New Market Reality … Be Prepared

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.17.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 12.30.14 PMME

So you think you are in the market to buy a home.  Every where you turn you see websites that say Look Here!. This is what you need to do!  I’m the one who can help you.  I have all the answers!  It is easy to get caught up in all the information.  Sometimes it becomes just one big blur.

I have been selling Real Estate here in this town I call home since 1980.  Interest rates were 19% when I started in this business.  The industry has changed tremendously since then.  I have survived many turns in the market and with my creative thinking outside the box I have continued to provide excellent advise to my clients.

The proprietary information that people used to turn to Realtors for, is now all over the Internet.  Anyone can access it.  Anyone can use it.  As such, today, the information itself is no longer what people come to us to receive. They now come to receive an analysis of that information.

And that’s a big change!

“There’s a large gap between information and actionable knowledge.” These are powerful words.  What it’s saying is that information by itself is essentially useless.  What’s truly important is being able to understand, analyze, and use the information for the best outcome and that’s what my job as a real estate professional has become!

My value as a Realtor is not in the information itself.  My value and the the expertise I provide to my clients is that I know how to analyze all the available information.  I know how to connect the dots and I can let my clients know if now is a good time to buy or a good time to sell.  I am an advisor.  I take the time to explain your options simply and effectively.

This is the information age – so much information is out there. Lets take the medical sector as an example.  Several websites were created like WebMD so people could do their own  searches so they could see what ailed them.  It really created a flood of people going to Doctors so they can see if anything was really wrong with them.  They needed information of what to do next.

So needless to say information being readily available (without context and understanding causes confusion.  It can also create a false sense of security.  You might feel you know and understand more than you really do.  This could potentially get you into hot water when you are choosing to walk this journey alone.  Needless to say it does not cost you money to seek the advise of a Realtor. Entering into Buyer Broker relationships is about agency relationship and how we choose to work together in partnership —-not about the monies exchanged.  Often times brokerage fees are paid by the Seller through co-brokerage.  My role as a Realtor, if we are in a brokerage relationship, is to draw from my 35 years of being an Associate Broker in this area .

Basically I will strategize with you in what makes the most sense for your particular scenario.  My knowledge will hopefully inspire confidence and certainty in you.  Hopefully any concerns you might have with the entire process will be alleviated. Using my many years of experience I can truly explain to you your options on what’s taking place in the market.  Knowing what’s happening and why it’s happening.  Educating you in this entire process will put you in the drivers seat so you can feel comfortable with your decision.

For most families, buying or selling a home is the most important personal decision and possibly the largest financial decision you’ll ever make.  Having a true professional who really understands the market is key to your success!!

greetings again.

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Buying Real Estate is still the best investment.

Real Estate Again Seen As Best Investment!

We are almost back to ‘pre-housing crash’ home values. The inventories of distressed properties (foreclosures & short sales) are shrinking dramatically. The economy is improving. The job numbers are headed in the right direction.

The big question that still remains: Have Americans regained their confidence in real estate as a worthy investment?

According to this most recent survey.  A resounding YES!Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.01.10 PM

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Why I do What I Do With Animal Rescue.


So people ask me all the time why I do what I do. Why I do animal rescue and help find forever homes for animals in need.  

I am sure my response is the same as with all the animal rescue activists in the area.  “Because we are called to do it.  Couldn’t imagine not doing it.  We are their voice”.

I want to share about a little magic that took place in this town I call home~~

Charlottesville VA.

A good friend shared with me that he had 2 puppies from a recent litter of puppies that were born blind and he wanted to find a nice rescue group that might be able to take them.  I said not to worry – I feel confident I can find them the perfect homes.  I told him to send me some photos and for him to share from his heart his experience with these puppies.  He did just that.  

I shared their story on FaceBook.   Within 5 minutes I had people wanting to know about the puppies.  I have some other FB friends in the area, who are also animal advocates, — who also stepped up and networked as well and before you knew it – the puppies had a wonderful place to land.   Spirit works in beautiful ways.   Less than 24 hours later, I connected with what appears to be a beautiful group of people doing some amazing work. 

I was introduced to Green Dogs Unleashed!

They are a non-profit organization focusing on Rescue, rehabilitation, placement and training of special needs (and other) animals, to work with special needs humans.

Great fit right!

They work with special needs animals and train them how to be in the world.  In this case they will work with these puppies to live in the world without sight.  They will be trained to be with people that also have special needs.   Erika Renee with Green Dogs Unleashed — described their work to me like this. “If they have an animal that might be hearing or sight impaired they might pair them up with a  human that has similar needs”.  We all know the power of love.  We especially know and experience the love that animals have and the impact that that love can have on humans.   They give and ask for nothing in return.  Just look at the wonderful Comfort Dogs that make their rounds to all the children still experiencing trauma in Sandy Hook CT.  as well as the children in Boston MASS.  These sweet puppies will have similar jobs —with a heart full of love they too will work with children and adults that have sight and hearing issues.  They will show them that ” Hey look at me.  If I can do this so can you!” All without words just the power of touch and love.  

The puppies will go through their training as are all the animals that are rescued.  Most of the animals that are brought into the program are animals who have the gift of love and no family to call their own.   They will work with foster families until they learn about the world and how to cope. They in turn will be placed with loving forever homes that agree to let the animals continue to work in the world as Therapy Dogs. 

Just amazing right?


Here’s a comment from one of my FB Animal lover Friends about the magic of what took place here and it says it all!  “For all of the really bad stories we hear, and for all of the heartache we all go through in rescue, and for those that we cannot save……….this is a true testament that every tear that is shed makes it all worth while”! ~~Colleen O’Keefe Cole  

Colleen ~~Couldn’t have said it better myself!  Here’s to all the animal lovers and advocates in the world!

To adopt a dog is an act of love but to adopt a sick, injured or senior dog is a way of thanking God for allowing you to be an Angel on Earth. 

And for many of us animal lovers and animal advocates my Angel On Earth is Susanne Kogut ~~ Former Director Of The Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA and soon to be on the National Front as the Executive Director of Petco Foundation.  We love you Susanne.  You helped to  transform the struggling Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA into a model organization nationally recognized for its lifesaving achievements.  We all know you will continue to do great things in creating awareness of important issues and act as an advocate and a leading voice in the animal welfare community nationally.  We will miss you in Charlottesville VA. You have made a very lasting impression in our community. We learned a great deal from you and will continue to do good work in your honor.  As we all say “We are saving the world ~~ one animal at a time.  

To donate to this cause or for more information, please contact:




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Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 8.46.51 PMEver since I can remember I have always loved animals. I along with many others understand the importance that animals have in our lives. We often feel that we rescue animals, however for many of us, it is the other way around. The animals rescue the people. They bring so much joy and laughter and love into our lives.Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 5.21.00 PM

I can remember years ago I was donating some food at the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA and met this amazing little dog. Our hearts truly spoke and I knew— even though Buddha, as I ended up naming him, was 7, 8,or nine, blind in one eye, and looked like one of his legs had been injured, he needed to spend the rest of his life with us. I remember Janet asked me “What if he only lives 5 years?” I said “It will be the best 5 years of his life.” Our Buddha only lived another 3 years. He got Cancer and it ended up being inoperable. I loved that baby though and he knew it and he truly felt all the lovin’.

There have been many dogs and cats in my life and I help find forever homes for many. I feel it is one of my ministries. One of the reasons I was put on this planet.

I have been active with fundraising for many years in the world of animal rescue. That is one of the things I do best.

I have worked through the years in putting on The Magnificent Mutt Show for The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, some Critter Ball Fundraising and now The Dogs and Cats Around Town. This is the second year I have put on this event. It was very successful last year. We raised almost $9,000.

I am a lover of animals, as well as a total advocate for Local. I created this fundraiser so we could support local artists and local small businesses. We partnered 12 amazing local artists with 12 amazing local businesses. The artists created these one-of-a-kind statues of dogs and cats and we have placed them at the 12 businesses. They will be at their locations for 3 months. The statues are being raffled off. You can buy your tickets at all the local stores where they sell really cool stuff or also on line through The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA.

You see everyone benefits. We promote the local artists. We promote the local businesses and 100% of the proceeds go to the animals. Everybody wins!

Remember always support local when you can. When you buy local —- for every dollar that is spent in our community —$0.70 stays in Charlottesville –our community that we love and call home.

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Posted on May 25, 2012


FACT:  Interest rates are still at an amazing low.  I had a client lock in on her loan on Wednesday at 3.75% with no points.  Hello – amazing right?

QUANDARY:  Do I rent or do I commit to home ownership.

This is the time when this conflict comes up in people’s consciousness.  What do I do? Which way do I go?
Some people have leases that are about to renew.  Others are moving to a new area and are just not sure of the real estate market in the area where they are moving.  Others still feel uneasy about the economy and are waiting for the shoe to drop and maybe they lose their jobs.  

When the  time arrives to make that decision there are generally two types of people and of course shades of grey there of —

 1.  Some list the pro’s and cons and decide what makes the most sense in their lives — financially and emotionally; letting heart and logic have equal say in the ultimate decision.  

 2.  Others, wearing the glasses of indecision or fear, limit their decision to what feels right in a narrow comfort zone.
For those, it creates a great deal of angst in their lives because home ownership is a huge deal and  says a lot to to the world and to themselves.  It says “I am committed to something”– and for some commitment is a hard pill to swallow.

I heard this podcast on NPR in 2007 and they repeated it again in 2012.   Some information still quite relevant.   All about Young Home Owners.  Take a moment and have a listen.

It’s 2012, you’re a young American, and the U.S. housing market and mortgage rates are beaten down as low as we’ve ever seen.  Is it time to buy a house?  For twenty-somethings or young thirties with college debt and no job and living in mom’s basement, that may be the cue to start laughing.

But hard times don’t last forever, do they?  Mortgage rates in the three percents.  Rock bottom.  Foreclosed houses going for a song.  Rents, as the man says, “too damn high.”  Is it time to do it?  Somehow?  Somewhere?

This hour, On Point:  If you’re young in America, is it time to buy a home?
-Tom Ashbrook

I have been selling Real Estate in Central Virginia since 1980 and have experienced all types of markets.  As anything perception are people’s reality.    You change your perception you change your reality.

I really encourage anyone who is in this decision making time —Owning Versus Renting — See if this form helps you in that decision making process.  Work the pros and cons for you in your life.

It really is a great opportunity if it makes sense for you!

Remember stepping outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens.

“You are always only one choice away from changing your life.” ~ Mary Blochowiak

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No Regrets about Homeownership
Despite the ups and downs of the housing market, most homeowners, including those who are underwater on their mortgages, don’t regret their decision to own a home. In a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders, three out of four Americans believe that homeownership is the best long-term investment and is worth the risk. Some 95 percent say they are happy with the decision to own a home.
That sentiment is also strong among homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) believe owning a home is worth the risk of the ups and downs of the housing market, and 83 percent of say they are happy with their decision to own a home.
Four out of five homeowners overall (80 percent) say they would advise a friend or family member to buy a home, while slightly fewer (78 percent) underwater homeowners would do the same. Only 19 percent of underwater homeowners believe homeownership is too risky.

Please give strong thought to home ownership. Interest Rates are below 4% now. If you are planning on living in your home three years or longer owning versus renting really makes sense.

In the words of Steve Harney of KCM:

“One of the things I often hear from people I meet is that real estate and mortgage professionals should have seen the current housing crisis coming and done something to prevent it. We should have realized that easing lending practices would lead to millions of families buying a home they could never afford. We should have warned our neighbors not to use their homes as ATMs. We should have realized that the economy could never withstand such growth and was about to crash.

Maybe these people are correct. Looking back, perhaps we could have been better stewards of the home buying process. We are committed to not making that same mistake again. Now, if we see a possible challenge in the future, we will speak up. That is what caused the writing of this blog post.


ALARM: Homeownership Percentage Has Dropped Dramatically!!, in an article entitled Housing Bust Worst Since Great Depression reported:

“The analysis by the Census Bureau found the homeownership rate fell to 65.1 percent last year… analysts say the U.S. may never return to its mid-decade housing boom peak in which nearly 70 percent of occupied households were owned by their residents.”

ALARM: People Are Losing Hope in the American Dream

In the same article, Patrick Newport, economist with IHS Global Insight is quoted saying:

“The changes now taking place are mind-boggling: the housing market has completely crashed and attitudes toward housing are shifting from owning to renting. While 10 years ago owning a home was the American Dream, I’m not sure a lot of people still think that way.”

ALARM: The Safety and Well Being of the Family Being Sacrificed

If we look at Fannie Mae’s quarterly National Home Survey, as far back as we can go, the top four reasons for buying a home are the same. The top four reasons people buy a home are:

It means having a good place to raise children and provide them with a good education
To have a physical structure where their family feels safe
It allows for more space for their family
It gives them control over what they do with their living space including renovations and updates.
Are children no longer important? Is safety less of a consideration today? Is the pride of homeownership soon to be forgotten? We must look at the long range consequences of being a renters’ society.

ALARM: Building Family Wealth Being Threatened

Let’s look at homeownership as an investment. The Federal Reserve does a survey every 3 years. In 1998 the average Homeowner’s net worth exceeded that of renters by 31 times. In 2001 it was 36 times and eventually in 2007 it was all the way up to 46 times that of renters. Now, homeownership isn’t about a guaranteed financial short-term return – the market goes up, down and back up again. We have to be prepared for the long-term and a key component to wealth is homeownership. Even in these toughest of times, the wealth of the homeowner is over 30 times that of renters.

At a time when we are discussing the gap in wealth between the top 1% and the other 99%, how does the less fortunate paying rent to pay off the mortgages of the more fortunate make any sense?

Bottom Line

Homeownership is important to the American family. If we lose this as a basic concept, what else do we lose? We didn’t realize the consequences when it was too easy to buy a house a few years ago and we are paying a price for that. We will pay an even larger price if we don’t realize the consequences of it being much too difficult for many to own a home today. SOUND THE ALARMS!

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5 Credit Myths

Take a moment. This is very interesting and a good read! Of course depending on what your personal situation might be, this really is a great time to buy a home. Interest rates are now below 4%. Depending on what your real estate needs might look like, you may find with these low interest rates, you can have a monthly payment that would be less than your rental payment.

If you would like to start that process just email me or give me a call. I have been selling real estate in this area since 1980 and am very familiar with the market.

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A New Day … A New Chapter

So when I drove into the office today at Montague Miller & Company Realtors and turned into our parking lot I was hit with a surprise. I noticed that there was a new temporary vinyl sign covering the old sign at Mint Printing. After maybe 2 years trying to rent the building or selling the business – there are now new residents in the Mint Printing building – It is now a Dive and Hobby Shop.

I was surprised at my reaction. After having pulled into this parking lot for 26 years (my mind always filled with “my what to do list for the day” – including today)- sometimes the Mint Printing sign and building came forward in my consciousness. Some days the building and sign were invisible to me and it didn’t register at all. This morning I noticed it.

It made me happy on one level because I have been a diver for too many years to remember and always feeling I am part fish- it brought back many memories of diving and being by the water and loving every minute of it.

On another level it was like missing an old friend. Many times in the past, I would be in Mint Printing several times a week – picking up Blue Prints for builders or large copies of drawings for displays at my new construction models or picking up signs that we would use for our Booth at The Blue Ridge Home Show. I got to know the people at Mint Printing pretty well as you could imagine. After all they were our next door neighbors.

Now mind you I have not been inside there for a while because as we all know – with the 24 hour Kinkos business model and with Overnight Prints etc. we can do things a lot cheaper and a lot quicker using the internet. It’s kind of like the days before answering machines and life was fine and then you got one and “how could I live without one”. I so remember the day we bought our first fax machine here at Montague Miller. I was the managing broker then and I remember thinking “oh my goodness our business lives will be changed forever”. And now coming from the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtor’s meeting this morning – DocuSign and e-signatures are not the future it is the NOW. What might take us a day to negotiate a contract it can happen in a 1/2 hour. Kinda crazy don’t you think?

We live in an ever changing world. The “naive me” is hoping that the past customers who used the services of Mint Printing didn’t help put them out of business. “The wise me (and the bit guilty me”) knows we did on some level. “The naive me” is hoping the owner of the company just wanted to retire and live the good life. He had worked hard and it was now time to relax. I hope that is the case anyway. I wish them all well. My only regret is that we didn’t do the neighborly thing and throw a going away party for them as all good neighbors always do.

Oh and one other thing —I always used Mint Printing as a landmark – even as recently as yesterday giving people directions to our building. I always said “we are right next to Mint Printing – in the large three story 1960’s red brick building”. Even in the time of GPS – people often like to know the landmarks to know they have arrived.

I guess from now on I will have to say we are next to The Dive and Hobby Shop – doesn’t have the same ring but I guess I will get used to it.

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YMCA on Park Land or Private Club

Always many who have different needs and concerns put in their perspective on this issue. After all this is a democracy. Interesting that those that have private concerns also want park land for their use. It seems to me, when you are looking at anywhere from $60 a month (for a single – not to mention a family) on up to have a fitness membership with a private club and people are having to take hard looks at how they spend their money – isn’t it a good thing that those who are not as flush with money might have a healthy and more reasonable choice to sustain their health and fitness too?

Testimony heard in case against lease for YMCA

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A Real Estate Miracle – Now is the Time!– Barbara Corcoran

Business Insider’s Money Game interviewed real estate expert Barbara Corcoran earlier this week. This is what she said about buying in this market:

We have a regular real estate miracle happening right now. We not only have record low prices, but we also have cheap money.” Barbara Corcoran

She says most people feel more comfortable buying when the market is more bullish, and will even pay more, because there are a lot of people who are doing the same thing. They are in good company. It helps to affirm their decision. In times like this, when the market is down it takes a bit more courage because you are out there on your own ( not really though – hopefully with an experienced Realtor guiding you through the process). Those are the times you make money in Real Estate.

She continues to say — ” You might be thinking – Well what if the market goes down next year?” Well even if it does, for most— you are not selling in one year. You will be selling in 6 or 7 years and that is when you will make your 30%-40%.

She made many millions buying at times like this. If you hesitating about buying a home now and telling yourself – “I’ll wait and see” take a moment and watch the interview.

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