Working on the 20th lap around the sun…

January 31, 2011

 

I had my sights set on it and then it passed by ever so quickly. January 24th was a day of note. It marked my 19th anniversary of being licensed to sell real estate in Colorado. The business and especially “the market” were changing fast in January 1992. Much of my life was moving at warp speed; since chronicled in my book, “You Used To Live In My House”.

I attended the Colorado Real Estate Institute, was granted a license and joined Washington Park Realty, Ltd., while the Denver market was being jettisoned. Most people would say that I got into the business at a great time because houses were literally flying of the shelf. It would be hard to debate that. It also meant that I had to learn fast. The real estate licensing course prepares one for exactly that; passing the licensing exam. I was blessed that Dale and Linda Southworth took me in at WPR, Ltd. While they didn’t have a training program in place, they are people of integrity with a solid relationship and work ethic; willing to let me learn on the run. I closed 5 transactions that year, which they said was a good start.

Now, 19 years and a week later I am thinking about the changes in the business and the market(s) during that time. It is one thing to watch a roller coaster. It is quite another to ride it and to bring the family along for the ride. I have seen market inventory as low as 6,000 and in excess of 20,000 for houses and condos/townhouses combined. I have also worked with as many as three purchase contract revisions in a single year.

One thing that has not changed over the years is that the foundation of one’s real estate business is relationships. Technology is a great tool, but people do business in this business with people they know and trust, first hand or through referrals from people they know and trust. My clients depend on me to keep my word. When they refer people to me  their word becomes a part of the experience. Virtually everything else is in a constant state of flux.

In 1992 buyers were gaining representation for the first time, with a Buyer Agency agreement, and many agents were opposed to it. Real estate transactions were rooted in a philosophy and practice of  Caveat Emptor.  Interest Rates had DROPPED to 8.5%! The real estate book, even larger and heavier than my own book, was fading in usage as technology was growing with each passing hour. It was in mid-1992 that we purchased our first computer.  It was another area that I had to ‘learn fast’ because many of my clients were engaged in some form of technology in their careers.

In 1998 my wife Louisa joined me in an affiliated business relationship, when she became a mortgage loan originator. Her tenacity is outshown only by her integrity.  Other Realtors have found that their tranactions are never at risk because she is married to a Realtor.

I begin each new year with a look back at the transactions I’ve had, not only the previous year, but also through the years. In the aspect of technical education, my continuing education requirements keep me plugged in and up to date. Beyond that I look at what I could do better, more effeciently and there is always something new there.

Over the course of the years, I’ve learned to make only three promises to prospects and clients. I promise to conduct myself with Integrity, Communication and Diligence. The continuing education requirements include those applications, but to make and retain relationships I have to be aware of each on a personal level with my daily thoughts, words and deeds. Being active in this business helps me improve as a person, as well as a professional.

If you have a question, or a friend of yours has a question regarding real estate in Colorado, please don’t hesitate to ask. I am easy to reach and always open to conversation…let’s say, over a cup of coffee. I offer my education, experience and the support of the company I keep.

Happy trails,

2011 New Year’s Resolution: Be Cancer~Free

December 30, 2010

 

 

 

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.  ~Friedrich Nietzche

Some may question why I am sharing this. Others may ask why I waited so long to do so. Sharing personal information doesn’t come easily to me, even though I authored a very personal book. I’m still a Scorpio. So, after a couple a friends asked about my Facebook post regarding a pre-op physical, I decided to write this blog. I didn’t think about the slogan on the blog banner until now. Really.

Dr. Reuven Rosen said to me a few months ago, ‘please listen to every word that I will say to you. You have been diagnosed with ‘treatable-Stage 1 Prostate Cancer.’ At his recommendation Louisa and I met with his partner, Dr. Jeremy Weiss, to discuss the possibility of surgery. A few days later, after running in some wet spring snow, I called Dr. Weiss and asked if I could wait until after I’ve enjoyed running in the summer and fall weather if I were to choose to have surgery. He was okay with that, which brings us to this place in time.  If I have to miss a few days of running, January seems like a good time to do that. 

 On Tuesday, January 4, 2011, I will undergo radical prostectomy surgery, to be conducted by Dr. Jeremy Weiss at Rose Medical Center. He says that I’ll be out of the loop for a few days, no driving for 2 weeks and then before the end of January I’ll be back to doing as much as I want to do. On top of that I have learned that COFFEE is included in the pre-op clear liquids I am instructed to drink on Sunday and Monday.

I welcome your prayers, white light, positive thoughts and humor. I ask that you pray for Louisa, our family and friends. They are always there to support me. Please include Dr. Weiss, as well as the anesthesiologist, technicians, nurses and other doctors who will be a part of the team that removes the cancer from my body.

I must be a late bloomer. I celebrated my 68th birthday recently and this will be my first surgery. Although I’ll be fine with it if it is my only surgery, I embrace this opportunity to learn more about myself. Actually, if you don’t count the overnight hospital visit after I rolled my Fiat Spider in Williamsburg in ’69 or the 2 nights after I was broadsided by an Italian Pantera at Hampton’s Grandview  in 1980, this is only my third hospital stay (due to illness). That doesn’t include my birth, which I consider my mother’s first hospital overnight visit.

God surrounds me with people who care about me and express it, just as they allow me to express my concern, affection and love for them. I thank Him for that. I know that I am blessed beyond measure.

Thank you to my friends/colleagues at INNOVATIVE Real Estate Group for their support; especially to Edye & Renee who will be covering my business while I enjoy the cuisine offered at Rose Medical Center.

My friend David Scoggins gave me a copy of “”HUMANIZING Prostate Cancer” by Roger E. Schultz, M.D. and Alex W. Oliver, Patient.* I suggest that you read it and/or give it to someone you care about. (*BRANDYLANEPUBLISHERS, INC.)

How did this come about? Glad you asked. On January 2, 2010 I experienced what Dr. Katherin Compton described as a TIA. A blood draw was a part of her physical exam and the results showed a significant jump in my PSA. So off to Dr. Rosen I would go, with a subsequent biopsy that discovered the Stage 1 prostate cancer.

To resolve the TIA issue I also saw a neurologist, had an MRI, an MRA, an EEG, an EKG, and more blood work. The conclusion was that the most likely cause was low blood sugar at that particular moment. There have been so incidences of anything resembling a TIA since January 2, 2010.  We now consider it a blessing because it revealed the jump in the PSA earlier than I would have otherwise learned, in late April or early May after my annual physical exam.

What’s next? Along with my daughter Kelly and my youngest son Chris, I will be running the Valentine 5k in Washington Park on Sunday, February 13th. You’re welcome to join us.

Happy trails,

Spin Off…

November 12, 2010

New kids in town...

     The road traveled, according to Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
     My blog that was posted on October 27th, transitioned from our wedding and move to Colorado and the real estate transaction challenges we experienced with our home purchase, to information about disclosures which are emphasized today in ways they were not ‘back in the day.’ Then I realized that I should separate my messages.
     I will blog about some of the many lessons I learned from the experiences that found form in what became my first published book. I also hold a copyright on a manuscript called “Surreal Estate” that is shelved until I retire my license. That time is not on the horizon at this writing. I am currently writing on a novel, with a working title of “Record Player.” 

    In another blog, I will share some of my activities and experiences from the nearly 19 years of serving real estate clients along Colorado’s Front Range.
     This is not CSI, so both blogs will emanate from Denver. As Bob Dylan wrote… “You ain’t goin’ nowhere.” The Bride doesn’t quote Dylan. However, her message is just as clear. My version is that you’ll know I’ve moved when you come to the wake.
     When I talk with people about my book I am asked what it’s about and why I wrote it. I usually offer two simple answers. 1) The day Louisa and I were married; June 18, 1983…my three children and her two were ages 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12. After they get their breath back, I tell them that it’s about virtually everything that happened in our lives for the next 25 years. 2) ‘If you get to know us, we should give you hope.’ If you read the book, you will get to know us. Be cautioned that you may acknowledge your inner voyeur when reading “You Used To Live In My House.”
     Another thing I tell people during that type of exchange is that 3 days after our wedding we moved all moved to Denver from Virginia, along with a dog and a cat. I DO understand the dynamics of moving.
     It has been widely circulated that I am a coffee achiever, which I do not deny. Here’s an open invitation to visit over coffee, my treat, for those who purchase a copy of my book from my web site or one of the stores carrying it in Denver. If you’ve already done that remind me that I owe you.
Happy trails…

October 27, 2010

Borrowing from wordsmith extraordinaire Paul Simon… “Gee but it’s great to be back home. Home is where I want to be.” The lyrics are a part of Dr. Simon’s song, “Keeping the Customer Satisfied.” That’s something we must do to thrive or even survive in the business of selling real estate.

Of course the best way to do that is have a completed and successful transaction. And no, they are not synonymous. I don’t want to get ahead of myself with that issue.

While I have always gratefully accepted the commissions from selling properties and even a bonus at times, there is more to a successful transaction. When I focus on ‘keeping the customer satisfied’ I get a greater reward; a gratification from within that I’ve done the right thing, their respect, friendship and referrals.

Consistent communication is essential. I ask each prospective client about how they want to be contacted. What works best? Some prefer email that they can access when they choose. Some will go to web sites, or…read blogs. Others prefer a direct contact by phone and/or in person. It’s too easy to get caught up in the ease and access of technology and our business still comes down to being with people. We put our focus on the people, not just the property.

How does communication go awry? Setting unrealistic expectations and, in a nut shell, fear. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news.

If we work in this business long enough we’re going to see the cycles. I don’t have to tell you what cycle we’re in today. So, setting expectations can be very challenging; especially when we deal with friends and family. It is a must and will make the subsequent communication easier, even if it means delivering bad news.

Another element of keeping the customer satisfied is being up front about our services. You’ve heard that real estate is based on “location, location, location.” From the service provider point of view it must also include “disclose, disclose, disclose.”  We disclose who we are, who are partners are and why we are going to recommend affiliated entities such as inspectors, lenders and title companies. There’s nothing wrong with recommending people you can depend on to provide great service for our other clients, always allowing that the current client has the right to choose whomever they prefer to work with.

The business of real estate services allows us to provide sellers and buyers with representation. We can provide our services to those who are moving across town, across the nation and even to other nations and continents. We have a growing supply of tools to help us keep the customers satisfied.

Happy trails…

The Return of “Inside Out”

June 30, 2010

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 1983                                    27 Years later…

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog… “It feels like the first time…Feels like the very first time…” Thank you Mick Jones of Foreigner for the inspiration.

My recently departed computer uttered its last gasp in late April and then in May real life interrupted the process of replacing it.

I find it interesting that the stars have aligned so that I am writing today, pretty close to the time frame of the events I was describing at the end of the most recent blog. I was writing about that transition from our wedding and moving to Colorado with the five children, dog and cat, and not having a place to move into.

We arrived in Denver on June 21, 1983, settling into two rooms at the Stapleton Plaza Hotel. The facility wasn’t advertised as pet friendly. However, the staff chose to look the other way for the sake of our homeless family. I know homelessness is a serious matter and we thought it no less so at the time.

We learned from the sellers that the listing agent for the property we were purchasing had told them not to prepare for their move because we wouldn’t be able to close on the transaction. We had every intention of doing so and were awaiting the final approval on our loan from the VA. I think I’ve mentioned that we were thrilled to get the interest rate of 12.75% too. Does that seem unfathomable to you?

The moving van left Virginia the day before we did and we knew it would be in Denver within a few days. What to do? Sometime during the week we were told that we would close on the property on Thursday, June 30th. Okay, June 21st to June 30th…with a truck load of furniture arriving around June 25th. You can do the math as well as I, and it will still come up with 6 days difference. In the event you’ve never moved, do not expect a moving van to sit at the curb for 6 days, or 6 hours for that matter, while the house is being vacated.

We struck a deal with the sellers, in a manner of speaking. The moved everything out of their basement and into the garage. We had all of our belongings moved into the basement until the closing. That is, everything except Louisa’s upright piano. Even with the top off and the wheels removed, it was too tall for the stairway to the basement. It remained on the back patio.

So when I say that I understand the dynamics of moving with children, please take it to heart.

Based on what the sellers told us, the listing agent caused a lot of anxiety and inconvenience to both parties. Someone I worked with suggested that I write to the real estate commission. I did. I did not hear from them. I later learned that he’d taken a sabbatical, returning to real estate a few years later. I believe he has since retired.

There is always the possibility that buyers will not have the financing approved. In today’s real estate environment lines of communication can be established that will provide real time answers about the strength of the buyer’s ability to purchase. Perhaps they were not as available in 1983, particularly given the established caveat emptor way of doing business at that time.

Realtor friend recently told me, after looking at our property on public records, that our house was a steal for $128,000. Of course his frame of reference was the current market value of our house; roughly 4 times the 1983 purchase price. We’re staying anyway. We moved in July 1, 1983. We have nested.

Inside Out – 2

April 5, 2010

Live - Work - Play in Washington Park

For those who read my previous blog, you no doubt noticed the wedding day photo where Louisa and I are (happily) surrounded by our children. You may have echoed the words my daughter Kelly later offered, ‘What were you thinking?’ 

What could possibly go wrong? Start with two adults forging a marriage in much the same fashion, and with similar results, that steel is forged. Add my three children and Louisa’s two, ages 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. And yes, one of them, Kevin, is in a wheel chair in that photo; severely restricted by Cerebral Palsy. Three days after the wedding all 7 would board a flight from Norfolk, VA to Denver, CO to begin in earnest their new life together…along with the beagle mutt and a black cat as a part of the new “blended” family. I couldn’t have imagined that we were doing would ever become a book, “You Used To Live In My House.” 

 I also told you in the previous blog, I sell real estate. I didn’t in 1983. I was being transferred as a regional marketing director for a shopping center developer. While I had co-purchased two other properties by that time in my life, it did not mean that I knew very much about real estate transactions. Have you ever read and/or understood all the documents in your real estate tranaction(s)? Of course I knew even less about Denver, Colorado real estate. 

 I moved to Denver five months before our June 18th wedding. Louisa drove out with me in January 1983, arriving close to midnight in the midst of something called The National Western Stock Show. I hadn’t worn cowboy boots since I was 5 and I had never heard of the ‘stock show.’ Only God knows why the management of the Stapleton Plaza Hotel held the room through the demands for rooms for the stock show. I’ve never asked Him, only thanked him. Well at least I’m sure He heard me when I said, “Thank God they still have our room.” 

My new office was in the 410 Building at 17th & Tremont downtown. I set up my pseudo-home at the Stapleton Plaza Hotel. We spent a few days looking at homes for sale and then Louisa flew home to return to work and to plan our wedding. I flew to Albuquerque to meet one of the 10 marketing staffs I would supervise in my new 9 state region. The only person in Colorado I knew prior my arrival in Denver was Rick Garcia, who was recently appointed HUD Regional Director.  At the time Rick was managing the only mall in my region that was located in the state of Colorado, Pueblo Mall. I will always be grateful to Rick and his former wife, Sylvia, for adopting me. 

 For those who don’t know me, I am a runner. I wear the badge proudly. By the time I moved to Colorado I had run 3 marathons and a number of 10k’s & 5k’s. From altitude adjustment to traffic, my running in Denver would lead to many discoveries; among them our new home.

One evening in February I returned to my hotel home after running. I usually run linear routes when I am unfamiliar with a city. The Front Desk clerk called me over and asked if I’d been running on Quebec. I confirmed that I had. Concerned for my safety she mentioned the hotel athletic club had treadmills. I said ‘no thanks.’ She asked if I had a rental car and I confirmed that I did. She pulled out a city map and directed me to a place called Washington Park. 

The following day I drove to Washington Park. At the time you could drive the interior road in the park. I entered on the north end, drove the loop and parked on the east side near the recreation center.  

 On my second or third loop of running around the park on the interior road I noticed a real estate Open House sign with an arrow pointing east from the park. Louisa and I had  submitted an offer on a house in  Park Hill while she was in Denver in January. Our offer was not accepted. 

 When I finished my run I toweled off, put on a jacket and walked over to the house that was open for tours. I met an agent, noting that her name was not the same as the one on the for sale sign in the yard. I toured the house with her. I learned that it had been on the market for almost 18 months. Where were you in ’83? I liked the fact that it was so close to the park and that it was roomy enough for our soon-to-be new “blended” family. I did not like the fact that it had an in-ground swimming pool in the back yard and I did not like what I later learned to be its street appeal. It didn’t have any of the latter. I took the agent’s card as she assured me that, while her name wasn’t on the yard sign, she could help me. I didn’t have any reason to think she couldn’t. I had never heard of Caveat Emptor. I want to be sure not to cast any aspersions on the agent at the open house. She was helpful. I was not aware that she represented the seller, not me and I didn’t know the difference.

 I offered to purchase the house, contingent upon flying Louisa to Denver to agree to it. There was another contingency that I was told not to worry about; it would be taken care of. It was something called an encroachment. I gave it little thought, trusting that I was being helped. Can you say Caveat Emptor? So off I went to one of the other 8 states where I worked, or to Pueblo, I don’t recall. 

Louisa flew to Denver about ten days later. She was very sick with a flu virus and almost certainly should not have flown anywhere. When she arrived it was a typical February day in Denver; almost 70 degrees & sunny. Louisa was wearing a heavy coat and shivering all the same. 

 You may see that I am laying the ground work for a story about a real estate transaction and the challenges that families face when they’re moving into a city with which they are not familiar. I’m sure that some of them are as new to each other as we were. The dynamics of moving across town are strong enough; moving across the country is like making a move on steroids to use today’s vernacular. 

I believe that most Realtors intend to do the right thing by our clients. If I didn’t believe that I would choose a different line of work. However, I believe that we are sometimes unaware of or not sensitive to the dynamics playing out behind the scenes. I don’t feel that we’re insensitive, that has a different meaning and implication.  However, in retrospect I believe insensitive is one of the words I would apply to the listing agent in that transaction; the one whose name was on the yard sign. 

I drove Louisa through the park, hoping to sell her on living so close to it and to soften the blow of the look of the house from the street. I stopped near the recreation center, pointing it out, to our left. She was looking to the right and said, “I hope it’s not that one with the ugly box on top of it.” Indeed. The owner had raised the dormer and she had too accurately described the ‘design.’ She had been architecture major after all. 

 Louisa toured the house, signed off on the contract and returned to Virginia a couple of days later. I went back to my travels and thought little of the pending sale, save filing for my VA loan. And oh by the way, the interest rate would be 12.75% and we were happy to get it. The range for the ‘going rate’ at the time as higher; 14 to 19%. Where were you in ’83? 

 When we visit again I will spend more time on the positives and let’s say the challenges and dynamics of what transpired in the real estate transaction and the family relocation from the middle of February 1983 through July 1, 1983. If you recognize your inner voyeur there are more details in my book, “You Used To Live In My House” or be a part of what I’ve learned about selling real estate today

Happy trails…

RPC

March 9, 2010
Perry and Louisa Plus Kevin, Chris, Kelly, David and Chris 

Looking at our wedding day photo 23 years later, my daughter Kelly asked, “What were you thinking?” 

My friend Joe Sabah, the renowned public speaking guru, encourages his students to talk about something with which they have first hand knowledge. I understand that those who blog and respond to blogs are free to express opinions beyond their own experiences. However, my own experiences will be my benchmark. 

 For some time now I have been encouraged to blog. It makes sense. Yet, I felt inertia because I didn’t know or didn’t recognize where to start. Recently someone said to me, “I want to start running, but I don’t know where to start.” That was an ah-hah moment for me, so here I am. Rather than one step at a time I’m moving one key at a time. Come to think of it that’s how I usually type. 

 Late in 2005 I began writing and, in 2007, self-published “You Used To Live In My House.” My wife and I recently observed the anniversary of the first time we met; March 6, 1981. It isn’t as though we fell into each others’ arms and are living happily ever after. Who does that? We did recognize our mutual attraction. She started it, by saying those seven words to me. We didn’t start dating until two months later and married about two years after that. 

 I love hearing or reading the responses to or reviews of my book. Some people, when they first see the title are surprised that it is not a book about real estate. I’ve been a Realtor for eighteen years, so far and my wife Louisa, has been a mortgage loan originator for 12 years so far.

 One of the responses I’ve heard more than a few times is, ‘You’ve certainly had an interesting life.’ The only argument I have with that is the use of past tense to describe my life. Sometimes I feel as though I’m having multiple lives, based on my experiences, geographical locations and types of people I’ve encountered, been befriended, loved, disliked and perhaps hated by. Okay, throw in ignored and been ignored by. 

 “You Used To Live In My House” covers the first twenty-five years in my (ongoing) relationship with my wife, children and others. It’s been called bold and gutsy among other things. It isn’t grammatically correct, nor am I. Some friends have had a hard time reading it because they say they felt like voyeurs. That has led me to refer it as my own ‘tales from the dark side.’ 

 Today’s blog is intended to introduce you to my writing. “YUTLIMH” was not my first attempt at writing. I hold copyright on a transcript entitled “Surreal Estate” too. However, since I am currently actively working in my profession I have not moved forward to publish it. 

With “You Used To Live In My House” I opened the doors and windows to let others in, or to look into the lives of my family. I asked each of the ‘kids’ if there was any one part of their lives they would have me not write about. Other than my daughter Kelly’s initial response, they were all on board. Kelly said, ‘How about everything?’ That’s Kelly. They all signed on and said something akin to ‘it is what it is.’ My son Kevin didn’t have a vote, as he died in 1992. He would have approved though, I’m sure of it. 

Louisa didn’t have a vote, at least not while I was writing it. I told her that I was writing my story and if she didn’t like it she could write her own damn story. She did read the manuscript, with a yellow highlighter as her guide. While she doesn’t agree with everything I’ve written, she’s supportive. 

What is the essence of my 636 page book? Let’s see if you see any resemblances to people/families you know: Two families becoming one. When Louisa and I married, on June 18, 1983, my three children and her two were ages 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Along the way there events such as alcohol abuse (by me), loss of a job (mine) separation of nine months and reconciliation involving counseling, loss of a child…for starters. 

Why did I write my book? In real sense because I wanted people to see how we became as happy with other as we are; Louisa and I, and also our children, their spouses and our grandchildren. As unlikely as it might have seemed a number of times along the way we embrace and express our love and respect for each other openly. 

 The idea, or seed that became my book, was planted while Louisa and I were traveling to the California “Life Success Course / PSI 7 Seminar” in May 2003*. We were traveling with a friend whom we’d met a month earlier. He was almost constantly calling his wife in Denver, as they were struggling with their relationship. After one call he looked at me and said, “I just want us to be like you guys.” I laughed out loud and replied, “You don’t have a clue. If you get to know us we should give you hope.” To do that, I felt that I had to turn our lives inside out. (*www.psiseminars.com)

Future blogs will include some real estate stories. It is what I do. There will also be stories of my years as a radio DJ, my struggles with alcohol before turning away from it, and other adventures in dealing with my dark side.

Is there a protocol for signing off a blog? Happy trails… 


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