Keith and Kinsey's Real Estate Update

Giving Challenge – Commit to Charitable Giving
December 24, 2012, 11:25 am
Filed under: Business, Life, Money | Tags: , , , , ,

I love the Holidays, It’s a time of year when people seem to be happy to give and help others. In fact, we’ve rung bells for the Salvation Army at Millers & Sons Supermarket twice in the recent weeks, and I’ve been amazed at the generosity of people in our small town of Verona! Although, this spirit of giving, doesn’t always seem to continue year round.

At Keith & Kinsey Real Estate we’ve made the commitment to donate 10% of our commissions to the charity of our clients choice. We started the charity program in 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti, and it’s been a hit with our clients. It always makes us and our clients feel good to know that people get help as a result of every closing. Even so, sometimes it’s easy to loose site of the real spirit of things. My wife recently emailed me a picture of another real estate agent’s business card which said, I donate 10% to XYZ. For a split second my reaction was one of spite, thinking she copied us and used it to market herself. However, that initial reaction quickly turned to delight realizing, she copied us and more charities are getting more money! 🙂

I started thinking… What if more businesses did this? What if more individuals did this? Would it every be possible for charities to replace government programs? Could it lead to the cure of certain diseases? Could it help the next generation?

My point here is not to boast or market ourselves based on our charity program. Instead, I’d like to encourage others to make the same commitment in the coming years. I challenge you to commit a portion of your income to charity. Lets see if we can change the world together.

If you need help deciding what is a worth cause to give to, Charity Navigator is a great place to research charities. They have a rating system that is based on the efficiency and performance of each charity, and they show financial information for most charities.

Acts 20:35 It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you.

Luke 6:38 For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure.

Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will never want

Related posts:

Making a Difference Through Charity


Our Year In Summary 2012 – Happy Holidays!
December 18, 2012, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Life

I can’t believe we are a week away from Christmas and approaching the end of 2012 already. Last year I posted a summary of our year for the first time rather than sending out a Christmas letter like many people do. So, we’ll try to keep it an annual tradition. Happy Holidays!

2012 was a great, rather busy, yet absolutely amazing. It seems like so much happened I had to look back at my calendar and past blogs to refresh my memory. It does seem like there was a little too much work and not enough play, but I can’t complain, the hard work has paid off with some relaxation near the end of the year.

In January, we started the year with the sale of my old house in Fitchburg, which had been rented for the previous 2 years. We had been living in Kinsey’s condo, but looking for a house that could be a longer term place to settle.

In February, we made the decision to build a house and we purchased a lot in Verona.

In March our real estate business was exploding. We were working with a bunch of buyers, had several new listings, and we were just trying to keep up with things while planning for our home build and move at the same time.

By April, the builder had broken ground on our house, and construction was in full swing. It was exciting to watching the progress as things went.

Ground Breaking
Ground Breaking

May ended up being a record month of real estate closings for us due to all the spring activity in March and April. We were swamped, but thankfully somehow everything fell into place. It was probably good to be this busy though, because it got my mind off some struggles with our rental property in Indy.

June brought a little bit of time for a breather to have some fun time with friends at a car show in Wisconsin Dells, but otherwise it was mostly spent packing, purging, and turning over a rental unit.

In July, our home was complete, and we took a few days off to move in and get settled. We were so excited to be in a new home with a little more space to spread out and grow into. I think I was most excited for the extra garage space, Kinsey was most excited about a larger kitchen and office space, and of course the dogs loved their new yard and freedom to roam.

Finished House
Finished House

We also ended up selling the rental property in Indianapolis at the end of July. This was a big financial hit but we managed to make it work. We learned some valuable lessons, and got rid of a big headache that was causing a lot of stress.

Most of August was spent finishing closets, working on landscaping, clearing out our storage unit, and trying to get grass to grow during a drought. Although, the end of august was the most exciting part of our year, we found out that Kinsey is pregnant! It has been very exciting watching the changes develop and planning for the new addition to our family.

In September we got Kinsey’s condo sold, and we almost beat our record month of May in real estate sales (records are made to be broken right). Somehow we managed to get through all of this while Kinsey was fighting the first trimester lack of energy.

12 weeks Ultrasound

In October after our 12 week ultrasound, and what seemed like forever, we announced to everyone that we were having a baby. This was a huge relief no longer hide it, and know that they baby was looking healthy so far. We also hosted a client appreciation Halloween party which was a lot of fun.

Kinsey pumpkin carving (with pliers?)

In Novemeber hmm… I’ve got no clue, It must have been an amazingly rare calm month.

Finally in December we took a vacation to Rivera Maya, Mexico. This was our last real get away before starting a family. We mostly relaxed and enjoyed the beaches and sunshine. However, we did take a day trip to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. This was quiet amazing if you ask me. How they built that stuff 1000 years ago, is beyond me! We also took a boat ride to Akumal Bay to go snorkeling, and we saw several giant sea turtles.

Sunrise near Rivera Maya Mexico
Kinsey sporting the baby bump at the cenotes in Valladolid Mexico

All in all 2012 was great. It seemed like there was a lot going on with all the selling, buying, building, moving, baby, etc. However, for the first time in a long time, I feel settled, relaxed and completely content. I know 2013 will entirely change our life and what’s important. I expect next year’s summary will be more about kids and family rather than business, property, and vacation. I’m ready, and I look forward to the changes!

Happy Holidays!

Recommended Service Providers
December 14, 2012, 7:23 am
Filed under: Business

Great service is very important. We have had the opportunity to work with lots of service providers around Madison, Verona, and all of South Central Wisconsin. We’ve built relationships and stayed in touch with quite a few of the great service people who have provided our clients (and us personally) great service. In fact, here’s a quote from an email I recently received thanking us for recommending one of our preferred mortgage lenders:

” He is wonderful to work with.He was so prompt in getting back to us–sometimes he had answers within minutes–truly.”

We will continue to build this list of great people as our business grows. So, if you need help with anything from finding an auto mechanic to a snow removal contractor, check out who we recommend, you won’t be disappointed with their service.

Thank you to everyone who we have worked with over the years!

How Does A Buyers Agent Get Paid?
December 10, 2012, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Real Estate | Tags: , , , , , ,

Many first time home buyers stay away from buyer’s agents because they think it will cost them money. Well, the opposite is really true; a buyer’s agent will likely save you money. How, you ask? Well, most often the buyer doesn’t pay the agent, and the buyer gets the benefits of an agent’s knowledge, expertise, and negotiating skills. See our post about the benefits of a buyer’s agent for more info on how they can help.

So, how does the buyer’s agent get paid? With the typical sale, a seller pays an agent to list the property for sale. Within the listing contract this listing broker says they will offer a specified percentage of their commission to a buyer’s agent, if there is one. So, the seller is paying a commission to the listing broker, and the listing broker is paying a commission to the buyer’s agent. This is the way most deals work.

Where the buyer needs to be careful is with FSBO’s (For Sale by Owner) and lower commission MLS deals. It’s becoming more and more common that FSBO sellers are willing to pay a buyer’s agent, but it needs to be written into the purchase contract. Also, many buyer agencies contracts will say that the buyer’s agent gets paid a percentage of the purchase price or the MLS offer of compensation (what the listing agent is offering), “whichever is greater”. When you sign a buyer’s agency agreement, make your agent cross out the “whichever is greater” portion. If you sign an agreement to pay the greatest of 3% or the MLS offer of compensation and the listing agent is only offering 2.5%, you as a buyer could be on the hook for the extra 0.5%. These instances are rare, but you need to be aware of them. We’ve actually never had a buyer pay us any portion of our commission out of their pocket.

As a buyer, having an agent work for you through a transaction rather than for the seller, at no cost to you, is a no brainer.

The Fiscal Cliff – How Does It Affect Real Estate?
November 28, 2012, 6:43 pm
Filed under: Income Property, Money, Real Estate | Tags: , , , , ,

There’s been a lot of discussion in the news about the fiscal cliff lately. In case you aren’t already familiar, the fiscal cliff is a combination of several laws which would result in tax increases and spending cuts starting in 2013. So, how does any of this relate to real estate?

The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 is one of the tax breaks that is set to expire at the end of the year. Generally, if debt is forgiven or canceled, this can be considered income to the borrower because it’s money they borrowed that they no longer have to pay back. So the borrower could be taxed on the amount of debt they were forgiven. This act excludes forgiven debt related to foreclosure, short sale, or loan modification of a primary residence from being taxable.

Even though the NAR (National Association of Realtors) is fighting hard to extend this act, I’m kind of torn on my opinion. Part of me says, we absolutely need to prevent people who have lost their home from being kicked while they are down and taxed on their debt forgiveness. Although, the other part of me says without this act we would have fewer people strategically foreclosing (walking away for convenience or part of their financial plan), which I don’t agree with. Maybe this act could be revised to provide incentives for short sales instead of foreclosures? This may prevent some strategic defaults while still helping those that are really trying to work with the banks.

Capital Gains Taxes are also set to increase from 15 to 20% on January 1st. I’m somewhat indifferent on this topic too. As real estate investors, lower capital gains taxes are beneficial for my wife and I in the long run. Although, I also understand the need for the government collect more than they spend, and I don’t think this is such a terrible place to squeeze more money out of tax payers. This will however, raise expenses for investors who are helping to revitalizing distressed properties, which could have a negative impact on a recovering market. So, I’d prefer to delay the increase a year or two or slowly raise it back to 20% over a period of a couple years.

The Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction is also a discussion item. Currently mortgage interest is a tax deductible item. Although, law makers are threatening to trim deductions allowed related to mortgage interest. Again the NAR is fighting to keep this tax deduction around. I think we all realize that this tax deduction is an incentive for home ownership and taking it away could slow (if not severely damage) the recovery of real estate markets. Although, I don’t think it would have much market affect if they set a lower maximum allowable deduction or eliminated the deduction for second homes. I’m probably the only Realtor and real estate investor that you will ever hear say this…  but I wouldn’t mind if this tax deduction was reduced over time and eventually disappeared. Why? because I don’t think our government should dole out rewards for having debt. Debt and the willingness of the American people to overspend is what got us in this mess to begin with.

What are your thoughts on the fiscal cliff? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts?


Top 10 Things I’m Thankful For
November 21, 2012, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags: , ,

It’s Thanksgiving, a time when we reflect on what we are thankful for throughout the year. It’s kind of odd don’t you think? So many of us think about the stresses and negatives in life most of the time. It’s sad that it takes a holiday to get us to appreciate things. We’ve had some ups and downs this year, but I think I’ve done a good job focusing on the positives. Here’s the 10 things I am most thankful for.

  1. An awesome year in business exceeding our goals.
  2. Our loving families, who we can spend more time with during the holidays.
  3. Our church and it’s supportive, helpful, and faithful members.
  4. Less maintenance, financial management, and stress after selling my house, Kinsey’s condo, and a rental property.
  5. Our new house and it’s much needed garage space for me to enjoy tinkering on cars and motorcycles again.
  6. Our great friends and neighbors (we really did move into the best neighborhood on earth).
  7. Our tenants who have been incredibly great and dependable this year (excluding the one from item 4).
  8. Our health. Thankfully we’ve made it through the year without any major sickness or injuries.
  9. My amazing, beautiful, and hardworking wife.
  10. …and the best for last… our baby on the way. It amazes me at the growth and transformation every time we visit the doctor. We are so excited to be parents.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What are you most thankful for?

The Golden Rule – How Does It Relate In Business
November 15, 2012, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Business, Life, Real Estate | Tags: , , , ,

Most of you have heard of The Golden Rule; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As far back as I can remember this rule has been engrained in my brain. I don’t know whether my parents taught it to me or if I learned it from a Sunday school teacher way back when, but it stems from Luke 6:31 and Mathew 7:12 of the Bible. Ironically our pastor spoke about this a couple weeks ago after I had written half this blog. In any case, I’ve discovered how useful the Golden Rule is in business, in life, and in relationships.

In real estate, and any business for that matter, challenges arise, and mistakes happen. Often when a complication arises in a business transaction somebody ends up getting pissed off, defensive, disrespectful, or blaming. I’ll admit I’ve been guilty myself a time or two. However, you’d be surprised at the number of times I’ve had another agent yell, cuss, or even hang up the phone on me (I can say I’ve never done that). That kind of reaction never solves anything.

I always try to put myself in the shoes of the person on the other side of the deal. I ask myself if I were them, what would I do? …and If I were them, what would I want me to do? After all, a transaction must work for the people on both sides, or you’re not going to reach a deal.

This thought process not only helps a lot with the respect factor, it can also help with negotiations. You can negotiate hard while still being respectful, and treating others how you expect to be treated. In fact, if you can be friendly, helpful, and find out what the other party really needs it will almost always result in a better deal.

In other respects treat your clients how you would want to be treated as a client too. The reason most businesses fail is because they don’t meet the needs of the customer. A business is profitable when their product or service is valuable to the consumer. Provide your clients with the service or product you would expect and your business will be perceived as valuable.

This golden rule works well for our real estate sales business, our rental business, our marriage, and life in general. It’s Gods rule and words to live by. It’s not about you, it’s about others. The rule of business is the same as life and the path to success requires you treat others the way you wish to be treated. Doing the right thing is the key to integrity.