Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Artesia Real Estate is what I am passionate about. Please contact me if you have any questions or need information on anything Real Estate related.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'll be home for Christmas

Life is really short. I was reminded of that this week, and also the importance of family and friends during our short lives. It is so easy to get too busy being busy, and before you know it years have elapsed and dear people in our lives are now distant. I am pledging to myself to reconnect with family and friends I have allowed to drift, and to renew relationships which have gone fallow. I love being a real estate professional, and I love the opportunity Artesia's market provides me, but my priorities must be reexamined.

Christmas is a slow time for Realtors. Unless folks are in the middle of the buying or selling process, they generally aren't thinking about looking at houses or getting theirs ready to sell. We are thinking about Christmas plays at school, and office parties, and the food we will make and the family who may be traveling in or our travel plans to somewhere else. As Realtors, we normally dread the slow-down that happens this time of year, but I am thankful for it this year. Less demands from work allow us to focus more on family and I, for one, have been able to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. In past years, the holidays came and went before I had time to really taste the turkey. It is nice to be able to slow down a bit to feel the season wash over me and envelop me. I have Christmas spirit this year, and it feels great.

So, while I still spend much of my time thinking and about Artesia Real Estate and the market conditions that drive it, I am going to be intentional about leaving the laptop in its case while at home, and turning off the smartphone to be fully engaged in family and events of the season.

That said, I still have a living to make, and if you need advice or help selling or buying a home – I would love to be your Realtor. Call me - but lets wait until after Christmas to really start working on it and enjoy some time with our loved ones.

Scott Takacs: All Real Estate, All the Time (Except Christmas)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cosmo the Crazy Cat

My cat is crazy. His name is Cosmo, he's Siamese and cross-eyed, and full-on deranged. He will be docile and content, allowing you to pet him one moment and biting, swatting, and running away the next. Without warning he turns on you, so my children never try to pick him up or get very close to him. It has to be Cosmo's idea to be affectionate or it won't end well. We love that crazy cat, but we often long for other cats we have had in the past who snuggled, purred, and showed genuine affection. No matter how much we wish Cosmo were different, he isn't.

What does my crazy cat have to do with Real Estate in Artesia? Not much really. But you can draw a comparison in this sense: Both my cat and the market for housing here are fickle, unpredictable, and no matter how much we wish they were something else, they are not. The market for property in Artesia is not what it was three or five years ago. It never will be. It may get very active in the future, and we may see prices rise again to new heights, but that will be a new market with new forces driving it. It may bear similarities to old markets, but it will never be just like them.

Markets ebb and flow, and very few have the talent and skill to time them Most who try to time any type of market lose. If you're considering purchasing or selling real estate, but have been trying to figure out what the market is going to do, that's very difficult. Real Estate Professionals work in that market day in and day out. We have the resources available to us to extract data from our particular market segment and make an educated estimate of which direction the wind is sweeping. There's almost no way of knowing with complete certainty what is in store in a dynamic and fluid market-place like real estate. The best way to wade in is side-by-side with a professional who knows as much as can be known about the arena you are entering.

Call, email, add a comment to this blog if I can be of service.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hometown Pride

It's a great week to be a resident of Artesia isn't it? The Bulldogs are playing for another State Championship at the Bowl on Saturday. It's the Christmas season. Light Up Artesia is tonight downtown. What more could small town residents ask for, right? I, for one, feel blessed big time to be here, now. The thing is there are thousands of small towns across America where the residents feel just as lucky to be right there, right now too. But small towns are an endangered species. According to the census bureau, more people live in metropolitan cities than live in small communities for the first time in history. The trend is toward consolidation of urban areas and the slow decline of small towns and cities. I don't like that. I grew up in small towns, and I like raising my children in a small town, but they might not have as much of a choice about that as we have. How can we preserve our Artesia way of life for future generations? This is a questions I believe we better start asking and not just in a rhetorical way.

Small communities across America are deciding to take steps to preserve their unique lifestyle before they lose the choice. I have been reading about a project some small towns have joined designed to answer tough questions about their future. The Orton Family Foundation has created an initiative called “Heart & Soul.” H&S simply is a community planning program that brings together members of a community to discover what qualities and characteristics of the town are valued and make the city special. Then the community plans how to manage growth or decline going forward instead of just letting it happen. Various methods are used and there are some great success stories. I won't go into a deep discussion of the methodology or specific examples of H&S in other areas. I have included links to some relevant info if you want to delve deeper. My main point is this: Artesia is at a crossroads and I would like to see us work as a community to decide how to preserve what we love about this town, while being realistic about how to plan for, and manage, the inexorable change to come.

Partly, this is a selfish hope on my part. I want Artesia and the surrounding communities to experience smart, planned, and steady growth because I want the real estate market to be strong for the rest of my life. I depend on a healthy economy for my living. But some of my wishes are altruistic as well. My hope is that my children, and yours, will have the choice whether to make their lives and raise their children in this great town. If they want to live here, I hope there are opportunities for them to be able to do so in relative comfort. I fear that future generations will be forced to look elsewhere due to lack of opportunity here.

That's why I was so intrigued by the Heart & Soul Program. It seems to provide an excellent road map for cities and towns such as ours, where city leaders are non-paid, volunteers and simply don't have the time nor expertise for planning long term, and community-wide. What will it take to attract new business to replace ones which might leave? What can we do as a city to attract the type of professionals which might be needed by new industry? I have no doubt that Artesia can be a town with a bright future, but it will take effort and an eye toward the future. My preference would be to decide how we are going to change as opposed to reacting when change happens – as it inevitably will.

As always, I welcome your comments. Feel free to email me at scott@c21hp.com to share your thoughts or comment here on my blog page. If you would like to join me in exploring community-wide, proactive planning programs, I would love to hear from you.

Scott Takacs
All Real Estate, All the Time

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Staging your Home

Okay. I know it's Thanksgiving, but I want to focus on the future. You are thinking right now - Christmas is only a month away! Let's just put that out of our minds for a few days and talk about Real Estate in Artesia again. A little distraction from the craziness.

One of the questions I get asked frequently in this business is “What should I do to make my house show better to prospective buyers?” It's a valid question. Many of us have been through homes that are for sale and they just don't show well. There are houses that have all the space and amenities people want, but because of the contents or color schemes or other factors it's hard to see the house for all it offers. The process of making a home more of a showcase for potential buyers is called “Staging.”

If you have watched HGTV for any length of time, you have seen Real Estate programs featuring professional home stagers making houses beautiful and increasing the value of the home. Unfortunately in Artesia, we don't have professional staging contractors to work this type of magic on your home when you're ready to sell. There are lots of resources on the www to help you, but I thought I would give out a couple tips I have picked up along the way.


Our homes are so personal. If you have lived in your home for any length of time, you doubtless have had many joys, memories, triumphs, heartaches, and tender moments in that structure. It is very difficult to separate those feelings from the place, but it will be necessary if it is to attract the largest number of buyers. Home purchasers want to see the space – not the stuff. Unless they have the exact same taste as you in furnishings, colors, and style, lots of things that make the home uniquely yours will be a distraction. Get as much of “you” out of the house as possible. It sounds harsh, but buyers actually view a home more favorably if it is generic. Your home should be the Switzerland of style. Neutral is the theme you want to achieve. Very loud colors and eccentric tastes may work against your main goal – to sell the house for the best price possible.


If you have lots of furniture and shelves full of artifacts from your many world travels, if your walls are crowded with family pictures, the house you are trying to sell looks smaller than it truly is. Nobody likes to hear that their wedding photos or Waterford Crystal tulip vase they bought on their second honeymoon to Ireland is “clutter” - but it is. Ask for cold, un-invested opinions from friends or family to help you remove the things that are distracting in your home. I wish all that evidence of actual lives being led in a home helped sell it, but the truth is that selling a home is tough business.

An investment worth making sometimes is a rented storage space. It's tempting to cram all your extra belongings in a spare room, but then that room loses its value to the house as extra space. Remember, buyers are looking for space, not stuff or style. They are planning on adding their own stuff and style to the space when and if they buy your home. Get it all out of the home if it is adding to clutter, and you'll make it up in increased sale price or shortened time on the market.


One of the first things customers entering a home often say is “What is that smell?” And they usually don't mean it in a good way. If you have pet, smoke, or other smells not associated with pleasant things – do all it takes to get rid of it and replace the bad smells with good ones. You would be surprised how often very nice homes get crossed of buyers' lists because of odor in the home. It's a big deal. Again, if you are unsure if your home has a particular odor, ask someone who loves you enough to tell you the truth, then fix it.

Artesia Real Estate is different than anywhere else, but there many truths that cross all boundaries. With a little effort your home can be a star in the marketplace, and you will get the best possible price in the shortest amount of time. Call me if I can help

Scott Takacs
All Real Estate, All the Time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is here. It's my favorite holiday. I like it because it's a really simple day devoted to a really profound concept – gratitude. Other than the copious amount of food and football games, Thanksgiving has remained pretty much the same for 200 + years. I love it because the day is filled with family, and food and good cheer, but boiled down, it's still just a day set aside to be grateful for our many blessings.

Every year about this time, I am reminded of how thankful I ought to be. I live in freedom. I have a beautiful family. I am warm when it's cold, cool when it's hot, and dry when it's wet. The food that gets thrown out at my house could feed many hungry children, and yet I will gripe as I stand in front of the full refrigerator that “we have nothing to eat.” As my family and I drift off to sleep each night, we never worry about being dragged from our beds by soldiers, rebels, or angry mobs. We sleep until morning and rise to safety and comfort.

The other night, a news story caught my attention. The reporter, with a pained look on her face, told the camera about the growing number of Americans who face “food insecurity.” Food insecurity is when once, perhaps twice, per week an individual might not get one of the three meals in a day. The story profiled tearful mothers who relayed tales of having to tell their children they would have to eat the free breakfast at school because there was no milk or cereal in the home. Please understand; I am not trying to minimize the plight of the poor in America. Poverty is real, and it is not fun. But consider this for a moment. 2 billion (with a B) people on earth live on less than $2 a day. Many of the world's poor spend all day, every day, surviving not living. The U.S. obesity level is at an all time high and growing at an alarming rate, and yet we have people right here who are hungry? We need a reality check, and then we need to get on our knees and thank God for all we have. Nobody is more guilty of this than I.

So next week when you gather in your home, or the home of a relative or friend, remember what you have been given. You may work hard for what you have, and you may have been shrewd with your finances which has propelled you to a high standard of living. You can certainly take pride in your accomplishments, but remember that all of your success was made possible by the safe, stable, enabling environment into which you were blessed to be born. Certainly, my life, my comfort, my expanding waist line would be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate in probably 85% of the world. The life I live would not have been possible without effort on my part. But extraordinary effort in most of the countries of the world amounts to nothing more than survival.

What does this all have to do with Real Estate in Artesia? Everything. Home ownership has become another entitlement in America, but it truly isn't a right. It's a gift that we can give ourselves, but it requires effort and discipline. My goal is to help as many people as possible to give themselves that gift. My job is to navigate you through the complicated straits of the process. It's what I do. It's all I do.

Give thanks.

Scott Takacs

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Home-Ownership

Freedom is a wonderful thing. It's not free as we know, but it is plentiful in our great Country. I want to thank all Veterans for their service and sacrifice. Everyday should be Veteran's Day.

Let me set up a scenario for you. One that's happened to all of us. You drive past a home with a Realtor's sign in the yard. It's a beautiful house and you want to know more about it. What is your first instinct? Is it to call the name on the sign? Or do you immediately call the Realtor you have worked with before, perhaps many times, and who has earned your trust? As a Realtor, the answer I would love to hear from people depends on whether my name is on the sign or not. But since this is my blog, and I can use it for my own marketing purposes, No matter the house, no matter the sign, I hope you call ME.

This brings up a serious misconception I hear often from people. Many folks believe that if they are interested in a home, they must call the name on the sign. The true and simple fact is that any Realtor who is a member of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) can show you any property, listed by any Realtor. If you have never worked with a local Realtor, then the name on the sign may be a good place to start. Call that Realtor, and try them on for size. See if he/she seems dedicated to you finding the right home. Is he/she available when you need service?

There are many dedicated real estate professionals in Artesia. I am one of them. If you need the services of a Realtor to find a home, sell a home, or sell a commercial property, please consider me, but realize you have many choices. Take your time and make sure the one you choose is the right one for your particular situation.

As Realtors, we have many avenues to market your property. The internet provides many opportunities to reach an audience that may have never been touched before. Make sure your Realtor is taking advantage of every opportunity to reach others on your behalf. It is my goal to utilize every available method for marketing and research. Sometimes we get lulled into thinking that our little town doesn’t require new and innovative techniques to conduct business. Things are changing rapidly here and everywhere. We need to keep pace or get left behind. Technology doesn't have to rule our lives in order to be a useful and effective tool.

Real estate transactions can be long and confusing. Our job is to make them easier. Use a Realtor who uses all available tools to aid in this process. Like me, for instance.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Like Ike.

The American economy is tied so deeply to real estate. Evidence of this can be seen in our founding documents and history, as well as most current case law and legislation. While religious freedom was the prime motivating factor of the pilgrims in coming to the New World, the dominant theme of the Americas was the search for land. Land ownership was so rare and coveted in our European fatherlands, that it became part of our heritage. Americans love the idea of owning a place we can call our own.

Growing up, I remember my own parents' dream of owning a home. It always seemed just out of reach. Fast forward a few years and you have the housing boom of the last 2 decades. Two presidents and our congressional leaders dreamed of the votes they would garner by easing the standards and getting more Americans into their own home. I applaud the sentiment of expanded home-ownership, but there was a real cost for those policies. Today, we're seeing those costs played out in higher foreclosure rates, and newer, tighter mortgage requirements. It's now harder to get a home loan than before the mess began. Don't despair. I have good news and it involves you.

The first thing I want to tell you is that it is very possible to get a mortgage in today's market. It's more difficult than 5 years ago sure, but it can, and is being done by regular folks like us everyday. We have some great people right here in Artesia who want nothing more than to get you a mortgage and see you move into a new home. I am one of them, but there are others who can guide you through the process of a mortgage every step of the way. Two of my favorites are Amelia Smith at First American Bank, and Brent Kingsley of Washington Federal. Both of them are dedicated to helping people and it shows in their work.
The second thing I want you to know is that mortgage rates are now at their lowest point since
  was a popular campaign slogan. Today's mortgage rates are not just low, they are historically, uncommonly, incredibly low. This is going to sound like a sales slogan, but it's true – There has NEVER been a better time to purchase a home than right now. So those of you who have been sitting on the sideline waiting for the “right time.” It is now. Let's fulfill that dream of your first home, your better home, your bigger home. This is what I do people, and I want to do it for you.

Scott Takacs – All Real Estate, All the Time.