It’s graduation time, and students all over the United States will be walking the final leg of one of their greatest accomplishments. But, it’s really only the end of the beginning. School, whether it is high school or college is really a time of incubation. During that time, material, much like breakfast, lunch and dinner is fed to students. They can choose to consume it, or they can skip a meal here and there, but regardless, the meals are on the table. The amount of nutrition derived from those meals will be determined by the nutritional content of the offerings.
Not all food is worthy to be consumed. Our national obesity challenge is evidence that there is a lot of low quality nutrition out there. Those who recognize that and choose to seek out more nutritious food groups feel better, tend to be more healthy and may even live longer. It’s all about the quality of the food consumed.
The same is true of academics. Not all academics are nutritious. Some teachers and professors wow their students with their great knowledge and insight. They have an inner drive to see the students succeed and to become productive citizens of the world. Others, have a personal agenda that is played out in the classroom day after day. In their immaturity, some students may not be able to see the difference, but their next steps in life will reveal what type of academic meals they’ve consumed.
My advice to this graduating class is this:
- Realize that your parents may be the only ones in life that think you’re really special. You will have to earn your own way with the rest of us. There are no trophies for showing up in the game of life.
- Don’t assume the world owes you anything. It doesn’t, but that’s OK. That’s how it is for all of us.
- No matter how you grew up, the only limits on you will be the ones you impose. Once you cross that threshold into adulthood, it’s time to start taking responsibility for what your life will be. A lot of us grew up in less than ideal situations. It happens. Some of us had horrific childhoods. They were psychological nightmares. Some of us had amazing childhoods. Regardless of which childhood you had, you have a choice to walk away from the pains of the past or to let them dictate your future. Your ability to have an amazing life really is within the choices you will make.
- Your ability to succeed has nothing to do with your race, sex, religion, fiscal condition or nationality. You can choose to blame those things for your struggles, or you can face your struggles head on and overcome them.
- Wisdom is the effective use of knowledge. You will gain it over time, but wisdom is something that only comes with time. You may not start out at the top of your profession. That’s to protect the rest of us because you’re not ready to be at the top. You need experience. With your daily experience will come greater knowledge and seasoned wisdom. Everyone pays his dues. Pay them gladly, and over time, you will be at the top of your profession.
- If you are willing to settle for anything, settle for 100% effort from yourself. Some employers will see it and reward you for it. Other employers will ignore it. Regardless, a life of 100% effort gets rewarded in high self-esteem, a sense of a healthy pride and eventually the role that you want to play. If you have an employer that doesn’t appreciate you, learn everything you can while you’re there and then take that experience and knowledge on to the next job with a great employer. You may have to go through two or three before you find that perfect job, but it’s out there. Practice giving 100% even when it’s hard.
- There will always be people along the way who will be willing to help you. Pay attention so you don’t miss them. They may come from some unfamiliar sources, but they’re out there. Appreciate them, glean their wisdom and experience and then pass it on to another in their time of need.
- Limit your exposure to people who only take from you. There are two types of people in the world: takers and givers. Takers seldom give, and givers seldom take. You need to keep the ratio of takers and givers way out of balance on the givers side. Then, you’ll have the strength to potentially help a few takers, but don’t be afraid to cut them loose either.
- If you have a dream, hold on to it. Let it be the motivating force behind every step you take. Don’t let your dreams go just because it doesn’t happen overnight. Remember wisdom comes with knowledge. Those weeks, months or years leading up to the fulfillment of your dreams are your training time. Appreciate them for what they bring to your life experience.
- Have fun along the way. Being motivated to accomplish something can be all consuming. Don’t miss out on the fun in life. Have fun. Be a faithful friend. Honor your parents. Lift up the weary. Find an outlet for your energies that are not work related. Fill your mind with healthy thoughts and ideas. Learn to relax and play. Take a day off. Eat nutritious food and sleep a good night’s sleep. Take care of your body. You’re no good to yourself, your employer/employees or your dreams if you adopt an unhealthy lifestyle.
- Listen to your conscience. Your conscience is the voice of your soul. Some may call it your gut, but no matter, listen to it. It will try to direct you into right decisions and productive paths. Every opportunity may not be right for you. Always allow time before making major decisions. It may only be minutes, but allow time for your conscience to speak to you.
- Do something that benefits others. One of the greatest joys you will have in life is doing things that benefit others who have no way of repaying you. Humble yourself and reach out to those who need you.
It’s time to launch out into the real world. The academic environment really isn’t the real world. It’s just the incubator you are hatched from. Look back on it realistically and take the good, leave the bad and do something that inspires the world.
Home sellers, choose your real estate agent wisely. It may make the difference between a sale, or a listing. I’ve noticed a pattern in the Winchester, VA real estate market. For some reason, numerous Winchester, VA home sellers are listing their properties with out of the area agents. What is the value of that choice? Here’s what I can tell you is the effect of listing with out of the area agents.
- Out of the area agents don’t know the local market. Without a thorough understanding of the local market, an out of the area agent is likely to attempt to sell your property at a price that will attract few if any buyers.
- Out of the area agents are very often difficult to make contact with. In the past three weeks, I’ve tried to sell two properties for out of the area agents. One didn’t respond to my full price offer for 5 days. Then she declined it. The offer was full price, no contingencies with a closing in 45 days. I noticed the closing date on her current contract closes in 5 months.
- Out of the area agents don’t always have your property on their priority list. You’re out of sight, out of mind. I am waiting for an out of the area agent to respond to my email, phone call and text message now. It has been three days. If I can’t show your property, I can’t sell it.
- Out of the area agents more than likely don’t know your house or your neighborhood. They won’t be able to market your home like a local agent.
- Out of the area agents took the same classes to receive their licenses, receive the same continuing education and follow the same state regulations as your local agent. They have no advantage in those areas.
- Out of the agents will not be available to run over to your house to check on it, meet a client, replace the key when an agent accidentally takes it with him.
There is little to no advantage to hiring an agent out of your area. A local agent will have his finger on the pulse of the local market. He can respond to inquiries and clients wishing to see the property on the spur of the moment, and he is more likely to know where your property is most likely to sell. When your ready to sell your Winchester, VA home, call Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., for your local market experts.
Pick a local Realtor when selling your home. It will make all the difference.
Most days in real estate are pretty similar. There are the typical events that each deal goes through, and for the most part, it’s pretty routine. I did an open house Saturday, and then I had to race back to town to meet a new client. The new client was a nice family of 5. There was the mom and dad and two little boys and a very petite little girl.
While we were looking at the house the kids were deciding who would get which room. They staked out their territory, and they carried their choices to mom and dad. It was very much the norm. When we were leaving the second floor, everyone has headed down the stairs except for the little girl and me. I stepped onto the top step, and the little girl was following along behind. Then I felt this little hand insert itself in mine and grab on. She looked up and smiled knowing that I would help her navigate the long staircase, and I smiled back and she knew she was safe. It was a precious moment.
In the hustle-bustle of the sales world, it’s easy to forget the benefactors of our craft. A home should provide a sense of safety and security for the little ones in our lives, and Miley’s gesture just reinforced that. With that simple gesture, she let me know that she trusted me with her safety. Home-buyers and home-sellers do that everyday. They entrust us with one of their biggest life choices. That trust should be the motivation each of us needs to do a world class job with each and every client. They are trusting us with their futures, and we should handle them with great care.
1. Buying your first home in Winchester VA
2. What to look for when buying a foreclosure in Winchester VA
3. Short Sale inventory in Winchester VA
4. Winchester, VA – The best bedroom community for the Washington, D.C. area
5. Passion is contagious – Infect somebody!
6. Winchester, Virginia is a great place to buy a house at great discount!
7. This simple electrical test could save your life.
8. Turn setbacks into springboards
9. Reduce your mortgage by pre-paying principle and eliminating interest
10. What can I do to sell my home more quickly?
While the real estate market continues to show some signs of life, there are still pockets of high volumes of foreclosures and short sales throughout the country. In the Winchester / Frederick County, VA area the current inventory of REOs has fallen to 44. That may sound like a lot, but it is below previous numbers.
These REOs (Real Estate Owned,or Bank Owned) properties range in price from $79900-$379900. They offer bedroom and bath numbers from 1/1 to 5/3. With interest rates at record lows, it’s a great time to hop off the fence and take a second look at one of these foreclosed properties. When you do, there are some things you will want to look for, such as:
- The overall condition of the property. Are there broken windows, damaged door frames, soiled and smelly carpet or other unwelcome short-comings? Remember, some defects will not pass FHA / VA loan requirements. If the property is damaged, you may want to keep looking.
- Look in unconventional places for signs of problems. People notoriously paint a room and ignore the closets. Always look in every closet to see if there are any wet spots on the ceiling. Look under every vanity for water signs. Look in sink base cabinets to see if there are water stains from a leaky sink, food disposal or dishwasher drain line.
- If there are more baths or bedrooms than the tax record reports, check with the local inspections office to see if a permit was ever pulled. If it was, was it ever closed? Many contractors will put their rough-in and final inspection stickers on the electrical panel door. Always check with your locality about inspections. Electrical inspections are very important due to the obvious danger they present to unsuspecting users of power outlets.
- Look around the exterior of the house for settling and drainage issues. If the soil is lower against the house than it is a couple feet away you have a potential drain issue that can create major problems at some point. Those types of problems are typically easy to repair with grading and landscaping.
- Look in the attic for moisture stains on the underside of the roof. While you’re up there, check on the insulation depth. Different parts of the country have different R-values based upon the needs in that specific area. That information can be easily found online or at a local big box construction material supplier.
- Sniff, sniff, sniff. Do you smell anything unusual. Of course some REOs reek from the way angry owners left it, but in some cases, mold may be growing behind drywall or under carpets. If you smell something that is unrecognizable, leave the house and ask that it be inspected by a home inspector.
- Rub the walls with your hand. If it comes back black, there is likely a ventilation issue with the fireplace or wood stove chimney. Ask that it be inspected.
- Step back in the yard and look at the roof. Do you see ripples or missing shingles? Ask about the age of the roof. This may be hard to find on an REO, but a home inspector can give you a good idea.
- Ask for an inspection on the well and septic system. A drain field must be a specific distance from a well head. You will want to know if it is outside those limits before you place a contract on it. It’s very expensive to move either one.
Remember, most lenders will only do the bare minimum to get a property ready for resale. Some lenders will not do anything. Most will not guarantee the property. It is your responsibility to make sure you know what you’re buying. Once you close the deal, it’s yours. As-is means as-is. So, do a thorough inspection of an REO before putting a contract on it.