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Archive for December, 2008

No more monkey business!

No more monkey business!

Have you ever wondered what the term ‘monkey business’ refers to?  Well, according to the Free Online Dictionary, monkey business refers to silly, mischievous or deceitful acts or practises. 

2008 was a year in which the proverbial rooster came home. For many in the real estate industry, it was the time in which the  prodigal son whose profligate, wasteful ways had drained him of all resources began the long  journey back home. 

2008 was a huge wake up call for the real estate industry as it was buffeted by hurricane force winds which hurled the housing industry headlong into the sub-prime crisis and the resultant foreclosure/short sale tsunami.  Many local associations saw their numbers plummet across the boards…loss of members, decreased sales and declining profit margins.

During this year, the consequences of  ‘monkey business’ became painfully clear as home values plummeted across the nation, credit dried up and many homeowners lost their homes and equity.  We’re still waking up from the hangover.

It’s Time to Sober Up!

2009 will be a sober year…a year in which we all will be compelled to make a sober assessment of where we are and where we need to be.  This will necessitate some very difficult but necessary decisions. 

As Brokers across the nation review their balance of assets and liabilities, the practise of allowing non-productive agents to simply hang their licenses on the wall to bolster the numbers will be questioned for it’s lack of prudence. 

A sober assessment of the risk involved in poorly trained part-time personnel handling complex financial transactions will hopefully force the industry to reassess it’s education and training model. 

As more agents become exposed the wider world of the blogosphere, they will begin to question the relevancy of much of what is currently offered to them in their local offices. 

This is not just an issue of convenience.  It will be about pure survival.  In these treacherous waters, swimming without the protection of knowledge and information may lead to a near drowning experience…or worse.

My thoughts on what needs to be a mandated curriculum…

We’ll need to move way beyond the basics.  Order takers who can fill out forms accurately are dangerous if they don’t understand the legal implications of what they are inputting and cannot adapt  to changing norms.  Just like a computer…garbage in…garbage out!

Our education desperately needs an overhaul as an industry.  This includes new agents AND experienced agents.  Because so much has changed in the industry within the past 24 months, even experienced agents can no longer claim ‘expertise’ in many crucial areas.

Additional Suggestions…

Some topics which are critical & should be available for immediate consumption include:  Social Media & Networking, Blogging,  Consumer Trends & Behavior Patterns, Basic Understanding & Overview of Financial Markets, Mortgage Financing including FHA and Government programs, Short Sale Negotiation, Rental Property Management, Staging,  Video Media & Editing &  Personal Lifestyle  Balance and Management.  Very, very, very different than what is on the educational offering list available to most real estate agents today. 

To get a different result, we must do things differently.  This is simple fact.  And that’s no monkey business!

Copyright 2008  Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

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Blue Light Ray

Blue Light Ray

2009 is the year to take your knowledge to the next level!   Here’s a partial list of some books which have made an impact in my life and world perspective.  The titles are arranged within similar topical areas.

Trend Setters:

Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott

The Net Generation (defined as those b/w 11-30) is changing the world as we know it dramatically.  It is imperative that real estate professionals understand this generation and the way in which they are re-shaping the context and methods of communication.  If you don’t think that you will be affected, your model may already be irrelevant and you’re simply unaware…

Nextville by Barbara Corcoran

On the other end of the continuum is Nextville by Barbara Corcoran.  This book talks about the trends impacting another large demographic…baby boomers and their retirement plans.  Written by someone who has had her hand on the pulse of what makes the real estate market tick, I appreciated her insights and engaging way of communicating where she thinks the values and movements of retirees will be trending in the future.

A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink

This book was given to me as a gift when it first came out in 2006.  Since then, I’ve bought several copies which I’ve given out as gifts.  It’s just that good.  Pink’s ideas about the paradigm shift which is occurring and will necessitate that we evaluate our problems and decisions differently is fascinating.  He uses examples for the world of storytelling, design and symphony to engage you in re-thinking your world.

 

Mortgage Crisis & Financial Markets:

When Markets Collide by Mohamed El-Erian

This is an interesting book to read if you’d like to understand more of what is happening in the world of global investing.  As it became painfully apparent this year, what happens in this world can dramtically impact our lives as real estate professionals.

Confessions of a Subprime Lender by Richard Bitner

Reading this book was an eye opener.  Enough said.

 

Consumeritis:

Affluenza by John DeGraaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor

This book really made me think about what drives us to buy to live.  It’s a thoughtful book which will cause you to examine your live or more simply put, what surrounds your life.  It’s really a book about the stuff of our lives and why this has crippled us as we have continued to strive for more & more & more…

Deep Economy by Bill McKibben

In the real estate industry, we’re seeing a shifting focus towards neighborhoods and communities.  Here on Active Rain, Localism was revamped in view of this trend.  Deep Economy explores how local communities and grassroots movements can be mutually beneficial for society and business and sustainable environmentally.  A thought provoking read…

 

Inspiration & Spirituality:

The Spiritual Man by Watchman Nee

This three volume series (bound into one book) is one of the most profound spiritual books that I have ever read.  It’s not a quick nor easy read.  It took me a year to read it the first time and I’ve pondered on the depth of truth revealed many times.  Nee’s expose of the inner life of man is one of the most exhaustive and exquisitely mapped guides that I’ve ever encountered.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This book is about the perils of Resistance.  We read through much of it as a group this year.  It forced us to look at the myriad of clever obstacles that we were continually putting in our own paths.  As we enter another year, I would highly recommend this book to jump start your thinking in the right direction

*A more complete list and summary can be found here…

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The frenzy of activity that marks the month of December is unmatched.  End of year parties and activities, gift buying, and holiday shopping can rapidly merge into an experience which is taxing and depleting emotionally, physically and financially. In our desire to give materially, we are unaware of the toll that we unconsciously exact on our spirits and our bodies. 

The truth is that wholesome giving cannot be primarily defined as a material activity although it may manifest in a physical material form such as money or gifts.  In its highest context, giving is a spiritual activity which can manifest in any number of forms for the intended recipient

Giving Intentionally…

A higher level of giving is demonstrated by being intentional and paradoxically grateful.  Gratitude is a characteristic which we often associate solely with the recipient of a gift and not with the donor.  But, I would suggest that intentional giving starts not simply with being thankful, but being humbly grateful.  Focusing on the privilege of being able to give changes the platform. 

Giving as a Blessing…

To give is to be truly blessed.  To truly give to anothers’ need or bliss requires that I focus my attention and intention on being grateful for the opportunity to bless another, to essentially empower another.  It also requires a humble gratitude for the gift of their presence in my life.  Thereby changing the equation for the “potential giver” from an elevated position to a recipient of grace.

Transformational Giving…

Giving of this quality transforms the nature of what is given. All material forms have a predecessor in the unseen realm.  The Celebration of the Birth of Jesus at this time of year was a gift that was prophesied centuries before he arrived as a minute embryonic cell in Mary’s womb and eventually manifested as a baby born to rule, but lying in the extremely modest environment of the manger. 

The intention of this gift was clearly the love of God for humankind.  The transformation afforded through the gift of Jesus Christ literally redeems life and provides reconnection to God through acceptance of His gift of life. 

Radical Giving…

Now that is radical, the Giver of life being so full of humility and love that He would humble himself to take on a physical body with all its weakness to ensure that through His death, we could live.  This is the spiritual nature and meaning of Christmas.

Self-less Giving

Giving of ones self is the highest form of giving particularly when it is done to enable the highest good of another.  The grace of this type of giving transforms a simple cup of cold water to the least amongst us to a gift which resounds in the heavens and impacts life far beyond the limited dimension of what we can readily see, measure or understand

*A version of the blog post was first published on my Active Rain blog in 2006.  It remains one of my favorite posts and a yearly reminder to me of what giving is all about.  Blessings to you this holiday season.

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Winter storm, Grand Rapids Michigan 2008

Winter storm, Grand Rapids Michigan 2008

A winter snow storm shut down schools, cancelled many local events and impacted local business in Grand Rapids, MI today.  It was however a beautiful sight to behold…from the inside!

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Sifting through the facts...

Sifting through the facts...

Purchasing a new home is one of the most exciting experiences an individual or family can have.  If you’ve been out of the real estate market for some time, you may be unaware of some dramatic changes in the real estate market landscape. 

In today’s market, there are some unique situations which home buyers should be aware of as they prepare to consider the purchase of a new home.

GOOD NEW FIRST…

The good news is that home buyers in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area will find that they have a bountiful number of choices for a new home purchase.  Inventory levels of homes for sale are at historic levels. 

First time home buyers can also take advantage of some TAX FREE incentives to the tune of up to $7,500 dollars if a new home is purchased on or before July 1, 2009.

HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED… 

However, home buyers looking for a home to purchase will also quickly become aware of a notation which currently accompanies almost 65% of the homes listed for sale in November 2008 through the Grand Rapids Multiple Listing Service.  This notation which is accessible to the real estate agent on the listing card, will indicate and advisory warning indicating that interested parties should be aware of the fact that the sale of the listed home will necessiate a ‘Short Sale’.

If you’re a brand new home buyer or recently re-entering the market, this notation may prove perplexing and you may wonder…What is a Short Sale?

SHORT SALES IN BRIEF…

Well, in short (pun intended)…A Short Sale notation on a listing card is an indication that the home is priced below the mortgage balance owed on the home. (after costs associated with the home sale are paid)

WHAT DOES THIS MEANS FOR YOU…

Well, it depends. 

On the most basic level, this means that in order to become the new owner of this home, you will have to complete a successful negotiation with the owner (s) of the mortgage note to purchase the home to allow the ownership to be transferred to you for less than the current owner owes.  This adds several  additional steps and required signatures to the offer acceptance process which will now include:  the home owner who signed the listing agreement, the lender (s) and in some cases third party investors.

FOR STARTERS…

But for starters, it means that you should be prepared to be very patient and persistent if you truly want this home.  Short Sales are arguably among the most difficult negotiations to complete.  It is not unusual for real estate agents to negotiate for months to bring these transactions to closure. 

Being prepared for the long haul will save you angst of increased blood pressure, stress and unnecessary temper tantrums. It will also be deeply appreciated by your real estate agent who will probably accure more stress than a commission will adequately compensate for.

BASIC STEPS…

Buying a home which requires the negotiation of a Short Sale will also add some additional steps to the home purchasing process.  Be prepared to wait while the bank (s) review the home owners paperwork to determine if they qualify for a Short Sale.  You can also anticipate that a Broker Price Opinion aka Appraisal may be ordered to determine if the bank wants to entertain your offer as one reflective of the current market conditions.

Offer submissions for Short Sales may languish on an Asset Managers desk while they sift through hundreds of files which have landed there before yours or wait to see if a better competing offer comes through.  Be persistent.  If you’ve done your homework and received professional consultation from your real estate expert, you should be aware of the Value of your purchase.  A Short Sale negotiation done correctly can earn you your dream home with a significant amount of equity attached…no small feat in today’s market.

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL…

Although it’s not possible to cover the complexities of the Short Sale process in this short post, you might find the links below helpful as a home buyer or home seller in the Greater Grand Rapids, MI area.  You can also contact us at info@auduhomesto discuss the particular details of your situation.  We specialize in advising clients on strategies to buy and sell property in a challenging market.

Click this link for 15 Additional Articles penned by Lola Audu or Audu Real Estate about the Grand Rapids, MI Short Sales Process.

Contact Audu Real Estate @ 616-791-0511 for a complete list of homes for Sale in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Copyright 2008  Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

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harbor-springs-homeWe talk about them, ogle them, reminisce about memories we have of them and worry about their welfare. In many ways, the American love affair with our homes is typical of the patterns in a troubled romantic obsession.  Our rapt attention as we watch the object of our affection on numerous TV shows is indicative of how deeply we are in love with the “idyllic vision” of our homes.

Earlier this year, Newsweek Magazine profiled a new book by Daniel McGuinn called “House Lust:  America’s Obsession With Our Homes.”  According to McGinn ” The existence of the real-estate gossip columnist is just one more bizarre indicator of our fascination with homes, which continues even as housing values have fallen.”

We not only want to know where celebrities live, we want to see exactly what their private spaces look like and what they have in their refrigerators…witness the popularity of Cribs. Even the prospect of diminishing house values has not dimmed our ardor.

But that’s the thing with lust…it’s desire can never be adequately satisfied.  There is always a grinding need for more and more.  It’s an addiction which enslaves and distorts.  While most Americans are well aware of the crisis that has beset the housing and mortgage industry, many still can’t believe that they will be negatively affected. The fall-out of this refusal to accept this harsh market reality is evident in price reductions for homes in the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars at times.

In fact, McGinn indicates that a survey by Boston Consulting Group showed that 55 percent of Americans still think their homes are GAINING IN VALUE despite all evidence to the contrary. If you factor in the percentage who believe that housing prices are simply at a stalemate, I daresay the number would be closer to 75%. This is an astonishingly high Delusion Rate!

And as a testament to this belief, it is expected that Americans will spend 170 Billion dollars this year remodelling and renovating their homes.  Many will do so in the expectation of increasing their home value in a rapidly declining market. And belief is a powerful thing.  More than once in the past, American optimism has created lemonade out of lemons.

Remember the tech bubble?  It preceded the current real estate crisis. Those were the days in which anything that ended with .com seemed to garner froth-like admiration and the sky is the limit financing options.  When the boom turned to bust, thousands of programmers and entrepreneurs found themselves without jobs and the ardor for all things techie cooled substantially. 

Well, there may be good that comes about as a result of this re-evaluation of our obsession with real estate too.  Just like a good, stable relationship can’t be sustained solely on the basis of giddiness, the sobering reality of declining prices, foreclosures and short sales may force us to take a good long hard look at what means to live in community.

For many Americans, the home became the piggy bank. A source of funding for all sorts of projects, whims, passions and fantasies through the vehicle of the home equity loan.  This spending spree banked on one precariously ridiculous notion. This was that home prices would continue their dramatic ascension forever.  The correction of reality grounded by gravitational forces which bring all things that go up back down…eventually may in the end prove to be an important grounding principle which steadies our economy and allows us to reassess where we place our value.

Our homes are the solid building blocks which anchor what America stands for.  They are where families are raised, dreams are born and life is lived and relished in all it’s various expressions.  Although its’ been fun to flirt and make houses bigger and flashier, trade and obsess about them, nip and tuck to stage them for success, ultimately it’s not about what we do to our homes, but what our homes do for us.  Perhaps we will discover that our somewhat maniacal obsessing will never match the rewards that arise out of of the commitment, nurture and creation of solid human relationships. That’s not a Lust thing…it’s a Love Thing!

Click this link to look for homes for sale in Grand Rapids, MI

*First published by Audu Real Estate in January of 2008.

Copyright 2008 Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

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I’m trying out the new video option (which is still in Beta) for Real Estate Shows.  Today’s video is of the Grand Rapids Association Awards and Installation Banquet (2009) which was held at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI. 

The event recognized the service of numerous volunteers, presented awards for designations and service and recognized individuals who had made significant contributions during the past year through the Pinacle Awards.

In addition, Greg Carlson, was installed as the 2009 President and the 2009 Board of Directors was sworn in.  Many of the event attendees took the opportunity to tour the Gardens after the breakfast to view the Christmas Tree display which featured trees decorated with ornaments representing many cultures around the world.

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