Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Tuna High Road

Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand -- Homer Simpson

Last Friday evening I received an internet inquiry regarding one of my property listings. It was almost 7:00 p.m. and I had just walked in the door at home when I saw the e-mail. I sat down at my home computer, read the e-mail, researched the question and responded to the consumer. The time from his inquiry to my response was 29 minutes. The next afternoon (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.) I received a call about the same property. I determined that this was the same individual to whom I had responded the previous evening. The caller said that he would like to see the property . . . that afternoon. I asked if about an hour from then would be a good time and said that I would have to confirm with the owner as the home was occupied. I then asked two questions: I restated the price and asked if this home was within his intended price range; I also asked if he was currently represented by a real estate agent. As people sometimes do, he side-stepped the price question. However, the answer to the other question got my attention.

Yes, he said, he did have a real estate agent, but his agent does not work on weekends. This was a variation of another answer that I sometimes hear, "I did not want to bother my agent on the weekend." There is no twelve step program for smartass people like me, so it's sometimes hard to control my urges.

However, I politely explained to him that, since he had a representative, his interests as a potential buyer were best served by seeing the property with his agent, not with me, the seller's agent. (For a description of how North Carolina real estate agents work, click HERE). He continued to press me to show him the house and I continued to explain how I would be happy to cooperate with HIS AGENT, how easy it would be for HIS AGENT to make an appointment and that his interests would be best served by working with HIS AGENT. He was clearly annoyed and disappointed that I would not now show the house myself.

Later that evening, I received an e-mail from that gentleman in which he a) told me how disappointed he was that I did not want to show him this home, b) that he had found an expensive home that he was going to buy in a swanky subdivision and c) that he hoped real estate agents would someday understand that the general public was often available to view properties only in the evenings or on weekends.

So, at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening, I sat down at my computer to respond to him once again. I explained that when he sent his inquiry on Friday evening and I responded --- I was working. When he called at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and I took his call --- I was working. And, at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening, typing an e-mail response --- I was working. I further explained that my advice that he work with his agent was honest, sincere and sound -- and should not be confused with laziness on my part.

I said a few other things as well, but had the foresight to ask my wife to read my response before I hit the SEND button. She spotted a couple of well written but, apparently, unnecessary sentences (see smartass reference above) and admonished me to take the HIGH ROAD. What's wrong with the low road, I asked. Here is a guy who may or may not be serious, who may or may not be financially qualified and who says that he has a real estate agent, but HIS AGENT does not work on weekends so he wants me to do his agent's job. He's such a jerk that he feels the need to tell me that he has found and purchased a home in the most expensive neigborhood in town (so presumably he tricked some other well intentioned real estate agent into showing him a home that, if he did actually buy it, the agent would not be his representative and would not be compensated for his/her work). And, he wants to lump me in with his lazya**, non-weekend working agent. Needless to say, the contents of this whole paragraph were deleted before the actual message was sent.

Here is how I and my professional colleagues work. We will give you our time and expertise. We've worked weekends, nights and holidays (I wrote an offer on New Year's Day this year). We've missed meals, social engagements, time off and sleep to assist our clients. We will work as hard and as long as it takes. We are delighted to do so. In return, we expect your loyalty.

If you have an agent who does not return your calls, answer your questions or is unavailable to work with your schedule . . . FIRE YOUR AGENT! There are plenty of hard working, savvy service-oriented REALTORS who can assist you. I'm one of them. Give me a call.

Finally, just so you know, I have contacts with top flight agents throughout the country. Know someone who has a home to sell in New Jersey? Somone in Arizona who wants to buy a home in Forida? Call me. I can put your family and friends in touch with agents throughout the country who will provide the same high level of service that I provide for my clients. Let me know how I can help.

The low road. That was fun. Scoot on.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Inspired Tuna

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss, but it is too low and reach it. -- Michelangelo

This past weekend I had the honor and pleasure of watching several of my Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty colleagues (pictured above) participate in the Wilmington YMCA Triathlon. Participants swam 1.5 kilometers, then biked 20 kilometers and finished with a 5k run. All summer long, these athletes have been training. I photographed most of them along the course and was witness to their dedication. It was not a surprise to me though, as I see the same dedication in the way they approach their daily real estate business. These are people you want as your advocate because they have trained for the business of representing their clients and they are prepared for the task. It's my privilege to have them as my colleagues.

I'm not sure where their inspiration will lead me, but I know that I am a better person for having their friendship. I've thought about their amazing accomplishments all week.

I did not participate in the triathlon, but I do have the training and dedication to go the distance for you in your real estate transactions. Visit me at my website, friend me on Facebook or contact me the old fashioned way -- by phone at (910) 619-1501.

Who inspires you? Who do you inspire? Aim high. Scoot on.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuna Surprise

Bart Simpson: I am through with working. Working is for chumps.
Homer: Son, I'm proud of you. I was twice your age when I figured that out.

There's a company called Predicto that's figured out that working is for chumps. They have a way to make money by taking it from working chumps . . . you and me. They can take your money from right in front of your nose and you may never realize it.

Here's how it worked with me. Apparently, my wife received a text message on her wireless phone from 654654. Although she did not ask for this message, she did not respond to this message and she probably ignored the message, because she RECEIVED this message, she was automatically subscribed to a service that bills $9.99 per month on my Verizon wireless account. Now, my wireless phone bill has 77 lines of charges, credits, discounts, surcharges, taxes, etc., so it's pretty easy to miss one line item. Who among us understands how our $129 wireless package winds up costing $165?

When I saw the $9.99 charge last month on my bill, I went to the Verizon store to inquire about it. I was told that my wife had SENT a text to some premium service -- like texting a vote for your favorite performer on a TV contest show. I was skeptical, but I did not have my wife or her phone with me, so I accepted the charge, but asked how I could prevent future charges. A very helpful Verizon rep checked her computer records, found a telephone number and talked to a Predicto rep who refused to cancel the service without talking directly to the account holder -- me. So, I took the phone, politely explained that I did not want to continue the service and that I wanted to cancel my account. The Predicto rep told me that by maintaining the account, I would be eligible for contest prizes. I told her again that I wanted to cancel the account. As a matter of fact, I told her more than a dozen times that I wanted to cancel the account, until my polite self was exhausted and replaced by a less kinder and gentler persona. By the end of my phone conversation, I noticed that the store rep had retreated to what she considered a safe distance from me. I think she was wondering where she left her pepper spray. However, the Predicto rep had finally agreed to cancel the account.

Upon checking my most recent wireless bill, there was the charge again. This time, I called Verizon's customer service. I had determined that my wife had NOT sent the text, so I figured that I was being slammed. The customer service rep told me that my wife had actually RECEIVED a text from 654654. While still on the phone with Verizon, I Googled "text 654654". The results were overwhelming and all negative.

The Verizon rep told me that, to cancel the service, I HAD TO SEND A TEXT TO 654654 with the word "STOP" and then have Verizon put a block on my account so that I cannot receive or send premium text messages. The rep offered to credit the most recent charge. However, he also told me that the charges had begun three month ago. I simply had not caught them. I'm still trying to get Verizon to credit ALL of these charges, but here's the best part of the story.

After the telephone conversation, I went to the local Verizon store to pay my bill. Thinking that I had discovered some new scam, I told a different store rep my story. She said, "Yes, I know. We see it all the time." So here's the deal: VERIZON AND ALL THE OTHER WIRELESS PROVIDERS KNOW THAT PREDICTO IS SLAMMING THEIR CUSTOMERS. Predicto's charges appear on your wireless bill tucked in with TXT/PIX-FLIX, Megabyte Usage and dozens of other line items.

For a sampling of what others have to say about Predicto, click HERE. And then, my friends, check your wireless phone bill.

What's this have to do with Wilmington NC real estate? Nada, but I hope it's helpful.

Scoot on. Don't be a chump.

Monday, August 24, 2009

School o' Tuna

You can only be young once. But you can always be immature. - Dave Barry

School starts this week. That means school buses and that means that I'm always confused as to when to stop and when it's OK to pass.

A little Googling led me to the following site
to get the rules shown below.

In North Carolina, passing a stopped school bus while it is loading or unloading students carries a fine of up to $200, five driver's license points, and possibly 90 days in jail. A conviction usually means a 90% increase in a driver's insurance rates.
With respect to real estate, remember that there are only three more months left to take advantage of the $8,000 first time home buyer's credit. If you have questions about the credit or the Wilmington NC real estate market, call (910-619-1501) or e-mail.
Scoot . . . safely.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Aged Tuna

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64? - The Beatles, When I'm 64.

B-Day today. I stayed up 'til midnight last night; didn't want to turn a year older any sooner than I had to. Overnight, I forgot my password to access this blog. It's all downhill from here.

Last time, I wrote about needing undies to replace those I bought when Clinton was prez. Mom-in-law came through for B-Day; who knew Hello Kitty made briefs in my size?

I did make an effort (small) to buy my own. The local department store has senior night where everything is discounted for us mature folks. Everything, that is except Jockey brand undies (my boys are brand loyal). I approached the checkout counter with an armload, but since I couldn't get a geezer discount, put them back, on principle. So, the same store sends me a $10 coupon for my birthday. The catch is that I have to spend $50 to save $10. That's like me saying I'll take you out and buy you a dessert, but first you have to buy me dinner.

I thought I might get a deal online, so I went to the Jockey web site; had to scroll through two pages of crotches to find what I wanted. Those male models must not have had any place to put their keys and wallet during the photo shoot, 'cause there's a lot more going on in their briefs than in mine. I'll bet theirs aren't all bagged out in the back like mine either. Anyhow, slight savings + shipping = better off buying locally and put all this talk of unmentionables behind me.

Let's talk real estate. The local news(?)paper says June was terrible month for home sales. However, in the last three months, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty, put over 1000 properties under contract. That's one home sold every 3.7 hours! That's the results you get from a bunch of dedicated hard working real estate agents.

Want to know what's going on in the Wilmington real estate market? Confused about financing, short sales, foreclosures? Call, e-mail, tweet or come in to see me. If I can't answer your questions completely, I'll put you in touch with an expert who can.

Life is good. Have fun. Be grateful. Find someone in the military and thank him/her. Scoot on.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tuna Briefs

The first rule of underpants is: Do not talk about underpants. –

I woke up this morning feeling in an especially grateful mood and I thought . . . I’ll blog about gratitude. I was preparing a mental list of all the things in my life for which I am grateful when I got into an argument with my wife about underpants, which, as the saying goes, got my panties in a bunch.

So, gratitude’s out. I’m going with underpants.

Now, I’m sure that there are people who’ve had an argument about underpants, as in your wife finds a pair (not hers) in your glove compartment. Not me. I’m just saying . . .

No, for me it was an answer to a simple question that got the ball (slight pun) rolling.

Wife: Your birthday is coming up soon. What would you like?
Me: Underpants.
Wife: No way. You have way too may pairs now and you never throw the old nasty ones away.
Me: Yeah, but . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The little dots indicate the space where I was trying to make my point, but my wife was the one actually doing the talking. The question in my mind was, how did I get myself in this situation? As a Wilmington real estate broker, I analyze information, market statistics, trends, etc. and advise clients so that they can achieve goals and make informed decisions. I'd like to think I’m a smart guy and a decent problem solver. You would have thought I could have (should have) avoided the underpants argument. After all, I’ve been here before. Our discussion ended, as it always has, with a curt directive to buy my own underpants. We have similar conversations about socks.

See, the crux of the matter is that I don’t like clothes shopping. I under-like shopping for underpants. So, every once in a while, I stock up like a crazed underpants survivalist. In a digital age, my underpants are analog. My stash is disintegrating. The clothes dryer has rendered most of the elastic bands the consistency of dead leaves. The fabric has the ripped look of designer jeans. Moths are appalled that I blame my briefs demise on them. It’s time to clean house.

Once, years ago in my youth, I mistakenly dried a load of laundry at a laundromat for an hour and a half. The results were tiny potato chip brittle underpants, sized to fit Barbie’s boyfriend, but he wouldn’t have been able to sit down.

So, faced with the choice of duct taping my briefs to my belly or going s-s-shopping, I guess shopping is slightly less painful than tearing off the duct tape at the end of the day.

Here's a thought for you first time home buyers. The government is offering an $8,000 tax credit as an incentive to purchase a home. You can buy a lot of underpants for eight grand.

Scoot on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuna Speak

Me fail English? That's unpossible. - Ralph Wiggum (The Simpsons)

I've gone on this mini-rant before, so please forgive me for repeating myself, but I continue to be perplexed that the general public, as well as many of my colleagues, cannot properly pronounce what we do for a living. We're REALTORS, two syllables; not REAL-A-TORS. Nobody calls a doctor a DOC-A-TOR or a plumber a PLUM-A-BER. What's the prob-a-lem here?

Our training director stopped using the phrase "sphere of influence" in her classes and, instead, uses the phrase "center of influence" to describe the group of people upon whom we have some influence just because they know us. Why the change? Too many people were saying "spear of influence." Things might go a little smoother for me sometimes if I DID have a "spear of influence."

Me: Are you ready to list your home with me?
Homeowner: I'll have to think about it.
Me: How about I poke you with my spear of influence. Say hello to my little friend.
Homeowner: Where do I sign?

In addition, I've noticed some language manglers advertise a house for "sell", while other are "saling" a house. Sell. Sale. It's not that confusing. How about "sailing" a house? Carl did it in the movie UP. Our print and e-mail communications make a statement about us. I think sometimes our grammatical/spelling zipper is down, but we don't seem to notice.

OK, now to some info you can use. As in all occupations, real estate agents and mortgage lenders have their own vernacular. Here are three terms that are used when describing a buyer's loan qualification.

Prequalification - full verbal loan application, credit check, "approve" received through Automated Underwriting.

Preapproval - All of the above PLUS receipt of income documentation (pay stubs & W2's or tax returns) and proof of assets needed for down payment. Review of any unusual circumstances with underwriter.

Loan Commitment - All of the above PLUS signatures on all applications and disclosures, appraisal received and approved, title insurance, rate locked, underwriter review and approval of all documentation.

If you have questions on loan programs, interest rates, closing costs, etc., please contact Grace Bass at Alpha Mortgage

And, as always, if you have questions about the Wilmington Real Estate market, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stupid Tuna Tricks

Homer Simpson: My ears are burning.
Lisa: I wasn't talking about you, Dad.
Homer: No, my ears are really burning. I wanted to see inside, so I lit a Q-tip.

Yesterday, I sat through a few hours of District Court. I was there as a witness to a hit and run traffic accident, but the court involved traffic violations, some breaking and entering, a little drug possession . . . Homer wasn't there, but some of his real life counterparts were.

Now, maybe I'm out of touch, not having any experience with going to court, but I'm pretty sure that you might want to strive for a better chance of making a good impression on the court than the guy who showed up wearing camo baggy shorts, flip-flops and an I "heart" Party Girls T-shirt; however, that pretty much summed up the dress code on the public side of the fence. Here are some of my favorite moments from my morning (with only a little embellishment).

Judge: Mr. Jones, you're here today because you were cited for driving while your license was revoked. And, you're late. Why were you late?
Jones: Well, there was a lot of traffic and I had to drive real slow.
Judge: You were driving?
Jones: Yeah. . . . . . Oh!

Now the funny part isn't that Jones got tripped up by admitting to driving to court on a revoked/suspended license. It was the four people after him, charged with the same offense, who answered the same way. Pay attention people!

Judge: Mr. Smith, you were not here when we called your name. You were supposed to be here at 9:00. Why were you late?
Smith: I wasn't late your honor. I was here at 5 after 9:00.
Judge: 5 after 9:00 is not 9:00. And, by the way, we did not call the roll until 9:30.
Smith: Huh?

Judge: Ma'am, are you Mary Brown?
Brown: (wearing blinking blue-tooth earpiece): No, that's my daughter.
Judge: Why isn't your daughter here in court?
Brown: Her grandmother is having a colonoscopy.
Judge: Your daughter's grandmother? Would that be your mother?
Brown: Uh-Huh.
Judge: Ms. Brown, let me explain how this works. When your daughter is supposed to be in court, she can't send in a substitute. It's court, not basketball. I'll be issuing a warrant for her arrest.

A man is brought in wearing a jail uniform. He has added to his impressive resume of drug possession, stolen goods sales and larceny with some new charges. The judge tells him that he is sentenced to 60 months in the Department of Correction and that he should seek substance abuse assistance in the slammer. He insists that he has changed his ways and cleaned up his act. In fact, he says, he is going to start a new job tomorrow. He's going to be late for work.

I know it's not right to make fun of people, but you can't make this stuff up. People make poor decisions, won't take responsibility for their actions and seem genuinely surprised when the judge doesn't believe their outrageous excuses. My only regret is that I did not know how to tweet from my phone. I'll learn and I'm going back for more. Next time, I'll take a sandwich.

OK, none of this has anything to do with Wilmington Real Estate, but if I say Wilmington Real Estate enough times and link it to my website, it'll help in the Google searches.

Use sunscreen. Scoot on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rainbow Tuna

I want to share something with you: The three little sentences that will get you through life. Number 1: Cover for me. Number 2: Oh, good idea, Boss! Number 3: It was like that when I got here. -- Homer Simpson

Ever notice how some of your digital photographs look orange or, maybe have a green tint? The scene you photographed, as you saw it, looked fine, so why did the colors change. Well, there's a setting in your camera called "white balance". While our eyes can adjust for different types of lighting -- outdoors, incandescent light, candle light, etc., cameras need to know what type of light is present in the scene and adjust for it. Most cameras automatically adjust to outdoor light (sun light). When you shoot outdoors, white objects appear white and all the other objects appear as their correct colors.

Indoors, however, incandescent lighting adds an overall orange tint. It has something to do with light wave lengths and physics. My precise understanding of the physics involved is pretty much blah, blah, blah, blah orange. If you find the white balance setting on your camera, you can set it to indoors and the camera will magically make the colors right. (*Caution* Finding the white balance setting may involve reading the owner's manual). Same thing for flourescent lighting, found in most office buildings; things look a little green, like when you've eaten from the cardboard container that's been in the back of the refrigerator waaay too long.

Of course, most point and shoot cameras have an automatic white balance setting, but like all things automatic, those settings are easily fooled. So, let's review. You take the indoor photo, thinking the automatic white balance will tell the camera what all the colors in the scene are supposed to look like. If it works, no sweat. If not, and your girlfriend's mother isn't really green, consider changing the white balance in your camera's settings to flourescent and take the shot again. If she's still green, keep the camera; get a new girlfriend.

The birds are chirping, the flowers blooming and our Wilmington, NC real estate market is humming nicely along. Call or e-mail with any questions about buying in today's market, mortgage interest rates, whether you qualify for the $8,000 tax credit . . . or anything else. I'm always happy to help.

Scoot on!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Taking Your Tuna For Granted

Lisa, Vampires are make-believe, like elves, gremlins and Eskimos. -- Homer Simpson

The current issue of Coastal Living magazine has a feature article titled Coastal Dream Towns. The article starts off by saying that they found the best places to live at the shore (I grew up in New Jersey, so I know the shore means the beach).

Coastal Living's pick for the Southeast? You guessed it -- Wilmington, which the article describes as a cultural gem. The magazine cites the following "allure factors" -- a symphony, theater groups, plenty of live-music clubs, and festivals, celebrating jazz, blues, and film. It says that the downtown Riverwalk is a model of adaptive reuse, with shops and restaurants bringing a faded commercial district back to life. I've been here since 1984 and lived in the Historic District for over 19 years; the "fade" has been gone for quite some time!

Here is another tidbit from the same article. It says that Wilmington will soon be home to the world's third-largest sound-stage. The EUE/Screen Gems facility, under construction, incorporates the largest water tank (for filming underwater scenes) outside of California.

So, the next time that you and the rest of the school of tuna are slowly swimming up Military Cutoff Road, remember, you're living in a cultural gem.

Wanna live at the beach? Sleep with the fishes? (no, wait, that's New Jersey talk). Looking for a great deal in the Wilmington real estate market? E-mail or call me. Our market has really come alive this Spring. Great inventory, great prices and great interest rates -- a real estate hat trick!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up somewhere else. -- Yogi Berra

This coming weekend you could wind up in an REALTOR open house because it's the Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty Open House Spectacular. As of today (Tuesday), Sea Coast agents plan to host 132 open houses. For the locations and times, click HERE.

This coming Saturday afternoon (1-4) you'll find me at 409 Knollwood Drive in the Cross Creek neighborhood in Hampstead. Sunday (1-4), I'll be in town in Devon Park at 3729 Winston Boulevard. If you have questions about these or any other properties, please contact me.

For the most current and comprehensive source of Wilmington, NC properties for sale, check out

Don't forget, if you are a first time home buyer or have not owned a home in the past three years, you are eligible for an $8,000 tax credit courtesy of your Uncle Sam. Even if you don't qualify for this credit because you owned another home, you can still take advantage of the fantastic mortgage interest rates.

For more information about Wilmington, including helpful links to area information go to

And finally, if you're a USAA member, you may be entitled to a cash bonus when you purchase your next home through me. Contact me for details at or (910) 619-1501.

Monday, April 6, 2009

That's A Lot Of Tuna

There is no security on this earth, there is only opportunity. -- General Douglas MacArthur

Right now, there's a great opportunity available for first time homebuyers. Essentially, if you have not owned a home in the past three years, you are eligible for an $8,000 tax credit if you purchase and close on a primary residence by December 1, 2009. This tax credit DOES NOT have to be repaid! You can find the details at

As of this writing, mortgage interest rates are below 5%. Home prices are the best (lowest) they have been in several years. And, the government wants to give you $8,000! That's opportunity. If you have not spoken with a mortgage lender to see what this means for you, let me recommend that you contact Grace Bass with Alpha Mortgage, the Wilmington area's premier mortgage lender. You can reach Grace at

There is currently a great selection of available homes for sale. You can search for all currently available homes on my website

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ho Hum Tuna

No good deed goes unpunished. . . . Don't ask.

I bought a new video camera to begin making video blogs, but still am not comfortable speaking into the camera yet. So while I continue to practice, take a look at this informative article I found on It's good advice for every home seller.

The Wilmington real estate market is picking up. It's great to see buyers who understand that buying when prices and mortgage rates are low is a smart move.

Make it a great week. Scoot on.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tuna Melt

Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals . . . except the weasel. -- Homer Simpson

I've been weaseling out of writing a blog entry for no good reason. Well, actually for the reason that I could not think of something to write. This week, however, I had the privilege of listening to an excellent speaker, Rick DeLuca. In addition to the stuff that's probably only of interest to real estate agents, he offered some random gems that I want to share with you.

Have you ever been frustrated with customer service phone instructions that have you listening to menus and pressing every button on your phone? Then here's a website you need to bookmark -- Look up the company name, find the customer service telephone number and see instructions that will help you get to a live person. Whether or not that individual will be of any help is another story.

Know Your Stuff is a free download that will help you make a home inventory. In the event you suffer a fire or theft, you'll have a record of your stuff for the insurance claim. A word of caution -- make a back up copy and keep it off premises. If someone steals your stuff, including your computer, and the only copy of your inventory is on your computer, you're SOL.

A couple of things about e-mail: the #1 problem with e-mail correspondence is misspelling. Make sure that your spell check feature is turned on and as an added bonus, you might try reading what you wrote before you hit the send button. A friend sent me a joke this week that had to do with proof reading. The premise of the joke was that someone had dropped a pen in his printer and it was stuck in the gears. While the person awaited the repairman, he wanted to warn his co-workers against trying to use the printer by posting a handwritten sign that said "do not use printer, penis stuck." The #2 thing to know about e-mail correspondence is that TYPING IN ALL CAPS MEANS THAT YOU'RE SHOUTING. Don't do it!

Here's a free photo sharing download called Photo Leap. I have not tried this yet, but it's supposed to allow you to share a lot of photos without resizing the photos or adding as attachments. And, finally, here's a free download that will allow you to organize the photos that you have in a million different places on your computer -- Picasa.

Just so you don't forget, I am a professional real estate expert with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty, the #1 real estate company in southeastern North Carolina for nine years running. Need advice or have a question about the market? Maybe you're looking for a place to search properties for sale. Send me an e-mail or visit my website. I'll be happy to help.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tough Tuna

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty -- Winston Churchill

There are buying and selling opportunities in the Wilmington, NC real estate market. Now. Today. Don't let fear and ignorance (equal opportunity emotions for both buyers and sellers) keep you from benefiting from these opportunities. Easy answers? Shortcuts? There are none. Facts and figures; there are plenty. A knowledgeable and trusted real estate professional can explain these facts. Listen, understand and you will benefit. Don't be the pessimist. Worse, don't be misinformed or under informed.

Recently, listed the Healthiest Housing Markets for 2009. Wilmington, NC made the list. Read the full story HERE.

If you contact me, I may not always tell you what you want to hear, but I'll always tell you the truth and I'll use my 23+ years of experience, my market knowledge and the latest market statistics to show you what you can expect from today's real estate market and how you can take advantage of today's opportunities.

One more quote before I go: Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity -- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tuna Time

Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true. - Homer Simpson

As a Wilmington, NC real estate agent, I shoot a lot of photos of the properties I market. Since I do not use flash in my indoor photos, I try to make the most of natural light from windows and doors, and the lighting in the room. This tip will work whether you're just shooting to show the room or if you have a subject (friend or pet) in the room.

In most cases, it's best to have the light source (window or lights) behind you instead of shooting into the light. The first photo here illustrates the problem. With the camera facing the window, the light meter took the reading off the brightest part of the scene (the window). Consequently, the room itself was too dark. To solve that problem in the second shot, I moved the camera slightly to the left and pointed it just to the right of the fireplace. I pressed the shutter button down halfway to set the focus and exposure and, while keeping pressure on the shutter button, moved the camera back to the right to re-compose the scene. Then I pressed the button the rest of the way to take the photo. The result is that the room looks more natural. The down side is that the window appears bright white. However, unless you're going to use a strong flash to balance indoor and outdoor lighting (and most point and shoot cameras don't offer this option) your going to wind up with a properly exposed window with a dark interior or a decent looking interior with the equivalent of a small nuclear blast outside.
So, as a general rule indoors or outside, try to keep the light source behind you and illuminating your subject(s). If that is not possible, use this tip. If your subject is a friend and the light is behind him/her, try aiming the camera at something else about the same distance as your subject. Press the shutter halfway, then (with pressure still on the shutter) move the camera back to your subject and take the shot. As I've said before, with digital cameras, you can check your results right away and take additional shots until you get the one you like.

For additional examples of indoor shots, click on any one of the three photos on the right side of this blog. Questions? Contact me. Scoot into the light.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Scoot Tuna Factoids

Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. - Jerry Garcia

I've been tagged on Facebook, by my wife no less, to provide 25 Things About Me. So, being a two birds with one stone kind of guy, I thought I would post them here and make my Facebook friends read my post. The part I don't cherish is tagging 25 other people to do the same. That has all the appeal of a chain letter. Here's my 25.
  1. I've had five dogs in my life -- Snooper, Dusky (aka Sam), Bulgie, Callie and Maggie
  2. I believe that the toilet paper should roll forward off the top and not come from behind (no pun intended).
  3. Back in the day, there was a military draft. Teaching was an exempt status. Right after college, I taught 6th grade in an attempt to avoid the draft. It didn't work.
  4. In Viet Nam, I was a Vietnamese translator. I was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service.
  5. I died once.
  6. I knew my wife for less than three months before we were married.
  7. I'm a procrastinator. More about that later.
  8. I live my life with an attitude of gratitude.
  9. My favorite meal is turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. I used to order that at MOI.
  10. I studied photography at Maryland Institute of Art.
  11. I once captured a bat armed with a yard stick and wearing nothing more than a laundry basket on my head.
  12. I can wiggle my ears.
  13. I got my first pair of cowboy boots this past Christmas.
  14. We were married in the county court house. In attendance were my wife's parents and younger sister. When the clerk pronounced us married, Nancy's mother said to her, "Now you're Mrs. DAY."
  15. For a while, my hair was shoulder length.
  16. I'd like to be a good photographer.
  17. The movie Rudy chokes me up . . . every time.
  18. My parents offered to buy cigarettes for my brother and me so we would not have to sneak them. Consequently, neither of us ever smoked.
  19. It bothers me that some people in my profession cannot pronounce what they do. We're REALTORS (two syllables, real-tors, not real-a-tors). Doctors know they're not doc-a-tors; plumbers know they're not plum-a-bers. What's the problem?
  20. I never had a chocolate chip cookie I didn't like.
  21. Sometimes when I'm distracted, I put on two wristwatches . . . on the same arm.
  22. Briefs, not boxers.
  23. In high school, I went out for the football team. I was terrible, but did not want to quit. One day at practice, Buddy Tallman ran over me and I sprained my ankle really badly. I was on crutches, went to the games with the team and got lots of sympathy in school. The coach even commented on my commitment. I ate it up. The next year, I went out for band.
  24. In college, I played drums in a band called The Saturday Knights. If I took a date to a job, she had to sit in the back seat of my Volkswagen because the bass drum only fit in the front passenger seat.
  25. My middle name is Morris.

Want to know about the Wilmington NC real estate market? Ask me. Next time, photo tips. I promise.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuna Tidbits

You miss 100% of the shots you never take -- Wayne Gretzky

I missed my normal self-imposed deadline for writing a post. It seems that I actually had a social life this past weekend, not my normal lame stay-at-home excitement. Not to brag, but I actually stayed awake until 11:00 . . . OK, 10:45. Anyhow, this week I decided to abandon my photo tips in favor of real estate news and I've gone the lazy route by including this video. Although this is not exactly about Wilmington, NC real estate, what I like about this video clip is that a) it's positive information and b) it's from a neutral source, MSNBC. Enjoy.

BRAG ALERT!! This past Sunday's Star News featured a story about my wife, Nancy Noel May. The reporter, Si Cantwell, also shot this video. This is a car that knows how to scoot.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tuna Group Hug

Operator! Give me the number for 9-1-1! -- Homer Simpson

Speaking of things obvious, this is as good a time as any to talk about editing your photos. The point of taking lots of photos is to increase your chances of actually taking an interesting shot. This process allows you to pick out the best and, here's the important part, DELETE THE REST. If you took 29 photos of you and your friends taking photos of each other at a party, chances are you don't need to post all of them to your Facebook page to show everyone how much fun you had and/or how cool you are. Try to pick out a few that tell a story or are, in your opinion, the funniest. Back in the day, people had flip out plastic photo sleeves. They would sneak up on you and drop one end of the sleeve and you were trapped having to look at four feet of photos. Today, we have digital. Take more, bore more. Photographs are like opinions -- you have plenty of them. You just don't need to go sharing every one of them with the world. Remember, with digital photography, you get instant feedback. So, take lots of photos, edit down and share your best. That's what the pros do.

Speaking, too, of Facebook, I now have a Facebook page. See the little Facebook badge thingy. I'm trying to figure out how to be a good Facebook citizen. I would appreciate your opinion. I am a Wilmington NC real estate agent and share that matter of factly and proudly, in the same manner as when people ask, in real life, what it is I do for a living. However, I am seeing more and more of my colleagues using Facebook as a billboard to advertise themselves, their services and their current listing inventory. Although I have been found by potential clients and long lost personal acquaintances, I look at FB as an opportunity to interact socially vs. advertise. As a practicing geezer, I'm afraid I'm either missing the point . . . or getting it. I'm just not sure which. If you are, let me know.

And so I close by saying opinions are like opinions. I got 'em, but . . . who cares? Scoot gently.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fresh Tuna

When I die, I want to go peacefully, in my sleep, like my grandfather . . . not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car. -- Unknown

Today, I want to talk about distractions. For example, say you're at work and you're supposed to be, well, working. But, instead, you're distracted, as in reading this blog. You need to be aware of distractions in your photographs as well.

Below are two shots of my wife, Nancy, in her art smart car (named Bebe). She wanted some photos to include on her website and on her blog. So, in following my own advice, I took a bunch of shots from various angles and distances. In the first shot, there's stuff going on in the background that distracts from the image I want. There are boats around the car and part of one that appears through the window. In the second shot, I moved in closer and got down lower, eliminating the distractions from the image. These shots were made late in the day so I added some fill flash to the second shot, but the point (less I become distracted) is that Nancy and the car are the main focus of the shot. You can tell that it's getting dark and that the photo was taken near water, but I don't think that the soft background competes with the subjects.

Click on the photos to enlarge them. Don't be afraid to move in close and change the angle from which you take the shot.

As a Wilmington NC real estate agent, I take a lot of photographs of the properties I market. I try to be aware of any situations that will detract from the main focus of the photograph. For example, I'm sure you've seen interior photos of homes with the TV on. So you wind up looking at the TV instead of focusing on the room. Another typical interior distraction is shooting directly into a mirror or other reflective surface, especially with the flash.

Sooo, the point is to make the effort to try to include only those elements that are important to the photograph. Sometimes, that means moving in close, maybe to one side, maybe high, maybe low. Other times, you may want to move back so you can include other elements that add to the story you're trying to tell. Just try to take control. The more thought you put into the process, the better your photographs.

Eat more tuna.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

5, 4, 3, 2-na, 1. Happy New Year

The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have -- Leonard Nimoy

It's 2009. I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. I'm excited about this year. As a Wilmington real estate agent, people ask me about the local real estate market, usually with the same downward tone in their voice that they use when inquiring about a sick elderly relative -- "How's your aunt Lucy?" The expectation is that Lucy (my real estate career) is not long for this world. So there's a certain disbelief when I say my business is doing well, thank you. My closed sales for 2008 slightly exceeded my production for 2007. Then, there's the look of skeptism. Poor man, is he trying to put a brave face on a dire situation?

Well, no. The real estate biz is tough, but, hey, I'm a tough guy. It's hard work and I work hard. It requires brains, creativity and fortitude . . . check, check and check, I've got 'em. I've been doing this for over 23 years, so I am used to seeing ups and downs.

Home values are down and everyone is pummeled daily with bad news -- newspaper, bad news; TV -- bad news; internet -- bad news. But, here's the deal. Real estate is local. The Detroit real estate market sucks. The same goes for a number of areas throughout the nation. Wilmington real estate is not nearly that grim. As a matter of fact, if you're a buyer, it's pretty good. There is plenty of inventory from which to choose and interest rates are hovering around 5%. If you're a seller and you've had your home for four or five years or longer, it's worth more than you paid. You can't say that about your Hummer. You've had shelter, you've had tax deductions and your home is worth more than you paid. What's the problem? If you purchased or re-financed in 2005, that's another story.

As the real estate market has changed over the years, I've adapted. The changes over the last couple of years have been more severe, but again, I've adapted. In doing so, I've been able to help my seller clients achieve what sellers have always wanted -- selling their homes at the highest price, in the shortest amount of time, and with the least amount of hassle. And, I continue to help my buyer clients find their best deals. I represent my clients well.

I'm not a miracle worker. I'll tell you what you need to know although it's not necessarily what you want to hear, but in the words of Larry, the cable guy, we'll get 'er done.

OK, so here's the first photo tip of the new year. Make sure you remove the lens cap.

Scoot on.