Posts Tagged ‘Seapointe Village’

A Good Barometer

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Here at Jewell Real Estate Agency, we sell mostly vacation homes at the Jersey shore.  Condos, townhomes, single family homes – they are all elements of the dream families have of owning a second home in the Wildwoods.

Being a second home market, our yearly calendar of sales activity is fairly predictable.  By that I mean that just like a school year starts and ends around the same time each year and school vacations are scheduled about the same weeks each year, our business also has regular busy and quiet times.

Our real estate market usually cools off each year about 10 days before Thanksgiving and that semi-hibernation lasts through New Years Day.  That’s a time when local realtors takes cruises and warm weather vacations or work shorter days and cut to a minimum of floor time.  In the past, some real estate agencies even closed from Christmas Eve through January 1st, though not us.

Because that six week period is fairly predictable, any decrease or increase in potential buyer volume is a good barometer of the condition of our local real estate market.  We can gauge fairly accurately what type of year we are about to have by how many email and phone inquiries, plus walk-in traffic, we get during that time period.  It’s sorta like the Groundhog predicting more winter or not, if you get my drift.

Which brings us to this year’s prognostication. 

We were busier than usual leading right up to Thanksgiving Day, then the trend continued right up through Christmas Eve.  The day after Christmas (yesterday), the phone and email inquiries were brisk.  We’ll be juggling property showings all week long.  Hurray!

While perhaps not very scientific, our real estate business indicator is predicting a good 2010.  What more can we ask?

- Mountain Man and City Girl

http://www.MountainManandCityGirl.com

Banks: Tight Purse Strings

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

As any active realtor knows, banks are more tight-fisted with loan money now than in the past decade.  In the spirit of this Christmas season, you could even call them Scrooge.

The tried and true banking tradition is that banks took deposits from customers, paying a certain interest rate, then lent money to borrowers at a higher rate.  The difference in the interest rates was their profit.

The model has changed since the number of bank failures rose from three in 2007 and 25 in 2008 to 140 in 2009. 

Banks are now borrowing at near-zero percent interest rates to get short term loans for themselves and putting the money into Treasury notes and other higher-yielding government securities.  They make a profit with no risk (unless the United States collapses).  This practice is called playing the yield curve, or carry trade.

Loans given out to consumers and businesses in America have dropped 8% in the last year.  The banks claim that less people want loans.  Our experience as realtors tells us a different story.  We’re seeing people with solid credit and income getting turned down for loans in this vacation home market here at the South Jersey shore.  At our agency, we’ve put a lot more properties in 2009 “under contract” than in 2008, but we’ve closed on fewer than last year.

Right now only FHA-backed loans, which account for 30% of home loans compared to just 3% in 2006, seem a sure thing.  Loans for second homes and businesses are tough to obtain.  Banks literally want no risk when giving a mortgage.

When the economy finishes turning around and businesses begin hiring, maybe banks will feel comfortable again lending money.  Until then, many realtors and consumers will have to continue treading water.

- Mountain Man

http://www.MountainManandCityGirl.com

New Jersey: Not Business Friendly

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Let’s face it.  If the economy is to recover quickly, the bottom line is jobs, jobs, jobs.  Put people to work and everything else falls into place.

Businesses, of course, are the key to creating jobs.  And two-thirds of jobs are with small and medium size businesses.  So to get businesses to hire more employees, the economic climate must be favorable.

New Jersey, unfortunately, ranks last or near the bottom of every business-friendly list generated, based on several factors. New Jersey ranks well in transportation, easy accessibility to large markets, having an available labor pool, and having the third lowest gasoline tax in the nation.  That’s the end of the good news.

New Jersey has the second highest individual capital gains tax and sixth highest corporate capital gains tax.  Property taxes are amongst the highest in the United States.  Wading through the multi-levels of government and environmental bureaucracy adds to the negatives.  Why would a business relocate to New Jersey with the high cost of doing business, plus the time delays in getting construction completed due to getting bogged down in permitting?

New Jersey – and newly-elected Governor Chris Christie – need to make some changes to spur business.  Tax rates on corporations and small businesses must be reduced.  The state will make up the loss in revenue by gaining more businesses, which in the long run makes a more stable tax base.

And as we all know, real estate property taxes must drop dramatically.  With six out of every 100 workers in New Jersey actually employed by the state, it’s not hard to figure out where the first cuts should be!

- Mountain Man

http://www.MountainManandCityGirl.com

Lower Township tax assessment

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Lower Township, which includes such areas as Diamond Beach, North Cape May, and Villas, has decided to do an in-house reassessment of properties.  No, not to increase the value of properties, but to lower them.

It seems that when Lower did its last assessment in 2007, the implications of this recession were not fully evident.  But now three years of a down market in real estate have seen these assessments appear to be 20% or more too high.

That 2007 assessment tripled the township’s ratables from the 1992 figure of $1.5 billion to over $4.5 million.  The new reassessment will be done by the municipal tax department, meaning there will be no on-site inspections.  It’s strictly a numbers crunch.  It also means that the cost will be just $25,000, instead of the million dollars for a full-blown reassessment by an outside company.

Properties expected to see the biggest drop in values are those near the water, i.e. the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean.  Hopefully Diamond Beach owners, who have historically been a cash cow for Lower despite fewer services and no fire station, will get a fair shake this time around.

Speaking of Diamond Beach, the new Grand condominium complex, located beachfront on Atlantic Avenue, was originally touted by developers and officials as bringing as much as $6 million in new property tax revenue to Lower Township.  With one of three buildings completed, just $400,000 is being added to the coffers this year. 

The Grand may someday make a big difference in the tax rate, but for now, with Lower this year paying an extra $289,000 in pensions plus a 3.7 % salary increase to municipal employees, that $400,000 from the Grand property taxes has been negated.

Seems like no matter what townships throughout New Jersey do to lower their budgets, the greedy, whiny employees – current and retired – milk the taxpayer far beyond the limits of reason.  That, sadly, will never change in our current political climate of patronage and deal-making.

- Mountain Man

Roll the Dice

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

When people think of Cape May County, New Jersey they focus on the fabulous beaches, fishing and boating opportunities, world class boardwalks, great restaurants, the laid back atmosphere and low crime rate.  Let’s face it, these are the attractions that swell the yearround population of 100,000 up to 750,000 in the summertime.

But Cape May County offers the accessibility to much more.  Millville, just 20 minutes up country roads, unveils its new 700-acre Thunderbolt Raceway this August.  A 2.3 mile road course, plus a 1.7 mile road course, will assure that sports car and grand prix car racing will be a regular weekend venue.

Just 30 miles to the north of Cape May County is Atlantic City, which as their slogan says, is “Always Turned On”.  As you may know, gambling came to Atlantic City in 1978.  There are now 11 casinos, with many touting expansions and new ones are on the drawing board.

corb0289.jpg

How big is the casino business?  There are a total of 35,603 slot machines, and they paid out 3.46 billion dollars last year.  Note, that’s billion, not million.  There are 1,612 table games, which forked out $1.45 billion in 2007.  The casinos currently employ 40,788 folks.  That’s a lot of impact.

The 11 casinos, with the year they were opened are: Resorts (1978), Caesars (’79), Bally’s (’79), Harrah’s (’80), Hilton (’80), Tropicana (’81), Trump Plaza (’84), Trump Marina (’85), Showboat (’87), Trump Taj Mahal (’90), and the Borgata (2003).  A new downtown oceanfront casino, plus a 140-acre mega-casino at the edge of town, appear to be the next to add to the city’s appeal.

The future of AC looks bright, so expansions are in the works.  The Borgata, which is AC’s first Las Vegas style mega-resort, completed an expansion in 2006, and a new hotel tower nears completion.  Harrah’s new digs open next month.  Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal will be opening its new addition this fall.  Resorts pushed skyward in 2004, the Tropicana expanded in 2004, Showboat added in 2005, and Trump Plaza remodeled in 2004.

corb0280.jpg

The casinos have realized that to expand their patron base, non-gaming activities had to be implemented.  Restaurants, spas, and retail stores were the answer.  The Borgata has many restaurants, with three featuring celebrity chefs Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, and Michael Mina.  Harrah’s has 172,000 square feet added for restaurants, retail, and entertainment.  The Showboat added the 2,380-seat House of Blues music club.  The Tropicana opened The Quarter, a sprawling ground floor retail, restaurant, and entertainment mall.  Several upscale non-casino shopping malls, catering to Boardwalk and casino foot traffic, have brought hundreds more name outlets into the fold.

Nightlife is what Atlantic City is all about.  All the casinos have showrooms, bringing the biggest names in comedy and music to the public every night of the year.  There are also Broadway musicals, holiday spectaculars, and specialty events, like the popular Mummer’s bands.  Bally’s, Borgata, Tropicana, and now the Showboat regularly host boxing cards, highlighting some of the biggest names in the sport.  Caesars hosts boxing at the AC Boardwalk Hall, also a venue for everything from Andre Rieu to college basketball to midget car racing and monster trucks.  AC has minor league baseball with its Atlantic City Surf.

As you can see, Cape May County life offers a lot more than the county itself.  If you can’t find something to do here within a half hour’s drive, you’re not trying.

- Mountain Man

To learn more about Cape May County, visit our website at http://www.JewellRealEstateAgency.com

A Good Realtor

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Once in a while, I’ll get into a philosophical discussion with someone concerning “what makes a good realtor?”.  Sometimes it’s a client, sometimes another realtor, or sometimes someone you happen to meet that initiates this dialog and shares their thoughts.  Let me share mine.

The first criteria of a good realtor is honesty and being ethical.  Without those two ingredients, you can end this discussion.  We try to treat everyone as if they’re lifelong friends, almost kindred spirits.  I guess it’s a little of that “do unto others” thing, too.  As we are both hovering around 60 years old, we have reached the point in our lives where everything is about friendships.  It’s a certain bond that says, “I care about you”, and will look out for your best interests.

corb1655.jpg

The second criteria is sincerity.  Nobody likes a phony.  Be real.  When we tell someone something, we truly believe it.  Sometimes it’s not what they wanted to hear or expected to hear, but it’s what we perceive to be true.  If one of us is showing a prospective buyer a property and we don’t like it or think it matches their needs, we say so.  We don’t whitewash it, we don’t go along and keep silent just to get a sale.  We help you weigh the positives vs negatives.

The third criteria is enjoying what you do.  We both love being realtors, especially City Girl.  We both bounce out of bed in the morning anxious to get on with our day.  Our job is not a burden, but a pleasure.  And a challenge.  As baby boomers, we thrive on challenges.  It’s a generation thing, I guess.  Retiring just doesn’t seem to be in our future because we’re already doing the thing that makes us happy and gives us peace.

The fourth criteria is enjoying looking at properties.  We can both look at houses all day long.  My mother always jokingly told me, “Someday you’ll make someone a good wife.”  She was right, by gosh.  I appreciate kitchens, furniture, home decorating, flooring, etc - not typically “guy things”.  Curiosity also fuels our desire to see what a home looks like inside and out.

The fifth criteria is being proficient at the technical aspects of a real estate transfer.  Is the buyer’s mortgage process progressing?, is the home in a flood zone?, what expansions will zoning law allow?, does the roof need replacing?  There’s a hundred facets of a transaction that we must examine and successfully complete.

The final criteria is experience.  City Girl has been a realtor since 1978, me since 1996.  We are both brokers, a level above salesperson that required extra schooling.  We both have our GRI designations, again requiring extra schooling.  City Girl also has three more designations, all of which were earned through increasing her knowledge of the real estate business.

Experience also means practical experience.  City Girl once owned a hotel.  We once owned a bar/restaurant.  We both have been in retail and owned investment properties, and have a second home.  We’ve done renovation projects, I’ve worked for a surveyor, she’s been on the local zoning board for 20 years.  My point?  We’ve learned a lot of things in the real world that can’t be taught in books. 

No matter where you live in the country, a good realtor is a good realtor.  With one, you’ll make a friend for life.

- Mountain Man

To learn more about our agency, visit our website at http://www.JewellRealEstateAgency.com

For Sale By Owner

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Every now and then we see that little red sign sitting in the window of somebody’s home.  “For Sale By Owner” it proclaims.  Occasionally, a person can pull off selling their home without the help of a real estate professional.  Just like sometimes a person can figure out what’s wrong with their car’s engine and fix it themselves.  But most of us leave that to a mechanic – an experienced professional!  He’s got the computer diagnostics and the right tools and knowledge.

A seller tries to sell their home without a realtor for one main reason.  They want to save on the commission.  The problem with that is that most buyers immediately deduct that same commission amount from what they feel the real price is.  If the property is listed at $500,000, the buyer already has the real asking price pegged at $470,000.  They’ve subtracted the 6% commission from the price.

So eight months later, a prospective buyer, the third to view the home, offers $420,000.  The seller feels somewhat insulted.  In negotiating face to face, it will be difficult for the seller to mask his annoyance with the buyer. 

Let’s say the two, somehow, eventually reach a verbal agreement on price.  A week or so later, the buyer submits his written offer that he has had prepared by his attorney.  The agreed upon price is there, but the contract is asking for the seller to take care of any repairs or treatments necessary due to termite inspection, septic inspection, water test, and home inspection.  The seller finds he could be on the hook for an unexpected $10,000 of possible remediation.

More tense negotiations, more animosity, veiled threats, more stress.  You get the picture.  The seller never saw it coming.

crb10227.jpg

Let’s back up and suppose the seller started by listing his property with a local, licensed real estate agent.  Upon signing the listing, the agent goes room by room and tells the seller what needs to be addressed to make the home more attractive to warrant the $500,000 price tag.  It’s just cosmetic stuff mostly, maybe touching up some woodwork with paint.  Outside, the leaves might need to be raked and that doggie poop cleaned up.

The agent now advertises the property in a number of effective Cape May County homes magazines.  Plus the realty’s internet site, which is also widely publicized and linked to chamber of commerce and other popular sites.  The  realtor also puts the property on a half dozen other high viewer websites.  This will lead to many potential buyers viewing the property.

Once negotiations begin with a buyer, the agent does your bidding.  You’ll often never meet the buyer until closing, so no hard feelings.  The agent can advise the seller as to contract conditions, inspections, down payments, etc.  Once the contract is signed, the agent oversees many details such as inspections, is the mortgage process progressing, survey, deed, the title company, etc.  You’ll even know your approximate closing costs before you ever sign the contract.

In the end, the price realized may be exactly the same, though it’s often more.  But consider the ease with which the transaction was completed.  No sleepless nights, no big surprises, no agata!  Wasn’t it worth it?

- Mountain Man

To find out more about what realtors do for you, visit our website at http://www.JewellRealEstateAgency.com

Open House

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Real estate markets are quite localized.  While one area of a state may have a stagnant market, 50 miles away the market can be going along just fine.  The reasons are varied.  Vacation home markets, suburbs of cities where jobs are plentiful, or desired features like mountains, lakes, a river, or the ocean tend to make an area more immune to extended downside markets.

Here at the southern New Jersey shore, “vacation homes” and “the ocean” have fueled a real estate market rebound.  While some areas of the country are three full years into tough times and still struggling, our Cape May County region had 24 months of sluggish sales and now it appears to be headed back up.

Another distinction that the real estate market here has that other markets may not is that Open Houses don’t work.  Nope!  They’re a waste of time.

Statistics show that two-thirds of potential buyers do their research for a home on the internet.  With 121 million Americans having internet access, I suspect that number from my experience is more like 80% to 90% here in the Wildwoods.

People don’t come to the shore to search for a second home unless they are armed with MLS sheets detailing the properties that have caught their interest.  Their day is planned out – first a two hour drive to get here, then two properties to see, then lunch, then four more homes or condos to tour, then back on the road home.  They had appointments to view all six units.

corb6754.jpg

Meanwhile, a realtor is sitting somewhere in an open house.  There’s little or no legitimate traffic through the home.  The only visitors you get are nosy neighbors, folks who already own a vacation home here but are looking for ideas to improve that place, builders checking out the floor plan and extras to incorporate in their next project, or bored non-buyers walking to or from the beach.

At our real estate agency, we have discouraged our sellers from requesting open houses.  We try to explain to sellers that our time is better spent on Saturdays and Sundays in the office, where we attract more potential buyers.  We work the phones, show properties, and have a much better shot promoting that property.

The only open houses that work here are those in large tracts of new construction.  Locally, K. Hovnanian, Ryan Homes, Beazer Homes, amongst others, have projects with 15 to 200 units.  They staff an on-site office with their own sales people, and are generally open seven days a week.

Realtors, of course, can’t justify spending that much time in one condo or townhome.  So, obviously, being at an open house 11am-3pm on a Saturday or Sunday is hit or miss.  No, it’s miss!

- Mountain Man

To learn more about the real estate market in the Wildwoods, visit our website at http://www.JewellRealEstateAgency.com

Seapointe Village Resort, Wildwood Crest, NJ

Friday, January 25th, 2008

       spv-beach-scene-lots-of-people.jpg

                Gated Oceanfront Community

Seapointe Village is situated on 17 oceanfront acres and has the unique distinction of having a private beach along with 4 separate pool areas, 2 tennis courts, exercise room, sauna, steam room, hot tubs, BBQ grills, game room, playground for the kids, and 24 hour security all year for your peace of mind.  There is also underground parking for your vehicle.

Once you enter this paradise, you won’t want to leave. There’s something for everyone!  The oceanfront pool also has a small kiddie area for the little ones, a Jacuzzi with a waterfall, and hot tubs.  The beachfront is directly in front of the pool.  Spend some time basking in the sun on the beach, quench your thirst and hunger at the convenient concession on the beach, then cool off in the large pool.  Lifeguards are always present for your safety at the pools and on the beach.

The Centre Court multi-level pool is a family favorite.  Kids and parents alike love the water slide and Jacuzzi.  And, if you get hungry, the BBQ grill is right there available for your use. 

New in 2007, The Ibis Building opened along with an indoor/outdoor pool.  Rain or shine, the pool is open and ready for you to enjoy.

The Garden Building is aptly named for all the flowers and waterfalls surrounding it.  It’s located in the heart of the Village and also has a pool, hot tub and BBQ grill.  Each building in Seapointe has its own special flavor.  There are now 6 separate condominium buildings, many townhouses and even single family homes. 

Whether you’re looking for a vacation destination for you and your family or an investment, or both, this is one place you won’t want to miss.  Many units have a tremendous repeat clientel.  A typical 2 bedroom oceanview unit rents for more than $2800 per week. 

 We have a number of units for sale in several locations.  Please visit our website at http://www.JewellRealEstateAgency.com and see for yourself.  Oh, and don’t forget your sunglasses. 

- City Girl 

 

    

Trickle Down

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Even as a realtor, I never fully grasped the implications of the real estate market’s influence on so many other occupations.  With the downturn, which here in Cape May County, New Jersey began in mid-2005 and seemed to turn the corner and head back up in mid-2007, the realization really hit home.

The slowdown in real estate sales affected, first, those who build new homes.  I’m talking about masons who put in the concrete footing, followed by a few coarses of block to get the home away from the ground and any possible flood situations.  Then there’s the framers, who frame out the house and cover it in plywood.  Then there’s the roofers to get the shell waterproof, followed by the siding guys to put up vinyl siding.

dsc03859.JPG

Then there’s carpenters to install the windows and doors, and do other wood work.  Now the inside of the home is buzzing with electricians, plumbers, and heating and air conditioning crews.  After those tasks are completed, the drywall guys can enclose the inside walls and get them spackled.  Painters do their thing on the new walls in turn.

The kitchen requires installers of cabinets and countertops.  The kitchen and bathroom floors need a tile guy, and the bedrooms need a carpeting crew.  A carpenter lays down hardwood floors.

Finally, a landscaping crew sets irrigation lines and heads in the yard, then grass and shrubs are planted after the driveway is asphalted and concrete sidewalks are added. The house is ready.  It has used 17 different trades, employing about 40 workers.

The real estate industry also fuels title companies, attorneys, home inspection companies, termite inspectors, septic tank inspectors, water test companies, mortgage companies and bankers, and those professions called to fix a deficiency in the home revealed by one of those inspections.

The other aspect is all the companies who produce lumber, tile, carpet, concrete, block, roofing shingles, sheetrock, cabinets, granite and corian countertops, toilets, sinks, washers, dryers, refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, windows, doors, heating and air conditioning systems, and even televisions and such.  Wow!  If new home building is off from the previous year, that’s a lot of manufacturing income and jobs lost.

Now that the real estate market recovery has begun here at the southern New Jersey shore, it’s nice to know that so many folks will be getting back to work.

- Mountain Man

To learn more about our real estate market, visit our website at http://www.JewellRealEstateAgency.com

Good Time to Buy in the Wildwoods

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

The old adage in real estate is “location, location, location”.  But in the latter half of 2007 and now 2008, I believe the phrase should be “price, price, price”.

The media, while finally admitting that real estate trends are “localized”, isn’t exactly beating the drums to announce that the real estate market here at the southern New Jersey shore has rebounded.  The reason is clearly price.

That’s especially good news for first time home buyers, who were shut out of the market back in 2003 when prices wildly escalated.  In our market, sales prices rose 3% per month in 2003 and 2004.  That’s a whopping 36% a year!  So a home priced at $200,000 in 2002 jumped to $270,000 a year later and $360,000 in 2004.  Young couples just couldn’t afford it.  Neither could many families contemplating a second home in the Wildwoods.

dsc03338.JPG

In the first half of 2005, prices rose another 1% per month.  So by July, that home was now $380,000.  With so many folks looking to cash out at these higher prices, plus people trying to buy new condominiums and flip them for a profit, the market suddenly had too much inventory.  The rest is history.

Prices stabilized in the second half of 2005, then dropped in 2006, although many sellers didn’t want to admit that the market had changed so they stuck to their high asking price …. and didn’t get it.  Their properties just sat on the market - few lookers, even fewer offers.

In 2007, reality appeared to set in.  Sellers dropped prices again and again, in increments of $20,000 or more each time.  That home we talked about that went from $200,000 up to $380,000, had now dropped back to a more respectable $260,000.  At that price, buyers got off the fence and started buying again. 

We have seen a big increase in business since mid-2007.  The phones are ringing again.  Buyers are walking through our doors.  Our fellow realtors are reporting the same upsurge in business.

So before prices start to creep up again, don’t you think it’s a good time to buy?  The price is right!

- Mountain Man

To learn more about our real estate market here in the Wildwoods and Cape May County, visit our website at http://www.JewellRealEstateAgency.com

The Mysterious Red Rag

Monday, January 21st, 2008

In 1976, I was hitchhiking east on Interstate 10 from San Diego, California with my then wife and dog.  It was about 85 degrees on this May 1st day.  East of San Diego, we got a ride in the back of a pickup truck from two guys in their 20s.  They would take us over the Alpine Mountains and let us off in Ocotillo Wells, a small desert town. 

By the time we hit the upper elevations of the Alpines, the temperatures had dropped into the 40′s.  Dressed in tee shirts, jeans, and sandals, we were quickly freezing our butts off.  As the truck hauled along at 75 mph, we pulled warmer clothes out of our backpacks and slipped them on.  We were shivering.

Eventually, we dropped out of the mountains and into the desert.  Before we knew it, the thermometer hit 100 degrees.  As we stripped down, I glance into the cab of the pickup truck and noticed it was filling up with smoke.

The driver swerved into the breakdown lane.  The passenger jumped out, then reached back into the cab under his seat.  He pulled out a red rag, like the kind that mechanics use, that had spots of oil on it.  It was smoldering and smoking like crazy.

mvc-004f.JPG

He threw the rag onto the side of the highway, stomped out the fire, left the rag, and we got back on our way east.  Soon we would reach Ocotillo Wells and the ride would end. 

Four hours and three rides later, we were in a van with a guy with long hair and a real long beard.  He asked us if it was alright if he got off the highway and went into a small town to buy milk and bread and a few other groceries to take home to his wife.  No problem.

He got off the interstate and headed to the general store.  A few miles later, just as we approached the store, the van began to fill up with smoke.  The driver urgently pulled to the gravel shoulder.  We jumped out of the van and I leaned back into the passenger side and reached under the seat. 

I yanked out a smoldering, red rag.  In fact, it looked like the exact same red rag that caught fire a couple hundred miles ago.  Same oil spots, same everything!  Was it the same red rag that we left by the side of the highway?  Was it deja vu?  I’m not sure, but we all had goose bumps!

- Mountain Man

Never Felt So Alive

Monday, January 21st, 2008

In listening to former soldiers give accounts of their battle experiences in World War II, Vietnam War, etc, I was always struck by a statement that was echoed by many.  “I never felt so alive”, they’d claim.  “I lived every moment.”

I didn’t really understand the meaning behind that sentiment.  Then, in 1976, I undertook my first long distance hitchhiking trip.  It would last  two and a half months, in which time I covered 9,000 miles along with my then wife and dog.

I’m not saying I was shot at (guns were pulled on us three times though), so my comparison is not that life hung in the balance at any moment.  Still, there were similarities.

Hitchhiking makes you vulnerable.  You’re traveling without the security of a vehicle.  You’re susceptible to weirdos, rain and lightning, biting insects, and that desolation feeling after spending four hours or so on a lonely road in the middle of the southwestern desert.

Evey morning when you wake up, you have no idea who you’ll meet that day, how far you’ll travel, and where you end up sleeping that night.  That anticipation is exhilarating, even exciting.

corb8021.jpg

Your awareness level becomes intensified.  Standing by the side of the road, your eyes lock on every approaching vehicle.  You pick up their “vibes”.  Are they good people, or do they have bad intentions, a certain darkness about their character?  If your senses are hyperactive, you become a good judge.

The relationships you form with folks who give you a ride, though they last only a few hours, are inspiring.  There’s a feeling of “I’ll never see you again”, so they blurt out personal things about their life that they’d never tell a spouse or friend.  You’re a sounding block, an impartial ear.

Long distance hitchhiking isn’t for everyone.  It takes someone who is confident in their abilities and self assured.  But if you’ve got those ingredients and give it a try, you’ll find that you never felt so alive.

- Mountain Man

Free as a Bird

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Remember as a kid when an adult would tell you to enjoy life now because plenty of responsibility would be on your shoulders in the future? 

In those days, few of us youngsters could fathom the upcoming burden of a job, mortgages, taxes, maintaining a vehicle, marriage, relationships, health care, or raising kids.  Jeez, I thought the adults were talking about high school or maybe college being tough, not life itself.

Now as baby boomers in our 50s and 60s, we look back to those innocent days of the 1950′s almost with envy.  Back then, life almost was like Leave it to Beaver or Ozzie & Harriet.  We had one black and white television, five channels, one car, and Mom was always home to greet you with cookies and milk when returning from school.  The call to the dinner table was a chorus of “Dad’s home” from us kids.

corb5597.jpg

At times, I’m sure we all long for those carefree days.  Catching lightning bugs, playing tag or hide and seek, walking barefoot through a meadow, climbing a tree, playing kick ball or dodgeball, laying in the grass looking at the clouds or night time stars.

As you progressed to being a teenager, new priorities emerged.  Your first date, your first kiss.  Your worries about hair, clothes, even pimples.  At the time, it was so important.  Tomorrow was always the biggest day of your life.

Now we look back and smile.  “That was nothing”, we think.  But, as full grown adults we still do get caught in the same frame of mind where we “sweat the little things”.

Maybe we should take a clue from the birds.  They take care of getting food, shelter, and security.  And they cheerily sing all day long as they accomplish those tasks.

- Mountain Man

Realtor Satisfaction

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

There are many aspects of real estate sales that make being a realtor an enjoyable pursuit.  I’m not talking about the money – though that helps - but instead the pleasure of helping assist your clients in completing a successful transaction.

The interaction between us, as realtors, and our clients has brought us countless lifelong friendships.   It may sound a bit corny, but our motto, “You’re more than a customer, you’re a friend” actually is our philosophy and not some corporate gimmick.

Our real estate agency is quite small – we are a husband and wife team along with our loyal secretary and assistant Chris.  That’s it.  The buck stops here.  Our name is on our business, so everyone here in Cape May County, New Jersey knows that when you are dealing with Jewell Real Estate Agency you are dealing with the Jewell’s.  Not some part-time agent, not some rookie straight out of real estate school.

That’s makes it more possible for us to have a true relationship with our clients.  Answering phones 6am to 9pm 365 days a year doesn’t hurt either.

dsc04136.JPG

We enjoy our sellers and our buyers.  All folks entering the real estate market have a need.  For Sellers, it may be the first step in upgrading to a larger unit, selling because of inheriting the property, a divorce, or simply giving up their shore home because the kids are grown and don’t use it anymore.

Buyer’s needs range from changing primary homes to getting a vacation home to buying a motel or pizza shop.  There’s nothing like seeing that twinkle in the eye of the husband and wife when they walk into a prospective property and know “This is it!”

My personal favorite, the thing that gives me the most satisfaction, is a first time buyer.  It’s a new frontier for them.  The culmination of their dream.  Whether they are buying their first-ever home or their first vacation home, they are at a benchmark moment in their life and you are part of it.

I guess everyone enjoys helping people realize their goal, their dream.  It makes me nearly as happy as they are.  No, it makes me happier.  That’s satisfaction!

- Mountain Man

To learn more about our agency, visit our website at http://www.JewellRealEstateAgency.com