Sunday, June 17, 2012

WHAT IS EARNEST MONEY AND WHO GETS IT IF THE DEAL GOES DOWN?????

Been a while since I’ve posted so I guess I’ll update a few things first.  I’m no longer on the air after a 30+ career as an air talent.  I’ve officially hung up the headphones.  Not sure if you knew I was on the air but I’ve been on the air in Southeast and Central Missouri since the early 80′s.  I have NO idea where all the years have gone. 

I’ve accepted a position as Designated Broker for Century 21 Ashland Realty in Cape Girardeau and absolutely LOVE what I do.  If I had to narrow down my “first order of business” and what my “job” is I would have to say my job is to protect clients while in Real Estate transactions.  Believe it or not, as much as you’d like to think…it’s NOT all black and white!  There are so many gray areas where a Broker must make a decision and it’s not always the decision EVERYONE wants to hear.  I’ll try to keep it simple and if I use words you don’t understand, please call your Realtor for explanation.

Let’s start first with the “Contract For Sale of Residential Property”…..or “the offer”.  When you tell your Realtor you’re ready to make an offer that’s when things start to get exciting.  Keep in mind I’m a Licensed Real Estate Broker in the state of Missouri.  States vary in the documents used and what I tell you here may be different in your state or country.  The “offer” is the document used to make an offer “in writing”.  Yes, VERBAL offers are perfectly LEGAL…..however, they’re not “enforcible”.  But if your Realtor completes a “Contract For Sale”…you’re going to be asked to sign the document to make it a LEGAL and ENFORCIBLE  offer. 

When that offer is submitted to the seller, they have THREE options……1. They can counter-offer or 2. They can reject your offer or 3.  They can ACCEPT your offer.  To keep it simple, let’s assume they’ve “accepted” your offer.  NOW you have a BI-LATERAL CONTRACT.  An offer by a buyer and an acceptance by the seller.  The BUYER and SELLER have come together as TWO….to make ONE legal Real Estate transaction…a BI-LATERAL CONTRACT.  The buyer is bound to the seller…and the seller is bound to the buyer.  Typically, to let a seller know the buyer is SERIOUS about the offer…..”Earnest” money is involved.  Earnest money is NOT a down payment….it’s NOT a deposit…..rather it’s “good faith” money to let the seller know the offeror…or buyer….is SERIOUS about the offer.  Earnest money is kept in a special escrow account to be dispersed by whomever controls that account.  It’s not given to the seller and the Realtor does not keep the money in their personal accounts.

I’ll take you through the process of “protection periods” on the contract in another post so for now let’s continue with what happens to the Earnest Money if the transaction goes down.  Sometimes things happen that will make the buyer or seller decide they want out of the contract.  Part of the contract has “built-in” protections for both the buyer and seller.  The buyer has a certain number of days to hire an inspector to inspect the home and if the inspector finds something the buyer is not willing to accept, the buyer has the right to terminate the contract and the earnest money returned to the buyer.  The buyer has a certain number of days to get “title commitment” from the title company to show there are no incumbrences or liens against the property and finally, the buyer has a certain number of days to get “loan commitment” from their lender to complete the Real Estate transaction.  If the Buyer decides to terminate the contract because of liens or can’t get their loan, then the Earnest money is returned directly to the Buyer.

However….once you get past the “protection periods”…..sometimes things happen.  NO Real Estate transaction is complete until you are walking away from the Closing table with the keys to your new home for the Buyer and money in your hand for the Seller.  I’ve PERSONALLY seen Real Estate transactions go down just before walking into a closing.   Most of the time things happen through no fault of the Buyer or the Seller.    If a Buyer loses their job the morning before closing……..yes it has happened…..the Real Estate transaction goes down.  If a Seller has a death in the family that would make them not able to complete the Real Estate Transaction 2 days before closing…yes, it has happened….the Real Estate Transaction goes down.  It’s been my experience, when a Real Estate transaction goes down after the protection periods are expired, the Buyer’s and Sellers will argue about WHO gets the Earnest Money.

It’s never an easy decision to make when it comes to the Earnest Money.  Try as HARD as we might, when a Realtor fills out a Contract For Sale for a Buyer to sign, we ask the Buyer to read the contract before signing……but most don’t.  People don’t take the time to read every line in a contract for Real Estate anymore than we take the time to read the fine print of a loan document or those papers we’re asked to sign at the Doctor’s office.  I’ve said many, many times……every document that requires a signature is born as a result of a lawsuit.  But simply put, when the need arises…..it’s up to the Broker to make the decision of what will happen to Earnest Money…..and believe it or not, there are FOUR options for the Broker.

1.  Get a Mutual release agreed to and signed by both the Buyer and Seller that explains what happens to the Earnest Money.  Even though this is the BEST option….it’s not always the one everyone agrees upon.

2.  The Broker CAN make a decision about the dispursement of the Earnest money, however, that does not prevent the Broker being responsible for any litigation later in civil court should the buyer and seller decide to hire an attorney or go to small claims court.

3.  The Broker can send a certified letter to both the Buyer and Seller telling them of their option of going to small claims court or hiring an attorney and going to court for a decision.  The Broker would then follow the direction of the Judge as to the dispursement of the Earnest money.

4.  If the Buyer and Seller decide to NOT go to court, then the Broker can turn the Earnest money over to the State Treasurer’s Office “Unclaimed Funds Dept”  after 20 days past the “original agreed upon” closing date to within one year of that date.  The Buyer and Seller can petition the State Treasurer’s Office and put in a claim for those funds.

Again, this process can vary from State to State, so please ask your Realtor or your Realtor’s Broker for a clear definition of what happens to the Earnest money if the Real Esate Transaction goes down.  Please keep in mind……it is RARE that a Real Estate transaction is not completed.  Once you’re ready to go to the Closing Table…..and your Realtor shows you the Closing Statement, or HUD-1, you’ll see the Earnest money showing as a CREDIT TO THE BUYER……the Earnest money is very RARELY given back to the Buyer, rather it shows up as a credit to the buyer and the amount is deducted from the purchase price. 

I hope this clears some confusion about what happens to the Earnest Money and if you have any questions, again, PLEASE ask your Realtor!

Posted by Rick Sinclair in 14:50:57 | Permalink | No Comments »

Sunday, February 12, 2012

WHO IS MY REALTOR WORKING FOR?

That’s a question I often get from my clients when they’re looking for a home to buy or if they’re talking to me about selling their home.  And it’s a question that SHOULD be asked anytime you’re talking to a Realtor.  I always try to explain in simple terms, but sometimes, the way you hire your Realtor can get complicated and it’s a good idea to ask the question the first time you talk to your prospective Realtor…..and yes, you’re more than welcome to “shop around” for a Realtor you like.

So let’s take it one step at a time.  First, I’ll assume you’re looking for a home and usually your first contact with a Realtor is to call the one that’s on the sign in front of a home in which you’re interested.  All homes that have been listed through a Real Estate company must have the Brokerage Firm name and a phone number to that Brokerage on the sign.  If you see a Realtor’s name and number, you’re welcome to call that person directly, but if not, when you call the Real Estate company, you’ll probably be connected to a Realtor that’s on “floor duty” at the Real Estate Company.  At this point, most of the questions you’ll have will be about the home in question and the Realtor may ask if you’d like to see the home and schedule an appointment.  By the way, let me stop right here and tell you……talking to a Realtor does NOT….I repeat…DOES NOT obligate you to use that Realtor.  Even it that Realtor meets you at a home to view the home, you’re still under no obligation to hire that Realtor.  

My advice is to find a Realtor BEFORE you search for a home.  Can I repeat that?………..YOU SHOULD FIND A REALTOR BEFORE YOU SEARCH FOR A HOME.  There are MANY advantages for doing this…..most of which is time and energy.  If you’re looking for a home to buy, your Realtor will represent you as your Buyer’s Agent…….if you’re hiring a Realtor to sell your home, you’re looking for a Seller’s Agent……..but your Realtor can represent you in either capacity, depending your situation.  But for now, let’s look at your Realtor as your Buyer’s Agent.  You should visit with as many Realtors as necessary for you to feel comfortable to hire to represent you.  Ask questions such as years of experience, are they a member of the local Board of Realtors or with the local Multiple Listing Service, or MLS.  What’s their availability for showing homes?  Are they available on weekends?  Are they a member of the National Association of Realtors…..for your information, they’re NOT allowed to call themselves a “Realtor” unless they are a member in good standing with the National Association of Realtors as we’re under oath to follow the NAR Code of Ethics for client Representation.

You should feel comfortable with your Realtor…..and should be able to understand their answers to your questions and should be able to ask questions without feeling uncomfortable about your lack of knowledge.  In fact, your Realtor should completely understand your lack of knowledge and be willing to explain step by step the process of buying a home.

In the next few posts, I’m going to explain in detail what to expect from your Realtor and what your Realtor will expect from you.  But for now……let’s assume you have decided to “hire” a Realtor.  My next post will explain your venture to become a ”HOMEOWNER”.

Posted by Rick Sinclair in 17:44:33 | Permalink | No Comments »

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Hand of God ……and Harry…….Harry Teague

This a true story of the accounts that happened to me on December 9th, 2011 while on my way home from my office at Century 21 Ashland Realty in Cape Girardeau.  I’ll always remember that day the events of which you’re about to read.

THE HAND OF GOD 

I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS ABOUT HIM THAT CAUGHT MY ATTENTION.  WHEN YOU DRIVE THE INTERSTATE TO GET HOME YOU TYPICALLY SEE ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE HITCH-HIKING AND SOMETIMES WHEN YOU PULL UP TO THE STOP SIGN AFTER TAKING THE EXIT, THERE THEY ARE, LOOKING HELPLESS WITH THEIR “WILL WORK FOR FOOD” SIGNS.  SURE, I’VE GIVEN MONEY……LOTS OF TIMES.  TEN BUCKS HERE OR MAYBE TWENTY.  I REMEMBER A COUNTRY SONG BY A YOUNG COWBOY NAME SHANE MINOR ENTITLED  “MAYBE HE’S AN ANGEL” AND MAYBE THAT’S WHAT HE WAS….MAYBE HE WAS AN ANGEL.

I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ANOTHER TYPICAL DAY.  I WORK AT A RADIO STATION IN SOUTHEAST MISSOURI AND GETTING UP AT THREE IN THE MORNING IS SOMETHING I DO THESE DAYS WITHOUT EVEN HEARING THE ALARM.  ON THE AIR BY FIVE WITH THIS MORNING’S BOARDSHIFT WAS NO DIFFERENT THAN THE DAY BEFORE OR THE DAY BEFORE THAT.  A FEW YEARS AGO I DECIDED SOMEDAY I’D LIKE TO HAVE A REAL JOB SO I STUDIED FOR MY REAL ESTATE BROKER’S LICENSE, WITH FINANCIAL HELP FROM MY THEN GIRLFRIEND, DONNA, AND BEGAN WORKING IN REAL ESTATE TO HOPEFULLY START A NEW CAREER.

BUT I HAD NO IDEA HOW SOMETHING SO INSIGNIFICANT TO SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE WOULD AFFECT ME SO DEEPLY.  AND I DON’T KNOW WHY.  MY DRIVE HOME WAS LIKE NO OTHER……WELL, WITH THE EXCEPTION THAT MY LIFE IS LIKE NO OTHER.  I GUESS I’M WHAT YOU’D CALL A WORK-A-HOLIC, EXCEPT I’M NOT A VERY SUCCESSFUL WORK-A-HOLIC.  SEEMS LIKE I ALWAYS HAVE MORE MONTH LEFT AT THE END OF THE MONEY.  NOW MY WIFE, DONNA, HAS SEVERE FIBROMYALGIA AND REQUIRES A LOT OF ATTENTION FROM ME WHEN I’M HOME….AND SOMETIMES EVEN WHEN I’M NOT AT HOME.  I LOVE HER DEEPLY AND DO THE BEST I CAN BUT SOMEDAYS MY DAYS ARE PRETTY LONG…….ACTUALLY…..WELL….TRUTH IS, MOST DAYS ARE VERY LONG SINCE I DO QUITE A BIT OF THE COOKING AND PREPARING MEALS WHEN I GET HOME FROM THE RADIO STATION AND REAL ESTATE OFFICE.   THE FACT THAT I DON’T HAVE ANY OUTSIDE INTERESTS OTHER THAN WORK OR HOME, IT’S NO WONDER WHAT WAS ON MY MIND ON MY WAY HOME ON THE INTERSTATE.

I WAS THINKING MCDONALDS.  I TRY TO THINK OF DIFFERENT THINGS TO PREPARE FOR DONNA AND ME TO EAT.  IT WOULD BE TOO EASY TO OPEN A CAN OF SOUP EVERY DAY OR HEAT UP ANOTHER FROZEN DINNER.  I KNOW I WOULD GET TIRED OF EATING THE SAME THING EVERYDAY, SO I TRY TO THINK OF SOMETHING DIFFERENT EVERY DAY AND THIS DAY WAS NO DIFFERENT.  DRIVING TWENTY MINUTES ON THE INTERSTATE TO GET HOME GIVES ME PLENTY OF TIME TO TRY TO THINK OF SOMETHING.  MCDONALDS.  I’M THINKING MCDONALDS RIBS.  THEY’RE BACK FOR A LIMITED TIME AND AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW AT MCDONALDS………SORRY…..TOO MANY YEARS ON THE AIR WILL MAKE YOU SOUND LIKE YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS A COMMERCIAL. 

SEVENTY MILES AN HOUR……THE EXIT OFF THE INTERSTATE…..TURNING RIGHT AND THERE’S MCDONALDS……..AND……THERE’S HARRY.  HARRY TEAGUE.  OH I DIDN’T KNOW HIS NAME AT THAT MOMENT HE CAME INTO VIEW.  I DON’T REMEMBER MY FIRST THOUGHT WHEN I SAW HIM.  I’VE SEEN SO MANY PEOPLE AT THAT INTERSECTION SO MANY TIMES BEFORE.  I’VE GIVEN SO MUCH MONEY OUT TO STRANGERS AT THAT INTERSECTION IT’S NOT EVEN FUNNY.  SOMETIMES I’LL TELL MY WIFE……..SOMETIMES I DON’T.  I MEAN IT’S NOT LIKE WE’VE GOT A LOT OF MONEY TO GIVE, BUT IF I SEE SOMEONE HOLDING A SIGN I FIGURE IT’S EMBARRASSING ENOUGH TO HAVE TO HOLD A SIGN THE LEAST I CAN DO IS LET GO OF A FEW BUCKS.

AND THEN THERE ARE THOSE AWKWARD TIMES WHEN YOU FIND YOUSELF NEXT TO THE PERSON HOLDING THEIR SIGN WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A DOLLAR BILL ON YOU.  IT’S NOT LIKE THE DAYS BEFORE DEBIT CARDS.  WHEN I USED TO WRITE CHECKS ALL THE TIME, I WAS ALWAYS WRITING IT FOR MORE THAN THE AMOUNT SO I’D HAVE SOME CHANGE.  ITS FUNNY, SEEMS I HAD MORE MONEY WHEN I WROTE CHECKS THAN NOW SINCE I USE A DEBIT CARD EVERYWHERE I GO. 

AND WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF SITTING AT THE INTERSECTION WITHOUT ANY CASH YOU TRY TO AVOID EYE CONTACT.  YOU’RE HOPING THE LIGHT HURRIES UP TO TURN GREEN SO YOU WON’T HAVE TO AVOID EYE CONTACT ANYMORE AND WHEN YOU ACCIDENTALLY LOOK AT THEM, THEY’RE TRYING EVEN HARDER TO AVOID EYE CONTACT WITH YOU.  I TRY TO KEEP EXTRA FIVE DOLLAR BILLS OVER THE SUN VISOR FOR SUCH OCCASSIONS BUT IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY TIME I’VE BEEN IN THAT SITUATION, I DISCOVER I’VE ALREADY SPENT THE MONEY.

HARRY WASN’T HOLDING A SIGN, THOUGH.  IN FACT, AS I DROVE AROUND HIM, IT LOOKED LIKE HE HAD EVERYTHING ON HIS BACK IN A BACKPACK THAT WAS WAY TOO SMALL FOR HIM TO BE CARRYING ON HIS BACK.  SOMETHING A FIRST GRADER WOULD CARRY.  THE SHOULDER STRAPS PULLED HORIZONTALLY ACROSS HIS BACK AND AROUND HIS ARMS LIKE RUBBER BANDS OF A SLINGSHOT.  I COULDN’T SEE HIS FACE AS I DROVE BY EITHER.  HIS SOCK CAP PULLED DOWN TO THE VERY TOP OF HIS OLD, YELLOWED GLASSES AND HIS COAT PULLED UP OVER HIS CHIN TO KEEP THE WIND OFF HIS FACE.  THE BLACK PLASTIC TRASH BAG HE WAS CARRYING IN HIS ARMS IN FRONT OF HIM COULDN’T HIDE THE FACT THAT HIS COAT WAS UNBUTTONED.

NOW I REMEMBER MY FIRST THOUGHT.  THE WEATHER WASN’T PARTICULARLY COLD THAT DAY.   MAYBE THIRTY EIGHT OR FORTY, BUT THE WIND WAS UP AND THE SUN WAS SETTING SO I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO GET REALLY COLD AND I THOUGHT “DAMN, MISTER, YOU WOULDN’T BE SO COLD IF YOU’D AT LEAST BUTTON YOUR COAT!”  BUT EVEN THEN, AT THAT MOMENT,  THE THOUGHT OF THOSE MCRIBS KEPT MOST OF MY ATTENTION ON THE BIG YELLOW ARCH ANOTHER QUARTER MILE DOWN THE ROAD. 

LOOKING BACK I DON’T KNOW WHY I DIDN’T SIMPLY USE THE DRIVE-THROUGH LIKE I’VE DONE SO MANY TIMES BEFORE.  DONNA AND I HAVE BEEN TO THIS SAME MCDONALDS A HUNDRED TIMES AND I ALWAYS USE THE DRIVE THROUGH.  BUT TODAY…..THIS DAY…..WAS DIFFERENT.  EVEN THOUGH I WAS TIRED, HUNGRY AND SINCE IT WAS FRIDAY NIGHT, I WAS READY TO GET HOME, TAKE OFF MY SUIT AND TIE AND RELAX FOR THE WEEKEND.  BUT FOR SOME REASON….GOD HELP ME UNDERSTAND….SOME REASON I HESITATED BEFORE PULLING INTO THE DRIVE THROUGH AND DECIDED TO PULL INTO A PARKING SPOT AND GO IN TO ORDER.

I’M TRYING TO UNDERSTAND SOMETHING THAT, TO BE HONEST, IS REALLY OUT OF CHARACTER FOR ME.  DON’T GET ME WRONG, I CARE ABOUT MY FELLOW MAN ABOUT AS MUCH AS THE NEXT PERSON.  I HELP WHEN I CAN.  I GIVE WHEN I CAN AND I VOLUNTEER MY TIME ONCE IN A WHILE.  I REMEMBER A STORY ABOUT GLEN MILLER.  YEAH, THE BIG BAND LEADER.  I DON’T KNOW IF THE STORY IS TRUE OR NOT, BUT HE WAS ON HIS WAY TO SOME GIG AND WAS GOING TO BE OUT OF TOWN FOR A FEW DAYS.  AS HE WAS PACKING TO LEAVE, HIS PREGNANT WIFE WAS ASLEEP SO HE WAS TRYING TO BE VERY QUIET WHILE GETTING READY.  HE KISSED HER ON THE CHEEK AND LEFT.  AFTER GETTING DOWN THE BLOCK HE REALIZED HE LEFT HIS MUSIC BOOK IN HIS APARTMENT.  AFTER GETTING HIS BOOK AND JUST AS HE REACHED FOR THE DOOR KNOB TO LEAVE AGAIN, HE GOT THIS IRRISTABLE URGE……SOMETHING MADE HIM STOP….HE STOOD THERE A FEW MOMENTS….SHRUGGED OFF THE FEELING AND LEFT.  THE NEXT DAY……HE GOT THE CALL.  HIS WIFE HAD PASSED AWAY IN HER SLEEP.  HE LOST HIS WIFE AND SON.  HE ALWAYS SAID IT WAS THE HAND OF GOD THAT HELD HIM UP AT THE DOOR.  BUT HE LET IT PASS. 

I CAN’T REMEMBER A TIME WHEN MCDONALDS SMELLED AS GOOD AS IT DID WHEN I OPENED THAT DOOR.  I COULD ALMOST TASTE THOSE MCRIBS.  YOU KNOW HOW IT IS.  WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY, YOU USUALLY ORDER WAY TOO MUCH.  YOU’D THINK ORDERING FOR JUST TWO PEOPLE, IT WOULD BE EASY AND IT WOULDN’T COST MUCH AT A MCDONALDS.  NOT FOR TWO PEOPLE. 

“WELCOME TO MCDONALDS, MAY I TAKE YOUR ODER”? SHE ASKED WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING UP AT ME.  “SURE.  I’LL HAVE THREE MCRIBS, A GRILLED CHICKEN SANDWICH WITH CHEEZE, TWO LARGE ORDERS OF FRIES AND A DOUBLE QUARTER POUDER WITH CHEEZE”.  I FIGURED TWO MCRIBS, A QUARTER POUNDER WITH CHEESE AND LARGE FRIES JUST FOR ME.  SIX FOOT TWO, TWO HUNDRED FOURTY POUNDS.  MY WIFE EATS LIKE A BIRD.  NOW I KNOW WHY IT COSTS SO MUCH!

SHE WAS ENTERING MY ORDER BY CLICKING THE BUTTONS ON THE REGISTER LIKE IT WERE A KEYBOARD OF A COMPUTER.  NEVER LOOKING UP AT ME SHE SAID “THAT’S NINETEEN DOLLARS AND TWENTY SEVEN CENTS”.  I THOUGHT “HOLY COW, MY WIFE AND I GO TO AN ALL YOU CAN EAT CHINA BUFFETT FOR LESS THAN THAT”.  BUT I SLID MY DEBIT CARD AS QUICKLY AS YOU PULL THE HANDLE ON A SLOT MACHINE.

IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE MONEY ANYMORE WHEN YOU PLAY SLOT MACHINES.  IN FACT THEY DON’T CALL THEM QUARTERS ON THOSE MACHINES.  THEY CALL THEM CREDITS OR TOKENS.  ONLY 3 CREDITS TO PLAY, BUT DO YOU REALIZE EVERYTIME YOU PULL THAT HANDLE ITS SEVENTY FIVE CENTS?  SHOWS HOW CHEAP OF A GAMBLER I AM.  YEP, THAT’S BIG SPENDER ME!  I’M A QUARTER SLOT MACHINE GAMBLER!  USING THAT DEBIT CARD IS THE SAME.  YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO ENTER THE AMOUT IN YOUR CHECKBOOK BECAUSE YOU DON’T CARRY A CHECKBOOK SO IT’S LIKE YOU’RE NOT REALLY SPENDING MONEY, YOU JUST SLIDE YOUR DEBIT CARD AND LIKE MAGIC WHATEVER YOU’RE BUYING DOESN’T COST YOU ANYTHING.

NOW ALL I HAD TO WAS WAIT FOR THOSE MCRIBS.  THAT’S ANOTHER WONDER OF TECHNOLOGY……..THE SCIENCE OF FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS…..HOW QUICKLY THEY CAN COOK FOOD, BAG IT UP AND HAVE IT IN YOUR HANDS FROM THE MOMENT YOU PAY UNTIL YOU FEEL THAT RECYCLED PAPER BAG IN YOUR HANDS.  DID YOU EVER SEE THOSE TIMERS THEY PUT UP IN MCDONALDS?  EVEN WHEN YOU ORDER ONLY A CUP OF COFFEE THEY’RE TIMING THEMSELVES.  SEEMS LIKE EVERYBODY’S IN A BIG DAMN HURRY THESE DAYS.  BACK IN THE OLD DAYS, WE’D GO OUT TO EAT AND EVERYONE WOULD GET OUT OF THE CAR, GO IN, SIT DOWN, ORDER YOUR MEAL, EAT AND THEN WE’D LEAVE TO GO HOME.  THEN THERE CAME THE “DRIVE-IN”…..”NO REASON TO COME IN TO ORDER AND EAT, WE’LL BRING IT RIGHT OUT TO YA”!  NOW WE HAVE DRIVE THROUGH’S!  “JUST ORDER AND LEAVE”!

BUT I DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE BECAUSE I CAME IN.  I WAS GOING TO TIME THEM TO SEE JUST HOW LONG IT WOULD TAKE TO GET MY ORDER COMPLETE AND I’D BE ON MY WAY.  BUT I HAD NO IDEA HOW THAT MOMENT…..THAT SPLIT SECOND OF TIME……WOULD STILL BE LINGERING IN MY MIND.  I CAN STILL SEE HIM.  HARRY.  HARRY TEAGUE.  WALKING.  ALONE.  ON ANOTHER ROAD THAT HAD NO NAME TO HIM IN ANOTHER TOWN THAT WAS LIKE ALL THE OTHER TOWNS HE’S PASSED THROUGH.  CLOUDS ROLLING IN AS THE SUN WAS SETTING ON THAT WINDY AFTERNOON.  THE SIGHT OF HIM IS JUST AS VIVID NOW AS IT WAS WHEN I DROVE UP BEHIND HIM A FEW MINUTES EARLIER WHEN I GOT OFF THE INTERSTATE. 

STANDING IN THAT WINDOW WITH MY HANDS IN MY POCKETS STARING OUT AT THE GRAY CLOUDS, ALL THE CARS AND PEOPLE GOING ON ABOUT THEIR BUSY LIVES, SOME OF THEM PULLING IN TO GET GAS AT THE PHILLIPS 66 THAT WAS ATTACHED TO THE MCDONALDS.  BOOMLAND.  IT GOT THE NAME BECAUSE THEY SELL FIREWORKS THERE YEAR ROUND, BUT OF COURSE, FOURTH OF JULY IS THEIR BUSY TIME.  REEVES BOOMLAND WAS THE NAME OF THE ENTIRE BUSINESS BUT EVERYONE CALLED IT BOOMLAND.  BUT I’M SURE HARRY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS CALLED.  JUST ANOTHER PLACE FULL OF STRANGERS AND LIGHTS TO HIM.  ONE THING THAT PUZZLED ME, THOUGH……. “ WHAT HAPPENED THAT MADE HIM STOP HERE”?  “OF ALL THE PLACES ALONG I-55 IN SOUTHEAST MISSOURI…..WHY HERE”?  “AND WHY NOW”?  I DRIVE PASSED BOOMLAND ON MY WAY HOME EVERYDAY.  THE FEW TIMES I GET GAS HERE OR STOP AT MCDONALDS DRIVE-THROUGH, SO WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT TODAY?

HARRY HAD NO IDEA I WAS WATCHING HIM.  I COULD TELL BY THE WAY HE WAS WALKING EVERY STEP WAS A STRUGGLE TO THE NEXT ONE.  I WATCHED HIM TAKE STEP AFTER STEP AFTER SLOWLY MEASURED STEP.  HE WAS WALKING LIKE YOU SEE OLD FOLKS WALK DOWN THE HALL AT A NURSING HOME.  IT LOOKED LIKE EVERY STEP HE TOOK HURT.  LIKE THAT WAS HIS LAST ONE.  BUT THEN HE’D TAKE ANOTHER.  HIS ARMS FOLDED ACROSS THE BLACK PLASTIC TRASH BAG HE HAD PULLED UP TO HIS CHEST.  HIS SHOULDERS PULLED UP TRYING TO KEEP HIS COAT AS FAR UP HIS FACE AS POSSIBLE TO HELP BLOCK THE WIND.  EVERY FEW STEPS HE’D SWAGGER A BIT AS IF HE WERE ALMOST LOSING HIS BALANCE.  TO BE HONEST, IT REALLY LOOKED AS IF HE WERE LOSING THE WILL TO TAKE ANOTHER STEP.  BUT HE WOULD.

HARRY.  HARRY TEAGUE.  I CAN’T GET HIS NAME OUT OF MY MIND   I’LL NEVER FORGET THE WAY HE SAID IT. AS MANY YEARS AS I’VE BEEN ON THE AIR AND AS MANY SONGS AS I’VE PLAYED ON THE AIR, THERE ARE VERY FEW THINGS I’VEEVER HEARD THAT I REMEMBER EVERYTHING ABOUT MY LIFE AT THAT MOMENT.  THE LAST TIME I HEARD MY MOTHER, NAOMI, TELL ME SHE LOVED ME.  IT WAS ON HER DYING BED.  THERE WERE SO MANY THINGS I WANTED TO TELL HER.  OH, I TOLD HER HOW MUCH I LOVED HER, BUT THERE WERE SO MANY MORE THINGS I WANTED TO SAY AND ASK, BUT I DIDN’T.  I REMEMBER THE SOUND OF THE FIRST CRYING OF  MY FIRST DAUGHTER, JULEE, AND SECOND DAUGHTER, SUMMER.  I REMEMBER THE SOUND OF DONNA’S VOICE THE FIRST TIME I MET HER WHEN SHE INTRODUCED HERSELF TO ME IN THE LOBBY OF THE RADIO STATION WHEN SHE WAS LOOKING FOR A VOLUNTEER TO HELP WITH THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY.  AND……I REMEMBER SOME SAD TIMES, ALSO.  THE SOUND OF MY OWN VOICE WHEN I SAID HURTFUL THINGS TO MY MOTHER-IN-LAW, INA.  I’LL NEVER FORGET, NOR WILL I EVER FORGIVE MYSELF FOR THE THINGS I SAID.  I’M SO VERY PROUD THAT NOW I GET TO CALL HER MOM.  SHE’S ACTUALLY THE MOTHER OF MY FIRST WIFE, VICKI.  I’M BLESSED TO HAVE TWO MOTHER’S –IN-LAW.  MY MOTHER-IN-LAW NOW IS DONNA’S MOTHER, MAUDIE, SUCH A WONDERFUL SOFT SPOKEN LADY.  SUCH A SOFT VOICE.  SO MANY THINGS I REMEMBER HEARING THAT I’LL NEVER FORGET.  I HAVE NO IDEA WHY HARRY, HARRY TEAGUE WILL BE ONE OF THEM.

I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG I STOOD THERE WATCHING HARRY.  EVEN THOUGH IT WAS A QUARTER OF A MILE FROM THE INTERSTATE OVERPASS TO MCDONALDS, BY THE TIME I MADE MY ORDER AND WAS “COUNTING THE MINUTES” UNTIL I’D GET IT AND BE ON MY WAY, I SAW HARRY ACROSS THE ROAD FROM THE ENTRANCE TO THE PARKING LOT.  I STOOD THERE……….WATCHING……..WAITING.  I WASN’T WAITING FOR MY ORDER TO BE CALLED, THOUGH.  TO BE HONEST, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR.  I DON’T KNOW WHY I KEPT STARING.  AND I DON’T KNOW WHY I CAN’T GET HIM OUT OF MY MIND.  HE STOOD THERE ACROSS THE ROAD FROM THE ENTRANCE……JUST STANDING THERE…..LOOKING AT THE RESTAURANT.  THE GLOW OF THE YELLOW ARCHES MADE IT EASY FOR ME TO SEE FROM INSIDE WHERE IT WAS WARM.  GOD IT LOOKED COLD.  THE WIND BLOWING HARDER NOW.  SO COLD YOU COULD SEE THE STEAM FROM THE EXHAUST PIPES OF THE CARS PASSING HIM, TAKING NO MORE NOTICE OF HIM THAN IF HE WERE A STOP SIGN.

YOU’D THINK HE WOULD PUT DOWN HIS TRASH BAG.  BUT, NO.  HE JUST STOOD THERE………. “IF HE’LL COME ON INTO MCDONALDS, I’LL BUY HIM SOMETHING TO EAT”. I THOUGHT.  “I’LL JUST WAIT A FEW MINUTES FOR HIM TO COME OVER.”  BUT HE JUST STOOD THERE.  IT WAS GETTING DARKER AND COLDER BY THE MINUTE.  I LOOKED AT MY WATCH AND REALIZED I’D BEEN STANDING THERE ALMOST TEN MINUTES.  I WATCHED HARRY WALK FROM THE OVERPASS TO STAND ACROSS THE ROAD AND HADN’T EVEN REALIZED I HAVE MOVED TO DIFFERENT WINDOWS IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO KEEP HIM IN MY SIGHTS.  TEN MINUTES!  WHEN I WALKED BACK TO THE COUNTER TO PICK UP MY ORDER I COULDN’T TELL WHICH ONE WAS MINE.

“I CALLED YOUR ORDER OUT THREE TIMES.  I THOUGHT YOU LEFT”. 

“I WAS STANDING RIGHT THERE, LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW”.  “SORRY ABOUT THAT”.  SHE SAID “I DIDN’T KNOW IF YOU WERE THE ONE THAT MADE THE ORDER SO I JUST LEFT IT HERE”.

I THOUGHT TO MYSELF “IF YOU’D LOOKED UP AT ME WHEN I MADE THE ORDER YOU WOULD HAVE KNOWN”. BUT I DIDN’T.  HARRY WAS STILL ON MY MIND.  WHEN I GOT BACK TO THE WINDOW WITH MY ORDER AND WAS HEADED FOR THE DOOR, SOMETHING OCCURRED TO ME.  IT WAS AS IF HARRY WAS WATCHING ME WATCH HIM.  WHEN I TURNED TO GET MY ORDER, APPARANTLY HE TURNED AND STARTED WALKING TOWARD A SECOND HAND STORE ACROSS THE ROAD.  JUST AS I STRUGGLED TO PUSH THE DOOR OPEN AGAINST THE BLOWING WIND, I COULD SEE AN OLD CAR PULL UP NEXT TO HARRY.  I STOPPED….FEELING SOME RELIEF THAT MAYBE SOMEBODY WAS GOING TO HELP OR GIVE HIM A RIDE.  I STOOD THERE, JUST OUTSIDE THE DOOR, HOLDING MY BAGS OF MCRIBS AND FRIES, THE COLD WIND BLOWING THROUGH THE FABRIC OF MY SLACKS GIVING NO MORE PROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS THAN I WOULD HAVE IF I’D WORN ONLY BOXERS. 

I DIDN’T WANT TO LOSE SIGHT OF HARRY, THOUGH, HOPING TO SEE HIM GET IN THE CAR OR IF NOTHING ELSE, HAVE SOMETHING HANDED OUT TO HIM.  I DON’T KNOW, A BLANKET, MAYBE.  SOME MONEY……SOMETHING.  BUT THEY LEFT.  THEY WERE TOO FAR AWAY FOR ME TO HEAR THE CONVERSATION AND IT WAS GETTING HARDER FOR TO SEE WITH MY EYES WATERING FROM THE COLD WIND BLOWING IN MY FACE, BUT I COULD SEE THEM DRIVE OFF AND LEAVING HIM STANDING THERE.  ALONE.  COLD.  PROBABLY HUNGRY.  I THOUGHT TO MYSELF “HERE I AM HOLDING BAGS OF FOOD TO GO HOME AND STUFF MYSELF AND HE’S PROBABLY HUNGRY”.  I OPENED THE DOOR TO THE TRUCK, PUT THE BAGS ON THE PASSENGER SEAT, SHUT THE DOOR, THANKFUL I’D LEFT IT RUNNING WITH HEATER ON SINCE I’D BEEN STANDING IN THE COLD WIND AND WAS FREEZING.    BUT REALLY……I DON’T KNOW WHAT “FREEZING” REALLY FEELS LIKE. 

I REMEMBER ONE TIME MY STEP DAUGHTER, TRACY, WAS COMPLAINING ABOUT BEING BROKE WHEN SHE WAS IN COLLEGE.  I ASKED HER IF HER BILLS WERE PAID AND SHE SAID “YES”.  I ASKED IF SHE HAD GAS IN HER CAR.  SHE SAID “YES”.  I ASKED IF HER HEALTH WAS PRETTY GOOD. SHE SAID “YEAH, SO WHAT’S YOUR POINT”?  I TOLD HER “YOU DON’T KNOW BROKE UNTIL YOUR BILLS HAVEN’T BEEN PAID, YOU HAVE A SHUT-OFF NOTICE FOR YOUR LIGHTS, NO GROCERIES AND THREE KIDS THAT NEED SHOES AND YOU HAVE NO MONEY”.  “THAT’S BROKE”.

FREEZING…..IS NOT FREEZING….IF YOU’RE COLD AND HAVE A NICE WARM HOME TO GO TO.  OH, IT’S INCONVENIENT AND UNCOMFORTABLE, BUT IT’S NOT REALLY “FREEZING”.  HARRY WAS “FREEZING”.  IMMEDIATELY I LOOKED UP TO SEE WHAT HARRY WAS DOING.  I BACKED OUT OF THE PARKING SPOT AND DROVE TO THE INTRANCE OF THE PARKING LOT HOPING TO SEE WHERE HE’D GONE.  I COULDN’T TELL.  HE WAS THERE ONE SECOND…THE NEXT HE’S GONE! 

HERE’S WHERE MY “MOMENT OF HESITATION” CAME TO ME.  SOMETHING I’VE NEVER FELT IN ALL MY LIFE.  I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS.  SOMETHING.   SOMETHING…..AN OVERWHELMING FEELING I CAN’T EXPLAIN.  I’LL CALL IT THE “HAND OF GOD”……… ON MY SHOULDER.  I TURNED MY STEERING WHEEL LEFT AND ACTUALLY STARTED ACCELERATING.  BUT I STOPPED.  SOMETHING INSIDE ME TOLD ME TO STOP.   I KEPT STARING AT THE EMPTY PARKING LOT OF THE SECOND HAND STORE WHERE, JUST MOMENTS BEFORE, HARRY, HARRY TEAGUE STOOD, WATCHING ME….WATCH HIM.  WHAT WAS PULLING ME?  I PROMISE I CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT CAME OVER ME.  SOMETHING I’LL NEVER FORGET AS LONG AS I LIVE.  I’VE NEVER BEEN WHAT YOU’D CALL A RELIGIOUS MAN.  I WASN’T RAISED IN CHURCH.  OH, I’VE GONE TO CHURCH WHEN I WAS YOUNG.  DONNA AND I GO TO SPECIAL SERVICES FROM TIME TO TIME.  WE EVEN SING GOSPEL SONGS WHILE I PLAY GUITAR ONCE IN A WHILE….IF I’M NOT TOO TIRED. 

BUT THIS IS DIFFERENT.  IS THIS WHAT’S IT’S LIKE TO BE “TOUCHED BY GOD”?  I SAT THERE WITH MY HANDS ON THE STEERING WHEEL OF THAT GMC TRUCK, THE ROAR OF THE BLOWER, THE AROMA OF THE MCRIBS AND FRIES AND I TRIED TO GO.  I LITERALLY TRIED TO FORCE MYSELF TO PUSH THE ACCELERATOR, TURN LEFT AND GO!  BUT I COULDN’T.  “GOD, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?  GOD?  ARE YOU TALKING TO ME”?  “WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP THIS MAN”?  “I DON’T KNOW WHERE HE’S FROM OR WHERE HE’S GOING”.  “I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE HE IS NOW”. 

GRIPPING THE STEERING WHEEL TIGHTER, I PULLED WITH EVERY MUSCLE IN MY ARM TO TURN LEFT.  BUT IT WOULDN’T BUDGE.  I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M ADMITTING THIS RIGHT NOW.  TRUST ME, IF I’D HEARD ANYONE ELSE SAYING THAT I’D THINK THEY HAD NUT LOOSE IN THEIR HEAD.  “YEAHHHHH, RIGHT”.  WE’VE HEARD THOSE “BIBLE THUMPERS” TALK ABOUT THEIR EPIPHANY.  THEIR MOMENT.  THEIR “AWAKENING”.  THIS IS NOT HAPPENING TO ME.  NOT RIGHT HERE, NOT RIGHT NOW, NOT TODAY.  I’M NOTHING.  I’M A NOBODY WITH NOTHING AND A NOBODY WITH NOTHING CAN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN ANYBODY’S LIFE.

I DON’T KNOW IF IT WAS THE “HAND OF GOD”………I DON’T FEEL LIKE A BIBLE THUMPER.  I’M NOT YELLING HALLELUYAH AND PRAISE GOD AND ALL, BUT AS GOD IS MY WITNESS SOMETHING CAME OVER ME AND I COULD NOT LEAVE WITHOUT DOING SOMETHING.  I DON’T KNOW WHAT….BUT SOMETHING.  SO….TRYING AS HARD AS I COULD TO TURN LEFT….. I KEPT GOING STRAIGHT….. ACROSS THE ROAD AND INTO THE PARKING LOT OF THE SECOND HAND STORE.  WHEN I PULLED INTO THE PARKING SPOT, I SAW THE BLACK TRASH BAG LEANING AGAINST THE BUILDING NEXT TO THE DOOR.  I LEFT THE ENGINE RUNNING FOR THE HEAT, GOT OUT AND WALKED IN…..NOT REALLY KNOWING WHAT TO DO.

“MAY I HELP YOU”?   LOOKING SOMEWHAT SURPRISED THAT SOMEONE IN A NICE SUIT WOULD WALK INTO HER STORE.  JC PENNY SUITS ARE NOT LIKE THE MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE SUITS MOST MEN WEAR, BUT BEING SIX FOOT TWO, TWO HUNDRED FORTY POUNDS, WHEN I WEAR A SUIT, FOR SOME REASON PEOPLE KIND OF NOTICE.  I GUESS I DID LOOK OUT OF PLACE A LITTLE BIT. 

I WAS GLANCING AROUND THE STORE TO SEE IF I COULD SEE HIM.  FIRST TO THE LEFT…THEN TO THE RIGHT…..BUT I COULDN’T SEE HIM.  I SAW A LADY LOOKING THROUGH SOME LADIES CLOTHES.  THERE A WERE A COUPLE OF KIDS LOOKING THROUGH SOME USED TOYS AND I’M ASSUMING THE OTHER TWO KIDS BEHIND THE COUNTER WERE THE OWNER’S.

UNDER MY BREATH I TOLD HER “I’M LOOKING FOR SOMEONE THAT JUST CAME IN A COUPLE OF MINUTES AGO”.  “HAVE YOU SEEN HIM”?  SHE POINTED TO THE BACK CORNER OF THE BUILDING AND SAID “HE’S BACK THERE LOOKING AT COATS AND ASKED IF WE HAD BLANKETS”.  HIS BACK WAS TO ME, BUT HE TURNED AND LOOKED AT ME WHEN HE HEARD MY VOICE.  I TRIED TO WHISPER AND ASKED “DO YOU HAVE BLANKETS”?  SHE SAID “THERE MIGHT BE SOME BACK THERE, I REALLY DON’T KNOW”.

I TURNED AND STARTED WALKING TOWARD HARRY…….AND I COULD TELL RIGHT AWAY…….SOMETHING SCARED HIM.  IT WAS ME.  HE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW MY NAME OR WHAT I WAS DOING THERE BUT HE KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT ME THAT JUST DIDN’T FIT.  HE HUNG UP THE COAT HE WAS TRYING TO PUT ON OVER THE COATS HE HAD ON.  I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WAS PUSHING ME. BY THE TIME I GOT BACK TO THE SAME CORNER, HE WAS TRYING TO ACT AS IF HE HADN’T NOTICED ME AND WAS STARTING TO WALK DOWN ANOTHER AISLE TOWARD THE FRONT DOOR.  I FELT PITY FOR HIM FOR BEING INTIMIDATED BY ME, BUT I WASN’T TRYING TO LOOK OR SEEM LIKE SOMEONE OF AUTHORITY.  I’M SURE YOU WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO TELL HIM THAT, THOUGH.

“HOW ARE YOU DOING”?  I ASKED IN A PITCH THAT TRIED TO SOUND MORE LIKE A FRIEND THAN SOMEONE OF AUTHORITY.  “YOU FINDIN’ EVERYHTING YOU NEED”?  “WATCHA  LOOKIN’ FOR”?    HE NEVER LOOKED AT ME….ONLY THE RACK OF USED COATS IN VARIOUS SIZES AND SAID “OH, JUS’ TRYIN TO FIND ME A COAT HERE”. 

“ANY LUCK”?  TRYING TO LOOK LIKE MAYBE I WAS LOOKING FOR A COAT, ALSO.  “NOT TOO GOOD OF A SELECTION OF EM HERE….SPECIALLY FOR BIG FELLAS LIKE YOU AN ME”.  “I’M RICK”………I HELD OUT MY HAND TO SHAKE HIS HAND…..AND HE LOOKED INTO ME.  FOR THE FIRST TIME……HE LOOKED INTO ME…….BLUE EYES…….THE BLUEST EYES I THINK I’VE EVER SEEN OTHER THAN DONNA’S.  I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M SURPRISED….BUT SEEING THIS MAN……THIS HOMELESS MAN……TATTERED CLOTHES……WORN OUT JEANS…….SOCK CAP ON HIS HEAD……GRAY THINNING BEARD…..RED CHAPPED FACE AND RUNNY NOSE……AND BLUE EYES.  AND HE LOOKED INTO ME.  HE DIDN’T LOOK AT ME.  HE LOOKED INTO ME.  I FELT HIM LOOK INTO MY SOUL.   THIS TOTAL STRANGER SOMEHOW LOOKED INTO MY SOUL.

“HARRY……….HARRY TEAGUE.”  I THOUGHT HIS HAND WOULD BE MUCH BIGGER THAN THE ONE HE HELD OUT.  SMALLER THAN AVERAGE, COLD AND WEAK, HE SHOOK MY HAND.  “GLAD TO MEETCHA, HARRY”.  “LET’S SEE IF WE CAN FIND ONE TO FIT YA, WHADDAYA THINK”?  I THINK HE WAS STARTING TO FEEL A LITTLE MORE COMFORTABLE WITH ME AND SAID “OK, SOUNDS GOOD TO ME”.

“YOU’RE A PRETTY BIG FELLA, WHADDAYA SAY WE LOOK AT THESE BIGGER COATS HERE OR MAYBE A CAMOFLOUGE JACKET HERE? THEY LOOK PRETTY WARM”.  HE SAID “OH, I DON’T KNOW….I PROBLY CAN’T WEAR EM CAUSE THESE HERE ARE SOMETHIN’ SOMEBODY WOULD WEAR IF THEY WAS WORKIN AND I AINT’ GOT NOT JOB AN PEOPLE MIGHT NOT THINK THAT’S SO GOOD”.

“OH, I WOULDN’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK.  I NEVER WORRY ABOUT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT ME”.  HE SAID “WELL, I WAS LOOKIN AT SOMETHIN LIKE THIS ONE”, HOLDING UP A USED METALLIC BLUE DOWN FILLED COAT.  “YOU SURE THAT’LL FIT?  YOU’RE A PRETTY BIG MAN LIKE ME”.  

HE STARTED PULLING OFF HIS DIRTY OLD COATS “I GOTTA GIT ME SOMETHIN THAT’LL BUTTON UP.  I BURNED THESE IN A DRYER ONCE AND THE FEATHERS ALL COME OUT AND THEY DON’T ZIP NO MORE.  I WAS TRYIN TO GIT UP TO SCOTT CITY TO THAT TRUCK STOP BUT IT GOT TOO COLD.  I WAS GONNA TRY AN FIND ME SOMETHIN WARM”.  THE FIRST COAT HE REMOVED WAS NOTHING MORE THAN THE SHELL OF A FORMER DOWN JACKET.  THERE WERE NO FEATHERS AND THE ZIPPER WAS COMPLETELY GONE.  THE SECOND COAT HE REMOVED WAS IN EVEN WORSE SHAPE THAN THE FIRST.  HE WAS DOWN TO HIS AVACADO GREEN PULLOVER SWEATER.  IT WAS OBVIOUS HE HADN’T BATHED IN A VERY LONG TIME, BUT I WOULDN’T LET HIM KNOW I COULD TELL.  HIS OLD COATS CRUMPLED ON THE FLOOR LIKE EMPTY POTATO SACKS.

“I THINK THIS ONE WILL FIT ME REAL GOOD”, PULLING THE SLEEVE UP HIS ARM AND ACROSS HIS SHOULDERS AND FINALLY PUSHING HIS OTHER ARM THROUGH THE OTHER SLEEVE.  HE STRUGGLED A LITTLE TO GET THE ZIPPER STARTED AND UP OVER HIS STOMACH AND CHEST AND ALL THE WAY UP TO UNDER HIS BEARD. 

THE WAY HIS EYES BEAMED AND HE SMILED WITH PRIDE LEFT ME SPEECHLESS.  EVEN THOUGH THE LENSES OF HIS OLD GLASSES HAD YELLOWED WITH AGE AND ABUSE, YOU COULD SEE HIS BLUE EYES SPARKLE.  THAT WAS WHEN I SAW HOW DECAYED HIS TEETH WERE AND COULD ONLY IMAGINE THE PAIN HE WAS FEELING FROM LACK OF DENTAL CARE.  THEN THE THOUGHT RAN THROUGH MY MIND OF HIS HEALTH, REMEMBERING HOW HARD IT WAS FOR HIM TO WALK.  I LOOKED DOWN TO HIS BOOTS. 

“HOW BOUT YOUR JEANS AND BOOTS, YOU NEED SOME NEW JEANS”?  HE LOOKED DOWN AND BRUSHED THE FRONT AND SAID “NAW, NOT REALLY, I GOT TWO OTHER PAIR ON UNDER THESE AND MY BOOTS ARE PRETTY NEW”.  I COULD TELL THEY WEREN’T NEW, BUT STILL VERY GOOD CONDITIONED ARMY SURPLUS BOOTS.  “SOCKS?  HOW BOUT SOME NEW SOCKS”?  HE LOOKED AT ME AND SAID “NAW, MINES PRETTY GOOD”.

I REALIZED THEN THAT I WAS EMBARRASSING HIM, MAKING IT OBVIOUS I WASN’T THERE TO BUY CLOTHES FOR MYSELF.  HE SAID “I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW MUCH THIS HERE COAT IS”.  I QUICKLY GLANCED FOR PRICE SIGNS AND TAGS ON SOME OF THE OTHER COATS AND NOTICED SOME WERE BLUE AND SOME WERE ORANGE.  I SAW THE ORANGE TAG OF THE COAT HE PUT ON WHILE HE WAS PUTTING IT ON AND SAID “WELL, LEMME SEE IF THERE’S A TAG ON IT.  SOME OF THESE ARE FREE SO IT MIGHT HAVE AN ORANGE TAG ON IT”.  I REACHED BEHIND HIS HEAD, DOWN TO THE TAG INSIDE THE COAT AND PULLED THE TAG OFF.  “OH, LOOK HERE, IT’S GOT AN ORANGE TAG ON IT, AIN’T THAT SOMTHIN’?  THAT MEANS IT’S FREE.  LOOK HERE IT’S EVEN GOT A HOOD ROLLED UP IN THE COLLAR”.  I OPENED THE COLLAR AND UNROLLED THE HOOD AND PULLED IT UP OVER HIS SOCK CAP.  “THAT’LL KEEP MY HEAD DRY WHEN IT RAINS.  THAT’S GOOD.”  WITH THAT, HE PICKED HIS OLD COATS UP AND PULLED THEM ON OVER HIS NEW COAT.  “HAVIN ALL THESE LAYERS HELPS, BUT MY FEATHERS ALL COME OUT OF MY OLD COATS”.

“WHEN’S THE LAST TIME  YOU HAD SOMETHIN TO EAT, HARRY”?   I ASKED, TRYING TO GET THE SUBJECT OFF THE PRICE OF THE COAT.  “I HAD ME A CHEESE SANDWICH EARLY THIS MORNIN”.  I SAID “WELL HOW BOUT LETTIN’ ME GETCHA SOMETHING TO EAT OVER AT MCDONALDS?  YOU FEEL LIKE EATIN’ SOMETHIN”?  HE SAID “THAT SURE SOUNDS GOOD TO ME”.  “WELL WHY DONCHA PUT YOUR STUFF IN THE BACK OF MY TRUCK OUT THERE AND WE’LL GO GET US SOMETHIN’ TO EAT”.  I GOT TO THE PASSENGER SIDE FIRST AND PUT THE BAGS I HAD UP ON THE DASH ON THE DRIVERS SIDE AND GRABBED MY BRIEFCASE.  I TOLD HIM TO HAVE A SEAT AND GET WARM.  “YA KNOW WHAT, I FORGOT TO DO SOMETHIN’ IN THE STORE, I’LL BE RIGHT BACK.  YOU HOP IN AND GET WARM OK”?

IT WAS THEN I REALIZED HOW HE WAS ACTING.  FOLLOWING MY DIRECTIONS WITHOUT QUESTION.  HE HAD NO IDEA WHO THIS PERSON IS, YET HE WAS DOING AS I TOLD.  I DIDN’T MEAN TO SOUND LIKE I WAS ORDERING HIM AROUND, I GUESS HE WAS USED TO BEING OBEDIENT TO THOSE HE CONSIDERED TO HAVE AUTHORITY AND HAD NO PROBLEM WITH DOING WHAT I TOLD HIM TO DO.  I WENT BACK INTO THE SECOND HAND STORE TO PAY FOR HIS COAT.  I DIDN’T WANT TO WRITE A CHECK BUT HAD NO CHOICE SINCE THEY DIDN’T TAKE DEBIT CARDS.  TO BE HONEST, I DIDN’T WANT THE OWNERS TO KNOW WHO I WAS.  I HAD MORE ATTENTION THAN I REALLY WANTED ANYWAY.  LIKE I SAID, WHEN YOU’RE SIX FOOT TWO, DEEP, RECOGNIZABLE VOICE AND DRESSED IN A SUIT AND TIE IN A SECOND HAND STORE, YOU HAVE A TENDENCY TO BE NOTICED. 

“DO YOU KNOW WHERE HE’S GOING”?  ASKED THE OWNER AS I HANDED HER MY CHECK.  “ALL I KNOW IS HE’S TRYING TO GET TO THE TRUCK STOP IN SCOTT CITY”.  “I’VE GOT A FRIEND WITH THE SHERRIF’S DEPARTMENT WE CAN CALL TO HELP GET HIM TO SCOTT CITY”.  I TOLD THEM I WAS TAKING HIM ACROSS THE ROAD TO MCDONALDS TO GET HIM SOMETHING TO EAT. 

“WHAT’S GOIN ON IN SCOTT CITY”? I ASKED AS I WAS BACKING OUT AND DRIVING ACROSS THE PARKING LOT TOWARD MCDONALDS.  HE SAID “I THINK THERE’S A PLACE I CAN STAY AND MAYBE GET ME A RIDE UP TO MICHIGAN”.   TRYING NOT TO SOUND LIKE A POLICEMAN I ASKED “OH?  WHERE YA BEEN, OUT ON THE ROAD?”  “YEAH…..BEEN DOWN TO ALABAMA…..JUST TRYIN TO GIT BACK HOME”.

IT WAS IRONIC THE PARKING SPOT RIGHT NEXT TO THE DOOR WAS OPEN SO I PULLED IN AND WE GOT OUT.  HARRY GRABBED HIS TRASHBAG OF BELONGINGS AND HIS BACKPACK.  BUT JUST BEFORE WE GOT TO THE DOOR HE SAID “I CAN’T GO INTO NO MCDONALDS”.  I ASKED “WHY NOT?  WE’RE GONNA GET SOMETHIN TO EAT”. 

“THEY TOLD ME I CAN’T GO BACK INTO NO MCDONALDS”, LOOKING AT ME THROUGH THOSE OLD GLASSES WITH THOSE BLUE EYES………AND MY HEART SANK.  I’VE NEVER FELT SO HUMBLED IN ALL MY LIFE.  WAS GOD’S HAND ON MY SHOULDER AGAIN?  WHAT WAS I FEELING?  I FELT SO SMALL…….SO INSIGNIFICANT…..SO HELPLESS…..BUT AT THE SAME TIME I WAS  ANGRY.  I FELT SO MUCH ANGER RIGHT THEN I COULD HAVE WRESTLED A BEAR AND THEN FIGHT ANYONE ELSE THAT WOULD TRY TO STOP US FROM GOING INTO MCDONALDS.  “YOU KNOW WHAT, HARRY?  YOU’RE WITH ME….AND AIN’T NOBODY GONNA STOP US FROM GOIN IN AND GETTING SOMETHIN TO EAT!  YOU’RE MY FRIEND AND WE’RE GOIN IN TO GET US SOMETHIN TO EAT”.  I WALKED THROUGH THAT DOOR OF MCDONALDS LIKE I OWNED THE PLACE AND HARRY WALKED RIGHT BEHIND ME LIKE HE WAS THE FRIEND OF THE MAN THAT OWNED THAT PLACE.  “I’LL FIND ME A PLACE BACK THERE AN PUT MY STUFF”.  HE STARTED WALKING TOWARD THE BACK POINTING TO A BOOTH BY THE RESTROOM.

“NOPE…….AIN’T NOBODY GONNA MAKE US SIT IN THE BACK, HARRY.  WE’RE GONNA SIT RIGHT HERE, RIGHT UP FRONT.  HERE PUT YOUR BELONGINGS RIGHT HERE IN THIS BOOTH AND LET’S GO ORDER US SOMETHIN.”  WE GOT TO THE COUNTER AND THE SAME YOUNG LADY THAT WAITED ON ME EARLIER CAME TO TAKE OUR ORDER…….THIS TIME…..NOTICING BOTH HARRY AND ME.  I COULD TELL SHE REMEMBERED ME FROM EARLIER, BUT SHE STILL SAID “WELCOME TO MCDONALDS, MAY I TAKE YOUR ODER”?  HARRY LOOKED AT ME……NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY…….SO I SAID “HARRY AND ME ARE GONNA GET SOMETHIN’ TO EAT…….WATCHA WANT, HARRY?” 

I DON’T KNOW IF IT’S BECAUSE HE COULDN’T SEE THE SIGN THROUGH HIS GLASSES OR DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO READ, BUT HE SIMPLY SAID “I’LL HAVE ME A HAMBURGER AN A CUP OF COFFEE”, AND LOOKED AT ME AS IF TO BE LOOKING FOR APPROVAL……… “YOU KNOW WHAT?  FORGET THE HAMBURGER…HOW ABOUT THREE OF THEM DOUBLE QUARTER POUDERS, A COUPLE A CHEESEBURGERS AND A GREAT BIG CUP OF COFFEE?  IS THAT WANT YOU WANT TO DRINK, HARRY?  A BIG CUP OF COFFEE”?  HIS BLUE EYES SHINING AS HE LOOKED OVER THE RIM OF HIS GLASSES, HE SMILED AND SAID “SOUNDS GOOD TO ME”.  “ME, TOO”.  WE STOOD THERE A FEW SECONDS SMILING….GOD I COULD FEEL HIM LOOKING INTO MY SOUL.  HARRY….HARRY TEAGUE.

“I’LL TELL YA WHAT, HARRY, I NEED TO RUN INTO THE STORE AND GET SOMETHING, WHY DON’T YOU GRAB OUR BAG WHEN IT COMES UP AND I’LL BE RIGHT BACK.  TRYING TO THINK OF SOMETHING I COULD GET HIM THAT WOULD BE EASY TO EAT.  IT JUST SO HAPPENS REEVES BOOMLAND IS SORT OF A MIN-STORE WITH LOTS OF STUFF.  I FOUND PORK AND BEANS, BEANIE WEENIES, MAC AND CHEEZE….ALL WITH THE PULL OFF TOP THAT’S EASY TO OPEN.  I GRABBED A LOAF OF BREAD AND SOME COTTON GLOVES.  I ASKED THE LADY CHECKING ME OUT TO TRIPLE BAG THE ORDER, BECAUSE I KNEW HE’D BE USING THAT TO CARRY IT ALL IN UNTIL IT’S GONE.

NOW…..I ASSUMED HARRY WOULD BE SITTING WHERE WE LEFT HIS BAGS AT THE BOOTH, BUT WHEN I WALKED BACK INTO MCDONALDS….HE WAS GONE.  MY FIRST THOUGHT WAS “BOY FOR SOMEBODY THAT MOVES AS SLOW AS HE DOES, HE SURE GOT OUT OF THERE IN A HURRY”.  A YOUNG MAN THAT WORKED AT MCDONALDS ASKED “YOU LOOKING FOR THAT OLD MAN?  HE’S RIGHT OUT THERE, NODDING TOWARD THE FRONT OF THE STATION”.  I LOOKED OUT THE WINDOW AND THERE HE WAS…….STANDING IN FRONT OF THE BUILDING….HIS BAGS AT HIS FEET…..HOLDING A MCDONALDS SACK WITH ONE HAND AND A CUP OF COFFEE WITH THE OTHER……TRYING TO SHIELD HIMSELF FROM THE WIND.  I WATCHED FOR A MOMENT.  IT WAS AS IF HE HAD JUST WOKEN UP AND DIDN’T KNOW WHAT HE WAS DOING THERE HOLDING A MCDONALDS SACK AND COFFEE.  HE STOOD THERE LIKE THAT WAS WHERE HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE STANDING….WITH NO OTHER PURPOSE IN THE WORLD THAN TO STAND THERE HOLDING A MCDONALDS SACK AND A CUP OF COFFEE.

I WALKED OUTSIDE AND SAID “HARRY, WATCHA DOIN?  DONCHA WANNA EAT IN THERE WHERE IT’S WARM”?  “THEY TOLD ME I CAN’T GO BACK IN NO MCDONALDS.  I AIN’T SPOSED TO BE IN THERE”.  “HARRY, YOU’RE MY FRIEND AND I DON’T LET MY FRIENDS EAT OUT IN THE COLD.  C’MON, LET’S GO BACK IN AND EAT, OK”?  HE LOOKED INTO ME AGAIN……TRUSTING ME…I PICKED UP HIS BAGS AND HE FOLLOWED ME BACK IN TO “OUR BOOTH”.

HE SAT DOWN ACROSS FROM ME AND I OPENED THE BAG AND PULLED OUT A QUARTER POUNDER AND A CHEESE BURGER.  HANDING HIM THE QUARTER POUNDER I ASKED “HOW’S THAT COFFEE”?…… “GOOD AN WARM”, HE SAID SMILING AT ME AND HE STARTED EATING HIS QUARTER POUNDER.

I OPENED THE BAG OF FOOD I BOUGHT IN THE STORE.  “LOOK HERE, HARRY, I GOT YOU SOME FOOD THAT WON’T SPOIL.  ALL YOU DO IS PULL THIS TAB AND OPEN THE CAN.  I’LL GO GET YOU SOME SPOONS”, BUT THE KID THAT TOLD ME WHERE HE WAS JUMPED UP FROM HIS SEAT AND SAID “I’LL GET EM”.  I MET HIM BESIDE THE COUNTER AND AS HE HANDED THEM TO ME, I TOLD HIM “I THINK A SHERRIFF’S DEPUTY IS GOING TO TAKE HIM TO SCOTT CITY”.  HE SAID “I HAVEN’T HEARD IT CALLED IN, YET.  BUT THERE’S A SHERRIFF’S DEPUTY DRIVING THAT WHITE PICK-UP ACROSS THE ROAD”, POINTING BACK OVER TO THE SECOND HAND STORE.  HE PATTED HIS JEANS POCKET AND SAID “I’M A CADET AND I HAVE A HAND SCANNER”. 

I SAT DOWN  AT THE BOOTH WITH HARRY……..I FINISHED MY CHEESEBURGER WHILE HE ATE HIS QUARTER POUNDER………WE JUST SAT….WITHOUT TALKING….FOR A FEW MINUTES.  I REACHED INTO MY POCKET AND PULLED OUT THIRTY DOLLARS, FOLDED IT UP AND PUT IT IN HARRY’S HAND AND CLOSED HIS HAND AROUND IT.  I STOOD UP AND SAID, “HARRY, I’M GONNA RUN…..LISTEN, YOU TAKE THIS MONEY…..AND I’M GONNA SEE IF I CAN GO GET YOU A RIDE TO SCOTT CITY, IS THAT OK”?………. HE JUST LOOKED INTO ME……HE DIDN’T SAY A WORD.  “YOU TAKE YOUR TIME EATING….I DON’T WANT YOU TO RUSH…..YOU GET GOOD AND WARM, OK”?………… “YOU’RE MY FRIEND, HARRY, AND THEY’RE NOT GONNA MAKE YOU LEAVE UNTIL YOU’RE WARM, OK”?

HE KEPT LOOKING INTO ME WITH THOSE BLUE EYES.  HE KNEW HE’D NEVER SEE ME AGAIN………BUT HE SMILED AND NODDED AS IF WE’D BE SEEING EACH OTHER AGAIN.  HE DIDN’T SAY GOODBYE……..MAYBE HE DIDN’T NEED TO….MAYBE HE DIDN’T WANT TO SAY GOOBYE TO A FRIEND. 

I LOOKED AT THE KID……HE NODDED…..AND I TURNED AND WALKED OUT……WALKING INTO THE COLD WIND BACK TO THE TRUCK…..I GOT IN……PUT MY HANDS ON THE STEERING WHEEL……..BOWED MY HEAD…….AND CRIED THE TEARS I HAD BARELY HELD BACK FROM THE MOMENT I HEARD HIM TELL ME HIS NAME.  I DON’T KNOW IF I CRIED OUT OF PITY FOR HARRY……OR PITY FOR ME.  I DON’T KNOW WHEN I’VE EVER FELT SO HELPLESS AND SO HUMBLE BECAUSE I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT ELSE I COULD DO FOR HIM AND I FELT LIKE I WAS LETTING HIM DOWN.  I DON’T KNOW WHEN I’VE EVER FELT SO SAD….AND I DON’T KNOW WHEN I’VE EVER CRIED SO HARD.

NOW, I CAN HONESTLY SAY……..SOMEONE LIKE ME…….HAS BEEN TOUCHED…..BY THE HAND OF GOD…….THANKS TO AN ANGEL…..AN ANGEL OF GOD…..NAMED “HARRY……HARRY TEAGUE”.

SOMETHING INSIDE OF ME, THOUGH………A VOICE TELLING ME……..THIS WON’T BE THE LAST TIME I’LL EVER FEEL THE HAND OF GOD ON MY SHOULDER……BUT I’M NOT SURE I’M WORTHY. 

DEAR LORD………..WILL I EVER?

Posted by Rick Sinclair in 21:23:07 | Permalink | No Comments »

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

“HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN ON THE MARKET?”

One of the most recurring questions Realtors get is “How long has it been on the market?” or “How many days has it been for sale?”  When I’m asked this question I try to explain there are many ways to answer that question.  First of all, I can tell you how many days the current Listing Agreement has been in effect.  If the Realtor has a Listing Agreement that’s under a six month contract, the count started on day one.  If that Listing Agreement has been extended, the count continues.  However, if the Listing Agreement is allowed to expire and a NEW Listing Agreement is written, the count STARTS OVER. Since so many people ask the question “How many days has it been on the market?”, most Realtor’s will write a NEW Listing Agreement to take affect the day AFTER the old Listing Agreement expires.

Also, if the Listing Agreement was with another Broker prior to the current Listing Agreement, there’s no way to know how many days it was on the market before.  Besides that, there may have been a “For Sale By Owner” sign in front of the property prior to that!  One should try to consider All Property is ALWAYS on the Market.  I asked a friend of mine one time if his home was for sale.  He replied “No, if it were, you would have it listed.”  I asked “If someone knocked on your door and offered you a MILLION DOLLARS….would you take it?”  He said “ABSOLUTELY!!!!”  “Then your home is on the market!”  ALL PROPERTY IS ALWAYS ON THE MARKET….IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT!

Also, this is a very different Real Estate Market than it was four or five years ago!  Not so long ago Real Estate was moving quite a bit faster and there weren’t NEARLY as many foreclosures to choose from.  This is a BUYER’S market which means there are a LOT more buyers than there are Sellers!  If Supply is greater than Demand….then homes are going take longer to sell.  Does that mean something’s wrong?  No.  It simply means the right buyer hasn’t come along, yet! 

Don’t try to count the days it’s been on Market….it’s not a realistic number.  Rather, concentrate on the home it’self and whether the price, location and amenaties fit your needs.

Posted by Rick Sinclair in 22:20:49 | Permalink | Comments (19)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Search for a LENDER before searching for a REALTOR!!!

 

I’ve said many times before, if you’re shopping for a new suit, a new car…..even weekly groceries…..the FIRST thing you need to know is your budget limit and all the costs involved.  Ok, the costs involved with buying  a suit or groceries is pretty much done with the checkout and then the gas it takes to get them home.  However, buying a new car is different.  You have to consider the taxes due when you get your license plates and insurance for you and your family, then the costs of maintenance, gas, tires and general cleaning.  Unless you’re paying cash, you also have to consider the interest you’re paying the Lender for financing the car.  If you don’t consider ALL costs involved, you can sometimes get in over your head before realizing you made a mistake.

Sometimes, first-time homebuyers almost always make a few mistakes when buying their first home. They don’t take a few important steps to prevent paying too much, choose the wrong type of mortgage or neglect to budget for needed home improvements.  Working with a trustworthy, experienced lender FIRST can help prevent such mistakes. But you also need to take responsibility for your budgets and choices. 

Here are the four biggest financial mistakes of first-time homebuyers: 

1. Spending the Maximum on Housing

Lenders qualify buyers based on their incomes and debt-to-income ratios without considering how much the borrowers spend on items such as transportation, savings, food and other necessities.  A lot of first-time buyers are optimistic about the future and excited about buying a home, so they want borrow the absolute maximum they can afford instead of allowing themselves wiggle room for a partial loss of income or for future expenses such as a growing family.  Financial experts recommend that consumers decide how much they want to spend each month on housing before meeting with a lender.

  2. Not Getting Prequalified Early Enough 

Meeting with a lender for a buyer consultation and prequalification for a mortgage should be the FIRST STEP…..even before you start looking for a home. Yet many first-time homebuyers wait until they’ve looked at quite a few homes and contacted a Realtor BEFORE they contact a lender.  It’s never too early to set up a free buyer consultation with a lender.  Every buyer needs to get prequalified early enough in the process so that they can make some changes if they need to or correct errors on their credit report.

Some buyers may need to spend up to a year saving more money, increasing their incomes or cleaning up their credit before making an offer on a home.  A buyer consultation should include creating long-term financial goals and strategies for buying property.  Trust me, in the beginning, your Lender can save you a lot of headache and heartache while searching for your first home. 

3. Misunderstanding the Importance of a High Credit Score 

Most of you know it’s important to have a high credit score, however, not everyone understands how costly a low score can be.  All mortgage lending is done with a tier of interest rates and terms based on consumer credit scores.  A credit score of 720 or above will earn you the best rates and can potentially save you thousands of dollars.  A score of 680 to 720 can get you good mortgage rates, while a FICO score of 620 is usually about the lowest score to qualify for most loans.  Don’t go to consumer sites to get “your own” credit score.  Please don’t be afraid to contact a lender to learn about credit scores the minute you consider looking for your first home.   Even after a mortgage approval, don’t apply for new credit or take on new debt, because a second credit check is often required before settlement.

  4. Choosing the Wrong Mortgage Product

First-time homebuyers today typically choose a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage because….well, that’s what Mom and Dad had for their home mortgage.  Their conservatism is a reaction to stories about the dangers of interest-only mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages. 

However, home loan alternatives to a 30-year-fixed sometimes make more sense. For example, buyers certain they will be relocated by their companies within five years may find a 5/1 ARM could be a much better mortgage.  Also, statistically, people sell their home and buy another home every 5-7 years due to lifestyle changes, changes in income or changes in family size.  There’s no reason to pay a premium for a product you don’t need like a 30-year loan.

Homebuyers eager to build equity in their homes or who are older and want to live mortgage-free in retirement should consider a 15-year fixed-rate loan or, if they can afford it, even a 10-year mortgage to reach their goals.  The main point I’m trying to convey is to TALK TO YOUR LENDER about your future plans and where you want to be!

Now that you have a Lender, you’re pre-qualified and know the price range of the home you’re looking for, your NEXT step is to find a Realtor.  That’s where I come in.  In my next post, I’ll try to answer some questions you should be ready to ask of your Realtor to see if he or she is right for YOU!

In the meantime, if you have a comment or question, please feel free to contact me.  I’m Rick Sinclair, Broker/Sales, Century 21 Ashland Realty in Cape Girardeau.  I’d love to be your Realtor for Life……I’m here to help.

Posted by Rick Sinclair in 18:14:05 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What should I be ASKING??????

I’ve discovered a very simple fact.  More often than not, First Time Homebuyers don’t get past the “search” phase, not because they don’t know WHO to ask, rather, they don’t know WHAT to ask.  As I’ve stated many times before, MOST Realtors like to use their “realty jargon” to look important or smart and will turn new prospective clients away before they even get a chance to earn their loyalty.

As a First Time Homebuyer, no doubt you have LOTS of questions.  Unfortunately, though, even though you have questions, do you get the feeling you’re not sure what those questions should be?  I don’t blame you.  I remember back when I was renting, my first taste of searching for a home was noticing a “For Sale” sign in a front yard with a Realty Company logo and phone number.  So…….thinking to myself, “I’m gonna see if I can buy this house.”

It didn’t take but about one minute on the phone with a Realtor using words like “points” and “contracts” and “disclosures” and “interest rates” and “brokerage representations” that I kindly said “uhhhhhh….okayyyyy….thanks.” and hung up.  No WONDER renters remain renters!  First month, last month and security deposit are very, very EASY to understand. 

You’ll save yourself a LOT of frustration if you’ll look for a Realtor BEFORE looking for a home.  Your Realtor should be willing to take time to answer any and ALL questions and even be prepared to offer answers to questions you didn’t KNOW you should be asking.  Even if your only question at this point is “What should be the FIRST thing I do to buy a home?”  You hire your Realtor to represent you, search for and get information for a home, schedule an appointment to see that home, make an offer and protect you through the buying process.  Your Realtor works for YOU and you should feel very comfortable with your Realtor.

I believe in being a “Realtor for Life”.  Statistcally, homeowners buy and sell homes every 5 to 7 years as their jobs and lifestyle changes.  There’s no reason in the world why your Realtor can’t be there for you for YEARS to come and even be your family Realtor for your kids!  I mean, after all, you’ll have a family dentist, doctor, lawyer and even Minister.  You don’t have to find a new Realtor every time you buy or sell a home. 

I have some very HELPFUL information and questions you should be asking your Realtor I’ll post in the next couple of days.  I hope you’ll return real soon and leave a comment or question.  I’m Rick Sinclair.  Your “Realtor for Life!”

Posted by Rick Sinclair in 22:56:40 | Permalink | No Comments »

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let’s Talk More……..

Thanks for checking back in.  As promised, I’ll be writing more about what’s going on, however, finding it difficult to know which direction to go when I do write.  As my wife, Donna, has told me countless times, “Rick, your life is an open book when you’re on the air.”  I’m not sure if I should lean too much toward “personal life” or “professional life” when I post.  I guess I should leave that up to you.  You’re welcome to leave a comment or ask a question and I’ll be more than happy to respond.

Where do I draw the line from being too personal and too professional?  Yes, I am an open book when it comes to my personal life.  I don’t talk about aches and pains and I DO NOT talk about Politics or Religion.  I was always taught when you’re in someone else’s home, you don’t talk of those and even though I guess you could call my blog more of my “home”, I still won’t talk about those topics with “guests”. 

That being said, I was thinking last night about splitting the difference.  Each time I write, I’ll comment about my personal life and I’ll comment about my professional life.  Keep in mind, however, I have two professions.  I’ve been in the broadcast industry for almost 30 years now and a Real Estate Broker for 6 years, so I’ll try to be careful not to bore you too much!

PERSONAL:  Relocating back to Southeast Missouri from Jefferson City has not been an easy thing to do.  First of all, Donna and I have our home on the market in Jefferson City.  I miss her terribly not being with her every day and realize how much I DISLIKE being alone.  Just about everything I do, I find myself thinking “I wish Donna were here.”  But our love for each other is strong and we both have faith our home will sell soon so that we can get our lives back together….in OUR NEW HOME in Cape Girardeau.  In the meantime, I go home when I can and Donna comes here when she can and the three of us…..Donna, DJ, our Shih Tzu, and I are a family again when we’re together.

PROFFESSIONAL:  The other day I offered advice when I was asked “Should I put new siding on my home to increase the value of my home?”  My reply……..”NO!”

After asking a few questions about the situation, I learned there was nothing “wrong” with the siding that a good power wash wouldn’t take care of.  She was approached by a “siding company” that knocked on her door and told her she could increase the value of her home with new siding.

I had to ask a few questions:

  1. Is your home currently listed with a Realtor?
  2. Is there anything wrong with the siding on your home right now?
  3. If you DIDN’T replace the siding on your home, would your home go DOWN in value?
  4. What was the motive of the “salesman”?

Replacing the siding on your home does NOT increase the “value”, however, it WILL increase the marketability of your home.  First of all, unless your home is currently listed with a Realtor….I wouldn’t worry too much about the market value of your home.  People all cross the country are worried about property values being low right now…….okay…..unless you are trying to sell your home through a Realtor…….don’t worry about property values being low….because the values WILL COME BACK UP! 

Look……just because the value of gold is at an all time high…..does that mean you’re going to pull off your wedding band and sell it?  No.   On the other hand….if the price of gold drops….which it WILL….does that mean your wedding band is LESS valuable to YOU?  No.  Then don’t worry about the average price of Real Estate unless you have your home listed with a Realtor.

By the way….if you notice, I’m not saying “unless your home is for sale”……property is ALWAYS for sale.  If someone offered you one MILLION DOLLARS for your home right now, would you take it?  Of COURSE you would!  So….property is ALWAYS for sale……if someone has the money.  But you’re not really serious about selling your home until you’ve listed your home with a Realtor and have it on the Mulitiple Listing Service.

Putting new siding on your home WILL, however, increase the “marketability” of your home.  If your home is one of 3 homes on your street that are listed with a Realtor…..when people drive down the street comparing your home to the others…..it will certainly stand out as being the one of which they’re “more likely” to make an offer.  But it they won’t be “more likely” to make a bigger offer because it has new siding.

If you really want to increase the value of your home…….two words……KITCHEN and BATHROOM!!!!  Upgrades in your kitchen….new cabinets, appliances, counter tops, sinks, floor and lighting.  And bathroom upgrades with new toilet, sink, vanity and tub inclosure will actually get a return on your investment! 

So unless your home seriously NEEDS new siding…..I would rather see you invest your money that will get a RETURN on that investment!  If you’d like to know more, I’m certainly available at my office in Cape Girardeau, MO.  Century 21 Ashland Realty.  I can be reached through my website www.ricksinclair.com

Hope you leave a comment or two and check back often!

Posted by Rick Sinclair in 17:49:15 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Same Name……New Location!

Catching up after quite a few months away.  I’m now Broker/Realtor with Century 21 Ashland Realty in Cape Girardeau.  Yes, still on the air on Pure Country, C-106.1, in Cape Girardeau, also.  Yes, I STILL live in Jefferson City and commute home on the weekends that time allows and my wife, Donna, commutes to Southeast Missouri when she can.

I hope you’ll continue to check back again, as I’ll be posting more often about what’s happening in Southeast Missouri in the Real Estate industry and what Pure Country, C-106.1 is doing in the communities.   Once Donna and I get our home sold in Jefferson City and we’ve made an offer on a home here in Cape Girardeau, we’ll be busy moving.  In the meantime, I’m staying with my first wife’s parents, Bill and Ina Dollins, in Morley…….I know….long story.  Right now, I’ll tell you they are such GOOD people to open their lives and home to me and welcome Donna into the family.  I owe them so much…..and I’ll talk more about them in the months to come.

In the meantime, if there are ANY questions you have about Real Estate, Buying a home, Selling a home or commercial property, I’ll be more than happy to help.  I’m very easy to find.  ricksinclair@ricksinclair.com or www.ricksinclair.com .

Posted by Rick Sinclair in 17:57:25 | Permalink | Comments (8)