What was the last book you read? More importantly – what was the last book you read that helped you and your team succeed at work? Being well read doesn’t just help you in your day-to-day activities. Choosing to learn from established experts and authors helps shorten your learning curve so you can bring practical information and methods to your co-workers, colleagues, and clients. While there’s no substitute for learning by doing, there’s a wide gap in knowledge that favors those who take time to read effective business books over those who don’t. Over the years, I’ve read more than a fair share of business books, and some have stood out more than others. That’s why today I am sharing my top five favorite business books that you will wish you had read sooner.
1. “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
Written as a narrative story, this is an easy read. I find this book foundational for any new or recently-started investor to understand what it means to have an investor mindset. It helps distinguish what is truly an asset and liability and how to use money as a tool to create wealth. You don’t have to be born rich to become rich. Instead, there’s a path that just about anyone who is willing to take can follow. In 1999, my wife Joanne read this book and I read it shortly after her. It was one of the reasons Joanne decided to leave her teaching career to become a real estate professional just a year later. It’s the reason we bought our first investment property and created goals around real estate investing. I have a lot of gratitude for this book.
2. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
This book is about breaking bad behaviors and adopting good ones in four steps with small, incremental, everyday routines that compound into massive, positive changes over time. You can truly change your behavior by following these steps. There are some great hacks here on breaking cravings and creating new habits. These include steps about making new routines easy to start, making them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. 1. Make it obvious – Don’t hide your fruits in the fridge, but instead put them on display front and center. 2. Make it attractive – start with the fruit you like the most so you’ll actually want to eat one when you see it. 3. Make it easy – don’t create needless friction by focusing on fruits that are hard to peel. Bananas and apples are super easy to eat, for example. 4. Make it satisfying – if you like the fruit you picked, you’ll love eating it and feel healthier as a result! The book goes into a lot more detail. I highly recommend it as you can apply these little hacks to make your life better and more efficient.
3. “Unlimited Power” by Tony Robbins
This book is a self-help classic that breaks down how Tony Robbins has helped top performers perform at their highest level and how you can use the same mental and physical tactics to accomplish your biggest life goals. “Unlimited Power” connotes your ability to revamp your life and produce every outcome you’ve ever wanted while generating value for the people around you. There is so much packed into this book that I can’t get into everything. It’s a long read, but it’s worth every page. One key idea is to use modeling – how you can model yourself after others who are more successful to get what they have. We’ve used this tactic in our real estate business as well as real estate investing. The difference between successful people and everyone else is that successful people see “failure” as an opportunity to grow and learn. We model, try new things, fail and learn. Also simple hacks to change your mood with body posture and breathing techniques, it works! And lastly emotional intelligence, how you respond to situations and your emotions, your attitude determines a lot of what you can accomplish.
4. “First Break All The Rules” by Don Clifton
This book walks you through how to be a better manager and debunks a lot of traditional management methods. I enjoy this book because it resonates with my management style, especially being a part of a small team. We are truly a family. Happy and satisfied employees make the company better and treat clients better. Managers can help employees be happier and more satisfied, it starts with caring about how happy and satisfied they are at work and personally. Intentionally design the atmosphere to encourage self-expression, trust, enjoyment, and productivity. A leader sets the goals, and helps guide but ultimately employees will be happier when they can control and have input in how they reach those goals. If you want to help your team grow, you’ve got to get to know them on a personal level. And if you want to know what standard you should hold everybody to, you need to look at your top performers and spend a lot of time with them. I’d recommend this book to someone who just became a manager and feels overwhelmed, or a seasoned executive that wants to learn and play to their employee’s strengths, or anyone that would like to become a great leader at work.
5. “Five Dysfunctions Of A Team” by Patrick Lencioni
This book will teach you how to have a functional team to be more productive and how to avoid back-channel politics. It’s written in an easy-to-read fable and then breaks it down into practical guidelines on how to overcome each of the five dysfunctions. In hindsight, if I had read this book at the start of my team building career, I could have avoided some drama and probably gotten out of business faster with some people we ultimately ended up parting ways with, but not before they caused damage to the team. it could have possibly helped to fix some bad behavior, but I suspect it would have just highlighted it and caused them to opt out sooner, and maybe I’d have a few less gray hairs.
The next time you are asked what the last book you read was, I hope you think back to one of my five suggestions and are able to apply what you’ve learned in the workplace. True leaders and intelligent thinkers know that they don’t know everything, and they know when to look for outside wisdom and advice to pass along to those who rely on them in the business world. These five reads cover everything from financial responsibility and habit building to team chemistry and unlocking your true potential, and I highly suggest that you check them out.
Raise your hand if you know what a 1031 Exchange is.
If you’re a real estate investor, we’re betting YOU’RE raising your hands. Both of them.
We always say that there’s no greater investment than real estate. That’s true whether you’re buying a home in which you can live or whether you’re buying homes to hold as actual investments, not unlike buying stocks or bonds.
Investors—just like The Curtin Team—know that homes are great sources of equity, not to mention boons for their tax returns, paths to greater cash flow, better diversification of their portfolios, and great ways to counter the effects of inflation.
Real estate is a GREAT investment.
But what happens when it’s time to sell an investment property?
That’s a tricky question and if you don’t have a REALTOR who’s well-versed in how to handle these transactions, you could be left holding the bag (which could be woefully free of money).
When you have a REALTOR who understands real estate investment, however, and the intricacies of a 1031 exchange, you’ll be sitting pretty when all is said and done.
With a 1031 exchange, an investor can sell a property, reinvest the proceeds, and defer ALL capital gains taxes. That’s right, ALL. To give an example, if you sold a property and had $200,000 in capital gains, you’d be subject to taxes of around $70,000, meaning you’d only have about $130,000 left to invest in a new property. After making a down payment and assuming an LTV (loan-to-value) ratio of 75%, that means you’d be able to buy a new property worth about $520,000.
But with a 1031 exchange, you’d be able to use the entire $200,000. If you had the same down payment and LTV as we cited in the previous example, you could buy a property worth about $800,000.
If you think the 1031 exchange sounds like a great idea, you’re right.
But it’s crucial—CRUCIAL—that your REALTOR understands the rules and regulations related to these exchanges. If they don’t, you could find yourself in financial hot water, and nobody wants that. There are dates and deadlines to which investors must adhere, or they’re forced to pay penalties.
The Curtin Team is well-versed in 1031 exchanges and understands their ins and outs; we know that when your investments are on the line, there’s no room for error, no time for dilly-dally. We make sure that your investments—your hard-earned money—are protected.
If you’re interested in investing in real estate and have questions, or if you’re thinking of selling an investment property, talk to us. We’re experienced with investors and will make sure your dollars are working as hard as they can for you, and that they’re kept safe.
On a successful real estate team, everyone has a specialized role that aligns with their skills. Agents are talented at contract negotiations and pricing. Administrative teams are talented at paperwork, details, and organization. Marketing specialists are talented at getting houses as much organic exposure as possible. Essentially, every team member provides value to the business by serving clients and always looking to help their teammates when possible. Over the years, many of the Curtin Team’s clients have expressed that they enjoy having a contact available to answer their questions, which is exactly what our team is available to do. Unlike solo agents who might be constantly busy and out in the field showing homes, our staff is in the office and able to help our clients with anything they need throughout the buying or selling process.
Working with a team means you get combined experience, which leads to smoother deals and less headaches. As a team, we invest in the best systems, tools, technology, knowledge, and talent available. We feel the scope of today’s real estate transaction goes beyond one person and that an agent acting on their own can’t possibly provide the level of service needed to get the job done well. This is why clients prefer team interactions, and previously solo agents are so glad they’ve found the right group once they’ve made the switch. An individual real estate agent won’t have the time, cumulative knowledge, or assets required to invest in the best tools and execute the marketing strategies required to give homes maximum exposure and quick selling times, but well-established groups can provide all of these and more.
As an agent working on a team, there’s greater fulfillment developing your inherent skills and being able to trust teammates to work behind the scenes for your clients. Many studies have linked employee happiness with customer satisfaction. A company’s ability to deliver a greater customer experience relies on hardworking team members who always look out for each other. When an agent works on a team, they enjoy a more balanced life. The work is divided and the responsibilities are shared. They can lean into their team for help when things don’t go their way, and they have a support system that brings the peace of mind that is so difficult to find when working alone. And most especially, their clients are happier. The stability, camaraderie, and effectiveness of real estate teams like the Curtin Team make everyone’s lives easier – both our clients and our agents included.
When house hunting or making a priority list of improvements for an existing home, most couples will eventually have to compromise. In my 23 years of marriage and 20 years of real estate experience, I have found that most men defer to what their spouse wants first, while making their own private plans for what they really want in their home. When we purchased our own home, I know that my wife Joanne didn’t even notice the built-in speaker systems throughout most of the house, and it was definitely a selling feature for me! In honor of Father’s Day, I’m spilling all of the secrets – here’s Tom’s Top 10 Things Dads Want In A Home.
10. The Shower – We want a spacious shower. It’s not because we need a lot of room, but because we know that our spouse is going to stock the shelves with their products. We need to make sure there’s enough space for our own body wash and shampoo. We also want a great showerhead and good water pressure!
9. The Speakers / Sound Systems – We like our tunes and being in control of the music. Having a speaker system that is beyond a single portable speaker, one that goes throughout the main living areas and out onto the deck, is ideal for any dad who likes to set the vibe of his domain.
8. The Bar – We want a bar area where we can keep that expensive bottle of liquor we are “saving for a special occasion.” It’s also important to have a spot where we can mix a quick drink when friends visit. The ideal bar is either adjacent to or in a comfy room where you can sit and enjoy your favorite beverage with your spouse.
7. The Home Office – When I think of my dream office, the TV show Mad Men is what comes to mind. That means deep wood furniture, leather-bound books on the bookshelf, a box of cigars, and a fully stocked bar. Work hard, play hard.
6. The Garage – We need space for everything from cars and sporting equipment to yard tools and kids’ toys. Having shelves, storage bins, and a workbench turns this space into an organized area instead of a piled-up mess. In a perfect world, the garage floor will have a cool epoxy finish so we are prepared to buy our dream sports car when we hit our mid-life splurge. When it comes to the garage, the bigger the better. We’ll find a way to fill the space.
5. The Kitchen – We enjoy innovations like built-in griddles on a new stove for making the kids pancakes on Saturday morning. Appliances with LCD screens, dual convection ovens, finger swipe screens – we love the technology. A built-in coffee station is also a big yes!
4. The Fireplace – Men love fire. We like to start fires, watch fires, and sit by fires and sit around a fire with family or friends sharing dad jokes. We want a great indoor fireplace, and we would love to have an outdoor fireplace with a seating area, too.
3. The Yard – Men are generally drawn to more space and bigger yards. It’s not because we want to spend all weekend working in the yard, but we do like having a place to go outside where we feel nature around us. If we can occasionally use a chainsaw, that’s a plus.
2. The Outdoor Living Space / The Deck – We want a deck big enough to house a grill and maybe a green egg – a place where we can eat outside as a family and enjoy a cocktail or hang out with friends. Ideally, this deck overlooks our great yard, so we can sit on the deck after working outside all day and appreciate what we’ve done, even if no one else notices the trimmed hedges and freshly cut grass. The icing on the cake is a big screen TV so we can watch the game while grilling and chilling with friends.
1. The Basement – The basement serves as a getaway space – i.e., the man cave. A huge TV and a comfortable seating area are must-haves for enjoying a game or movie. The basement is also the place for us to keep all the stuff that we’re not allowed to have anywhere else in the house. The basement is removed from the rest of the house and doesn’t always fall under the decorative oversight of our spouse, so we can have free reign to hang signed sports jerseys, have a comfortable chair, a ping pong table, or put our favorite piece of furniture from college that we refuse to give up. Lastly, this is a great spot for a home gym. The home gym is where we keep our exercise equipment (hopefully not the kind that was bought at 3:00 AM from an infomercial) whether we use it as often as we’d like or not.
House hunting is made so much easier when you know exactly which features you are looking for. Us dads often don’t seem picky, however there are definitely certain elements that keep us happy in our homes. Most of these revolve around spending time with family and friends, who are the loved ones that make being a dad so great in the first place.
Are higher interest rates going to cause a real estate market crash? We’ve been getting some variation of this question a lot lately. The reality is no one knows exactly what will happen yet there are some fundamental truths to consider. I once heard someone say that an economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today. With that, let’s start with some facts.
This year, the Federal Reserve raised its interest rates by half of a percentage point. This is its largest rate increase since 2000 and the first time since 2006 that the Fed has increased rates in back-to-back meetings.
It’s important to understand why interest rates are rising. Primarily, raising interest rates is one of the most powerful tools the Federal Reserve has to control the economy and inflation. During a recent news conference, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell explained “inflation is much too high and we understand the hardship it is causing. We’re moving expeditiously to bring it back down.”
Bringing down inflation without causing a recession is a difficult task that requires careful precision. By raising rates, the Fed hopes to cool the housing market without stopping it altogether – quite the balancing act.
As rates increase for borrowers, some buyers are forced out of the market because they can no longer afford homes that have appreciated so much in value. But interest rates will have to go up significantly to soften housing prices and curb inflation. We don’t expect to see prices go backwards, but they also can’t keep appreciating at 20% per year.
Serious buyers view rising rates as a reason to buy sooner, not to wait any longer. When house hunting, budgeting with a higher rate in mind can be greatly beneficial. For example, base your expected payment assuming that it will eventually have a ½ percentage higher rate. If rates go up, you’ll be in budget, and if they don’t move, you’ll have a cushion built in.
Rental rates have increased, too, so first-time homebuyers are still looking to buy because purchasing a home is less expensive than renting in most cases. The most reliable hedge against inflation is a fixed housing cost in the way of a fixed mortgage. As a renter, there is no protection against rising costs of rent because of very few rent-control laws.
These factors lead many to wonder: Will rising interest rates cause an eventual price crash? With the financial crisis of 2008 still fresh in our memory, it’s easy to see why people might expect home prices to fall. This time, however, there are many differences. I remember back in 2006 when banks were handing out “no doc loans” that asked for your personal finances with no written proof. This created artificial demand by making it easy for just about anyone to “qualify” for a home loan or refinance their current home. Today, purchasers and those refinancing homes face much higher standards and stricter guidelines from mortgage companies. Because of this, purchasers can afford the mortgage they’re taking on and there are less defaults. The speculative buyers who were purchasing homes and reselling them six months later for quick gains are not as prolific as they were in 2005-2007. The price drop seen during The Great Recession was caused mainly by the financial crisis, which led to a foreclosure crisis. When foreclosures flooded the market, prices dropped. The fear of another huge foreclosure event in today’s market is just not as realistic as it was a decade ago.
There’s still a very real housing inventory shortage that is driving demand. Even with higher interest rates, buyers are relocating away from big cities and are viewing Northern Atlanta as valuable. With continued demand, supply issues delaying new construction for the foreseeable future, and relative affordability in housing in our area, we expect rising rates to slow real estate sales somewhat, but they will not be stopping completely any time soon.
On Wednesday, March 23rd, Curtin Team Cares hosted its First Annual FUNdraiser at Deep Roots Wine Market in Roswell, GA. Supporters of Curtin Team Cares were invited to SIP! SWIRL! and SUPPORT! Deep Roots Wine Market graciously donated wine samples to guests and donated a portion of the evening sales to Curtin Team Cares. Raffle prizes were donated by clients and friends of the Curtin Team, including gift certificates for products and services.
Curtin Team Cares raises money with every successful The Curtin Team home sale. Combined with the generosity of businesses, caring individuals like you, and fundraising events, we provide an ear, shoulder, heart, hand, and the resources to empower the vulnerable and strengthen communities for all.
As owners of a successful real estate company, The Curtin Team at Keller Williams Realty, Tom and Joanne Curtin wanted a way to give back to the communities that propelled their success. This passion for the local community led to their founding of the non-profit Curtin Team Cares in 2018, where the mission is to empower the vulnerable and strengthen communities for all.
Happy New Year from the Curtin Team!
It’s not business as usual, but it’s still a great time to BUY. Whether you are considering down sizing, right sizing or buying for the first time, Melinda Nawn, Curtin Team Buyer Agent, will show you the path to WINNING in 2022 real estate market. She will separate fears from facts, explain the realities of the current market, various financing options and the next steps to take to be in your new home.
The workshop will be hosted at 1255 Canton Street, Ste. A, Roswell, GA 30075 on Tuesday, January 26th from noon to 1pm. Light refreshments will be served. If you are unable to attend in person, a Zoom link is available.
If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market in 2022, now is the time to start cleaning, purging, and prepping. The holidays may be the ideal time to get started while kids are home from school and family is visiting. It’s the perfect time to open up SPACE for what this new year will bring. While it might be easy to let go of those clothes that are out of style or the gadgets you were so excited about, but are now sitting at the back of your closet…never used, many people struggle with what to do with sentimental items. Pictures, cards and artwork from kids, items you’ve kept from loved ones now passed, even your own childhood memorabilia can bring up so many emotions! That’s ok! We have some tips for taking that emotional ride, making it fun, and in the end loving the result!
The Curtin Team has been in business for over 20 years and in that time, we have helped hundreds of clients prepare their homes for sale. Here’s our favorite method for sorting sentimental items before a move. Create an EVENT focused on going through these precious items in your home. Whether it’s all the items from your children, or from passed loved ones or a combination, now is the time to get people on board to help you.
These are our top tips for making this event fun and productive!
1. Schedule a time
2. Invite family
3. Make a SPACE
4. Make it FUN!
5. Gather supplies
6. Explain process
7. Do it!
Schedule a time: If you have 5 small to medium sized boxes you will probably be able to get through them in about 4-5 hours. Larger or more boxes are going to take longer. Just keep in mind, that most people underestimate how long it’s going to take.
Invite family: As with any event you want to invite people so they can carve out the time in their schedule. You can send an evite, paper invitation or just call people. Do what feels best to you! Explain in the invitation that you are planning to put your house on the market and it’s time to make decisions about items you’ve been holding onto. Let them know that you wanted to include them in the decision making and why. For example: I have items from when mom/dad passed that you may want to keep. Or for your children: I have items from your childhood that you may want to keep. Keep it light and fun, more of a party atmosphere.
Make a SPACE: You may want to sit at the dining room table, or just sprawl on the floor. Again, do what feels best to you but plan ahead of time and get extra chairs for the table or pillows to sit on the floor. Whatever will make it comfortable.
Make it FUN: This is our favorite tip because this process does not have to be miserable! Depending on the time of day have some yummy food for everyone …coffee and donuts if it’s morning, sandwiches at lunch, etc. Definitely have beverages too! Maybe some hot chocolate or wine ;). Turn on some fun upbeat music, light some candles. You know what we’re going to say next…whatever feels good to you!
Gather supplies: First on the list is garbage bags. Have scissors for opening boxes if needed, and bins/bags for each person so they can take away whatever items they decide to keep.
Explain the process: Let your family know you’re going to open the boxes one by one so everyone can see everything. This can be the most fun way because as you are looking through the items invariably you will have memories of fun moments from the past. Occasionally, it could also bring up sad memories…that’s ok. Let it out and then let it go. These are not items you want in your SPACE and there will be plenty of items that feel good to you. Focus on the good because you want to create a new SPACE that is uplifting and feels good when you walk in the door!! It’s great to keep items that are useful and sentimental so that you feel connected to your loved ones. If you have recently lost a loved one you might find it more difficult to part with their items right now. It’s ok to keep them until you feel better about letting go. Be gentle with yourself keeping in mind you are never going to forget this person or the experiences you shared with them regardless of which items you decide to keep!
Do it: Go through all the items and let it unfold however it unfolds. Keep only the items that REALLY resonate with you and feel good to you. A special note about photos – only keep pictures that really capture the event and feel good! Even if they are blurry or off center but are fun and uplifting…those are the ones you want to keep! If you have multiples of the same picture …like school photos, just keep one. When your event is finished throw the garbage away and make sure everyone takes the items they chose with them.
Now you can look forward to making wonderful memories in your new home!
A special thanks to our contributor and friend, Cheri Bartlett, owner of CEO Space, Inc. She specializes in helping clients organize and renew their space.
Here’s her contact info
CEO SPACE, Inc
Facebook: SPACE Simplify Purge And Create Ease
Home Styling | How to “Undecorate”
As I was packing away decorations after the holidays it occurred to me how similar the task is to home styling. It’s what I like to call “undecorating”. Undecorating is the process of removing personal and specific decorations, leaving behind a more neutral palette. Having a clean palette is important to attract potential buyers. When the slate is clean, buyers can imagine themselves living in the space.
As new year resolutions are made and we vow to get more organized, this is a wonderful time to start preparing your home to beat the spring selling rush. When you’re packing away holiday decorations go ahead and pack up family photos, decor and personal items. Not only will you be de-cluttering, but you’ll also get a jump start on packing items that you’ll have to pack later anyway!
Where Do I Start?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so start off easy. Begin with your junk drawers, closets and pantry. Make three separate piles: one that you keep, one for donation, and one that goes straight to the trash.
Closets should be about one third full so that prospective buyers can see the amount storage is available. Pack away clothing that’s not in season. Use storage baskets and containers in drawers, cabinets and the pantry for a simple and tidy look. Once you have tackled the de-cluttering you can focus on larger projects. Keep in mind that as the spring market approaches, the busier contractors get and the longer it takes to get on their schedule.
Use these easy tips and you’ll be able to stick to your New Year’s resolution and be ahead of the spring market!