Category Archives: Colorado Springs Real Estate

Lunch/Play

“Lets plan to get together and do something fun.  Tell me more about your family and then I can make some suggestions about what could be fun to do together.”

That’s an introduction.

My insipid, flaccid soul-man can suggest “lunch” as a possible place to get to know someone. Mmmm… Panera. Maybe P.F. Chang’s. Something probably… chainy. Let’s get to know each other for maybe $12 of expense and save the receipt.

Not this guy. I’m traveling a pretty good distance, he lives there, and being polite, I suggest a couple different things trying to make it as convenient as possible.

Vulnerability isn’t convenient. 

Here’s the challenge to me: actually asking to do something fun. I can think of lots of things… to do. But what if I ask my heart… hey… what would be fun? What do I love? 

Just as much… what’s in the hearts of my family? My wife… what woos her? My wife loves many things, is incredibly gracious at going along with what others want to do, but when she is most herself, when she is most the rapturous woman of my dreams, her spirit is wooed. My boys are 7 and 10 year old without much spatial awareness or volume control. They like to do about anything that is messy, wet… but what do they love? How do my children come alive? I asked my oldest tonight that question. I asked him to think about his heart. His answer was “family”. “I don’t like change very much Dad.” That which anchors him and settles him and takes him to a place of consistency… that’s what he loves.

The person who wrote this to me is a person who just does God’s business. He just does it, pretty much without thinking. Two sentences of God’s clear truth to me:

Once again, Monty Python got it right

Once again, Monty Python got it right

1.) God doesn’t put up random walls of posture and societal genuflecting. He doesn’t have time for that, and all that groveling and talk of “I’m just a man” kinda pisses him off. So God doesn’t mess with it. Bob Goff says “Love Does.” The verb, “to do” and the anti-verb, “people-pleasing” are not at all related.  The first is an action guided by spirit. The second is a construction guided by soul. I’m a master of posture and societal genuflecting. “What could be fun to do together” has no room for posturing and other positional nonsense.

2.) The only knowledge really worth knowing isn’t empirical sets of data… it’s finding the present in our heart.

“For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”
― C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters

Blood Makes the Grass Grow Greener

Part of my dark history is that I was a Fratter my freshman year. My live-in pledgeship at an all-male college in Indiana was quite the ball of laughs.

Life as a Wabash Pledge Chapel SingThings like Chapel Sing while having jalapeños stuffed in my mouth, an introduction to sleep deprivation during Hell Week, the cold dorm… the seasoning of my youth. One of the stranger parts of our particular pledgeship was that all the pledges at the college had to be on the field for home football games yelling whatever the Sphinx Club told us.

One of their go-to cheers that all 180 of us would yell at the top of our lungs: “Blood Makes the Grass Grow Greener, Greener!”

How lovely is the flower of masculinity.

Men celebrate blood-letting. The NFL is being attacked again as the No Fun League for it’s emphasis on player safety and the tradition of Sunday gladiators is under the gun. If you want to move men in droves to the movies, find a new Gladiator or Braveheart, movies loaded with barbaric combat. “Leaving it all on the field”, “no pain, no gain”, Under Armour commercials with high schools spearing each other in a driving rainstorm practice. This is what hardens men. Right?

Bullshit.

Men, as a chromosomal tribe, are a bunch of blood-fearing babies.

We have nothing on women.

For a women, to be born into the world is to bleed. An entire women’s life is associated with the very concept of blood-letting. Women are born to give birth (okay feminists, come and get me), women menstruate, women understand that at the very core of their feminine nature is blood. Blood is not tidy. I watched (for the first-time actually) Castaway last night and was struck how many time Robert Zemeckis focused on Chuck bleeding. Bleeding when he walked across the coral. Gushing blood when he crashes onto the coral. The painful wound in his mouth. Wilson is born via Chuck’s own bloody hand. Not one of these things is life-threatening. But Zemeckis emphasizes  the image of blood swirling through the tropical coral reef waters as if it is a dramatic aspect of peril. It sure caught me.

It didn’t catch my wife.

A macro-theory of mine: Men don’t like to bleed. Who does? Fair question. But how about this: Men will go out of their way not to bleed. Men will go so far out of their way not to bleed, that it takes on implications that are not merely physical.

Men avoid pain.

What causes pain?

Relationships.

Blood is messy.

What else is messy?

Relationships.

Predictable sounds pretty good. Unpredictable sounds pretty bad. Men tend to like predictable.

You wanna know what’s unpredictable?

Bleeding. Relationships.

I know some very rich men. Rich in the heart. Rich in spirit. Rich in their love of Jesus. Rich in their care for other people.

Many men espouse that they would lay their lives down for another. But you know why? They see it as a heroic action. Not as a volition.

“I’ll die for you” is a heroic statement.

“I’ll bleed with you”. What the hell is that?

Are people going to line up at the theaters for the story of “I will bleed WITH YOU.” Well… women will.

Part of my journey this year began with the statement my wife made to me that I had made a commitment to isolation. A companion to that was a statement from one  of my therapists (’cause hey, I’m so f’ed up, I need more than one, right?):

“I think you want to become a lot more like Amy.”

My wife leads with the heart. I lead with my head. Fundamental difference number one.

But as a posing, uptight, protectionist, passive provider-for-my-family, I’m also freaking terrified of bleeding. In private. In public. By myself. Around my kids. My wife.

I know that this isn’t the most pleasant conversation for men. Yeah, I’ll mention the concept of the Red Tent here. The Red Tent was an ancient Jewish custom where women would have to gather together when menstruating or giving birth. They gathered with one another and bled. Their culture forced them into isolation and they gathered under a red tent so people could identify what was going on. This was the same culture that created such outcasts of lepers. We are far more modern today with our Tampax commericals during primetime, but psychologically, are we so far removed? Think about that for a second. Amidst all the references to junk and cocaine and everything else in the Rolling Stones deviant Let it Bleed is the lyric:

We all need someone we can bleed on 
And if you want it, baby, well you can bleed on me 
We all need someone we can bleed on 
And if you want it, why don’t you bleed on me 

That’s about as close as men ever get to the concept of Red Tent, but notice the passive tense: bleed on me. In other words… you do the bleeding. What is the implied declaration? “Not me. I’m not gonna bleed. You can go ahead and cover me in you mess. You will see me as better for taking your mess. But I’m going to remain free of that myself. It is your mess afterall. Not mine.”

There’s a statement here: “I’m not going to be a mess.”

Masculinity takes a passive role to bleeding. Let’s leave it in theory. Let’s leave it to someone else. Similarly, we take a passive role to the actions of our relationships. We say we will do messy, but what we mean is that we’ll tolerate someone else’s mess. We’ll go to our passive position of mastery, a place where we are safe. We will tolerate someone else’s mess. But dammit, don’t ask us to be messy. Don’t ask us to bleed.

What happens when you allow yourself to bleed? What happens to that grass?

Dumb Sheep

 

 

Metaphorical living is easily accomplished.

In theory.

For 15 years I have lived at the foothills of the Rockies. Better said, in Colorado Springs, we have some rocks, and then we have a 7700′ vertical called Pikes Peak. I’ve been living in the shadow of the rocks.

And these guys.

IMG_0023

If you’ve ever seen a bighorn up close, one of the more disconcerting things about them is their opaque black eyes. There really isn’t much going on there. I mean sure, they’re really awesome looking. They’re powerful, all-terrain brutes and I’ve seen them ramming skulls in Waterton Canyon south of Denver on more than one occasion.

But then you see the eyes. They’re actually dumb sheep.

Here’s why that’s hard for me: I’m incredibly prideful. Like… nauseatingly. It hurts to write that because it’s me in the third person. “That guy”… is prideful, intelligent, smug, Ben.

My ability to trust anyone but myself is well-known – painfully – by those closest to me. Letting go and trusting… that is not my mentality.

Figuring it out. Building a system. A better mousetrap. Exercises in re-branding (I did TWO today no less). Complicating things unnecessarily. Trusting my brain at the expense of a calcified heart. Since I was a teenager, that’s been my M.O. Around five months ago my wife made a statement that put me first into a tailspin and second into a counselor’s office. That statement was “a commitment to isolation.”

Read that again: “Commitment to isolation.”

Sheep have opaque eyes. I had/have layers of emotional plaque built up disconnecting my spirit from experiencing others, and shutting down the wellspring of my heart. All in the name of defending that special, prideful intelligence that would ultimately prevail.

And then Linda said to just “shut up and be a dumb sheep.”

This was in a counseling session.

AN EXPENSIVE COUNSELING SESSION.

When you think you’re a regal orca and you’re told to shut up and be a dumb sheep, that’s offensive.

Truth is never light and fluffy. Truth is rarely elegant. Truth is sturdy. Truth doesn’t stumble. Truth scales mountains. Truth is tough as hell.

Truth is a dumb sheep. I think I might be able to learn something from them.

IMG_0661

 

The Business of Connection

My top posts have never been about real estate. Real Estate is kind of like the weather, it effects everything, but such small talk is worth 30 seconds of low-grade connection.

The demonstration of Real Estate knowledge (especially data-proficiency) is a crappy medium to connect with people. I’ve tried to play the game of the smartest kid in the room for the last 10 years, and I know I’ve repelled more than I’ve connected by playing my game, my way.

So BennyMoo is getting a facelift. BennyMoo is getting real. And BennyMoo is not afraid to get profane if necessary. So you’ve subscribed for a while and you were looking for real estate data, please route thyself to www.PikesPeakUrbanLiving.com. This is our pretty new professional presentation with fancy colors, deep smarts and a fresh perspective on real estate.

But if you want to find out what happened to happened to Perfectionism and his Shiny Shoes, you can stay here.

Leadership is a mess. You’ve been warned.

The Market Peak: First Quarter 2013 by Individual MLS AREAS

Here is a review (at times staggering) of the price trends for the 8 MLS areas we most frequently list and sell in. Values are compared to First Quarter 2012.

The Market Peak: First Quarter 2013

In April 2006, a very bored manager of a little real estate outpost on Library Lane (yes, that is the street name) decided to stick his toe back into the kiddie pool of real estate. Between reviewing contracts and making sure sellers were signing Addendum A’s, this agent went looking at the data, remembering the puzzling and vexing questions of his client, Chandra Narumanchi, who, the previous year, had the audacity to demand to know the months of inventory in his neighborhood, and what the probability of his house selling might be.

This manager made a fateful and foolish decision. He embraced his inner nerd. He began churning out data. He began to wax eloquently (and sometimes, quite opinionatedly) about the market and it’s trends. He sent out a two page SEND-ALL email written in Word with a mess of numbers. He printed it off and distributed it at a company sales meeting. He called it “The Stat Pack.”

That month, April 2006, was also a fateful month in local real estate. It was the same month that the real estate market tipped from the gonzo insanity of “buy know or be priced out forever” (a quote from former NAR lead economist David Lereah, author of 2005’s fateful “Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust“). That single month, asking prices rose, sales prices mysteriously dipped, inventory soared and so did interest rates. By the end of June, there were 1200+ more listings for sale than the same time the year before. This Stat Pack thing just happened to launch at the same moment that the market tipped.

The Stat Pack has officially been retired. There are three reasons. The first is that my old (yes, the geek and the manager and the author are all one in the same. Back to first person singular) brokerage that I left three years ago insists on producing a document of the same name. The second is that documents suck and video, even bad video like mine, is better. The third is that the market has changed. We are now at a 13 year low in inventory. We are at the lowest supply of housing after first quarter in MLS history (3.5 months to sell through all of it). We are at the highest rate of sale in 6 years. And the house money of 3.6% interest rates is still out there.

Anything decent will not only be gone by Monday, but will have a bidding war take it out. Here are the cold hard facts in moving graphic form, narrated by yours truly:

 

The Stat Pack, February 2013, Part 1: General Data