Life Lessons From Mr. Snipps

I tripped across this piece about living in the moment while hanging with my soul mate Mr. Snipps and thought I would share it with you.

Living in the Moment:           A Cat’s Tale
Mr. Snipps
Mr. Snipps


“If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Frazzled! Doesn’t that word seem to apply to how we feel so much of the time? Take this morning for example.

I’m dashing about the flat and running late for work. I’m drinking a cup of tea while drying my hair. I have to put the washing away and hang a new load out. I mustn’t forget to feed the cat and pick up lunch before I get to the office.

Then I see him—the cat sleeping contentedly on the bed.

Once I get to work, I feel the adrenaline buzzing as the phone starts ringing and the emails begin to flood in. I’m talking to my boss about the day ahead while mentally planning the to do list I’ll write once I’ve made a cup of coffee.

Then I think of him—lying in the garden stretched out in the sun.

And as irrational as it seems, for a fleeting moment I’m jealous of my pet!  But what wouldn’t I give to lead the carefree life of something that lives so blatantly in the moment.

When was the last time you noticed your cat or dog lying awake, seemingly worrying about how they could possibly manage to achieve all the tasks they had set themselves the day before?

Have you ever seen an animal try to eat and wash themselves at the same time?  When we picture this, the idea seems ridiculous. So why do we so often try to do so much at once?

I’m not saying for a minute (though it does sound good) that we should hand in our notice and spend long lazy days in the garden. But perhaps we could learn a lesson from our furry friends.

Here are 5 tips for living in the moment that we can learn from our pets:

1. Pick a daily activity and spend time doing this, and only this, activity each day.

Watch as your cat or dog plays with their favorite toy.  They focus all their attention on that toy and all their thoughts are of how to reach it, catch it, and enjoy it. It’s almost as if there’s nothing going on around them.

They are completely engaged in the experience, and that makes it all the more pleasurable.

It’s not always easy to focus on the small things because unlike pets, we need to provide for and take care of ourselves, and that can create stress. But that gives us even more of an incentive to disconnect and enjoy the little things. We deserve the chance to be without having to overwhelm ourselves with thoughts.

2. Breathe.

Cats naturally breathe deeply with long, slow, equal breaths (or snores!).  When we hear a change in our pet’s breathing patterns we know we need to do something to protect them from what’s scaring them, cool them down, or take to take them to the vet for a check-up.

If we understand this change of breathing pattern is an important indicator of health in our pets, surely we can see that our own breathing patterns are an indicator of our well-being too.

Next time you’re watching the items pile up on your to-do list items pile up and you feel your breath shortening, take a moment to notice this. Then take longer, slower breaths letting the inhale invigorate you and the exhale calm you.

3. Dwell neither on the future nor the past.

A cat doesn’t sit around worrying about the big, scary dog she might meet the next time she leaves the house. She has good instincts and uses them when necessary—and until then, it’s not on her radar.

Too often we sit around worrying tomorrow’s work or the consequences of the things we’ve said and done, as if we can somehow predict and control the future. All this distracts us from the here and now, preventing us from living this current, precious moment.

When these worries feel they could overpower you, go back to your breathe. All you need to do is take each moment as it comes.

4. Enjoy your treats.

Give your dog or cat a treat and watch them enjoy it. Do they try to eat it while running out of the back door? Do they eat it while playing with their favorite toy or trying to dig a hole?  No, of course they don’t – because it’s not enjoyable to multi-task treats.  If they do, they miss out on savoring it.

So don’t watch your favorite TV show while chatting on the phone or eat a piece of cake while engrossed in your work.  Give yourself the full experience of the things you love.

5. Follow your instincts.

Animals always follow their instincts. They know how to hunt, when to run from danger, and how to protect their territory without having to be trained.

By listening to their instincts, animals stay alive and healthy—something we don’t always do well as humans. We’ll ignore our hunger cues, or stay in unhealthy situations far longer than is good for us.

If your body tells you you’re hungry, eat.  If your emotions feel out of control, take a break to refocus.  If your mind tells you it’s time to make a change, make that change! You know a lot about what’s good for you. You just need to listen to yourself.

Next time I see the cat lounging around, lazing the day away, I’m going to look at him and remember that I too can enjoy that contentment— if I only let myself!

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~Robert Brault

Reality Check: Why Home Inspections Matter

Adult male inspects siding

Sat, October 12, 2013

One of the best pieces of advice you can heed when it comes to buying a house is to order a home inspection. Regardless of whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or an old pro, you might have on rose-colored glasses when it comes to buying a house – your future home. Luckily, a certified home inspector has no emotional attachment to your new place and can impartially and appropriately identify structural, electrical and plumbing problems. Plus, this person can offer insight into the safety and value of the house.

During your home search, you’ll probably notice the great front yard, charming breakfast nook and spacious bedrooms. What you won’t notice, however, are the termites in the basement, nests in the chimney or cracks in the foundation. That’s why it’s important to speak with your real estate agent, who will be able to recommend inspectors who can reliably and responsibly check the nooks and crannies, walls and roofs.

The inspection will cost you several hundred dollars, depending on where you live, but it’s a small price to pay to ensure your home is worth the investment. Usually conducted after an offer is accepted, the inspection also provides leverage for negotiating concessions with the seller before the sale is finalized. Based on the inspector’s detailed report, you’re able to alert the seller to all issues you’d like fixed or addressed before the sale is closed.

In other words, a home inspection allows you to know exactly what you’re buying – and if it truly is the perfect place for you.

If you’ve already found your perfect place, let us know – you could win $10,000! The What’s Your Perfect Fit? contest runs through Oct. 16.

Contact a RE/MAX real estate agent to get your home search started today.

by: RE/MAX Housing Blog


Top 5 Mistakes Home Buyers Make — and How to Avoid Them

By Brendon DeSimone | Zillow – Tue, Oct 1, 2013 3:53 PM EDT

From the beginning of your home search through closing escrow, there’s an awful lot to think about and do. It’s not unusual to make a mistake along the way. But with the financial stakes so high, a false move can end up costing you a lot of money.

Here are five common home buyer mistakes, with tips on how to avoid them.

You expect to get the price down after making an offer

The real estate market is heating up across the country. In many markets, homes are selling for more than asking price. Some buyers win the bidding war by going over asking — only to try to negotiate the price down by asking for credits during escrow.

This strategy may work sometimes, especially in a weak seller’s market. But we’re in a competitive market for buyers now, so don’t count on it. The seller most likely will have a backup offer from another buyer who really wants the home — and who is hoping your deal falls through. If you start asking for unwarranted credits, the seller may simply go with the backup offer, leaving you out in the cold.

A better strategy: Make your best offer, and don’t assume you can negotiate it down later.

You wait until the eleventh hour to ask for credits

In Houston, a seller had put his house on the market with full disclosure that it had termites. A buyer made an offer and went into contract with the seller. After further inspections, and at the eleventh hour, the buyer demanded an unreasonable amount be deducted from the sale price. The buyer assumed that the seller, not wanting to put the house on the market again, would agree, just to close the deal. But that’s not what happened. The seller agreed to reduce the price, but not by the full amount the buyer wanted.

The buyer ended up walking away from the deal. The house sold soon after at a higher price than what was negotiated with the first buyer.

Of course, you should ask for credits if an inspection turns up potentially costly repair work you didn’t know about when you made your offer. But even in a buyer’s market, don’t assume you can get sellers to cave in to unreasonable demands at the last minute.

[Thinking about getting a mortgage? Click to compare interest rates from multiple lenders now.]

You chase a deal at all costs

Everyone wants to save money, especially on a high-ticket item such as real estate. Unfortunately, this causes some would-be buyers to make lowball offers in hopes of getting a “deal.” Or, potential buyers lose out on homes they might have been able to get otherwise, which ends up costing money in the long run.

For example, a renter in San Francisco spent three years looking for the best “deal” she could possibly get, passing up many good opportunities. Eventually, her landlord wanted to sell the place she was renting. This forced her to finally buy, but under pressure. She ended up buying at the top of the market. If she hadn’t held out for so long in hopes of scoring an amazing deal, she’d have saved herself a lot of money and time. She’d even have built up some equity in a home over those three years.

In a strong real estate market, the deals are in homes that have been overpriced and haven’t sold as a result, and/or properties that don’t show well because they need work. If the home you want is well-priced, in a good neighborhood and doesn’t need much work, the best strategy is to make a solid offer and be prepared to go over asking if necessary.

You think you can do it all yourself

With so much information about homes available online today, many people, such as tech-savvy Gen X and Gen Y home buyers, may assume they can buy a home without a real estate agent’s help.

But this strategy often backfires. First of all, the real estate agent’s role isn’t just about finding listings. With Internet access, buyers can easily find listings themselves. The agent’s role today is more about presenting your offer to the seller’s agent in a way that will help get it accepted and making sure it sticks through an escrow.

A savvy agent knows the ins and outs of the local market better than an uninformed buyer with a full-time job and family. A good agent will know the back-stories behind the comps, for example. He or she will know that a comparable home sold for 5 percent less (than the home you’re considering) only because the sellers were divorcing, or the property had a retaining wall problem. Without an agent, you’d simply see that the comparable home sold for 5 percent less. You might ask the seller of the home to match that 5 percent reduction — and you’d be surprised when the seller says, “No thanks.”

Also, experienced agents have a strong network in the local market, which can give you an added edge. Good agents like to work with other good agents. And if nothing else, keep in mind that a listing agent might not even consider working with an unrepresented buyer.

Finally, the seller pays the buyer’s real estate commission, so having an agent for your home search costs you nothing anyway. Most importantly, there’s bound to come a time during the complicated real estate transaction when you have serious doubts or big questions. Your agent can be the trusted adviser you need to walk you through the maze.

[Click to shop around for mortgage interest rates and compare lenders now.]

You don’t think like a seller

Most likely, at some point in the future you’ll need to sell the home you’re about to buy. That’s why it’s important to think like a potential seller as well as a buyer.

Case in point: In 2005, a buyer in San Francisco bought a home with no garage. The house was on multiple transit lines, he used his bicycle to get around and he knew he’d have access to a leased garage space if he needed it. So he felt he didn’t need a garage.

Three years later, the market was slower, but the owner had to sell. He didn’t feel his home should be priced less than a comparable property with a deeded garage because his house was so centrally located. Plus, he had that leased garage space to offer. The problem was, many buyers drive to work, and they don’t want to risk losing a leased garage space. The result was that many buyers wouldn’t even look at his home’s photos online, let alone go to the open house — because it lacked a garage.

So when you’re buying a home, put yourself in a potential seller’s shoes. The last thing you want is to buy a dream home that becomes a nightmare when it’s time to sell.


First Class In Series for Continuing Education Credits

Michael Krone of Kriss Law Presents Contract Law

Attorney Michael Krone from Kriss Law and Mortgage Master’s Jesse Stein presented the first class  in a series four continuing education credit courses to be held at our office.

A typically dry topic – “Contract Law”, was presented in entertaining fashion by Attorney Krone.  There were 15 Agents from our office and four visitors from the real estate community in attendance who received two credits toward the currently required 12 credits to maintain an active real estate license in Massachusetts.

There will be three other classes at our office this year.  The next one is on “Title” and is scheduled for June 6th.  All in all agents can earn eight out of the required twelve through this convenient class arrangement and better still at no cost!

The Seven Laws of Nature

I am often asked why I smile so much and why I am so positive.  I live by some very basic beliefs and in an effort to share I created an abbreviated outline of the seven natural laws and added my two cents.

Energy Is Everything! Energy is potential and momentum.  There is a natural ebb and flow to life.  It is important to accept what is and learn to move within the natural flow of energy.

1. The Law of Attraction and Vibration:

Like attracts like, people attract energy like the energy they project.  Positive people attract others like them or those moving in the same direction. Thoughts and feelings are energy. Whenever you are sensitive to someone else’s feelings, when you are aware of your own feelings, this is a conscious perception of a vibration. You have a choice. A vibration is energy that is either positive or negative.  You have the power to choose your thoughts or change them by what you choose to think about, by how you speak to yourself.  Listen to your thoughts and ask yourself if they are congruent with the person you are or want to be.  The energy you project is what you will receive.  You are what you project!

Identify what you truly want and eliminate the negative. You must create the opposite of what you don’t want. The law of attraction responds to how you feel about what you say and what you think.  Simply release your affirmations and believe.  The universe will take care of your request as long as you do not doubt and break the flow that is yours if you simply believe.

2. The Law of Polarity:

Everything in the Universe has an equal or an exact opposite! Learn to see both sides of every situation and your life will flow much smoother and you will be able to see that there is value in both.  You cannot have one without the other so learn to embrace both.  Embracing the positive in every situation moves you in the direction of your dreams.  Accept the good and the bad in your life.  Joy and sorrow are both beautiful. Learn to accept what is and lean into it.

The center is a place of balance.  Learn to recognize that everything you think, say or do is on a scale like that of the number line.  You can add or subtract what you need to get closer to the balance and peace that comes from being centered.

3. The Law of Rhythm:

Everything is moving in perfect rhythm.  Our thoughts and actions are what create speed bumps and unnatural or off beat rhythms in our lives.  Learn to be flexible and move with the flow.  Develop your “flex power”.  Fear tends to create resistance. Resistance slows the speed of trust. Recognize when you are in a current or even worse a rip tide, when you are resisting the natural rhythm in business and in life.  Stay focused on your vision and go with the flow.

4. The Law of Relativity:

Everything is relative! You cannot define something without having something to compare it to. Catch yourself when you are making comparisons.  Learn not to compare to others or to past experiences.  Look at thing as” it just is”, without judgment and you will avoid succumbing to feelings like you are not enough or you do not have enough.  Comparisons are never what they seem and in a negative light, toxic to the soul.

5. The Law of Cause and Effect:

For every cause there is an effect, and for every effect there is a cause. For every action we take there is an effect, one that ripples through the universe, much like that of a beam of light moving forever in one direction. Your actions impact everything around you and go on to impact others beyond that.  If you send good thoughts and positive energy out you will receive the same or similar back, and of course the opposite is also true.  We are the creators of heaven and/or hell right here on earth.  Be aware of that power and use it wisely.

6. The Law of Gender and Gestation:

Both male and female are necessary for creation.  These are two complimentary energies, that of giving and taking, which gives rise to new creation.  Speaking is masculine energy (asserting) and listening is female energy (receiving). The actual sex of the persons making creative connection is of no consequence.  This is the creative law.  This law decrees that all seeds most importantly “thought seeds” have a gestation period before they manifest.  It takes an appropriate amount of time for a thought, image or creation to move into its physical counterpart.

7. The Law of Perpetual Transmutation of Energy:

Energy is forever moving into and out of different forms. All energy fields are connected.  Energy is constantly flowing.  It is a human reality that we can only focus on one thing at a time.  Energy on the other hand is never actually created or destroyed.  It simply moves from one form into another.  The beauty of this is that your thoughts have the ability to transmute from the nonphysical to physical all the time.



New Commercial Designation Completed

This weekend I took advantage of the cancelled Komen Race for the Cure and finished the requirements in order to obtain the newly offed ACP Designation. It is a training program designed to help residential agents transition into the commercial world of real estate.  The instructor Dan Andrews is a commercial practitioner in Michigan that has some eight years as a professor at University of Michigan.  He does an excellent job in presenting the material.  I watched the videos through RE/MAX University.  There were five modules with ten question tests following each.  Pretty cool the way it all works.  I used ROKU to watch the videos on my TV and took the tests online.

I found the program well designed. I must admit it is indeed a challenge to cover all of the terms and methods used in commercial real estate.  Dan put the material in good order. The ACP program is an overview from which one can better choose an area of expertise and direction.

I took the course because I recently decided to practice commercial real estate to help expedite the process of getting a commercial division going within our company.  The first phase which was to start property management company is doing quite well and growing thanks to Scott Vermilya, our managing partner.  It is hugely helpful to be able to provide management services to our residential clients and to assist our agents in developing deeper relationships with their clients. This relationship is creating all kinds of new opportunities for us.

So in a way I guess that this designation signifies the actual start of our commercial division.  Now, in addition to providing commercial services we will look to add additional practitioners and grow our commercial division.  So stay tuned for upcoming developments.

The Art of Kaizen – Continuous Improvement

In essence change is good.  Kaizen is a simple method of improvement and awareness.

Kaizen evolved as a concept where companies such as Sony, Toyota and others made continuous improvement part of the companies DNA. Their success is legendary.  Learn more about Kaizen Improve with Kaizen System, How the Japanese “Kaizen” Method Can Change Your Life. These same principles can be effectively used by individuals, teams and partnerships in building their real estate practice.

What are the key components to a successful real estate practice?  What can we measure and practice in an effort to achieve the best results in the shortest time?  Start by writing out a list of these activities; listing & selling presentations, marketing campaign, lead generation and conversion and others.  In essence, define what is standard for what you do in your business.  Your current production level does not matter.  This exercise is intended to help you see the “big picture” view of your business.  Once you are clear on your base line practice(s) you can begin applying the process of Kaizen or continuous improvement.

The process is quite simple and only requires an understanding that the energy in all that you do is to be captured and improved upon instead of lost and dissipated.  As the old Chinese proverb says, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  In Kaizen it begins with the understanding that continuous improvement conserves energy and increases momentum.

Four step process:

Start: What is the most pressing problem I am having?  Define problem area you wish to improve.

Choose: What can I do differently to eliminate the problem or reduce its’ impact? Decide on specific changes to be made.

Implement:  How will I know it’s improved?  Make sure you can measure results.

Capture: What do I need to do to make this my new standard?  Blend into or raise your standard of practice continuously.

Think of the process as a constant and continuous upward spiral. It never stops.  The process is forgiving not demanding.  You can come in and out of its focus as you wish.  There is no consequence to returning to the process should you drift away, only a stronger understanding of the value in its simplicity.

Personally, Kaizen has helped save me from trying to be perfect instead of effective.  I like to call myself a “recovering perfectionist”. The perfectionist has a tendency to over analyze and in essence procrastinate instead of taking action and learning by experience.  Through Kaizen I have learned to handle many more activities and projects than I would have ever imagined.  I see all that I do as a large wheel or spiral of improvement where I strive to get a plan into action sooner rather than later.  Remember, time is of the essence, just like in real estate.  The more time that passes the less likely you are to follow through.

As a Broker/Owner of a growing 40+ person company I have a strong desire to provide the very best in support, service and personal development.   So I now work with a “Done is Better” attitude knowing that once I get the project into my cycle of activity I will evaluate it to see if I can improve it and therefore raise the effectiveness or perhaps simply let it disappear.

Kaizen can be practiced by anyone often in less than ten minutes.  It can have a lasting and dramatic effect on how things get done.  It centers on personal accountability and honesty. If in a team or partnership, add the expectation that everyone involved will take responsibility for their contributions to help define efficiency and effectiveness.  It is awareness that all you do can and should be improved upon, ideally using energy that is already in motion. It is a process of compounding and increasing positive energy.  Let kinetics work for you. See your practice as a series of strategies where you test and apply measurable tactics to move you ever faster forward toward your goals and dreams.

Think of the four steps as a quality improvement circle.  You need to complete all four for maximum impact or improvement.  When you identify a problem write it down so that you can complete the process at a time where you can really focus on it.  It might be an improvement to a presentation, a soft close technique or any number of realizations.  Get the most out of your efforts.  Build a positive business cycle of continuous improvement that recycles your energy into ever greater success and joy.

Kaizen Real Estate Guide Says:

  • Do What Matters Most First
  • Choose a Simple Solution – Not The Perfect One
  • You Will Return To What Matters- Improve it then
  • Done Is Better
  • Problems Are Opportunities in Disguise
  •  Re-evaluate Fixed Ideas – Learn & Grow
  •  Resist Stagnation – Seek Inspiration