They all look alike…………

The ha-ha inside joke white people share, “they all look alike”

all look alike

Here is the truth ….. they all do look alike

police

 

So, if you think you can discern how people act based on a your perception of how people that look or dress a certain way ….

Then you really are no different that those that fear the police

No different. You feel danger. You assume the worst.

Oh wait, there is one difference

The one with the badge and the gun can shoot you without any meaningful repercussions.

 

So close to the city, yet quiet as country

front of home

Welcome to the suburbs. Oh, no doubt you have either lived or heard of the traffic horror stories for people that work in Washington, DC.  If you are moving to the area from out of town, you may opt for a neighborhood that is close to the subway system (Metrorail). I do sell a lot of homes to people that have “close to public transportation” at or near the top of their wish list. Naturally, homes close to the metro system demand a bit more money. You won’t get more house or more yard, but you will be close to public transit.

There is another way. The Maryland suburbs have lots of great neighborhoods that at first blush appear off the beaten path. Well they are off the beaten path. You see, the DC area has more folks that have relocated from other parts of the country than just about any city in the USA.  The beaten path refers to the roads that lead directly into and out of the city. People move in, start driving the first route they are told and five years later, they are using the same roads. Those roads become the path and that path becomes beaten because all the new folks use the same roads.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, you will face a commute. We all do. You may learn some short cuts, but you will still be in the car (or subway car) for up to two hours each day. All bets are off if it rains, snows or gets a little foggy. That is a lot of time.

At the end of the day, wouldn’t you like to just sit back and relax. I have the spot for you. Let’s move past the fact that it is a spacious, well cared for 4 bedroom, 2 bath home. The completely remodeled kitchen is nice. Yes the heirloom fireplace mantle is priceless. The crafted doors are amazing. And yes, there is a one bedroom, one bath in-law/au pair suite complete with a kitchen downstairs. The garage is two bays, large and sufficient for the pickiest motor head. Oh, yes it is a pretty level 2 acre lot.

Let’s get past that. You have worked all day long.

Let’s just go out front and sit on the porch overlooking the parkland. Serene, green and private. Listen to the soft hoot of the distant owls. Watch the fireflies dance. Tomorrow soon becomes a distant destination. This is where you find peace….and quiet. If you are up for it, walk down the steps and take a leisurely stroll through your 2 acres of land. Let the stress go, stretch out those muscles cramped from work. Once the sun sets, go back up and watch the moonrise, let the kids go chase fireflies. You work hard and you deserve your own little oasis in the midst of the suburbs, just outside the city.

Everything the suburbs have to offer is a short distance away. The ICC is around the corner. DC, Bethesda, Rockville and Baltimore are all within 30 minutes driving. Or, you can just sit back and enjoy…home.

Video Tour

behind-the-curtain

Interested in that lifestyle… that home…that dream?  Call me. 301-509-5111.

 

Trump ? Affirmation Baby ( Yes, I told you so )

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It should be pretty clear to even the casual observer that Donald Trump is not going away. His meteoric rise in the political arena parallels his fear mongering, racist, misogynistic,  seemingly jingoistic pronouncements. Trump has touched the openly hidden raw nerve found in the boardrooms, backrooms and kitchens or “white America”.

There was a time, and not too long ago, when the United States was predominantly white. White folks had slaves. White folks owned the banks. White folks owned the places of employment. White folks owned the land. White folks owned the homes. Everywhere you looked, white folks were in charge. States, Counties, Burroughs, Cities and Neighborhoods were filled with white people. Federal, State and Local political positions were held by white people. White people were everywhere. They made the rules, enforced the laws and passed judgement on everyone.

The Civil Rights Movement signaled a change. The change could be seen everywhere, except in the mindset of the folks that were losing power. Publicly they may have smiled and shared that “change is good”. Some dug in their heels and had to be dragged into compliance. George Wallace’s pronouncement “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever…” was delivered in 1963. Note, that is after “Camelot”, right around the time the Beatles were finding fame and a couple years after Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season home run record. It really was not that long ago. For those that missed it…

 

The mindset of those that cheered this speech did not change with time. The speech relied on the fear found in the hearts of those that saw the power of being in the majority slipping away. That fear lives quite well in the hearts of those cheering Trump as he systematically dismisses the value of women, poor people, black people, brown people, Muslims and anyone else that might become a valid “fear creator” in the minds and hearts of people that have not grown beyond their basic, yet horribly flawed, belief that somehow being white makes you better.

He is no surprise. His popularity should not shock anyone. Our history, as well as the history of the world, is filled with populist campaigners that seize on the fear of a few in their attempt to control the many. Some are outraged when Trump is compared to Hitler. Why? When Hitler began his campaign he did not go on the stump and say “I am going to kill 6,000,000 Jews.”  He fed the fear of Germans and promised to make them great again. He spoke to the pure Germans and told them they were the best. He saw fear in their eyes and fueled one of the most horrific campaigns in history. The world doubted his ability until it became a reality. Today, many share that Trump is a blow hard that keeps offering to do things that can not be accomplished (at least under our current laws) by the President. Be afraid, not of what Trump fears, be afraid of what might happen if you allow a narcissistic, power crazed, self absorbed person to become your leader.

I am theoretically right in Trump’s wheelhouse when you look at the demographics of his supporters. I am over 60. I am not in the 1%. I have discovered that the promised fixed income is really a broken system. I fondly remember the innocence of America in the 50’s. I am all of those things.

I also spent my earlier years growing up in Washington, DC.  I was clueless about the plight of Black people until one summer afternoon, seeking a free Bob Dylan performance, I ended up on the Mall hearing Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his “I have a dream speech”.  I have never forgotten that day and looking back, I understand how I became the man that I am today.

The last 40 years have afforded me many opportunities. I have worked in large corporations and small family owned businesses. Playing golf is one of my hobbies and it has given me the chance to “mingle” with folks on the finest fairways in America and on the less stellar courses that are favored by the average man. In doing so, I have been exposed to people that look like me in settings where they “let their hair down”.  It has not been pretty. White men from all stations in life have a distinct air of fear regarding those that are not white. They also have a boorish attitude towards women. Archie Bunker was not an aberration, he was a perfect depiction of most white men over 45 years of age.

Now, I have shared this information often. Most people have scoffed at the notion. Most people just refuse to believe that racism and sexism could be so prevalent among the middle and upper class. Well, it is and Trump’s polling numbers back that up.

Times are a’changin’.  Younger generations are not so hateful and fearful of others. The world will evolve and probably be a much nicer place (at least regarding bigotry, etc.).  The visions created by the “I have a Dream” speech/sermon are coming into fruition on a daily basis. We still have a long way to go before we reach our destination. I am sure there will come a time when racism is no longer institutionalized and quite possibly eradicated.

Trump is not the spokesman for the majority of Americans. He actually is nothing more than a pied piper leading a small, terrified group of people to the limelight. The hate filled rhetoric shared on social media is forever. The internet has no backrooms. Once it is out there, it can be found and exposed.

Yes, I have read the stories of Trump’s rallies. Recently, Dana Milbank shared a piece in the Washington Post. One paragraph was painfully true.

“Trump in this campaign has gone after African Americans, immigrants, Latinos, Asians, women, Muslims and now the disabled. His pattern brings to mind the famous words of Martin Neimoller, the pastor and concentration camp survivor (“First they came for the socialists…”) that Ohio Gov. John Kasich adroitly used in a video last week attacking Trump’s hateful broadsides.”

The very people that seem to roar the loudest in his support are the ones that are old enough to remember Hitler and the Nazi’s. Unfortunately, they are too dumb to believe it could not happen again or they secretly hope that it does. Either way, Trump has given them voice and it roars the same vile venom I have heard for years.

For that, I say thank you Donald Trump. Affirmation. I have long shared the belief that these attitudes were alive and well in the hardened hearts and twisted minds of a large segment of the white men in our country. You have only made public what has been private for too long.

You can’t kill a snake until is crawls from beneath the rock. Bluster all you wish, you have exposed one of America’s dirtiest little secrets.

Thank you…………….Affirmation baby

Buying or selling..it is a new world out there … things change

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Things have changed. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has implemented a brand new set of rules called TILA- RESPA Integrated Disclosure.  The acronym for the rule is TRID.  The TILA part refers to Truth in Lending Act and the RESPA refers to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. All of this was created to protect consumers. Wall Street is slick. Banks are slick. Investors are slick. They have avoided their share of the financial collapse and also avoided jail time for their potential criminal behavior. The only way to slow them down was to make the rules they have to follow cumbersome and more difficult to sneak around.

TRID goes a long way towards that goal. TRID is cursed behind closed doors. Everyone that has to comply is dragging their heels, kicking and screaming about the unfairness of it all towards doing what is necessary to protect the buying public from deceptive behavior and double talk about what is being paid and what is being paid for.

This is a good thing. We have long passed the time when buyers and sellers deserved a plain English, simple explanation of what the hell is happening when settlement occurs. The new documents were designed to do just that and upon first glance they seem to be pretty darn accurate.

Where’s the problem? Well, lender’s have to make sure that the figures they provide the title company and the figures the title company comes up with are exactly the same. Lenders have to provide borrowers with accurate figures regarding the loan amount, the interest rate and other terms. The nice part is that borrowers have to have the information in layman’s terms. The disclosure also has to include a simple, easy to understand “this is your monthly payment”. Wow, what a concept.

Putting all this together has created a conundrum for lenders and title companies. The practice of producing a HUD-1 (financial spread sheet of the money passing hands at settlement) the morning of settlement is not going to work anymore. Everyone has to have a copy several days before closing. If there is a change, everyone has to have the corrected HUD-1 for several days before closing.  This fact ends the former practice of selling a home and buying a new home in the same day. This fact has created the need for “short term” post settlement occupancy on the majority of home sales that are occurring. This fact has created the need for pre-settlement walk through s to take place about a week before settlement. This fact has all but ended concessions being made at the table. Nothing can occur that requires a change to the HUD-1 can occur (or you have to go back to the “waiting period” again.

So, those of you selling or buying or doing both, rest assured you will have the facts. You will receive easy to understand documentation regarding the transaction. Your Realtor will be doing their best to make sure you are aware of the necessity of proper timing and the potential need to deal with a short term rent back situation. Your lender and the title company will be sending documents back and forth and back and forth until ONE clear statement (HUD-1) is created.

Things have changed, but isn’t it nice that you now will have the opportunity to understand your bottom line?

Losing vision…others may not grasp, seeing is believing

Call it ego. Call it vanity. Call it refusing to accept the truth. As we age, our bodies do change. A good friend wrote a piece about “women of a certain age” and she shared the insight that many women look upon themselves as they age and are not happy. From my experience, the problem is a combination of using a measuring stick that is one part Madison Avenue and one part memory of a young lady long ago. Sure, you can complement her until the cows come home, but the wretched feeling of not quite being the same is powerful.

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8th hole at Gunpowder Golf Course as seen in 2012

Men face dilemma’s as well. We age and our body is not the same. Advertising spends about 10 minutes out of every hour offering sexual performance enhancing drugs. A few even have  a woman spokesperson, suggesting you really need to consider a boost in the bedroom. Privately most men chuckle at the warning…should you have an erection that lasts four hours, see a doctor. No one I have ever known has suffered that fate, not when they were 20, 25 or 30.  Personally, I think that is just thrown into the ad copy to leave the impression that if 4 hours is possible, 15 minutes is lock.

Vanity and fear are powerful sales tools.

What we don’t really talk about or share are the degenerative conditions. The body breaking down. Sure, we joke that we don’t move as fast, lift as much, dance as long, hear as well or see as clearly as we used to be able to do.  It happens to everyone. It does not happen overnight. Changes occur from season to season.

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8th hole at Gunpowder Golf Course as seen in 2013

One day you realize, your life has changed and you have not even noticed. Well, you notice but you don’t realize the change is permanent and erosive. These changes may be at the root of grumpy old men. The very things we love most about life…experiencing them…begins to fade. Sound and vision, once the hallmark of active living and responding can no longer be relied on.  The world is the same around you (at least one must assume that is the case), but the people you interact with become perplexed and confused with your behavior and responses to the world.

The magic of a whispered “I love you” becomes lost in the background noise that blots out soft words. The clarity of a brisk fall morning becomes muted by the merging of colors dulled by clouded vision. These changes are on the inside. They are not felt by those around you. Your family and friends, those you spend time with, are on the same pace as you are. Your changes creep into your existence and they are so subtle, others hardly notice a difference on a day to day basis. Today is not much different than yesterday. Today is very different than last year or the year before that.  If you could mark you ability to hear and see on the wall (like the notches used to measure a child’s growth), the changes would become very obvious. But we don’t do that…we pretty much suffer in silence.

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8th hole at Gunpowder Golf Course as seen in 2014

We go along. We continue to do the things we used to do. Maybe not as well, maybe not as often, but we continue…until we just can’t anymore. The most painful thing is that it is realized after the fact. At some point, your spouse or co-worker or friend has that eureka moment. You were not ignoring them, you didn’t hear what they said. You were not being dismissive, you didn’t hear what they said. Sadly (I was young once and I am sure I was just as guilty and the rest the world), they don’t think back, they just look forward. Why sadly? I am pretty sure others have felt unintended pain. You weren’t ignored, you were not heard.

Vision fails as well. What is perceived as sloppy driving, is really not being able to judge distance, speed, etc. as well as you did in the past. Lanes become more narrow and cars parked on the side of the road seem to take up much more space. The fear of missing a turn has you move into the turn lane miles before the turn is made. Parallel parking seems much easier that maneuvering your car between two others in a parking lot. The outside world sees impatience, while you suddenly find yourself frantically going through a mental checklist because you don’t trust rote action anymore. But you continue on. After all, you have done these chores, performed these tasks, completed these actions easily all your life. Fear and uncertainty may slow you down but they do not stop you. Until, one day, you just can’t do it anymore.

8end2015

8th hole at Gunpowder Golf Course as seen in 2015

I don’t drive at night anymore. It is not just the overwhelming glare of oncoming headlights that blinds me. When there are few street lamps and I am on a road I have not used daily, I know I can not see well enough to operate the car. I do not have the right to put you or anyone else with me or on. the road with me at risk. Now, I have finally reached the point where the game I loved to play has become a memory. I have not seen a ball I have hit in almost two years. My depth perception is non-existent. Oh, I stumbled along with the aid of a laser pin finder. I fooled myself into believing I could calculate the distance and select the right club to accomplish a shot. Playing on a course I have wandered for over 30 years, I could still shoot in the low 70’s. I could feel my around. Take me somewhere else and balls were lost, greens were missed and internally I could not accept the results. Last week, I was entered in a club championship. I suffered 6 lost balls through 9 holes and withdrew. Walked off the course. Quit. I could not aim where I could not see. I could not find my ball after it was struck and my playing partner said “Hey, you are responsible for keeping track of your ball.”

I am not alone. There are lots of us old guys wandering fairways. For those that have “lost it”, I understand. For those that smugly watch us suffer…your day will come.  You see, we all either age or die. I suppose it is my hope that my friends and family understand that these changes do impact me physically, mentally and emotionally.  Those of you that have a family member or friend, male or female that has passed into the post-medicare eligible age, try to be patient. Understand that the person you are dealing with is the same, they just don’t have the same abilities they may have had just last week.

Oh, and to the women that bemoan the loss of youth, for what it’s worth, the beauty of what you have become is far greater than the looks of that young woman from yesterday. There are some truth’s that can not be denied.

Get the lead out!

protectchildren

 

 

“It matters little if you are on the side that feels people kill or guns kill.”

The vicious cycle of life endured by those born into the inner cities continues. Nightly newscasts continue to highlight the perils of sitting on a front stoop, going to school, running an errand or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The majority of the violence occurs in neighborhoods that have been long forgotten and forever ignored. Children die. Children are buried. It matters little if you are on the side that feels people kill or guns kill. Our future is changed.

Police, directed to protect and serve, respond to the violence. Directives are issued. A strategic plan is put in place. Neighborhoods come under scrutiny. People begin to sense a strong feeling of being profiled. Then something happens and a city goes up in flames.

fegusonriots

“The news media is quick with cameras and commentary.”

This is nothing new. Inner cities all across this country have experienced major riots often. The first “urban riot” is thought to have occurred in Los Angeles, California in 1965. Wikopedia shares “Riots have occurred before the rapid urbanization starting in the mid-20th Century, hence the occurrence of riots in urban areas in itself is not special. While a riot may be initially sparked by a specific event, scholars, commentators and commissions have sought to identify the deeper reasons and have identified a number of urban conditions that may underline urban riots. These urban conditions are often associated with urban decay more generally and may include: discrimination, poverty, high unemployment, poor schools, poor healthcare, housing inadequacy and police brutality and racial bias.”. The news media is quick with cameras and commentary. And what seems to be nothing more than a ratings race, the event is highlighted and the cause is obscure.  Then the news cycle moves on and everyone goes home.

baltimoreriots

“People do not take to the streets for entertainment purposes.”

People take to the streets and loot and burn and band together in a unified explosion of pent-up anger and frustration. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary of urban riots and we are not one minute close to dealing with the root causes.  People do not destroy their own neighborhoods out of ignorance. People do not take to the streets for entertainment purposes. Instinctively, people know something is wrong and they feel powerless to do anything about it.

There is a common thread to the violence. There is a common thread to frustration. There is a common thread to the plight of the poor and under privileged. Understand, it is not a black problem, it is not a brown problem. It is not an African-American problems. It is not a Latino problem. The root causes exist almost invisibly in every inner city neighborhood. Changing gun laws will not cure the problem. Increasing minimum wages will not cure the problem. Programs to assist under performing students will not cure the problem. Campaigns, i.e. Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, will not cure the problem.

warondrugs

“The base issues existed before all those under 50 years old in jail committed their first offense.”

The “war on drugs” has not solved the problem. The statistics are staggering. The number of incarcerated parents, moms and dads no longer in the home, is almost unbelievable. I do not suggest for one minute that if you set them all free, you will have cured the problem. The base issues existed before all those under 50 years old in jail committed their first offense. We have known for years that the living conditions in most dwellings in the inner cities are not fit for humans. NOT FIT. It has nothing to do with how homes are kept. It has nothing to do with the squalor that exists. baltimorehomes

“… the silent music accompaniment plays a death knell which no one hears.”

Homes, such as these pictured, have been quietly destroying the lives of those that occupy them since the first occupant moved in. Our government has known this for decades and has done little more than demand that people be told of the danger. People move in, raise a family and move on and another set moves in and so on. The carousel of mobility turns on a regular basis while the silent music accompaniment plays a death knell which no one hears.  While generation after generation is destroyed and scores of children are handicapped before they learn to walk, elected officials quietly acquiesce to “slum lords” and allow the conditions to remain the same.

toxicthreat

“In 1977, our government officially recognized the danger of lead paint.”

The United States’ Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned lead paint in 1977 in residential properties and public buildings(16 Code of Federal Regulations 1303), along with toys and furniture containing lead paint. The cited reason was “to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in children who may ingest paint chips or peelings. Stop and think about that for a minute. In 1977, our government officially recognized the danger of lead paint. Every home-built prior to 1978 probably has a coating of lead paint on the walls, window and door trim, radiators, etc.  It may have been re-painted and the original lead based paint is out of sight. Unless it has been completely removed, it continues to lurk, out of sight, waiting for a chip or ding or scratch. Once exposed, it carries the risk of poisoning those nearby. There is no government edict in existence that requires all lead paint to be removed. Remediation sounds like a solution, but it does not last forever. Removal is the only answer.

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“We can not change yesterday, but ignoring today offers little hope for tomorrow.”

Every single adult was once a child.  Children are the seeds of our future. Poisoning them and destroying their opportunity to grow up healthy is one of the root causes of buildings burning, violent crime and generational poverty. There is no reasonable way anyone can assail the scholastic results of children than have been handicapped by the environment. We can not continue to poison today and hope tomorrow will be healthy. We can not change yesterday, but ignoring today offers little hope for tomorrow. We have acknowledged the problem over 35 years ago. It is time we moved beyond disclosing the issue. It is time we stopped stop-gap remediation. It is time we actually move forward and get the lead out.

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“Gentrification may change the look of a neighborhood, but lead paint can not be gentrified.”

If this picture represented the only children at risk, lead paint removal would have been ordered in 1978.  Sadly, that is not the case. While lead paint is hazardous to all children and adults, the vicious cycle of opportunity offered and denied does break down along racial lines. It does make a difference where you grow up. The suburbs of most major cities are filled with newer homes and townhouses. Inner cities are comprised of much older homes. Gentrification may change the look of a neighborhood, but lead paint can not be gentrified. New home buyers are advised of the possible existence of lead paint. Landlords must advise tenants of the possible existence of lead paint. Most jurisdictions require that lead paint remediation or removal be done by a certified contractor. Yet, lead paint remains. It is time that the Federal Government step in and require all lead paint to be removed before any property can change hands or any new tenant moves into a dwelling. Every property that is currently approved for Section 8 support should be inspected and if lead paint exists (even beneath several coats of new paint or wall paper) it must be removed.

leadfreekids

“Lead paint, like bad decisions, can not be swept under the proverbial rug.”

The total removal of lead paint from every home in the United States will not cure all the problems. It will remove one of the hidden barriers that exists. It will give children the opportunity to develop and grow. It will remove the handicap that currently prevents them from accessing all that educational systems have to offer them. A program that mandates every home is lead free will change the future of children currently living in a poisonous environment. Admittedly, nothing can change how we have dealt with lead paint in the past. Nothing will alter the horrid conditions we have allowed to exist. Lead paint, like bad decisions, can not be swept under the proverbial rug. Our approach has been weak and the results speak for themselves. Get the lead out. We owe it to ourselves and the future of this country to stop disclosing and to begin removing every speck of lead paint in every home in the country.

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“There is no justifiable reason that lead paint should be allowed to continue to be present in any home…”

I urge you to contact your State Representative and your Congressman and your United States Senator and ask that they introduce legislation that will put and end to lead paint poisoning. There is no justifiable reason that lead paint should be allowed to continue to be present in any home, any where, anymore. Do it for the children. Get the lead out.

 

Why the name of the Brokerage matters…Redwood Rocks

whatsinaname

Brand recognition is one of the highest motivators of consumer behavior. Large corporations spend millions of dollars to make sure their “brand” is recognized and that ‘brand” brings to mind positive feelings. Not only did Ray Kroc demand that every burger served by a McDonalds was the same, he advertised that fact. Marriott, one of the largest purveyors of hotel/motel/resort accommodations, has an entire department that creates manuals that dictate where every thing in a room must be (from a electrical outlet to the size of the handles in the tub). The strive for consistency and market quality. People use copy machines everywhere and most of the time they refer to making a xerox. Xerox is a brand that became so powerful it became a verb. Better brand recognition coupled with stringent quality control equates to a stronger bottom line and profits.

disney

The Disney brand is more than “Tinkerbell” or a castle with fireworks. Disney has long practiced strict discipline in every theme park and store. Not only do they have strict regulations on appearance, every park attendant is schooled on behavior. (You encounter a guest, you make eye contact and verbally greet them.) Those rules create an ambiance for visitors that in turn defines the brand.

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Real Estate has branding too.  For a moment, let’s move past the Zillow brand. Zillow is an advertising firm and not actually a real estate broker. There are different rules in place for brokers. Most people are aware of Century 21, ReMax, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams and so on. What people don’t always know is that most of the local offices of these national brands are franchises (just like your local McDonalds). The corporate headquarters sets parameters and the local office is allowed to develop a niche “brand” in their local market. There are also local firms in every area that have carved out a niche for themselves.

questions The answer is found in the real world experience of consumers. A buyer or seller does not interact with the Franchiser and in most cases never meets the franchisee. The consumer meets the agent. The agent is the grinder at the bottom on the food chain that does the work. The agent is affected by the brand in many ways. The agent is impacted by the franchisee’s policies. Agents are contractors, but they operate under the terms of the contract they have with their broker.

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Happy agents are better agents. So it stands to reason, that brokerages that are focused on agents happiness are a better fit for consumers. The agent’s job, while appearing to be rather simple and straight forward can be difficult without proper training and support. Laws change with regularity. Understanding how the change will impact consumers in an area is important information. Brands that make sure agents are up-to-date are good for the agents which in turn is good for the consumer. Brands that don’t have meetings on a regular basis are failing the consumers. (I know, local laws require meetings, but laws do not require attendance)

pondering

I have had the opportunity to work for several brands and I have worked with agents (in transactions) from almost every brand in the area. I promise you there is a difference. When representing a seller and receiving an offer, the buyer’s agents brokerage is evident from how the paperwork is prepared. Century 21, Coldwell Banker and Long & Foster are noted for having excellent paperwork. Others, not so much. It is no surprise that the same brands agents submit complete offers. The brand makes a difference. Consumers don’t see it, because agents work hard to cover for one another. (Various interpretations of the Code of Ethics prevents from exposing incompetence, so we grind on).

C21-Redwood-Logo

I currently work for what I consider to be the most agent centric (as opposed to broker centric) brokerage in the DC area. Century 21 Redwood Realty is a leader. Much of what they offer consumers appears the same. Behind the scenes, what they offer agents surpasses any other brokerage I have been affiliated with in my career. It is the little things that they offer that makes the agent’s job easier and allows the agent to focus on the primary goal of their client.  They have all the bells offered by Century 21 corporate and they have added all the whistles an agent needs to get the job done.  No, they don’t offer some dopey pyramid scheme where an agent can refer an agent and then collect a portion of that agents commission for life. They make it easy for an agent to work and earn money based on performance. The owners are keenly aware of the importance of internet presence, but they are also in tune with the fact that local information is key for agents working locally. Paperwork for transactions are submitted and double checked for accuracy. If something is missing, the agent is notified right away. They offer an online system of follow up to ensure no one ever falls through the cracks. If you are a client of Century 21 Redwood, you will be supported by your agent, the support staff and the broker. Quality is the focus, quantity is the result.

There is a reason the largest relocation company in the world continues it’s relationship with Century 21 year after year. In order for them to remain the largest, they have to be sure that the people referred are taken care of completely. Century 21 Redwood remains on the list of top performing franchises year after year after year. The brand is important. The franchisee is successful. The reason is happy agents are working in everyone of their offices.

johnblossom

I would like folks to choose to work with me (honestly, I need to earn a living too), but if not me, I firmly believe that any one of the agents under the Century 21 Redwood Realty banner will suffice. We are all licensed. We are all experienced. We are all supported by the best brokers in town.  My website is Hot Metro Homes  If you want to visit the main site, go to  Century 21 Redwood

Brand does matter and REDWOOD ROCKS

I would be remiss if I failed to offer you a chance to contact me

Who killed Freddie Gray?

freddiegray

His death occurred after he was in the custody of the police department. His death sentence was served the day he was brought home from the hospital. The same neighborhood that rose up in anger after his death, has long been a festering cesspool of neglect. Neglect that continues today. Neglect that is overlooked until images of violence appear on the nightly news. Neglect that lays heavily on the hands of those entrusted to govern us. Neglect that is left in the water that every elected official has, “Pontius Pilate like”, washed their collective hands with a reality. While people are being put on trial for “neglect” regarding the final incident in Freddy Gray’s life, hundreds upon hundreds more are receiving the same death sentence every day.

“…every elected official has, “Pontius Pilate like”, washed their collective hands with a reality”

sandtown

Freddie Gray grew up in “Sandtown”.  The area is just one of many blighted neighborhoods in Baltimore City. Old buildings and a large amount of non-resident landlords or property owners combine to create invisible death traps for every child living there. The same is true in “ghetto’s” in Washington, DC, Atlanta, Ga, Chicago, Il and every other large city in the United States. The neighborhood where you grow up has a strong influence on your life expectancy.  Social scientist have noticed this fact. They have also noticed that since the Great Depression, the poor in the inner cities of this country have not been predominantly white. Everyone has focused on race. Everyone seems to think that race is the indicator of the future. Race is an indicator, but in many cases it is only because the color of one’s skin obstructed one’s opportunity to rise in the social/economic scale of society. Following the Civil Rights Movement, laws have been passed to prevent discrimination. Those laws address some issues, but fundamental issues are left unchanged. Poor people are legislatively bullied into the dark corners of despair. The result, the poor remain poor. Hidden, but well-known factors, contribute to the generation upon generation of perpetually poor families.

 “Poor people are legislatively bullied into the dark corners of despair.”

danger lead paint

Prior to the late 1970’s, almost every drop of paint used commercially contained lead. Lead is added to paint to speed up drying, increase durability, maintain a fresh appearance, and resist moisture that causes corrosion. Dried lead paint is also, unfortunately sweet in taste. When homes were being built, the faster the home was built the quicker the contractors got paid. As time passed, this wonder additive was discovered to have some negative side effects. Lead paint is hazardous to your health. Ingestion of lead paint leads to neurological damage, bodily damage and many other health problems. Now, it is highly unlikely that anyone fed their children lead paint chips. The lead paint chips just happened to be where little children spend their time. The expansion and contraction of radiators and windows and window sills caused the paint to chip. The chips, sweet in taste, became a readily available poison in every home. In 1978, the use of lead paint was banned in the United States. As far as the billions of gallons of dried lead paint in homes all across the country, well the EPA notes…”Home repairs that create even a small amount of lead dust are enough to poison your child and put your family at risk.” It is recommended that a certified specialist do any work on or around the existing lead paint. Some areas have it legislatively mandated that work can only be done by a certified specialist.

“The chips, sweet in taste, became a readily available poison in every home.”

morerundownhomes

As of this morning, a check of homes for rent and sale in Montgomery County, Md shows that there are 375 for rent that were built prior to 1978. There are 1293 for sale built prior to 1978. By contrast, Baltimore City has 343 homes available for rent that were built prior to 1978 and 3389 homes for sale also built prior to 1978. In January 2015 a law went into effect in Maryland that stated lead paint remediation must take place on rental property before a new tenant moves in. This is a small step in the right direction. There are still many cracks in the system, and the “chips of lead paint” continue to fall.  If the property is being sold, everyone still receives the same bland disclosure and should receive a copy of the less than scintillating “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home” EPA pamphlet. These measure allow the legislators to slap one another on the back and pontificate that they have addressed the problem. In reality, property owners that are renting units have little compulsion to make any change if the families remain year after year. To be fair, they are not breaking any law. They are just allowing inhumane conditions to exist and exposing today’s children to tomorrows tragedies, one chip at a time. The same people preyed upon with “rent to own” advertisements that feature big screen t.v.’s etc with horrific total costs have no choice but to continue living in the squalor of what easily may be called “rent to die”.

“There are still many cracks in the system, and the “chips of lead paint” continue to fall.”

freddiegraycasket

Freddie Gray will be remembered for the circumstances that surrounded his death. People that dig a little deeper will discover that he and his sisters received a financial settlement from his landlord stemming from a lawsuit based on the after effects of living in a lead paint laden home. The effects of that childhood impacted every facet of his life. It impacted him scholastically, professionally, emotionally and fatally. You see, we will never know what sort of man he might have become had he the chance to grow up in a clean environment. We will never realize the things he may have had to offer. Our only societal gift to Freddie Gray was to allow Access Funding to buy out his settlement proceeds for pennies on the dollar. Freddie Gray’s story is no different that the hundreds of people who are preyed upon after they are poisoned. The Washington Post shared “How companies make millions off of lead poisoned poor blacks” .  Who killed Freddie Gray? It seems rather obvious. Freddie Gray’s death was the result of systematic political and societal indifference. From the initial application of the first coat of lead based paint on the walls where he grew up, to the life long struggles he faced dealing with disabilities created by his environment, to the legal but questionable depletion of his trust account, to his final “ride” in a police van, Freddie Gray never had a chance. While some community activists want to remember his last days, I would prefer that steps are taken to make sure no child has to grow up in a home caked in lead based paint. If there is to be a memorial, let it be a law that demands all lead paint be re-mediated now. No home sells without remediation, no rent is collected without remediation, no adult or child lives in a home that has not been certified as re-mediated. None. No more. We know it is poison. We know the effects. We know. No more. No more lead paint. No more dust. No more chips. No more.

“Freddie Gray never had a chance.”

 

 

 

 

The Grand Dame of Glen Echo Heights

There is a tired and well worn road that splits Washington DC. Sure, it has been patched and cracks filled and potholes repaired, but it is an old road. Those of us in the area use it often. It is adorned with shops and eateries and row homes. To improve traffic flow, it also has a few little tunnels under cross streets. It is more than just another street. After the sun sets, as you head south, you are greeted with an awe inspiring sight. The US Capitol Building in all it’s glory lays dead ahead.

ncapitolstreet

In a flash, you may understand the timeless beauty captured by the original planners. It is not just North Capitol Street. It is a pathway to the beauty of our Nation’s Capitol. It is old and worn and forever beautiful. I have often referred to it as the Sophia Loren of highways. It may be aged, but it is aged to perfection.

sophiaat80Sophia Loren (at 80)

You see, while new and shiny may appear to be the best, it is not always the case. Mass production of anything appears to lower the standards used in production. If you make it bigger, if you make it faster, if you do it quicker, well you do not always make it better. There was a time when craftsman were employed to build roads, bridges and homes. There was a time when we strove for quality over quantity. We used brick and block. We used hand crafted wood. We took pride in what we built.

Today, not so much.

You can drive down Seven Lochs Road (headed towards River Road) and you will see a sign advertising town homes for sale, starting in the one million plus range. These homes will be ready quickly. It is a new day. Materials are composite, plastic or some other configuration imitating the more expensive materials we used to use. Don’t get me wrong, they meet all the building codes in the county. Back in the day, builders answered to a higher authority. Their name, their real name was on every home they built. There weren’t fancy corporations or distant offices. There weren’t overbearing sales folks in a design center offering a myriad of “upgrades”. The homes they built were top of the line, they did not need to upgrade anything.

 wapakonetaThe Grand Dame of Glen Echo Heights

With all the new construction, and tear downs and hub bub in the DC/Bethesda area, I thought it would be nice to stop by and have a conversation with the Grand Dame of Glen Echo Heights.

Jmac “Thank you for allowing me to come by and chat with you.”

GD “My pleasure, I really don’t have that many guests stop by.  As you can see, this is a very secluded area. Most of the traffic is neighbors. All those tree lined streets provide great walking down to the river. Strangers hardly know we are here.”

Jmac “So, here you are, empty again. Waiting for a new family. What do you do with your time?”

GD “Goodness, I sift through the memories of days past and all the wonderful times that were shared here. I can recall one owner playing a song by Barbara Streisand “Memories, Light the corners of my mind Misty water-colored memories Of the way we were Scattered pictures, Of the smiles we left behind Smiles we gave to one another For the way we were Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time re-written every line? If we had the chance to do it all again Tell me, would we? Could we?”  Sorry, I get lost in those memories…but yes, we could do it all again.”

Jmac “I am sure you are aware of the building boon that has occurred over the last 20 years in this area. What are your thoughts?”

GD  “Well, in the first place I wonder what are people thinking. I mean you buy a tiny house on a postage stamp lot, tear it down and fill every bit of yard space with some plastic recreation of a mansion. Yes, I said plastic. What do you think they use for trim now days..plastic. Plastic chair rail, plastic cove molding, plastic crown molding. It may look almost the same but it has all the quality of cheap chinese knock off of  Louis Vuitton handbag. And believe me, people with class know the difference.  They throw those new built homes up so fast ground hardly settles. Craftsman, ha, you don’t find skilled craftsman in Home Depot’s parking lot. It takes a hell of lot more than a hammer to make a carpenter”

Jmac “Well, some people walk through here and just see old. What are they missing?”

GD “How much time do you have honey? Let’s start over there, that is a slate foyer, not some imitation vinyl crap. These floors are “tongue in-groove ” hardwood. They were installed carefully. They aren’t Pergo “want to be” floors, they are the real deal downstairs and up. Take a look, this place is filled with light. Ever hear of Goodman? He influenced lots of people back in the day. Position homes at angles and use lots of windows to let the natural light in. Go ahead, go upstairs, those are real sized bedrooms. They dwarf the over sized walk in closet size bedrooms people build today. Oh, yes, that is a master suite, large, roomy, light filled with a fireplace, completely updated bath and walk through closet. I was built when pride was the main ingredient. Go on outside. Yes that is a screened porch with a tile floor. Well shaded. The yard is landscaped.  Home is supposed to be a resting place. You won’t find a lot of asphalt parking lots and you won’t feel like your neighbor is so close their heart beat is a vibration you can feel. I could go on and on. But you are here. Look for yourself.”

Jmac “Oh, I understand. The care and craftmanship used to build when you came into being was lost years ago. I see you for what you are, the Grand Dame of Glen Echo Heights.”

GD “From your lips to God’s ears. I am a realist. I know I don’t photograph as well anymore. I know that at my age it takes a little polish and love to make me shine. I realize most people get caught up in all the sizzle of new homes. I also know there is another person out there that knows quality, that knows good bones, that knows durability and of course knows class. I see what homes sell for. A million five for a new town home. Just makes me sad that anyone could fall into that trap. We both know, smart money follows quality. I can wait.”

Jmac “Well, thank you for sharing. I agree. There still are people out there that know quality and value. One day soon you will find your door opening to a new owner. More memories will be created inside these walls.

Interested in meeting the Grand Dame of Glen Echo Heights?