Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Renaissance Man

So, I think I am having a sort of personal renaissance. It started about 2 months ago. So many things have become more clear. It's sort of like when Neo discovered how to manipulate the Matrix. I have discovered/accepted/learned more about myself and my relationships in the past 2 months than probably the previous 10 years combined. So, in no particular order, here are some things I have discovered about myself and my relationships. Hope this helps you get some clarity on your situation in life:

1) It's not a race or competition. I have said this for so long and still didn't believe it. The only person you compete with "at life" is you. Your fears, your insecurities, your pride, your concept of success. Life becomes much less stressful when you realize you are not winning or losing at it--you are living it.

2) I love giving. I mean, I really love giving. It is almost like a drug. I get high on giving. I am not bragging or anything, I just love giving. You might also. Try it. Give like you are not worried about money. Give like you will get paid TO give. Give to people you know and to people you don't know. Accept thanks for it sometimes and do it completely anonymously sometimes. Both are fun in their own ways. I can also give intangible items--like encouragement and praise and smiles. Surprise someone with an "I appreciate you" or a "You have made my life easier by...". It will make you feel good and will absolutely lift someone else up.

3) My spirituality is WAY more complicated than I once believed. It is also WAY simpler than I once believed. Yep, that is right. I love talking about spiritual topics and theories with whomever will discuss with an open mind, an open heart and a desire to learn about themselves and about me. I think I can learn spiritual lessons from pretty much ANYONE.

4) I have some of the best friends in the world. I realized that my friends make me want to be a better person. I have an obligation to them to be the best I can be, to treat my family better than anyone else and to raise my kids to be respectful, productive, caring and generous citizens. My friends deserve my best efforts at friendship. Their kids deserve my kids at their best. It's called community.

5) I have had this rediscovery of my wife. She is AWESOME. I know she has her faults. I certainly have my own. She cares deeply for our family as individuals and also as a unit. She is amazingly devoted to her real friends and to her closest family. I am very different. I have a gazillion friends and don't have a lot of "very close" friends. She keeps a smaller circle of friends but she keeps them much closer. I really see a value in that. She stresses over so much. I have discovered she only does that because she wants so desperately to please me, our kids and her closest friends and family. She wants things to be perfect for them. At first I thought I needed to change this about her and make her more like me and just "go with the flow". That is exactly what I should NOT do. Instead, I need to complement her and balance her out. When it is important to her, I need to make it important to me. When it is only a little important to her, I can help her not stress so much. I can also make an effort to take away some of the menial tasks that stress her out. In addition, I have made a commitment to myself to start treating her like we are still dating. I started writing her love letters again. I tell her when she takes my breath away. I hope she is enjoying the attention.

6) My kids are amazing. I have been carrying around this guilt that I am somehow "missing it" as they grow up. The kicker is that this guilt makes me miss it more because I try to make up for missing it. All my kids want is attention. It could be as simple as sitting with them while playing Wii or reading a book or sitting on the deck while they play or including them in decision making. They just need validation that I love them and care about whats going on in their 6 and 1 year old lives (ok, so perhaps its not that deep yet for Maggie, but it won't take long). So I am keeping them around a little longer. I am pushing myself to finish work early enough to spend time with them in the evening. I am not trying so hard to make up for missed time but instead to just make time. I have also released the guilt. I work--sometimes a lot. I am also a great dad. I said it out loud.

7) Finally, there is business. I think I am starting to get good at being a Realtor. I have had some success, that is for sure. I don't know that I had, or have yet, the full skill set. I am learning every day how to deal with people. I am also gaining a much more clear understanding of what my actual role is in this job. I am not a salesman--unless I need to be. My job is to help people understand and navigate the (in some ways unneccesarily) complex task of buying or selling a home. My job is to listen to their dreams, catch them and then try to help them make their dreams come true. The crazy thing is, it doesn't matter who my client is--this model holds true. It could be a bank having me list a foreclosure--the person I deal with has dreams that I can help with--get this property off the books quickly for the most money. If it is an investor and they are supposed to be "cold" and "business only", they still have dreams and I can still help them accomplish those dreams. I just have to modify the approach and give the right info at the right time. If they are a new family looking for the first place, they have more dreams than they know what do with so I have to help narrow those down and focus a bit. If they are middle aged and are contemplating the possibility of moving aging parents in, there is a completely different set of dreams there and I have to listen for them. The tough part is listening to all the extra stuff and finding the right info to grasp. I'm getting better, but I have a very long way to go before I am an "expert" at this.

As we approach 2013, think about how you can have your own renaissance. What will make you better. What will help you discover more of your potential. Can I help? If I can't, who can? Be a better you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

End of the World

I have a blog already written about gun control. I have been debating for the past 24 hours about posting it. I might post it, I might not. In the meantime, here are my 2 cents on the end of the world. I'm  ready. Bring it on.

On a completely different note, sometimes home inspectors make me mad. Some have a tendency to try and scare the mess out of a buyer. I know they are there to tell the buyer all the things wrong with the place and what COULD happen. They don't ever offer a percent chance that it WILL happen. They also (almost) never say things like, "in an absolute worst case scenario..." I had a few contracts fall through this year because of over zealous contractors. I want people to buy nice homes but I want the fear of what could happen to be balanced with what will likely happen. The man I use for home inspection service is just that way. Ron will say something like, "here is the problem, here is how one would fix it, here is the worst possible thing that could happen if it is not addressed, here is the liklihood of that happening." He informs thoroughly but doesn't scare. That's the right way to do it. Sometimes, there is a legitimate problem that absolutely has to be addressed. Sometimes there is a problem that should be addressed at some point. Sometimes there is a problem that could eventually be addressed but most likely just needs to be monitored.

On another completely different note, life is pretty good. It just figures that the world is going to end when life is actually going well. Oh well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I met with my tax advisor today. It was not pleasant. As a Realtor, I am paid as an independent contractor and thus receive a 1099. Unlike W-2 employees, I pay my portion of income tax AND "self employment tax" which is typically paid by the employer for a W-2 employee. You really don't know how much tax liability your job creates until you pay all portions out of your own pocket (instead of out of the paycheck before you even get a chance to cash it).

I think this is probably the smartest thing the federal government has ever done. The majority of people don't even think about how much they earned vs. how much they actually get in that check. They consider the actual check amount the amount they are paid. They are happy when Uncle Sam sends them another check in February or March or whenever they file taxes. Some consider it a "bonus". It is not a bonus. It was your money all along. You loaned it to the government interest free for a year. You didn't know that because you only look at the actual check amount each week. You also didn't know your employer paid even more than that just to be privileged to buy your labor. If everyone was responsible for writing a check to the feds each quarter, instead of it occurring automatically each paycheck, I guarantee we would have a more efficient system. Government waste would offend more people. I take it personally now because I know how much I pay in. I look to see where my money goes. I am aware because it hurts me personally to pay it.

I don't mind paying taxes. Really, I don't mind. I am thankful that I live in a country where I can earn a great living. I want to pay for the services I get--defense, roads, schools, etc. I just don't want to overpay for anything. You know that feeling you get when you buy something for $100 and then go into another store and see the same thing for $75? I feel that way when I think about government spending my tax dollars. They pay $125 for something I can get for $60. It makes me angry. Ok. I am done with my rant. Writing really is therapeutic. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How Can I Make Your Life Easier?

This question is the number one question a service provider should answer for you. A polished professional may answer this without you even asking it. If you walk away from your meeting with someone soliciting your business and they haven't given you a satisfactory answer, you probably need to move on. Why is this question so important? I will give you some anecdotes to make it relevant.

I can follow directions. I can watch a YouTube video on how to rebuild an engine. I can learn how to build a deck. I am capable of these things. You are too. That said, it would take me a very, very long time to do this. I would, no doubt, have a "learning curve" where I would screw some stuff up and have to re-do it. Once finished, it might not work quite as well as if a pro did it. I certainly wouldn't give myself a warranty and some of the parts might not be under warranty because they weren't professionally installed. A good mechanic makes my life easier with fast service, honest diagnosis, fair pricing, guarantees that the repair will operate precisely and free repair if something isn't right. I also expect them to know whats wrong with it even if I don't.

When you think about buying a new vacuum, do you want one that is more bulky, awkward and hard to clean out? No! You look for one that will make your life easier. You want one without a bag that is easier to steer, lighter and does a good enough job that you don't have to go over the same spot three times. You shop with your subconscious saying, "how does this vacuum make my life easier?"

Real Estate is the Same as The Vacuum Purchase!!

You could educate yourself and get the licenses and whatnot that are required to sell a house. You can do it as a For Sale By Owner. You are capable of that. You could probably advertise your home in such a way that you would get prospective buyers in to look at it. You could host open houses, field phone calls from prospective buyers and real estate agents. You could put together a contract and you might even be able to get the transaction to close without a hitch and not get sued later for improper disclosure. You might even carry a liability policy that covers that. You will most likely spend more money, more time and probably not get the price or results you want though. That's what I do. I have a track record that says I will make your life easier by taking care of all that stuff I listed above and much, much more.

On the home buying side there are even more pitfalls. You can find a lender, home inspector, pest control company for inspection, attorney to handle contracts, title company and possibly contractors for repair work. You might even find the "generally accepted" contract forms for your state online. Do you know how to negotiate repairs? Do you know how to identify the repair work that your FHA loan is going to require? Do you know that the order in which you do inspections matters? Do you know how to get out of a contract when termites are found and still get your earnest money back? Did you know that I can represent you when buying a For Sale By Owner or any other property, no matter who has it listed, and that, except for very unusual circumstances, you don't pay me, the seller does? Did you know that in 3 years I've done more transactions than 10 "typical" individuals or families will do in their combined lifetimes?  I make your life easier by recognizing pitfalls before they happen. I see blemishes in homes that you might not have ever even thought were possible. I know the correct order and hold tight to the contract for your protection. I received the Certified Negotiation Expert designation a few months ago. That's how I make your life easier.

Bottom line, you want a Realtor that will simplify your life. They will assist you in decision making. They will always, ALWAYS work in YOUR best interest. They will not overburden you with the tasks they should accomplish. They will make it look easy because they make it easy for you. It's a great compliment to a Realtor (or any service provider) that they make the task look easy. That means they have not burdened you with the hard parts and have made your life easier.

Consider the people you pay for a service. Do they make your life easier? If not, why in the world do you still pay them?