Friday, July 27, 2007

"Selling? Know The Market!"

If you must sell your property in this market... You have got to know the numbers. You can be successful, yet you must play by the rules!
I poured my coffee this morning and it caught my eye. "Stock Market Suffers, Due to Poor Real Estate Performance." Aahhrrrggg! When you make your living helping people buy and sell real estate, this can be a challenge. Not because houses won't sell... but because these headlines reek of pessimism. The fact is that houses can and will sell. It helps if you've got equity - for sure - but smart sellers are, well, selling.
There are symptoms, however. If I was a real estate doctor, I'd be prescribing, "aspirin, lots of fluids and plenty of rest. Move if you must, but don't push it." Want a snapshot of "real world?" This month we watched an absolute auction of two lots (not houses, just lots) in a local "Premier ICW, Golf, Ocean" community. The seller had purchased these lots for $535,000 and $505,000 two years ago. Ready for this? They sold at auction for $235,000 and $185,000. Gulp... We had a house listed for $340,000 and an offer came in at $275,000. The seller didn't like it, but they knew the deal and worked it. Ten days later, we had an executed contract that both parties liked at $300,000. We also sold a couple of new-builds. They are dealing, because they know the numbers. An investor was able to purchase a great rental house for $162,000... not too bad from the $179,000 asking price. As the Realtors involved, we also earned a nice bonus on top of the normal professional fee.
So, if sell you must, know this: More than 430,000 foreclosures were confirmed from Jan-March, 2007. Whew - that's a bunch. And the prediction is for more than 1,000,000 more within a year. This drives inventory UP and prices DOWN. Florida has 4 of the Top 25 "Worst Markets." Palm Coast is small, but %-wise, we are being hit very hard by foreclosures. Investors buying on speculation are 30% more scarce than last year. Like the Swallows at Capistrano, we'll know the market is turning around, when they start to return. But don't be fooled by people saying things like, "I heard someone say it's getting better." It's not. And it probably won't for a year or more.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Thank You For Your Service!"

(Today's post is a preview for a coming website, currently under construction. It will provide an online Real Estate service experience in Flagler County, Florida, for current and former members of the US Military - Local, State, & Federal Police Forces - Firefighters and Para-Rescue Specialists - and Federal Agents, to include the FBI, Treasury, Secret Service, DEA, CIA, DIA, and others. The website will be the portal to excellent real estate services for sellers, buyers, and investors... while providing recognition and appreciation for those who have served our country) (Website Philosophy Statement) This website is all about “Thank you!” It is about recognizing and elevating “Those Who Have Served.” It is about gratitude for all the men and women who have sacrificed pieces of their lives to help maintain the basic premise of the American way of life. Since the glory days of WWII, when the lines between good and evil were broad and clear, this country’s recognition of those who put themselves “in harm’s way” has waned. Global politics are puzzles of complexity. Gone now are the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall, and the Iron Curtain… only to be replaced by an inhumane community of horrific and vile terrorism, with the singular purpose of destroying America (“The Great Satan”) and her allies. The United States is a “free” nation… easily the world’s best and brightest hope for a democratic future. For most of the rest of the world, it’s a “love-hate” relationship, regarding America. We have what they want. And a terrible price has been paid to get it. It will be exceedingly more difficult to keep it, as global polarization and the specter of increasing terrorism and violence take hold. There are those among us who are now, or have been in the past, the defenders of this freedom. If we are the flock, they are now, or have been, the Shepard Dogs who keep the wolves at bay. They have allowed us to sleep at night and to pursue our lives, as they have put themselves at risk, on our behalf. What they do, or have done, is the essence of our American story. They have knowingly walked into danger and many have not walked back out, having made the ultimate sacrifice. They have done it for you and for me. They are The Heroes. They are the men and the women who have left their homes, pulled on boots, picked up a gun, and gone into battle with the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force. They have defended our shores with the Coast Guard. They have made our towns and cities safer places in which to live, as local, state, and federal Police forces. As Firefighters and Para-rescue teams, they have fought blazes in our cities and forested areas. They have arrived on the scene in countless emergencies and saved so many lives from the twisted wrecks on our highways. Our Federal Agents are the world’s best and protect our interests in so many ways. The FBI, Secret Service, Treasury, DEA, CIA, DIA, and other agencies perform the tough jobs… the thankless jobs. In uniform, on my way home from Viet Nam, I was spit on in the San Francisco airport. I’ll never forget it. Nor will I forget the time, at a church conference in Chicago, 33 years later, when a group addressed me and said, “Thank you for your service.” The tears came easy. This website is like that day – for all who have served: “Thank you for your service! Without you, America could not exist!” Frank Zedar & Maritssa Vazquez, RE/MAX Oceanside, 386-931-1987 (under construction – coming soon!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Long Live Tommy Bahama"

"The Author and Bella" (on the occasion of her 3rd Birthday)

Ok, I'm using purple colored font, because this is a commentary on fashion. As I was reading the Accent section of today's News-Journal, I learned, at least from Nada Manley's point of view, that my sense of style was passe'. She was schooling me on the "Four Corners of a Well-Stocked Wardrobe"... Shorts - Jeans - T-shirts - Collared Casual Shirts. Now, I'm neither old-fashioned, nor prone to jump on trends, yet by her assessment, I'm not doing well.

At 62, I've lived through some pretty radical eras in men's fashion. To wit: Junior high in the late 50's was "pink tab-collar shirt, charcoal pants, skinny silver belt, tan buck shoes and a flat-top haircut ( )." Things got whacky with the "hippie" influence of "long hair, beards, army jackets, tie-dye, etc." in the late 60's, through much of the 70's. Then came "Saturday Night Fever" and the disco revolution. Tight polyester pants and shirts with wide collars and contrast stitching. High heeled boots, leisure suits ( ), and pork chop sideburns. I, thank God, was spared much of this because of my active duty status with the US Army. Alas, the Generals in charge were unmoved by the fashion gods.

Then we hit the 90's and one of the most glorious fashion statements of all time - "The Mullet"... ( And, no, I never had one. Never had a pony-tail either. This was my plight: I spent twenty years in the Army - the twenty best "hair follicle potency" years of my life. By the time I became an official civilian, things were "a little thin" on top. My options, therefore, were somewhat limited. No way was I going for one of those "50-ish Hollywood Producer Stubby Pony Tail" jobs either.

Now, here we are in 2007. I think I'm safe in saying that there is no current fashion trend that crosses lines. Younger guys seem to be most influenced by the hip-hop scene. But am I alone in thinking that "baggy pants, exposed skivvies, LA Lakers shirt, hat on backwards, and lots of bling" is getting... like really old? The only hair style that seems to keep hanging around is the one that looks sort of like "1/2 cup Super Mega Spike gel - mix with egg beater - let dry"... like the guy on "Extreme Makeover - Home Edition." And I suppose, here in Florida, we need to pay homage to "NASCAR Chic" (lots of camo, Junior #8 Budweiser T-shirt, cowboy boots, "The 24 Car Sucks" baseball hat)... and "Biker Chic" (Black sleeveless Bike Week shirt, lots of tats, black jeans, black HD boots, black bandanna, black vest).

Well, I just like my Tommy Bahamas... ( ), as you can see in the above photo of me and my granddaughter. Give me them... and my generously fitted T-shirts, faded jeans, khaki pants, and outdoor style cargo shorts - All from L.L.Bean, The Territory Ahead, Cabela's, etc. - And all out of date, according to the "Style Squared" article. Oh, well. Tough cookies. Fashion is for girls, anyway.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

"Happy 4th of July ...Let Freedom Ring"

"Happy Birthday, America"
I remember 1976 and the huge Bicentennial Celebration like it was yesterday. I was on leave from the Army (a very tough assignment, as a graduate student at Georgia Tech, in "Hotlanta") and back in my home town of Endicott, NY, for the big shindig. This was during the Cold War (remember all that Iron Curtain stuff?) and the doomsayers were predicting that the Soviet Union would select that day to initiate MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction)... and launch swarms of ICBM's across the Atlantic... and the rest from their nuclear subs in the Pacific. Ironic, I thought, that they could sail out of the bases we once built and defended in Viet Nam, before we pulled out, having coalesced to the political biases of the times. That pesky old "Domino Theory" had teeth, after all...
But, "Hey," (I feel like John Madden when I say it like that) - The Soviet Union is gone. Now, we get to live in fear of "Terrorists." Frankly, I don't know which is worse, Nikita Kruschev banging his shoe and screaming, "We will destroy you," or all of these diabolical terrorist factions vowing to destroy "The Great Satan." (that would be you and me). Ever wonder why every nation on earth that isn't a democracy "loves to hate" us? One word answer: FREEDOM.
I am a patriot. Did you know that you can be a Democrat or a Republican or a Greenie... or even a 'Tweenie - and be a patriot? That really is an amazing reality about America. This freedom we have... this democracy... is our most precious commodity. President Woodrow Wilson, on 04/02/1917, at the onset of our involvement in WWI, said, "The world must be made safe for democracy." Those simple words have sure kept us busy in the ninety years since they were uttered. And you know what? It isn't going to stop. It isn't going to get any easier to "make the world safe for democracy." Human nature won't allow it. A baby, by its self-preserving nature, is selfish and greedy. As parents, we have to teach them a moral code. Hopefully, we base that code on The Golden Rule. But it's a big, mean world out there beyond our borders. And you can bet that untold numbers want what we have, but are willing to give nothing in return.
President Wilson also said, "America lives in the heart of every man, everywhere, who wishes for a place where he will be free... free to work out his destiny as he chooses." It's a huge responsibility... this "being an American" burden. "Bullies" are everywhere you turn... all over the globe. When we, as a nation, turn our backs on a bully attack... I'm ashamed. Look inward for a moment. When you see someone weak being unjustly tormented, is it your inclination to jump in and help... or think "That's not really my problem?" I jump in. And, as my kids aged 20, 27, 36, and 39 will tell you, it hasn't always been pretty. And through the years I've been "scuffed up a bit," in so doing. But I won't stop. I hope America won't either. The day we pull all the troops home... and build a big fence... is the day we will start to atrophy. "Let them fight their own battles" is a far cry from "The world must be made safe for democracy." I'm sorry, but I fully embrace the idea that, "To whom much is given, much is expected."
Now, a modern day fellow, controversial though he may be, has said a mouthful. Bono, on the Oprah show in 2002, said this: "There is the country of America, which you have to defend, but there is also the idea of America. America is more than just a country, it's an idea... an idea which is contagious." And how about this gem from the controversial Stanford professor, Dinesh D'Souza: "America is the greatest, freest and most decent society in existence. It is an oasis of goodness in a desert of cynicism and barbarism. This country, once an experiment unique in the world, is now the last best hope for the world."
...Don't know about you, but that's worth fighting for. Over and over and over again. Happy 231st Birthday, America. And tonight, when the "bombs are bursting in air"... remember that "our flag is still there." Thank you, God, for continuing your faith in us, as we struggle with this gift you have given...

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