Traffic and Location

Quite a few changes may have an impact on my local market and, I would guess, the rest of the country.   Day after day of increases in the stock market seem to be a reset, not just optimism after tax cuts.    I would wonder if even the most bearish investors will continue to take money off the table to diversify in real estate.  Slower to react, I think 2018 is looking like a good year.IMG_9966

So, I’m thinking a little about pricing and the kinds of properties with potential for increase.¬† Higher price ranges were the last to recover after the extended crash and condominium pricing is still low, in my opinion.¬† ¬†I’d also look at commercial properties in prime locations.¬† Rents for commercial properties are often negotiated for longer terms and the changes in rent as leases expire often leads to a change in value.¬† It isn’t always about the CAP rate, sometimes seeing the change in rent and improvement as leases expire can give a very different picture.

Location means a lot, but what happens when traffic patterns change.¬† We’re experiencing some serious changes on A1A, as roads are widened and traffic lights slow traffic.¬† I don’t necessarily see a negative.¬† We are just becoming a more distinct market.¬† The bridge is one obstacle, but travel time is the second. I simply¬† see the change as more neutral for the island.¬† It would be wonderful to think all commercial traffic would simply be attracted to the island, but the change is really about convenience.¬† ¬†Island shopping is just concentrating and the traffic delays might only be creating one more disincentive to leave the island.

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I’m still thinking about the effect of opening Alachua Street and still convinced this is the best way to preserve a functional Historic District.¬† If you think about event management and the trend toward more events shutting down Centre for brief periods, Alachua and improving Front Street make sense.¬† ¬†Not only do surrounding properties improve, Centre Street avoids periodic congestion.¬† By the way, the marina’s shift northward also makes sense and is a logical tie to this change.

 

 

Dedication, Martial Arts, Life Balance and Fitness

IMG_9104Sometimes a hobby or change in your personal life translates into a big change in your professional life.¬† My first and only broker said something I never remembered until a local newspaper published it.¬† She always said to “Never give up!”.¬† ¬†Never giving up is part of being a great salesperson or succeeding at anything.¬† I can remember thinking of two things when starting out.¬† I wanted balance in my personal and professional life or freedom and I wanted to always look for a more efficient way to accomplish the same things.¬† ¬† How could I do the same thing in less time or do the same thing at a lower cost.¬† ¬†Technology became a part of the key, but embracing social media, smart phones, mobile computers, websites, blogs and knowing how to use the tools…that makes the difference.¬† I typically forward all calls to my mobile device whenever I’m out of the office.¬† If I can’t answer, I don’t want anything to delay communication.¬† I’m not sure dedication is the best description.¬† Integration might be a better way to think about how I mix work and sales.

Years ago, I spent time working out in several different styles of martial arts.¬† I don’t want to go into detail, but some of the lessons made a difference in my life.¬† ¬†One of the bigger lessons is in working without expectation of a reward.¬† Sales can be frustrating, but becoming accustomed to hard work and removing any negative feeling from failure can be a difficult trick.¬† I can remember being better at a move or sequence of moves after a long period of practice.¬† All the effort going into learning the move disappear from memory, but learning to remember the success and forget the failure…that made a difference in my life.¬† ¬†In sales, motivation is key and we need to focus on moving constantly forward.¬† ¬† Another lesson I picked up had to do with balance.¬† Going back to the original comment on balance and integration of work/life, I began to see the importance of fitness, family and personal time.¬† If I became too “one-dimensional”, a career in sales would leave behind a miserable person.¬† I wanted to be sure sales did not consume life.¬† Have you ever run into a salesperson with such a single-minded focus, you just want to run in the opposite direction?¬† ¬†I still remember a conversation with an extremely successful salesperson.¬† They actually screamed at me when I called their mobile line to make an appointment.¬† At the time, I was a little surprised, but far less than the average “non-sales” person might think.¬† ¬†The “screamer” was wrapped so tightly and had so little personal life, the obnoxious, rude, unprofessional behavior must have become a normal part of life.¬† ¬† I never wanted to become successful at the expense of a good life, family or mental health.¬† An analogy comparing life balance to legs on a stool comes to mind.¬† Sometimes we tend to focus on success so much, we put all the weight on a single leg.¬† ¬†We really need to have the weight spread over family, professional, physical fitness and spiritual or emotional legs.¬† ¬†Balance makes a difference, but becomes far easier with 3 or 4 components.

This all brings up the changes I made in 2017.¬† Over the last 10 years, I suffered a series of injuries.¬† Some were age related, but some were related to limitations and a resistance to giving up things like surfing, martial arts or lifting heavy objects.¬† The injuries and a wife with exceptional cooking skills added weight…and a loss of life balance.¬† I never thought about weight in my 20’s or 30’s, but suddenly, I realized I’d added significant weight and needed a change.¬† ¬†Over the last 8 months, I began to make changes and will probably continue to make changes for the rest of my life.¬† Diet isn’t the right way to think about fitness.¬† We all need to adjust the pattern in our life.¬† Find and budget time, create a habit, be certain of sustainability and have fun.¬† My changes began with food and exercise, but are going a lot further.

The first change included seriously logging all food intake.¬† I use a program called “Loseit” for calorie logging.¬† The program will track activity, but I’ll get back to that.¬† ¬†Setting a calorie intake goal is good, but I found it easier to focus on a range of protein and fiber.¬† ¬†Protein from non-red meat is easier to manage, if you’re worried about exceeding a caloric intake goal.¬† ¬† Red meat seemed to immediately throw off my cholesterol and calorie count.¬† When I changed to chicken, vegetable, fish and lean pork cuts, I really didn’t need to watch cholesterol numbers.¬† ¬†Fiber, from experience, tends to reduce the need for more food.¬† If my fiber count is low, I’m usually hungrier.¬† Whether the carbohydrate count is lower or the actual fiber reduces my craving, higher fiber diets worked for me.¬† ¬†So, as a part of counting my intake, I began to think about meals and eating differently.¬† I rarely have processed carbs.¬† I rarely eat red meat.¬† I seldom or never have fruit juice.¬† ¬†Typically, I drink more water at each meal and eat protien, vegetable and any non-processed carbohydrate…in that order.¬† If I feel satisfied, I stop eating and usually make a point of leaving a small portion of food on the plate.¬† ¬†As a child, I was told to finish my food.¬† ¬†Can you remember being told to take all you want, but finish what you take?¬† I remember this, but I also remember feeling I should clean the plate.¬† I’m making a point of unlearning this as an adult and can see the problem with cleaning the plate of an oversized serving.

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The other big change was in tracking activity.¬† I was using an iPhone to track walking goals, but recently picked up an Apple iWatch 3¬†.¬† This is, by far, the best purchase I’ve made in years.¬† Seeing changes to resting heart rate, alone, is worth the motivation, but I am far more aware of distances walked and calories burned each day.¬† Whether I’m in the gym or go for an extended walk, tracking all activity is now on my wrist and mind every day.¬† ¬†The other change is integration with anything I’m doing.¬† ¬†Silencing a phone and just glancing at your wrist for a text or caller ID after feeling the small alert vibration saves more time than you might think.

As of today, I’m lighter than I have been in 20 years and more fit.¬† Work is easier, family life is easier, I feel great and I can see the path I’ll take in the coming few years.¬† I’m only about 8 pounds above my ideal weight and feeling pretty pleased with the progress, but now great fitness is the goal.¬† ¬†The journey isn’t over and that feeling of life being in balance is back.¬† ¬†It isn’t too late to think about where you’re missing a leg on your stool.

 

Reviews, Promotion, Pictures….and the “Never Happy” 5%

I’m beginning to think 5% of the population is never going to be reasonable.¬† ¬† No chance at reasonable….period!¬† Looking back at my business Facebook page, I changed my opinion of reviews over time, eventually deciding to simply deal with the occasional negative.¬† ¬†Poor reviews, no matter how far you go above and beyond, are simply going to occasionally pop up.¬† Every client, as much as it hurts, won’t always be satisfied and sometimes recognizing these unhappy, time-consuming, negative review leaving individuals is worth missing a sale.

The most common complaint relates to pictures.  Oddly enough, most websites and the vast majority of advertising, will only take a certain resolution.  Going beyond that resolution would require scaling down the size or resolution to accommodate the limitation.  I use one digital camera and the best phone I could find.  My day usually img_2010includes an average of 20 pictures on the phone and a variety of social media maintenance posts.  Essentially, I manage several local networking sites, my business page and two blogs.  Having a collection of local images is necessary for me, but after 10 to 15 years of practice and thousands of shots, anyone would improve.  That said, some properties are very difficult to show in a picture and some need something more.   Drones are worthwhile, but only if the property has a view, location or frontage requiring the perspective.   Using a drone for every single property or a video of every property is a waste of advertising dollars.

 

 

 

Wishes for Good Fortune, Influence, Daily Kindness and Hope in 2018

I came across this rock outside a Jacksonville hospital a few months ago.¬† ¬†At the time, I thought the location outside the cancer wing was probably appropriate, but the image stuck with me.¬† In 2018, and in every year, I hope for something better.¬† Whether we’re talking about political leaders, financial goals, Fernandina or our health, my wish for all of you is for a better 2018.¬† May you have health and happiness in the coming year, may you and your family make the coming year better and may our communities improve with your help.¬† ¬† Hope is a powerful thing and finding people constantly willing to remember “hope” is the key to make things better.

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About 12 months ago, I spend an afternoon with my youngest son and his friend at a paintball range.¬† ¬†We ran, were pummelled with paint balls and I also took a potentially serious fall.¬† Beyond finding the fun a struggle, I fell on my right knee and came very close to doing enough damage to require surgery.¬† On top of an increase in weight and several shoulder surgeries over the past 5 years, I just wanted to be healthy.¬† One more injury was just incredibly depressing to me and I made a resolution in 2017.¬† ¬†Resolutions aren’t worth much if you don’t follow through, but I take my resolutions seriously.¬† ¬†In the last year, I’ve lost around 65 pounds and spent an average of 6 days a week in the gym.¬† ¬†My blood pressure is perfect, my cholesterol is under 200 and my resting heart rate is sometimes as low as 47.¬† ¬†At 54, following through with that single positive change made a world of difference to me and to my family.¬† ¬†My wife, noticing the changes, didn’t want to be left out.¬† In the spring, she began to spend time in the gym and my sons are even beginning to change.¬† ¬†One resolution makes a bigger difference than you might think and we all influence someone.

Our political leaders set the tone for a community, but I’m very disappointed in the ways elections can be influenced by slanted coverage.¬† ¬† I’ve noticed this in local and national media, as I’m sure you all notice.¬† Daily, I have conversations with my sons, often unaware of the missing pieces in coverage.¬† I’ve watched newspapers state a policy is to avoid endorsements prior to an election and identify writers….but then publish an unsigned endorsement, so glowing, the angels sing and the actual letters began to glow on the page.¬† ¬†I hope we manage two things in 2018.¬† As a community, we need to see candidates clearly.¬† ¬†Think about what they say and whether they have any agenda other than improving the community.¬† Think about coverage and whether information is biased.¬† The old “garbage in-garbage out” is true in our decisions at a voting booth.¬† If your sources are all biased, then the vote doesn’t make sense.¬† ¬†I hope to spend more time becoming an informed voter and giving back with connection to the community.¬† Whether I volunteer as a community moderator, publish posts here or find other volunteer opportunities, I will share rational views of the world and look for better ways to influence others.¬† On that note, I want to compliment another local blog, the Fernandina Observer.¬† ¬†Suanne Thamm, Susan Steger and their numerous volunteer writers, are one of the most unbiased sources for Amelia Island news.¬† While I’d love to be added to your reading list, I find their coverage, particularly of local political events, to be exceptionally accurate.

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I’m on my way out the door for a long walk on a cold January 1st, but think you can see where my priorities and, I hope, your priorities might be in the coming year.¬† ¬†We all need to think about the things that matter.¬† Health matters more than money.¬† Family matters more than work.¬† ¬† Life is short and we all need to use each opportunity to make the world a better place.¬† ¬†We all influence someone and all have opportunities each day.¬† Whether you take a neighbor something to eat, smile or wave to someone you recognize or stop to give someone a ride….small things make a big difference.

Highest and Best Use…..Selfish or Logic

In the last few weeks, local politics has been filled with misinformation related to the use of land and zoning.¬† Knowing a little can be dangerous, but implying highest and best use is somehow a selfish thing…I’m not sure how to respond.

All zoning lists the potential uses for property, if you meet other criteria.¬† ¬† There lies the difficulty.¬† Beginning with a developed property or properties in the historic district, just how difficult would it be to change a site radically?¬† ¬†Condominiums are possible with existing buildings, but not in the way you might think.¬† ¬†I’ve actually talked about splitting properties to allow the sale of individual spaces.¬† This makes sense if thinking of control of maintenance or appearance, but also adds a level of control to the building.¬† ¬†In a historic district, small condominium or shared maintenance agreements for existing buildings are almost a kind of small-scale zoning created by owners.¬† ¬† Fearing the idea of these isn’t logical, but I understand some might think massive properties might take over parts of a desireable area like the historic district.

The highest and best use is just the likeliest or most logical use for a property to accomplish an owner or investor’s objective.¬† ¬†Most of the time, the highest and best use is also the most profitable use, but not always.¬† ¬†Consider a property with one highest and best use, but limited by size, restrictions on combination or a historic district with rules making it very difficult to change a building.¬† ¬†By change, i mean demolish or remove one building to erect another in its place.¬† ¬†The cost of acquiring a property, designing a renovation and, if a building is already in place, demolishing the old to build a new is generally going to be prohibitive in the vast majority of cases.¬† ¬† In a market with prices for an existing older building in the $200 to $250/ft range, adding the cost to reconstruct would likely push the cost per foot over $400 per square foot.¬† While it might appear to be a hypothetical highest and best use, no developer or investor is willing to lose half a project cost at sale.

Selfish uses of property really just mean logical use.¬† I spend most of my time considering the best way to make the most of a listing.¬† How can it be changed?¬† Is the current owner’s use maximizing the property?¬† If the use is changed, is the cost to change worth the potential benefit?¬† ¬†Are code updates required?¬† What about parking?¬† ¬†Sometimes a change of use requires addition of parking spaces.¬† If there aren’t spaces or land to creat spaces, the use might just be an impossibility.

I’m a little surprised anyone would see highest and best use as a bad thing, unless they just aren’t considering the logic, but then my career is, in part, helping clients find the most logical use for their properties.

Weekend Thoughts….Coffee Conversations

Bill Flynn speaking at the opening of the new library he had so much to do with improving. Great man!

I’ll probably be at a coffee and conversation event at Buygo for Orlando Avila today, but I’m thinking over some of the issues in this year’s city commission election and the runoff on December 12th.

Both candidates profess love for the community and town, but there is a subtle or perhaps not so subtle difference.¬† ¬†Loving the town as it is today or as it was when you arrived isn’t good enough.¬† Towns change and evolve, despite efforts to stop change.¬† ¬†We thrive on diversity, so any view of the town without a serious understanding of how Fernandina works and the interrelationships between tourism, industry, residents, environmental resource protection and sometimes short-sighted politicians, will fail.¬† ¬†We live in the best, in my opinion, location on the east coast of Florida.¬† I love this place, the people and diversity, but I also love something you won’t expect.¬† I love the change.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.” It’s a Wonderful Life – Clarence 1946

25 years ago, I seriously considered moving away from Fernandina.¬† I felt the pull of greener grass and the pull of a larger world I sometimes felt I missed by living on Amelia Island.¬† ¬†Family, marriage, kids, work, history and momentum seemed to conspire to keep me here and as I matured.¬† At one point, I felt like George Baily in “Its a Wonderul Life”…trapped in a great place, but at that time in my life not quite recognizing my good fortune.¬† ¬†Later, I began to feel interested in politics and understood the responsibility and influence I had on everyone around me, but also the responsibility.

Time in an area leads toward a feeling of responsibility and ownership, but a conversation I had this morning reminded me of thoughts I had in 2012.¬† ¬†I felt responsible to everyone after being elected.¬† I immediately felt I was obligated to every voter, not just a few….and wanted to learn as much as possible.¬† Feeling strongly about an issue is important, but understanding a community changes and compromising to find a balance is good government is what we need in a politician. Maybe this is the wrong word to use, but by compromise, I’m talking about learning, listening and being willing to see a better path when one exists.¬† There are going to be times when a decision does not lend itself to compromise, but most people looking for elected office should have the humility and common sense needed to learn.¬† ¬†The bigger the ego and the more convinced a candidate feels…or entitled to change directly without any discussion, the worse that candidate will be in the position.

In 2017, I love Fernandina and the opportunity I’ve had to live here.¬† ¬†Seeing a difference you made is incredibly rewarding and this town offers so many opportunities to give back.¬† Just helping a neighbor, because small towns create relationships, is something unique.¬† My wife’s aunt moved to a community planned to the Nth degree.¬† Everything was designed from the ground up.¬† It didn’t immediately hit me, but I realized no one was needed.¬† Residents had a fraction of the opportunity to give back anything.¬† I won’t name the place, but it struck me as an incredibly sterile and boring environment.¬† Great food, planned entertainment, themed areas….no parking problem and no traffic issues at all, but the most boring place I’ve ever seen.¬† I enjoy the diversity here in Fernandina, but enjoy being needed and being a part of the community.¬† This place thrives on people and is interesting because we’re all in the process of building something better.¬† Do I love the way Fernandina is at this moment in time?¬† Sure!¬† I also loved it in 1970 and 1980 and 2000, but I also enjoy being a part of the changes as we evolve.¬† ¬†Fernandina is a journey and community.

 

Measure Results and Unique Mission …Economic Development in Nassau County

Thinking about our local economy and how we promote economic growth/health/vitality in Nassau County, Amelia Island and in Fernandina Beach, it is helpful to look at the stated goals of various agencies, whether funded, elected or created by a state or federal government.    It is hardly surprising we see success in Nassau County and on Amelia Island, but which efforts are producing results and which efforts might overlap or duplicate the work?

I’m including local government in economic development.¬† Every elected official spends time thinking of ways to improve quality of life and economic opportunity.¬† ¬†They usually set a direction, but in the case of Fernandina, the CRA Advisory Board specifically endorses and prioritizes projects relating to development within the CRA.


Amelia Island Tourist Development Council¬† “The goals of the AITDC are to generate visitation to Amelia Island and its attractions/special events, thereby increasing tax revenues, including sales taxes and those imposed on the hospitality industry. In turn, those tax revenues may be used to improve the quality of life for the citizens of the community, provide support for beach renourishment, and ensure a viable hospitality industry.” 11/29/17

Fernandina Beach Main Street¬† “The¬†Fernandina Beach Main Street¬†program promotes sensible, sustained economic growth and enhancements based on local assets, especially historic resources and buildings. Being a Florida Main Street will enable us to maintain a focus on downtown to create greater economic stability, revitalization, sustainability,vitality, quality of life, and civic pride.” 11/29/17

Amelia Island -Fernandina Beach – Yulee Chamber of Commerce¬†¬†“With more than 600 members representing thousands of area employees, the Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce speaks with a strong and credible voice for business in Amelia Island FL, Fernandina Beach FL, Yulee FL and Nassau County FL.” 11/29/17

NCEDB (Nassau County Economic Development)¬† “Our mission is simple: to create, grow and attract business investment to Nassau County, Florida and offer high-wage jobs to its residents and our future workforce.¬† Our goal is to create a well-defined identity and brand that defines Nassau County as a desirable location for business.”¬† 11/29/17

HFBA (Historic Fernandina Beach Business Association)¬† “The Downtown Amelia Island page is brought to you by the Historic Fernandina Business Association. The focus of this page is to promote events and businesses who are members of the HFBA and are located in the beautiful downtown area of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island.” 11/29/17

CRA (Community Redevelopment Area)¬† “The Community Redevelopment Area Advisory Board is charges with the task of advising the Community Redevelopment Agency on issues including implementation of the CRA Plan by providing recommendations and assistance in identifying and prioritizing projects to be undertaken as consistent with the CRA Plan. The focus of this group is economic development of properties in the City’s established¬†CRA¬†and the adjoining Central Business District with specific consideration on attracting and retaining businesses.” 11/29/17

Ocean Highway and Port Authority “The Ocean Highway & Port Authority, in conjunction with the Port of Fernandina, Kinder Morgan and the other maritime businesses of the port, help stimulate economic growth in Nassau County and the surrounding areas employing skilled workers and supporting surrounding local businesses.”¬† 11/29/17

Fernandina Beach City Commission¬† The FBCC frequently advocates for local economic development and the commission does look ways to benefit the community, both through actions as a commission and through the economic development element of th comprehensive plan.¬† ¬†“The Economic Development Element is intended to establish a link with virtually all aspects of community life, and recognize that economic development is an essential component of a sustainable community. It seeks to support new growth and redevelopment opportunities within the community while balancing the needs of its citizens, its unique character, and its cultural, historical, and environmental resources. This element provides for an articulated and shared vision of where the City wants to go and what things residents and businesses value. It is about working together for a strong economy by creating and retaining desirable jobs, which provide a good standard of living for individuals. To be successful, economic development must function as part of the whole socio-economic environment which is constantly changing and evolving.” 11/29/17

Nassau County Commission¬† Through their comprehensive plan, Nassau County shares a similar goal of¬† “Create and implement an economic development strategy focused on the retention, expansion, and relocation of high wage jobs and targeted businesses. Diversify the County‚Äôs tax and employment base and lessen the tax burden for existing residents and businesses while preserving a sense of community and the County‚Äôs environmental assets.”¬† ¬†https://www.nassaucountyfl.com/DocumentCenter/View/13190¬† 11/29/17

Florida DEO “In collaboration with our partners, DEO assists the Governor in advancing Florida‚Äôs economy by championing the state‚Äôs economic development vision and by administering state and federal programs and initiatives to help visitors, citizens, businesses, and communities.”¬† 11/29/17

 

 

 

Bakery, Artist Studio, Yoga, Spin Class, Brewery, Hot Dog Drive Through or Investment?

Thinking a little about the possibilities and drastic price reduction, this strip of 8th Street is, in my view, a glowing opportunity. 122 South 8th was reduced drastically to the current price, but has several things going for it beyond location and price.

Lot size, as much as location is important.¬† The¬†122 South 8th configuration configuration offers so much more potential than a smaller lot.¬† If you see the photo of the street above, this strip of 8th Street has changed a great deal in the last year.¬† Buygo is now open in place of Freds and offers a variety of services, including basic groceries.¬† ¬†David’s Restaurant is a high-end dining location immediately to the left of 122 South 8th.¬† 801 just re-opened in the old Beach Street Grill building to the right and T-Rays is an established restaurant with some of the best burgers on the island, if not “The Best” burgers.¬† ¬† This really is a prime area!

Seeing changes to zoning in the central business district and nearby overlay with design requirements for an area to the south, the entry approaching this site should improve.¬† ¬†See the following link…..8th street changes working document entry

Key improvements to the area, in my view, are the changes to density in the central business district, improvements of nearby businesses and one last advantage.  This building is, or was recently, used as a martial arts studio in the large open room, a bakery and for a private office area with two rooms at the rear of the property.  Thinking of this site as several potential spaces makes quite a difference.  Could you go up for an apartment?  Could you add another business?  Could the rear of the property function well as a courtyard or outdoor dining area?

Ideas we have considered for the property included reopening the bakery, but also have included thoughts of catering, a base for a food truck and catering, coffee shops, an ethnic takeout restaurant or pizza delivery, a brewery, art studios, a consignment shop and living quarters, retail space for marine equipment or just purchase as an investment and rental.

 

 

The property is easy to show and I’m always happy to answer questions.¬† My office line will ring through to my mobile…call me anytime if you feel you may have an interest or if you would like me contact a friend.

122 South 8th Street on Amelia Island, FL (MLS Information) $399,000

“Formerly a bakery, there is a full kitchen, prep and cleaning area as well as a location seating impact for 8 seats. Hood remains, but other equipment negotiable only at this price!The adjacent studio, to the left side of the building, is currently used as a martial arts studio, but was an art gallery in the past. Uses might include takeout food service, desert, coffee, or a base for a catering business. The visibility is fantastic and large lot allows ample parking for most businesses. To the rear of the building, an office and work area consists of two rooms. The size of the lot might allow expansion and a live/work arrangement. Note: This is in the historic district and subject to HDC design guidelines for changes to the location. Showings must be with agent or owner present, per owner’s request. Great Traffic count and visibility at the entry to Downtown Historic Fernandina Beach. Note the new zoning, changed recently and added density.”

Clean Slates Every Day

“Lessons from losses and only count the Wins”

I forget about the past, but sometimes a “special” person crosses your path after you were certain you’d never need to think before you speak again.¬† The challenge isn’t in working with the polite or considerate.¬† The challenge is in maintaining a professional demeanor with the morally challenged, rude, inconsiderate and unethical.¬† Details aren’t important, but the person doing something on the border of illegal/unethical, might be the buyer for a listing or doing work for one of your future clients.¬† ¬†20160418_142940000_iOS

An old coffee cup meme said something about professionalism and avoiding choking the especially deserving.¬† Funny as it may look on a coffee cup, controlling emotions when working with the public and leaving personal feelings behind, especially an unpleasant history with an unpleasant person, can take time to learn.¬† I’ve been lucky.¬† ¬†When I’m at work, I only worry about the offer or immediate transaction.¬† I may remember whether someone is generally honorable or how they tend to negotiate, but it isn’t personal.¬† ¬†Once, someone involved in a transaction literally screamed at me for calling their cell phone.¬† It was completely out of character, but I calmly asked for the information I needed and filed away the reaction for future reference.¬† ¬†Another client insisted a deal was off after having too much to drink and calling my home number at midnight.¬† The contingency period was over and treating the conversation the following morning as though we’d never spoken, saved the deal.

We’re all on stage to a degree.¬† Controlling how I react and understanding the way my demeanor could help or hurt a client is a part of being in sales.¬† Sales, acting and psychology are all so close, but controlling reactions and being able to set aside personal feelings is something to cultivate as a real estate broker.¬† ¬†To this day, I remember the good and bad behavior, but I file it away for future reference.

One of the more difficult lessons I still remember was with a site agent years ago.¬† He registered a client on first visit and we were back several times to look.¬† About a month later, they signed a contract and bought a home.¬† It was so blatant, I actually complained to the owner.¬† I still don’t know if the builder/owner was aware, but I suspect this was a rare case of the site representative seeing an increase in compensation if an agent was not involved.¬† ¬† The site agent was “factually challenged”,¬† …the owner believed him and, unable to do much in a bad situation, I let it go.¬† I did make copies of client registrations with that particular builder and the owner seemed to be honorable, just believed the wrong person.¬† Did it change the way I presented property to clients or my demeanor toward the company?¬† Of course not!¬† ¬†It was one of the earliest and most difficult lessons.¬† ¬†Life and real estate isn’t always fair.¬† Being in sales means growing a certain tolerance for bad behavior in others.¬† ¬† Maintaining a professional demeanor and the motivation to do this for years is the mark of a great salesperson.

At some point, I started keeping track of the wins and stopped counting the losses.¬† ¬†Whether I’m calling someone on the phone to ask for business or working with an unpleasant person or situation, the details don’t change my next day or motivation.¬† Sure, I file away the way someone behaves for future reference, but I wake up every day with a clean slate.¬† ¬†The only thing that matters is whether I performed and, if I make mistakes, how will improve in the future.¬† ¬†Professionalism is a clean slate every day.¬† It’s a shame we can’t pass this on to some of our political leaders.¬† Elected to represent us, too many take personal feelings into office and become ineffective over time.

Saving Tips for Early Saving or a Future Homeowner

Reading through the stories of the day on my newsfeed, one “expert” shared some tips to save for a first home.¬† Sadly, most of the tips were either ineffective or just completely wrong.¬† If you really want to save for a home quickly and build equity, these are a few of my personal favorites.¬† ¬†The list works for anyone beginning a new job or leaving school and hoping to save “OR” even buy a home.

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My breakfasts became oatmeal, fresh fruit and water…”

Early in life, I decided I didn’t want to pay high interest rates or pay more than I needed for luxury items.¬† A car drops in market value during the first few years and is often within the original warranty period.¬† I always buy an slightly used car with remaining warranty and almost always pay for the car in cash.¬† The only exception was a purchase with 0.5% interest.¬† The rate was so low, I make far more in stock dividends and it would have been foolish not to take the money.¬† I also keep a car a little longer than most and put more into maintaining the car.¬† ¬†My typical time of ownership is 5 to 7 years.¬† During a typical economy, the savings for me amounted to well over half the cost of a car in longer ownership and savings by eliminating interest cost.¬† ¬†So, buy used, don’t trade often and always do the maintenance.¬† Simple tips, but these are overlooked by most of the population.¬† The other benefit of avoiding payments is in preserving your ability to qualify for a loan.¬† See tips from Fannie Mae’s website below and links.¬† Everyone considering a purchase should take the time to consider the links below and consider a visit with a local lender to go through prequalification.¬† ¬†Understanding what you need to do and establishing a budget early makes life simpler when you’re ready.¬† I would also have a local real estate agent add you to an alert list for property and find someone you feel will tell you what you need, not what you want to hear.

  • Affordability Calculator*Figure out the maximum home price you can afford before you start house hunting.
  • Mortgage Calculator*Estimate your monthly mortgage payments based on the home price.
  • Save Calculator*Learn how much money and time you’ll need to meet your down payment savings goal.
  • Debt-to-Income Calculator*Use this tool to estimate your DTI‚ÄĒthe ratio of the amount you pay on your mortgage(s) each month compared to your total monthly gross income.¬†

Source: FNMA Fannie Mae https://www.knowyouroptions.com/  11/25/2017

Another simple tip to save money, budget and build credit is to actually use a credit card.¬† I’ve used cards since college and rarely paid a single penny in interest and never carry a balance.¬† I use the cards to budget and discipline myself to create a budget.¬† You could use a debit card, but I prefer a card with no annual fee and unlimited rebates on purchases.¬† ¬†My current purchases of technology are covered by rebates on credit cards.¬† ¬†I usually see between $1000 and $3000 in savings each year….and that really adds up over time.¬† ¬†I also encourage my kids to use a service like “MINT” to automatically create a budget with suggestions to improve.

What about food?¬† When first starting out, most of us spend too much on food and entertainment.¬† ¬† In the late 80’s, life was simpler, but I wanted to eliminate a housing payment as soon as humanly possible.¬† I thought about it and realized savings in my 20’s and an effort to be ahead of the curve early meant much more than an effort later in life.¬† ¬†So, I looked at where I spent money and saw dollars wasted in evening meals and poorly managed shopping.¬† My breakfasts became oatmeal, fresh fruit and water, lunch was usually a healthy choice at a fast food restaurant (Wendy’s Chili and fruit or¬†burritos) and dinner became simpler…with rice, beans and simple choices more common.¬† Oh…I gave up soft drinks more than 25 years ago.¬† I usually just drink water.¬† ¬†If I had leftovers, they were always eaten later.¬† ¬† I gave up desserts, stopped any alcohol, gave up red meat and substituted a membership at a local gym for other plans in the evening.¬† One night out can be more than the cost of a family membership at the local gym.¬† Doing this for the first year after college put me in a completely different place financially, but arranging your life is easier before obligations grow.¬† ¬†Understanding the importance of saving early and continuing to build this savings snowballs over time.¬† ¬†The changes had an impact on my health and wallet.¬† My weight dropped and I established a habit of spending time in the gym.

You probably know the golden rule, but I began to think about investments, about debt and about basic rules.¬† In less than 2 years, I owned a home, but was saving well over half my income.¬† I borrowed only for things I felt would go up in value more than the cost of the debt.¬† In other words, I only borrowed for real estate purchase.¬† Buying investment property, I wanted rental income to cover expenses and reserves for any future maintenance.¬† ¬†When buying a home, I looked for a location with future potential.¬† What might change and could I keep the home rented?¬† Would I like to live in the home if my budget fell in the price range?¬† ¬†What was an investment?¬† I never thought of flipping property, although I did buy and sell a few properties in shorter periods.¬† ¬† Always thinking “ownership” changes the way you make the buying decision.¬† ¬† ¬† Through it all, I decided to think about what I needed, not what I wanted.¬† Having a goal, other than buying a bigger car or something I could easily live without, made the process easier.¬† Watching people around me, I can think of friends with 2, 3 or 4 new cars in the time I drove the same perfectly maintained, but used, BMW.¬† ¬†Having a budget doesn’t mean you don’t like or enjoy luxury.¬† It should mean you choose where and how to spend money to buy within your budget.¬† Just live within your means and think of it as a lifestyle, not temporary.

Growing up near commercial fishermen, I’ve heard more than one story of someone losing a boat or business during a single bad year.¬† Always keep a reserve.¬† ¬†I like 6 to 12 months at minimum, but it depends on your job and stability.