Monthly Archives: October 2009

One of my favorite quotes

 "This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force in nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilage to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.  I want to rejoice in life for its own sake.  Life is no "brief candle" to me.  It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

George Bernard Shaw from Man and

Deal struck to expand home-buyer tax credit

Deal struck to expand home-buyer tax credit

By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch

Last Update: 5:35 PM ET 10/28/09

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Senators have struck a deal to extend a popular tax credit for home buyers beyond those buying their first house, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office said Wednesday.

Legislators also have agreed to extend the tax credit through the end of April, according to a Reuters report.

An $8,000 credit for first-time home buyers is set to expire at the end of November. Under a compromise reached by senators, the credit would be expanded to those who have lived in their home for five consecutive years, a Reid spokeswoman said.

The credit for repeat buyers would be $6,500.

The credit reportedly would be available for individuals making up to $125,000 a year and couples earning up to $225,000 per year, up from the current income limits of $75,000 and $150,000, respectively.

Reid wants to attach the tax-credit measure to a bill that would extend unemployment benefits.

Robert Schroeder is a reporter for MarketWatch in Washington.

Today’s second home strategies!

Second home owners are pursuing various strategies to make those properties more affordable.  Talk with me about ways to refinance your existing mortage to save on monthly payments.

Renting out your property can privide income and additional tax deductions. Second homes near cultural festivals or sporting events can command premium short-term rents.  Owners can rent out their property for up to 14 days annually without having to report the income for tax purposes.

Give and Gain

Some owners are donating properties to charity while retaining a "life estate" which is the right to live in the home during your lifespan. In return you receive a tax deduction which can be spread over several years.

Make sure your prperty taxes are based on current real estate values.  You also can appeal your tax bill if the tax assessor has incorrect information about your property's square footage or amenities.

Calculating what you spend on taxes, maintenance, mortgage payments, and insurance each year can help you decide how to manage a second home now.

Customer Service Doesn’t Equal Accessibility

Great advice to realtors but also may work for you in your everyday life.

For 30 years we have been taught, as REALTORS®, we must “be there” for our clients. I hear it all the time from Agents across North America: “I want to be there for my clients.” What does “be there” mean? Does “be there” mean we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for our clients? Does it mean that we miss soccer games, tee ball games, and piano recitals? For many Agents that is exactly what it means! Many of us equate access with service. We have been trained for years that access is the primary vehicle of customer service. We feel we need to be there at all times for our clients. We grant them access to our lives whenever they want it. They can, and will, take over our business, if we let them.

I want to share with you a new concept. Access has nothing to do with customer service. There are many professionals we do business with on a regular basis who are less than accessible. A skilled doctor cannot be contacted via phone and respond right away. A skilled doctor is busy with other patients and will get back to the caller during the course of the day. A professional attorney may be in court, in a conference, or taking a deposition. We don't expect them to return our call immediately. I would certainly question the ability of these two professionals if they could get back to me right away. That would tell me they are not very busy and cause me to question their capabilities. Yet, being phone available is like a badge of honor for a REALTOR®.

Ben Franklin said, “If you want a job done right, ask a busy man to do it.” Ben understood the perception of industrious diligence. He also understood human nature. When Ben Franklin was a young printer, he was seen daily on Market Street at noon pushing a wheelbarrow stacked with reams of paper. After becoming successful, he later shared that the paper was not in the wheelbarrow because it needed to go somewhere, but it was there to promote Ben as a busy man. He created a public perception of value through his daily wheelbarrow walk. If we can meet with clients at all hours of the day and night, they will begin to wonder if we have any other clients. We are not promoting being a busy REALTOR®. To clearly separate access from customer service, here are a few steps:

Step 1: Set Boundaries

Your clients will respect you if you set specific boundaries. Set boundaries on your time away from selling real estate. Schedule the days off, the family activities, the time with your spouse, and the time for you. You must plan that process before the week begins. The most effective way to set boundaries is to work off a set schedule. A set schedule allows you to create each week to be exactly the same as the week before. Create specific boundaries for your clients by taking your home phone number off your business card. Other professionals don't give out their home number. Turn your cell phone and pager off at specific times each evening. Set boundaries for your clients to follow regarding your time and time with your family.

Step 2: Treat everything as an appointment

Once you have set boundaries, treat everything as an appointment. Your time with your children and spouse are the most important appointments you have. Don't infringe on your family time. Your appointments to work out, to read, and to relax are your time; don't break those appointments.

You also have appointments in your workday. You have appointments to prospect and follow-up on leads. These have a tendency to get pushed out of the way by clients. If you allow that to happen, you will see a drop in your business in 90 days. It's easy to let other things move into the prospecting and lead follow-up appointment slots. You have to fight the urge to take care of clients in those times.

Step 3: Set specific times to return calls

Most of the calls we get are not important. They are someone trying to give us what they deem as urgent. They are rarely important and rarely must be handled now. Most calls can wait a few hours to be dealt with. Set specific times when you return calls. I would suggest once in late morning and once toward the end of the day. Tell people you are in appointments and you will be returning calls at those specific times.

You need to separate the concept of access from customer service. Customer service is about getting the job done well. The client does not really care about your access; they care about a job done well. Become respected, like your doctor, dentist, or attorney. Limit the instant access you grant to people. Don't be fooled by the old access model of customer service for real estate. To stay competitive with all the changes in the real estate industry, you need to raise the bar on service and professionalism. Access is not in either of these categories.

Written by Dick Zeller

Is blogging a waste of time?…

It seems as though everyone is either blogging or socializing on some social network or many these days.  If you aren't on the cutting edge of communication, then you might as well be living in the stone age.  I can't believe how far we have come with communication.  I remember car phones when they were a luxury.  And even before that when you needed to make a call from the road you had to find a payphone.

So the instant message age is upon us but do we spend too much time tweeting and reading others tweets? Is it productive in some way or are we just wasting time?

I recently sat at a seminar on how to use the various social online networks as a way to network for business.  A few of them that I am on do exactly that.  They are meant to be a business network, but a lot of them seem to be a little more informal.  I do want to stay in touch with relatives and friends and not bother them with info on a new listing that I have, but still want everyone to know how I can help them professionally.

So if you read this and have a comment for me please email me at