I doubt anyone could argue that 2020 hasn’t been one of the strangest years yet. From COVID-19 symptoms and virus hotspots, to masks, to dust storms, to killer hornets and beyond. This year is historical on so many counts. Yet, arguing is all we seem to do lately. It seems as if families and friends are truly divided on just about EVERYTHING! What seems true today is likely disputed tomorrow.
Who can you trust? Everyone has their “go to” source for the facts, but the contrast of information has never been more divisive and confusing. With easy access to social media and worldwide news programming, it is nearly impossible to zero in on the facts or even determine the definition of a “fact.”
On an average day, Realtors face a great deal of unknowns. However, add COVID-19 to the mix and we are subject to an entire new layer of uncertainty. Though we’ve always taken on the role of counselor, the new expectation is that we have become health advisors as well.
This selling environment can be extremely challenging. Do we allow potential buyers to see the interior of homes or should we expect them to make a buying decision based on photos and a video? Must buyers wear masks and booties? Can they open doors, touch cabinets or open closets? Who turns on the lights, the fans, adjusts the AC, etc.? What about greeting new clients? Do we elbow bump, fist bump, or shake hands of those who still extend theirs? You get the point. Every single business has been challenged to re-think HOW to do business.
Adding to the confusion is the market. Inventory is low. Is that because sellers are fearful of strangers in their homes? Is it because everyone is self-quarantining? Is it the realization that if we must work from home, we need a home that works? The interest rates are favorable, and buyers are plentiful. Maybe it is all that pent-up energy after months at home watching HGTV!
As I write this, I must chuckle. There is no way to know with any certainty that my words will be considered factual next week; we are truly living and making up new rules daily.
In an aim towards becoming less divided, let’s all make a pledge today to stop saying “the new normal” and “we’re all in this together.” It is new, and we are all experiencing whatever “it” is, but the time has come to move forward and try to be respectful of each other’s ways, fears, and individual realities.
🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸Fly your flag, honor your country, HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!
To all the homes I’ve loved before…
If you follow this column with regularity, you may remember an emotional article I wrote about moving, packing up memories and looking forward to my next chapter. I don’t mind telling you tears streamed down my face as I wrote the words “We’re moving” and there was a big, loud, ugly cry when I locked the door for the last time.
It was in that moment I truly related to every seller who had experienced the emotion of leaving a long-standing home. It was our “home, our happy place and over the years, it was a backdrop for endless sleepovers, graduation parties, a wedding reception and numerous political events. It was indeed everything the word “home” embodies.
Fast forward three years and, yep you probably guessed it, we are moving again! My husband claims that there are still boxes that he hasn’t opened (which is probably true) and that he’s barely had time to settle in here. I suspect he was beginning to enjoy the completed projects and rejoicing that the seemingly endless parade of construction professionals had come to an end.
Too bad he married a real estate agent!
Each week, I see new listings, visit new construction sites and tour many wonderful communities. Along the way, I gain an extensive network of real estate family, friends and colleagues- some of whom give me sneak peeks of properties hitting the market soon. Cue the inspiration! My life is like a 24/7 version of every show on HGTV. Who can blame me for being tempted to try something new?
I realize it may sound a little crazy, but now that there’s less of an emotional attachment, it becomes easier for me to play “Love it or List it” with our home. It’s only been 3 years, but the kids are grown and have homes of their own. I now look around and see grown-up things, no toys or kid stuff (unless you count the special closet earmarked for the grandkids) and I suppose my adventurous spirit is kicking into high gear. The winds of change are always blowing…
With all that said, I know my house is going to be someone else’s dream home and they will love it and cherish the great memories that they will make here.
And, as a side note, who could have ever imagined that as our moving day approached, the Governor would announce a lockdown? It was mid-March and we were in the beginning phase of learning the breakout of who could work, who could be on the road, what stores would be open and what businesses/tradespeople would be available. Though real estate agents and movers were deemed “essential workers,” the process took on a quite different look and feel for me. Our new location needed some repair work before we could move in. Finding anyone willing or able to come into the home was a project on its own! It has been an interesting 2 months and we shall see what life’s next chapter holds for us…To be continued.
Thank you Parrish and North of the River friends for allowing us to continuously be the top area firm. I am truly blessed to have a great team of dedicated professionals.
Lucky ? to be a Realtor
The world of real estate looks extremely glamorous on TV. Everything seems easy and the viewer gets the best of it all. You rarely see deals that fall through or houses that are beyond repair. You never see the face of the person foreclosed on and money (or the lack thereof) isn’t ever the highlight on most shows. Even the “flippers” tend to win in the end.
Over the years I’ve watched a lot of agents come and go. In 2014, NAR reported 87% of all new agents fail after five years in the industry. I haven’t seen updated numbers, but I imagine that needle hasn’t moved much.
There is a huge turnover in this industry. Many find the long days, sometimes lengthy negotiations, and lack of a stable income daunting at best. In reality, buyers and sellers don’t naturally flock to you. There isn’t a weekly paycheck, and contract negotiations can be difficult at times. It isn’t always a “win” no matter how hard you try. I’ve seen agents become super stars only to burn out after a few years.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I can honestly say, these last 44 years have been kind to me. I wake up each day with passion and enthusiasm about my “job”, my chosen profession, my career. Sure, there are difficult days. Some nights you toss and turn, hoping the simultaneous closings scheduled for the next day work out of for all the parties involved. You ruminate over the reality of the advice given to a grieving spouse about selling their home. You hope the young couple that just bought their first home can really afford those payments. Your life is no longer your own. It’s 24/7 brain power.
Still, the passion is there. For those who can stick it out, learn to juggle and keep all the balls in the air, the work is extremely satisfying. There are very few careers with this kind of impact on others. We are people helpers and we make a difference. If you put in the time, understand the pitfalls and rejoice in the wins, this career can bring many years of joy.
Thank you to all the true professionals in our field, the ones that still strive to provide buyers and sellers with a positive experience. Cheers to the agents that still answer their phones, texts and emails even after the office hours say “closed” and kudos to the agents who respect and admire one another for all the right reasons!
Congratulations to all our great agents. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.
The Human Touch Still Matters!
Several months ago, I finally gave in to the dreaded task of looking for a new vehicle. My lease was expiring, and I’d been putting off the shopping experience long enough. To some, all the test driving, bargaining, and dealer research is invigorating. To me, it feels like a chore and, at the time, something I would have gladly paid someone else to do for me. I have many connections, but strangely I don’t have any close friends in the car business able to guide me through this type of painstaking venture.
I started online and began narrowing my search down to several brands, models and price points preparing to head to the dealerships with notebooks full of facts and figures. I was ready! However, when online shopping became in-person shopping, my confidence wavered. I quickly learned excellence in customer service is not the norm. Sure, the first two dealership representatives were polite enough, but I quickly sensed they were looking for a faster transaction. They wanted someone that had a better handle on what they were looking for. I wasn’t an easy sale so their interest in me wasn’t strong. Incidentally, no follow up calls from either salesman.
Dealership three was amazing and the vehicle I purchased was everything I was never looking for. However, it was the customer service that sold me and fully captured my interest from the minute I walked in the door. Sure, there were the bells and whistles -the smell of baked cookies wafting through the dealership, the offerings of fresh brewed coffee or juice, and the shopping voucher I was given to use while reviewing paperwork. But it was the kindness, the patience and the overwhelming sense that my business mattered that made all the difference.
Have we become so conditioned to mediocrity that we become excited when someone acts like they want our business?
I liken my experience to real estate. While 92% of home shoppers begin their search online, at some point human contact becomes a necessity. Buyers and sellers should be valued. They should feel, with each contact they make, they are truly seen as unique and not just a means to a quick sale. Quality service and trusted communication must be the baseline for doing business. Excellence should be the expectation, not the exception.
Thank you to everyone who has done business with our team over the years. You aren’t a number and I hope you feel just as valued and appreciated as I know you are. Many of you have become valued friends and our continued resolution for 2020 and beyond is to make your real estate experience with us a positive memory!
Happy New Year!
Holiday Home Shopping
Is December really a good time to list our home? Are buyers really shopping for homes during the holidays? Year after year we hear sellers asking these questions, and the answer is YES…and sometimes no.
You see, the holiday season can be a bit tricky and December is traditionally thought to be one of the worst months to put a home on the market from a national perspective. That said, we live in Florida and traditional schools of thought are usually thrown out the door. We don’t have snow to impede driving. We don’t have dead lawns, trees bearing no leaves, dirty road slush, etc. We don’t have to pile on the coats and mittens or drag out an ice scraper just to leave the driveway. Our homes tend to look bright and cheerful no matter what the season. This nuance makes it much easier to buy and sell during winter months.
If your home is currently listed or if you’re thinking of listing, consider the following:
- Don’t deck the halls out too much. This is the same advice I give no matter what month we’re in. Decoration overload can kill a sales opportunity. Maybe this is the year to cut down on a few strands of lights, 86 the yard blowups and minimize the Santa themed knickknacks. Remember, a buyer wants to picture their living space, not yours.
- Do embrace the scents of the season. Faint hints of cinnamon, citrus or vanilla help to bring warmth to your space. Just don’t overpower the nose because doing so can turn buyers away.
- Make sure your real estate agent will be in-town for the season. Holiday buyers are serious customers and it’s no different when applied to real estate. If they are making the effort to see a home during one of the busiest times of the year, be ready and prepared to sell.
At last month’s sales meeting one of our agents cited a recent poll which revealed most individuals can only do about 4 hours of family time during the holiday season. Smile. One might assume those needing an escape will seize the opportunity and call a real estate agent about the house they drove by on the way to the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!
Last year, on Christmas Day, as we were finishing up the last bites of the third or fourth meal of the day, I heard an email ping on my phone. One of our listings had received an offer! I hesitated to call the homeowner but decided the news could be a happy holiday surprise for them. Shortly after finishing their family dinner they opened the offer and felt this was the sign they were looking for! It was perfect timing. It’s a great holiday story they will certainly share for years to come.
Don’t feel bad for your agent. After almost 44 years of wearing a real estate hat, I can tell you with great certainty there is no such thing as a true “day off.” Even when we are out
Meaningful contribution comes in all shapes and sizes. For so many small business owners, “giving back” to the communities we serve is really at the heart of why we exist in the first place. We’re also overwhelmingly appreciative of the larger businesses and corporations showing their support locally too!
As a parent of 3 children who attended north river schools, played sports and actively participated in various community activities, I can fully relate to the seemingly endless volunteer hours and fundraising efforts. Yes, that $2.00 candy bar or $20.00 cookie dough purchase can make a difference not just on your scale! You see, while the size of the contribution may seem small, it all adds up. That’s why our office, made up mostly of Realtors live north of the river, (specifically Parrish) make sure to participate in activities benefiting our neighbors. The youth, the seniors and those less fortunate than we are, make it to the top of our must-do list each year. As realtors, our “job” is to list and sell homes. However, our collective mission is to build neighborhoods full of people who can count on one another and make a difference. We’re very proud of that mission!
From local pizza establishments and hometown grocery stores, to banks and the assorted Mom & Pop shop favorites, we are all in this together! Parents, grandparents, teachers, community leaders and YOU! We collectively have so much power to give back and to give often. A simple gesture or even a contribution of your time creates such a huge difference in the lives of many. Together, we make our community stronger!
It’s hard to believe the year is almost over. Goal setting, budget projects and year-end calculations should, when possible, include financial assistance or sweat equity to our schools and community. I’m proud to say my team is right there with you! Leslie Wells Realty is once again a drop off center for The Mayors Feed the Hungry Program thru November 20th. Let’s make it the best year ever! A heartfelt thank you to all who volunteer their time, energy and financial support to those who need it most.
Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
Saluting our Veterans and thanking them every day for their service.
I love the spirit of this community. We’re friendly, we’re loyal, we’re thoughtful and we’re kind. Those who live here have wonderful lives filled with family, church, work, sports and a lifetime of friendships. No, this isn’t Mayberry 2019, but the warm-fuzzy feeling is hard to miss! It’s a great place to live.
With that in mind, it’s sometimes a head scratcher reading some of the more popular social media group pages that focus specifically on the Parrish community. Am I missing something? Could I be living in a parallel universe of fantasy or science fiction? The twilight zone perhaps? Could there be two or three different Parrish Florida communities? Nah. Parrish Florida is one-of-a-kind. Still when I read some of the tales, the ramblings and the rants, I must wonder why there is such a disconnect?
I get it. We all like a good rant and sometimes those rants can be extremely funny from a distance. There are people who love to “share” long stories about the bad drivers, a car rider line that doesn’t move fast enough or the lack of shopping carts at the nearby Publix. I’ve seen the tall tales of Mt. Parrish and the well-placed sarcasm that brings most of us a chuckle. On the surface, these things don’t seem to be that big of a deal.
Here’s my worry. While the rants and raves may seem harmless, even funny at times, they can also be damaging. If you are a homeowner, perhaps you share my concern. When a typical buyer is looking to relocate, they do a good bit of homework by researching communities via social media. Our outstanding growth means there are now a larger number of subdivisions to choose from. This is a good thing!
Suppose homeowners in a particular community decide to use social media to rant about their HOA bylaws or leadership. Without full context, a potential buyer to the community may decide to move-on. As a seller, you would never know why they passed on your beautiful home or why it has been on the market so long. You would never know the price drop you took was a direct result of social media community bashing. Think of it from the buyer’s perspective- Wouldn’t you be a little anxious to live in a neighborhood where everyone seems unhappy?
So, what can you do? Nit-picking isn’t going to go away. And truthfully, we should have the right to voice our concerns no matter how small they may seem to others. If you’re in this situation, try talking to your HOA president. Explain your concerns and suggest they create a private page where residents can ask questions and even voice their disdain about the rules and leadership. This helps keep the focus on the serious community concerns and more than likely it will help get them addressed in a timelier manner.
Let’s consider using social media to focus on the positive aspects of Parrish. Sure, I am bias. It’s my job to sell houses. But I also know the heart of Parrish isn’t about road rage, missing shopping carts or HOA fines. We are so lucky to live in Paradise, breathe in, breathe out, repeat! Life is good!
When it rains, it pours!
Today I spoke with a county official who shared a surprising statistic with me. Even if we don’t get one more drop of rain, we’ve already come close to matching the 2018 rain measurement. In fact, our area has experienced 32” of rain, just since June! The ground “sponge” is near capacity.
As you might imagine, rainy days and real estate dreams aren’t exactly a great match. When the weather is less than ideal, anything and everything seems to go sideways. Showing a home during a downpour is the absolute worst! You would think after years of experience and golf umbrellas galore, we’d be used to the June-October rainy season, but that’s not necessarily so!
When it’s soggy out, even the basics can be a challenge for sellers. Because we believe professional pictures showcasing the sunny side of Florida are the best way to capture the true lifestyle of our area, we often wait to shoot the exterior of the home pending rain delays. Inevitably, when a sunny day finally arrives, the grass may be a foot high!
Though sellers hate to get a call we showing their home during one of our famous downpours, buyers see the rains in a more positive light…Yes, it’s annoying to get soaked between houses, but the benefits can certainly outweigh the wet clothes. Sellers take note-
Suppose you are a horse lover and looking for that perfect home with a barn and fenced pasture. Great news! This weather was made for you and now the best time to shop potential properties. Why? When it’s raining, or we’ve had a recent downpour, your visual inspection of the land will yield much more information than it would on a sunny day. Will your horses be standing in ankle deep water for several months of the year? How dry is the barn? What is the drainage situation? Without rain, these critical discoveries might not have been realized until it was too late.
Drainage isn’t just a problem in pasture areas. As a buyer, pay special attention to any potential flooding issues. After a heavy rain, does the water seem to run off quickly or is there a good chance you be hosting ducks and tadpoles in your yard? One agent shared seeing a local subdivision with catfish swimming down the street in front of one of the houses!
Yes, when it rains it pours! Even if everything else seems to line up perfectly, rain delays can wreak havoc on closings and contracts as well. Home inspections are challenging as virtually no one wants to stand on the roof or crawl under a house in this weather, especially while dodging lightning bolts. Inspectors who routinely tackle several houses a day are sometimes lucky to complete just one. Couple that with system replacements and roof replacements, and you have yourself a scheduling nightmare.
So to those of you selling and shopping in this squishy weather, take advantage of the positives when you can. Much of it is out of our control. Mother Nature has a way of letting us know who is really in charge!
Whether you just landed in paradise on this side of the Manatee River, or your roots already run deep in our community, I promise there will always be something new to discover!
Sure, if you take a quick scan through social media, you’ll see chatter regarding the hope for a new restaurant, new shopping opportunities, movie theaters and more. We’re growing by leaps and bounds and there’s little doubt these “wants” will one day become reality. The rumor mill is abundant, and everyone is quick to guess the “next big thing.” That said, much of this area’s appeal is still the calm, everyday life that we enjoy today with nearby amenities and room to roam. From an inexpensive outing with family to an educational trip with the kids, it’s important to remember we already have so many opportunities at our fingertips. Staycation anyone?
Have you had the chance to visit Parrish’s own Florida Railroad Museum and take the 13-mile train ride? Maybe it’s time to ride the rails! Check out their website at http://www.frrm.org/ for a complete list of all upcoming events. What about a tour of the Gamble Plantation? Like me, you probably drive by it several times a week without thinking twice. Next time do give it a second look. It’s a beautiful and historic state park featuring the only surviving plantation house in South Florida.
The wonderous Emerson Point Preserve is another must-see. It boasts plush 365 acres bordered by the Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay and features views of the Skyway, pristine shores and miles of hiking trails. Climb up the observation tower or maybe have a seaside snack; it’s a great place to find shark’s teeth or other treasures from days gone by.
Don’t miss Madera Bickel Mound on Terra Ceia Island! This 10-acre attraction dates to 1450 A.D and is a state recognized archeological site filled with artifacts from Native Americans. It’s open from 8am to sundown and costs nothing to explore! There are several picnic areas to enjoy and the overall peaceful setting is the envy of our northern neighbors.
Charity minded? The Southeastern Guide Dogs campus is right in our backyard! This hidden gem features multi-sensory experiences like “Beyond the Dark” and campus tours that allow you a behind-the-scenes look at the entire training process. Both options are only $15 each and the cost helps to transform the lives of those with vision loss as well as veterans with PTSD.
Add these opportunities to our already plentiful assortment of area golf courses, soccer and baseball fields, wineries, county parks and tennis courts and you have quite a to-do list ready to go.
So Now You Know!