Just like it was yesterday…..

A lot has happened over the past twelve years.  I have met survivors of the September 11 attacks, and I have met those that lost family and friends that day.  Everyone I meet has a story about September 11, 2001.

I remember it just like it was yesterday and still cannot believe that  twelve years ago today, Osama Bin Laden & company perpetrated the single largest attack ever on American soil.  They targeted the heart of our financial centers, and the heart of our military command.   Their plan was to bankrupt America and watch us tear ourselves apart from within.  (Note: Their plan is still in place)

Everyone remembers what they were doing that morning.  I was having a cup of coffee when the news broke out on the TV.  Then my phone rang.  It was by Broker/Sales Manager/Mentor, Sandi Sharpe.

Over the years, Sandi acquired many friends through working with international college students.  She was their family away from home.  She was “Mom” to many.   One family, from Uzbekistan, bought a new Ole South home and became extended family to all of us.

The grandmother of this family had spent the summer in Nashville to help her grandchildren get properly settled in their new home.  She knew no English whatsoever, but was very easy to communicate with.  After all, a smile means the same thing in every language.  All of us loved her, and her family, dearly.

She was returning home to Uzbekistan on September 11th on the first flight to New York from Nashville.  She was armed with basic signs that Sandi made to hold up when she arrived in NYC.  With her smile, and those signs, she would never be lost…. well, as long as the plane landed in NYC.

But it didn’t.  The flight was routed to Raleigh, NC.  She did not understand any of the announcements, and only had her signs, which were useless in Raleigh.  The airline personnel at the gate calmed her and checked her in a nearby hotel, but none of us knew that yet.  Sandi was on the phone many hours before we knew the situation and that she was safe.  In the meantime, she is in a strange location, in a hotel room, knowing only what pictures were shown on TV.

The grandson was loading up for a drive to Raleigh, which probably was not the safest thing for an olive-skin immigrant, with a name too long to pronounce, to be doing that day.  Rumors of fuel shortages and curfews abound.  There was nothing else to do but go with him to Raleigh.

Long story short, I will never forget the look on the grandmother’s face when she opened the hotel door and saw us standing there.  She was in tears pointing at the TV.  She had been terrified not knowing where she was, or why she was there.  That fear turned to joy and relief as we loaded her things into the car and headed back to Nashville!

That day, America pulled together.  Democrats and Republicans joined together without unnecessary drama and rallied around our President.  America would prevail.

At least for a while.  Then we would eventually forget.

Remember, the intention of Osama Bin Bastard and Company was to bankrupt our country and watch us destroy ourselves from within.  They did not have a specific time frame in mind.   Even with Osama dead, his movement and ambitions seem to be alive and well.

Fast-Forward to today and look around.  What do you see?  Democrats and Republicans constantly battling each other.  America debating involvement in yet another foreign conflict.  We are slowly emerging from a recession that did not discriminate.  Everyone has been affected, financially and otherwise.

The United States has always served in the role of “world police” for humanity?  We have always ended up being the “protector” of human rights in world conflicts.  If not us, who will be?  Russia is hardly qualified to sincerely step up to the role.  Maybe it is their turn now?  That’s a question I cannot answer but I do know that world peace is a very complicated objective with many moving parts.

Where would the world be if Saddam Hussein had been allowed to remain in power?  Where would the world be if Osama Bin Laden was still alive?  Great questions to ponder.   I can say that if Adolph Hitler had been taken out when he invaded Poland, World War II would have been averted.

Regardless of your political preference, now is the time to encourage elected officials to put politics aside and pull this country together.   This country has the resolve to fix our problems and its not supposed to be about ”who will get the credit or blame.”   We don’t elect people to find blame, we elect people to find solutions… or at least that is supposed to be the plan.

It is our obligation not to forget what happened to our country on September 11th.  It is also our obligation to remember the sacrifices of countless people, that day, and every day since.  If we choose not to remember, Osama Bin Bastard & Company wins.  We will be bankrupt and will have destroyed our country from within.

You know, we are still having tough times in this country but until you see people wading off of Miami Beach preparing to swim to Cuba, there’s still time to get it right.

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340 and VP Sales for Tennessee’s largest home builder, OleSouth.com, specializing in new homes in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Gallatin, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee

Communication – does it have to be so hard?

Thanks to technology, there are so many ways for us to communicate efficiently with each other.  All we used to have were the telephone, the US Mail, and a personal visit… and before that, smoke signals.

Communication

With communication made easier than ever, why does it have to be so hard?  Are we really THAT busy that we cannot even acknowledge someone trying to communicate with us?

BUSY

My Dad used to always tell me….  “If YOU cannot take care of your own business, SOMEONE ELSE will!”

 

With that said, I’ve got a few calls to return!  I bet you do too!

PickUpThePhone

 

 

“Questionable Spending” – from Capitol Hill to Rocky Top

There are always two sides to every story, and both sides rarely receive equal consideration when the story is told, most especially the way the story is told.

Such is the case with NewsChannel 5 Investigative Reporter Phil Williams’ relentless pursuit of one of the most efficient agency models in state government, the Tennessee Housing & Development Agency, or THDA for short.

The investigative reporter even suggests their motto “Leading Tennessee Home” should unofficially be the song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” a humourous twist that got viewers and lawmakers’ attention, but certainly not the true picture of the agency, its employees, and accomplishments.

Former THDA Director Ted Fellman arrived at THDA in November 2005.  His leadership transformed the agency from a beaurocratic behemoth to a well-oiled machine.  I have been in Real Estate since 2000 and have observed the agency evolve first-hand.

What used to take weeks to process now is accomplished in 24 hours or less.  The THDA staff gets the job done rather than “pass the buck” to someone else in another area, which we have all experienced in dealing with government agencies.

THDA employees take their job seriously and enjoy it.  You will see them speaking at Rotary Clubs at 7:00 am as well as Realtor and other functions late in the evening.  They believe in their organization.  They believe in their mission.  They produce results.

I know this not only from past experience, but from proudly serving on THDA’s Realtor Advisory Board.  The agency is constantly reaching out to the public sector for input and ideas on how their organization can make an even larger difference in the lives of Tennesseans.  In THDA offices, you can feel a spirit of cooperation and teamwork among everyone there.

Ted Fellman brought a culture to THDA that produced results.  Experts agree that incorporating FUN into the workplace dramatically increases productivity.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS http://www.robinthompson.com/makingworkfun.htm

Instead of public ridicule from a TV station, Ted Fellman and the Staff of THDA deserve a sincere THANK YOU for becoming a nationwide model for effective housing finance agencies.  If the rest of the country recognizes this, why can’t we?  That’s the side of the story that needs to be told.

SEE MORE ABOUT RECENT THDA AWARD HERE  http://tn-tennesseehda.civicplus.com/archives/41/NCSHA%20Awards.pdf

Moving forward,  THDA Director Ralph Perrey needs everyone’s support.  The agency has accomplished so much for Tennessee and its productiveness need not be hampered in any way from outside sources.

Even though THDA does not spend taxpayer dollars and derives its revenue from other sources, Phil Williams did bring attention to the fact that those dollars were public dollars, which is a very valid point.

The public dollars that were spent by THDA on team-building exercises and employee rewards actually increased productivity.

That said, let’s go to Knoxville and investigate the spending habits of the University of Tennessee, where the spending of public dollars has not increased productivity.

One doesn’t have to go far….a severance package of $5 million for a football coach, who knows how much severance for Assistant Coaches, etc.  What about the salaries for the replacements?  And what do they do for fun?

They will say they are not spending taxpayer dollars, but revenue generated from the “program.”

Just like THDA does, except no one is going to question a thing….ever.  Not even Phil.

In response to allegations, THDA Director Ralph Perrey says the agency is only going to spend money on what make sense for its mission and eliminate anything questionable that lawmakers would not understand.

It would be much easier to eliminate what they do understand.  Enough said.

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Gallatin, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

It’s that time again.

Here we are.  It’s that time of year once again.

 

Time to finish blowing leaves into your neighbor’s yard.  Time to put up the garden hoses.  Time for decorating.  Time for holiday parties.   So much to do in such little time.  Damn.

The busy holiday season starts with Thanksgiving, when we gather with family and friends to give thanks for what we have. 

We cook.  We eat.  And then we eat some more. 

Then we shop so there is more stuff to be thankful for next year.

But Thanksgiving is a lot more than that.  We just need to allow it to be.  Before the busy-ness of the season kicks in, take a few moments.  Relax.  Think and reflect.  (Eat just a little bit more too!)

We all have so much that we need to be thankful for and this song sums it all up:

After you reflect, say one more prayer for the service men and women that defend our country every day, and also pray that we remain a country worthy of their sacrifice.

Peace.  And Happy Thanksgiving.

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Gallatin, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Metro Property Tax Increase – The Double-Edged Sword

It costs a lot to run the “world class city”  that Nashville has become and I don’t envy Mayor Karl Dean one bit!     CLICK HERE  to learn more about the Mayor’s proposed property tax increase.

Nashville businessman Lee Beaman contributed an interesting opinion with his letter-to-the-editor this past Sunday.  CLICK HERE to read his opinion.  (Please pay little attention to the class-envy comments that some made.  We can be assured the Beaman family pays more than their fair share in taxes to Metro.)

Karl Dean is right.  Nashville needs more revenue to continue and expand the services that we all demand and expect.  New schools need to be built.  Old school buildings are in disrepair.  Metro employees need raises.  Road improvements need to be scheduled.  Our aging infrastructure needs to be replaced in many areas.  We need more parks to add to our quality of life.

Most importantly, Nashville really needs a better and more boater-friendly Riverfront Park!   The riverfront areas of Knoxville, Chattanooga, and even Clarksville beat ours.

Lee Beaman is right too.  Increasing property taxes do make property values fall.  Maybe not all at once, but they will fall.  Look at Memphis and Shelby County. 

So, the average Nashville family will pay $192 more per year.   That $192 translates to approximately $3,000 in home purchase affordability.  Those that barely qualify for the “$145,400 median home value” in Davidson County will now only qualify for approximately $142,400 under the new tax rates.  Maybe not devastating, but enough to rattle the cup…especially when it may be yours!

The value of a piece of property is directly related to what a person or business can afford to pay for it.  Then, the more the value falls, the more the tax rate has to go up to generate the same revenue.  A vicious cycle.

What is the answer?  There’s not a good one.  No answer will  be popular to everyone, but it really is time to think outside of the box. 

The answer is simple.  We need a larger property tax base.  We need more families moving into Davidson County.  We need more businesses locating within the county limits.   We need people spending more money in Davidson County. 

It all starts with affordable housing, balanced with quality of life, and convenience.  Why wouldn’t someone working in Davidson County choose to live here?  We have got to eliminate those reasons to begin solving the problems.

Our surrounding counties do not have a football stadium to support, yet their citizens enjoy it.   They do not have the responsibility of a world-class arena, but their citizens pack it.  None of those counties have an international airport to maintain.  Some don’t have an airport at all!

Before you get the tomatoes, I am not advocating charging out-of-county residents more for airline flights, concerts, Titans, and Predator tickets.  We need every seat filled that we can get!  But it would be nice to have a “Metro Resident Discount.”

What about employers offering a “Metro Resident” pay incentive?  That incentive could come from TDOT, who could then slow down interstate constructon projects a bit!  

Then, if we could just make it less cumbersome for developers and builders to provide new, affordable housing in areas that already have needed infrastructure, we’d be off to a good start!

Is the Gallon of Gas a Republican or Democrat?

The 2012 Election is going to be an interesting one for sure.

For one thing, the Republican Party is failing to put forth a candidate that can unite and energize that party.  It is almost as if their plan has always been to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Who knows, deep down they really may not want to win.  Who could really blame them?  It really is more fun to bitch than it is to actually do something.

The Democratic Party is faring no better.  Either they don’t want to win again, or they really don’t get it.  I’m not sure which.

Along comes the gallon of gas.  Crude prices are again falling, yet the price per gallon continues to rise.  What was spent for the tummy now goes to the tank.  I’ve heard people say that $5.00 per gallon gas is the best candidate the Republicans have.  After all, Americans always vote their pockets…..right?

MOST of the time, but this time could be different.

Higher gas prices have helped our flegling automobile industry.  Newer cars are more efficient and they are selling.  Idled factories are coming back to life.  I actually saw a Chevy Volt in real life this week and was impressed.  Not enough to buy one just yet though.

I am sure many rushed to the local dealer before filing their taxes, just to take advantage of the $7500 credit.  Others that might be upside down with their home mortgage also followed as well, not just for the tax credit, but with the hopes the car might catch on fire and burn their house down.

High gas prices have also helped many urban area real estate markets – the only place the “Live-Work-Play” concept has ever stood a chance.  Today’s higher gas prices are forcing people to live closer to where they work.  The “Live-Work-Play” concept just may work after all… as long as employers can stay in business.

Which brings me to the economy.  It seems the Democrats really don’t want to be in control either.  Whenever things start to improve, they rush to botch it up.    As the fear of higher interest rates spur home buying activity, they issue statements that the Fed rate will remain unchanged for years.  As home sales still continue to improve, they hurry to increase the cost of Mortgage Insurance.  As employment numbers rise, lets add more costs to employers.  Yeah, that’ll work.

If I had the ability to print money, I could have already solved our economic problems.  Why is it taking so long?

The reality is the economy would fix itself in time anyway.  The lions share of the new printed money went to the wrong people.  Thats nothing new.  Neither party has yet to corner the market on greed.

In the meantime, get ready for drama.  One side will attempt to convince us just how bad things are.  The other side will counter with how bad things could be.  They will collect all the money they can to further their cause.  And when Election 2012 is over, they will all go back to their dressing rooms, break bread, have some laughs and begin preparing for the next round.

In the meantime, there will be one clear winner either way….the gallon of gas.

Election 2012; “Doesn’t Want It” vs. “Doesn’t Get It.”

Don’t you just love election year politics?  Funny thing about our two political parties in the upcoming Presidential election:  one apparently doesn’t want it, and one simply doesn’t get it.  Some choice, huh.

One solution you keep hearing is to cut spending.  That’s a novel idea, but before you go closing down military bases and halt building bridges we all must realize that every dollar spent passes through many different hands and can create more economic activity than the initial dollar spent.  Even entitlement spending, and unemployment.  We have to consider the “multiplier effect.”  Here is an example from the braintrusts of Wikipedia:

For example: a company spends $1 million to build a factory. The money does not disappear, but rather becomes wages to builders, revenue to suppliers etc. The builders will have higher disposable income as a result, consumption rises as well, and hence aggregate demand will also rise. Suppose further that recipients of the new spending by the builder in turn spend their new income, this will raise consumption and demand further, and so on.

The increase in the gross domestic product is the sum of the increases in net income of everyone affected. If the builder receives $1 million and pays out $800,000 to sub contractors, he has a net income of $200,000 and a corresponding increase in disposable income (the amount remaining after taxes).

This process proceeds down the line through subcontractors and their employees, each experiencing an increase in disposable income to the degree the new work they perform does not displace other work they are already performing. Each participant who experiences an increase in disposable income then spends some portion of it on final (consumer) goods, according to his or her marginal propensity to consume, which causes the cycle to repeat an arbitrary number of times, limited only by the spare capacity available.

Another example: when tourists visit somewhere they need to buy the plane ticket, catch a taxi from the airport to the hotel, book in at the hotel, eat at the restaurant and go to the movies or tourist destination. The taxi driver needs petrol (gasoline) for his cab, the hotel needs to hire the staff, the restaurant needs attendants and chefs, and the movies and tourist destinations need staff and cleaners.

SOLUTION TO TRY:  first cut down on fraudulent spending.

Then we all hear TAX THE RICH crying from the streets.  It was heard in the latest “State of the Union” address.   I heard it in the barber shop today.

Yep, it is “us” against the “fat cats” now.

While in the barber shop, an older man was complaining about no “cash-paying” jobs being available any more.  He was on Social Security and could only work 6 months a year, or pay half of his extra earnings back to the government.  Rather than pay the tax he didn’t want to pay, he simply quit working.  History has proven that the rich think the same way.  They will not pay a tax that they do not want to pay either.

Remember the “luxury tax” of 1990?  Come on, you remember… the tax that was supposed to stick it to the “fat cats” on their private jets and mega-yachts?  Sound familiar?  (History repeating itself always does!)

For those that really don’t remember, those “fat cats” didn’t want to pay the tax, so they quit buying new planes.  CLICK HERE

The “fat cats” decided they didn’t really need new yachts either.  CLICK HERE

One fact that everyone needs to face, Democrat and Republican, is that many rich people create and sustain jobs.  I like knowing my employer has more financial resources than I do.  I am also glad my employer chooses to risk his money and worth without any guarantees.  If we throw more taxes on him, at what point will he throw in the towel?  Seriously folks, lets not find out.

However, there are some rich people that cling to every dime – just like a hoarder.  Those are the rich that need to be taxed.  Play, or pay.

SOLUTION TO TRY:  A tax on “uncirculated net worth” or “stagnant money” over a certain percentage threshold of income or net worth.  The guys with beards could figure out the appropriate exemption levels.  It’s the money HOARDERS that we need to tax, not the job creators and job sustainers.  Circulate a portion of your net worth each year, or pay tax as if you did.  Imagine the number of new cars to produce.  New furniture.  New restaurants.  The list goes on and on and it all adds up to JOBS.

I’m already sick of Election 2012 and it is only just now getting underway.  It is supposed to be the most critical election in our nation’s history.  So they say.  I thought the last one was too?  If it is so important, why aren’t there candidates to take it seriously?

We have a field of Republicans gnawing each other into pieces.  Who cares if Newt wanted an open marriage 20+ years ago?  After seeing a picture of the “ex,” who could blame him?  Again, history has proven that a person with certain moral deficiencies can still govern effectively.  Just look at JFK, Bill Clinton, and even Richard Nixon.  Considering the field of choices, do the Republicans even “want” to win the election?

And then we have President Obama.  The economy is finally showing signs of recovery.  While gas prices are at record-highs for January, what does he do?  He announces his support for a 25 cent per gallon increase in fuel taxes over the next 5 years.  Then more of the same “TAX THE RICH.”   Perhaps he really just doesn’t get it … or his advisors failed to tell him that Americans vote their pocketbooks.

 SOLUTION TO TRY:  Cloning Research.  Then we could get Thomas Jefferson back to fix it.