11 02 2013

gatewayA house.  A Job.  A friend.  Apparently that is what is needed to truly help the homeless become not homeless in a meaningful way.  I attended a training session at Gateway Shelter downtown last weekend and learned a lot about this organization and their developing vision of not just helping people get their own roof over their head but also help them to keep that roof over their head.  Their new endeavour is called Causeway and seeks to match people up with recently unhomeless individuals in a friend relationship.  I am hoping to be one of these friends.  Apparently the leading cause of recidivism (returning to the streets) is not addiction, loss of job or lack of motivation.  It is loneliness.  The place to live and the job just aren’t enough to keep these individuals motivated and engaged and supported.  They need a person.  Many find themselves back in shelters after sabotaging their abode arrangement – often because they didn’t want to be lonely anymore and found it easier to return to a world they knew.  A world they fit into.  A world without their own home.

My job is to find people homes.  And help them change from one home to another.  Brad and I seek to understand our clients and help match them with the right place at the right price at the right time.  It is fairly easy to get caught up in the “right stuff”.  It is fairly simple to spot good workmanship and desirable addresses and on-trend lay-outs and match these with the right people.  It is less easy to see what people really need and what desires lie beneath the conversations about countertops and storage solutions.  Houses and jobs are a normal and healthy part of the world we inhabit.  But as Gateway has discovered, this is not enough.  I truly desire to be a friend to those I encounter, and not just to those who can be a great friend to me.  I have felt loneliness and I have seen loneliness and know that it can be difficult to spot.  My prayer for today is that in addressing the surface needs of clients and those around me, that I push through to hear what they are not saying and be a friend…



Becoming a Better Window

28 01 2013

I want to be a window.  Transparent, bringing clarity, brightening up a room, and drawing living things toward me.  I was sitting in my friend’s windowliving room watching her sweet kiddies, and my gaze was drawn by a plant in the corner.  Its stems were growing parallel to the floor as they inched horizontally – ever closer to the window they sought.  This window drew them with its light.  And that’s why I want to be a window.

I have a lot of baggage associated with telling people I am a real estate agent.  Because if someone tells me that they are an agent I (sadly) make some immediate assumptions about who they are. Brash.  Mercenary.  Vain.  Self-involved.  Steely.  All lovely thoughts to pin on someone in a single swoop.  I want to repent of my ungenerous snap judgements and tend my own garden.  Or windex my own window, as the case may be.  I am guilty of letting myself get a bit streaky and dull due to distractions, diversions and depressing thoughts.  The light that I want to be to those around me – friends, family, clients, and strangers – doesn’t always make it through in its entirety.  As a girl who knows she is loved by God, I am not only called to bring light to people, but given the resources to do it and do it joyfully.  So as I wait for a signback on an offer I submitted on Friday (after a 3 hour snow drive!) I am thankful to the parallel plant in the corner reminding me of my window aspirations…


Good Enough?

22 01 2013

So, they wanted the trees.  But not badly enough to actually get them.  The clients I was working with last week decided to go forward with an 3offer on the treed backyard house I wrote about last week, but they chose to come in considerably lower than the asking price.  I felt fairly certain that the price was a non-starter, but my job is to represent my clients to the best of my ability and I put forward a solid explanation of why the offer looked as it did.  The seller came back with a counter-offer but unfortunately the gap was too wide to span and a deal could not be reached.

To be honest, I was disappointed.  To be very honest, I was very disappointed.  Probably more disappointed than I should be.  I questioned whether I had asked the right questions and made the right points.  I wondered aloud if I did not possess the killer instincts that so many people believe are needed to make a go of this business.  I drove to a favourite park and sat in the car wondering if I was good enough to be an agent.  I wondered if I was good enough to manage my emotions as I seek to be a loving wife, patient mother, there-for-you friend, and successful real estate agent.  As tears threatened amidst a swirl of negative thoughts, I took a moment to breathe in.  And then out.  My clients chose not to increase their offer, not to spite me or because they thought I wasn’t doing a good job representing them.  They simply had set a financial cap that didn’t align with this house.  My son had been lovingly looked after in this busy week of showings and meetings, by a loving husband who supports my endeavour to build my business.  I had just that afternoon been blessed to meet my friend’s new little miracle and brought the tired family some cookies I had made just for them.  Maybe I wasn’t failing at everything.  Maybe the thing I was failing at most, was managing my own expectations of myself.  There will be other houses and more clients.  I must just keep going, smiling, looking up, and looking ahead  And have good people beside you whenever possible 🙂1

Trees Please

14 01 2013

What is a tree worth?  More specifically, what is a pie-shaped backyard filled with lovely, privacy-bestowing trees worth to a home?  I am working tree2with some buyers who are trying to decide if a home that requires moderate TLC is an overall wiser decision than a move-in-ready home in a worse location with no backyard trees.

Buying a house that “needs some work” is always a little frightening.  It is important when analyzing such a property to know what is truly meant by “needs” and “some”.  Changing an outdated floor tile to trendier bamboo hardwood may be a lovely thing to do, but isn’t on the same level as a roof that is about to give out.  Painting a few rooms and replacing light fixtures is also a little different than taking out walls and ripping out a kitchen.  So, the phrase can obviously be used by different people to describe vastly different things.  In this case, a new roof is imminently needed and new windows could be on the 1-3 year list.  New paint and light fixtures would make a world of difference, as would changing a depressing hallway carpet for a fresh new berber.  All of these are manageable items and the fact that they are required is what is letting this house be so accessibly priced.  The things that cannot be changed about this house – its backyard foliage and great location (1.5km from the lake and a 4 minute drive from the 401) – are what has kept it in the running for this couple.  Ultimately, these are the elements of a property that give it intrinsic value.  No matter how much money you put into a house, you’ll never be able to put it in a better spot…and it takes a long time to grow a tall, beautiful tree!…So, we shall see if the trees win out over a new roof this evening!

Soup Menagerie

8 01 2013

This morning was Day 1 of potty training for Nolan.  We spent the morning building towers, reading construction books and watching children’s 2videos on youtube – all the while sitting on a little white potty in the kitchen.  One of these videos was one of my childhood favourites – Anne Murray singing Animal Crackers in my Soup.  Nolan loves to dance to this and especially loves seeing the menagerie of animal pop up on the screen.  When the singing and dancing was done, he quickly grew tired of the potty and moved on.  And then used the bathroom.  So, thus far, potty training is not a roaring success.

I put my little munchkin down for his nap and was getting caught up on the news online – reading a few articles about economic outlooks and the real estate market in Canada.  And I was reminded of Animal Crackers.  It seems that a lotpotty training day 1 of pundits are eating a lot of bear-laced soup these days.  I’ve read articles calling for a double-digit market correction.  I’ve listened to commentators talking about a massive correction in Canada.  I liken some of these predictions to the media hype surrounding the Fiscal Cliff our southern neighbour just encountered.  Although I am far from agreeing that America has cleaned up its fiscal act, I see this as yet another example of the media taking grains of truth and creating as much hysteria as possible.  Will housing prices cool this coming year?  I believe we are already seeing that in many areas.  But just because prices are not climbing as quickly as they once were, does not necessitate panic stations.  I tend to take a similar stance to Phil Stoper, CEO of Royal Lepage.  They forecast an increase of 1% in Toronto housing prices this year – this being an average of stronger single-family home prices and weaker condo prices.  For those who are in a position to search out properties that have good bones, are in demand or up-and-coming areas and meet their family’s needs, now is as good a time as any.  For those who have been waiting these past 10 years for The Correction that will Allow Me to get a Steal, look what has happened.  Affordability has decreased and the savings rate of most of these waiters has not been able to amply keep up with the market.  Most of them are still on the sideline, further away from their goal than they once were.  Warning: Too many bears in your soup can lead to indigestion…and paralysis!  😉


A little Reflecting

31 12 2012

The final day of another year.  Some who share our planet are already living in the coming year but we in the western hemisphere still have a few 2013hours to reflect on what has passed and what is to come.  I came across this blog post I wrote about 2 years ago and thought I would re-post it today as a reminder to myself to be thankful for all that has gone before and all that is to come.

I think that I forget to be thankful a lot.  When nothing is really going wrong and everything is simply normal I tend to drift along wishing that something were extraordinary rather than remembering to be thankful that extraordinary tragedy is not befalling me.  When I think back over the last two years in particular when compared with this morning, this morning is really not bad at all.  I may have woken up with a scratchy throat, a sniffly nose, and a missing mate to the shoes I wanted to wear, but really?  How could that be so bad?  Why after everything that I live through and face and pray about and survive do I still allow small annoyances to overshadow the mercy that is today?  When in the midst of a tumultuous relationship, financial strain, and numbing pain it seems so easy to cry out for help and promise almost anything if only God would help me through this moment and this crisis.  But what comes after that?  When the storm is over and the sea returns to its routine sway, what happens to those promises?  At some point the calm of the sea begins to feel like monotony and my soul cries out for something different.  I begin to feel listless and bob along wondering what is next.  Thankfulness is a transient state – a brief stop on the way between desperation and boredom.  I want so much to learn to live in this state, all the while acknowledging that life will still toss me toward other locations from time to time.  I do know that it is when I am thankful that everything makes sense.  I can see others rather than just myself.  Lord, make me thankful in this moment so that I can see…

As you reflect on this past year, do so only to the extent that it imbues today with wisdom and grace.  Thank you for being a part of our 2012 and IMG_1969we wish you joy and peace in 2013.  Love, The Lounsburys.

Cookies Please

18 12 2012

Last week I did it…I chose not to consume my bags of cookies and went out and delivered them on a street a few over from ours.  As I stood on the doorfirst front porch and holding a ribbon-tied bag of deliciousness, I waited patiently for sounds from within.  I secretly hoped everyone was out Christmas shopping…but that would have been ultimately disappointing.  Out of 21 homes with their residents at home, only one gentleman refused my delivery and introduction.  A warm smile and free cookie wasn’t enough to lure him away from Call of Duty by the looks of it…

But everyone else was thrilled to have someone at their door giving something instead of asking for something.  I had brief conversations for the most part as no one wants to let too much of the cool December air flow into their cozy homes on Tuesday nights.  But i was able to tell people that I was a neighbour and a real estate agent and offer my services or advice if they had any questions or needed an agent.  I also just wanted to wish them a joyful and merry Christmas season.  Although the cookie element may seem a little cheesy, I believe from the reactions, smiles, and willingness to chat, that the recipients were not displeased.  One older lady was clearly heavy of heart and having a difficult evening.  She took the cookies from me and allowed a smile to creep across her face.  She said this was the best thing to happen to her that week.  Although I certainly had an “ulterior” motive in going door to door, it was truly lovely to be reminded that a simple unexpected action can bring joy and perhaps even a little refreshment.

So I decided to make these a weekly event and do about 20 houses at a time.  I am running out of time for this to be Christmas cookie-related, but then there’s New Year well wishes, Valentine’s Day, Easter…and no one minds receiving cookies just because it’s Tuesday night…