Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thinking of selling your home, here are a few maintenance tips to keep in mind.

To prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown, money-sucking, sale-killing problems, focus on these six important areas you can’t afford to neglect.

1. Keep up the yard and walkways

Whether you're still living at the home or not, you'll want to make sure to keep your landscaping tidy—remove dead tree limbs, rake leaves, and clean out flowerbeds.
If your home is already vacant, have someone tend to the yard regularly so that grass and weeds don’t detract from your home’s appearance, suggests Kyle Hiscock, a Realtor® with Re/Max Reality Group in Rochester, NY.
“If your home does not have a well-maintained exterior, (potential buyers) will keep driving,” he cautions. “Plus, this kind of neglect can be a bull's-eye for vandals to break into your property.”
Consider having lights on timers so the house doesn’t look dark all the time, and arrange for driveways and walkways to be plowed weekly in the winter months. And don't let mail pile up in the mailbox.

2. Clean the gutters and check the roof

This one's easy to forget about, even when you don't plan on going anywhere. But when it comes to gutter and roof issues, neglect can cause a dangerous domino effect.
Overflowing gutters can damage your foundation, and also lead to drainage issues. And, of course, you don’t want buyers seeing puddling water as they approach your house.
Just ask Alise Roberts, owner/broker at Alise Roberts & Company in Bellevue, WA. In the rainy Pacific Northwest climate, she frequently has to remind her clients to keep sidewalks clear of moss and clean gutters of pine needles and leaves.
"Buyers, seeing the house when it’s raining, will also see your gutters overflowing," she says. "That’s a terrible first impression.”
And then there's the roof. Of course, it'll be examined during the home inspection, but it would behoove you to do it before putting your home on the market. Small roof cracks can remain undetected for years, causing water to slowly infiltrate your home and damage ceilings and walls.
“If water starts to penetrate a property, it can be a very difficult sale," Hiscock notes. "Water in basements or in homes is one of the top three things buyers are scared of.”

3. Service your heating systems

It’s not sexy, but the hidden guts of your home need regular attention, whether you’re still living there or not. That means having your HVAC systems professionally serviced.
First up, your furnace: If you get it addressed before you list your home, it won't smell like dust when you crank up the heat during an open house on a chilly day. While you're at it, have the duct work and filters cleaned as well. And if you have baseboard heaters, vacuum those out, too.
(Speaking of heat, Roberts suggests keeping the thermostat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit when agents are showing your house so buyers can visit your place comfortably. This will also avoid any issues with pipes freezing or bursting.)
Have a chimney? Be sure to have it inspected and cleaned as well.
“You want to make sure there are no cracked flue tiles, and that from the exterior, there are no gaps in the mortar between the bricks,” Hiscock explains. “Otherwise, you could potentially have the chimney fall over onto the house, and that’s a very expensive fix.”

4. Keep the critters out

If you don’t want to add "family of raccoons included" to your listing (and pay the hefty tab for getting them out), inspect the inside and outside of your home for any areas that need to plugged up. Take care of holes from damaged siding or fascia under the roofline—and do it promptly.
“In a colder climate, squirrels look for somewhere warm to go, and they’ll find their way into your property,” Hiscock says.
Stove and dryer vents, for example, should be covered with wire mesh to deter pests.

5. Wash your windows

Most people associate sparkling windows with spring-cleaning, Roberts says. But if your house is on the market, it doesn't matter what time of year it is—you need to get those babies squeaky clean.
“If buyers walk through your home and all they see is dirty windows, that’ll really mar the showing process," she says.
Make sure to wipe them down after a bad storm, when they're especially likely to show muck and grime buildup.

6. Check the calendar

Depending on what time of year you bring your house to market, pay attention to any details that scream, "We don’t live here or care anymore," Roberts says.
That means tackling seasonal tasks such as clearing away lawn mowers in the fall and storing shovels in the spring.
“Too often, I see a seller’s patio furniture still outside during the winter time. To me, that's not a good reflection on the property,” Hiscock says. “It shows deferred maintenance and lack of caring, and can really turn off a potential buyer.
"If a seller can’t put away their patio furniture and lawn mower, what makes you believe that they've actually maintained the property all the years they've been there?” he adds.
Staying on top of these regular tasks will make it easier to sell your home with fewer headaches. Plus, it'll preserve the value of your property, and potentially, the thickness of your wallet, too.

Monday, January 22, 2018

233 West Berkswell Drive
Gorgeous, pristine 1 owner home on 80' preserve lot zoned for PATRIOT OAKS ACADEMY. Room to add pool. Double culdesac with no traffic. Light, bright open concept w/ soaring 12' ceilings. Chef's kitchen w/ cafe has lrg island w/ seating, 42'' cabs w/ crown, granite, custom stone back splash, walk-in pantry, stainless appliances. Family rm w/ pocket patio doors to let the outside in. Office w/ french doors & elegant dining room w/ wainscoting. Over-sized lanai wired for cable & relaxation. Deluxe master suite w/ bay window, dbl tray, his/hers walk-in closets. Bath w/ garden tub, super walk-in shower, dbl vanities. Separate guest suite downstairs w/ private bath. Upstairs bonus rm w/ lrg closet & full bath. 18'' tile throughout home, upgraded lighting, gutters, H2O softener, transferable termite bond.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

14695 Mandarin Road

Under Contract!!
14695 Mandarin Road

Custom Built pool home near Mandarin Park on nearly an acre. Live minutes from everything, but enjoy room to roam,no hoa fees! Freshly painted interior & all new flooring.Inviting front yard with circular drive. Beautiful dining room w/wood floors. Eat-in kitchen with lrg pantry, lots of storage. Huge family room with wood burning fireplace & view of park-like yard & pool.Spacious master suite has generous walk-in closet, private entry to pool. Master bath has vanity with 2 sinks, walk-in tiled shower w/glass enclosure. Large secondary bedrooms & hall bath w/ separate tub areas. Gorgeous backyard with sparkling pool, inviting patio, and mature trees. Huge side yard for your boat, RV, garden, detached structure or any of your Florida backyard dreams. Short walk to wonderful Mandarin Park.

2017 Year in Review

2018 is here, and I am taking this time to reflect on the many blessings 2017 has given me.  I have reached a great milestone in my career with surpassing my goal of 10 million in sales for the year.  I have had the pleasure of working with so many people I really like to fulfill their House Dreams.
I begrudgingly started my real estate career back in 2003 at my Realtor Mother’s urging. I remember telling her just a few months in, “I can’t believe I get paid to talk on the phone and communicate around the clock,” and 15 years later, I still feel the same way. I do a lot more than talk on the phone, but this is the best career ever for me, and I’m looking forward to the next 15 years!
With my partner Bill by my side, we have been fortunate to partake in some cool adventures. The year of unfinished business, we would return to Comrades in South Africa and to Spartathlon in Greece to avenge our unfinished races.
 On the way to Comrades, we ran the Glass City Marathon in Bill’s hometown Toledo, finishing together.  We also completed the hilly, challenging Strolling Jim 42 miler in Tenessee walker horse country to prepare for the hills. The weather at Comrades was record hot, and we both struggled, so Bill will have to finish this one another year. The staff at our hotel remembered us from the year before, and we enjoyed the welcoming kindness of the South Africa running community.
We thoroughly enjoyed South Africa, spending several days around Capetown, and then a quick excursion to majestic Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. One of the highlights was running in a local half marathon in a very poor suburb of Capetown. We gave out a lot of race shirts, and donated our prize money  to the school sponsoring the race. 
You are probably wondering when I was working. Truthfully, I had my phone and computer in tow, and was running my business remotely the entire time. Our world has really become so much smaller, and there are few spots without internet.
I made some important changes to my business in 2017, and they will allow me to deliver you an even better level of service. I hired a wonderful full time member to my team, Christina Burget, a past customer, and long time friend. She is smart, organized, and a survivor. She just won the fight over a very nasty breast cancer, and she jumped in with both feet to run my growing business. You will notice some new marketing ideas, and a complete package that would be impossible to deliver with just myself.
I decided to set my bar higher, and I joined Remax Specialists in September. The uber professional office environment, experienced management team and office staff, and lineup of only experienced agents, combined with the national reach of Remax has proven to be a game changer for me already.
One of my mentors told me to get a relaxing hobby to relieve stress, when my business really took off.  I have running, but she felt I was too competitive at running. I used to play bridge way back when, so I decided to take it up again, but only for relaxation. You all probably know I have two speeds………….full speed, and sleeping.  It wasn’t long before I was competing at a high level, reading, studying.
Bill and I have been fortunate to represent the State of Florida at the National level three times before, so we were elated to again with the Grand National Teams, and a trip to Toronto. We played our hearts out with our teammates, two Jacksonville attorneys, and won enough to make it to the Round of 8. We played in a very quiet, closed room where you cannot even see your partner, and we lost to the team who would eventually win the event.  We were very proud to be in the top eight teams in the country. Even playing bridge at a high level is relaxing and a nice break from the world.
Last year I barely made it over a particular mountain in the middle of Greece. That mountain ripped me to the core and threw me into a negative spiral of despair. I could not get my mind back in a positive place, and I had to drop out of the 2016 Spartathlon at Mile 112. There are very few things I have not finished, and I was determined to get back and finish this 153 mile monstrosity of a race.
 I was also scared……….what if I couldn’t finish? I was born with a rare vision disorder whereby I only see in two dimension. In essence I have no depth perception, and the world looks flat to me. I routinely trip over curbs, uneven sidewalks, obstacles on trails, and I am horrible at nearly all ball sports. That didn’t stop me from trying everything.
After last year’s race, we went back to the mountain in daylight, and climbed over and back.  I tried to memorize the switchbacks and terrain, so that I could do better next year.  We spent the entire year, acquiring better lights, shoes, anything that could help climb a mountain at night at mile 99 of an exhausting race. I practiced running at night with different lights. I worked on keeping a positive mindset during difficult points of other races, and coming back from lows.
We completed three big races in the last few months leading up to the Spartathlon, each designed to challenge and prepare me for the biggest challenge of my life. My real estate business was growing so much, that my running had suffered. I was not hitting anywhere near the weekly mileage I needed, and I was running out of time.
River to Sea 12 Hour was an extremely hot test of endurance in July in Florida. I struggled the entire race, but never gave up. I had stomach issues most of the day, but I continued to move forward, even if it was slowly and painfully. This was a huge wakeup call that I was not even remotely ready for Spartathlon, but I’d just have to get ready. I managed to complete the same 63 miles that I did last year, albeit nowhere near as easily.
The market made its normal Back to School slowdown in August, so I embraced the long, hot days with lots of running, sometimes twice per day, and at all different hours of the day and night. We took the once in a lifetime chance to view the total solar eclipse in the zone of totality, so we headed to South Carolina with a purpose.  I found a crazy race the day before, where we’d have to run a 5K every hour on the hour for 10 hours…..a difficult and hot challenge.  Bill and I both completed each 5K in a heat index that reached over 100 in the early afternoon, but it was time well spent working on my fortitude and patience. The Eclipse itself was amazing, eerie, and other worldly.
I needed one more long running weekend to feel confident about Spartathlon, and 48 hours around a 1 mile loop was going to be it.  I decided to treat this as three long efforts with sleep breaks in between, rather than one 48 hour effort.  I wanted to run at all hours of the day and night on tired legs and mind. A Race for the Ages was one of the most enjoyable races ever. You get an extra hour for each year you are older than 48, and anyone 48 and younger gets 48 hours to run as far as he or she wishes. Bill got a 14 hour head start on me, so I cheered him on at the start and got a great night’s sleep at the hotel.
It was so much fun getting to know the incredible cast of characters at this wacky race. My goal was to run 50 miles on each of the first two days under the 9:30 Spartathlon cutoff. The first day I ran hard most of the day, and finished 50 miles easily in about 8:45. The second day was much warmer, so I finished my second 50 miler at closer to 9:30.  I slowed down a lot to walk the last few loops, so I could finish 100 miles with my sweetie, Bill Page!!!!  We finished that 100th  mile arm in arm, and I could not have been more proud.  This guy never gives up………in his own words, running for him hurts every single step, but he always pushes himself to new limits, and we experience ultra running together. 
We shoveled in some delicious food, and slept fitfully, sore and tired.  My goal was to just sleep a few hours, and then get back out there to pace a friend who was not having a great day, but to also run with tired mind and legs.  I woke up after just a 2.5 hours of sleep and hit the road.  It was dark, peaceful, and cool. My legs felt pretty darn good and I ran pretty easily with 1-2 short walk breaks each mile.  I racked up pretty good mileage until sunrise. Usually the sunrise gives everyone renewed energy to continue, but in this case, it made me feel hungry, so I stopped for a big breakfast, which was probably a mistake. 
Sitting down for a half hour made me stiff and tired, and it was getting hot in a hurry. If I kept running and walking slow and steady I could finish some good mileage. I was doing more walking then running, but nearly everyone was walking at this point.  I walked the last few laps with Bill Page, and we ended up with 104 and 141 miles respectively.  Not a bad weekend for Team Soo-Page!
Fast forward a few weeks later, and here I am in Athens, Greece, just 24 hours out from the toughest challenge of my life.  I woke up late, so I scrambled around to prepare my race day nutrition bags, and lay out what I’d need at every stage of a 36 hour race………..

Fall came and it was time to begin season 7 of Marathon High. I have been a proud sponsor of Marathon High for 3 years and coaching students at Douglas Anderson for 2 years. Running has meant different things to me at different times in my life, but one thing is for sure.....running has always been there for me, and has helped shape the person I am today.  I feel that mentoring and training high school students as they give running a try is an important mission in my life.  I cannot wait to see how Season 7 unfolds, and all the amazing memories we create for our teens!  
Running has meant different things to me at different times in my life, but one thing is for sure........running has always been there for me, and has helped shape the person I am today.  

I feel that mentoring and training high school students as they give running a try is an important mission in my life.  I cannot wait to see how Season 7 unfolds, and all the amazing memories we create for our teens! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trumps in Toronto

Strong Body, Strong Mind: Trumps in Toronto
I am an avid duplicate bridge player…..why, you ask? It surely is a stark contrast to my otherwise youthful, athletic existence. I love all challenges, and I am intense and competitive in everything I do. Bridge is one of the oldest, and most complex games in the world. There are more possible combinations of 52 cards than there are seconds since the beginning of the universe, making it impossible to simple memorize patterns and apply rules.
I have been fortunate to represent Florida at the national level four times. In July we traveled to Toronto to compete in a national team competition with two other of our Jacksonville friends. We first had to win at the local club level to gain the right to compete to win our district.  All four of us are solid intermediate players with enough brains and passion for bridge to win our fair share of local games, so this was not much of a problem.
All four of us still work full time and lead fully, busy lives, so we are all very realistic about the time and importance we can spend on our bridge game. We love to play, and we love to play at a high level and try to win, but we all understand that it is not the end of the world if we don’t. Sometimes life gets inn the way and we don’t play our best.
The District competition was very intense this year. There were several solid teams with players I recognized, players who had won the event before, including The Loebs with most of their former winning team still intact. They were probably the best team in the room on pure depth of bridge knowledge and experience. Of course we had to play them first………head to head, and only one of us would advance.
We had a misunderstanding right off the bat, and we went for -1400 and a huge point deficit. We stayed focused, played hard, and were ahead by a decent margin at the half.  I could tell that it was bothering them we had caught up, because they starting making some unforced errors.  We played hard the second half and made few serious errors.  They also played hard and made up some ground, but we still came out ahead. We had two more solid victories and we were the District 9 champs and headed to Toronto for Nationals.
The competition was intense on the first day, as 25 teams vied for 16 spots.  We had never had a good national showing in this event, and we were bound and determined to make it past this qualifying round.
They key is staying positive, focused, and executing your game plan, rather than letting the opponents and mistakes distract you into not playing your best. It is very difficult to develop razor sharp mental focus and endurance, when we also work full time jobs, and cannot devote enough time to working on our bridge game. This first day of play would last for eight hours, with a dinner break in the middle.
We played fairly consistently and won 3 of our first 4 matches, heading in to the break in good spirits. Even when things are going well, we could not afford to get complacent. All the teams were the best from their district, and they all wanted to win! We finished out the day with 6 wins, 2 losses and 4th place.
As the number 4 seed, we were able to choose our opponent for the round of 16.  In this round you play the same team all day to the tune of 96 deals to determine a winner. We chose a Canadian team we had beaten handily in the round robin.
The first half of the match was fairly tight. We were behind by only 8 international match points, a deficit that could be made up in one hand. We had played a bit sloppily, so we needed to rest well during the dinner break and come back fighting for the win. The third quarter we decimated our opponents, making up over 40 points and pulling ahead. The last quarter we kept it tight and did not give up very much, so we won and advanced to the round of 8!
The round of 8 was played in a special closed room with no spectators, and playing screens.  The barrier divides the table in half and you only see one of your opponents, but not your partner or the other opponent. The bids go on a tray which is passed under the barrier during the auction. Screens are used to minimize cheating at high levels of play, and we were new to this. It was very intense and exciting.
The team we played was really tough.  We kept it tight for the first half, but they were making far fewer mistakes than we. They definitely seemed to have better focus then we did, and handled the fatigue of playing long hours several days in a row, much better than we did.
It is particularly challenging for Bill and I to maintain a razor sharp focus for many sessions in a row. We are both natural extroverts to the max, and we love to socialize and make friendly conversation.  In bridge that is costly to us………once we start talking between hands, we make too many mistakes to play to our full potential.  When we get fatigued, or have a few bad deals, we both are more likely to revert back to being social and not using all our brain cells on the cards in front of us.
We honestly fell apart in royal fashion in the third and fourth quarters of this match against a very tough California team. The mistakes just snow balled into more and more losses, and we lost the match by a lot.  This team ended up winning the entire event, so we were not ashamed to lose to them at all.  I was very proud and excited for our team to have played at this level, and placed 5th-8th in this event.
Everything I take on in life I tend to do with passion and intensity. I approach my work, hobbies, relationships and philanthropy that way.  I could enter easy bridge events and play a more relaxed game, but it just would not be me. I love to go to the big tournaments and play against the best players in the country. The losses are exhausting, but the wins are even more rewarding.
That is kind of how I feel at the end of an intricate real estate transaction. I would love for all the moving parts to move along perfectly and smoothly, but it rarely happens that way. Unexpected obstacles always present themselves, and I thrive on navigating them and creating the best result for my customers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Great American Eclipse 2017 Roadtrip Part 1.......10 x 5K

Bill and I are huge nature lovers, so anything to do with parks, the outdoors, beautiful places, and natural phenomenon are very intriguing to us.  When we heard that a full solar eclipse would be within half a day's drive for us we decided we wanted to make it happen. With my big Spartathlon race just around the corner, I cannot afford to go out of town without some good training runs planned, so we also had to find a suitable place to get some good miles in over the weekend.  Lucky for us, there just so happened to be an ultra just about 50 miles outside the zone of totality the day before, so our plan was set.

We'd run the Homestead Heatwave 10 x 5K on Sunday, near Bluffton, SC, and then drive as far into the Zone of Totality as possible without incurring major traffic issues.  We carefully studied the eclipse maps and the various towns we could visit. We decided on Orangeburg, the home of South Caroline State University, as the perfect spot..........looked like plenty of free parking and the stadium for viewing, plus good back roads in and out of town.

Saturday we headed up to Bluffton, checked into the Fairfield Inn, which was minutes from tons of food, and the race site.  This race was like none other I'd done before.  Every hour on the hour you run a 5k on trails, and rest until the next hour.  50k is not very far for me, but the heat and the resting between could take its toll on me, plus 10 hours out in the sun. We ate the most delicious home-cooked Southern meal at Sigler's, a local favorite.

The course was beautiful, partially shaded, and well-groomed. We had our usual set up or shelter, supplies, basically everything  needed to sustain a small army for a week, and we set up near the start/finish line. The first 5K was warm, but I felt good and stayed close to an 8 minute pace.  I had hoped I'd be able to chase the lead pack for at least the first few, but they appeared to be running 7's or even faster. I wanted to pace myself, not fall and run a smart, consistent race.

I made it through the first 5 fairly easily, but it started to really get hot. I started to gradually slow each round, but it seemed as though everyone else was doing the same, and a few folks had even dropped out. I was third female, and I wanted to keep it that way, so I worked hard to maintain the same distance from the next woman each round. I started adding in  few short walk breaks on the more challenging sections to get the heart rate back down.

My hydration and nutrition were working well, and I was neither hungry nor bloated. My ankles became increasingly sore each round, and I was experiencing some very minor cramping in my hamstrings and quads, but keeping it at bay with electrolytes.

My strategy each lap was to  walk while sipping a beverage over to the aid station, refill drinks, sit down there for a minute, walk to my amazing zero gravity chair and plop down in front of the fan, put my feet up and close my eyes.  I was hoping to conserve energy and cool down by doing this. Right before the next lap, I'd run a cool cloth over me, drink more and get psyched up for more torture.

I was running mostly alone, but keeping this amazing 9 year old in my sights each lap to try to stay consistent.....yes, that's right, I was beaten narrowly each lap by a 9 year old boy! We got a small reprieve on lap 8 with a little shade and breeze, and I was able to maintain a few decent splits, and even passed the young guy on this lap!!!

Lap 9 was my worst. I was testing out new trail shoes for a few laps, and they were a bit heavier, plus the heat was so bad that I was working incredibly hard, and my heart rate was out of control. I had to walk nearly the entire last mile of this lap, allowing several folks to pass me....which had not happened prior. I really hate breaking consistency, but I was very out of breath and cramping bad. I managed to finish the lap with a run, but I was not feeling great about the last lap one bit.

I went back to my go to shoes, the Addidas Ultra Boost, and they felt like slippers. Just one more lap, 3.1 silly little miles, and I could rest, eat, drink, and shower! The sun went behind the clouds, and the last lap was just a bit better.  I went out conservatively, determined to run steady and finish  strong.  The other gal had gained back a few minutes on me in lap 9, but I still had at least a 14 minute edge. Still going stead with just one mile to go. I decided to walk a bit to catch my breath, and she passed me, but there was no way she'd get 14 minutes on me in less than a mile. I did run/walk the last .75, but by the time I hit the final stretch, my legs were a bit wobbly, so I had to walk the final few yards.

I've never been so happy to cross that finish line.  10 x 50k in the hot August sun on trails is no joke.  I was happy to see Bill finish with at least 7 minutes to spare.  He said it was one of the hardest things he'd ever done. He nearly quit after round 7, but kept going, met a nice gal with whom he could walk. She helped him keep going rounds 8 & 9, and then he had to finish. Sometimes the people we meet give us just what we need to keep going!

I managed an 833 average pace for a total of 4:23, good enough for 3rd female and 1st masters! Bill managed a 7:14, bettering his initial goal and beating out quite a few youngsters plus those who dropped out. It was a long, arduous chore to pack the car and get back to the hotel.  We slept like rocks, and gave up on our idea to head to the zone of totality at the crack of dawn.  We had to hope the traffic would be on our side!  Stay tuned, and until next time.....

I  gotta run,


Friday, August 4, 2017

Multiple offers and under contract in less than 48 hours.

7517 Francisco Road
 This San Jose gem is a 3/2 on a beautifully shaded private lot with mature trees.  This home has an updated kitchen, wood floors, 2 car garage and large covered deck.  At $205,000 this home wont last long, stay tuned for pictures and more details.

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