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Is An Inspection Really Necessary?

It's a beautiful day, you have finally found a home and the rain waters are drying.  You're feeling pretty good about the upcoming inspection and you are full of optimism about that inspection because the house looks so good.  You might even consider waiving your option to have the inspection since everthing looks satisfacto     


If you are in an area that has recently recieved record rainfalls, this is a particularly important time to have a professional review the property and issue a report.  A professional, expert inspector will be able to observe any water intrusion issues, foundation issues, exterior issues (especially if the property is on a hillside), electrical issues and much more that the untrained person cannot detect. 

This includes your real estate professional.  As real estate professionals, our expertise is in the marketing and selling of the "real estate".  Unless your representative has an engineering, architectural or other background specific to real estate, he/she is not qualified to express an opinion that should be used to make a decision about the habitability of the property!

In the more than 20 years of being involved in the real estate business, I have been asked the question, "How does it look to you?".  My answer is always:  "The only one who should give you that answer is a qualified inspector and I have a list of the ones who have proven themselves and who have credential and testimonials to support it."

Be excited and enthusiastic about your decision.  But be practical.  Have a thorough inspection, getting engineering reports if necessary.  And, when the results are returned to you, be reasonable in your reaction.

Become an informed consumer and, with the help of a good Realtor and inspection professional, understand what is and is not something to be particularly concerned about and what is part of "the joys of homeownership" and need not consume you.  As a good negotiating position, determine (again, with the help of your Realtor) what is most important to you.

Good luck with your decisions and successful negotiating.  Happy House Hunting!

Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2011 10:33 AM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Thank You!

My friend, Dean, emails (no he doesn't blog yet despite my repeated attempts) marvelous tales each week.  I have used a couple of them, but this one is so perfect, I wanted to share it right away!

Who have you thanked today?!  I try to thank everyone/anyone who offers any kind of service, which is a direct result of the actions of a friend of mine who always says "thank you for being here" to anyone who helps him (supermarket employees, restaurant worker, etc.).  Read Dean's email with as much pleasure as I did and pass it along!


I was playing at the Sarasota regional bridge tournament last week when the caddy routinely stopped by my table to pick up my score card.
"Thank you," I said to her, smiling.
A few minutes later, she returned to my table during a break. This time, she was the one smiling.
"Sir, did you know that you're the only person who says 'Thank you?'" she said. "And you say it every time I get your score card.
"Thank you!" she continued, shaking my hand.
"Thank you" are two beautifully simple words. Imagine what life could be like if we all said them more often.
Last weekend, my 11-year-old nephew flew down from Chicago to share a few days with me in paradise. Willy doesn't like to spend his money, so he was thrilled when I told him that he wouldn't have to pay for anything during his trip -- even though he was here to celebrate my birthday!
On the way to the Tampa airport on Sunday, we stopped by the Cortez Cafe for breakfast. After he finished his chili (Yes, I am a bad uncle...), he started looking for our waitress.
"Well, we can go once she gives us our bill," he said.
"She already brought it. It's right here," I said, pointing to my right.
Within a second, he reached over, grabbed it and stood up.
"No, Willy. I have it!"
He ignored me and promptly walked to the cashier.
When he came back to our booth, I got up and met him with a big hug.
"Thank you," I said.
"Thank you for a fun weekend," he said. "I want to come back!"
I reminded him that he had to tip the waitress ("How much? he asked. "It was a little over $16." I replied, "Give her 3 bucks!"). He had a few cents left over and bought some candy from the red machine by the cashier.
Ah, to be a kid...
During Mass this morning at St. Mary's, my buddy Jim read a wonderful passage from Sirach.
"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth.
A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy."
In his sermon, Father Gerry talked about the importance of relationships, how not every day is necessarily a good one, and how we all work to keep things together.
That's not always easy, of course, but it's well worth it.
For being my faithful friend (and reader-sheila), thank you. Very much.






Posted Friday, February 25, 2011 3:13 PM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

HomeGain Releases Top Five ROI-Driven Home Improvement Projects for 2011
According to HomeGain.com's newly released 2011 home improvement survey, the top five home improvements (under $5,000) that real estate professionals recommend to home sellers based on average cost and return on investment (from highest to lowest ROI) are:

  • Cleaning and de-cluttering ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI)
  • Lightening and brightening ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase / 313% ROI)
  • Home staging ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI)
  • Landscaping ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI)
  • Repairing electrical or plumbing ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI)

Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 3:15 PM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Attachment(s): http://www.realestatechannel.com/us-markets/residential-real-estate-1/home-improvement-projects-homegaincom-2011-home-improvement-survey-roi-best-home-improvement-projects-to-add-value-to-home-3780.php#

NAR survey says homeownership still popular
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According to the results of an NAR survey conducted by Harris Interactive, a substantial majority
of home owners as well as renters agree that owning a home is a smart long-term decision.

This is good news long-term and it comes on the heels of an economist's position that the buyers in the near-term will be serious.  Put that smile back on your face and get going!

Read the full report that is attached! There are some really good tips for consumers as well as for REALTORS!

Posted Friday, January 28, 2011 11:40 AM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Attachment(s): 1-11 +Home Owner survey.rtf


This is an important step from HUD especially coming on the heels of the change in the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS Article 10 which added sexual orientation a protected class for all REALTORS. 

HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan declares, "it is a fundamental issue of fairness.  We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans.  With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

View the proposed rule announced today.

Posted Thursday, January 27, 2011 12:14 PM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Attachment(s): http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=LGBTPR.PDF

"You've Got To Be Carefully Taught"/South Pacific

The lyrics from Rodger and Hammerstein's memorable musical, "South Pacific" fits today's celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Listen to the song-I have never heard a song that so perfectly identifies the idiocy of discrimination of any kind.  While "South Pacific" is set during World War II, the story is timeless and can refer to any group, any where in the world during any time.

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Posted Monday, January 17, 2011 9:25 PM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Old Age-Not Me!

As I read the news this morning, there are a couple of stories that caught my attention.  One, in the New York Times, was about the increase in use of social networking by ages 45 and up.

From December 2008 to May 2010, those in every generation 45 and older more than doubled their participation. Adults 74 and older who are online quadrupled their social networking presence, and that now stands at 16 percent. 

The Pew report can have a "game-changing" effect on business-real estate included! Since real estate is a communication industry, this report should cause a close examination of how we do business with all age ranges.  Many people have thought that using mail to contact clients over 60 is the "preferred" method.  According to Pew, that may not be the case. 

Review and make adjustments if/where needed.

The other article was also a Pew report:  "Growing Old in America:  Expectations vs. Reality".  This report shows that the perception of  the experiences of "old age" varies widely from generation to generation.  Enjoying the "benefits" of old age, traveling, hobbies, spending more time with families, starting a new career, volunteer work are among the issues that are covered. 

Respondents aged 18-29 identify old age as 60 +; middle aged respondents place it closer to 70; and those over the age of 65 identify age 74 as the cross-over age. 

Seems that, again, the impact on how we do business with the various age groups should be evaluated before creating a "one size fits all" plan. 

I encourage you to read the reports to determine how each could be of help to you for your 2011 plan.


Posted Monday, December 27, 2010 8:19 AM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Attachment(s): http://pewsocialtrends.org/2009/06/29/growing-old-in-america-expectations-vs-reality/2/

Home Mortgage and Property Tax Deductions for 2010, 2011

Mortgage Interest and Property Tax Deductions

If you are a new homeowner or if you have owned your home for years, there are many home mortgage and property tax deductions available for both situations.

Previous Home Purchases

If you own your home you may deduct the interest on your home loan every single year that you own your home. You may also deduct the
property taxes for every year you own your home.

Deadlines For Closing on Home Purchases Has Changed

The deadline for closing on the purchase of a new home was extended in July of 2010 from June 30 to September 30, 2010. You must meet the
required deadlines to be able to claim the credit. By April 30, 2010 you must have bought or entered into a binding contract on a principal
residence. You must close on the home on or before September 30, 2010. You will need to attach Form 5405 to your income tax return form to
claim the home mortgage and property tax deduction credit.

If you are a homeowner, then you will most likely see the greatest tax benefits from itemizing your return.

You must itemize on your income tax return in order to take the following tax deductions:

  • Mortgage Interest Tax
  • Loan Origination Fees
  • Points
  • Mortgage Insurance Premiums
  • Sale of Your Home
  • Deductions on a Second Home

In order to claim these deductions you will need to have some documentation available to you such as your mortgage statement, property tax statement, mortgage insurance statement, and any loan closing information that lists the amount of fees paid to purchase your home.

If you are a new home owner, locate your Settlement Statement (HUD I).  If you cannot find it, your REALTOR can provide it or help you find it!

Posted Sunday, December 26, 2010 2:12 PM by Sheila Bell | 2 Comments

Lack of Sunshine

It's that time of year again!

The lack of sunshine, lack of Vitamin D and "the blues" are all related.  Actually, "the blues" can be more that just a bad day and should be taken seriously.  While the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not completely understood, it is no longer a contested condition.

For those who "suffer" from SAD, the consequences are not in dispute.  For each day without sunshine, the more disagreeable one gets.  In addition, work becomes a chore:  undpredictable, not working well, operate unreliablly-all phrases associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

According to webmd.com, there are two types of Seasonal Disorder:  one is referred to as "Winter Depression", the other is "Summer Depression".  More is know about the former.  One of the leading theories is that the serotonin level reduces in fall/winter months.   Serotonin levels can contribute to weight gain, depression and fatigue.

There are various approaches that can reduce the symptoms mentioned above: get as much outside morning light as possible, some doctors recommend using a "light box" (your doctor will help determine if necessary or helpful), eat a well-balanced diet despite the craving for increased carbohydrates, exercise at least 30 minutes a day (three times a week) and stay connected with your social circle.

Most importantly, do not dismiss these feelings as "feeling blue".  If your "blues" last for any extended period of time, be sure to contact your physician for assistance.  It's not "in your head" and can make getting through Winter a more pleasant, effective and productive experience!

Posted Sunday, December 26, 2010 1:29 PM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Musings on end of year planning

It comes to the end of the calendar year and the beginning of a new career year and I am evaluating how to organize and prioritize.  This seems so very easy to "tell" others how to do it; but not so simple to identify for myself.

Is this why others find it difficult to get on track as independent contractors?  No job description until/unless we write it.  Therefore, no track to follow.  No track to follow, no absolute plan in place.  No plan in place, no possibility of making things happen!  Things don't happen, success cannot possibly be achieved.

Profound? NO!  Necessary? YES!

So guess what I'll be doing in the immediate future (days not weeks).  First order of business is to get my office in the condition conducive to work!

Using my friend Carla Cross' Business Planning Guide (that my new agents used to receive in training from me), I'll be "up and running in 30 days" (another book from Carla).  Since all of my materials are dated, I have just ordered new.

Stay tuned for results!

What are you doing to get your calendar year up and running with a business plan?

Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2010 10:17 PM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments


Having recently changed companies, I am in the process of examing the future (immediate, near, distant).  It occurs to me that I've been in somewhat of a fog for far too long and it's time to get off of my proverbial "butt". 

There is so much to do, so little time in which to accomplish that which I intend.  So it is time to move along and prioritize.  Those to whom I have reached out and have received no response-no more; those to whom I have reached out and am waiting-it will/will not happen; and those to whom I have recently extended an outreached "hand", I shall persevere until it becomes obvious I am not on the list.

Life is such a grand place to be and what I do know is that I have a great deal of knowledge of and joy to give to real estate.  Whether it be to real estate sales clients or to my Sheila Bell Seminars clients, each will receive the best I have to offer!

Anyone who looks for the absolute best service available, can be assured that you will receive it from me!  I am looking forward to my immediate future as I reach out to existing and new clients.  I hope to have an opportunity to demonstrate my skills to all. 

Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2010 11:43 AM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Realtors Amend Its Code of Ethics to Include Protection for the GLBT Community

Can landlords legally deny renting to a gay couple because they’re gay?

Can a Realtor refuse to negotiate on behalf of a transgendered woman because she’s transgendered?

Can a builder jack up the price of a home when selling to a bisexual male because they know he’s bisexual? Maybe- there’s a little bit of a grey area here.

If you’re a licensed Realtor, you should have memorized the Fair Housing laws prohibiting discrimination against anyone based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap. But nowhere in there does it mention sexual orientation.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, laws are different from state to state and in some it is most certainly illegal for the real estate industry to discriminate, but in some states, the GLBTQ community is still legally discriminated against and refused real estate services and equal housing opportunities.

Read more


Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010 9:15 PM by Sheila Bell | 1 Comments

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Online-Offline Networking At Any Age

"Combining online/offline networking gets the most out of relationship building.  By implementing both online and offline, target markets are increased exponentially."   

So says a Pew Research report on the "new paradigm shift". 

Are you combining both so that you "leave no client prospect or active client base behind"?

Posted Friday, October 29, 2010 6:10 PM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Attachment(s): http://www.box.net/files#/files/0/f/0/1/f_264889090

Fall Into Success!
Beautiful Fall is the perfect time to begin a new business approach to SUCCESS.

Don't be persuaded that there is no business and that it is a terrible time in real estate. It is as good as you make it!

Get Back to Basics! Prospecting, prospecting, prospecting. If you are not prospecting, you will ultimately have NO business.

Don't wait for people to come to you...be proactive and positive. Do not let other people define your plans.

Make today the first day of a new approach to real estate!

Please share with others.

Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 9:25 AM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

The Ten Must-Have Tools for Mobile Office Productivity

Learn the little-known, proven tools top agents are using as mobile agents to successfully manage their mobile offices. From your smart phone, your laptop, digital camera, and even to your car organizer, you'll leave this session knowing the most effective and affordable options and valuable tips for making the most of them!

Register now at Realtor University and receive a member-only discount


Posted Monday, October 11, 2010 9:01 AM by Sheila Bell | 0 Comments

Attachment(s): http://www.realtor.org/education/weekly_ru_webinars?wt.mc_id=ru0072&WT.mc_id=LS100610&CAT=Educ

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