Southern Indiana and Louisville KY Real Estate Blog

Affiliated Business Agreements

Watch out for agents that want you to sign an Affilaited Business agreement list or any such disclosure.  What does this mean to you?  This should tip you off that you are working with a company that gets paid or benefits from you using a specific company or service.  This means the agent is more likely to refer you to a title company, lender, warranty company, etc. that they have a business relationship with.

Why is this bad?  Your agent should be free to look out for you, not the company they are affilaited with.  They should have the freedon to call around and get the best prices for you or research the best warrranty company for your needs.  Affiliated businesses produce the opportunity for a conflict of interest.

At Real Estate Unlimited, we have no such allegiances.  We work in your best interest, not ours.  The agents with our company are free to recommend any company they think with be good for you.  We get no kick-backs from anyone.  Don't you prefer for your agent to be looking out for you?

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The Most Prized Possessions

The Most Prized Possessions

My mother, now age 98, was always very proud of her home and furnishings.  She and my father collected many beautiful things for their home. A few years after his death, she decided to sell her home and move to a condo.  We helped her decide which items to move and which to sell,  so she was able to keep the most meaningful things.  When she moved in with us years later, we again went through and helped her bring her most prized possessions to our home. The rest were sold.  When she moved to an assisted living facility, she was able to take her bedroom furniture and some of her things there.  We wanted it to look as much like her home as possible.  When she moved a memory care facility, we were able to take most of the bedroom furniture there, but she no longer recognized it as hers.

This week, she was moved to a rehab facility due to a broker leg. The facility furnishes everything so she has no personal items there except her clothing and a few pictures.  She’s doing great, and while she enjoys the photos, her face really lights up when she sees us, her loved ones.  We are the only things that count to her now.  We now recognize that we are really her most prized possessions.

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My No-Cost, Pay-It-Forward, 122 Days of Christmas

My No-Cost, Pay-It-Forward 12 Days of Christmas

Oak Park Christian Ministries Trailer

Today, I visited a food pantry to drop off some extra canned goods from my pantry.  A volunteer, John, greeted me and thanked me for contributing.  When asked, he revealed that he had been volunteering at the Oak Park Christian Ministries food pantry for many years.  He told me about the wonderful, multi-denominational group of volunteers that makes sure there is food and clothing to be distributed to families in need every Wednesday, all year long.   They have only missed two Wednesdays due to snow storms.

This one food pantry alone, serves 60 – 90 families each week.  The families are screened to assure need and they can drop by up to 4 times a year.  Some of the food comes from Dare to Care and some from folks like me and then the food pantry volunteers buy the rest with donated funds.  There is always a demand for diapers, he said. 

The visit reminded me of all the unsung heroes doing their small part to serve those in need, year round.  Every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated.

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Agents - Making Changes

Real Estate Agents, change is coming whether you like it or not!

If you have to make a change, why not take control of the change?

Are you paying your broker too much?  Check out Real Estate Unlimited - others are.  You will get a 90/10 split on day one with no rollbacks.  Give yourself a raise!

Are you tired of franchise fees, admin fees (that you end up paying instead of your client) and technology fees?  We don't have any of these at Real Estate Unlimited!

Do you now have to pay for leads that come into the office, that you used to get for free?  At Real Estate Unlimited, your leads are only given to you!

At least find out what your alternatives are!

Call today - 812-288-6080 or 502-454-4404.

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A Great Agent can save sellers money on preparing a house for sale.

Carpet Layer Fitter 

Sellers often spend time and money on items that aren’t the most important to buyers.  Let a Great Agent assist you in decided what needs to be done to ready a house for the market.

A Great Agent has contacts you can use: painters, carpet, tile, landscaping, organizing, staging, lighting, etc.  Consider painting for instance.  If you need to repaint your house, you can do it yourself, only if you are meticulous, or you can hire a painter.  There are lots of good painters that don’t charge an arm and a leg.  Get referrals from your friends.  Get estimates because they help you know what jobs should really cost.  The more people you speak with, the more informed you become.  Or, ask a Great Agents.  The Great Agent has been through this so many times before, that he or she already knows the painter you really need.

Cleaning – real cleaning – and de-cluttering don’t cost the seller that much, but they sure mean a lot to the buyers.  When a house is neat and clean, the buyer is able to focus on the house. They aren’t distracted by the items in the house; the collections; the stuff.  If the seller isn’t planning on moving any item, it should be gone before the house goes on the market.  Donate, sell, pack up or discard all the extra stuff.  This effort will make your home look larger and make it more valuable to a buyer.

Ask a Great Agent to give you a list, room by room, of what needs to be done to get your home ready to put on the market, then don’t allow the buyers to see it until it’s ready!

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A Great Agent can save buyers money by finding a property that fits the buyer’s loan.

 Is that 100% financed loan helping save or spend more?

Recently, a buyer came to us pre-approved for 100% financing.  She wanted a house in a nice neighborhood in town.  She wasn’t a veteran and it turned out that the loan she was pre-approved for was limited to a rural area, not where she wanted to live.

We had to go back to the lender to look for alternative ways the buyer could purchase.  In her case, she needs to wait until she saves a little more money for a down payment.  The lender could have explained this to her but didn’t. 

We often work with FHA buyers and have to explain to them that we must find a house that doesn’t need excessive repairs.  Recently, a couple found a large house with a huge outbuilding on 2 acres.  It sounded great, but upon looking closely at the property, we discovered that it needed a new roof and lots of exterior painting. 

In reality, the buyers couldn’t buy that property unless we negotiated in a new roof and all the exterior repairs into the transaction, but from the seller’s viewpoint, if the seller had to do all those repairs, they would be able to get much more for the property.   We found them another great property that worked with their financing.

In both cases, we didn’t waste the buyer’s money on inspections and appraisals, only to find out that the transaction couldn’t close.  We protected the buyers by matching the property to their loan.

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A Great Agent can protect buyers from excessive costs.

Find the right loan.

Buyers don’t know what’s normal. 

Sometimes, they search for lenders online and look for the best deal on the interest rate.  They are unaware of rates a Great Agent can get for them through a preferred lender.  A good rule of thumb, get your loan from a lender you can sit down and speak with in person.  You’ll get the best deal from someone your agent knows.  The lender will most likely give you a great deal because they want future business from that agent.

The same thing happens with closing costs.  If the buyer doesn’t have another closing cost estimate to go by, he won’t know he’s paying way more than other buyers who are buying in the same area and price range.  A Great Agent can help them check these things out. 

Beware if a listing requires you to close with a specific title company.  Don’t make the offer until you have checked out what the closing fees will be.  You’d be surprised just how expensive it can get.  Work with a Great Agent and save lots of money!

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A Great Agent can offer to list or auction your home!

You might not think of auctioning your home, but a Great Agent who can do both listings and auctions might recognize that an auction might net more money from the sale of your home.

Some people think auctions are just for distressed properties but actually those are the ones that won’t work out.  There’s usually no equity and the seller is not in a position to guarantee the mortgage.

We find that auctions are great for in-demand properties.  We are back to a market where we are seeing multiple offers.  Those houses could have brought more if they had been auctioned.  Some sellers tell us they have a list of people who want their home if they ever decide to sell.  They should auction their properties.

And there are estates, sometimes of hoarders, where the executors live out of town or are overwhelmed by the amount of personal property they must deal with.  A Great Agent can help with options such as an estate sale or an online only auction of the antiques and collectibles. Consider all the options before making a decision.  You will be a more informed seller.Glyphicon

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A Great Agent can help sellers with marketing strategies.

Marketing Strategy

It’s time well-spent sitting down with a Great Agent to strategize about the marketing of your home. 

What can be guessed about who the buyers going to be? 

What size family will most likely be looking for the home?

What age group?

What will draw them to the house? Or the area?  Schools, bus lines, gated community, condo living, acreage. 

Why did you buy this particular house?

What will be important to your buyers?

What are you willing to do to make it sell for the highest price?

What are you not willing to do?

Are your neighbors are negative or positive for your home?

Can negatives be addressed?

Where can we find the buyer living right now? Larger or smaller homes, condos, apartments, out-of-towners.

Why do they want to move?

Will they be working with an agent?

Will they be searching online?

Will they attend open houses?

The answers to these question and many more, help a great agent decide on how to market your home most effectively.  

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A Great Agent isn’t satisfied with just taking pictures.

Modern KitchenGreat Agents spend the extra time and effort to take great photos.  It takes more time but it’s worth it to make the property look its best. 

When a Great Agent takes marketing photos of your house, you won’t see dirty dishes in the sink, items all over the countertops, the commode lid open, the beds unmade, pictures on the wall crooked, clothing hanging on chairs, the pet sleeping on the sofa, objectionable posters in the bedrooms, toys all over the living room or bikes lying in the yard.

Some agents hire companies to do virtual tours, while a Great Agent takes their own virtual tour photos so there is control over what gets shown and what doesn’t get shown.  There is consideration given to lighting and angles and framing the best shots.

If you want a good laugh, just look at some of the marketing photos online.  Some make you dizzy because they use a fish eye lens or take panoramic photos.  Some are fuzzy.  Some show the house to be a mess.  Wouldn’t that seller be better off without the photos, or better yet with a Great Agent?

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Time to Think

Travel time

We take in information, make decisions and solve problems all day.  One would think that we think every waking moment, and we do, but aren’t we just thinking on a surface level?  I think we need to take time out to think.  The thinking I’m thinking about now is much deeper. It’s about stepping back from daily routines and really concentrating.  For me this creative form of thinking takes place as I meditate or take time away from my normal routine.  It helps me to jot down my thoughts so I can think about the thoughts later and delve deeper or put my ideas to work.

I’m not smarter than others or more educated, but I may spend more time thinking and planning than most people. I’m not content just living day to day, week to week, month to month, season to season, year to year, until it’s over.

I mull over how I can live my life better, how I can run my company better, how I can embrace newer technologies, how I can be healthier, how I can be of benefit to others, what’s really important in life, what’s not really important, what it means to be a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend.

For me, seminars, retreats, meetings and travel bring out the creative part of me.  I better have paper and pen handy.  I love those “Ah-Hah!” moments.  Then it’s time to put thought into action until I get a chance to think some more.

Time to Think

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Tea with Oscar

Oscar our very handsome cat

Oscar is our cat.  He’s black and white and very large for a cat. Cats are such creatures of habit and they manage to train humans to conform to their habits.

When I awake, I know Oscar is waiting for me. Oscar sleeps in the basement stairwell.  He closes the door himself and sleeps behind it so he can see through the glass in the door.  As I pass by the basement door, he gets up and reaches a paw around the edge of the door and pulls it open so he can join me.  Of course, he stretches, lies down and expects me to stoop down and rub his back and head. Then it’s okay with him for me to proceed to the kitchen. Oscar and I have tea together each morning. Actually, I have tea; Oscar has fresh water.

I take my cup of tea and sit down in the family room to catch up on the news and weather.  Oscar loves this part.  He jumps up on the arm of the chair next to me in his best imitation of a circus tiger pose, so he can get his back, head and tummy rubbed.  When he is content with the amount of attention, he gets comfortable on the ottoman and watches TV.  All is well in Oscar’s world.

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From Sunset to Earthset

Sunset

I love sunsets and have watched possibly thousands of them in my lifetime, but one evening I was early for an appointment so I was waiting in my car for a few minutes.  The car was parked in such a way that I had a great view of the setting sun.  It was one of those unobstructed views of a star; the huge red ball we call “the sun.”  Then it hit me – the sun doesn’t move so it couldn’t be setting!

The earth is spinning – we are ones moving.  When I concentrated on it, I could feel myself and the earth moving back away from the sun.  As the earth rotates, there’s an optical illusion that the sun is disappearing over the horizon.  In reality, my location on the earth is moving around, or rising up, hence, “Earthrise” or “Earthset” might be a more correct term.

I wonder what else we accept that can’t possibly be true?

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The Travel Feast

Traveling is a marvelous feast for the senses. Visually we see the shapes and colors of the animals, people, plants, land and water. We are treated to the sounds of nature, vehicles, machinery, voices, accents and languages. The smells that reach us are so varied; from the fragrant flowers to the acrid and pungent odors of manufacturing and farming. We have the opportunity to sample new foods, flavors, local fruits and regional specialties, but the most wonderful travel memories for me are the experiences.

As my husband and I travel, we seek out natives of each area, and try to see their area through their eyes.  They are usually happy to share those special spots they love, with beautiful views, hidden sites and the restaurants where they eat.

It’s hard to believe some of the wonderful experiences we’ve had: exploring a wild cave and a lost river in Kentucky, paddling a river and foraging for mushrooms in Canada, photographing bison up close in North Dakota, 4-wheeling in the desert of Arizona, relaxing in a hot springs on the Mexican border, hiking in the mountains of Colorado, deep sea fishing and swimming with manatees in Florida, snorkeling in Cancun, walking on an active volcano and sailing off Hawaii and watching the sunset from anywhere in the world. We even went to Canada in the winter to see what it looked like covered in snow. We went to the shore of Lake Superior on Christmas Day at 28 degrees below zero Celsius. We didn’t stay long. And then there’s the best experience of all - taking a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; nothing compares to that.

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Past, Present, or Future Thinking

I’ve known people who live in past. They talk about what they’ve done, where they’ve been, who they’ve met and on and on.  That can be pretty boring to other folks.

Some just focus on the present.  They are influenced by the past but choose to concentrate only on today; what’s before them right then; the people with them right now; like nothing else matters.  The danger lies in wasting their lives being in the moment with little or no direction.  Each moment can be enjoyed but little may get accomplished before life is over.

I prefer to think about what I’ve learned and how it does or can impact my life today and in the future.  The past is important and I certainly don’t want to repeat past mistakes but I can’t change the past.  I can only live in the present but what I do today needs to have a positive effect on my life, the lives of those I love, my clients and friends, and those I don’t even know. 

As I think about those who have had a positive influence on me, I remember a teacher who had confidence in my abilities, a boss who taught me how to not be a procrastinator, a counselor who always made me be accountable and not blame others, and my mentors in the Baha’i Faith that showed me a wonderful vision of the future.  The change is happening now, little by little, all over the world, by ordinary people thinking extraordinary thoughts and doing the little things they can to change themselves, have a positive influence on those around them, and thereby change the future. 

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Awakening My Creative Side

Art Creativity

I really can’t draw stick people well, so I have always thought that I wasn’t artistic. That notion changed years ago when I took part in a weekend seminar, working with children in Baha’i children’s classes.  At the very beginning of the seminar, each of us found a chunk of colored beeswax at our place, along with other materials.  We were instructed to make something out of the beeswax.  Thoughts immediately started running through my head:  “I’m not artistic.” “I’m not creative.”  “I don’t know how.”  “I can’t do that.” My fear of being laughed at welled up inside me.

The facilitator further instructed us to hold the beeswax in our hands since it was cold.  She said it would soften up in a few minutes.  I did that part okay. 

Others started making things out of their beeswax, but my mind was a blank.  The “I can’ts” were very strong. I just kept warming.  As I warmed the beeswax, I began to roll it between my palms and it became a ball.  It was purple so I announced I had made a grape.  Well, I thought it was funny, but everyone else was too intent on their creations to notice mine.  So I rolled it between my palms some more until I was a long pencil shape and then I announced it was a snake.  Next I coiled the long piece and magically, the snake morphed into a snail, and I was off and running.

The beeswax figure sat there with me the entire weekend calling to me, forcing me to make it into something else.  By the end of the weekend seminar, my chunk of cold purple beeswax had become a beautiful, delicate tropical fish.

Occasionally, I run into other...

Forget Everything You Knew About Real Estate! It’s All Changed!

From the older seller’s viewpoint, imagine how different things are today than they were even 20 years ago.  The seller now has to be concerned with so many issues that weren’t in play 20 years ago.  We have radon, the odorless, colorless gas.  Try to convince a seller why they have to mitigate something they cannot see.  There might be lead-based paint in the home they have lived in for many years without a problem.  Their children are fine so they wonder why another family would be concerned. Mold has become such an ominous organism, but have always had mold.  There is probably not a house in our area without mold, but buyers now hire inspectors to search for such organisms.  Electromagnetic fields are now an issue.  Those big power lines on the easement that gave the seller’s children such a great place to play, now loom over the yard like a monster in the eyes of the buyers.  The older seller has been very diligent in keeping things in working order, but the buyer wonders why things haven’t been updated.  Why replace a light fixture, carpet, toilet, appliances or windows that still work!?

From the younger buyers’ perspectives, they want a “green” energy-efficient home with low maintenance inside and out. They probably hate all carpeting and prefer nice hard floor, whether natural or not. They hate wallpaper and don’t want to spend their time upgrading or restoring houses.  They want their children to be able to play in a safely-enclosed yard; not to run the fields and play in the woods.  They want to live close to work and schools; not having to commute and waste gasoline driving back and forth. They probably both work. Their children are the center of their world. The house is just shelter.

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What I Learned From My Father

What I Learned from My Father

 

My father was of German descent but was born here in the year 1900. Those who knew him would say he had a great work ethic, but it went much further than just at work. He derived great pleasure from doing a great job as a Police Reporter for the Courier-Journal newspaper, being punctual, thorough, loyal and dedicated.  

But work was about more than just making a living. He was a planner. He put his money to work for the future of his family. He didn’t procrastinate about doing what needed to be done.  He enjoyed his free time and planned wonderful family vacations for us almost every year. I think he may have enjoyed the planning almost as much as the trip. Then he took great photos so we could always revisit the great memories.

Finding that balance between being responsible with money yet using some of it to enjoy what this great world has to offer, is what we try to do. As we set out our goals for the upcoming year, we set aside time to enjoy this country. You won’t run into us at fancy restaurants, formal affairs, expensive stores, or driving vehicles not paid for. But when we travel, I make sure that I take great photos and journal about the trip, so as we age, we will be able to recall the details and relive the memories, in memory of my father, Ed Merkel.

Ed Merkel

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Fleeting Memories

Fleeting Memories

Memories are our connection to the past.  If we lose our memory, we are forced to live in the present.

I've watched my 97 year old mother lose pieces of her memory, a little at a time.  She's never really been good at remembering the details like dates, times, places, names, etc., but she did enjoy talking about the past in random segments, like episodes of a sitcom that can be viewed in any order.

Now she lives mostly in the present, from meal to meal, activity to activity.  She still knows all her family members and loves us but has little connection with our daily lives.  She's very content; she no longer cares if her shoes and purse don't match, and she rarely bothers to put on jewelry.  Attachment to material items has waned; she no longer recognizes the furniture she's had for most of her life when she comes to visit my home.  Now she just has fleeting memories of times past.  Occasionally good memories pop into her head.  She doesn't dwell on any negatives or losses.

Her life is so simple now.  What she appreciates are the important things in life: smiles, hugs, clouds, sunshine, Fall colors, flowers, birds, a cushioned chair, a helping hand, good food prepared by others, music, laughter and just pure fun.  She appreciates not having to cook, clean, launder, make beds, vacuum or take care of anything.

She worked long and hard in the past to be able to enjoy these golden years of living in the present.

Mother's 97th Birthday

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Spectacular Fall!

SPECTACULAR FALL!

I love Fall in the Louisville area.  The blend of colors is so spectacular!  Normally, the colors orange, red, brown, yellow and rust are my least favorite family of colors, yet I am thrilled by them when used by nature to highlight the trees and shrubs.  When the forest trees are all green, they meld together into one sea of green, but in the most spectaular part of Fall, each tree stands out; its shape distinguishable from its neighboring trees.  Sunshine on the yellow and orange leaves makes them glow as birhgtly as fire.  As the forest underbush dies off, the fallen leaves create a colorful carpet underfoot.  With the lower humidity, the sky becomes a clearer blue and the white, puffy clouds, even whiter.  Spetacular Fall is truly a feast for the eyes!

Spectular Fall trees

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