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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.
  

Monday Morning Coffee

10/14/2019

Mortgage rates are not expected to move significantly this week and continue to remain historically low.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) housing market sentiment index is scheduled for release on Wednesday, followed by housing starts and building permits and new home sales on Thursday.

We'll talk more about the NAHB index next week - enjoy your Monday Morning Coffee!

    

National New Friends Day is Saturday, October 19.  


'Pam Saved Me'

Pam has a confession to make: "I wasn't always a nice person," she says. "In my 20s, I was focused on looking perfect and acquiring a nicer house and car. Even after I started working at the Southwest Transplant Alliance [STA], an organ-donation agency in Dallas, in 1995, I considered it just a good career move, not a personal mission."

About a year later, she met Jennifer, who had received a donated kidney and had started volunteering with STA. The two quickly became close, if somewhat unlikely, friends."I grew up on an Oklahoma farm and connect everything to my Christian faith," says Jennifer. "Pam is a secular New Yorker. Still, our spirits connected." Pam adds, "Jennifer became my surrogate mother. She was loving and compassionate, and she taught me to see the good in people." When Pam revealed she was estranged from her mom, Jennifer encouraged her to make peace. (After seven years of silence, they did, in 2001.) And during Pam's divorce, in 2005, Jennifer helped her remain friends with her ex.

Last year Pam saw a way to repay Jennifer's kindness. Doctors had told Jennifer that her transplanted kidney had begun to fail. She had been put back on the donor waiting list, but her odds of getting a kidney soon weren't good.

When Pam learned that Jennifer needed a donor, she immediately stepped up. She telephoned Jennifer at the church where she works and announced she had found a match for Jennifer's blood type. "It's me," Pam said, then hung up before Jennifer could argue. "I sat at my desk for a moment thinking, Did I really just get this call?" says Jennifer. "Tiffany, the youngest of my three children, was so excited when I told her the news."

The family's happiness was short-lived. Two days later, Tiffany, who had battled lupus since childhood, unexpectedly died of related complications at the age of 24. Afterward Jennifer found one of her daughter's last wishes written in her journal: "God, please fix the kidney my mom has, or give her a new one."

This past January, Tiffany's wish was granted. Jennifer received Pam's kidney, and both came through the surgery without a hitch. "I'd been worried," says Jennifer. "Pam had never had an operation in her life." For her part, Pam shrugs off the praise she gets for her sacrifice. "To be honest, I wouldn't give just anyone a kidney," she admits. "But I would give Jennifer both of mine if I could."

Jennifer says she'll never forget this exceptional gift. "Because of Pam, I'll be able to stay on this earth-with my three beautiful grandchildren-a while longer."

REAL SIMPLE
By Stephanie Booth

5 Ways to Prepare Your Home for a Fall Sale

10/9/2019
Preparing your home for a fall sale

1. De-Clutter.  Consider renting a storage unit or "borrowing" a friend's spare room for storage while your home is listed.  You'll want to remove personal items and knick-knacks that could make an area seem smaller.  Closet floors should be clear, shelves should have extra room, and pantries or cabinets should be sparsely stocked.

 

2. Clean.  How do your baseboards look?  Buyers jump to conclusions when previewing homes and they may decide that neglected spider webs in the shed indicate a poorly maintained home.  Try to look at your home with new yees and tend to the areas that aren't part of your normal cleaning regimen.'


3.  Small Fixes.  If it is broken, fix it.  Simple things like torn screens, missing door stoppers or small holes in the wall cangive buyers a bad feeling.  You'll be better off if buyers don't have small items to nit pcik when going through the house.


4.  Paint.  If you have bold or out-of-date colors in your home, consider investing in a coat of neurtral paint for a better first impression.


5.  To Stage or Not to Stage.  Staing is a crucial step in selling your home.  It allows you to engage buyers by highlighting the best aspects of a house and allowing them to imagine a picturesque home life in the setting you create.  Staging goes beyond de-cluttering and cleaning by rearranging or removing furniture, adding accents, and optimizing the flow of a house.

 

I provide qualified recommendations of handymen, housekeepers, painters and many more fixer-uppers to get your house ready.  I'll also stage your home for free.  Contact me for a plan to sell your home this fall and get you into the home of your dreams.

6 Grilling Tips

5/23/2019

Just in time for Memorial Day! 

PS Don't think your current yard is up for hosting a get-together?  I can help you find the perfect backyard with the perfect house!  


SIX Grilling Tips


1. Plan Ahead.  Make sure everything you need is close at hand so you can easily grab items while tending the grill.

2.  When prepping burgers, make a small indentation in the middle.  As a burger grills, the center tends to become wider than the edges.  Making this indentation will create more uniform thickness throughout.

3. Choose a steak with thin streaks of fat, or marbling, throughout.  The fat ads flavor and keeps the meat juicy.

4. Rub down the grill with vegetable oil before and after grilling.  Use a folded paper towel and tongs.

5. After removing meat from the grill, let it sit for 20 minutes before cutting into it.  The extra time allows the juices to settle.  

6.  When grilling chicken, use indirect heat for bone-in.  These pieces take longer to cook and direct heat will likely burn them.  Boneless pieces are better cooked over direct heat.  Use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is fully cooked.

5 Reasons Why Autumn Might Be the Best Time to Purchase a Home

9/22/2018

The longheld belief that summer is the best time to buy a home is fading fast.  Savvy homebuyers are learning that when fall hits, numerous benefits are available that simply don't exist the rest of the year.

1.  Year-End Tax Breaks.
As long as you close on the house on or before Dec. 31, any property tax and mortgage interest paid are tax-deductible for that year.  This can be a dramatic impact on the amount of money you owe Uncle Sam, or increase your refund.

2. Less Competition.  
The National Association of Realtors recently noted that, in an average year, nearly half of all home sales occur May to August. Although most people wait until the hustle and bustle of the spring season, you'll likely encounter less competition during fall and winter. That means less chance and a reduced chance you'll be involved in a bidding war. 

3. Eager Sellers
Sellers become more motivated the longer their home is on the market, especially now that the summer rush is over.  If a home has been listed for a while, it may allow buyers more room for negotiation and potentially a better deal.

4. Cheaper Moving Prices
You're probably planning to hire a moving company in some capacity, whether you're moving across town or across the country.  In the fall and winter, moving companies tend to be less busy, which means you might enjoy flexible schedules and lower prices. 

5. Quicker Transactions 
Motivated sellers paired with less busy title companies may mean a faster closing in fall and winter.  Do you want a new home in time for the holidays or new year?  It's entirely possible when you house hunt now. 

Monday Morning Coffee

5/23/2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

Fed officials made it clear that they will consider raising rates as soon as June if economic conditions continue to improve. Investors currently view tighter Fed policy as negative for mortgage rates, so rates rose as the Fed's position became better understood. 

Supporting the Fed's is stronger than expected improvement in the recent housing data. 

Existing home sales in April rose for the second straight month and were 6% higher than a year ago. I

Housing starts, an indicator of future sales activity for newly built homes, increased 7% in April from March.

And Here is Your Monday Morning Coffee...

"It is even better to destroy the box than to think outside the box." ~ Albert Einstein

He was born to a wealthy family, whose dreams for him were nothing more than a "distinguished career". However, his interests were of great concern to his father.

Explosives... he was passionate about explosives. His father hoped that would pass, as there was no hope for a distinguished career involving explosives. This seemed to be a path to safe cracking.

But at age 13, he obtained some skyrockets from a friend. He had six of them, and as his mind searched for the best use of those elusive possessions he spotted the little red wagon.

No, he did not want to just blow it up, he thought differently, he always had.

If one skyrocket could launch itself high in the air, what could six of them do? Could they possible launch it into the air?

He tied 2 to each side and 2 to the back of the wagon, took a deep breath, lit the fuse and jumped cleared.

To his surprise, when the first of the rockets lit, its power tipped the wagon up on its back wheels, and when all 6 were lit, it was careening down the street at amazing speed. He was at first a little disappointed, because it was still earthbound, but then realized how fast that wagon was traveling.

Taking off after the wagon, he followed it until the rockets finally burned out 5 blocks away. Neighbors came out of their homes to see what was happening, only to find a 13 year old boy dancing around a charred out wagon with complete, unbridled exuberance!

They thought it was the typical excitement of a boy with explosives... all boys like to blow things up. The police thought the same thing when they arrived.

When his father bailed him out of jail, he was still excited, despite the severe reprimand.

But you see, he was not excited because he got to blow things up or use explosives for fun... remember, he thought differently.

He was excited because he had just proved what kind of power those little skyrockets could provide.

Since he was German born, his first foray into the use of the power of rockets was for Hitler and the German war machine, but he fulfilled his dream and moved to America.

His father's desire for a distinguished career came about a little differently than what he may have thought, because his son was the reason that the U.S. space program was the first to reach the moon. 

Without him there would be no Saturn V, yes the same Saturn V that carried men to the moon. 

Wehrner Von Braun thought differently, about life, about toys and about success. He destroyed the box.

Remember, it is your choice, so destroy the box and Make it a Powerful Day! 

 

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