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Real Estate: Self-Representation

Unpopular Opinion: I think everyone needs to invest in a real estate course and learn what they need to know to do what they want to do – rent, own, invest, etc. – in their local market. This doesn’t mean you have to represent yourself in your deals. It does however, make it more likely for you to know when and how you are not being well represented.

I had four listing agents for my first resale in NYC. During the tenure of three of the agents, I was in real estate school in AZ. I had literally gone along with things suggested by the agents that I assumed was a ”professional knowledge” thing, that was nothing of the sort. Real estate agents are just people with their own opinions and biases just like you. More than likely, they are more concerned with their best interests than yours. Who knows what they consider to be their best interest on any given day dealing with you?

I’m absolutely certain there are excellent real estate agents in the world who truly strive to be good representatives of their clients and are respectful counterparts in a transaction. I have not had the honor of working with one. In either of the two states, I’ve bought and sold homes in.

FSBO’s (for sale by owner) are laughed at by professionals. They’re derided. As an agent selling my own property, I was scoffed at repeatedly. Another agent actually told me it was illegal for an agent to sell their own property. It’s not. One of my former brokerages made it impossible to remain with the agency if you sell on your own instead of listing with them. The average homeowner has the option to sell their own home or hire someone to do it for them, but a real estate agent can only sell through their agency? Nah. I didn’t get into real estate to have my options restricted. On property I own.

What I will tell you as a new agent with a clientele of one, myself, I am my best representative. I was the best representative of my properties. No one know the home better than the homeowner. Even if you work with an agent, your job is to make sure they market your property well. Only one agent of the six I’ve worked with got a better number for me than I got for myself, but she didn’t close the deal. She dropped the ball and told me to my face face, in front of her broker, that she did her job my getting me the offer. With my limited real estate knowledge (still in RE school at that point), I told her, “Your job is to close the deal.”

Agents don’t get paid for offers. They get paid when their brokers get paid. Their brokers get paid at closing. No close, no pay.

I went through two more agents after her before getting my license in NY, joining an agency and listing my own property. Listing with your brokerage as an owner/agent does have some benefits. In New York City, there’s no public MLS. Agencies market properties to each other. Agents build networks and databases for marketing units or buildings. It’s easier to be seen via an agency’s platform. I was in contract within a few weeks of listing my own property with my agency. The buyer had expressed interest to one of my former listing agents. Had even made a low offer, which I rejected. When I relisted my property, they reached out again and we met in the middle on price.

For my AZ resale, I had one agent before delisting and going FSBO. He fielded an offer. It was low. I nudged him to follow up. I got the sense he thought I was being unrealistic in my expectations. Honestly, I think he was going by the book. He was focused on comps and the comps on the block didn’t support my pricing. This is where personal knowledge of your property and neighborhood comes in.

The two recent sells on my street hd been quick and urgent. The first one may have been fear of market collapse or perhaps the owner was over-extended. A lot of homes in this community are second homes before they become primary residences.

The second home that sold under market felt trapped by the comp of the first sale. They were also on contingency with the builder for a larger home down the street. They were at risk of losing the lot they wanted, so they were desperate to close fast.

I wasn’t in a hurry. I had a low number I didn’t want to go below. The offer my agent got was about $30k below ask and $20k below my low number at the time. The house wasn’t showing, meaning either agents weren’t aware it was available or it simply wasn’t being shared/marketed by y agent. Tucson had very low inventory at this time. Other properties in the area were getting offers within a week of listing. I stayed listed for three months before canceling the listing. I rested during the holidays and relisted on Zillow in January.

The offer I accepted came in $500 below my floor and $10,000 below my ask. Decent numbers but not the best for the times. I hadn’t kept my eye on the market. The absolute lack of inventory in the Metro Tucson area meant I could’ve netted $30-50k above my ask had I been more patient and discerning. As it was, the offer I closed on was $30,000 higher than the offer my agent brought me months prior and $9,500 higher than the highest cash offer from a corporate cash buyer. Not to mention the 4-5% commission fees saved for any of the offers.

Representing myself has earned and saved me tens of thousands of dollars per transaction. Because proof is in the pudding, I don’t see myself using an agent unless it’s absolutely beneficial to me.

For example, I’m planning on buying investment properties in a state I’ve never owned in before. The properties are city-owned, deeply discounted and comes with performance requirements. The city also requires licensed agents to process the application. No problem. I’ll hire an agent. The city as the seller, pays the agent’s fee. If I choose well, I may have someone to navigate a new market with me. If my agent streak continues as it has been, then I’ll have another cautionary tale.

Speaking of cautionary tales, the buyers of my AZ home and their agents are intergalactic level assholes. Like truly, I’ve never encountered the audacious level of disrespect and entitlement as these four individuals exhibited throughout the course of the transaction. I already shared their numbers were within spitting distance of my range, so in my mind,not enough to to trash the deal over. However, their treatment of me was so insulting, I asked them to cancel the contract twice. I simply was not comfortable dealing with them. In Arizona, sellers can’t cancel purchase contracts unless there’s outright fraud. I suspected they were misrepresenting themselves and their intentions but it didn’t amount to the level of fraud. Essentially, I asked repeatedly for verification of identity and funds. Their agent ignored my requests. I ended up contacting their banker, whom I don’t know and who could say anything on the phone, but he claimed they were legit and he had verified identity and funds. He also forwarded a chain of emails which mollified me a bit. I was assured by my broker at the time that the title process would shake loose any discrepancies. Title was a breeze. These people weren’t.

Because of this experience, the next home I sell for myself, I will not pay for the buyers agent. If I am FSBO, and the buyer wants an agent, then the buyer can pay for their own agent. In my mind, I paid money for licensed professionals to disrespect me during the resale of my AZ home. The state board says their behavior (more than shared here) is neither an ethics violation or a professional standards violation. One broker told me this is what I get for representing myself. Another said, next time you’ll hire someone to represent you, won’t you? Yet another said, why don’t you believe in the system? Each of these people make money off of agents listing and closing properties with their firms. That’s the only way they remain profitable entities. Me selling outside of the agency is of no value to them. That’s a blaring intrinsic bias. I had to stop and ask myself, “Who does their advice benefit?” Then more specifically, “How does this advice benefit me?” It didn’t. So I had to continue to move in a way that benefited me. Honestly, this is how I’ll be moving for the foreseeable future.

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Don’t Psych Yourself Out!

The Mountain

Sometimes we focus on the mountain. We become fixated on the seemingly insurmountable obstacle we would never even dream of overcoming. Ironically, it’s the self-defeating language we speak to our inner selves that leads to poor imagination. We predetermine we are not able to do, to conquer, to overcome what is before us then we lay down and play dead… or put our heads in the dirt… or crawl into caves for extended hibernations.

Alternatively, we can choose to simply look at the mountain for what it is: something that has multiple sides and levels. There is always a way up, over, around, under and through it. Be assured, getting to the other side is achievable. Remembering this simple truth about every impossible situation will shift perspective and focus immeasurably. The mountain may not become a molehill, but it will become manageable. It can then be approached as a challenge or trial in need of an action plan.

Mind Shift

When we no longer view our obstacles as insurmountable they stop being the opposition of our life, the limits of creative thought, the borders of vision and the anchors of our energy.

How we react to external problems reflect our internal conflicts. The human condition seems to be a lifelong process of constantly striving to get to the other side of fear, and therefore to the other side ourselves. First, we have to see that it’s possible to do so.

The Process of Change

A few days ago, I resuscitated my bike; it had been sitting on flats in the garage for over a year. One of the things that attracted me to the Sonoran Desert was the thought of cycling with my camera throughout the year. Unfortunately, when I got here, everything about riding in the desert seemed like a death wish. Long expanses of curving road. Impatient drivers. Wild animals. Cactus needles. Dehydration. Sun-burn. Unending upward mountain climbs.

The fear snuck up on me.

I had been riding around New York City and parts of New Jersey since 2011. I had done cycling events – The Five Boro Ride several times, a couple of half centuries, and countless other organized and solo rides. Yet, I when I got to a wide open road in the desert, I believed the limits of my sight. New York City didn’t have mountains! Where’s the shade? Where can I rest? What if I run out of water? What if I get hit and no one sees me in a ditch?

The obstacles I created impaired my ability to actually do one of the things I enjoy most and something I’ve wanted all my life to do around the world. During the two years I’ve had my bike in Arizona, I’ve gotten on it no more than two or three times.

Getting to the Other Side

All this to say, the other day I went out on my bike for the first time in a long while. For two days prior, I had walked a nearly three-mile route. The same route I had tried to ride last year and ended up feeling as if I had outdone myself with. It completely took my breath away, or more aptly, it was so hard to breathe that I turned around and went home. One and half miles did me in. And kept me off my bike for a year. I could have pushed through. I could have tried again that next day. I did neither. I limited myself and refused to even try again.

This time, I did push through. This time I huffed and puffed up this incline and whoo-hooooed all the way down! The downhill return was mind-blowingly-smooth and I basically coasted back to my subdivision gate. The below video was made during this ride. In it I talk about how the payoff is worth the effort.

Remember Who You Are

When I got home, I reviewed my ride stats on my phone and saw old ride stats that sort of blew my mind.

This three-mile roundtrip in my neighborhood had an elevation gain of 269 feet. Isolated, that sounds like a lot. The 269-foot climb must be what took my breath away, or so I thought. But my old stats show rides around Manhattan with 100 to 600 feet of elevation gain. One Staten Island event had a route elevation gain of 3203 feet. Since the highest point I reached was 396 feet above sea level (practically the tallest peak on the island), I believe the gain indicates the combination of hills I went up that day.

While writing this piece, I’ve finally realized I never accounted for the need to acclimate to a higher overall elevation. New York City is 33 feet above sea level. My home address in Marana, Arizona is at 2425 feet above sea level. My lungs are working harder here due to altitude and thinner arid air.

Sometimes we have to give ourselves a break and consider the practical elements of our environment and what adjustments we need to make to adapt better.

I had long proven to myself I’m capable of overcoming physical obstacles. Yet when my new environment proved more of a challenge than I expected, I gave up. I didn’t examine why it was more challenging or how I could adapt to the environmental changes. Focusing on the mountain ranges surrounding me defeated me. I psyched myself out.

Now that I’ve reminded myself that I did more in New York than I’ve even attempted in Arizona, I’m gonna retrieve that fearless, can-do attitude and go ride these desert roads!

Be blessed. Don’t psych yourself out. Keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving! Amen!

Related posts:

I used to be an athlete.

Bike the Boros: Staten Island

Morning Stretch and Praise Break

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Harvest Update – Book Release – Desert of Solitude

Harvest Update
Book Release

April 21, 2018
Volume 3, Issue 1


This book is a must read.

Desert of Solitude really helped me understand some things in life that I struggled with. It’s very refreshing to see someone overcome so many obstacles I’ve struggled with. Thank you, sincerely.

~ Kayla, April 10, 2018

Amazon Verified Purchase 5.0 out of 5 stars


Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace

One month ago, I published my fifth book and seventh overall print project. One would think by this time, the process would be smooth and effortless. Unfortunately, that was not the case for this project. Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace developed into a painfully personal devotional exploration of all the ways I felt like an abject failure in life. It began as a video log with the intention of providing in-the-moment face-to-face commentary on topics in the book. The videos remain a tough editing task. Even knowing what I said, wrote and how things worked out, the first few videos are filled with so much sorrow my heart still aches when I watch them. Fortunately, I know I needed to experience the full range of my emotions in order to move through that space fully and honestly. On the other side was a deep well of joy waiting for me to dive in.

Thank God a good woman can’t stay down for long! My story has evolved into a testimonial of God’s everlasting grace and love for those who depend on Him. Refreshment. Renewal. Rejuvenation. It’s all possible. It’s all within reach. It’s life altering in an wonderfully amazing way.

I invite you to journey with me to where I am now: At peace within my purpose and fully open to what comes next.

Peace, light and love to you!

LaShawnda


“Desert of Solitude is totally different from LaShawnda’s other books. It’s really a good read; a different read because now you see the maturity that has come with all the other books, why they were [written]. If you put them all together, there’s a line that led to this. That’s what I see: all of that led to this and this is where I’m at right now. I can see the maturity, the growth as a person and as a writer. And reading it, I was like whoa! Whoa! Whoa! To me it’s one of the better reads to be honest. It kinda gets you.”

~ Carmen, March 17, 2018



From worn and torn to whole and sufficient

We all want what we want when we want it. What happens when we don’t get what we’ve been hoping and praying for by a certain age in life?

Desert of Solitude is for those of us who have achieved nothing, something or a great deal but are no closer to that “one thing” we most desire. What do you think you’re missing? What do you believe will complete your existence?

Whatever “it” is doesn’t matter. You are enough for your life.

Desert of Solitude follows the journey of  a forty-something year old woman as she shakes herself loose of youthful ideals, and releases herself from expectations formed by family, culture and society. It’s an exploration of her determination to view her life from a position of abundant grace rather than disappointed hopes. Desert of Solitude is about finding satisfaction in God’s grace and provision in the valleys of life.

Available in Kindle, Nook and Print.

Purchase on BN.com


Excerpts from Desert of Solitude

Preface: A Note About Desert of Solitude

Introduction: Wonder-Filled Living

Verdant Valley/Faith Challenges

Love Anyway: Things I Learned During My Harvest

Set Fire to the Rain…

Supporting Multimedia Links

Contents & Themes

Soundtrack & Sermons

Referenced Bible Verses

Video Messages


Author Bio

LaShawnda Jones is a simple woman who is content with her Creator’s design choices for her. She is a woman who eagerly embraces the process of her personal evolution and the results of her choices.

LaShawnda Jones is the independent author and publisher of Spirit Harvest Publishing Company. She maintains several blogs which focus on spiritual growth, social justice and photography. She speaks nationally on self-image, self-esteem, and identity in Christ and living the life you envision for yourself. Prior publications are Love & ForgivenessMy God and Me(Jazzy Media), Cliches: A Life in Verse (Jazzy Media) and Go, Tell Michelle (State University of New York Press). She holds degrees in marketing management (MATC) and political science (UW-Milwaukee) as well as a Master of Arts in International Affairs (The New School).


Purchase on Amazon.com

         

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A lesson on class and leadership from First Lady Michelle Obama

Listen to First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, July 25, 2016

[8 yrs ago, sending my girls to school from the White House, all I could think was:] “What have we done?”

“Our motto is: ‘When they go low; we go high.'”

“That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.

And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.

So, look, so don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on earth!”

Read Obama’s remarks as delivered below:

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE) Thank you all. Thank you so much. You know, it’s hard to believe that it has been eight years since I first came to this convention to talk with you about why I thought my husband should be president.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Remember how I told you about his character and convictions, his decency and his grace, the traits that we’ve seen every day that he’s served our country in the White House?

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

I also told you about our daughters, how they are the heart of our hearts, the center of our world. And during our time in the White House, we’ve had the joy of watching them grow from bubbly little girls into poised young women, a journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington.

OBAMA: When they set off for their first day at their new school, I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns.

(LAUGHTER)

And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, what have we done?

(LAUGHTER)

See, because at that moment I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them. That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight, how we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are their most important role models. And let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls, but the children across this country, kids who tell us I saw you on TV, I wrote a report on you for school.

Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope and he wondered, is my hair like yours?

And make no mistake about it, this November when we go to the polls that is what we’re deciding, not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, in this election and every election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And I am here tonight because in this election there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is our friend Hillary Clinton.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

That’s right.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

See, I trust Hillary to lead this country because I’ve seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children, not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection…

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

…but every child who needs a champion, kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs, kids who wonder how they’ll ever afford college, kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but dream of a better life, kids who look to us to determine who and what they can be.

You see, Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless, thankless work to actually make a difference in their lives…

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

…advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer, fighting for children’s health care as first lady, and for quality child care in the Senate.

And when she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Hillary did not pack up and go home, because as a true public servant Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

So she proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe.

And look, there were plenty of moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being picked apart for how she looks or how she talks or even how she laughs. But here’s the thing. What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure. She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls and all our children, that’s what I want.

OBAMA: I want someone with the proven strength to persevere, someone who knows this job and takes it seriously, someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

I want a president with a record of public service, someone whose life’s work shows our children that we don’t chase form and fortune for ourselves, we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And we give back even when we’re struggling ourselves because we know that there is always someone worse off. And there but for the grace of God go I.

I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters, a president who truly believes in the vision that our Founders put forth all those years ago that we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And when crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other. No, we listen to each other, we lean on each other, because we are always stronger together.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president that Hillary Clinton will be. And that’s why in this election I’m with her.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

You see, Hillary understands that the president is about one thing and one thing only, it’s about leaving something better for our kids. That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward, by all of us coming together on behalf of our children, folks who volunteer to coach that team, to teach that Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Heroes of every color and creed who wear the uniform and risk their lives to keep passing down those blessings of liberty, police officers and the protesters in Dallas who all desperately want to keep our children safe.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

People who lined up in Orlando to donate blood because it could have been their son, their daughter in that club.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Leaders like Tim Kaine…

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

…who show our kids what decency and devotion look like.

Leaders like Hillary Clinton who has the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling until she finally breaks through, lifting all of us along with her.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

So, look, so don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on earth!

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE) And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader who is worthy of my girls’ promise and all our kids’ promise, a leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.

So in this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best. We cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical. No, hear me. Between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

We need to knock on every door, we need to get out every vote, we need to pour every last ounce of our passion and our strength and our love for this country into electing Hillary Clinton as president of the United States of America!

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

So let’s get to work. Thank you all and God bless.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)wp-1469550300415.jpg

 

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Google in My Afrocentric Life

Doodle 4 Google 2016

National Winner: Google in My Afrocentric Life

akilah-johnson_winner

Akilah Johnson, Eastern Senior High School, Washington, D.C.

My Afrocentric Google is drawn as a box braid, with my personal characteristics surrounding it. I based this picture off my lifestyle and what has made me into what I am today. 


View the Contest Gallery: https://www.google.com/doodle4google/gallery.html


Now in it’s 8th year, the Doodle 4 Google Competition challenges young artists to create their own Doodle. This year’s competition called for submissions around the theme: “What Makes Me… Me.”  Kids worked in their medium of choice, delivering uniquely personal and one-of-a-kind submissions.

Of 100,000 participants coming from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and Washington D.C., five national finalists were chosen to spend the day at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California for the award ceremony. At 10 am PST [on March 21, 2016], this year’s national winner Akilah Johnson from Washington, D.C. saw her artwork go live on Google’s U.S. homepage for millions to see.

Thank you to all the finalists for sharing your creativity with us. And a hearty congratulations to our national winner, Akilah Johnson.