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Monday Morning Coffee 2020!

1/6/2020
 


Online real estate database Zillow forecasts good times in the housing market in 2020, as healthy consumer confidence, job creation, and wage growth are "a recipe for continued economic growth, not a recession."

Evidence of that consumer confidence was found in FNMA's Home Purchase Sentiment Index, up 2.7 points to 91.5 in November and 5.3 points ahead of its strong read in 2018.

Additional support for the sentiment of a strong market in 2020 is RealPage's analysis of the latest data, revealing that we should get major relief for the housing supply shortage, since residential building permits hit a 12-year high in October, notching an annual rate of 1.46 million units.

    

"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties." - Helen Keller.

She was homeless just one year ago. But, after packing up and leaving Detroit so she could start a new life in northern Michigan, this 31-year old woman now has confirmation that she's in the right place.

Danielle Franzoni moved to Alpena and settled into a homeless shelter to stay sober-after struggling with an opioid addition. Now a waitress, a generous tip is helping her build on her dreams after reaching two-years sober.

According to The Alpena News, Franzoni was working her Sunday shift at the waterfront Thunder Bay River Restaurant, when two regulars gave her the surprise of a lifetime, leaving a tip that made her burst into tears.

The total amount of the bill before the unexpected tip was just $23.33, yet the pair gifted her more than two thousand dollars more.

The handwritten note on the the receipt read: Danielle... Happy New Year... '2020' Tip Challenge.

Franzoni told The Alpena News she was shocked, "They don't know where I've come from, they don't know how hard it's been. They're really just doing this out of the kindness of their heart."

When asked what she plans to do with the money, the mother of three who just moved into a new house, explained that she'll use some of it to obtain the last piece of the puzzle on her road to recovery-a driver's license, something she hasn't had for ten years.

With the bulk of the money going into a savings account, Franzoni will "build a future because of this."

"My kids have a future," she told WXYZ. "It's a big deal. It's a really big deal."

Franzoni didn't waste any time paying it forward, too. She went out to dinner that same day to celebrate, and joined the #2020TipChallenge by leaving a $20.20 tip for her server.

She reportedly hopes to one day open a sobriety house for women and children to show others facing similar struggles that change is possible with the right support.

- Jessica Acree

Monday Morning Coffee - Christmas Kindness

12/9/2019
 

It comes as a surprise to most homeowners, but statistically, December can prove to be one of the strongest months of the year to place a home on the market.

Yes, Spring is widely known as the best time to sell a home, but the holidays have some advantages too. Buyers are more sincere in December, meaning home buyers do not typically look at homes in December unless they are truly buying a home.

If you have a choice and want to wait for Spring, that is understandable, but if you need to place your home for sale in December, do not feel you are at a disadvantage  because statistics show December to be one of the most successful months of the year to sell a home.

    

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." - Norman Vincent Peale

The separation took place in the month of August; the father/husband had frozen every penny she had. This created problems she had never faced before - severe poverty. She was living in a house her parents had obtained for her, working as a temporary at any job she could get, but the idea of buying gifts for her children for Christmas seemed to be strictly an idea.

While driving to work one morning she heard on the radio an advertisement for 'Christmas at Autoworld'. This place was built as a teaching amusement park - inside. The theme was the automobile industry since it was located in the heart of Flint, Michigan. Unfortunately, it was failing; therefore, the city was offering the residents one last chance to experience the fun before it closed its doors - FOR FREE!

There was no cost to be admitted or ride on the rides, but food was not free. She decided that since she didn't have two pennies to rub together for Christmas, her boys would have the 'Christmas' experience at Autoworld. Her boys were her life, her loves.

So, on the night of the big 'free' event, it was snowing, very cold, but the very spirit of Christmas was in the air. A true Michigan Christmas. She bundled them up in their winter outerwear put them and the umbrella stroller into the old car she had purchased for $1,200 and headed to 'Autoworld!' The night was definitely COLD, but she parked as close to the entrance as she could.

As she was putting her baby into the umbrella stroller with her twins at her side, a horse drawn carriage pulled up behind her car and the driver asked her if she wanted a ride. She politely declined (wishing she could have since it was a perfect night to do so) stating that she didn't have any money. She proceeded to walk the snowy sidewalk with the stroller and her twins to the entrance.

The experience inside was thrilling for her boys. Of course, they would get hungry as the whole environment smelled like cotton candy, popcorn, hotdogs, pizza, and every other type of food a vendor could serve. She reached into her wallet to see what money she had. She determined she had enough for two slices of pizza and one soft drink. They all sat down at a table and shared their dinner; she ate nothing, her children always came first.

After spending a couple of hours the children were getting tired, the facility was getting ready to close and it was getting near bed time for them. She gathered them up, bundled them up and headed outside. At the curb in front of the main entrance there was the horse drawn carriage looking like it was waiting for Cinderella. The driver said, 'You wait right there, don't move I will be right back. Don't leave.' The young mother was shocked but did just that, waited. Her boys loved looking at the horse.

A few minutes later the carriage appeared back in front of them. The driver got down from his seat and said, 'Get in.' The Mother said, 'I don't have any money for a ride.' The driver told her he was all done for the night and she was his last passengers... there was no charge. He told her he was just going to give her and her boys a ride around the parking lot to her car. Her boys were thrilled to say the least.

He helped her and her precious cargo into the carriage covered them up with warm woolen blankets (just like in the movies) and off they went. After they made a U-turn, he turned to her and asked her, 'Would you like to see the city by way of horse drawn carriage?' This is what she wanted to do all along. Of course, she said yes, and her boys were ecstatic!

Throughout the whole ride she and the driver had been talking about her situation and that her Christmas wish was to get a permanent job enabling her to support her boys. The driver, now known as Harold, pulled up behind her car after a grand tour of the city, halted the horse, parked, and lifted one by one her children down out of the carriage. Then, like Santa taking Mrs. Claus's hand, he helped her out of the carriage only in his hand was a $20 bill folded up.

His eyes were filled with tears and said it isn't much but buy these beautiful boys something for under the tree from Santa and my Christmas wish for you is that I hope you receive that job.

One week later I received a job offer that was to start in January, it lasted for ten years. My 'Carriage Santa' came to visit me there several times.

Yes, this is my story. My twins are now 27 and my 'baby' in the umbrella stroller is now 25. They are all grown up and very successful and my 'Carriage Santa - Harold' has now passed away but God sent him to me for a reason. I have always tried to pass along the goodness he showed me, a complete stranger, whenever I can.

I truly believe in the love that 'Santa' stands for; therefore, I believe in Santa. God is Love, Santa is Love and I believe in never giving up, there is always hope.

Merry Christmas.
~ Denise Berth


Monday Morning Coffee

12/2/2019
 


Seasonal activity seems to have returned to the real estate market. In a normal real estate market the 4th quarter of each year experiences fewer buyers looking at homes and thus fewer homes sold. However during the past few years the 4th quarter has been unusually busy, even to the point that we hardly noticed the seasonal change.

This year however, we see the seasonal decrease in the market that has been amiss during the past several years. Despite this noticeable decrease, the statistics for the 4th quarter of 2019 should show strong results.

Low interest rates and a consistent creation of new home inventory should finish another positive year in the housing market.

    

A Christmas Story: For the Man Who Hated Christmas

It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it - overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma - the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids - all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes, and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and that this was his gift from me.

Mike's smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition - one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children - ignoring their new toys - would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the small, white envelope never lost its allure.

The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope.

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.

By Nancy W. Gavin

- Editor's Note: This true story was originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman's Day magazine. It was the first place winner out of thousands of entries in the magazine's "My Most Moving Holiday Tradition" contest in which readers were asked to share their favorite holiday tradition and the story behind it. The story inspired a family from Atlanta, Georgia to start The White Envelope Project and Giving101, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating youth about the importance of giving.

   

Monday Morning Coffee - Happy Thanksgiving

11/25/2019
 


Seasonal activity seems to have returned to the real estate market. In a normal real estate market the 4th quarter of each year experiences fewer buyers looking at homes and thus fewer homes sold. However during the past few years the 4th quarter has been unusually busy, even to the point that we hardly noticed the seasonal change.

This year however, we see the seasonal decrease in the market that has been amiss during the past several years. Despite this noticeable decrease, the statistics for the 4th quarter of 2019 should show strong results.

Low interest rates and a consistent creation of new home inventory should finish another positive year in the housing market.

    
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
-Albert
Einstein

The 26-year-old mother stared down at her son who was dying of terminal leukemia. Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of determination. Like any parent she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all his dreams. Now that was no longer possible. The leukemia would see to that.

But, she still wanted her son's dreams to come true. She took her son's hand and asked, "Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life? "

Mommy, I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up."

Mom smiled back and said, "Let's see if we can make your wish come true."

Later that day she went with "Make a Wish" to her local fire department in Phoenix, Arizona, where they met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix.

They explained her son's final wish and asked if it might be possible to give the six year old a ride around the block on a fire engine.

Fireman Bob said, "Look, we can do better than that. If you'll have your son ready at seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll make him an honorary fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards!

And if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat-not a toy one, but one with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots. They're all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them fast."

Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his fire uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station. He was in heaven.

There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy got to go out on all three calls. He rode in the different fire engines, the paramedic's van, and even the fire chief's car. He was also videotaped for the local news program.

Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Billy that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.

One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital. Then she remembered the day Billy had spent as a fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition.

The chief replied, "We can do better than that. We'll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire? It's just the fire department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the window to his room?

About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital, extended its ladder up to Billy's third floor open window and 5 firefighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room.

With his mother's permission, they hugged him and held him and told him how much they loved him. With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the fire chief and said, "Chief, am I really a fireman now?" "Yes, Billy, you are a fireman now," the chief said.

With those words, Billy smiled and closed his eyes one last time. He passed away later that evening.

This is the story of the very first child helped by the "Make a Wish" Foundation", now making a wish come true every 34 minutes.

When
life-changing wishes are granted, a wish effect occurs. The wish allows children battling critical illnesses to build the hope and strength they need to fight harder and see the impossible become possible. Research shows wishes can give these children a higher chance of survival. And, it's why health professionals often use a wish as part of their treatment plan, because wishes can build compliance with care and potentially give their patients a better chance of reducing time spent in the hospital. There is nothing more powerful than a child's wish - that's the wish effect.
~ From the "Make a Wish" Foundation Web Site.


    

Monday Morning Coffee

11/18/2019
 

Last week, we saw mortgage rates trending slightly lower, continuing to hover near year-long lows.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey reacted with an increase in both new purchase and refinance mortgage applications.  Both the consumer price index and core CPI increased.  Retail sales are also up.

For the week ending 11/8, new purchase application submissions increased 5.0% and refinance application submissions increased 13.0% for a composite increase of 9.6%.  Lower mortgage rates continue to move the mortgage market.  The MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, Joel Kan predicted, "with rates still in the 4% range, we continue to expect to see moderate growth in refinance activity in the final weeks of 2020."

    

One morning, when Ray Mohler Jr. was 4 years old, he woke up with pain in both of his hips. The pain brought Mohler to the hospital. "I was there for eight hours and scared. And when I got to go home, I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that there were kids who were going to have to stay there."

Mohler's birthday just happens to be on Christmas Eve. And that Christmas, thinking of the children who were left behind at the hospital, Mohler chose to donate half of all his birthday and Christmas presents to them.

Soon after, Mohler, with the help of his family, founded the Little Saint Nick Foundation. Its mission is to make hospitals more kid-friendly for the young patients. With more than 500,000 gift bags, toys, movies and electronics donated to children in hospitals across the country in the last 13 years, Mohler's foundation is still going strong.

In addition, Mohler has inspired other kids to take action as well. Thirteen-year-old Agha Haider was home with a broken leg "binge watching" TV and saw a show on Nickelodeon featuring Mohler and the Little Saint Nick Foundation. Haider was captivated seeing how one kid had made a difference for so many. He emailed the foundation to see how he could get involved. Haider and Mohler eventually started corresponding.

Last month, at a St. Louis hospital, the results of Mohler and Haider's joint efforts paid off. More than one hundred volunteers helped to pack 300 gift bags, filled with gifts like stuffed animals and coloring books, that were later distributed at two local children's hospitals.

Monday Morning Coffee - Happy Veteran's Day

11/11/2019
 


For the week ending 11/1, new purchase applications declined 3.0% and refinance applications increased 2.0% for a composite decrease of 0.1%.  A limited amount of homes for sale continues to create a competitive market, especially for first-time home buyers.  Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said, "Amidst persistent supply constraints in the entry-level price range, there's evidence that high-end home buyers are more active this fall."

    

My grandfather told only one story about his years in the Army. He served in the 10th Mountain Division fighting the Nazis in the Italian Alps. The only evidence of those years I knew of was a frayed backpack and skis he kept, but there was more.

When I was 13 or so, my father and I sat with my grandfather in his den. I asked him about a small painting of a rocky peak capped with snow he had made with strokes of blue, gray and white years ago. My grandfather looked at it for a moment.

He said, "I remember this kid, a private. We were being shelled by artillery, but they were shooting too high. We could hear the rounds pass just over our heads and hit the mountain somewhere behind us. It shook the ground. There was this kid crouched across from me. As the rounds went over, I could see the color leave his face, and when they exploded behind us, I could see it come back. Up there on that mountain. That kid's face, dying and coming back to life, over and over. I'll never forget it."

I learned, later, that he had made the painting while he recovered from his wounds in a hospital at the end of the war.

I looked at my father, who was leaning so far forward I thought he might fall out of his chair. His eyes were wide and, for a moment, he looked younger than I. He had never served in the military but was a writer, and storytelling was what he had devoted his life to.

I didn't realize he'd been waiting since 1945 for a single story about the war from his father. My grandfather never told another.

On Memorial Day we remember veterans we have lost, but Veterans Day is to celebrate those who live. There should be no difference between those of us who have seen combat and those who volunteered in peacetime, active-duty members and reservists, 20-year careers and two-year enlistments. These are all Americans who, for a time, invested their lives in service to our nation and have become direct participants securing our independence.

There are 22 million veterans living in America today, civilians again, mowing their lawns and waiting in lines.

In the six years since I left the Marines, what always strikes me is a veteran's enduring attachment to their unit, their clear memory of places and comrades, the stunning drama of their missions or unique situational comedy of their labors. Most of these stories are never heard, because no one ever asks for them.

We mention sacrifice on days like this, but sacrifice likely isn't the thing a veteran will recall. It will be the stories. It's these tales that make military experience comprehensible to those who never serve in this way. What if today - instead of thanking a veteran for their service and then passing by - you take a moment to ask them for a story? We've all got one to tell.

Monday Morning Coffee

11/3/2019
 


October's National Association of Home Builders sentiment index hit its best read in 20 months!

Newly built homes are still a strong factor in the housing market... following a 12-year high in August, housing starts took a break in September, off 9.4%.

There is more to the story - The decrease was all from multi-families starts, because single-family starts were up for the fourth month in a row!

    

"Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday." ~ Wilma Rudolph

Six-year-old Wilma Rudolph was different from the other kids. They could walk, run, and jump, but she was hampered by a paralyzed, twisted left leg. At her elementary school in Clarksville, Tennessee, she was harassed and teased by children who could run and play in ways she had never been able to.

"I used to cry," wrote Rudolph, recalling those days, "but no more."

Rudolph had reason not to cry. By the time she wrote those words in her 1977 biography, she was a household name. The child whose body had once made movement nearly impossible was now a woman who had torn down Olympic barriers, achieving some important firsts for both women and African Americans.

For a while during Rudolph's childhood, it seemed unlikely that she would live, much less reach such great athletic heights. When she was born, in 1940, Rudolph weighed just 4.5 pounds, and she suffered from a long bout of childhood illnesses, including pneumonia and scarlet fever, that nearly killed her.

In 1944, when she was four years old, her health took another blow when she contracted polio, a viral illness that had been ravaging the health of young children in a series of epidemics for years. Though Rudolph survived, she became paralyzed in her left leg.
Rudolph's family was poor, and she was the 20th of her father's 22 children with two wives. Rudolph and her mother, a maid, had to travel on a segregated bus once a week for years to seek medical care 50 miles away from Clarksville.

At home, her family massaged her foot multiple times a day in an attempt to get blood circulating in her paralyzed leg. It took years, but the treatments worked.
As Rudolph graduated from a leg brace to an orthopedic shoe, her parents noticed that she loved sports. When she was 13, she began to play basketball at school - without her special shoes.

At a state basketball championship, she was spotted by Ed Temple, the track and field coach at Tennessee State University, a historically black university in Nashville. He invited Rudolph, who already was interested in track, to join his summer training program with TSU's famous Tigerbelles, an all-black group of women runners famed for their discipline and speed. Rudolph was so fast - and so talented - that she became a kind of unofficial member of the Tigerbelles.

Meanwhile, her speed was turning heads outside of Tennessee, too. In 1956, the 16-year-old high school junior went to Seattle and burst onto the national scene with a run fast enough to qualify her for the Olympic Games. She headed to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and won a bronze medal as part of the American 4x100-meter relay team.

When Rudolph returned to high school, she became pregnant and gave birth to her first daughter, Yolanda. This presented a very real threat to her track career, since Temple refused to let mothers join his team.

He was all too aware of the sexual stereotypes that went along with the racism his women athletes faced. He enforced strict codes of conduct for his runners. "I wanted this because at the time, there was a real dilemma over women participating in sports," he explained "I was going to prove to the world that you could be feminine and still get the job done."

Temple made an exception for Rudolph, but only if she kept her distance both from her daughter and from Robert Eldridge, her boyfriend. Rudolph sent Yolanda to live with her sister in St. Louis, but it anguished her to be unable to visit her daughter or partner. Even today, Rudolph's pregnancy and motherhood are often excluded from her biography.

Despite the strain of being separated from Yolanda, Rudolph trained relentlessly. She had a new goal: to compete in another Olympic Games. When Rudolph qualified for the 1960 Olympics, in Rome, she was one of 8 Tigerbelles to compete - and Temple was named the women's track and field coach.
In Rome, Rudolph accomplished the unthinkable: she snagged three gold medals, for the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, and the relay. It was the first time an American woman had won three gold medals in a single Games, and Rudolph set a world record for each event. It was the first Olympics televised in the United States, and Rudolph - poised, soft-spoken, and confident - was an instant star.

Back home, Rudolph used her success to effect change in her hometown of Clarksville by refusing to attend any celebratory events that weren't integrated. Her homecoming parade and banquet were the first non-segregated events in the town's history.

Rudolph retired from running after her Olympic victory, became a schoolteacher, and coached high school and college running teams. She also created her own nonprofit to encourage underprivileged kids in sports. But though she was widely decorated and beloved as an inspiration, her life was cut tragically short when she died of brain cancer at 54, in 1994.

"Someone asked me if I would describe her as a fighter," Anita DeFrantz, an International Olympic Committee member said, "No, I would describe her as a conqueror."

For Rudolph, her legacy was simple: showing people that if you don't give up, you can achieve your dreams. "I would be very sad if I was only remembered as Wilma Rudolph, the great sprinter, to me, my legacy is to the youth of America to let them know they can be anything they want to be."

~ Erin Blakemore

Monday Morning Coffee

10/28/2019
 


While signaling the end of 2019's peak selling season, September home sales rose 8.1% year-over-year - the largest year-over-year increase since November 2016. Home purchases increased in 47 of the report's 54 markets, forcing already tight inventory totals to drop 6.1% year-over-year for the biggest decline in over a year.  Read the full September Re/Max National Housing Report Here.

    

"Hurry, Mommy, let's go trick-or-treating!" My daughter waited by the door in her pink princess costume while I paced the living room. Usually I liked taking her out on Halloween, but this year, I was a wreck. I was worried sick about my mother, who was in China on a vacation.
Some vacation! I got a call that afternoon that she had slipped and fallen on the marble floor of her hotel and broken her hip. She was taken to a Beijing hospital. Mom was nervous because she couldn't understand any of the doctors. If only I could do something to help her!

"Mom-my..." I knew I couldn't let my worries ruin my daughter's fun. There's nothing I can do for Mom except pace and pray, I thought. We left the house and headed down the block.

I was so distracted, I barely took note of all the costumed kids around me. The sooner my daughter filled her bag with goodies, the sooner I could get back to my pacing.

A blinking red light approached through the darkness. It was a pumpkin-shaped pin attached to the coat of a man whose son I'd once given piano lessons to. "Hello there," I said, greeting him and the little cowboy at his side.

"Hello," the father answered. "Having fun?"

"I'm trying," I said.

"Why, what's wrong?" he asked.

I told him the whole story. My mother, in China, breaking her hip. Not understanding any of the doctors. "And I'm too far away to do anything!" I said.

He raised his eyebrows. "Beijing, you said?" he asked. I nodded.

He pursed his lips then smiled. "Believe it or not, my sister is a doctor at an English-speaking hospital there. If you want, I'll make a call right away and we'll try and get your mom transferred."

A few days later I sat on the living room floor with my daughter as she finished the last of the candy. "Mommy, how far away is China?" she asked.

"Not as far as I thought," I said.

Selling to the Next Generation: Millennials Want These 4 Things

10/24/2019




Sure, they're known for a deficit in money saving skills and a preference for an "experience" than a "thing," but millennials want financial stability just as much as any other generation prior to - and a home is a good way to get it.  

Today, millennials are buying homes in larger numbers than ever. In fact, by early 2019, they represented 42% of all new home loans. This means that any seller would be wise to keep millennial buyers in mind when getting a house ready to show.

But what kind of homes do they want? According to real estate professionals, a large majority of millennials pick out properties that are move-in ready - and easily adaptable to their lifestyle.

"They care more about the home being clean and in good condition," says Mary Katherine Spalding, a Realtor® associate with Helen Painter Group in Fort Worth, TX. "Cosmetic changes are much easier to make, and millennials are a generation of DIYers.”

So what's it going to take to get your house ready for the next generation?  Here's a few tips of what you can upgrade - and a little bit of what millennials couldn't care less about having in a home.

1.  A Yard.  Not a lawnmowing, high-upkeep yard - that's too much for a busy millennial - but a nice green space for their pets (they love their pets!) a few well placed landscaping beds (perhaps for that DIY garden) and an outdoor space that's easy to maintain.  

2. Open Floor Plan.  “Where homes traditionally would have separate rooms, millennials are gravitating toward having large, open rooms that bring these all together like kitchens with breakfast bars or islands that open to the living space,” says John Steele, a real estate agent with Team Steele San Diego Homes in California.  

Don't have the money to knock out walls?  Think of revamping some of those rooms originally designated for formal dining or sitting rooms to be mixed media rooms to appeal to a generation tuned into technology.  A good stage can go a long way.

3. Clean Lines.  We're looking at you, old wood cabinetry in the kitchen and bathroom!  Gone are the ornate oak doors of the 20th century - think flat cabinets with no hardware.  

Plan to repaint old kitchen cabinets and remove the cabinet handles to give your kitchen a fresher, more millennial-appealing look.

4. And finally, DON'T waste your money on...new carpet.  That's right, remember those pets?  Carpeting can absorb and retain odors, stains, and hair, and pet cleanup is easier on a hardwood floor.  Plan to replace those carpets with laminate, tile, hardwood or engineered hardwood.

Ready to get started? 

I can help you plan your move from start to finish.  Contact me to make a plan today! 

Monday Morning Coffee

10/21/2019
 

The National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) housing market index reached a 20-month high in October, driven by activity surrounding lower mortgage rates.  The composite index improved to a level of 71.  Current sales conditions climbed to a level of 78, sales expectations for the next six months jumped to a level of 76, and buyer foot traffic increased to a level of 54.  Any reading above 50 is considered positive.  Although lower mortgage rates have improved general home buyer sentiment, NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz warned, "builders continue to remain cautious due to ongoing supply side constraints and concerns about a slowing economy."  

     

We celebrate National I Care About You Day on October 25 so plan something special for your friends and family!  This is the day where we honor everyone in our life for no other reason but to tell them we are grateful. Although this holiday was most recently launched in 2016, this day is highly popularized through social media tags and post shares. Scroll down to learn more inventive ways on how to celebrate those who make life more beautiful.


HISTORY
Let's be honest: We could easily make a case that National I Care About You Day should sit atop a list of the most important days of the year. Why? Though it was only started in 2016, what other holiday more perfectly speaks to the human condition? Money's nice to have. Vacations are fun. And driving around in a new car makes us feel good - temporarily. None of it matters at the end though. Without love (both romantic and platonic), friendships, and/or family - we're doomed.
 
Humans are wired for relationships. We thrive when we're connected and feel lonely (or worse) when we're disconnected. No amount of money can make your emotional pain heal. But friends can. Or at least they can help. So many of us crave "novelty," but by its very definition, it can only last for a limited time. Suddenly you don't even realize you're driving that (once) new car. And ancient ruins begin to look the same starting around day 5 of your trip to Greece. Material things can't possibly do what other people can do.
 
The health experts at Northwestern University have pinpointed some of the positive effects of healthy relationships. For instance, being in a committed relationship is linked to less production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Good relationships can promote better healing, as research suggests married people who have undergone heart surgery are three times more likely to survive the first three months after surgery than single patients.
 
Healthy relationships set the perfect tone for an overall healthy lifestyle. They give us a greater sense of purpose. It's natural for humans to want to feel needed, and like they're part of something bigger. And it can even extend our lives! Research indicates that having healthy social relationships makes a bigger impact on avoiding an early demise than taking blood pressure medication or being exposed to air pollution. One study even suggests that a lack of social relationships has the same effect on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Ugh.
 
So reach out on October 25th. It will make your life better and may make someone else's better too.


Ways To Celebrate

1. Throw a Party for Everyone
You can invite your favorite pals over for a movie marathon, or a game night. Go big or small, it does not matter, as long as everyone you want to honor is present for a good time.

2. Send out cards to loved ones
Handwritten notes are so rare, but they never go out of style. Writing intimate words of inspiration and love will last a lifetime. This gift is not only for family members and friends, but even that one co-worker who makes the workplace inviting.

3. Shout your love to the world
Just use the hashtag "#NationaliCareAboutYouDay" and read all the other emotional posts online with your friends. This, along with a good meal, is a sure way to bond with those you care about the most.
  
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