Preparing Your Children for the MOVE

Before leaving your old home behind, it’s important to help your children prepare to say goodbye to it. Here are some tips to help their relocation be as smooth as possible:

Keep your child involved in the moving process. 

Moving is difficult for everyone, but your relocation will go much more smoothly if your kids understand the details.

Write the date you’re moving on the family calendar, so the young members of the family are well aware of when it’s happening. Also, write the date that you’ll need to start packing. If your children are older, have them pack up their own rooms or favorite items. Supply them with markers, crayons, stickers and labels so they can decorate their boxes.

Ask your children to draw a picture of how they will arrange and decorate their new room. You could even help make a floor plan. Smartdraw offers a great trial version.

Help your kids get familiar with their new surroundings.

Take pictures or video of the new home or town, so they become familiar with the new surroundings.

Leslie Levine, author of Will This Place Ever Feel Like Home?, suggests giving your children a camera to take pictures before leaving the old house. They can document their favorite parts of their old home, and they can take pictures of the new house to send to old friends. Levine says this “helps kids make sense of a move.”

You can also get a large map of the new area. Locate and mark several of the places you have discussed as well as where the new house will be. They’ll recognize these landmarks when you arrive!

Help them get involved in their new school and community.

Making friends and doing activities they enjoy will help ease the transition for your child, so give them a head start! Put together a folder for each child that includes brochures about the new city such as theaters, libraries, parks and sports teams. Be sure to include information on activities they enjoy.

Another tip from Lori Collins Burgan, author of Moving With Kids: 25 Ways to Ease Your Family’s Transition to a New Home, is to explain to teachers, coaches and any other adults who are going to be part of the child’s life that the move is going to be tough on your son or daughter. You can recommend things that will help with the transition. Burgan says, “I’ve found adults to be very willing to help, they just sometimes don’t know how.”

The last time Collins Burgan’s family moved, her daughter was in the fifth grade. The author explained to her daughter’s new teacher that the girl was athletic and asked if the teacher could pair her with another girl with similar interests. Her daughter, now 16, became best friends with the girl her teacher paired her with that year.

If your children are too young for school, Collins Burgan recommends spending time outside with them, even in bad weather, so that they are visible to other kids in the neighborhood. Leave toys on the front lawn and go on walks with your children through your neighborhood. “If I see a child go in a door, I’ll even go up and knock on it,” Collins Burgan says.

Getting to know the children in the neighborhood will help make the transition easier.

Continue fun family rituals, and start new ones!

Is Tuesday always taco night? Try to stick to your fiesta schedule, even during the hectic unpacking process. Continuing family pastimes you enjoyed in your old home can help kids feel at home in the new place.

“You can also come up with some new rituals, like pizza in the living room,” Levine says.

Keep it positive.

Even if you’re less than thrilled about the move, Lori Collins Burgan says it’s important to have a positive outlook about your situation.

“Don’t always be comparing the old community to the new community in a negative way,” she says.

We have new neighbors here in Brentwood who relocated from London, England. I can only imagine the transition but my kids adore play with theirs and the mom is always spotted outdoors with her toddler, camera on aim. If they can happily cross-the-Pond then there’s promise for just hopping neighborhoods.


Wireless Dog Collar, Cell Phone and a Husband

My husband loves his time outdoors. Its relaxing, unwinding, a chance to blabber on the phone and just water plants, which is about the extent of his domestic duty. And that’s when the plant gets lucky.

Our dogs just love any of our family outdoors. In fact, if you come over they will be so excited to see you and more than happy to keep you company outdoors. Anywhere, anytime, they don’t care if you water the plants but pretty please just throw the tennis ball every two minutes and you have a new best friend (times 3).

So begins the invisible fence.  Our Golden Retrievers have wireless collars because if they didn’t, every jolly jogger would compel at least one of our dogs to escort her/him up the street or each neighborhood canine friend walking past would be accosted to play ball. Our dogs are the overly assertive sorority sisters on the street. Wireless radio collars work wonders.

Dinner was cooking on a rare night when I made it home early and Hubby pulled in the driveway. The retrievers had been begging to run around outside though I hadn’t yet had the chance to take them so I opened the doors and let the dogs out knowing (hoping) Hubby would keep an eye on them. They had their collars on so they couldn’t go far.  A little while later I noticed Hubby was still on the phone, holding the hose, watering the flowers and shrubs. Retrievers bouncing across the yard in play. Ahhh….

Our eldest dog, Sophie, who is my husbands “baby,” always scratches at her collar and my husband always takes it off. Usually its while we are watching tv. She had waddled outside after the other bouncing pair and laid down.

Chatting away on his cell, Hubby notices Sophie is scratching. He’s lost interest in watering, and while chatting away on his cell phone, comes over, unclips Sophie’s collar and tucks it in his pant pocket. I giggle thinking of possible consequenses but wash my hands and chop carrots.

When I glance up, hubby is walking to the mailbox, “Blah blah blah.”

My giggle from earlier catches in my throat and I stumble trying to decide if the garage or front door is closer. Front.

I did not see Hubby cross the Invisible Fence perimeter at the mailbox. But I heard him. The actual incident had plenty of eyewitnesses: a neighbor, lawnman and children playing nearby and attracted more.

When I yanked open the front door, hubby was gyrating at the end of our driveway, screaming obscenities and smacking his pants, cell phone still in hand, which I have learned may or may not have effected the current depending on which expert one consults but definatley contributed to the event cause.

The lawnman approached tenatively from our neighbors yard. A few neighbors appeared on doorsteps. The children just stood pointing.

“AAAGGGH. HOLY MOTHER OF @@@@, F$####S$$$, WHAT THE F###,” Hubby exclaimed and then paused as he gyrated into the street out of the boundary. Clearly puzzled, he walked straight back to the driveway and #ZAP# as he reached the perimeter boundary of the Invisible Fence, the forgotten collar in his pant pocket. “Holy S#@@, #@@@, What the?!!! I’ll ###### call you back.”

I couldn’t scream that far and be heard. I just text: “Take dog collar out of pocket.”

Nice lawnman apparently asked if he was okay about the time Hubby received text. I saw the dog collar fly toward the garage. Lawnman just laughed and strolled away.

Hubby rarely takes the dog collars off the dogs anymore and the flowers rarely get watered. But his private part hasn’t been #ZAPPED# again either so I suppose its a truce.

New disclaimer: Placing radio-sensitive dog collar in your pants pocket may cause discomfort if certain boundaries are crossed.

FYI: Radio fence such as Invisible Fence is considered a fixture and transfers with the home unless the contract specifies otherwise.

Other Homes Are Selling, but MINE’s NOT! What to do.

n Middle Tennessee, especially in several highly desirable neighborhoods, our market has picked-up substantially. In fact, well-priced homes are whizzing with offers while other, beautiful homes sit. And sit…and sit.

One home-seller I recently met at a dinner party commented she felt like the proverbial bridesmaid in the home market. Her home was clean, professionally decorated and was receiving lots of showing requests yet no offers. None.  After 3 months on the market, she was exhausted with quick-home-pick-ups for last minute showings, constant cleaning and her kids were over it. However her husband was being relocated so they didn’t have a choice. She wanted to know what more she could do.

Respectful of the Realtor Code of Ethics, as her home was listed with a colleague at another agency, I asked her about her home price–how did she feel it was priced. She responded they are at the price they have to have and won’t go below it.

Not the first time its been said nor the last, so I asked a few other questions.

How many showings per week had she had?    At first there were a lot and two came back for second showings. Then it slowed.

Had they changed their price during that time?  No.

Did her husband’s company offer a relocation buyout?   No.

How did she, her husband and agent come up with the price?   It gave them enough for a downpayment on their next home.

How many homes in her neighborhood or that are in competition with her home has she looked at from buyers eyes?    …..What?

Similar homes to hers, same features, similar price, how many Open Houses had she seen?  We don’t believe in Open Houses. And we are relocating, I thought you understood.  Why would I look at homes here.

**Pregnant Pause**I hadn’t intended to irritate but find out why her home hadn’t sold though I, and likely any other agent, knew the market diagnosis at this point, she just needed to see.

Weeelll, you wouldn’t… unless you wanted to sell here.   …..Oh.

Clearly that wasn’t the end of our conversation, but for blog purposes its a good stop.

What happens when a home has been on the market for 3-4 months and hasn’t sold? What do you think about it?

What’s wrong with it? Why hasn’t anyone else bought it? It’s priced too high. It needs updating.


A home-for-sale is like bread in the pantry- it has a shelf life. When first offered it’s extremely desirable; then it becomes stale and finally when no one else offers and buys its simply a discard.

(tons of showings if priced reasonably, if none-to-a-few showings its priced out-of-category; then second showings no offers-the buyers choose other homes; after 90-120 days on the market its old-news and waiting for price reduction.

With that in mind, how do you turn a stale listing into the Prom Queen:

1. If you’ve had offers but considered them too “lowball,” try revisiting your goal. Why are you selling (this isn’t the market to just “test”, be honest)? What is the lowest price you find acceptable, and consider anything more as icing on the cake. Take (almost) every offer seriously. Counter-offer if its unacceptable. You don’t want to alienate a potential buyer who has solid financing because you’ve set your sights unrealistically high.

2. Go to Open Houses in your neighborhood if possible. Keep yourself educated on your competition.

3. Ask your listing agent to talk to buyer agents who have shown your home or ask your agent to host a Broker Open House. The feedback from their clients/colleagues can guide you in making home repairs, toning down your décor, making landscaping improvements and the like.

4. Do whatever it takes to be away from your home during showings and open houses. The presence of sellers makes it difficult for prospective buyers to take their time or talk openly with their partner and agent.

5. You belong in pictures...Videotape your house, inside and out.  Watch the tape as if you were a prospective buyer. Is the lawn weedy or the garden bare? Is your home uncluttered and spotlessly scrubbed? Sparkling-clean houses sell faster than those that look too lived-in or show an abundance of the owner’s personality.

The market is turning and homes are selling. If you have a question, I’ll be happy to (try to) answer, even outside Tennessee. Shoot me an email or post a comment.

Happy home buying and selling,

Kind Regards,


Inexpensive Selling Tips – Heading Into Spring

First impressions count. That’s why your yard needs to be inviting. Trim back the bushes and trees, especially if they block views from the windows and make your home difficult to see from the street.

  • Keep the lawn mowed, preferably on the diagonal.
  • Plant yellow flowers such as marigolds along the walk or by the front door. The color yellow sells.
  • Wash the exterior windows.
  • Paint or replace the front door and buy new hardware if its scratched/tarnished.
  • Power spray the house to get rid of dirt and cobwebs.
  • Buy a new welcome mat for the front steps.
  • Paint or replace the mailbox.
  • Paint your house number on the curb or buy a plaque displaying your house number and install near the entry.
  • Wash or replace a front porch light fixture.
  • After dusk, keep porch and flood lights on until 8 or 9pm for drive-by interest.

Get ready for showings!

To search Middle-Tennessee homes,

Targeting Foreclosures: Reality

Recently I’ve had an experience with a home buyer who wanted to purchase an undervalued home in a desirable area. Pretty common in this market, wouldn’t you agree? This home buyer, let’s call him George, decided a foreclosure was his target. No problem. Familiar territory for me as I’ve assisted Wells Fargo, Bank One/Chase, Fidelity, BB&T, Ceturian, Indymac, Goodman Dean among others in disposing of these assets.

Match made in Heaven, right?

It wouldn’t be a blog post if it were.

When George contacted me, he was interested in a foreclosed condo close to Vanderbilt University as an investment property. The list price was $187,000 which, for this fairly new condo complex, 1 bedroom/ 1 bath but third floor with small balcony was an aggressive price already. I gathered info from him before agreeing to show it and having a good knowledge of his financing capabilities felt comfortable we could work together on this condo. After seeing it, he wanted to offer $150,000. Low, I told him but the bank might counter if there were no other offers.

There were other offers. I made it clear “highest and best” offer must be next which means the bank has requested everyone who submitted a bid and is interested should now resubmit the highest amount they are willing to offer and the best closing terms.

I have seen where a bank will choose a lower offer from a cash buyer who can close in 10 days with no contigencies.  HUD, Fannie Mae and other programs have a 10-14 day owner-occupant bid when the home first goes on the market meaning they will only consider offers from a person/couple who are buying the home as a residence.

In this circumstance, George was an investor and while we were out of the “owner-occupant” bid timeframe, our offer was not high enough to gain that property.

Over the following 45-60 days, George’s home-buying focus shifted from the investment realm to that of upgrading his family home. As his agent, I informed him that foreclosures were no longer an option as by doubling his purchase price to $300,000 he now had to sell his current home in order to buy.

Asset managers of foreclosed homes will not accept a contengency based on the sale of a property. They understand financing. They will be respective of inspection of the property–don’t expect repairs but if there is radon or termites or foundation failure, the asset manager “gets it.” There is an out. Sale of a current residence doesn’t even make it to their desk.

George was determined. He lived in a very desirable area that would sell quickly. He emailed me the foreclosed homes he was interested in buying.

I checked tax records. When asked about the second mortgage he recently took out on his home, he said it was for investment on his next purchase. Somehow somewhere education of financing in this market had fallen through the cracks. His second mortgage tipped his current home to an LTV (Loan to Value) ratio that would make it hard to clear in a sale with a profit. So his only option was the investment property at a lower price point.

I sent him to this website for alerts:

Yet George had seen an AMAZING home that was purchased in a HOT neighborhood. The owners just paid $300,000! This gorgeous home was foreclosed. It went to Auction. Somebody else bought it very cheap. He wanted to do the same. He got outbid. Find him another.

I knew from the location that this couldn’t be true. There are areas in Nashville seeing very depressed home prices but anywhere close to Green Hills, Belle Meade and Brentwood, even foreclosed properties, only saw relative depression in price, unless they were flooded in 2010. This number couldn’t happen for a gorgeous home near Granny White Pike. And why was George bidding at auction, even before he met me…he was not a candidate for auction. That’s cash buyer, close in 45 days or less. Oh my.

After looking into the mystery property that sold at auction for so very little, I discovered:

1. He was looking at the purchase price of $300,000 from an obscure website (he sent me the link) for the property in 2006.

2. The home was built in 2007.  (so clearly the price he saw of $300,000 was lot value)

3. It wasn’t one home but two residences…yes, you read that correctly.

The purchase price he saw was vastly outdated from 2006 and that home on the nice lot purchased for $300,000 in 2006 was demolished to build the home in 2007 he currently sees  at a total loan value of $1.2m (from Realtor tax record data).  Now the auction winner did get a deal at just under $450,000 (again tax records) no question but that was for half of the zero-lot-line property that is really a duplex–very common after tear-down in Green Hills.

The auction part will require another blog post. Thats a seperate issue.

Are foreclosures a good buy? Short answer–sometimes. Keep your perspective and make sure you have accurate information. If it seems too good to be true, well, you know.






Preview 2012 Nashville Real Estate

Has the U.S. housing market hit bottom? Is there further to go? Has a recovery started? These are the questions every homeowner and real estate investor  are asking themselves, or at least, should be.

National home price data indicates that the worst of the  home price meltdown is behind us. Clear Capital, a Truckee, Calif.-based real  estate research firm, reports that 2011 saw a national decrease of 2.1% in home  prices when compared to 2010. While still a loss, it’s a minor drop compared to  the double-digit plunges experienced years before. For 2012, the firm’s Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report  forecasts  a tiny 0.2% gain across all markets.

“Overall, 2011 was a relatively quiet year for  U.S. home prices compared to the last five years,” said Dr. Alex Villacorta, Clear  Capital’s director of research and analytics, in the report. He further notes  that “the current balance the market has found will continue through 2012.”

If you are a prospective home buyer or seller wondering if now is the time to  make a play, the decision should come down to something much more tangible than  a “flat” national market number. It should come down to location. Nashville, in general, didn’t get hit as hard as some other cities but there are still pockets of foreclosures. Overall, the market is showing a robust beginning to 2012 in WIlliamson County and much of Davidson County with lots of buyer activity and offers being accepted. So it is a little surprising that Clear Capital’s researchers say the price of the average home in Nashville will lose 3.8 percent of its value in the coming 12 months, adding to a drop of 4.8 percent last year.

Well, hold on. Perhaps not.

There are qualified buyers actively pursuing a home purchase and there are sellers who have realized a realistic market value of their house in this competitive environment where the cleanest, best curb-appeal, staged and priced to the market home gets snatched up and the others wait around gradually reducing price, slowly painting the mauve family room and cleaning the carpets.

And then there are the pockets. Areas that got hit harder by foreclosures than others that can skew these statistics. Spring Hill, which is included in metro Nashville stats, got clobbered when the Saturn plant closed in November 2009, workers laid off and ultimate foreclosures. Two years later the plant announced its reopening and hiring new workers.

Metro city government has proposed to purchase land and finish streets in 10 neighborhoods in Nashville where the developer became financially insolvent and abandoned work in progress It shows a proactive concern for the homeowners and community which ultimately helps address the depressed home values.

Only the buyer and seller determine what the home is ultimately worth. This may be an interesting negotiation year.

Stinkin’ Lincoln, Three Kids and Toga

Traveling to the mountains for a couple of days over Thanksgiving break was a small treat we were all anticipating with smiles and giggles. By “all” I mean myself, my husband and three children aged 13, 11 & 7 yrs. We also were bringing our three Golden Retrievers, but they didn’t know what was coming.

Growing up in East Tennessee, I knew Gatlinburg would be crowded over the holiday but I hadn’t visited Pigeon Forge and the surrounding areas in so long, I couldn’t wait or perhaps I had forgotten the madhouse it became at holidays. Weeks in advance, my husband made reservations at a dog-friendly indoor-waterpark resort for a two bedroom cabin.

Now it was just logistics, right? How do you fit three goldens, three children, two adults and luggage in a mid-size SUV.

Let’s just say we’re creative. And Thule rules.

It’s the morning before Thanksgiving, and I’ve anchored and loaded all the luggage onto the roof. Everyone including the dogs pile into the Stinkin’ Lincoln, and we are on the road to Gatlinburg only half an hour behind my desired departure time.

Did I mention one of the dogs gets car sick?

This dog always has. Motion sickness pills never helped our Toga, but the kids knew the drill. Don’t feed her breakfast, ration her water until we leave and keep a window cracked and she’ll be okay for the trip. The travel time was only four hours from our door to the resort according to google maps.

As we were sitting in traffic on I-40 in Knoxville the “he touched me’s” started from the three children. “He touched me again!” “She touched me!” “She stuck her tounge out at me!” What were we thinking traveling on the day before Thanksgiving? Fortunately we were rolling again soon on the most heavily traveled day of the year.

Just as we ticked past hour four and a half of the supposedly four hour trip, we reached Pigeon Forge.


“Eeeeeeeewwwwwwwww,” three fueding children sang in chorus as Toga, the car-sick golden, heaved again <<<<BARF>>>> into the rear cupholder.

(Toga on a happier day)

My husband and I looked at each other both hoping the other had a magical solution. We only wanted to reach the resort and get out of the car, but in the traffic, arrival time was unknown.

Into the next gas station we pulled, everyone folded out of the Stinkin’ Lincoln except the ole’ lady golden and cleaning commenced. Those gas station vacuums have amazing suction.

Everyone filed back in the Stinkin’ Lincoln. We unintentionally cruised the strip in Pigeon Forge to our destination windows down (car smelled of dog vomit), music loud (to drown out the kids’ reinactments of the dog barfing), woman passenger snuggled to male driver in baseball cap (because it was freezing outside and the windows were down). Proud moment, oh my.  I wanted out of the car and into the hot tub.

Pulling into the resort, the children cheer. It’s beautifully decorated with Christmas lights which was a welcoming entrance in the dark. The indoor waterpark was already closed for the night, but the outdoor heated pool and hot tubs were clearly open so we couldn’t wait to check in and get busy.

When my husband met us with the keys he had an odd look on his face but didn’t comment other than, “let’s just see.”

We drove to where the cabin was located. Except it wasn’t a cabin. It wasn’t a suite. It wasn’t even a double room. We opened the door to an efficiency with a double bed and sofa-sleeper which pretty much consumed all the space in the room.

What happened?!” was all I could say.

“Our rooms were given away when we didn’t arrive on time.”

I didn’t endure six and a half hours in a stuffy rectangle, clean up dog vomit and mediate sibling personal space issues to pay a hotel to shove us back in a square. Eventually, after I spent an hour at the front desk and booked a reservation online to prove they had a room that their system said they didn’t have, we miraculously got the rooms we thought we were getting. They were really very nice. We had a lovely time.

But don’t ask about the ride home.