Florida Experiencing Negative Growth?

Posted in History, Local Businesses, recreation, Tallahassee with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2009 by realtordebbie
Welcome To Florida,.... We Have What You Want!

Welcome To Florida,.... We Have What You Want!

Now this is scary news!  For the first time since 1920, Florida has experienced a decrease in new residents!  This is a great read:

“A must-read from this weekend’s New York Times: Ever since the 1920s Florida has been cast as the place people go to escape contemplation, not to indulge in it. But in the past year, from Pensacola to Miami Beach, Floridians have been soul searching. And for good reason.” Read More,…

Let’s hope Governor Crist is listening!  Have budget cuts to tourism, recreation and parks, etc. made a difference.. I think more than we realize. Meanwhile, let’s put Florida back on the Map ourselves! We must create our own destiny as Floridians always have. What makes Florida a great place to live,…. go tell someone today!

Tallahassee Dives and Jives,.. off the beaten path!

Posted in Tallahassee, Things to Do on July 25, 2009 by realtordebbie
Come to the Lake..wtih Jimbo Smith and friends
Come to the Lake..with Jimbo Smith and friends

Come on Out Where the Music is Familiar and  your Friends are Gathered!round!

Everybody knows I love music.. and to dance.. and boy Tallahassee has some of the  best off the beaten path venues! Take your shoes off.. sit by the fire and warm up.. take a Sunday drive… you may never know what you will find. Looking for the coldest beer in town? Want to sit by the lake and watch the most gorgeous sunset ever? Try K & K Fish Camp off Highway 12 at the Lake Iamonia Boat Landing. Mary and Don King cook up some great burgers and hot dogs.. and keep the coldest beer in town.. I mean FROSTY cold. Nothing could be better than sitting on the picnic table listening to locals, Jimbo Smith and Friends whip up some familiar tunes that make you want to kick your shoes off and dance every Sunday afternoon! K & K fish Camp is however.. a fish camp.. get your bait, launch your boat, grab some supplies and head out to Lake Iamonia, the largest lake in Tallahassee! Bring your camera.. you might see a gator or two.. up close and personal!

Another place I have loved for over 15 years is the Bradfordville Blues Club off Bannerman Road! Oh my gosh.. the history.. the great blues artists I have seen there! Many are a once in a lifetime experiences! I had my 35th and my 45th Birthday parties there, the latter with three generations of family present! What a FUN time, dancing and listening to “The Sauce Boss” stir up some blues and gumbo!

I’m sure I’ll think of a few other great entertainment spots.. but for now.. your turn! Meanwhile..let’s head to the lake!

More stories like this can be found at TallahasseeFLCommunity! check us out!

Knocking down Obstacles in the Loan Application Process. Part 1

Posted in For Buyers, Real Estate Advice with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by realtordebbie

No Credit My,.... So you think buying a home is easy these days?  For some, it may be, for most people however there are “glitches.” No one like “glitches,” but these days we stumble into more than ever before.  Believe me when I say, no one is perfect. Even the most savvy real estate investor has obstacles that prevent the smooth transactions we grew accustomed to in years past.

Preparing to buy a home involves more than making up  your mind that you want to move. There are certain steps of preparation that you must follow. The first and biggest obstacle that I run into with my customers is CREDIT ISSUES. Either Bad Credit, No credit, or someone else’s credit..on your credit report! Yes, it happens.

There will be some followup to this BLOG, but for now let’s get the credit issues our of the way. Let’s knock out a few credit score questions and answers.

What is a credit Score?

Good grades come from having done positive things, bad grades subtract points from your grade. Most scores range between 300 – 900 points, the higher is the better grade. A credit score is used to qualify you for loans. If you fall below 630 these days, it will will be a challenge to get your qualified. Lenders will delve into your credit scores, using the scores from three major reporting agencies, and sometimes one national agency. If you are monitoring your credit.. check all 3! The nuts and bolts is this:

What affects your Credit Positively?

  • Paying your bills on time and in full.
  • Having one or two credit cards used on occasion and paid each month.
  • The typical rule of thumb is to use 25 percent or less of your available credit. Ideally, carry a balance of no more than $2,500 if your credit limit is $10,000.
  • Steady employment. People who are steadily employed are viewed as being better able to pay their bills on time.
  • If you are self-employed, pay yourself a documented salary!

What damages your Credit Score:

  • Missing of Making Late Payments.
  • Using more than 80 percent of your total amount of available credit
  • Bankruptcy
  • Liens or foreclosures
  • Periods of unemployment
  • Repeated, multiple requests for new lines of credit ( i.e. store credit card applications will KILL your credit! Don’t do it to save 10%!)

The Major Factors that affect your credit score:

  • Your payment history. Are you paying on time? This is one of the biggest factors that lenders look at.
  • Your outstanding debt. Your debt to income levels are critical, your ability to pay back small sums is manageable, large balances are very difficult to manage.
  • How long have you been building credit. The longer your credit history, the higher your credit rating.
  • The number of inquiries on your credit report. The more times you’ve applied for credit cards or loans, the more credit report inquiries will show up on your credit report. When in trouble, in the fine print, your creditors can pull your credit when you are late, when you apply for loan extensions or modifications. This can kill your score because it indicates you are having trouble managing your debts.

What to do when you see a “cheater” on your credit report.

Sometimes there are debts on your credit report that do not belong to you. This happened recently to my 19 year old borrower as he discovered that his father had been using his social security number and had taken out credit cards in his name. They were good pays,.. but they were NOT his, in fact most were taken out when the 19 year old was 9 and 10 years old! Can someone say, “Credit card FRAUD?” Do us all a favor, report credit card fraud, let the credit companies investigate and prosecute those who committed the crime.  If you are one of those stealing from your kids.. thinking you won’t ever get caught… Think  Again!

Credit card fraud is on the rise. Access to social security numbers, telephone numbers, dates of birth are too easy to find, not to mention accessibility to your mailbox which is full of the “sign here” offers that can be stolen in a flash. Use a identity theft service. It’s the cheapest, best insurance you can own, and these days you need it!

CreditReport.com reports that the average credit score of Americans is “in the neighborhood of 680,..” and that, “while consumers have more debt than the year prior, and a quarter of the country has more debt than the national average – apparently we manage debt fairly well, as our average credit score is hanging in there.”

So, while you may look at your credit card debt and shriek,.. look at your score, do a little housecleaning once a year and relax.

Part II….Exercise Your Right To Choose the Right Lender!

What’s all the Buzz about Twitter?

Posted in Debbie Kirkland, Realtor, Tallahassee, Technology with tags , , , , , , , on July 12, 2009 by realtordebbie
FloridaSunSales, Debbie Kirkland, Realtor

FloridaSunSales, Debbie Kirkland, Realtor

So  you want to  know what Twitter is all about?  TV, radio, newscasters,.. even Oprah is on twitter now!  My kids ask me what the big deal is… imagine that.. My kids asking me about twitter! Suddenly I feel 24 again.  Anyway…Twitter.. no it’s not just 72 characters insignificant things that  people that talk about their walk to the car, or that they are leaving for work. or arrived at work or that are bored at work. It’s the messages that contain a personal message to NEW acquaintances that share something in common. Whether for a moment or longer engagements between those who converse in real time about a deeper subject matter, or even a common interest in music, there is always something to talk to someone about. These messages turn into conversations with other “Tweeple” who “tweet” with a purpose.. or sometimes just to share a laugh. 

When I first started Twitter, within days some of the Tallahassee folks I was following announced they were having a “tweet-up” – the modern day get-together.  I attended, and met 8 very unique, different, quintessential people who were much more versed than I in what was completely foreign to me.  They gave me the low-down on who some of their cool connections were and where to find great applications to make tweeting easier, etc. They also spoke in “twitter-ese,” and I made notes as fast as I could.. but, that really wasn’t necessary.  All I really had to do, was read, connect to the social media gurus,..examine the applications they talked about.. and before you could say “tweet,” I was up and tweeting with the pros. 

Life changed after that.. I am realizing a dream come true soon. I am going to be hosting a series of social media classes along with 4 young men who are fun, exciting and some of the most brilliant minds in the social media and marketing business. I met every one of these young entrepreneurs right on Twitter. I watched them for a long time.. read their material and examined what I thought were their business strengths, etc. We have even met a few times for talks.. about business and at a few more #Tallahassee Tweet-ups. Next month, We will be teaching Realtors and small business owners the power of social media and what it can do for their businesses.  Things seem to move a little slower here, but more and more folks are catching on to Twitter, to Facebook.. now if I can just persuade a few to devote time to blogging, a new concept to many.

Business-wise, I can tell you that twitter has been responsible for 5 real estate customer referrals and resulted in 3 sales so far. Several more are in the pipeline just waiting to close.  Social networking is as much a part of prospecting as the personal telephone calls I make during the week to past customers and my sphere of influence. Devotion of a little time has certainly been productive, educational and mostly, entertaining!

Happy Tweeting… follow me…..@FloridaSunSales!

Dont Just Watch... Tweet!

Dont Just Watch... Tweet!

Just Looking Back For A Moment

Posted in Debbie Kirkland, Habitat For Humanity, Random, recreation, Tallahassee with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by realtordebbie

I’m not sure why I’m reminiscing more this week than in times past. I’m exhausted, and it’s only Tuesday.  Perhaps it’s the 100+ degree temperatures we have been having in Tallahassee.. or possibly related to the first day off I had on Sunday, the first in more than about 6 months.  I spent that day with my folks,..floating in the pool in the home where I was raised. For the first time in a very long time, I put business down for a day, and I was as relaxed as I was when I was a child.

Home

Home

I had a few thoughts that I just needed to spill. As far back as I can remember, I have had a roof over my head. My father had a job, my mom made dinner at night and my sisters and I played in a yard,…every day.  I don’t remember hearing about famine, about unemployment, about the threat of socialism or foreclosures being on the rise. I don’t remember a time when there was a need in my not-so-long-ago rural community, that families did not gather to “tend” to those in need.

As far back as I can remember, people had work to do, suppose that’s why I dont mind it or even think about the hours I put in as a single mom. I was raised in a middle class.. or what would now be considered lower middle class family I suppose. Plain and simple, everyone I was exposed to had a work ethic and a sense of moral dignity and community. Times may have been “tight,” but there was food on my table. (Much of it home-grown or given to us in trade for work my dad may have done for someone. I’ve put up more peas and corn than most have seen!)

When I look around today, I see a different society. Kids don’t play outside much anymore..they don’t build forts in the woods and they are never out of their parent’s watchful eyes. Father’s and mothers both work, and spend much of their time involved in costly night-time activities that are deemed “necessary” for physical and emotional development. I see the elderly shoved into homes because they have no families to care for them or either the children are fighting over who must “take on the job” of caring for them.

I’m not feeling very sorry right now for a few people I know who are using up their sick time before they loose it.. or complaining about kids driving them crazy whining and complaining.  I think we’ve done a few things wrong along the way, plain and simple. Perhaps it’s not so bad to look back once in a while.. to sit and reminisce with the old folks, or to even look back to where we were a few decades ago.

The Tallahassee Board of Realtors is starting another Habitat For Humanity House in the fall. My pledge is $100 for each closing I have and to work on our build days. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be really. Every home-owner of these houses that I have met, has been hard-working, many raising their own children, grandchildren or someone else’s children. It takes a village, it means a home. I think most of us “get-it” now that this could be any one of us. What we don’t know is who would be there if we fell.

These may very well be “the good times.” These may be the times we gain control of our lives and reach out to those around us once again. Sure  makes you think, huh. Today, I’m simply grateful for the 100 hour work week and the homemade blackberry jelly my friend Jay dropped off  last week. Time to return a favor.

Tallahassee, As Far Back As I Can Remember

Posted in Debbie Kirkland, History, Tallahassee with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by realtordebbie
Silver Slipper

Silver Slipper

Tallahassee, FL

Back in My Day!

You know you are getting old when you can remember places from your childhood that are pictured in black and white photos…..before black and white photography was “artistic.”

I’m a native of Tallahassee and people always seem amazed at that. Although I have traveled quite a bit, I always seem to be drawn back “home.” I have a history here, my famly has a history here. I’ve decided to post a few blogs about those folks.

I’ve got quite a few vivid memories, and I remember them because outings were a treat! We lived in “the country”, and a trip to town meant a “black cow” at Mutt and Jeff’s diner, or a hamburger at the very first McDonald’sMcDonalds-TennesseeSt1961 in town (right near FSU – tell me they didn’t have marketing figured out even back then!).  After dinner.. we’d cross the street to a stand-alone, walk-up  ice-cream stand called the “Dairy Queen,” (guess that answers the question about which came first, the king or the queen!), or perhaps we’d stop for a donut at the first Krispy Kreme. The drive up, or drive in was all the rage back in my early years!

Tallahassee Drive-In -4 Points

Tallahassee Drive-In -4 Points

Movies were a real treat, and most native Tallahasseans remember the drive-in-movies on the “Jacksonville” highway (Apalachee Parkway). They were of course begun just after  dark.. so my parents always made sure we were dressed for bed. They brought blankets and pillows and put us on top of the station wagon to watch the show.  I’m sure it was just easier for packing us in the back of the wagon after the show.

Yep, I’m trying to get my parents into blogging.. writing some of their memories down now before they are gone.  I’m a third generation Tallahassee, Florida native, and I am missing some details that my grandparents took with them as they left for a better place. I’m sure there are many I have missed.

Listening to my grandparents talk when i was a teen might not have been the most exciting thing in the world, but I was always intrigued and I do remember some of the stories passed down to me as a child. I liked sitting at my grandmother’s table at lunch hearing them again and again. She taught elementary school at Sealey Elementary, and seemed to know half the town.. from childhood on into adulthood!

I’ll try to write a few down in the next few blogs.  One storyI do remember: I know that my great-grandfather used to walk to work. He walked over 4 miles actually, along Apalachee Parkway. Now a 4 lane highway, at the time was a narrow 2 lane road, dirt and he lived off Midyette Road. Now a 5 min. drive to the Capitol, but then an hour long walk, one way! Rumor has it he made it all the way to the capitol every day and left work early enough to sit on a lady friend’s front porch downtown near now  historic Leon High school. I’m not sure what kind of “lady-friend” it was, but my dad made sure to go “around” the house so my mom wouldn’t see him there! He was however killed as he walked home along the highway just yards from his home by a dump truck.

There are many stories,.. will have to pull out the photos and continue later, and if you have some you’d like to share, just drop me a line!

Appalachee Parkway

Apalachee Parkway

Making Hay While The Sun is Shining!

Posted in Real Estate Advice with tags , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2009 by realtordebbie

Realtor's Road SignSo the Sun is shining.. the world is turning and banks are still lending money, and people are still spending. The difference today is that people are being much more discretionary and careful with spending. Not such a bad decision.

You know, I used to *whine* to my  kids about spending gone wild. Now that one is on her own, gainfully employed and supporting herself, all of a sudden the  meaning of “support” has sunk in. I feel like I’m turning into my mama and am waiting for the “I told you so!” to come out of my mouth! Restraint,… slight grin.

This week at the Tallahassee Board of Realtors marketing meeting, our Board attorney gave us the monthly legal update. Always packed with knowledge and useful information, always timely and purposeful. I walked away thinking of a few comments that were made and with three thought provoking  points that were discussed on my mind:

#1  “This is the worst real estate market I have seen since 1969”

Maybe,.. I was born in 1961, so it is hard for me to remember back that far! ; )  In any case.. my earliest memories are this..my father helped build our home. I mean, he swung a hammer, he cleared the property, he toiled every spare moment after his job to build a home for my family. He saved money for a down-payment of 25%. Yes, that is right, 25%… no FHA loans for 3.5% down, no 100% financing. Banks were different then?  The truth is, home buyers were different then!  My parents still reside in that house, they have loved and maintained it, and it is in much better condition than many 3 – 4 yr. old homes that I show on a regular basis, and certainly cleaner. Pride.

The following data comes from the closing statement, on file in the house. Their interest rate in 1967, 6.6%. The purchase loan was $27,500 – not including the $3500 land purchase. My dad’s Salary,..$15,000 Feeding and clothing a family of 5. Their debt to income ratio,..54%. Their closing costs, 3.6% of the Sales Price. Accomplishment.

#2 “Real estate is local”

Boy is it ever.. not just from state to state.. but city to city sometimes, street to street. Striving for appraisal standards, chunk the short sale and foreclosures out of the appraisals is something we are working on. The analogy to me is this:
If you go into a retail store, you see two areas.. the sale racks and the new season’s latest collection. Just because there is a shirt on sale do we think we can expect the value of the new collection to go down? It is after all a “declining” market,.. retailers should be happy to get any offer on that item, right? Haha! Try running that by the sales clerk or even the store manager! So, the point is,.. don’t expect the perfect condition, loved home and faithful homeowner to be thrilled with an offer anywhere close to a run down, dilapidated foreclosure. Common Sense. Get away from what appraisers are doing to our market.. and look at the home as your home. How much is that worth to you? Will your family be happy there in 5 years? Yes.. at least 5 years! (a good  Realtor’s advice)

#3 “Real estate has never experienced overnight losses of over 30% like the stock market!”

So I suppose we should shut up..quit complaining, give a quick pat on the back.. and learn to love our jobs and ourselves once again. We are not responsible for the market collapse.  It seems ironic that the Realtors I know are working 60 -100 hour work-weeks and keeping families together, restoring dignity to those who have lost hope, and stimulating an economic recovery. Realtors don’t punch clocks. Perhaps if they did, the public would understand the hours that go into our jobs. Realtors have it harder than most actually. We are self-employed 100% commission, all business expenses, taxes and continuing education come from that commission. We will recover, we will work to recover and we will support one another through this market, because… We Care.

Help us help you! Turn the TV off.. take in the big picture, think locally, save money, live within your means and most importantly,  Hire a Professional Realtor.