Friday, December 23, 2011

Distracted Driving

In a news article posted by NAR on 12/23/11:

NTSB Urges States to Ban Use of Electronics While Driving

On December 13, 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) unanimously approved a recommendation that states outlaw the use of all electronic devices while driving in an effort to address concerns over distracted driving. Under the NTSB recommendation both handheld and handsfree devices used by drivers would be banned unless needed for an emergency. Passengers would still be free to use the devices. It is important to note that this is merely a recommendation to state legislatures to pass distracted driver legislation—members should monitor activity in their states.

What does that mean for you? It probably won't be long until these "recommendations" become laws in
many states. Take heed of this message: electronic devices in drivers hands do indeed cause distracted driving accidents. Make it a personal rule in your vehicle: no electronic distractions while driving. Put the cell phone in the glove box or back seat. Check messages when you get to where you are going, safely.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Real Living Aquires Prudential Real Estate

In a brief put out by Brookfield:

Acquisition creates global residential real estate and employee relocation services leader
(Chicago, IL) December 6, 2011 - Today Brookfield Residential Property Services ("Brookfield"), a Brookfield Asset Management Inc. affiliate, announced that it has purchased Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services ("PRERS"), a recognized leader in employee relocation and real estate franchising from Prudential Financial, Inc. Prudential Relocation Services operates as Pricoa Relocation in Asia and Europe.
The addition of PRERS to Brookfield's existing residential real estate franchising and employee relocation services businesses establishes Brookfield as the world's second largest employee relocation services provider and the third largest residential real estate franchising business.
Under a licensing agreement, Prudential Real Estate brokerage affiliates will be able to continue to use the Prudential brand based on the terms of their franchise agreements.
"This transaction creates a global employee relocation services and real estate franchising leader," explained Graham Badun, CEO, Brookfield Residential Property Services. "We have now increased the breadth and depth of our service offering, keeping pace with the evolving needs of our clients around the world."
A North American & Global Leader
Through its various brands, Brookfield's residential real estate franchisees are now present in all 50 U.S. states, 10 Canadian provinces, Mexico and Portugal, with a network of approximately 80,000 real estate agents, 2,800 real estate brokerage locations and more than $150 billion in annual residential real estate transactions.
U.S.-based Brookfield Global Relocation Services moves nearly 85,000 families in and out of over 125 countries around the world each year. With the acquisition, more than one-third of Fortune 100 companies are its clients. In addition, Brookfield is now the largest provider of relocation services to government, with long term relationships with the U.S. and Canadian governments.
The acquisition greatly strengthens Brookfield's existing U.S. business and results in the expansion of its operations in nine countries, with a rapidly growing presence in China, Brazil and India.
"Today, Prudential's real estate and relocation services businesses join a global company with a track record of over 100 years of success," said Earl Lee, President of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services. "We're excited to become part of a company that is focused on and deeply immersed in the real estate sector and is in the business for the long-term."
Earl Lee will continue to lead the U.S. real estate business, and Rick Schwartz, President, Brookfield Global Relocation Services, will assume responsibility for the combined global relocation services business.
Brookfield's parent company, Brookfield Asset Management, is a global asset manager with approximately $150 billion in assets under management. Brookfield is co-listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchanges under the symbol BAM and on NYSE Euronext under the symbol BAMA.
About Brookfield Residential Property Services
Brookfield Residential Property Services is a leading global provider of real estate and relocation services, analytics and knowledge. The company's portfolio consists of leading brands, including Brookfield Global Relocation Services, the second largest provider of global relocation services, Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, Brookfield Real Estate Services, Royal LePage, Real Living, Via Capitale and Centract. Through its real estate brands, it has nearly 80,000 real estate professionals in more than 2,800 locations, who transact over $150 billion annually. Its global footprint spans North America, the United Kingdom, France, China, Singapore, India, Brazil and Australia, and includes more than 2,500 employees worldwide. It is a division of Brookfield Asset Management, a global asset manager with approximately $150 billion of assets under management.

Why do I care about what Brookfield Global is up to? My own company, Real Living Tidewater, is one
of Brookfield's many assets. They own my franchise. I do business with them. This is big, it matters.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Waiting Until Spring to List a Home

Hmmm, should I list my home for sale now, even though it is the holiday season and end of the year, or should I wait and list it in the spring? Everybody knows that springtime is the best time to sell a house. Isn't it? I hear this question every year about this time, my answer is always the same: "Do NOT wait, list now." If everyone else is thinking like you, they will keep their homes off the market until spring too, (meaning less competiton for your home now) then all of a sudden, come spring, the market will be overflowing with new listings, competing for the same (few) buyers! Besides, what about all those foreclosures that the banks put off over the holidays? They will be hitting the market too. What if the interest rates change and buyers can no longer qualify for the same loans? What if home values continue to drop? That same home may be worth even less in the spring. If you have a home to sell, sell it now. Serious buyers are still looking for homes, even through the holidays. And don't forget about taxes, some buyers need to buy before December 31st, to get tax benefits. Waiting or putting it off could backfire on you. The time it takes to sell a home right now is longer than you think. List now, you may get lucky and get it sold by spring! And just some food for thought: If you price it "competitive", (about the same as other homes like it) you will be competing for a while, (and make every home less than yours, look like a better deal). If you price it "compelling" (10 to 20% below market value) yours will be the first one buyers want to see and may be the first one to sell. Sell, now, get your money and take your time choosing your next home, and at a bargain!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earth Quake in Virginia

So ... where were you when the earth shook? Yesterday's earthquake rocked the East coast of the United States in a lot of places that do not regularly have earthquakes so it surprised many people. For some it may have been a once in a lifetime event, for me, a New Hampshire girl, not so much. I can remember having tremors and earthquakes, but up there, the earth is granite and it makes noise. You can hear the earthquake coming and going by. The hilly terrain means you will see debris fall from hills and trees so it is easier to recognize. With the threat of terrorism still all around us, I wonder how many people had that thought cross their minds? The officials all say it was centered near Mineral, VA, just 10 miles from a nuclear power plant, hello? Why is a nuclear power plant put up on a known seismic fault? Probably cheap land, huh? So now we wait for the aftershocks, which may be so small thay no one feels them. Wonder if this means we are good to go for the next 100 years! Want to know more, visit the Geological survey site link I have attached. Stay safe!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Swamp Fire !

On August 4th, 2011 lightning seems to have ignited a fire in the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge, which is in Virginia on the border of North Carolina. Thousands of acres have been burned and crews are fighting the fire around the clock to get it under control. How does a swamp catch on fire? Swamps contain "peat" and peat is flammable.
Smoky conditions surrounding the fire are keeping residents indoors or making them take extra precautions when outdoors. Smoke has been reportedly smelled as far away as Delaware! Depending on the winds the smoke may be headed your way, please, if you have a pre-existing condition like asthma or COPD, use your medicines as they were prescribed, stay indoors and keep that inhaler or nebulizer at hand for emergencies. Watch your local news station for "smoke and air quality" updates daily. I will be praying for some much needed rain as it seems to be the only sure way to get this one under control and out! Thanks to all those fighting this fire.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Interesting FSBO Story

FSBO is a "no go" ...
(From an article in the Wall Street Journal, August 5th, 2011)

I can’t resist commenting on the story which recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal regarding Colby Sambrotto, the founder and former CEO of It seems the founding father and livelong evangelist of the concept of selling your home without a real estate agent was forced to hire a broker to sell his home after failing at what he preaches others should do.

After failing to sell his NYC apartment on his own as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), Sambrotto hired a broker and paid a 6% commission in order to get the job done. His personal experience helps refute some of the myths Sombrotto has been espousing for over a decade. Let’s look at two of those myths:

Myth #1 – You Will Pocket More Money Selling on Your Own
Most FSBO sites say you can save the commission by selling on your own. What happened in Sambrotto’s sale?

From the WSJ article:

“The broker, Jesse Buckler, said he told Mr. Sambrotto the apartment in the Lion’s Head building on West 19th Street near Sixth Avenue was priced too low and wasn’t drawing the right buyers.

By May, it went into contract, he said, after attracting multiple offers. It closed in the last few days for $150,000 more than the original asking price.”

Myth #2 – The Internet Alone Can Sell Your Home
Many have said that, with the introduction of home search on the internet, hiring an agent is no longer a necessity. What happened to the FSBO guru when he attempted to only depend on the internet?

From the WSJ article:

“Looking to move his family to the suburbs, [Mr. Sambrotto] said he carefully staged his apartment for sale himself, and put it on the market. But after using a mix of websites to publicize his apartment, he said he had only ‘middling success’ and switched to a broker because many buyers were so reliant on brokers.”

Bottom Line
There is a reason the real estate industry has been around for centuries: it performs a valuable service.
If you or someone you know needs help in real estate, contact me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Here we are already in July, the year is almost half over, how's your's going? I have just returned from a 2 week trip out West to visit family in Utah and sight see in Idaho and Wyoming. Everyone should get out across these wonderful United States of ours and get in the sites. Amazing how just a few hours away from home can be so different in climate and culture. As we ascended the Uintas mountains in 85* heat we had snow drifts beneath our feet! Cool! Hiking at the top thru old mining camps really makes you appreciate what it took our forefathers to establish this country. Some times the actual travelling is the hardest part ... for me, an injury to my leg the night before takeoff really threw me a curve ball. Fortunately, the airlines simply offered me a wheel chair to get through airports and we got there! (Now that is a humbling experience!) Being prepared makes travel easier. Take the time to plan and get ready long before you leave and fewer things are likely to go wrong. Check out the link to the governments travel site, every hint helps. If you are a seasoned traveler, like me, you know the routine but please be patient with the families and 1st timers, they are overwhelmed with rules and regulations. On my last flight there was an elderly gentleman celebrating his 80th birthday ... and his first airline flight! Good for him! Go now, shop those travel sites, find a destination that has always intrigued you and find a way to go there! In all my travels, I can honestly say that I have never regretted going to any new place. Those are memories I will alwyas have and experiences that shape who I am and keep educating me to new things. Do it! Go travel! Then tell me all about it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hurricane Season Again

It's that time of year again, time to get out the old Rubbermaid storage buckets and refill your supplies that are probably still in there from last year! Get rid of the outdated stuff and stock up on fresh water, batteries, food supplies and first aid. If you have been in Tidewater for a few years, you know how this works. If not I've included a link to the govt hurricane preparedness site, check it out. Be sure to stay tuned to any tropical weather out there, things can change quickly and getting out of this area can be very slow. Plan ahead, if you plan on leaving, do it early! Are you asking yourself "why do I stay here with the hurricane risks every year?" Hey, everywhere has it's environmental issues, unlike earthquakes and tornadoes, hurricanes at least give us a weeks warning! Good planning works. Be safe and have a great summer! Remember, hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 1st.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What was that BOOM ?

Did you hear the recent unexplained BOOM! I did! It was about 7:30 one evening and I had all my homes windows open ... my husband and I both looked at each other and said "what was that"? No aircraft around, no sirens followed but we soon found out that many residents along the coast of VA also heard (and felt) the BOOM! Since then, I have heard multiple theories: the US military conducting "top secret" missions, a small offshore earthquake, a meteor, a sonic boom and my favorite "seneca guns". What is seneca (or barisol) guns? It's basically a word to describe unexplained sounds, much like what we heard, that has no rational explanation, yet. These apparently have taken place periodically along coastal communities for hundreds of years. Hmm, works for me. There are so many things in life here on earth that we still don't understand. I heard the 8th grade class at Kemps Landing Magnet came up with the "seneca guns" theory first, good work kids, keep expanding those minds.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Saving the Mortgage Interest Deduction

What is the "mortgage interest deduction"? It's the amount of money homeowners are allowed to "write off' or take as a deduction on their annual taxes, based on their mortgage interest paid annually. It was meant to encourage home ownership. It is one of the many benefits to homeowners.
The current government is talking about doing away with this benefit, please read the article (Source: and call your representative to voice your surrport for this bill (HR 25).

Take Action and Stay Connected

Help Save the Mortgage Interest Deduction
A resolution that supports retaining the mortgage interest deduction is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Introduced by Rep. Gary Miller of California, H. Res. 25 states that “the current Federal income tax deduction for interest paid on debt secured by a first or second home should not be further restricted.”
At present, there are more than 90 co-sponsors for this important resolution. Show YOUR support for the mortgage interest deduction and tell your Representative to co-sponsor H. Res. 25:
Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to reach your Representative's office.
Visit to find your Representative's website and send an e-mail in support of H. Res. 25.
And . . . be sure to thank your Representative if he/she is already a co-sponsor of H.Res. 25 or decides to become a co-sponsor.
Read the resolution

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rising Gas Prices - Solutions

So it's looking like we are about to have a very expensive summer, with gas prices up over $3.50 and fast approaching $4 per gallon! What can we do? I have already "downsized" my vehicle, so now what? Well, I found this article on the abc news website. Check it out:

What can cash-strapped consumers do to fight prices at the pump? Here are a few tips to fill up the tank without breaking the bank:

1. Stay in Tune -- It's simple: vehicle maintenance saves gas. Use the recommended motor oil, replace dirty air filters, keep tires -- including the spare -- inflated to the proper pressure, and tune up your engine.

2. Cool It, Mario Andretti -- Flooring the pedal at every green light, then slamming on the brakes at the last minute, guzzles gas at a surprising rate. More moderate driving can save over 30 percent of the gasoline you use.

3. Lighten Up -- When summer vacation rolls around, keep the luggage off the roof rack and carry as little weight as possible. Those extra pounds in the trunk or backseat make the engine work harder and consume more fuel.

4. Take a Hike -- Do you really need to drive? For shorter trips, it often makes more sense to walk or ride a bicycle. It's not only good for your wallet, it might also be good for your waistline.

5. Idle Hands -- Idling in traffic does nothing to save gas or money, not to mention your stress level. Avoid rush hour or busy commuter routes.

6. Go Shopping -- Shopping for a new vehicle? Consider the long-term savings that a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle might give you. Some cities and states also offer great incentives like rebates, access to carpool lanes and free metered parking for hybrid or alternative fuel cars, trucks and SUVs.

7. Lose the Leadfoot -- Driving the speed limit doesn't just keep the police off your tail. You can save up to 14 percent on longer trips by reducing your speed.

8. Take a Cruise -- Using cruise control can yield surprising increases in fuel economy. If your car is so equipped, try using it on the freeway to keep your speed at a consistent rate.

9. Critical Mass -- Take the bus, train, subway or other mass transit and leave the car at home.

10. Alternative States -- The alternatives to standard gasoline are growing in number and popularity. Biodiesel, the blend of gasoline and ethanol known as E85, and other alternative fuels aren't available everywhere yet, but check to see if your car can accept what's sold in your community.

Here in Tidewater, VA we have some "cheap gas finding services" try this one:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Just in Case ...

What would happen to you if you couldn't speak for yourself? You are probably carrying a cell phone so why not put your I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) information in there? Most EMT's, paramedics, hospital ER personnel, police, fireman and 1st responders are trained to check your phone and or person for anything that might help them assess your medical condition. Take a few minutes to put an I.C.E entry in your cell phone that contains at least:

* Your allergies

* Your next of kin or person to be notified

* Your current medications and medical conditions

* Your medical contact (Dr)

Be clear, such as: My husband or wife is: NAME His or her cell is: #
I have diabetes and take insulin by injection. I have a pacemaker. My doctor is Bob Martin, MD (###) ###-####
Get fancy if you need to, include more than 1 contact, list them, 1st born child, son : NAME and #, identify your blood type and all medications if you take multiple types. Mention athma, seizures, past surgeries. Speak for yourelf when you can't actually speak. If you have a smart phone, be sure to put it in a memo or under an I.C.E entry that can be viewed even when the phone is "locked". At the very least put in an entry under "home", the emegency personnel can at least start there. Do it now, you could save your own life.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

News from a Trusted Lender

I just saw this email from one of my favorite lenders, Keith Robinson over at Towne Bank and thought I would share it ... give it some thought, then call me or Keith.
by The KCM Crew on March 1, 2011 ·

There is a very famous saying which asserts “Sell High, Buy Low”. It is obviously great advice no matter what the investment. Below is a graph showing the cycle of investments. It shows the points of maximum risk and maximum opportunity when purchasing. We want to sell high (point of maximum risk) and buy low (point of maximum opportunity).

The challenge is how to determine when we have hit bottom if you are a purchaser. The only time you can guarantee a bottom is after you pass it.

However, there is more and more evidence that the COST of a home has in fact hit bottom. Notice we have used the word COST. Unless you are an all cash buyer, you must take into consideration the expense of financing a property to determine the true cost of purchasing the home. Interest rates have increased over the last quarter; and the rise in rates has counteracted any fall in prices.

Let’s look at an example:

Let’s say you were going to take out a $200,000 30-year-fixed-rate mortgage in November of 2010. At that time, interest rates were 4.17% (as per Freddie Mac). Your principle and interest payment would have come to $974.54. According to the most recent report from Case Shiller house prices fell 3.9% in the 4th quarter of 2010. The most recent report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency shows a 0.8% fall in prices. Let’s use the larger percentage decrease: 3.9%.

For the sake of keeping the math simple, we will now say you can get the same house with a $192,000 mortgage (4% discount from November price). Interest rates are now 4.95% (as per Freddie Mac).

Your principle and interest payment would now be $1,067.54.

By waiting to pay less for the PRICE of the house, the COST increased $93 a month. That adds up to $1,116 a year and over $33,000 over the life of the loan.

We realize that there are other things to consider (ex. the mortgage tax deduction, etc.). This example is just a simple way to show that there is a difference between COST and PRICE.

Bottom Line
If you want to buy low, buy now. It appears COST has hit its lowest point.

Keith Robinson

NewTowne Mortgage - Your Hometown Mortgage Lender.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Put Some Color in Your Life (or change some!)

Just back from a recent trip to a very colorful town, New Orleans and I came across this article on the REALTOR* website I thought I would share. I think we have all tried to do that one "accent" wall and most of us have not been completely pleased with the results. Or I'll bet you have moved into a place that had one of those red walls and found out it was a lot more diffcult to change it out than expected. Well, read on: And good luck with you next try at that elusive perfect red wall.

Visit for more articles like this.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Interest Rates are Rising!

The Virginian-Pilot reports that interest rates are once again rising. This time the average home loan interest rate has risen above 5% for the first time in years. What does that mean? Is it time to stop thinking about buying a home and actually do something about it? Do it now before the rates go even higher. Every time they "tick up" means less house you can afford at the higher rate and more money you have to pay back! Take charge of your future financial well being, stop renting, start putting that rent money into a home of your own ... then you will have something to sell when years from now you are ready to move up or move on. (You won't have given it up to some landlord). Do it, become a first time homebuyer! First step, contact a REALTOR, they can be a great source of information and can help put your plan in motion. Oh yeah, BTW, I am a REALTOR*. Contact me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

southsiderealblog: Real Living Launches New Home Search Website

southsiderealblog: Real Living Launches New Home Search Website: "Family Realty GMAC is no more, it has been replaced by an up and coming real estate franchise known as 'Real Living'. We are proud to be the..."

Real Living Launches New Home Search Website

Family Realty GMAC is no more, it has been replaced by an up and coming real estate franchise known as "Real Living". We are proud to be the only Real Living franchise in the Tidewater Virginia area, hence the new name: Real Living Tidewater. The new website offers the deepest and richest home search information available to consumers right on each home listing! Community information, home values, local economy, environment, quality of life, schools and more! Crazy full of info! Check it out, go play with it, even if you aren't really looking for a home right now. It can be a great resource for relevant housing data. The new site even offers easy social network sharing, so you can show your friends the house you are looking at. You will never have to go to multiple sites to gather information about a prospective home again, it's all right there. When you are ready to take that next step and buy or sell your own home, call on me. Real Living Tidewater is right here in Virginia Beach, ready to serve all your real estate needs. Moving? Let us get you connected to an agent in your new location so they can be ready for your arrival. If you know of someone who is planning a move, have them call us.