The more dependent our society becomes, the deeper the divide between the haves and the have nots, the takers and the supporters. I don't want to take ANYTHING from the government except what the constitution spells out, defense of our country and our way of life. Aside from that, stay out of my life. Unfortunately, this mentality is becoming increasingly more absent. Instead we have people--parents and kids-- saying "what are you going to give me." And they get offended if you say "nothing, earn it." Some even get violent. Take the club for example. It is a privilege for kids to attend there. There is so much for them to do and so many opportunities for them. Do they act appreciative? NO WAY! All they want to do is take and never give back. It is an absolute torture for the teens to speak to the 5 and 6 year olds that look up to them. It is unthinkable that they might have to clean up after themselves. Respect for the staff members that give up their time to be there with them for minimum wage? NO WAY!!! We are there to make their life miserable--even though it is a privilige--not a right--to come to the club. It is unbelievable.

This is my rant. Feel free to disagree, argue, tell me I am a so-and-so, whatever. Of course, feel free to agree and add to the discussion as well.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Got Permission

Ok, so the tease is over. This is a true story and one that needs to be shared. For the record, I am absolutely not telling this story to make fun of my wife. It was one of those life moments that occurred and most people will find to be a "real" moment and one that they can possibly relate to. I think it is something that either already has or absolutely should be integrated into one of those "family sitcoms."

Monday was Jonas' 4th birthday. We were having an awesome family day. We woke up and went to Chuck E. Cheeses' and played for a while. Then we went to lunch at Demos' (Jonas wanted spaghetti and we wanted Demos'--perfect!). After that we headed up to Nashville so I could turn in some stuff at the office. Jonas and Cindy played on the Wii while I got my stuff done. Then we went to the Zoo and played on their epic playground. All during this Jonas was getting his birthday presents one at a time. He got a new pair of cowboy boots (with Buzz and Woody on them that light up!) first thing, then he got a new movie to watch in the van (that didn't work at first, of course), then he got a new book to read when the movie didn't work. Well, the last present was given to him after we visited the Zoo. It was a little Betta tank. We then drove down Nolensville Road to the Aquatic Critter.

Cindy had been collecting information from all of her fish afficianado friends for the past 3 or 4 weeks and was an informed customer. We went straight to the Bettas and Jonas picked out one on each row. Finally he settled on one (I think because it was closest to the floor and easy for him to point to). We got the fish in the bag and went out to the van. He was so very excited. He picked out a name--Jonas. I said, are you sure? What about something more exotic, like Phillipe? He said yes, Phillipe. Then 5 minutes later it was back to Jonas. Cindy then told us all about how Bettas are Asian and live in rice patties and jump from one patty to another, etc. I was quite impressed with her knowledge (you know me, I am a trivia nerd). We got home and unpacked the little tank and she took charge. I washed the tank out (no soap, just several rinses). Then I had to rinse the little gravels. Well my dumb self tries to do that a little at a time in my hand. This of course led to several gravels going into the food disposal (nice and noisy later). She gave me a nice little strainer to finish the job (it worked much better). So at this point we have the little plastic plant and all the purple gravels in the little tank. She says the water has to be between 70 and 80 degrees. So I turn on the hot, and try to make it perfect. She gets the meat thermometer and holds it in the stream (I of course think about pregnancy tests, don't know why). We get the water to a perfect 80 degrees and fill the tank about 3/4 of the way up. We add some kind of almond oil extract conditioner stuff and I go to pour the fish in. She stops me and says that EVERYONE said not to mix the water the fish is in currently with the new water in the tank. I asked why. She said she didn't know but that EVERYONE said so. I say ok, whatever. So we proceed to pour water out of the fish bag a little at a time. I realize that there won't be enough water in the tank so I propose filling the tank the rest of the way. We do that, again, with perfec 80 degree water. Then she goes back to pouring out water a little at a time. The bag is really long so she wants to cut part of the bag off (like when the bag of chips gets low and you cut the top half off so you don't get your arms all nasty reaching in). She does this and goes back to pouring--slowly. I jokingly say, "don't put Jonas down the garbage disposal." She says, "don't worry." No more than 15 seconds later, PLOP. Jonas goes into the garbage disposal. We both freeze for like 3 seconds in utter panic. Jonas (the human) was in the living room (thankfully). I say, what are we going to do!?!?! Meanwhile, Cindy already has her hand in the disposal. She is freaking out and gets ahold of the fish. It slips out of her hand and she gets him again. Finally she pulls him out and plops him into the tank. By this time I am ROLLING with laughter. She of course does not find it funny at all. The fish just kind of hangs there in the water with his little side fins moving very rapidly. I just knew she had broken him. We take the tank into Jonas' room and watch him for like 30 minutes critiquing his every move (waiting for him to start floating, really). I start talking about how much I need to share this story and she bans me from speaking about it. Finally, she relents and says that if the fish lives a few days, I can share the story. Well, Jonas the fish is alive and kicking and I get to share this story. I hope you enjoyed it.

This is Jonas the Fish

Friday, September 17, 2010

Social Media

It has been a while since I last posted. I promised myself when I started the blog that I would be diligent. Well, I guess I lied to myself. Bad Harmon!!! Anyway, today we had our annual Weichert Sales Rally. It was really cool. I rode to Huntsville with two very cool people, Jessica Harrison and Tony Torres. I truly am blessed to have such cool colleagues at my office. We had great conversation the whole car trip there and back.

So the focus of the sales rally seemed to be on use of technology and social media. It got me thinking--from a non-realtor perspective, how effective is social media as part of a marketing strategy? In other words, when you see me post a new listing on my Facebook, what is your knee jerk response? Where is the line between posting things about my business as part of my life and posting things about my business as just part of my business? I never want to be the guy that people can't stand because all I talk about is business. I want my business to just be a natural part of my life and I NEVER want to be "that guy" that is always trying to sell something. So, if all this rambling makes sense to you, I would love to read your thoughts. What is good and proper use of social media for business, rate me on my use of social media, and just generally weigh in on the topic.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


So last night was awesome. I took Rick, Matthew, Jonas and Tyler to the demolition derby at the Wilson County Fair. It was a sort of cultural awakening for Rick and Tyler. I mean, really, how great is it to have 18 huge old cars in a mud pit purposely running into each other in a sort of "king of the hill" battle royale? This experience generated a great conversation on the way home.

Before the event started they had an invocation asking for the drivers' safety and for everyone to act "sportsmanlike". We discussed how pop culture brings God in sometimes and how it is good/bad/misguided/lacking/and comical all at the same time. Think about it, "Dear God, we are going to line up these cars, crash 'em into each other and we want you to protect us from harm. By the way, we are going to put poisonous snakes in the car with us and a few sticks of dynamite. Please don't let us get hurt." This conversation of course segued into a discussion of pop music references to God, both purposeful and "implied." When Amy Lee sang "Bring Me to Life" did she mean to start a rumor that Evanescence was a Christian band? How does one interpret that song other than as a spiritual reference? What about the song "The Little Girl" by John Michael Montgomery--is it possible that Jesus is literally there with a child when the child is in that type of situation? The Bible does mention "the angel of the Lord." Do pop culture references to "God" or even to "god" show a deep societal longing for spitituality or do they show irreverance or is it something else entirely?

What do you think? I really just want to open this up as a conversation. You know me, I love spiritual discussions and would love any insights/thoughts/rants on the topic. Keep it civil.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It Just Grinds My Gears

Ok, so I know that the last blog was a bit of a rant. Here is another one. You know what bugs me? We have a county with well over 200,000 people and in this county we have the largest undergraduate university in the state. What bugs me is that other than a very small handful of businesses that might have a little bit of stuff on their signs outside, you would never know about the university!!!! If you drive through Knoxville, there is NO mistaking that the University of Tennessee resides in that town. For those of you who didn't know, MTSU football is poised to have a very successful season this year, for the second season in a row. Doing so would propel the program into a very nice position nationally. Before you get all up in arms and say that "we focus too much on academics, yadda, yadda, yadda," remember that football is (aside from tuition and state funding) the biggest money maker for a campus--period. If the football team stinks, the entire university is seen in a different light (I am not debating on the rightness or wrongness of this fact, I am simply stating it as fact). Last season was a good one. A lot more people started coming to games and wearing blue. It was a really nice shift that occurred among the fans. The crazy thing is, I did not see that shift occur among area businesses. This entire town should be painted blue. Every business from I-24 to Rutherford Blvd. should be flying blue flags and saying "Let's Go Blue" on their signs. It is time for Murfreesboro businesses to wake up and acknowledge the 25,000 plus students in their midst. Perhaps they wouldn't all go home on the weekend if they thought you wanted them around!! In the meantime, support the university and show some pride in the home team!! I don't care if you like UT, fly your orange and hate Lane Kiffin. Just show some pride in what we have RIGHT HERE also. NOW IS THE TIME--SHOW SOME MTSU HOMETOWN PRIDE!!! 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Professional Courtesy

Ok, so this blog will be somewhat of a rant followed with a question and opportunity for you to rant a little too.

My Rant:
As you know, I am a Realtor. As a Realtor, I have homes listed for sale. Other Realtors show those homes to prospective buyers. Sometimes the buyers want to buy my listing, sometimes they don't. When they don't, I, just like every other Realtor, want to know why. It is not necessarily to try to persuade them otherwise, it is more to let my homeowners know what is wrong with their home and why it has been passed up. We call it "feedback" on our showings. Pretty much every Realtor out there tries to collect feedback. Some call, some email, some do both. I normally call but started having trouble with people not giving much. They would say, "my clients put an offer on another home." I would ask, "ok, can you tell me what was wrong with my listing?" The other Realtor would say, "Nothing, they just put an offer on another home." WOW! That is helpful!! When I am asked to give feedback, I ALWAYS provide some specific criticism and some specific praise of the home. I know it helps the other Realtor and helps the home owner. I don't want houses sitting on the market for ANYONE. It looks bad for our market! I want other Realtors' clients to see what is wrong with their home and price it down until it sells. I want someone to know their house smells like pet urine and clean it before someone else comes through. I believe in professional courtesy. I don't ask much of people that view my listings. Don't get it dirty, leave a card and provide feedback. My new email system gives them an easy way to give feedback. It also gives an easy way for folks to ignore the request. Point in case, I had a showing at my personal home late last week. I sent the email requesting feedback. Nothing. I sent a second one. Nothing. I sent a third one. Nothing. I then called and asked for feedback. I got the "Nothing, they put an offer on another home." Her excuse was that she didn't have her notes with her. I buy that. That has happened to me (when it did, I called the agent back as soon as I got my notes). Thats why I sent it via email--answer at your leisure, when you have your notes. I don't get it. Am I the only courteous one out there?

This is one of the more discourteous things in the real estate world. I am SURE you all have very specific things that happen in your line of work that are discourteous. I would love to read your rants so that I don't feel that Realtors are the only rude ones out there!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Real Estate Tip

Ok, so this blog is almost entirely real estate related (with a personal twist, what can I say, I am a storyteller). Here is the tip--ALWAYS go on a second showing when you think you have found "the one" home. Did you read that? ALWAYS have a second look.

Here is the story. Cindy and I have had our home on the market for a little over a month now. We have been looking at homes here and there waiting for one to inspire us. Well, last Friday we went through a home that we absolutely loved. Immediately the rose-colored glasses came on. The floor plan was awesome, the hardwood floors were great, etc. etc. The problem was, as soon as we left we couldn't remember so much about the place. We couldn't even remember exactly what color the counter tops were. Cindy, in her infinite wisdom, pointed out that if we couldn't even remember the counter tops, we DEFINITELY didn't need to move on this home until we looked at it again. Plus, she said we needed to have our parents look with us because they would each have a different perspective. What a great idea she had!

Last night we looked again and discovered all manner of things that really turned us off. First, Jonas and I each have a fairly substantial allergy to pet hair and to cigarette smoke. This house had both. Worse-they tried to cover it up with a heavy air freshener--yuck! The upstairs trim was brown and all the air ducts were brown--yuck. So, right away, we would want new carpet (just upstairs, downstairs was all hardwood and tile), new paint--even the ceilings and trim, and a professional air duct cleaning. Then as we kept looking we noticed that the white cabinets in the kitchen were actually a sort of yellow color. They were those vinyl wrapped plywood cabinets and had become very discolored. Plus, several of them had actually melted--like they spilled something hot on the cabinet faces. There were some other little things, screens busted and one or two little settlement cracks (not bad at all for Rutherford County). Finally, we noticed that the hardwood had some kind of film on it. Not sure exactly what it was but we would definitely want it off. Anyway, we left with a much less rosey picture of that home. : (  We haven't ruled it out but we would definitely have to get a GREAT deal on it. Right now it is just an ok deal.

The moral of the story--when you go looking, have a list of things you want, a list of things you don't want and a list of things you could live with. Check off the list and make sure you look a second time before writing an offer. It will save you all kinds of heart ache (or sinus ache in some cases!).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tales from the Tent

Well, it is finished. We survived and did fairly well. All that is left is to return merchandise and settle up. Last night after clean up we went to O'Charley's and reminisced about some of the more interesting moments. One thing is for sure, doing something like a fireworks tent, you see ALL kinds of people. We had everyone from the lady that needed to put on a small show (she only had $20 to spend) for her daughter because her deadbeat ex-husband got drunk and did not take the 9 year old to the Nashville fireworks as promised to the guy that came in and said "I have $1,000 to spend start putting stuff up at the counter". Below you will find some good stuff. If anyone reading this has some other memory from the tent that I forgot, feel free to type it up in a comment.
Great Stories (in no particular order):
Parker "Freakin" Burgess--So I had Parker Burgess on my "back up" list. I called him on Tuesday to see if he could fill in for someone that called out. He came in on Wednesday and we had our employee of the month. From minute one that kid sold like his life depended on it. Some of his highlights include selling a United We Stand (48 shell mortar) to two guys on BICYCLES!!, upselling someone from 2 boxes of snap pops to a $34.95 multi-pack, and working a marathon shift on his very first day. He also genuinely listened to people and tried really hard to get them stuff that would make them happy.

Dude lighting a Dyno Mighty Mite right at the entrance to the tent-- A Dyno Mighty Mite looks like a small stick of dynamite. It has approximately 15 M-90s in it. Dude comes in, buys one and then he throws it into someone else's car. This car happened to be right in front of the tent (not even 10 feet away). I reached for my pistol and started out the tent after him, he peeled out of the lot before I got to him. Good for him.

The "Drunk Parking Lot"-- For some reason drunkenness leads people to want to park in the mud. We had several people park in the dirt behind the tent instead of making the long 40 foot drive to the paved side of the tent. I already recounted my story about the dude backing into the mud in a 2 wheel drive pickup and getting stuck, only to throw mud on his wife/girlfriend. Tracy had a few drunks park back there too. So, the moral of the story is, if you are drunk and you go to a fireworks tent, park in the mud.

The Bank Robber--One day when me and Michelle were at the tent this older gentleman and his wife pull up in a mid 90s model Lincoln Towncar. He seemed like a very gentle spirit while she was loud and sort of obnoxious (but in a good way). She was definitely the one in charge of this particular transaction so I started talking to her about what they wanted. Meanwhile, the man was chatting up Michelle by the register. The lady and I picked out several items and brought them up. I had noticed that the man was talking to Michelle about God and asking her about her pastor, etc. When I got up to the register he gave me and Michelle each a copy of a book called Held Hostage. He caught me up to speed--he was a bank robber for 12 years and spent time in jail for it. While in jail, a CoC preacher converted him and now he travels the country with his story doing book signings. The cool part is that he said he felt led to our tent to share his story--nothing is accidental he said. It was really cool.

The Gangsters--LATE one night Gary, Dad and I were in the tent. Gary was playing Wii, I was straightening up merchandise and Dad was hanging out. A car pulls up and doesn't pull in. Four thuggish looking guys get out of the car. Three of the four match (black pants, plain white shirts, black hats, gang tatoos) and are very, very quiet (except that one of them asked where they were). The one that didn't match did all the talking. They walked in in a line and very slowly walked around the tent--looking at everything. I did all the talking for us and acted very non-chalant (all the while I had my hand on the handle of my .380). I glanced at dad and he had his thumb looped under his shirt so he could draw his pistol quickly. I also took notice of Gary--who was now sitting down with his hand under a shopping bag (a shopping bag where the resident 9mm laid). I think they noticed our positioning (Gary watching 2/3 of the tent and dad watching the opposite 2/3 while I kept facing them and staying in front--we made a nice little triangle, very defensive position) and decided this was not the tent to rob. The did need an exit strategy so they bought some bottle rockets and snap pops and told us how they were gonna go back to Nashville and "pop off" all their firecrackers. We wished them a good evening and took a very deep sigh of relief. Was it profiling? Absolutely. Were we wrong? Maybe. Most of the cops we have talked to don't think we were wrong.

Coastal Friends--Again, me,Gary and Dad in the tent. Two dudes come up in a customized Suburban. As they get out, we notice that they look somewhat gangster-ish as well. Dad decides to chat them up about some tatoo work (did not look gang-related). Come to find out that one guy is from South Central LA, the other is from NYC. They did not know each other until they met in Nashville, just by chance. Come to find out that they had very similar backgrounds and grew up in very similar neighborhoods--just on opposite sides of the country. Now they are best friends. Oh, and the best part--he had a 600cc GSXR IN the Suburban on its side. We joked about them getting the bike in because both of these guys were pretty big (at least 250 each).

There were so many more great stories. If you ever want to really do some people watching--go to something like our tent. You see the real people. It is so much better than any "reality" TV show.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alcohol + Craving Fireworks + Mud = Funny Story for me in my blog!

So, Saturday night I'm getting ready to shut down (about 11:30) and I hear tires spinning behind the tent. I step out and see this 2 wheel drive Chevrolet stuck in the mud right behind my tent. The driver's wife and friend (I learn the connections later) are outside trying to push this truck out of the mud. I, of course, being who I am, say, "Stuck?" They just kind of look at me. For about 5 minutes they push backward then forward trying to get it out. Finally the wife and friend get behind the truck and give one good push just as the driver hammers down on the gas and the mud flies all over the pushers but the truck gets unstuck. I did the best I could to stifle the laughter. I was not very successful. While they wheel into the parking lot I notice something very interesting, there are no tiremarks to the spot they were stuck, only ruts out. This means only one thing--THEY BACKED INTO THE MUD!!! I of course laugh even louder with this revelation. Anyway, I meet them in the tent and learn that the driver is named Joey and the wife is very drunk. They look around a lot. They pick out some stuff, including a MOAB. I get everything up at the register and the drunk wife is too drunk to make a decision. They left. Fastforward to Monday night and they show back up! I asked him if he washed his truck and he just laughed. I asked her if she layed off the Long Island Tea and she got embarassed. Anyway, they ended up buying the MOAB and all was well.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Heat Goes On...

Well, it is HOTTTT. How is that for a captain obvious statement! This has been quite a week! In less than 6 days I sold two of my listings and will probably write an offer on another home. I also have an investment offer out right now for the bank to look at. All the while, I am sweating my (fill in body part here) off in this tent. I've lost 7.5 pounds since Friday of last week. And I have been hydrating. I just don't want to eat a whole bunch.

Funny Stories from the Tent:
Tracy said that the other night was the night of drunks (a Tuesday of all nights). We had one guy drive his pick up in the dirt behind the tent. She said one guy's breath was so strong she caught a buzz just by talking to him. Said I missed all that.

Today it rained for about 3.5 minutes. Just long enough for me to run around and drop the sides and get soaked. As soon as I was finished with the sides, the sun came out and the humidity went to about 7458920747089%. I then promptly rolled the sides back up and got even wetter because of the sweat and the water that had collected in the vinyl. Joy

We have a groupie! This one little kid has been in here 3 times in the past 2 days. He always buys a little something. Today while the kid was shopping, I took Jonas out to meet his mom. I told her, "I've gotten to know your son, here's mine." She thought that was funny. Turns out, she knows my mom and dad. Go figure.

Real Estate Success--so I figured out the key to kickstarting your real estate business--open a fireworks tent! I have the possibility of making 4 sales in the 2 weeks I have the fireworks tent. I've already made 2 and have one submitted, just waiting on the bank. I will probably have one more in the next few days. Thankfully Tracy has been helping so much at the tent.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Up and Running!

Wow! What a past few days!!

It all started on Friday...We got the initial stages of the tent set up--got the tables and a few other items placed. Then we had an issue with the electrical supply--namely--how to get it to the tent! By 10:30 Friday night we had a plan and half the supplies. We also had some high quality help from Dennis Blair and Gary Rinehart. On Saturday, we all worked the hottest wedding in the history of Tennessee at Bicentennial Mall. It was 95 degrees in the little bit of shade and about 110 on the stone area inside the carillon bells. We had 2 workers (my mom and Kaitlyn Rinehart) get sick from the heat and they had 3 guests fall out (2 during the ceremony!). After it was all over, we all agreed that it was the easiest money we had ever made (jk). During the wedding I had a showing at my place, a showing at my Murfreesboro listing, a showing at my Cane Ridge listing, and another showing at my house scheduled. Then the folks that looked in Murfreesboro scheduled a second showing!

Sunday morning started out with a bang--I received an offer on the Murfreesboro house and had to get my fireworks start order at basically the same time. I got some serious help from my dad and made it happen. We countered the offer and they accepted. Now we are tying up loose ends on the paperwork but it is a bound deal. Dad and I got all the fireworks and took them to the tent. We had a surprise visit by Mr. Joe Sartino. He stuck around for several hours. If you don't know Joe, you are missing out. Quality guy. Sunday evening was ridiculously hot and it was my turn to spend the night. It NEVER got quiet! By 3 AM, I was shivering. Lesson learned, it still gets cold at night--also, bring a pillow!

Monday--I woke up and continued working on the tent. After Tracey got here, I went to the office and got everything turned in for the Murfreesboro offer. We got everything set up and looking good (still working on it a little). At about 5 PM we had our first rush. It was pretty cool. Aside from that, we have some other good stuff brewing. Hopefully I will have an elated post in the next few days.

This has been an interesting experience so far. I have learned a few things for sure--I sometimes overextend myself to the detriment of my family--I missed the better part of Father's Day. I can also be a jerk when I get stressed. I need to remember that just because they will still love me, I don't need to be a jerk to my family. I also have learned that I love to work. I get the most energy from being in productive motion and doing things. I don't like to be stationary. Finally, I have learned that I have a lot of REALLY good, giving, caring people that I call friends and family. And, finally, my wife is freakin awesome and loves me very much, even when I neglect her.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Wow--hard to believe it is already the middle of June! It has been a crazy month so far--lots of stuff going on.

The month started with a Memorial Day trip to Indianapolis for the 500. That was an awesome time. I really enjoy the time I get to spend with that crew. Tammy's sister and brother in law open up their home for a bunch of crazy folks and show the utmost in hospitality. The race was as usual, hot and loud. You might have seen the terrible wreck at the very end. We were just down the straightaway from it. Crazy.

The next weekend (3 days later actually) a bunch of us went to Pigeon Forge. That was a lot of fun as well as Jonas, Cindy and I got to spend some time with Aunt Greta and Cousin Mandy. We don't get to see them too often so that was really cool. We stayed in an awesome cabin in Sherwood Forest. We went to Dollywood for the first time. It reminded me so much of Opryland. I was sad.

We put our house on the market the day before the trip to Pigeon Forge and have already had 5 showings. That is quite encouraging. Cindy and I found a home in the middle of town we like. It would require some renovation but I think it would be worth it. Activity has also picked up on my other listings. It looks like we are slowly climbing out of this "slump." On that note, I figured out a few things related to my listings. I figured out that the general public can only see hyperlinks that are attached. This presented a problem because I had the "Top 10 Reasons We Love This House" and the lender estimates from Tammy attached to my listings and only Realtors could see them! Though I love letting the Realtors see this info, it is really meant for the public searching on Realtracs. Well, I figured out a way around that! If you want to see it, you will have to check out one of my listings or check out my website I also figured out how to get the voice narration feature to work on v-flyer. For whatever reason, it does not work with my computer/cell phone combination. I ended up recording it all at my parents' house.

Other things occupying my time:
Child Care-- Cindy and I have been trying to figure out a way to save some money on child care. I know we have a pretty good deal anyway but I kind of want to keep Jonas a day or so a week. The problem is that it won't necessarily be the SAME day each week. Hard for the babysitter to plan. Any suggestions would be great.

Coupons--Cindy has resolved to become a coupon queen. She is doing a great job so far. I like it because she is fired up about it and wants me to stay out of the way--no problem! She actually gets upset if she doesn't save enough (apparently less than 35% is shameful!).

College ministry--it is really getting good. Rick and I are starting to really develop our friendship and partnership in the ministry. We have been focused on getting our own accountability group started. We almost have a habit as we've met 2 weeks in a row!

Consider This--Many of you know about Consider This Productions. It is a drama group made up (mostly) of Christians from Smyrna coC. In the past few months I was in the play The Curious Savage and they also put on And Then There Were None. Well, also in the past few months, we have experienced an EXCITING development. We are poised to have our own location--theater, dressing room, etc. Over the past few months I have been helping Barry develop the business plan and run through the numbers to see if it is really feasible. In the meantime, a very generous and influential man in Mufreesboro has seemingly adopted the group. If all goes as it seems it might, we will have a location by January. The daunting task now is to raise the funds necessary to make it a reality. Soooo, we are looking for charter members and benefactors. If you know anyone that might be interested--even if it is just a little--have them contact me. Also, if you know anyone that wants to act or otherwise be involved in the theater (set design, costuming, make up, tech stuff, etc.) have them contact me. If this works out, we will have such a cool place to have plays, talent shows, concerts, classes and all kinds of other cool stuff.

Finally, my first venture into selling fireworks begins tomorrow with us setting up the tent. We will put the explosives in the tent on Sunday and be open for business on Monday. If you want some small, personal explosives, be sure to check us out. I promise to give you a good deal (and some free stuff!). Our tent is on Almaville Road right next to I-24. It is a Fireworks Supermarket tent. I am excited about it. I think I have a good crew helping out and will have a lot of fun. Come check it out.

Well, I am off to make some teriyaki chicken with Omni Hut sauce (YUMMMMMMM).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer time and the livin's busy...

Here comes June! Got 4 listings going and about to list our home too. We just finished painting the house and de-brassing. Still have to put the home back together. Now we can start marketing! In the meantime, Tracey and I are going to operate a fireworks tent on Almaville Road. We start that on June 18. I think it will be lots of fun and will fit well within my business plan. It will help me get my name out and will give me an opportunity to meet folks. I am pretty excited about it. On that note, if you are in my mailing list, look for a coupon coming your way on my next marketing piece. If you aren't on the list, let me know and I will add you.

I have been praying about one of my listings in particular. We have been on the market for a while and need to get some traffic and, more importantly, an offer! It is such a great home in the Cane Ridge area. Its over 3,700 square feet and in superb condition. My clients are offering $7k toward closing which is enough to cover pretty much anyone's costs. It's close to the schools, has a huge kitchen, bonus and garage, is on a creek and did not flood! Come see it!!

On the personal front, life is good, mostly. I have been extremely busy between real estate, working for Jo, working for my dad, planning for the fireworks tent and church involvement. I have some friends here and there that are struggling. When my good friends hurt, I hurt, ya know what I mean? Brandon's Granny's home was badly damaged in the flood and I am trying to gather some info for them to plan with. Then there are some other pieces of "drama" going on. Hodge got married and did it totally Hodge style. Congrats to them. I am looking forward to the Indy 500 this weekend and then Gatlinburg next weekend.

Post a comment and tell me what your favorite thing to do in the Smokies is. We are taking my aunt and cousin and they have never been.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time Flies when You're Selling Homes!

I can't believe it is already 2/3 through May! I have a closing this Thursday. Tamara, bless her heart, will FINALLY get her home. It has been a long, l o n g ,  l  o  n  g  process. God willing, it will all be over in about 48 hours. I am so happy for her. I think we have developed a lasting friendship through this and I hope she is willing to stay in touch. I have a closing next Thursday as well (assuming we can get through the financing--RD is dried up). This one is particularly exciting to me as it is a young man that I met when I was his wrestling coach. He is such a good guy and has worked his butt off to get where he is so quickly. I know that Jeremy and Amanda will be real success stories as long as they keep doing what they are doing!

Aside from those, the flood has really been at the forefront of everyone's mind here in Middle TN. You all know that there has been tremendous financial loss. Weichert has "adopted" a fellow in River Plantation and is trying to help him get his life back together. If you get a chance, check out the video that Mickie, one of the owners, posted on YouTube about Carl and his situation (video is here). We were thankfully, personally not affected too much. We did drive through some serious water and Cindy's van is making a noise (I know, not smart, but we had to get home). Brandon's granny suffered a pretty devastating loss and a few others from church had some severe damage. Dad and I got to do a little work in driveways because of it though.

As far as listings go, I have 4 up on the market now. I just listed Jeremy and Amy today and hope it will go quickly for them. Thankfully people are starting to look again. I really want to get the Gastineaus sold as they have been on the market since November. It has just been tough in their neck of the woods. The really puzzling thing is that their home is FREAKING NICE and is priced so well. I just gotta get more people in the door! The Chunns are also waiting. They have such a cute little home in a great neighborhood and are priced nicely too. I think for them, the tax credit running out, coupled with the flood diverting attention away have slowed things down. I see it picking back up for them in the next couple weeks though. Then there's the big house. We have had some really positive activity there and hope we can break some stuff loose on it real soon. I know that Charles and Lori are ready to get going. Cindy and I will have our home up in the next two weeks or so and are excited about that. We have worked hard at getting the home ready. Hopefully it will go quickly also!

Friday, April 23, 2010


Well, it has been a tumultuous past few weeks and I have neglected my blogging desires. Here is the low down, we finally got Sam and Candace's house closed. The Wednesday after my previous blog, we signed everything and the buyer signed everything. Then BofA would not send the wire because the numbers they had in their system did not match our HUD (that THEY approved!!!!). They said it was a glitch in their system and they got it worked out. By Friday, we had it closed. Halla freaking lu yah!!! So then, a little less than a week after the new family moved in, guess what--they got broken into!!!! Two guys kicked in the back door (hard enough that it broke the door and frame out of the hole) and demolished the inside--holes in wall, tears in vinyl floor, broken dishes, etc. What a nightmare for those folks!

In the meantime, I also closed for a buyer in between Smyrna and Murfreesboro, am nearing the closing for a short sale for a first time buyer and picked up a SUWEET listing in between Smyrna and Nolensville. I have had 3 open houses in two weeks and have another one this Sunday (in the SUWEET listing). If you want to check out the SUWEETNESS come to 7182 Lee Road in Smyrna on Sunday from 2-4. I have also busied myself with other eclectic ventures. I have hauled off over 30,000 pounds of scrap metal and aluminum in the past 3 weeks (including a combine that Jonas calls Frank) and secured a location for a fireworks tent for this summer (Almaville Road by the Interstate). I upped my handy husband status several times with a few landscaping projects, a newly installed garbage disposal and a cool tent for Jonas. I have been helping Jo with her catering business and have been working with the college kids at church. All this and I still find time to watch Dr. Phil and eat bon-bons (whatever those are).

Well, I just wanted to post a little. I am going to go and help Jo put together the Cat in the Hat cake.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The incompetence continues

This is a follow up to the previous blog. Well, where to begin. So we go to closing on Friday and my clients (the sellers) sign their documents. Everything is rosy and then the buyer says he won't sign because BofA got the mortgage insurance wrong. First, we didn't believe him, then, sure enough, they did--and they admitted it! They were trying to charge him mortgage insurance monthly AND annually! The crazy part is, he had corrected them on this 3 TIMES in the past two weeks and they sent it through wrong anyway!!!!!!

Fast forward to Wednesday (yesterday). We get the package again and all the numbers have been changed but appear to be correct. Jenny (the closer) prepares the HUD 1 and sends it for approval. The person at BofA says it is wrong. Jenny asks why. They have a different loan amount in their system than what is on the HUD. It is off by over $4,000!! So Jenny talks to the lady and she says that if Jenny does these few steps, everything will be fine. Jenny does that and the HUD is done. Everyone signs the stuff and the people move in. This morning rolls around and guess what, there is no money in the wire. Jenny calls and BofA says you have to send in the signed HUD first. So she sends it and they are not going to release funds because the number on the HUD and the number in their system does not match!!!! Of course the lady Jenny talked to is off today. Jenny and a new lady go rounds and the buyer calls and goes rounds. Then BofA admits they are wrong. It is a "glitch" in their system. In the meantime, we don't have the money. It is after time for them to send wire transfers. Right now we are at the mercy of BofA to send the wire by noon tomorrow. If they don't we have to re-do EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!

How does a place this freakin incompetent stay afloat? I have heard people say will they are overwhelmed or they have a bunch of new people or they are just too big. If any of that is true, then they need to do the right thing and turn down business. They need to acknowledge the fact that they suck and only handle the business they are capable of handling properly. In the meantime, they are screwing up lives. I know that sounds overly dramatic but you know what, your home is a SIGNIFICANT part of your life. For the vast majority of folks it is the LARGEST investment they have and will ever have. I know now that I am going to shy away from clients that finance with BofA. I will highly encourage them to go somewhere that still believes in delivering what they say they will. Somewhere where I can get the same person on the phone and can go look them in the eye if I need to. Too big to fail? How about too big to care, too big to function properly, too big to serve individual people anymore. You have lost your soul BofA.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A certain large financial institution

Ok, so there is this one particular financial institution that the federal government deemed too large to fail. I will allow it to remain nameless but lets just say it can be found in most any city in America I know exactly why the government saved this bank. Its because they are run the same way. If it can be done inefficiently, thats how this bank does it. So far in my fledgling career, I have had 3 interactions with this bank. All three have been lousy. The first one was with a "local" branch (which is laughable by the way). The young man purchasing my first listing went through them. We closed about 2 weeks late (a little over 6 weeks after binding agreement). Why, you ask? Because the guy didn't have a credit score and they had to do actual underwriting. It completely freaked them out. Selling Sam and Candace's house, I am dealing with these folks again. The loan guy will not ever answer his phone or return calls. We are already about 3 weeks after the "realistic" closing date. We bumped the date to this past Wednesday. On Tuesday he tells the closer on our side that he needs 24-48 hours to complete this one extra task. Do we have anything yet, NO!!! Meanwhile Sam and Candace are incurring charges every day on their house. On the other side, we are buying a home in short sale with this particular institution. It is going somewhat smoother but still, the communication is lacking. They keep everything secret. A tip for them, let folks know what is going on and what to expect. If you don't meet your own deadline, let people know. It's called customer service. Apparently when you are too big to fail and nanny government will always bail you out, you forget what customer service is (or perhaps you just plain don't care).

Addendum: I understand that some people will say, just go somewhere else. The problem I am having is that I never solicited their business. Buyers of my listings have come to the table with them as business partners. I am at their mercy and my client's (much more importantly) are at their mercy. It seems as if they take their time because they can. I also understand that the actions of a few do not indicate the performance of everyone in the company, but, I am 3 for 3. 100% of my interactions have been lousy. I also know that the bailout money is not the cause of the bad service. They were lousy before the bailout. That's probably why they had to have it!!

My advice, if there are good people at the local level, let them run it. Decentralize and allow efficiency to take over. Quite being so dadgum big and corporate and inefficient! Remember, the customer is the first part of customer service. For all of you out there, stay away from this bank. They tell everyone that they are struggling with the overwhelming amount of work. Help them out by not giving them any more work to worry about.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I will never have another very first opening night

Well, it's done. I have had my very first opening night. What an experience! The room we waited in was hot and crowded. I kept my son on a little bitty foam couch for 2 hours, we dropped a few lines (not as many as I expected) but all in all, we did very well! The audience was great. They took a little time to warm up (perhaps it was us taking a little time to warm up for them) but by the time we got to the really funny parts, they were rolling. I have discovered that Vanessa, Sherry and Nathan are all pretty frickin brilliant. Sherry portrays her character PERFECTLY. Vanessa and Nathan are just really sharp witted and play off everything. The rest of the cast did a great job too, but these three in my opinion stole the show. Jessica saved our butts once also--thanks very much for that.

I had a wager going on my facebook about how many times I would puke. The good news is that I did not puke or dry heave at all! So I guess everyone that said I would be fine won the pool. What do you win--my undying appreciation for your support--CONGRATS and thanks for playing.

Jonas did a great job too. He was confined to a very small space for almost 2 hours. Of course, he had the undivided attention of a pretty young teenager so I am sure that helped but even so, he was well behaved, cheerful and generally a pleasure. When it was his turn, he did his part very well, adding a great little twist to the play. I am so proud of the little guy. Ok, I also bribed him with ice cream. When we left, we went to the McDonald's right there on Church and Broad. As I pulled up to the drive through, they turned all the lights off. I was 5 minutes before they closed! I said something to the effect of "you gotta be kidding me." The guy came over the intercom and I asked for an ice cream cone. He said the machine was down. What a bum!!!! I figured I could go to Sonic because it is open late (was around 11). They were closed. I ended up stopping at the BP and getting him a nutty buddy. I had to make good on the promise--otherwise the bribe wouldn't work tonight!!!!

Well, it was a great night. I hope plenty of others get a chance to see the play. There is a great message and some really funny parts.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Catching My Breath!!

Wow!! It has been a flippin busy past few...uhh...however long.

In the past 2 weeks I got an offer and negotiated a contract on Sam and Candace's house. We should close mid-March. It was (is) an interesting transaction to say the least. We have parties involved that live in Boston, travel to Japan and are buying in Christiana. Quite a mix!! I picked up a listing in East Nashville, got an offer on it and am in the process of negotiating it. I picked up a listing in my neighborhood and have a coming soon sign in that yard. I am taking a new buyer out tomorrow and will hopefully find him a home quickly. All this and I am studying hard for a role in a play (more details in a minute), co-teaching a class at church, playing Mr. Mom, and have been working hard to win the Biggest Loser contest at work (which I did win, by the way--go me).

The Play--So, I am in this play, right. I have never acted (except acting up as a youth, I don't act up any more--see my halo?). I always wanted to but never took the time to work on it. I am in a group called Consider This Productions. It is quite a fun group. Barry Hardy is the "leader" of the group (when we let him). We are currently rehearsing "The Curious Savage." I play Titus Savage, Senator Titus Savage. Sherry Gastineau is my sister--Lily Belle Savage and Sam Channel is my brother, Samuel Savage. The three of us are real snots. We have our mother (Kim Chunn playing Ethel Savage) committed. Not that Kim shouldn't be committed, but we don't do it for the right reasons (when there are so many reasons to pick from!). Daniel Chunn, Nathan Chunn, Vanessa Maleare (sorry, I probably spelled that wrong), Nancy Wells, and Hannah Gastineau are all crazy people in the play (and outside the play). Danny Wells is the good doctor and Jessica Wells is the nurse that keeps things running. My character is a real blowhard. I yell and get angry a lot and really don't have a ton of substance to me. It will be very easy for the audience to dislike me. It will be even easier to dislike Sherry. Her character is a cross between Cruella Deville, Ms. Hannigan from Annie and Carol Burnette. Sam is just a limp noodle. We will be performing on March 11, 12, 13 and 18, 19, 20 (Thursdays through Saturdays) on the 15th floor of the NHC building in Murfreesboro (the lone skyscraper in the 'boro). I am really excited. Last night Barry complimented us on our facial expressions. Given the intimacy of this venue (the audience will be within about 2 feet of the actors), we will really be able to convey emotions and expressions. It should be awesome. I just hope I don't screw it up for everyone else!!

At church I am going through a survey of world religions. This past Sunday we looked at Bahai Faith. What an interesting religion! Basically, they believe that the God represented in the various major religions of the world is the same God and that all the various prophets (Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, etc.) are messengers from God and that the individual messages are revelations that get increasingly more sophisticated in order to reveal more about God each time. I don't agree with them, but I do find it quite a fascinating take on things. What do you think?

Oh yeah, and there have been the headaches, car repair place stealing my cable, getting in trouble at the post office, the stupid gym, and some others--but who likes to dwell on bads stuff when God is so good?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Name Change

Well, I changed the name today. It was a small, but significant change. I realized that my blog title did not fit. It was "Jonathan Harmon's (mostly) Real Estate Blog, when in fact, I rarely write about real estate. I think that blogging is a bit therapeutic for me. It allows me to write to an indeterminate number of people and just get stuff out there. I don't have a ton to complain about or anything, it just feels good to write sometimes. Since it is not really about real estate, I changed the (mostly) to (sometimes). It feels better.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Update to Gym Post

After reading my below gym post, read this one

Flex Gym in Smyrna, 6670 New Nashville Highway. 462-6593.

So this time I made what seemed like a pretty good offer to them. I asked them to change the 2 year contract to a one year contract. Monthly membership fee for a one year is $54.98 plus tax. Monthly membership for a 2 year is $44.98 plus tax. I offered them the difference for the months we already paid, plus the rest of what would be a one year contract all up front. Total came to $329 and some change. Would have completely satisfied the obligation for a 1 year contract and would have released us to go to a gym where they 1) didn't lie about the services they offered, 2) had some people skills, 3) had up to date equipment (none of which exist at Flex Gym). I typed up a nice spreadsheet explaining exactly what I was offering.

Doug, the owner calls me and says he would allow us to pay out the 2nd year in full and then convert our monthly payments to the monthly payments of a 1 year contract, effectively ADDING to our total payments. Are you KIDDING? Why would we pay you MORE for substandard services that we are trying to get away from? I told him no, of course. The thing is, he thinks that his contract ties us to only use Flex. I am contending that their product STINKS and I don't want to pay for it anymore.

Here are my gripes:
1) Cindy was promised certain classes, Yoga, Pilates, Cardio Kickboxing--they don't have any of these and haven't had them since September
2) Their machines are ancient. I like to use ellipticals. They have 3 with the arms that work. One of them is usually broken and the other two are not smooth operating. Plus, the position you stand on them is very uncomfortable on the back
3) They can just plain be rude. I don't expect 5 start hotel service, but at least say hi when you walk in or say bye when you leave. Even before all this mess, they were rude.
4) There are MUCH better gyms at cheaper prices in Smyrna. Even the Town Center is better!

I admit we signed the contract and therefore we are obligated, but most contracts have some kind of way out if the product does not pan out to be what you were promised! These people are totally unreasonable! I am so angry I could spit!

My next step is to contact the Consumer Affairs Division. They are the ones that have the Consumer Protection Act.

I wonder why this business does not see the value of having happy customers. I mean, I offered a reasonable way for both of us to end the relationship on good terms and not have to do all this mudslinging but they are unreasonable! I believe in the importance of contracts. I think our economic system is built on the enforceability of contracts. My job depends on contracts. But even in real estate, if the product does not fit the initial expectations (fails an inspection, etc.) you can get out of the contract.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A little out of the ordinary for me

Ok, those of you that know me, know that I am generally a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of guy. You also know that if I am passionate about something, you will most likely hear about it. When I get some fantastic service or find a fantastic product, I am a great spokesperson for it. Generally, when I get bad service or a bad product, I keep it to myself unless it is just horrendous. That is the case here.

Most of you know that Cindy and I both struggle with weight issues. We don't eat the best and don't exercise enough (makes us normal, right). Well, we are always looking to improve this. Cindy's favorite way to exercise is in classes, like Yoga, Pilates, Cardio Kickboxing, etc. Well, back in July, Stephanie told us about the great new gym that opened right down from our house. They were offering cardio kickboxing and were going to expand their offerings in the very near future. I was out of town so Cindy went and checked it out. She liked the owner a lot and the owner told her the same spiel about expanding class offerings. Cindy signed the contract. She attended a few classes (which were at odd times, like 2PMon Tuesdays and 10 AM on Saturdays or something like that). Then, abruptly in September, they quit offering the classes altogether due to "lack of interest". Cindy quit going to the gym because that was the whole reason she went. I kept going (though somewhat sporadically) because I used the (very old and decrepit) elliptical machine. December rolls around and we realize that it is stupid to pay $50 per month for a service we don't use enough because they don't offer the same product we signed up for. (Here is our first mistake) So we asked them to release us from the contract and offered a settlement. They said no. We wrote them a letter telling them we could not afford it anymore. What we should have said is that we did not want to pay for a service there that they did not offer and still have to pay for it elsewhere. They again said no. I did some research into the consumer Protection Act and found that:

"47-18-303. Unenforceable health club agreements. — A health club agreement shall be unenforceable against the buyer, and the buyer shall be entitled to a refund less that portion of the total price which represents actual use of the facilities and less the cost of goods and services consumed by the buyer if:
(1) The buyer entered into the agreement in reliance upon any false, deceptive, or misleading information, representation, notice, or advertisement;

At this point, I contacted the Better Business Bureau and filed a complaint explaining my issue. I also included a link to the gym's website where they advertised "an amazing array of freeweights, training classes...". In addition, I called the gym posing as a prospective member and asked if they offered any classes (this was January 14 or so). The owner said, "no, we had to cancel them due to lack of interest. We will look at having them again in February." I said thanks. So the owner's response to my BBB complaint was that they did offer classes. I went in today and saw that they offer one class, Endurance Boot Camp, 3 times a week. Wednesday during church time, Saturday 10AM (the only doable time for us) and Sunday at 2 while I am at Play practice and they don't offer childcare. I re-submitted all this info and am now waiting on the next response. I don't think I am being unreasonable. I have offered a settlement and they won't even counter the offer. If I offered too little, they should say, "how about this much instead." My question is, why would they want me to stay there? I will do way more damage spreading bad will about their business. I have purposely not included the name of the business and won't unless the company still does not see how freakin terrible their customer service is. You tell me, am I being unreasonable? Be honest and provide some insight for me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Winter coats

This is more of a rant than a blog. Cindy informed me a few weeks ago that she needed a new winter coat (after Christmas). I have been worried about this ever since. Is she cold? Does she shiver? I can't stand the thought of her not being comfortable. So I have been on a mission to find a coat. Do you know that every stinkin retailer in Rutherford County gets rid of their coats before Christmas is over? How stupid are they!!! The coldest part of the year here is almost always January and February. We even get snow in March! Walmart, Kohls, Target, Dots, Fashion Bug, Dress Barn--all of them!! We will make a trip up to Burlington in 100 Oaks tomorrow I think. I just don't get it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Open House Blues

Ok, I was definitely spoiled with my first listing! I held an open house there and had over 20 visitors. I've held a total of 6 open houses between the two current listings and haven't had more than a total of 6 visitors. What gives? These listings are spectacular! People really should see them. What better way to view a home than a no pressure open house? It just doesn't make sense! Some think it is the weather (don't entirely buy that, but it could have an impact). Others think it is "just that slow". I don't buy that because others are having some luck with their open houses. Some thought it was the holidays. Maybe, but those are over.

Oh well, I am optimistic that today and tomorrow are going to be good here. The weather is acceptable, there are no holidays and things are picking up all around.

On a completely different note, we are going to PF Chang's tonight for dinner with an old friend we haven't seen in years. Its going to be great. I have never been to this restaurant. Hope it is as good as everyone says it is.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Listings and some other stuff

Have I told you about my listings? Didn't think so. I have two listing currently and they are both pretty spectacular.

The first one (in order of listing date) is 1304 Blairfield Drive in Cane Ridge (technically Antioch). It is a massive, nearly 3,800 s.f., two story house with a creek in the back yard. Gorgeous home with one of the biggest kitchens I have ever seen. The owners have really taken good care of the place. The garage has an extra area in it that could make it a 3 car garage or a 2 car with a large workshop. There is a big bonus room that is wired for surround sound and even has extra insulation in the walls to keep the noise down outside the room. It is located in Cane Ridge Farms and is only about a 5 minute walk to the middle school and elementary school. Plus it is less than 10 minutes (drive) to I-24. to boot, we have it listed at less than $62 per s.f. and they are offering some closing costs!

My other listing is truly in better shape than the new homes in the neighborhood. It is 2904 Cliffside Drive in Christiana. It is also conveniently located less than 5 minutes from I-24 yet it definitely feels like you are in the country. Very quiet and peaceful! They pay only county taxes but have sewer service. The property is located in a USDA Rural Development area which means you can get 100% financing (almost non-existent any other way). Plus the owners are offering $3,000 toward closing! They have done a ton of work to the place to make it truly different. There is extra lighting in the kitchen and both bathrooms. They floored almost the entire space above the 2 car garage. They have doubled the size of the patio. It is awesome! All this on a large corner lot that shares the back yard with a wooded farm.

I am having an open house this Saturday from 1-4 at the one in Cane Ridge and an open house next Saturday in Christiana. I think the market is picking back up. I hope to get some traffic this time around!

On a completely different note, what do you think about Roombas? I got Cindy one for her birthday (we named her Rosie Jetson Harmon the First). I like the thing but she gets stuck a lot! She also doesn't like our rug because it has black lines in it she sees as drop offs. Its kind of funny actually. Do you have a Roomba, if so, do you like it?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


So I sat bolt up-right in bed last night at about midnight and went "OH CRAP!!!" I couldn't remember what date my property taxes were due. I knew that I got the notice in October and I knew I didn't have to pay it until the first of the year but I didn't remember how long I had. Honestly, I had not even opened the envelope yet. So, with a surge of panic-induced adrenaline, I went to the office and opened those envelopes up (one for Smyrna and one for Rutherford County). With a sigh of relief, I saw that they are not due until February. Ahhh, it's nice when procrastination does not ruin your day!

On another note, I started calling my SOI today (thats Sphere of Influence for you noobs). It is one of my business resolutions to call every single person on the SOI before the end of February. Interesting thing I have noticed though, a lot, I mean A LOT of people have dropped their home phone numbers! I erased at least 6 (out of 20 calls) home numbers because they had been disconnected. I guess most people are moving toward a mobile only existence. I am not sure how I feel about this. It is interesting.

And finally, I am in a community theater play! We are performing "The Curious Savage" by John Patrick. Show dates are March 11-13 and 18-20. Stay tuned for ticket info. The cool thing is, we are putting it on way up on the 14th floor of the NHC building in Murfreesboro (the lone skyscraper). I am playing Titus. I would recommend checking the play out. It's pretty funny. Oh, and no, I have never been in a play before.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My adventure began...

So, you may be wondering (be careful about wandering too far, you may get lost), how did this handsome bald man get started in real estate? What led him to a cut-throat, destitute, difficult, over populated career field? I would answer that with two answers: 1) a laughing, "that is a great question!" followed by 2) the below, long winded answer

Really my story starts over 16 years ago when I was just a lad starting my first job--working for Charles T. Parker (a custom home contractor in LaVergne) as his "yard boy." Working at Crosslin Supply, Dad got to know Charles fairly well and landed me the job at only 14 years old and it was pretty good. I liked Charles and his family and they treated me right. I worked for him in his yard and on the site cleaning up for 2 years or so and then he let me start working with the crew. It was hard work but was fun. It was really cool to see the fruits of your labor in something truly tangible. College started and I decided to go different ways. It was a tumultuous time for me. I would really like to forget it.

Fast forward a few years and we (Cindy and I) are moving to GA for my first teaching job. It was awesome and I loved it but Cindy wanted to be back home. We moved back to TN and bought our first home (the one we are in now). This kicked my desire to have real estate holdings into OVERDRIVE. I desperately wanted to have a small real estate portfolio but had no idea how to successfully go about building one (still don't, entirely). Eric Brown talked me out of it and into investing in the stock market. At the time, this made the MOST sense. I was not ready for real estate. I was teaching and coaching at Blackman and that monopolized my time. Well, three years go by and I decide that I don't want to coach anymore. I'd had a successful 3 years at BHS both in the classroom and on the mat. In the classroom, I had taught 8 different preparations in 3 years, written 2 state approved special courses, taught a special course that I did not write, and had been given high marks in all of my teaching evaluations. I felt pretty comfortable in my role as a teacher at BHS. I also had success on the wrestling mat. I had never coached anything, at all, prior to 2006. In three years, my team generated 5 individual state medals, numerous tournament medals, two region championships, a coach of the year trophy for me, a national champion, and all kinds of other acknowledgements. Not bad, eh. Well, I loved that team and even though I did not want to coach anymore (it was really putting a strain on my marriage and I basically missed the first 2.5 years of Jonas' life), I certainly did not want the team to suffer. I did what I thought was right--I resigned immediately after the season. I figured that doing so would give the administration the opportunity to snatch up any good coach that might come available (you know, the sooner the better). I learned a few valuable lessons. 1)NEVER give up any responsibility without tenure. 2)NEVER assume that people you think have your team's best interest at heart simply because they are the administration of the school actually do have the team's best interest at heart (they didn't hire another coach until August and that was only after the parents raised three levels of you know what) and 3) sometimes teaching ability has nothing to do with teachers keeping their teaching jobs. In other words--I got fired. The set up was brilliant. I had a contrived unacceptable review (caught by a technicality in the way the review was set up) and then blindsided on the day before Good Friday (interesting side note, tornadoes ripped through Blackman on Good Friday, perhaps it was God's vengeance? just kidding).

Needless to say, my world was ROCKED. I have never been fired from anything! I went through a range of emotions from sad and depressed to extremely pissed off to relieved (I had been thinking of not teaching anyway). Either way, I was definitely scared. Now what? Do I try to teach somewhere else? Do I go back to school? Do I completely change careers? How am I going to support my family? Luckily, Cindy was graduating in August and I had unemployment. The pressure was on her to find a job. I also had this pressure and I applied for freakin EVERYTHING!! We attended a 48 Days to the Work You Love workshop and I felt empowered to try something new, but what? I decided to investigate real estate. Cindy and I decided I would go to real estate school. I enrolled and met a wonderful person named Cha Barefield. She recruited me to Weichert and there you go (stay tuned for part 2). I guess the thing to remember is that God uses all kinds of things to get us where he wants us. Do I feel a calling to real estate, yes. I love the process, I love the people, I love the responsibility and I love the hours. I can work when I want (basically) and can spend all kinds of time with Jonas. In addition, it frees me up to pursue other things that I am interested in. Really, sometimes you have to ride out the bad stuff to find your passion. Thanks BHS administration for creating the wave for me to ride. I was angry at first and now I am grateful.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

1/2/10--Alright so this is my attempt at keeping a blog. I probably won't write in it every day and I only hope that I have enough interesting stuff to keep people coming back. I will mostly keep it real estate focused but will, undoubtedly venture into the rest of my life as well. I do hope to keep it away from a "dear diary, blah blah blah type format but I make no promises.

So, to begin, I am fairly new to the real estate industry. I received my license in September, listed a house and sold it in the first 40 days. Now I have 2 listings that are not receiving much traffic. The listings are good and I think correctly priced. I am torn though. Is it a result of listing in the winter? Am I wrong about the price? Is there something conditional that I am just missing? Very frustrating!

I also have a buyer client that has the worst luck! We have looked at so many different properties and even put in 2 offers. We keep running into snags though. Stuff will be under contract, sellers are unwilling (or unable) to pick up costs (looking at some short sales and foreclosures so there are weird rules sometimes). I know she is frustrated. I only hope she knows that I am really trying and really trying to get her a good deal on a great home.

As for growing the business, I have a few prospects for the next couple of months. Some folks that will be listing and buying. Its just a matter of timing. It is an interesting time right now with this tax credit. I don't know that sellers realize that they need to get listing if they want to use the tax credit as an incentive to sell their particular house. You have to have a contract by the end of April and have it closed by the end of June. That is closer than people think, especially in real estate time!!!

In the personal life, things are good. Jonas is really starting to become fun. He is so imaginative and intelligent! I know he gets it from me. Cindy is going strong at her job. She has really come home with some fun stories of the people she talks to. I am contemplating some side jobs right now. I put an ad in Craigs List to be a computer tutor for adults ( I called it computer literacy training). Haven't heard anything yet but I will continue to work that angle. I do have a colleague at Weichert that wants me to help him out. We start on Tuesday with an Excel pretest. Should be pretty exciting.

Joke of the day: What do you call a clairvoyant midget that escapes from prison?

Fun holidays of the week:
January 2-9 is "Someday We'll Laugh About This" Week.
January 7 is "I'm Not Going to Take It Anymore" Day
January 9 is National Fruitcake Toss Day. I ask, is fruitcake really that bad?

PS-I answered one of those "random questions" on the profile and my answer was too long. I liked my answer so here it is. The question was "How is an ankle unlike a consequence?"--can you believe they only allow 400 words!!

In order to answer the question "how are ankles unlike consequences" one must first consider how they are alike. First, consequences and ankles are often attached to the body. Neither has to be, but they usually are. Second, they are both jointed, they move and can be a weak spot in someone's performance. Finally, they are alike because they both make people think twice about actions. You might not rob a bank because you have weak ankles and that could lead to consequences. You might not eat way too much all the time because the consequence might be a set of "cankles" which directly relates to ankles.

Ok, now that we know how they are the same, lets focus on how they are different. The obvious, they are spelled differently, they have fewer syllables and they have different properties in time/space. The not-so-obvious differences abound as well. It is good to strengthen your ankles. It is not so good to strenghthen your consequences, unless you are the one handing them down. It would not be wise to hand down your ankles. Another difference is the tape factor. It is common to tape ankles. Applying tape to consequences may not always be a good idea. Lastly, many people are ok with showing their ankles in public. Many are not ok with showing the consequences of their actions.