Steinbach Real Estate

A Day in the Life of a Rural Steinbach Realtor: The Creepiest House Showing I Ever Did

creepy basement

 

Being a rural real estate agent is a big, weird adventure.

Icy country roads are a regular threat.

Moccasins are part of my winter attire.

And then there was the time I nearly got shot.
My real estate agent career is riddled with stories. One in particular haunts me every now and then.  I’d been on the hunt for properties for my client when I came across one I thought she’d be interested in. It was an old 1-1/2 storey, and it was vacant, in the process of being repossessed by the bank.
“Yes, you can see it,” they’d said, “but you’ll want to bring flashlights.” We’d been warned.

 

The first thing we noticed when we arrived at the property was the pile of broken drywall and lumber just beside the house. Before walking into the house, I asked, ‘You’ve got your flashlight?”

 

“Sure do.” She smiled and waved it.

 

“Okay,” I smiled too, “Let’s go!” I felt a wave of excitement as I turned the knob, but also a twinge of fear. I’d been to enough vacant, abandoned, and rental properties to know unpleasant surprises sometimes await us.

 

We entered to discover, thankfully, that most possessions had been cleared out. Even some of the light bulbs. That seemed overly thorough, I thought. I was glad the smell of mildew and cat litter was only faint.

 

Scanning the living room, it was clear someone had been renovating. Whether things were pulled apart or being put back together though, neither of us could tell. Across the room, one wall featured a smattering of painted images, from clowns to fairies. The painting skill was definitely there, but the sense of interior décor was definitely not.

 

“Why don’t we check out the basement?” I suggested, hoping to save the upstairs, which I assumed was the best of the floors, for last. She agreed, and we headed for the basement door.

 

I opened the old wooden door to the basement and, though I knew there was no hydro, was still surprised by the darkness of the stairwell. We clicked on our flashlights and headed down the old plank steps, guiding ourselves with a hand on the concrete wall.

 

Suddenly a cobweb strung across my face. I tried not to sound panicked as I clawed it away with both hands. Without a hand on the wall or pointing my light, I nearly lost my balance there in the dark.
As we descended, the musty litter smell intensified. In the darkness beside me, I heard her hold her breath. We stood at the bottom landing and pierced the darkness with our beams of light. Low ceiling. One large room. Concrete floors. Dingy.

 

“Yeah… I’m good.” She said, and hurried back upstairs.

 

Once back on the main floor, we headed to the stairway to check out the upper floor. They looked rickety. Dirty too. I was the REALTOR®, though, so went first. I gripped the wooden banister and it wriggled in my hand. I froze, looked back at my client, and said, ‘Careful…” and shook it again. How the poor banister had been worked into such a state, neither of us could imagine.

 

Despite it being mid-afternoon, daylight did little to brighten the house. With flashlights in hand, and feeling rather sleuth-like, we crept gingerly up the stairs. My heart pounded a bit faster as the carpeted steps snapped and popped beneath our weight. The banister continued to wobble. Instinctively, we each put a hand on the wall and moved a little faster.

 

The second floor was dark. Our small beams of light revealed the space to be vacant except for an overturned cardboard box, and a broken chair in one corner. The carpet throughout appeared to have had sand or gravel ground into it. I shuddered, glad to be wearing shoes. As the floor creaks echoed in the empty rooms, she moved to a bedroom window and inspected it.

 

“I don’t know…” she sighed and shook her head. “I wanted a fixer upper, but this place needs more than I really want to give it.” She shone her light at the floor and ground the carpet with the tip of her shoe. It made a crunching sound. “And what is that? Not only does the place need a lot of work, but it’s also pretty gross and creepy. I’m about done.”

 

“No problem. I’m glad to get out of here myself.” I shivered, remembering the cob web.

 

She cocked her head to the side, seeming to suddenly notice the closet door. “I love those old glass knobs.” We both shone a light on it as she approached. She cradled the knob gently in her palm before giving it a twist. She pulled the door open and shrieked.  I jumped, startled.

 

“What is WITH this place?!”

 

I hurried over to see. There, in the beams of our lights, stood an old metal trunk. Atop the trunk sat a small plastic person, staring back at us, wide-eyed.

 

“Wow. Yeah, I’m about done too.” I said.

 

In moments, we had slapped the door closed, creaked and popped our way down the rickety stairs with our little flashlights, and exited into the rubble-filled yard.

 

Maybe we’d both seen too many scary movies. Maybe it was the ugliest doll in the creepiest place that got  to us. I only know the place gave us both the willies. I wouldn’t trade it though. After all, what’s life without some adventure?
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The Real Truth about Free Home Evaluations (And Why I Only Give them to Clients Now)

not free
The banker adjusted his glasses as he looked over the couple’s finances.

“You’ll need an appraisal,” he said, setting the papers down, “every mortgage requires an appraisal be done.”

The woman asked, “Where do we get that done? And how much does that cost?”

“Appraisal companies charge a few hundred dollars,” he said. Then he leaned forward and smiled. “But you don’t need to bother with that. Just call a real estate agent. They do them for free.”

The couple left the bank, delighted to have saved a few hundred dollars. They did not ask or wonder why one person would do hundreds of dollars of work for free and the other never, ever would.

Somewhere, moments later, a REALTOR’s® phone rang…

 

Real estate is this weird industry where people expect highly trained professionals to work for free (or less).  It’s not just family and friends either, like you might experience in your job – it’s this broad expectation from all of society – bankers, lawyers, buyers, sellers – that real estate agents can and should work for free.

For over seven years, I was that REALTOR® getting the call for a free home evaluation. (thank you, Mr. Banker, sir. May I have another?)  I’d eagerly take the call, invest the hours, drive all over tarnation, and tromp through snow and mud – and all for free. It took me a while to realize I don’t actually have to do that to myself.
Why It Used to Be a Good Idea

In fairness, free home evaluations are a valid way of drumming up business.  It was a great way to meet people who were interested in buying or selling houses, and start a conversation about their needs and how we can help. We could even demonstrate how reliable and effective we were before asking to represent them.

 

Why It’s Not a Great Idea Anymore

Things have changed. (They always do)

What was once unique and creative is now commonplace. That means a few things:

  • It’s so common it’s actually an expectation. Why pay when you can get the milk for free? It makes a person wonder if it undermines the level of professionalism realtors could otherwise be known for. If realtors were a house on a city block, would their being free make them the cheaper house, or the high-value, more desirable house, for example? Something to think about.
  • People who have REALTOR® representation will still use another agent’s free home evaluation offer. Why? Because they don’t want to “bother” their own agent who they’re paying. It’s more courteous to make some other random agent work for free for no benefit. I know it doesn’t
    make sense. I also know it makes no dollars.
  • Marketing is about standing out. Doing what is common does not stand out. I’m learning that the more I do things others don’t, the more I set myself apart. (Blogging, going mobile (instead of the brick-and-mortar office, offering 3D Virtual Tours of my listings, Professional photos (oh, the number of people that don’t do that, but really, really should…), and charging for home evaluations to name a few) The more attention I (and my listings) get. Which is kind of the point, no?

 

Why I Only Give Free Home Evaluations to Clients Now

 

I’ve learned my lesson. I will not work for free for strangers for no benefit. I’ll work like a Clydesdale for my clients though, and it’s for them I reserve my resources, energy, and time. To give it away to anyone else is to take it away from them. Priorities, you know?

A few other reasons I don’t offer free evaluations to any Joe Blow are:

  • Clients like it.
    I can’t tell you how often people have called me up asking for a straight-up evaluation.
    “I’m calling you because you’re known to be professional” they’ll say.
    “I want a home evaluation, but plan to sell privately. Can I just pay you for the evaluation and not have to have the conversation about representation?”
    The answer is yes. They respect my time, and I respect their needs. It’s an awesome arrangement. And, often times, that speaks to my professionalism more than offering the service for free.  (Counter-intuitive, I know, but it works)
  • I don’t work for the bank or the mortgage broker.When they send people to take advantage of me, (er, I mean use my services for free), they get paid, their clients get a mortgage, and I get nothing. It puts no food on my table. No, sorry. I do not work for the bank. (Not at those prices!)
  • I’m Not New at This.
    I’ve invested thousands of dollars in my professional training to become the best at what I do. My multiple Specialist certifications came at a price. My edgy technology and professional team members come at a cost. And my years of experience are priceless.
    None of this is offered by a new kid on the block. It’s unreasonable to expect I’d work for newbie wages. (Would you?) And the adage is true – you do get what you pay for. That’s why I pay, and why you should too.
  • To Raise the Perception of our Industry Real estate agents are professionals. We are resented for our seemingly large commissions (here’s a peek at how our commissions work), we’re presumed to be rich, and are expected to work for free as penance. (Just ask the stranger who asked me for thousands of dollars out of the blue) It’s an unfortunate, and unjust perception.By charging for my professional time and service, I hope to communicate the respectability of being a REALTOR®. It is a profession, and one that ought rightly to be paid for.

I have no grand notions of changing the industry single-handedly. Free evaluations have always been done and they’ll continue to be done. And, especially in the beginning when one is eager to connect with people and get their face and name out there, it can still be a viable prospecting method. But I do think there comes a time when a person needs to shed old ideas and embrace new ones.

 

The Awkwardness of Selling Due to Separation

Awkward Image

No one wants to talk about it.

But it’s happening more and more.

People are selling their houses due to marital separation.

I’m not sure what’s worse though – the crisis many couples are in while they try to sell their house, or that no one is talking about the swirling mess of issues that come up as a result.

I may not be able to rescue anyone from crisis, but I can sure initiate a conversation. Hopefully it helps dispel a few myths, open a few eyes, or foster a bit of compassion and understanding for those who are hurting and either ruined by the pain or lashing out as a result.

Over the next bunch of posts I’d like to talk about selling during a separation.

Can I be honest with you about the games people play during the sale to control, manipulate, or exact revenge on their spouse? This isn’t about being gossipy or telling juicy stories. People in crisis have a hard time seeing what’s going on. Also, after years of marriage, one doesn’t anticipate how separation can stir up a vengeful beast. So, when the games start, they come as a shock. Let’s talk about it so you can be prepared.

So you’re not shocked out of your socks.

So you can recognize a gamer’s ways and protect yourself.

I’d like to tell you why I removed one woman’s wedding photo from the wall – and why she didn’t do it herself. The stages of grief are not reserved for death.

Sometimes people will get into a heated argument, even shouting at the top of their voice, over a dining set. But in a separation, it’s never, ever, ever about the dining set.

Then there’s the experience of a real estate agent caught in the middle. I’m not allergic to helping people through crises, and I’ve certainly been through my own.

Maybe I’ll even talk about the time a couple decided not to sell their house, and how it saved their marriage. That was the best money I never made, and I’m thrilled every time I see them together.

 

Separation is like a fire – it blazes with red hot emotions, damages everything it touches, and people get burned. I know. It hurts. It’s gut-wrenching. And it changes your life forever. It’s also isolating.

That’s why we need to talk about it.

And, maybe by talking about the many issues that flare up, we can minimize the damage and put a bit of salve on the burns.

 

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What to Trust When Everything Is Unpredictable:  A Lesson From Birds on Twigs

Photo by Eniko Crozier

What do you rely on when life is scary?

Is there anything you can trust?

As a real estate agent, changes in the market or a flood of new agents to the scene can be cause for worry. Competition heightens. Available houses become fewer. Suddenly you find yourself asking, “Will I make it?”

It makes me think of how a bird can perch on the very top of a tree. They park their entire body weight on what, from the ground, looks like a twig. I always think that surely the branch should break beneath their weight.

But the bird is not afraid of the branch breaking.

The bird does not depend on the tree. It depends on its own ability to fly.

As agents, so much is out of our control. The value of a home, the market in general, or how our colleagues treat us can all impact our daily life. There are a heck of a lot of things that are scary about being an agent. High gas prices. Slowing markets. Clients who think you can wave a wand and sell their house. When the number of agents in your area doubles in the space of two years. Spending loads of money on marketing without any guarantee at all of ever getting it back. Bullies. Liars.

But we can’t be scared witless. If we are afraid, it shows we’re relying on those things to make or break us. Which would be a bit like a bird relying on a tree to hold it up.

We can’t rely on externals for our happiness or success.

Well, we can, but we’ll be constantly disappointed and success will evade us.

As real estate agents, our confidence has to come from somewhere else. Our instincts and unique abilities will be with us no matter what circumstance we’re in. It’s those we need to rely on.

Can you be a quick problem solver? Do you have the ability to inspire? Can you adapt?

If the ability is there, the circumstance doesn’t matter as much.

Stop looking at what could happen and start trusting your instincts.

Like the bird, trust in your ability to fly.

In what situation are you relying on external things? How could you start trusting yourself instead?

 

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Put It Away, We Don’t Want to See That

abandoned-veranda

Showings can be scary.

And a little… overly personal.

Some things are better left unseen, you know?

Want to sell your house? Start hiding stuff. Well, unless you want to frighten away potential buyers. Then by all means, leave out the diapers and sour milk.

Things Buyers (And Agents) Don’t Want To See:

Gunracks 

An old-style gun rack is a scary sign to a buyer. If it’s full of guns, you look armed and dangerous. If it’s empty, they’re wondering where you hid your artillery. Either way, the thought of negotiating with you may well scare off buyers.

Bedroom Handcuffs

The handcuffs hanging from your bedroom closet door are way too much information. Be who you are in the bedroom and enjoy it, but announcing your fetishes to the buyers walking through your house may not help your sale.

Shoes

It’s wonderful if you are blessed enough to have a pair of shoes for every day of the year. But every pair doesn’t need to be in the entrance, does it? Tripping on shoes and being unable to see the floor kind of puts a damper on a showing. (We won’t even talk about the smell.)

From the moment we enter, the buyer is annoyed and distracted.
… that’s not what you were going for, was it?

What You Eat

I’m constantly baffled by how common it is for sellers to host a showing while the dishes and food have not been cleared from the table.

Look, buyers don’t care what you had for breakfast. They do, however, connect the dots between a person who does not take care of food and a person who then probably does not take good care of a property.

Tip: It is generally a good practice to put the milk back in the fridge before you all leave for the day.

Soiled Underthings

Little Tommy is getting potty trained, is he? We can tell. We’re glad it is going well and celebrate your success. … but please don’t leave the evidence of his failures lying about, stenching up the place.

Soiled underthings tend to impact the ambiance and detract from the buyer experience, you know?

 

Basically, try to avoid anything personal, messy, stinky, or inappropriate being visible during a showing.

When it’s for sale, it’s not your home anymore. It’s a product. And your product needs to be presented attractively in order to sell.

 

Mr. Perfect Called – Why Not Showing Him the House Was a Smart Move

 

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Ring Ring.

“Hello Tina speaking,” I answered.

The male caller said, “Hello, My name is Mark. My wife and I want to see your listing at 123 Country Rd. outside of Winnipeg tomorrow evening. This is exactly what we have been looking for. Your list price is $600,000. We are pre-approved for $650,000, but we really don’t want to spend that much.”

I was pleasantly surprised by his self-awareness and willingness to be open about details.

He continued, “I own 160 acres of land in a completely different direction but I don’t have to sell it to buy. Scotia bank pre-approved us without having to sell first. We would like possession in about six to ten weeks, but we are flexible.”

We parted with my promise to confirm arrangements after I speak with the seller.

The caller was definitely familiar with the questions real estate agents ask. He had been quick to qualify himself and had told me everything an agent wants to hear.

One of the most difficult things to do is qualify a buyer who calls because they saw my sign. Typically, the buyer wants to withhold information. Usually people don’t offer this much information to a stranger on the phone. He’d made it easy.

“Tomorrow evening will work for the seller,” I told him when I called to confirm our appointment.

He asked, “Is it okay if we bring our Real –a – tohr?” I gritted my teeth at the mispronunciation.

“Mark,” I began, “you never mentioned that you are working with a Real-tor.” I made sure to pronounce the word properly and very clearly. “I co-operate with other agents. Please have your agent contact me to confirm arrangements.”

Oh, well, our real-a-tohr is too busy. He does not have time tomorrow evening.” Something smelled fishy. “Can’t you just show it to us?” He asked.

“Let me ask you something Mark. If I showed you this property and you were interested in writing an offer, which agent would be writing the offer?”

I was a little surprised when he replied, “I will be writing the offer with ABC Realty. I have signed a buyer contract with that office so I have to write the offer with them.”

My spidey-senses were tingling.

“I am very familiar with ABC Realty. I like doing business with them. May I ask which agent you are working with?” I probed.

“John Smith and Jim Tayler.” The names rolled off his tongue effortlessly.

I did a quick mental inventory and realized that both of the named agents did, in fact, work at ABC Realty.

“Hey, I know John Smith!” I said excitedly. “I just did a deal with John recently. He is a great guy.”

“Well we actually have been working with Jim. He has just been so busy. Do you know Jim?” he asked.

“I have never met Jim but he has a good reputation in real estate. I will be happy to co-operate with either Jim or John. Please give one of them a call and have them show the property to you. The agent who is being paid should be the agent introducing you to the property.”

Mark never did come look at the property. In fact, neither Jim Taylor nor John Smith had ever spoken to this caller before this day and neither of them had a buyer agency agreement with Mark.

Mark knew a lot about real estate. He knew that if he told me that he was under contract with another agent that I was forbidden to pursue writing an offer with him.

Mark also knew that if he told me that he and his girlfriend just liked looking at nice houses together, and were not actually wanting to buy, that I would not drive out and spend my evening away from my family just to let them see it.

So Mark lied.

Some people – even some real estate agents – think that every Tom, Dick, and poodle with a whim to see a house should be entertained.

I disagree. For a few reasons.

It’s disrespectful to me and my family for one thing.

I value my time and family. I’m all for charity and generosity and sharing, and definitely give until it hurts. But I don’t fill the tank with gas and leave my family for hours just to humor a browser with no intention of buying – especially when they’ve spent a good deal of time lying to my face. Sorry, no. I will not enable that.

It’s also disrespectful to sellers.

If it was your house for sale, would you want to change your plans for the evening and rush to get cleaned up and out of your own house just so someone could view the house for something to do?

If you knew the people viewing the house were not in a position to buy a house, would you want me to bring them by anyway?

My sellers appreciate their time being respected, so I continue to guard them as much as I can from browsers, looky-loos, and anyone else who just likes to poke around in people’s houses for a good time.
They are free to do so at open houses.

 

 

 

 

 

A Realtor’s Life (Two Refreshing Stops on an Exhilarating Ride)

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I popped awake before the alarm sounded, with my mind already swirling.

As I fed the dogs and got ready for work, my mind continued to race. I had been researching and strategizing some systems of organization and marketing and business development over the previous weeks.

You know I adore strategy, right? And how I am attracted to that which is forward thinking, tech savvy, new and improved, flashing, and shiny? Yeah… so I couldn’t stop thinking and mulling and planning and… well, you get the idea. It was exhilarating.

I was eager to start the year off with everything in place. To pull it off though, meant giving myself a demanding deadline. I was running out of time.

Anxiety was starting to grab hold of me, so I was glad for the break this day would offer.

This day I would get to hand over the keys to a proud buyer. I held the keys in my hand, awaiting the final, official permission to pass them to the buyers. We’d been told to expect to receive that news at 10am.

Time passed, and it was nearly noon. The call still hadn’t come.

I called up a friend to join me for lunch. It did my heart good to pause, relax, and spend time with a good friend. Our time together was an oasis in an otherwise mentally chaotic day. (I’ll have to remember that the next time I feel anxious and my mind can’t stop racing…)

After lunch, the call had still not come, so I met up with my partner Eniko. I wrote some of my ideas on paper and passed them to her to see what she could do with it. When two people with two complete different skill sets work on the same project, an idea becomes a masterpiece.  She gets it. I was relieved to not be alone in all of this. Our time together proved to be another oasis of rest from my mental sprinting.

After meeting with those two wonderful people, I was refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.

Finally, at 1:45, the call came. I could release the keys.

Luckily, the buyers had not been waiting for hours outside in a moving van, ready to unload. They’d been at work and hadn’t planned to move in that day. I can’t imagine how the day would have gone had they also been waiting eagerly for their keys.

I met with the buyers, and ceremoniously handed them the keys to their new home. They grinned and, for the first time, entered the house as its owners. They stood in the middle of the room, silent and sighing, just enjoying the moment. I savored the silence right along with them.

They thanked me once again, and I left them alone in their new home, glad to have shared that peaceful happy moment with them.

Now, refreshed from these quiet moments, I’m energized again to pursue my goals for the coming year.

… I can’t wait to tell you about those.

 

 

What refreshes you ?

Think Selling Your House Will Solve Your Money Problems? Think again.

calculator

Swimming in debt?

You’re not alone.

Over 70% of Canadians have debt, and the average family has $100,000 of it. [1]

Planning to get out of hawk by selling your house?

Between increased debt and the rising cost of living (have you seen the price of cauliflower!?!), it can be tempting to sell and make a fresh start.

But there are a few critical flaws in that plan.

 

NEEDING A MIRACLE

 

If you’re at the end of your financial rope and need a miracle in six months or less, selling may not work for you.

One client learned this one the hard way. High on debt and low on cash, she needed to sell and fast.

Unfortunately for her, the market had slowed and she was not in a desirable location. Translation: she could realistically expect 6-12 months for a sale to happen.

It didn’t sell in two months, so she decided to try selling privately. It was the worst time to pull all the marketing because the bank was hovering, using words like ‘foreclosure’. She was desperate.

It was only a few months later the property was listed again, this time on behalf of the bank. She’d lost the house, and any profit it would have yielded her.

 

WHEN THE SALE WON’T COVER THE DEBT

 

It baffles me how often people expect the price of their home to be determined by either their sentimental attachment or the size of their consumer debt load.

But it happens all the time.

“But Tina, can’t you get MORE for my house than market value? I really need the money.”

Sorry, no. The market is what it is.

One’s inability to live within their means does not increase property value.

This principle also applies when one wants to sell a vehicle, firewood, or second-hand pumps on kijiji. Things are worth what they’re worth, regardless of how wealthy or desperate you happen to be.

 

MONEY IS NOT THE PROBLEM

 

Money doesn’t solve money problems.

Just ask the many lottery winners who are worse off after coming into a pile of cash.

Debt is not the problem, it is the symptom.

Maybe someone else caused your debt. Maybe it had nothing to do with you.

But chances are what got you into financial doo-doo was not a lack of money. It was a lack of self-control and a failure to live within your means. It is, in a word, entitlement.

“It doesn’t matter what you think you deserve, it doesn’t matter what you think you need, it doesn’t matter what you think you have to have to fit in. If you don’t have the money, then you don’t need to be incurring the responsibilities, the debt and the obligation” (Dr. Phil.com)

Getting an infusion of cash from selling your home may get you out of hawk for a while. But unless the habit of overspending is changed it will continue to pull you into debt.

__________________________

The market is what it is.

Real estate agents, while completely awesome, cannot actually work magic and force your house to sell in a week.

Selling your house may be part of your financial restoration, but don’t let it be the only part. The plan should also include ditching the habits that got you into that situation in the first place.

 

 

 

What To Do When Your House Value Doesn’t Cover Your Debt

credit-cards

 

You probably have a pile of debt.

And it’s probably getting bigger, not smaller, right?

You’re not alone.

Most of us do, and it’s the kind that gets bigger every year.

According to Statistics Canada, 71% of all Canadians carry some form of debt (2012).

“Yes, that includes mortgages, but it also includes a growing pile borrowed to buy cars, new kitchens and many of the fashionable material trappings of the modern middle-class lifestyle”(1)

How do people deal with it?

Three ways.

They ignore it, letting debt climb every year, and hoping it gets better one day. We won’t go into why that’s a bad idea.

They refinance, using equity to pay off debts. Basically, it’s like using your house as a debit card, withdrawing cash whenever you need it. The plan is shaky, and depends on the market value to increase forever and without stopping. (Don’t think prices will drop? Our neighbors to the south thought that too…)

Or they sell, thinking the profits should be enough to dig them out.

That’s when they jolt awake to the fact that the sale won’t necessarily cover that pile of debt.

And it makes them crazy. The thought of getting a payday can make people do some wacky math.  (Just ask anyone who’s dealt with the division of an estate)

They’re shocked. Disappointed. Outraged and defiant even.

But here’s the thing.

The value of a property is not based on how much debt a person has.

Aren’t you glad? Imagine paying double for a house just because the guy who owns it happens to have loads and loads of debt. Would you pay it?

Umm, no.

And they won’t pay you either, sorry.

So what can you do when the sale doesn’t cover your debt?

Brace yourself, you’re about to hear things you already know.

 

  • Adjust your expectations. Remember – house value is not at all impacted by your finances. Besides, no one owes you financial freedom any more than you owe it to them.
  • Decide to stop adding to the debt pile now! It won’t grow if you don’t feed it.
  • Make a plan to pay off existing debt. Selling the house, when the value doesn’t cover it, is not the plan. Make a new one. Second jobs, selling other assets, reducing spending and throwing down higher payments… do what you must to climb out.

It’s that simple, and that difficult.

Overspending is killing us, and entitlement about house prices is not helping.

Welcome to the reason we’re all in debt up to our eyes.

I’m in the trenches with you, and the other 71% of Canadians.

What’s say we climb out instead of expecting others to pay our way?

 

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Why January Is Spectacular

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It’s over.

The rich taste of eggnog and aroma of delectable spiced ginger cookies have faded away.

Some people think that once the tree and lights are put away, winter’s sparkle is gone, and the grey must inevitably settle on us. Buckle up, it’s all dim and sad until spring…

Here’s the thing.

They’re wrong.

January shimmers with the romantic splendor of no other month.

At each country property I show, soft white snow trims the evergreens. Snow stretches atop fences like a garland and frost sparkles on branches like crystal fireflies. It’s almost as though the properties heard we were coming, and excitedly dressed up in their Sunday best.

It’s impossible to feel grey and dull when glimpsing that kind of dazzling display.

The other day the most stunning sun dog blazed in rainbows around the sun. I stopped in my tracks to admire them. It amazed me to think that their incredible beauty is simply light reflected by ice crystals.

That’s what I want. I want to reflect Light – to be the clean, clear crystal that reflects all the colors light contains.

What the heck does that mean, right?

I guess to me it means sharing. I want to share what I know and how I live and work so that my colleagues can gain success. Watching my peers grow and succeed gives me great joy. The joy is immensely more if I get to participate by helping somehow – even if it’s as an example seen from afar.

January’s clean, crisp freshness is its splendor.

I feel … like January.

I’m clean and free of the clutter of resentment and bitterness I once carried.

Before me is 2016 – a fresh layer of snow on which I get to make new tracks.

Wait – do you smell that?

*deep breath*

Yep, it’s adventure.

This is gonna be good…

What new tracks do you hope to walk this year?

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