Good Grief!! “We has met the enemy and he is us”

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 7:15 pm, December 9th, 2010  

2 of my favorite quotes from the comics; “Good Grief!” is Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame favorite saying. “We has met the enemy and he is us” is from an old comic strip called “Pogo”. Pogo was a cartoon opossum and the originator of that saying.

There has been a lot of noise on the net lately about automated home valuation models along with an increase of websites offering them to both buyers and sellers of real estate.

Unfortunately for those that put a lot of stock in these online appraisals they’re generally overly broad and very, very often not valid for today’s prices in a given neighborhood.

I had a buyer recently I had been sending e mails of listings that nominally met his buying criteria. One day he called and wanted to go look at 3 houses he said he was interested in.

We went and one turned out to be his proverbial dream house. Went back to the office to write an offer and he pulled out not one, not two, but three online valuations of his 3 favorite houses including the one we were fixing to write an offer on.

Good Grief!!

I’ve never seen such a disjointed batch of alleged comparable sales in my real estate career. Just because a house has the same number of square feet as another or happens in be in close proximity, that has nothing to do with the value of either house.

Knoxville tn real estate listings Knoxville tennessee homes for sale

Some of them had used a condo complex just down the street to compare to a single family home in a neighborhood, others were wildly out of the ballpark both ways on suggested values.

After we sat down and went on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to find some valid comparables along with some knowledge I had of those sales, we wrote a successful offer.

The huge flaw with most of these services is that they just pull sales from databases and the programmers have no clue as to where they’ve told it to look.

They also don’t (and can’t) factor in nuances we would likely be aware of like sellers paying closing costs for a buyer, redecorating-done or not, property size, and a host of other very important variables.

There’s way too many of these so called “instant appraisal” services running around out there leading both buyers and sellers off in the wrong direction about the value of houses for sale.

We need to go a much better job of educating the public and our buyers and sellers about the flaws and limitations of these online valuation guys or we’ll be dealing with stuff like this on every sale.

Somehow I don’t have high hopes of that happening.

“We has met the enemy and he is us.”

Technology dos and dont’s for your listings | Knoxville Tennessee Homes For Sale

Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 6:59 pm, July 7th, 2010  

For some strange reason the post below I wrote several years ago popped on a Google alert. After re-reading it I decided it was still very relevant to today and hopefully you will find it worthwhile:

Play VisualTour

BTW, this is a pretty cool listing of mine in North Knoxville just in case anyone has a buyer. This listing is NOT several years old.  😉

I just received my July/August issue of “The Real Estate Professional”, a great magazine sent to all REBAC (Real Estate Buyers Agent Council) members.

A feature story is titled “Technology and Home Sales: How the Internet is Changing the Real Estate Industry”. Boy, ain’t that the truth. 😉

I found some of the technology do and don’ts for using technology in your listings to be especially relevant.

  1. I think a lot of us don’t quite realize yet is that most buyers (and sellers) are way more tech savvy than the average Realtor. Probably something to do with their average age being in the 30s and ours being in the 50s.
  2. The time to make a first impression is shorter than ever before. This is especially important on your websites. You have very, very little time to catch and hold someone’s attention before they’re bored and/or ready to move on to a site that gives them what they’re looking for. In order for your website to be effective it must be:
  1. Easily findable by consumers.
  2. Deliver the content they’re looking for
  3. Have compelling reasons to cause them to contact you to do business.
  • Don’t try to overwhelm consumers with lots of bells & whistles on your site, i.e. lots of flash or downloads, NO MUSIC, and make sure your website is compatible with current popular browsers such as Internet Explorer (still the most widely used), Firefox, & Mozilla.
  • Photos. Some panoramic photos tend to distort a room, so stills only or stills plus a panorama are best to appeal to the lowest common denominator of viewers.
  • Buy a Knoxville TN home | get a green card

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 6:00 am, June 9th, 2010  

    Here’s a simple solution to our current housing dilemma.

    We all know there are too many houses on the market in most areas that are not selling.

    Play VisualTour

    There is also a problem with too many illegal immigrants.

    One simple solution I ran across recently is to just give a green card to every legal immigrant who wants to come to the US and buy a house.

    Democrats should love it because it allows more immigration.

    Republicans should love it because the new immigrants would be well documented. Mortgage bankers ask for lots more documentation than the INS.

    This offering should not apply to illegal aliens currently in the country.

    I believe that would be a huge slap in the face to our country, our laws and those who obey them, and all other immigrants that took the time and trouble to go through the process legally.

    Personally I don’t see a downside, do you?

    Buy a house, get a green card.

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    7 Gardening mistakes to avoid

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 2:56 pm, April 18th, 2010  
    Lawn irrigation system at a homeYour irrigation system can bring disease and rot to your lawn if improperly set. For best results, water in 40- to 60-minute intervals two to three times per week. Image: Rain Bird Corporation

    Gardening is just about the simplest do-it-yourself home improvement work there is. If you can dig a hole, turn on a spigot, and snip a dead flower off a vine, you’ve got the basic skills down. Still, you do have to make some judgment calls, so it helps to know the ground rules, so to speak, that can help you avoid making some rookie mistakes.

    Mistake #1: Making changes too soon

    Take the excitement of buying a home, add a nice stretch of spring weather, and you get a lot of enthusiasm for doing yard work. That’s great; seize the day, but don’t jump into wholesale landscape changes, like pulling out plants or reorganizing the layout quite yet.

    “That weed that you want to yank out in the spring might turn out to be a gorgeous fall-blooming vine,” says Gary Blondell, owner of Gary’s Gardens, a nursery in Severna Park, Md. Plus, it takes time to learn the landscape and figure out exactly what changes make sense.

    Avoid this by: Living with the landscape for a full year, so you can observe it in all seasons.

    Mistake #2: Planting too close together

    You buy a wheelbarrow full of young shrubs and perennials and plant them in a pleasing arrangement. But if they look properly spaced now, they’re actually way too close together.

    Unless you’re creating an evergreen hedge, when the idea is packing things tightly together, the immature plantings will grow into each other in a few years and struggle to compete for sun, water, and soil nutrients. You’ll either have to dig them up and transplant them—or possibly throw them away.

    Avoid this by: Following the spacing requirements on the plant label—even though the results will look absurdly sparse at first.

    Mistake #3: Planting without a plan

    Putting in new garden beds without a long-term landscape plan is like tiling, painting, and wallpapering your house before you figure out your future remodeling plans: There’s a good chance you’ll have to undo your efforts in the near future.

    Avoid this by: Drawing a simple, bird’s eye view sketch of your yard, and figuring out the rough location of any future construction—additions, patios, outbuildings, pools—so you can plant around them.

    A good local nursery or home improvement store can help you with your design. Or you can hire a landscape designer to create a starter plan for as little as $250 to $500. Find a professional at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers or the American Society of Landscape Architects.

    Mistake #4: Neglecting the root ball

    Even the hardiest plants need a little help getting their roots established in their new locations. But just turning on the sprinkler every day to douse the foliage isn’t enough to ensure that they get the nutrients and hydration they need. You have to get the water to a plant’s nerve center—the root ball below ground—or it’s going to be stunted or short-lived.

    Avoid this by: Placing the hose near the root ball and setting the water to a trickle for about 20 to 30 minutes. Do this twice a week—more during hot, dry spells—for the first four to 12 weeks. Choosing the right irrigation system can help with this task while saving water.

    Mistake #5: Ignoring your yard’s sun conditions

    Too many nursery shoppers pick plants based only on looks—not the growing conditions they need, which are almost always indicated on a label wrapped around the trunk or a marker pressed into the soil. “They put a sun-loving perennial under a dense tree or something that wants partial shade out in full-day sunshine,” says Blondell. “It looks great for about a week, and then it begins to die.”

    Avoid this by: Watching the spot where you’re going to put the plant and estimating the amount of sun it gets over the course of the day during the growing season. To translate that to the language on plant labels, use this key:

    Full Sun 6 hours a day or more
    Part Sun/Part Shade 3 to 5 hours
    Shade Less than 3 hours

    Mistake #6: Misusing irrigation systems

    An automatic irrigation system is a luxury that allows you to keep your landscape hydrated throughout the growing season with almost no effort. Unfortunately, with the wrong settings, it can also bring disease, root rot, and an untimely death to the plants in your landscape.

    “People tend to set their systems to come on for 15 or 20 minutes each morning,” says Blondell. “That provides a nice saturation of the surface, but not a deep penetrating soak to reach the roots of large shrubs and trees.” And a deeper soak is better for the lawn, too, because it promotes deep root systems.

    Avoid this by: Watering for longer intervals—say, 40 to 60 minutes—only two to three times a week. Check with the company that maintains your irrigation system for local recommendations.

    Mistake #7: Not budgeting for landscaping during construction projects

    Whether you’re building a house or an addition, the bulldozers that excavate the job and the pickups that park on the lawn will damage the grass, trees, and shrubs. And the new building configuration will call for new landscape plantings.

    Unfortunately, homeowners don’t often include money in their budgets for this work. So you wind up with a beautiful new family room, screened porch, or solarium, with a few azaleas thrown in around the foundation as an afterthought.

    Avoid this by: Allocating 10 to 20 percent of your construction budget to the landscape—both hardscaping and plants—or at least making plans to spend that money as soon as possible after the construction job is complete.

    A former carpenter and newspaper reporter, Oliver Marks has been writing about home improvements for 16 years. He’s entering his second summer at his house and has big plans for upgrading its scraggly foundation plantings.


    Quick, easy, and delicious Carrot Cake recipe

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 8:41 am, April 1st, 2010  
    Carrot Cake
    Image via Wikipedia

    An old family friend named Jean gave me this terrific Carrot Cake recipe many years ago. I’ve made it lots of times and it’s always delicious as well as quick and easy. Quick, easy, and delicious meet all 3 of my food preparation criteria.

    Give one a try for Easter; you’ll be a star with the folks that eat a piece.

    Jean’s Carrot Cake

    • 2 cups of self rising flour
    • 2 cups of granulated sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 1/2 Cups of Vegetable oil
    • 1 Cup of chopped pecans (I often substitute Black Walnuts)
    • 3 Cups of fresh grated carrots, firmly packed

    Mix all ingredients in order listing and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes

    Cream cheese frosting

    • One 16 ounce box powdered sugar
    • 1 large block cream cheese softened
    • 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter or margarine (butter is best)
    • 2 Tablespoons of pure Vanilla Extract

    Mix thoroughly and spread on cooled cake, reserve a few nuts to sprinkle on top for garnish.

    carrot cake compliments of knoxville realtor jim lee

    Try this delicious Carrot Cake recipe for Easter

    Give this one a try soon, I promise this will be the easiest carrot cake you’ve ever made and one of the best tasting.

    Happy Easter

    By the way, if you need a new yard to hide your Easter eggs in, try to see all the greater Knoxville area listings for sale.

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    What’s the current state of the Knoxville, TN real estate market?

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 10:04 am, February 18th, 2010  

    Search all Knoxville area homes at with multiple photos, maps, and much more.

    Play VisualTour

    Enchanting North Hllls 3 bedroom home, ready for you to move in and enjoy.

    Currently in Knox County, Tennessee there are 3.461 single family homes listed for sale along with 987 condos. Year to date in 2010 360 of those single family homes have been placed in “Sale Pending” status which means sold but not yet closed; and 55 condos. Most listings that make it to sale pending status end up closing although not all, due to home inspection issues, buyer financing, and other reasons.

    The chart below is the sold listings year to date versus actives as of February 15th, 2010.

    homes listed for sale in knoxville tennessee

    It appears, based on these figures, that single family homes are selling close to 10% of listings while condos are around 5%.

    The first monthly figures are available now from the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors so we can see how this just past January stacks up to sales in previous Januarys.

    knoxville tennessee listings for sale provided by jim lee knoxville tn realtor

    January 2010 compared to past Januarys

    January 2010 closed sales beat January 2009 by 90 units but even that number is still way below previous January’s. It appears from these numbers that our volume is back to where it was in Januarys 2001 & 2002.

    According to some figures from the average listing price is down somewhat which means there are more lower priced homes coming on the market now than upper price range ones

    Knoxville average property price

    So far this year we’ve seen a very modest improvement in sales numbers but still quite a bit below previous years. Prices remain weak too with discounts being the order of the day in homes that sell and close.

    Average days on market (time to sell) was 118 days in January 2010 compared to 110 in January 2009 and 105 for January 2008.

    So that’s where Knoxville real estate is currently, subscribe to my blog to receive the latest updates and Knoxville area real estate news.

    Search all Knoxville area homes at with multiple photos, maps, and much more.

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    Stinging Fork Falls State Natural Area

    Posted by Jim Lee, REALTOR® @ 8:48 pm, November 29th, 2009  
    Map showing the Cumberland Plateau as defined ...
    Image via Wikipedia

    Tennessee is a state with lots of scenic beauty and lots of outdoor recreational activities. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has created an awesome lake and river system for boaters, fishermen, and all sort of water sports. East Tennessee, the part I live in, is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with over 900 miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, and beautiful mountain scenery.

    Another little known and used part of Tennessee outdoors is the huge amount of state park, scenic areas, and protected natural areas dotted all over.

    I visited one I had never been to today; Stinging Fork Falls Natural Area near Spring City which is about 50 miles south of Knoxville.

    Parking area at Stinging Fork Falls near Knoxville, Tennessee

    Parking area at Stinging Fork Falls near Knoxville, Tennessee

    This state natural area is located on top of the Cumberland Plateau system which covers parts of 5 states, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and northern Alabama & Georgia.

    According to the website above Stinging Fork Falls is a 783-acre natural area. It is named for the 30-foot waterfall located within the Stinging Fork gorge. The creek flows over the fan shaped falls, then quickly slips through chutes, and tumbles over cascades below the falls.

    topo map of stinging fork fall natural area near Knoxville, TN

    topo map of stinging fork fall natural area near Knoxville, TN

    It’s only about a mile to Stinging Fork Falls but to get to actually see them you have to climb down inside a 160 feet gorge because the dense brush and trees hides the creek that feeds the falls. But it’s worth the walk, that’s one of the more picturesque waterfalls I’ve seen.

    The falls spills into a large, deep pool. I’m betting some skinny dipping has gone on here; this place is pretty isolated and hard to get to.

    Unfortunately once you climb down a 160 foot gorge the only way back is UP. It’s pretty steep coming and going but the state has provided a pretty good trail with some steps at the steeper parts but I would still only recommend it to those is pretty good physical condition. I was breathing pretty hard when I came over the top.

    Stinging Fork Creek cascades over rock formations.

    Stinging Fork Creek cascades over rock formations.

    This is a great place to visit if you want to get away from crowds and most everything else. We were there about 2 hours and did not see a single other person; just the sounds of birds, the wind, and the rushing water.

    If you love year round out door activities as much as I do, then maybe you need to come visit us in East Tennessee. We have plenty to do for all interests and all seasons.

    You might even like it enough to want to move here permenently. Check our areas housing out here:

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