No one gets out of here alive

Christopher Bullock first uttered these words in the Cobler of Preston in 1716.

“Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes.”

Ben Franklin usually gets credit, but he was not the first, and certainly not the last.  Jim Morrison famously wrote “No one gets out of here alive”.  And no one does.  Death is the great equalizer.  We all leave this life toes up.

In our society, we spend a tremendous amount of time avoiding the subject.  We don’t look forward to answering the question “what might happen when I die”.   Personally, I had a near miss last year.  Doctors misdiagnosed me with the flu.  I had pneumonia.  They treated me with a cough suppressant which is the worst thing you can do for a pneumonia patient.  By the time they properly diagnosed me I was starting to go septic.  While I was laying in that hospital bed I thought “I have to come back from this, my house is a disaster!”  I did and today my house is less of a disaster.  Because when you die, someone has to deal with your living space, whatever that is.  It can be a miserable task.  In my mind the less hellish I can make that for my family the better.  Since I got out of the hospital, bags of clothes I haven’t worn in over a year have been taken to Goodwill.  Truckloads have gone to the dump.  While this isn’t an article about organizing, it could be.  And I still have a long way to go, but I am living a much less cluttered life.

Most of us don’t get to choose when our ticket gets punched.  I was minding my own business when a guy sat down next to me on a plane.  He was sweating and coughing and three days later I had pneumonia.  Over the years I have known people in their 40’s who went to bed and never woke up.  People in their early 50’s who have suffered massive, fatal heart attacks.  People who have died driving to work, riding their bike, watching the stars.  I’ve seen random acts of God, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, tornados all end the lives of otherwise happy and healthy people.  And I almost got my ticket punched just for taking a flight from Vegas to Phoenix.  We.  Just.  Don’t.  Know.

So the question is, knowing that information, why do we not at least make some cursory plans for the one thing we all know we will do?  It’s really not that hard to do some estate planning.  Take a couple of hours and set things up so that while your family is grieving your passing they also don’t have to deal with attorneys and courts and appraisers and the government standing there with their hand out.  They are going to probably have to deal with your stuff.  I’ll write about that in the next installment of this series.  Your real estate is going to be a major source of aggravation.  Billy Bob wants to live there rent free but his other brother Billy Ray and their sister from another mister Billie Jo want their money so they can go out and buy the dualie they always wanted and aren’t you spinning in your grave yet?  In truth, you knew your sisters kids were a bunch of knuckleheads and you really wanted your home to be donated to Habitat for Humanity and without specific instructions, that’s just not going to happen.  The thing is, it’s your life.  Your legacy, your way.

The State will divvy your stuff up according to a predetermined formula without regard for your wishes.  If you do some estate planning in advance, your possessions and your wealth can be distributed to the people and organizations you want.  Your wishes are fulfilled.

The first step is to determine what the best way to set up your estate.  Are you a key employee?  Are you self employed?  Your death could mean the end of income for your family.  Is that part covered?  Do you need life insurance?  Should you have a trust?  Only an Estate Attorney can answer these questions for sure.  Don’t rely on a google search to properly provide for your loved ones once you’re gone.

Every individual’s situation is different, yet at the end of the day, no one gets out of here alive.  I have extraordinary estate attorneys that I work with.  I would be pleased to refer you or someone you care about to one of them.  Don’t let the government determine what happens to your life’s work once you’re gone.

 

It’s a dog’s life

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Do you love dogs?  I love dogs.  In particular, I love my breed, the Doberman Pinscher.  I love their loyalty, their protective nature, their silliness and I feel safe when one is sleeping next to my bed.  If it were up to me, I would have one of my dogs with me at all times.  But it’s not up to me.

My job entails going in and out of other people’s homes several times a day, meetings and appointments that may last for a couple of hours, lunches in corner cafes and five star restaurants.  My dog isn’t welcome in many of those places, so I leave my dog home when I’m working.  I never take my dog anywhere he’s not welcome.  I was very ill last month.  I heard a dog collar in the hospital hallway on several occasions.  Finally I was able to get to the hallway and see a schnauzer walking by.  I asked my nurse “Are dogs allowed here?”  She said, “Yes, I see the all of the time”.  Can I have my brother bring my dog to see me?  “yes, of course, we’ll just shut the door to your room while he’s here”.  And I got to see my dog which helped me heal.

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That gets me to the point.  Dogs don’t belong in real estate.

I had a listing on the market when I went into the hospital.  I received a call that an agent who witnessed another agent in my listing with their dog.  The agent’s dog peed on my clients carpet.  I am laying in a hospital bed and I had to deal with this.  How unprofessional to you have to be to bring your dog to a sellers house and then allow it to pee on the carpet?  This agent should be run out of the business.

Dogs don’t belong in real estate.

I had an open house this weekend and not one, not two, but three different parties showed up to view the open house with their dog in tow.  I’m sorry, are you kidding me?  If you are previewing homes, leave your dog at home.  I can assure you that your dog will love any home you buy as long as you are there.  Dogs are like that.

Here are some of the issues to consider before bringing your dog to someone else’s home.

  1. The homeowner has cats who may become freaked out because your pooch’s scent is now in their space.
  2. The homeowner has dogs who may become freaked out because your pooch’s scent is now in their space.
  3. The homeowner’s pet mentioned in 1 and 2 above acts out due to the new scent and starts marking territory thereby destroying what was previously a nice and odor free home.
  4. The homeowner is severely allergic to pet dander and you’ve now polluted their home.
  5. The homeowner is a severe asthmatic and you’ve now sent them to the hospital.

An open house is a private home that has been placed for sale and is open for viewing by potential buyers.  The general public does not have a right to pass and an agent can refuse entry on behalf of the seller if the agent feels the seller’s private property at risk.  Agents can even restrict visitors to those who have provided the ability to purchase the property.

With one notable exception, dogs don’t belong in real estate.  There are a few agents in our area with situations where they have service dogs.  Service dogs can be used for a number of situations including alerting to seizures in their owners.  I am not talking about these dogs.  These dogs are highly trained, highly disciplined and highly necessary to their owner’s well being.  These dogs are an exception.

Every other dog, does not belong in real estate.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

The thing I am hearing a lot of right now is that people want to wait and see what happens in this election. The little voice in my head, you know, that screaming lunatic that I have to filter every waking moment of my life says “Why? It does not matter!”

Oh, I know. It does matter. If X is elected to office you’re moving to Canada. Or Mexico because they now have a wall keeping Americans out…right?

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The truth of the matter is every four years this country holds a Presidential election. While this is the most contentious of my life time, every four years in spite of the rhetoric, the Republic stands.

The Republic will stand this time as well. It will stand because we have checks and balances. We have three arms of government for the specific purpose of allowing the Republic to stand in spite of political shenanigans. The Executive Branch can only do so much without the Legislative Branch which can only do so much without the Judicial Branch. Those old guys were pretty smart when they set this thing up.

At the end of the day, the Republic will stand. The question is where do you stand? Are you an early adopter? The early majority? The late majority or a laggard?

In real estate the early adopters get the return. The early majority do well in real estate. The late majority generally see a midland return and the laggards are the ones that get beat up in real estate.

Who are you?