Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Got a Blessing? Give a Blessing...

Recently I have both experienced blessings from others.  Those random acts of kindness, given by complete strangers, just because.  I ordered a meal in the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A last week and as I hastily got off of my phone, the attendant handed me a manila business card from Triad Baptist Church that indicated that they had paid for my meal as a Christmas blessing.  I thought "wow!", what a great way to brighten someones day.  Just earlier that morning, I had purchased enough coffees at my favorite drive-thru, Blend and Brew in Kernersville, and received a "free" coffee.  Upon exiting, I saw a man sitting on their picnic table under an umbrella.  He was nicely dressed but had mud on his knees and it was raining, so I asked him if I could give him my free coffee.  He thanked me and kindly declined.  Needless to say, I still received a blessing to see him smile.

On Sunday, we were headed back from soccer and had the opportunity to give a beggar on a corner a "power bar" as a snack.  The comment was made that he probably didn't want the food, he probably wanted money.  I immediately recalled what one of my disciple class members had said the previous week.  They indicated that it is only your responsibility to GIVE the blessing, what the person does with it after that is up to them.  I have thought often of that statement this week and realized that too often we look for immediate gratification or an outpouring of thanks from the receiver. Who if you think about it, never ASKED for what we thought was the blessing to begin with. We look for award and accolade to legitimize our perceived sacrifice, when in fact, we should expect nothing, except the knowledge that God will use that blessing in some way, shape or fashion that may never be revealed to our eyes here on Earth.

How difficult is it as a human to not want acknowledgment of our good deeds when this is what we have been raised on?  It does feel good to be recognized, believe me, I know; but as I mature I realize that it feels good just to be able to have the blessings from God to be able to bless someone else.  That in itself, is recognition enough...most of the time! I still love to see my name in lights...I'll have to work on that! :)


Monday, December 10, 2012

Domino Closings Aren't a Fun Game...

Though you might recall the game of dominoes being fun as a kid, this particular kind of dominoes can be the worst kind of stress for buyer/seller and agent alike.  First, let's define the domino closing for all of you out there who have no clue what I am talking about.  Rest assured, if you have ever been a part of one, or are currently a part of one, you'll never forget it.  The domino closing is a reference that agents usually make when one home's successful closing depends on another home's successful closing.  I have seen these go back 3 and 4 deep. Meaning that one house has sold, those buyers are buying a house, those buyers are buying a house and so on.  Usually these occur on or near the same day due to the fact that no one wants to be homeless or loaded in a truck for longer than necessary. 

As we all know, most homes are occupied, making the stress of getting out of your current home into you new home, difficult at best.  Add to that the anxiety of making sure all of the buyers and sellers before your transaction close on time and without incident because your home is dependent on the buyer obtaining monies from their sell and you are usually in a position that requires the money from your successful transaction. Oh, and did I mention that you know NOTHING about the buyers and sellers before you or the caliber and qualifications of their agent. Thus the anxiety, which typically stems from the lack of control of the unknown and exacerbates as a result of the typical moving tasks; such as switching utilities, schools, arranging movers, cleaning, painting and the list goes on and on.  This time of year, add to that, the holiday season, kids' exams and top it off with the mounds of paperwork that now litters the lending process.  It's enough to set the most resilient and experienced buyer/seller over the proverbial edge and directly into the nearest bowl of eggnog.

The question becomes, how do we mitigate the risk associated with these transactions and how can we ever be certain that nothing goes wrong?  Well, the truth of the matter is simply that we cannot assure that nothing will go wrong.  As a matter of fact, brace yourself for the fact that most definitely something will not go as planned, and that you will have to redirect your course to reach your destination.  If that expectation can be grasped, then we can move on to the things you can do to make your life easier when experiencing the domino closing. 

Start by hiring an agent experienced in real estate and who is organized, so that no detail regarding your actual transaction goes unnoticed.  Again, no one is perfect, but you do want an agent who uses a system of checklists and reminders to make sure that your transaction meets date deadlines for paperwork, inspections, walk-through, etc.  A good agent can help you to use these times to coordinate painters, designers and contractors so that you can obtain estimates for work to be completed after closing. This same trusted agent will make sure that the closing times and paperwork are in order so that there are few hiccups on the actual closing day.

Once your home is under contract, go through and purge.  This is something you can and need to do even if your transaction falls apart.  Then begin to pack.  First pack things you don't use on a daily basis, then move on to other more critical items, leaving the large items and "must-haves" to the movers; if you are lucky enough to have hired movers. Make sure you pack yourself  and your family a "travel bag" of prescriptions, contacts, toiletries and a few days worth of clothes in case you do find yourself at a friend or family members home for a night or two in the event something does get delayed.  Better to be prepared than to have to rummage through your neatly packed boxes digging for undergarments in the middle of the night.

Schedule everything you can for the day of closing.  Housekeepers, carpet people, etc. can be pre-booked to ensure you get all that you can completed before the moving truck arrives.  If your goods are being held overnight or for a day this gives you additional time to think about how you would like to place furniture and it allows you to clean out debris and garage areas so that you can use these areas as a staging area if additional paint or construction are being done after closing.

Schedule your utilities a week in advance if possible.  That way you won't be surprised to arrive and find out that you have no water over the weekend or that the power is out when you show up to unload at 5am on a Sunday morning.  Have your agent give you a list of utility providers and mark it off as you complete the task.  Cancel your current home's utilities at the same time for added convenience.

Relax.  So much is out of your control and out of the control of the individuals involved.  There is nothing additional that you can do to make things go faster or slower.  All things work in God's time, so at this point, once you have done all that you can, turn it over and enjoy the privilege that you have to be selling and purchasing a home in these challenging economic times.  There are many buyers and sellers that would love to be a part of the opportunity you are experiencing. (Oh how you wish you could share with them some of this joy I speak of!)  How you handle this and how your agent handles the transaction determines how those around you respond when things wrinkle, as they inevitably will.  So keep your head on straight, make lots of lists and take time to rest...you are no good to anyone if you are tired, hungry or ill-prepared.  God Bless your patience and may the dominoes fall right into place!


Monday, December 03, 2012

Like Deducting Your Mortgage Interest? Read This NOW!

Never in recent American history has the housing industry struggled so much to gain solid footing. In addition to home purchases providing the obvious place to rest your head and gather your family, home ownership provides many not-so-obvious benefits.  Owning a home creates a sense of belonging in your community.  You know that but for unforeseen circumstances you plan on being in a community for a while because you've invested your time and money to make it that purchase.  Owning a home also creates stability for your family.  There's something to be said for being at the mercy of a landlord who may or may not decide to raise rents, sell the home or not take care of it as you would like.  For hundreds of years, owning a home has also been the largest investment, we make in our lives.  This purchase and the ownership of a home drives the economy in a way that renting cannot.  Home ownership and the ability to own a home is the backbone of the American economy.  That is why in these shaky economic times, where we are working to obtain solid footing and stable market conditions, the feds should NOT, under any circumstances take away or scale-back the mortgage interest deduction.  If you feel the same way, please click on, take action on and share the link below.  If you don't feel the same way, I'd be interested in hearing why.