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.