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Vincent van Gogh:  White House at Night

Vincent van Gogh, White House at Night, 1890. The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg


Get Out!!!

Want to sell your house?  Get Out!


Greg Swann over at Bloodhound Realty explains:



Goto: Bloodhound Realty....I love this one: Not only is the home I'm showing occupied, the seller is right there. Blocking the doorway. Hovering over the buyers.

It's rare to find a seller this talented at obstructing the sale of his or her home. But many sellers manage to get in their own way despite themselves.

The most common way - and it probably seems harmless to you - is by making the house unavailable to show. I call at 10 a.m., seeking to show at 10:30. You entreat me to come at noon instead, which means you're asking me to backtrack a long way for one house. If my buyers find something else they like, your home may lose by default.

Ideally, the home should be vacant. If you can't afford to move, move everything you can. Buyers have to be able to mentally "place" their own furniture, and they can't do that if the house is too crowded.

Go out when the home is being shown. Don't hang around outside - take a walk. Absent yourself all day every Saturday and Sunday. Give the buyers the freedom to explore the house.

And don't give the buyers' Realtor the opportunity to probe you for your motivations and level of urgency - which will be used against you in negotiation.



When we are out with buyers, we run into this sort of stuff all the time.  Typically, our response to the buyer is, "They (the sellers) just don't want to sell it."  What we mean, of course, is the sellers are not very motivated to sell.  Is that terrible?  Well, it is surely an indication of what is to follow.  If the sellers are not going to be reasonable about simple access to the property, how reasonable should we expect them to be on other issues, like say, price.  This is an easy argument to make to our buyer clients - with an even easier solution:  "Let's move on."



So, Why the Name "Brick and Garden"?

We get this question all the time.  Many reasons, including the fact that it conjures up a nice image - one that captures the essence of what we do.  But, the number one reason is not what it is, but what it is not!  It is not, Jane Doe Realty, with the accompanying  Agent Jane Doe has been endlessly trained, motivated, and coached to "market herself."  In fact, Special Agent Doe spends more time marketing herself than she does actually brokering real estate transactions.


We would rather focus on marketing property.



What's Wrong with Real Estate Agents?

Real estate agents do not understand why they are held in such low esteem by the public at large.  It might very well have to do with nonsense like this:

  "Handling Objections Scripts (From Sellers)"

  "40 Real Estate Objections Handled"

  "Most Common Buyer Objections"


More of this here.


Reminds us of this.



Real Estate Licensure Requirements in North Carolina

We applaud the North Carolina Real Estate Commission's recent efforts to strengthen the licensing requirements for real estate agents in our state.  We do, we really do.  However, North Carolina requires 1,500 hours of class time to obtain a license to cut hair (See the North Carolina State Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners).  The Real Estate Commission requires less than 100 hours of class time to obtain a real estate license.  Both licenses require passage of a state exam.  Now, either our cosmetologists are incredibly over-educated or our real estate agents are woefully under-educated.


This really does not merit further comment, but more on this here and here.



When to Close

We have long been advocates for mid-month, mid-week, and mid-morning closings.


Dan Green explains.



Interesting Article Roundup

Bogus "New" Listings [True Gotham]

The Ten Commandments of Negotiations [Broker-Agent News]

The Pros and Cons of Being A Real Estate Agent [WSJ]

The Fine Art of Civilized Conversation [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Web Sites Offer Tools to Bid on Unlisted Homes [WSJ]

The Last Stand of the Six-Percenters? [NYT]



Industry Volatility

In regard to the above New York Times piece, The Last Stand of the Six-Percenters, these days, much is written about the developing schism in the real estate business between the old-line, traditional firms and the new-breed discounters.  Both of these models have problems.  In short, the problem with traditional firms is that agents are unable to compete for business.  The problem with the discounters is that they often fail to protect the best interest of their clients.  These very different problems have one thing in common - they are the result of what we might think of as "End Spectrum" business models.  That is, let's not look at the real estate business as an either/or proposition, but rather as a continuous spectrum.  The traditional firms sit securely atop the "Rockefeller" end, with their heads firmly in the sand, and the discounters roam the "Wild West" end, where chaos reigns.  And understandably, they sure hate to deal with each other.


Our flexible, "mid-spectrum" business model allows our brokers to compete with, and deal with, both ends.  We believe this allows us to be competitive and serve the best interests of our clients.



Hugh MacLeod, Gaping Void....

Hugh MacLeod, The Gaping Void



National Real Estate Perspective

Jonathan J. Miller takes a look at the national housing market.

Warning: Viewer discretion advised [Matrix]



Restaurant Roundup

Baker's Dozen.  Some of our favorite Triangle area eateries.


42nd Street Oyster Bar

508 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC  27603,  919.831.2811


Babymoon Cafe

100 Jerusalem Drive, No. 106, Morrisville, NC  27560,  919.465.9006



3071 Medlin Drive, Raleigh, NC  27607,  919.787.3431


Farm House Restaurant

604 Mill House Road, Chapel Hill, NC  27516,  919.929.5727


Korean Garden

748-E East Chatham Street, Cary, NC  27511,  919.388.3615


Last Catch Seafood Grill

3560 Maitland Drive, Raleigh, NC  27610,  919.250.0009


Mama Wok

986 High House Road, Cary, NC  27513,  919.319.1818


Mount Fuji Asian Bistro

905 West Main Street, No. 21B, Durham, NC  27701,  919.680.4968


Once in a Blue Moon Bakery & Cafe

115-G West Chatham Street, Cary, NC  27511,  919.319.6554


Pho Cali House of Noodles

3310 Capital Boulevard, Raleigh, NC  27604,  919.862.8900


Red Palace

3945 New Bern Avenue, Raleigh, NC  27610,  919.231.3788 [Greg Cox Review]


Shortie's Out of Sight Cafe

975 Walnut Street, No. 201, Cary, NC  27511,  919.467.7196



3812 Western Boulevard, Raleigh, NC  27606,  919.856.1818


While we are on restaurants, Greg Cox recently listed this year's Triangle area winners of the 2006 Wine Spectator Awards.  We note a distinct lack of overlap with our list above.



Gena has Left the Building

Corporate Investors Mortgage Group....Effective Monday, 18 September 2006, one of our favorite lenders has a new home.  Gena May now resides at Corporate Investors Mortgage Group.



Step Backwards?

So Brick & Garden has started using FRS/GMRS radios to show property.  Intuitively, in this, 'Day of the Cell Phone,' this seems a step backwards.  But we find these new toys great for multi-car property showings.  Particularly good for visiting, out-of-town buyers with kids.





One of our favorite lunch joints

from the News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)


 Shortie's Out of Sight Cafe:  Website | Email | Menu




Our legal advisor hangs our her shingle.

Law Office of Leslie A. Argenta

Law Office of Leslie A. Argenta



Recently Published

Seth Margolis: Closing Costs

Bonfire of the Vanities for real estate - Rather frightening!



Two by Hugh


Courtesy of


Courtesy of




John Grisham: The Last JurorIt takes at least three generations to be accepted in Ford County.  Regardless of money or breeding, one cannot simply move there and be trusted.  A dark cloud of suspicion hangs over any newcomer, and I was no exception.  The people there are exceedingly warm and gracious and polite, almost to the point of being nosy with their friendliness.  They nod and speak to everyone on the downtown streets.  They ask about your health, the weather, and they invite you to church.  They rush to help strangers.


But they don't really trust you unless they trusted your grandfather.




From David Sucher's City Comforts:


Click to enlarge....




Real Estate Agents - Hire High Substance, Low Style

As in all things, there are good and bad real estate agents.  With that caveat, however, some agents are indeed lazy, or incompetent, or even, dishonest.  Some, all of the above.  While these characteristics are arguably exceptions, it is the more common unprofessionalism of the "profession" that is most startling.


Think of it this way, when you are about to drop a quarter of a million bucks (on anything, much less a place to, well, you know, stash the family) do you really want advice from someone who looks and acts like they just walked off the set of a television shopping channel.  Or, who drives up in a clown-mobile.  Minimal education and no tact, masquerading as a profession!  Yet, we hire these people.  Some of them make gobs of money - go ahead, ask them - they love to tell you how successful they are!


Think about the amount of money you pay your real estate agent.  For most of us, I'm willing to bet it is more than what we pay our attorney.  Yet we would never hire an attorney, a doctor, or even an insurance agent who conducts himself like many real estate agents.


There is a very well-known real estate trainer who jests that we should never confuse experience with competence.  I would alter his maxim a bit:  With real estate agents, never mistake success for competence.  While this certainly seems counter-intuitive, let me explain.  Many successful real estate agents are similar to Enron - high on style, low on substance.  And frankly, this works (for the agents)!  Often to the detriment of their clients, who may not even be aware of a problem.


Now, all that said, would I hire a real estate agent?  The answer is, yes, but carefully.  Hire high substance, low style!  Think of the difference between Donald Trump and Warren Buffett.  High style Trump keeps going bankrupt (with his investors' money); Low style Buffett has quietly become the second richest man in America - And, he has taken all of his investors, his clients, with him.


Among other things, a good agent can help us avoid the minefields in our overly legalistic society.  For an interesting discussion of the merits of hiring a real estate agent, have a look at the Slate Magazine article below.



Who's Afraid of a Little Competition?


Search the Triangle MLS Firm/Agent Database


Search the North Carolina Association of Realtors


Search the North Carolina Real Estate Commission Licensee Database



Two Articles

These articles are a few years old, but they are still intriguing.


The Philosopher of Islamic Terror, by Paul Berman

The New York Times Magazine, 23 March 2003


Realty Bites:  Why Do You Still Need an Agent to Buy A Home?

By Douglas Gantenbein, Slate Magazine, 16 August 2004






Jon Katz: The Dogs of Bedlam FarmI couldn't really afford the farm any more than I could the cabin that preceded it, but I couldn't really afford to wait, either.  For several years, especially since the terrorist attacks on New York City, I'd seen people assessing their lives, making changes, seeking property upstate.  In another five years I doubted I'd be able to buy acreage.  My little cabin, forlorn and ungainly at the time, had been on the market for two years when I bought it.  It sold in less than a week, once I put it on the market.


Driving me around the town of Hebron as I looked for the replacement I had in mind, the real estate agent had looked up at the hillside as we passed and pointed at the white farmhouse.  "There's the house you want," she said ruefully.  "But it isn't for sale."  Three weeks later, it suddenly was.  Sometimes houses, like dogs, find you.




Stormhoek Winery - Wellington, South Africa

Favorite Wines

Some of our favorite wines.



Trapiche Winery - Mendoza, Argentina


For a great photo collection of the the Trapiche Winery, go here.


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Brick and Garden is an independent real estate and investment firm based in Cary, North Carolina.  We operate in the Greater Research Triangle Area of North Carolina.


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