Friday, November 02, 2007

Nothing To See Here, Mommie....

Gather, Google, AOL, bloglinks....whatever your "search method du jour" will find nothing, other than this brief post, referring to you, Mommie Dearest. You are insignificant in my life, except as a reminder that the world has its fair share of people who are compulsive in their quest to feed their faltering egos. Your time would be better spent reflecting on the damage your self-centered obsessions with other people's lives wreak upon you and yours, rather than trying to acquire non-existent ammunition with which to wound those that, rightfully, give your personal shortcomings and adolescent cravings for revenge little, if any, consideration.

If those words are too big for you, I'll phrase it in simpler language:

Get a life, woman. Your kids need a mother, not a whiny middle-schooler trying to convince them that they should be "on your side". You're only hurting yourself and your children. It ain't all about you. Clear enough?

Why don't you just grab another snickers (if you didn't eat it all during your Halloween internet crawl) and ruminate on self-improvement?

Please go away. Now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Love My Job

Oh the joys of the Real Estate world! Yep, love it, love it, love it.

Actually, today's rant has little to do with the real estate market. It focuses on a former client. The one who gave me my first-ever listing. The one who refused to accept any offer below 200k. Not even 198K. The one who's newly-constructed split-level spec house(amateurish finish work, but is what it is) was brilliantly staged by me (for free). That took a considerable amount of time. Let's face it, trying to make carpeting in an aqua-teal tone look good is quite a challenge. Especially when it's in the main hallway and master bedroom. Guaranteed it was on sale at the local carpet warehouse. I mean who would buy that color? Unless, of course, you were going for the retro Florida-in-1985 look, in which case...this was definitely the carpet choice for you. However, this being 2007, it was new and yet seemed so....dated. No accounting for taste, and I made it look pretty damn good.

I also brought in furniture to help tie in the Master BR with the accompanying full bath. I was hoping to draw attention away from the 2ft-wide (or should I say narrow?) MBR closet and feature the spa-like qualities I was trying to invoke. Blah blah, my partial staging of this vacant house was pretty good given that there are not quality furniture rental stores in this area and Mr. Seller would never have paid for that anyway. I brought in my own stuff, and made the most of this rather bland, albeit new, split level ranch.

The main problems with this particular property (amateurish cabinetry installation and tile work notwithstanding) are the lot (2.5 acres--2 acres of which are sloped upward from the back of the house at approx. 45 degrees) and the remarkably high taxes that this particular town bears. And we marketed the hell out of it. We ran photo ads EVERY weekend. Held open houses...with little success...not a top pick town, unfortunately. Hosted a broker's open house with fabulous prizes. Dropped extensive listing sheets to all the major employers in the area. All kinds of promotion on the local MLS site.

Of course all the advertising and marketing ideas in the world were not going to change the lot or the taxes. Nor would they make the closets any bigger. (There were really only 3 closets in the whole small one in each bedroom. Then there was an odd slope-backed sorta-closet created above the stairway that led to the basement which was fitted with steps and a light...but these steps led to, um, nowhere).

Now as the expiration of this listing was approaching, Mr. Seller had indicated that he was also interested in selling his own personal residence. I prepared a comparative market analysis, and called him to let him know it was ready. He's not a big talker, and rarely answers the phone, so I left a message. And then another message. And another. Yes, and another. Finally, I called and got his teenage son out of bed...and he got his father. We finally set up a time to meet to go over the info. Keep in mind I had only seen the exterior of the house.

Of course, we ended up rescheduling the listing appointment. When we finally met, I was somewhat dismayed to see that the same quality of work was evident in this house. Let's face it, buyers' standards are somewhat higher in the $300k range, right? Now, the view from this place is spectacular. Truly. But the (again, for lack of a better word) amateurish finish work from slightly un-squared tile placement to crooked dormer walls and raw carpet edges at the top of the stairs were a disappointment, as was the mildew creeping up the walls in the two semi-finished basement rooms. This house has two large bedrooms upstairs with one large full bath. The main floor has a large-ish living room with a hanging light fixture (think dining room Home Depot special) square in the middle of the room hanging over...well...the carpet. Raised high enough to clear unless you're 6+ feet tall but serving no real, or at least appropriate, purpose other than to throw a lot of garish light and avoid the use of a ceiling blank or installation of a ceiling fan or who knows what. It's just the wrong light for that space. There is a large picture window which takes advantage of the great view of distant mountains, so that's the best feature of this room. There is dead space along the side of the stairway. Should be a closet...but it's just dead space...housing a vacuum and a couple of boxes when I was there. Not the greatest first impression as you enter the main door, which I did not. More about that later... There is a third enter it off the former mudroom. I say former because Mr. Seller had recently completed adding a two-car garage with breezeway/mudroom which rendered the former mudroom to empty tiled square hallway, really. The downstairs 3/4 bath with laundry are also off of this room. So the way I entered the house was through the new garage, into the new breezeway/mudroom (which is not complete, poured concrete floor...not stained or anything....sheetrock with joint compound, no paint...scrap wood plank steps leading to the house...and the piece de resistance....a very large deer-hunting trophy (for the uninitiated that is the head of a dead deer). The trophy ties in nicely with the highly varnished wooden gun rack which is given pride of place in the master bedroom. And, no, I'm not going there...) So from new breezeway to old mudroom is a lot of empty space with a bedroom and laundry room/bath off either side which leads to the living room (don't get me started on the poor furniture placement). Now off the living room is the kitchen, which is not visible until you actually go around the corner. Well, umm, kind of a disappointment here, as well. Small with laminate counters, low to mid-grade cabinetry with kind of cheap hardware and only two small windows, one of which overlooks the tumble-down shed that sits behind the house. It's one of those dead-end kitchens--not exactly the open-concept feeling buyers seem to go for these days, particularly in this price range--except there is no door to close it off completely. Again, the word disappointment is really the most appropriate. Nothing inherently wrong with it, but it certainly doesn't incorporate anything close to "wow". here's the rundown....3 br (2 up, 1 down) 1 3/4 baths, 1 unfinished mudroom, 1 unused mudroom, mildewed basement rooms, uninspiring kitchen, less-than-excellent finish work, altogether odd layout. The best part is the farmer's porch off the front of the house that takes in the view. Again, it's really the only thing going for it. About 4 or 5 acres of semi-useable land. Reasonable taxes. Comps for this property run in the $300-320k range (for pretty good quality stuff...not too many DIY properties in this particular mix) and, frankly, after taking in the whole thing, I couldn't in good conscience recommend anything much higher than that. I asked Mr. Seller what number he'd been throwing around in his head (for what seller doesn't have some figure he's imagining to be the right price?). He hemmed and hawed (as I said, not much of a talker) and then sputtered out $340k. I then sputtered internally...there was really no way his house would fetch that. I told him that based on recent market analyses, etc. houses of this type were selling for $300-320k, and he got all wide-eyed one me. Sputtered some more about having to talk to his wife about that...(fyi, she fancies herself a real estate expert....I mean she follows the public she knows what she's talking about) Ok, Mr. Seller, I say. I completely understand, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't tell you what I honestly think your house would sell for in today's market. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. I am confident that it would not sell for that much money. I'm not comfortable listing a house at an unreasonably high price just to stroke some self-proclaimed real estate expert's ego, and, frankly, it's bad business. Emotional attachment to houses is very real, I get that. Particularly when they've been built by their owners. I also understand that keeping the peace at home supercedes everything else. If Mrs. Seller has determined that I don't know what I'm talking about, it doesn't really matter what Mr. Seller wants or what I say to him. Did I mention that Mrs. Seller is Mrs. #3?? Keeping the peace is probably a financial imperative on Mr. Seller's part. And my broker told me (I hope not just to be nice) that she wouldn't be surprised if Mrs. Seller considers me some kind of a threat. As if! Mr. Seller is soooooooooo not my type. EEEEWWWW....SO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O NOT!!!

Of course, I don't get that listing. They give it to another independent agency owned by a very nice man. He lists it at 329.9k. A little high, if you ask me, but not totally unreasonable given Mrs. Seller's "expertise" (cough..cough). Now as we approach e-day on the spec house listing, I call and leave message after message after message...I finally get hold of Mr. Seller, days later...and I say that we're fast approaching the expiration on our listing agreement. Before I can say another word, he blasts out "I'm not extending the listing...I'm going to rent it out and try to recoup some of my losses". I say, "ok, I completely understand considering how long you've tried to sell, and the market isn't really lined up with your expectations of what you want for the house."(did I mention that I'm listing agent #2?) I'm thinking that renting is probably his best bet since he wouldn't accept any price below his desired $200k and any houses that have sold close to that range have been on the market at least 200 days (I had it for 178). Before I got off the phone with him I had to ask "is there anything you feel I should have done, or think I should have done differently? I want to make sure that you feel I did everything I could". Oh, no, everything was fine, just didn't sell. Needs to recover some money somehow. blah. blah. blah.
Ok...his house, his decision. I grouse internally at the amount of dough we've invested in his property, but I figure hey, he's not upset with our services, he's renting it out. I asked him point-blank for criticism and got none! Ok, life goes on (and, no he never mentioned giving the other listing to another agent!)

I craft a heartfelt "break-up" letter and return his keys to him. I mention that I have completely cleared out all of my belongings from his spec house and it is all ready for its future occupant. I also tell him that I think his renting out the house is for the best given the current market conditions. I reiterate the predominant reasons I've been given (repeatedly) as to what buyers don't like about the property (lot and taxes, remember?) and also state that it is unfortunate that we were unable to see a purchase and sales through to completion (we had one almost sealed...then it fell through--the buyers knew his family, it became a kind of passive-aggressive Hatfield&McCoy kind of thing, they backed out under the guise of financing problems) and had two others almost ready to sign on the dotted line but he wouldn't consider dropping below 200k. I then slide in a closing line wishing them the best of luck selling their own residence, and assure them that I will keep it in mind if I should have any clients that may be interested. Don't hesitate to contact me with questions or if I can be of help in the di dah, la di dah...Thank you and goodbye.

Fast forward two days later...and I see the new listings on the MLS. Yep, he relisted it. With the other agent. For $199.9K

I love my job.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Have We Changed?

I know I'm not alone today. I mean, really, who isn't thinking about the events of six years ago? When I realized what the date was today, it was the first thing that popped into my brain: ohmygod it's been six years since...

Well, that got me thinking. A lot. I went back and revisited Peg's entry of a year ago entitled "Why I Will Never Return To Corporate America". An incredible piece of writing that you should experience for yourself. She has re-posted it today--check it out. As I kept thinking about that day it brought back a lot of unsettling memories that I'm not going to elaborate on, mainly because it would likely be redundant. I mean, who among us isn't doing that? But the thing that keeps rushing to the forefront of my mind is this:

As a result of the events of September 11, 2001, are we really, as individuals, any different today than we were six years ago?

Am I different? Are my kids? Are you?

As I wrestle with my own answer to that question, I welcome your thoughts...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Didn't I mention?

Wow...what a difference a couple of days of R & R can make! I look back on my last couple of posts and think "whoa there, kinda snarky, huh?" Those who know me best are probably already on to it. They know that when the stress builds up in my life I have a tendency to little hypercritical (a little? they sneer)...perhaps a tad sarcastic?(noooooo......reeeeeeeeeally?) That said, I don't have any change of heart with regard to my previous posts. But I do have to wonder whether or not they may in fact put off some of the folks I hope to get to know better out there in blogville.

What's done, is done...I have no thoughts of removal or retraction. I do, however, find myself in a much more positive frame of mind after 2.5 days of uninterrupted eating, drinking, snoozing, sunning and general relaxation on the quiet shore of a little pond in central Vermont. No kids, no cell phone, no internet, nothing but me, my best bud (who also happens to be the Mr. to my Mrs.--for 21 years as of tomorrow (holy crap!)) and my loyal doofus of a gigantic black lab to distract me from absolutely nothing! Pure heaven! I have returned, if not reborn, then certainly refreshed, and pleased to report that I have a slightly less acerbic viewpoint than I have of late.

I also probably gained a few pounds.

A small price to pay for bliss.

And now, well, I'm home again. The work emails were all waiting patiently for my return. The cats have finally stopped giving me attitude for leaving them behind. The chickens continue to lay (what? I didn't mention that we have chickens?) The garden is not much weedier than when we left it. The washing machine is working overtime to make up for it's unaccustomed down-time this weekend. I put in a half-day working to clear out a house I had staged. I wish I could say it's because it sold, but, alas, the contract has expired and the owner has decided to rent it out to try to recoup some of his losses. (The end of last year turns out not to be the best year for building houses on spec--who knew?) My family room was looking like a spur-of-the-moment yard sale with furniture, faux plants, assorted dishes and household goods stacked on every available surface. I've ploughed through most of that, just left a bunch of chairs in the room. I should probably call some of the neighbors in to watch the Sox (what? I didn't mention that we are Red Sox fans?) if they're even playing tonight. you ask: how can you call yourself a Red Sox fan and not know the schedule? Easy, I say. I'm married to Mr. He knows when every game is. So do my sons. Baseball schedules fall into the need-to-know department. I don't need to know, 'cause I'm gonna find out sooner rather than later anyway. To give you an example...#1Son called the other night. Not to say hello...or even to ask for money. He called to ask his father if he had been watching the game. You know, the one where the rookie, Clay Buchholz, made his second major league start and pitched a no-hitter? I was somewhat unaware of the history in the making...I was reading blogs, actually, heh heh...and Mr. casually asked if I realized what was going on. I looked up at the tv screen, noted that we were ahead and mumbled "uh-huh". He then reiterated...."do you realize what's going on???? Look at the zeroes on the scoreboard!!" "" Well, he then said he couldn't say....and left me hanging.... It took me a second to figure out. He wasn't going to say it....because he might jinx it! That is a TRUE RED SOX FAN. Let's face it, only a TRUE FAN holds the power to change the outcome of a game by saying something untimely or jinxie (is that even a word?) For 21 years I have been married to a TRUE RED SOX FAN.

Back to the yard-sale detritus that graces my extra-special thank you to my ab-fab fave blogger of all time. You know her as Peggy, As She Is. I know her as Peggy, As She Really Is. Well, Ms. Peggy, up to her eyeballs in scholastic beginnings, advanced wound care and running the timeclock for Secret Admirer's attempt to break the record for Walker racing while under the influence of really good painkillers, took the time to help me to clear this stuff out of the aforementioned spec house. This woman who gets precious little time to herself, hauled ass from Podunk to Hickety Hills to accompany me to Blandsdale to remove all traces of my excellent staging skills. She rocks! Who could ask for a better baby sister? (what? I didn't mention that Peg is my sister?)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Dear Rebecca, I'm sorry, but...

So, as I follow up on my previous post, I see that Elizabeth Edwards has continued the dialogue with Ms. Eisenberg. The grace and courage with which EE has chosen to address this "issue" continues to amaze and humble me. Ms. Eisenberg has apologized, repeatedly, for her crass, judgemental behaviour. Kudos to her, although I can't help but feel that the motivation for her remorse stems more from the fallout and unexpected outcry of "no fair" from the masses than from a true reconsideration of her statements.

Dear Rebecca, I'm sorry, but...I can't help but think that you're sorrier for the reactions your post generated than for what you actually said (and, more importantly, the tone in which you said it). You are angry that GMA broadcast your photo without your permission. You are trying to "shield your children". Methinks you may now have more in common with EE than you ever dreamed possible. Tit for tat, as they say (that was not meant to be a pun derived from my previous post, but you can take it as you will). I guess you forgot that when you put yourself out there in the public (yes, the blogosphere is public domain) you run the risk of being judged by a large and varied audience. Isn't that why we blog in the first place? We want someone to hear us. We hope that somebody out there finds what we have to say to be important, thought-provoking, perhaps inspiring. It's wise to remember that when we promote our thoughts, opinions, views, whatever, we are inviting, passively or not, the world to counter us. While our political candidates rarely enter into the process with blinders, it seems as though many who exercise their right to express themselves publicly (ie: via blogging) resort to crying foul when the public responds in the negative.

Dear Rebecca, I'm sorry, took your chances when you posted your entry admonishing the Edwards family for their choices. Apologies notwithstanding, you need to acknowledge that you did so with implied consent to your detractors. You don't have to like it, but you need to accept it.

Dear Rebecca, I'm sorry, forgot the first rule of internet communication:

Never put anything out there that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the newspaper.

Friday, August 31, 2007

How low can you go? blogs were a-burning over the past couple of days with regard to Rebecca Eisenberg's comments regarding John and Elizabeth Edwards' choice to bring their kids with them on the campaign bus as they make their way around the country. Now there are myriad points that I could take from her post to gnaw on: her criticism of their choice, her bashing Elizabeth for choosing to leave her job and stay home with her family, her obvious envy of their financial status, her willingness to take one news article and use that as her guiding point of research, her pot-calling-the-kettle-black approach to enlightening her readers (all ten of them, according to her post) with the fact that she has no respect for John's chosen profession (in case you didn't know, he's a lawyer; so was Elizabeth) describing him as an "ambulance chaser"; yet she refers to her candidate of choice, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as a highly-respected attorney. (Now I don't mean to split hairs here, but I was always under the impression that a lawyer and an attorney were one and the same.) She also doesn't mention that she, too, is an attorney/lawyer. I suspect she can avoid the label of ambulance chaser since she works for some Internet Start-up company--unless they chase after sick or dying or injured internet companies for their own gain...but I digress. She goes on in her rant in what I took to be a misguided attempt to garner support for HRC--although I can't imagine the Clinton camp beating a path to Becky's door to film her for any upcoming advertising any time soon--and then tries to soften her outpouring of disgust toward the Edwards by lamely lamenting that it is tragic that Elizabeth is terminally ill with cancer. Save it, Becky. I doubt that all 10 or so of your regular readers bought that bucket of de rigeur sympathy.

Anyhoooo...the bottom line is that I personally found Ms. Eisenberg to be shallow, at best. But that's ok, 'cause I can be pretty damn shallow myself, which brings me to my topic this afternoon. They say that first impressions last. How very true indeed! You see, my very first impression of Ms. E was yesterday morning as I walked by the family room TV (which, as usual, was left on with nobody in the room) on my way to the kitchen for my don't-talk-to-me-til-I've-had-my-first-cup cup of java when I happened to catch the Good Morning America report on this whole thing. I was processing the information when, what to my wondering eyes should appear? But a Fake-n-Bake Bimbo with Boobs down to here!

Seriously, my jaw dropped when I saw the photo that Becky had selected for her profile on the Silicon Valley Mom's Blog. No kidding! This woman, who claims to be an "old-time feminist" (or something to that effect), chose a photo of herself with her little poppets--one under each arm--dressed in a black, uber-plunging-necklined cocktail dress. Her sweet little angels at risk of getting smacked by the free-flying orbs at best, or being teased on the playground for having the mommy who opened the first Heidi Fleiss Franchise in Palo Alto, at worst. Now there's a message for up-and-coming feminists everywhere: Show 'em if you got 'em. If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with your free-range boobies. Did she not get the fact that the bra-burning movement was meant to be symbolic?
Brassieres are not, in and of themselves, the chains that bind us to subservience. Not unless you consider an athletic supporter the pedestal upon which the men of the world rest the holy twig and berries of supremacy.

Letting the girls fly free like that is one of the oldest tricks in the book, Becky. I can't help but wonder why you would pick such a cleavage-laden photo to represent you as a mother. Sexy photos get attention, but is it the kind of attention you want? The kind you want your kids to value? And you bemoan the fact that you simply can't spend enough time with your own kids? How about some quality time in the SUV as you toodle on down to Kohl's for some Playtex 18-Hours? Do you honestly expect to be taken seriously as an insightful, intelligent woman of the new millenium when you spend less time crafting a "vitriolic" post viciously attacking one woman's right to choose how she raises her children than you do selecting your profile pic? Wake up and smell the judgement, Ms. Eisenberg. Pretty stinky, huh?

Oh, and gentle reader, if you try to find that picture, you will search in vain. It's been taken down. Pronto. One of the real moms at SVM must have seen the clip on GMA, also. Too bad they saw it three hours after we did here on the East Coast.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Take a Flying Leap...

And so I spread my wings and soar into the blogosphere. It's not like I'm a complete novice. I've read lots of blogs. I owe most of my exposure to Peg, my sistah, my friend, ergo my best sistah-friend, but I'll just call her Peg, like everyone else in blogville. She jumped in quite some time ago, and I like to think I participate, albeit mostly in the background. We bounce topics around, dissect posters and commenters within an inch of their lives sometimes, praise others and wish we could meet them in real life. Then there are the days I'm totally enamoured of the idea of anonymity. Smells like freedom. Pure, unadulterated, no-holds-barred spewing from the deepest recesses of my poor, addled brain. Liberating, cathartic, and let's face!

So, I guess I should come clean. I actually reserved this blog page some time ago. But I was so boggled by all the super-secret language that I couldn't deal. I suppose if I want to go off on some whiny rant, I could explain that I was still trying to deal with my mom's death, my husband had lost his job of 23 years, I had just become self-employed myself as a rookie realtor, I was trying my damndest to be a sane, if not entirely so, parent to two teenage boys, and I was trying to come to grips with the whole 40 is the new 30 crapola L'Oreal, Olay, Avon, et al, not to mention all the media outlets are trying so f*ing hard to sell. You're only as old as you feel. Well, back then I felt positively mummified. The idea of tackling something that involved html or links or any other foreign concept was simply too much. So I clicked the little red X and got on with putting my life together.

Well, I don't really feel all that whiny today. I'm just pretty excited that I actually am starting to get this stuff. I mean, let's face it, I posted a picture, for God's sake! ME! babe in the blogs that I am.

And, yes, I've figured out how to use italics and bold.

Bored yet? Don't give up on me. I have much to say. I'm just too freaking excited that I've figured this out to get into any specific topics just yet. But ask Peg...she'll tell you. I seldom lack for topics of conversation. I can be bitchy, timely, funny, sometimes all at once. Have faith in Mid-Life Isis--and come back to see me, y'hear?