Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mind your own business Pete Borden, take 2! (The Recap!)

This is my prior post on Walter G. "Pete" Borden and I have to say that I am still just as annoyed about the entire situation. To give an update, Mr. Borden was DENIED but it wasn't soon enough to allow my son's high school to have the turf installed. The football year-end banquet was last Monday and the Coach noted that the new turf field is in the process of being installed (brrr!). I am curious how much his silly argument cost our county to defend? All I know that my son (a/k/a "the retired football player") never got the chance to play on that 'field of dreams'. In all honesty, no, I don't think his season was any better or worse due to that delay, but I would have liked to see him play on the new field. Maybe we'll go see a game or two at Sprayberry High next year, but it obviously won't be the same without Joey. So shame on you Pete Borden, for actually wasting our taxpayer money by filing a lawsuit and causing delays in a process that I SPECIFICALLY VOTED FOR.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We're # 6!

I'm surprised we were only in the top-10 once! We all know Atlanta traffic is always a mess; this article makes it "official"! So be careful out there as you travel; avoid 285 and you should be fine ; ) I sure wish the Northern Arc was not so politicized in the past! We could really use a 'relief' road between I-85 and I-75 on the Northside of ATL but that fell apart years ago... Oh well...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Real Estate Lawyers versus Witness Only closings

I couldn't write an article on this subject as clearly as this one, as it references a court case in Massachusetts. I applaud their efforts and I am hopeful that efforts to stop the same activities in Georgia will be successful in the future. Yes, I know this sounds incredibly 'protectionist' of me--it is. Yes, I want to ensure that as a closing attorney I have a job.

BUT in all honesty these witness-only firms are not held to the same standards as I am. I try to leave a title cleaner than I found it--I either fix a title issue (open loan deed, etc.) or have detailed notes to share with a future lawyer who finds an issue with my file. In essence, I care about the actual practice of law (and I truly feel that the closing process is a 'start to finish' proposal--not just sitting at the table with a blue pen and my notary stamp). For that matter, who is going to fix the title issue caused by some out of state company? When you go to sell your house you may find that your last closing created a huge error that will be costly to fix! I find issues all the time--even one refinance uncovered a situation where the gentleman actually owned NOTHING (a long story, but after a month or so I was able to fix the problem).

Final thought--witness-only closings (or closings handled by out of state companies, with or without a lawyer involved) are not always the cheapest option. Costs in Georgia are very competitive (at least in the ATL area). It may seem like a good deal to have a 'one-stop' shopping experience but after 15 years I have seen that you either 'get what you pay for' or you can also get screwed. Choose wisely--choose to close with a fully licensed real estate law practitioner.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why Formula One is the best form of auto racing

People love racing cars--from 'stoplight to stoplight' to watching professionals, we all love the thrill of 'wheel to wheel' racing. While I have a huge appreciation for racers of all levels (NASCAR, IndyCar, SCCA, LeMans Series) I am most impressed by the 'top of the heap', which is Formula 1. Formula 1 is open wheel racing, not to be confused with Indianapolis 500 racers (though the American Grand Prix used to be held at Indy though they used an infield road course with only 1 or 2 actual turns of the famed Indy oval).

Don't believe me? While some races can be a yawner (with parade processions) take a look at last week's Singapore race. From start to finish, this race was something to behold! Seek out Speed TV on your TV provider; set it to record the next race in Japan. There are only 3 races left in the season I believe; 3 to 5 drivers have a chance at winning the world championship and they are all fighting to the end.

Another reason why F1 is the pinnacle of Motorsports--the cars are all different, with different engine suppliers as well. A Ferrari car is different than another team's Ferrari powered car; ditto for several teams running Mercedes powerplants. It's not like the boring looking 'car of tomorrow' in NASCAR, and how many of the featured cars (Ford, Chevy, Toyota) actually run street cars with carbs??? Dated technology, all focused on providing a 'show'. Well, give me drama and actual racing (and this comes from a guy from "NASCAR central", Owensboro, KY, home of Darrel Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, the Greenes, Jeremy Mayfield and Motorcycle stud Nicky Hayden).

So give me cars that turn left AND right and see what F1 is all about! As for this year's championship, I am torn between Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso--I love Ferrari and Alonso's passion, but this year my sentimental fave is Webber (it just seems like his best chance--root for the old guy ; )

Monday, September 27, 2010

A year ago today...

September 27, 2009 may not resonate with anyone else, in contrast to September 11, 2001 or other events that have taken place in the month of September. For me, September has many important dates--our Anniversary is the 23rd (Happy 4th!), my son Joey's birthday is the 29th (still can't believe that he'll be 18 this year!) but the date that has been on my mind all day is 9/27/09.

As the calendar goes, I woke up on that Sunday morning without a care in the world. Susie and I surely sat down with the paper and had coffee as we tend to do; we might have even taken a walk with the puppies. Later on I know that I must have been doing some cleaning as well because I know from the receipt that I went to the Thrift Store to donate some unwanted household items--not that I need the receipt to remind me. Every time I am in that parking lot I think of the call from my sister telling me that my Dad was in the ICU. The first thing you think about when you hear 'he's been intubated' is that it can't be good.

When your sister is a doctor you tend to take on more of a 'wait and see' attitude (e.g. 'do I need to be worried?'). Typically if something was wrong with Dad she was a good filter and broke it down to simple terms. I was worried, but at that point it didn't look bad enough to be told 'head to Kentucky.. NOW. So I went home and even changed the filters in the furnace units, but I couldn't stop thinking that things were going to be worse. I eventually got the call that it was indeed time to head home; packing was a mess as I fell apart. Susie was nervous that I couldn't even drive in that condition. I managed to pull it together but I can't tell you anything about my drive home. It's typically about 5.5 hours; I guess that's how long it took. Regardless, I got there sometime around now (9:30 as I type).

Mom was being supported by 2 couples that have been long-time friends and her minister. We couldn't go back to the ICU as they were trying to do something related to filtering his blood as it was determined that he had sepsis due to an infection. He woke up 'babbling' early Sunday and Mom called an ambulance.

How did we get here? He wasn't feeling well Saturday--when I spoke with him he just sounded tired. It was very random that I even spoke to him--I called Mom at home to ask her a question and we both had to rush to get off the phone--I was at a store and she was on her way out. After I left the store, I called her cell and spoke to Dad--for whatever reason they had traded phones that afternoon--she had his, he had hers. In all honesty I never would have spoken to him if it wasn't for that fact. He had an 'order' of wine (several cases to bring home later that week) and I was happy to tell him I had what he asked me to get.

We got to go into the ICU; despite the tube and breathing apparatus it was still my Dad, wires and all. I spoke to him and touched his hands and rubbed his head. No response, of course, but it felt right. They needed to do something else with him so we were back into the waiting room. After a while (10-ish?) my sister showed up (they were coming from SC). When we got back into the ICU she got to do her doctor thing and got to hear all the options and what had happened so far. Sooner or later the 'daughter' wore off (what else can be done?) and the 'doctor' kicked back in (reality check) and she realized what I already knew in my heart--this was nearing the end.

At that point I will never forget the final events... My sister, brother-in-law and Mom were gathered around his bed. Elizabeth said "Daddy, Mom's here, I'm here, Gary's here and Bo's here. We're going to take great care of Mom". With that, his ridiculously low blood pressure (but steady) began to drop--almost on cue. I remember the numbers dropping so quickly and then it was over... just 4 stunned adults facing their loss and machines continuing to try to breathe for him.

Begrudgingly, we left while they 'cleaned him up' and removed the wires, tubes and artificial 'stuff' that did what they could to keep him alive. Returning, he seemed at peace and as if sleeping. We all said our goodbyes, and kissed him a few last times. It seems so odd to me that I clearly remember how warm his neck was, even though he was gone...

As this was month-end, my small real estate firm was busy with closings and Susie could not leave until the 30th. I think that was the worst--missing my family and feeling alone in my thoughts. It was nice seeing some of the string of family friends and visitors--and I must admit I enjoyed all the food people brought. In fact, it was all like a typical Wagner party--except the jovial host was not there. When Joey, Julia and Susie made it I was so relieved and promptly fell apart again--though they gave me much strength. I needed it in order to eulogize my Dad. I don't know how Elizabeth and I did it, but oddly enough I always knew that someday my Dad would pass and someday I would say something along the lines of "Dad always said 'Bo's never had a bad day in his life'; well today, this is a bad day, Dad." Today I must smile, remember my Dad and raise a glass to Frank W. Wagner, Jr. May God rest your soul. I miss you Dad... I love you...

To my family and friends, God bless you and thank you for your support at that time and now as we remember him, a year ago today.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What is a Libertarian?

My Mom faxed this article from today's USA Today from Rand Paul, who is running for the US Senate in Kentucky. I know nothing about him other than this article and I heard/read somewhere that he recently said some silly things that seemed bigoted. Not judging on that 'stuff' or even commenting on it, but really read that article and tell me where you can find much fault?

Personally, I think that the Government is causing a lot of our issues right now. Most of my economic commentary is found on my Economics blog, but this one is a bit more Political. Yes, the Economy is kind of 'stuck' right now. But think of this-would YOU want to hire anyone right now? There are so many governmental regulations coming down the road, such as the health care legislation. There are rumblings about raising the minimum wage (actually, indexing the minimum wage with inflation, which will serve to raise the wage). The "George Bush Tax Cuts" are set to expire and that may have some effect on hiring (I have read articles on both sides of this; some 'Pro-expiration' and some 'Anti-expiration' and both sides actually have merit).

With the Government takeover of Wall Street companies as well as at GM we have unprecedented meddling into private enterprise (ditto for the new 'banking bill'). Oh, and evil BP had to cough up $20B (that's the big B for Billion) 'up front' for the disaster in the Gulf--while it may be warranted ($3B has been paid out I believe) it's bizarre to see a Government go after a Company in this manner. What I'm trying to say is that there is too much Government interference in our lives. Even the most Liberal among us can admit that SOMETHING in their life has been affected by Governmental regulations--to their detriment. How about LESS Government?

You can blame 'de-regulation' for many economic woes; you can blame too little oversight for the mortgage meltdown--if you dig a little deeper it's not just Wall Street that's to blame--try our Government and the 'goal' of putting more people in houses dating back to the late 1990's. That's a self-serving goal for me as well (as a real estate attorney and as the son of a builder) but some of these buyers weren't ready for home ownership (or had loans that were higher than they should have had, etc.). I guess look at it this way--if you made $3000 per month, would you try to take on a mortgage that would be $2800 per month? If you wanted to walk everywhere, have no money for furnishings or entertainment and eat Ramen noodles daily, maybe you would go for that deal. I would think that would be setting up a failure!

Try taking this quiz--you may find out you are a Libertarian as well! (I was!) Does that mean that we all want to legalize marijuana (one of the Libertarian Party's stated platform items)? Not really, but "Less Government" is the main focus for me--is the Libertarian Party or Tea Party "THE" answer? Not so much. But I am certainly NOT a Democrat and I don't feel the Republicans have truly represented me at all in the last several years, so where to go? THAT's the main Q I have. Sigh...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Top Real Estate Investor Blogs

Take a glance at this blog post for some awesome links--123Flip is a fave (and a friend) so I know this posting is true :) Kudos to J! Cheers, Bo

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy B-day Susie!

With apologies to Beyonce, we are celebrating a "b-day" today (7-29)--my business partner's. No, not my fellow "name on the door" partner Jeff Harris, but the birthday of my lifetime business partner Susie. Why business partner? WHAT business? Like the Godfather, Family business! While she does keep our real estate closing business running smoothly (pre-closer, closer, accountant, payroll, office manager, customer service rep, etc. etc.) she is also responsible for the success of our family business.

As noted in my last newsletter, Susie is a great Mom and is very organized. She has pretty much run her own show since her late teens and has been in the real estate business her entire life, beginning her career in the 1980's with the late Michael Sellers. She has never lived in an apartment and bought her first home before she was 21--she really understands real estate and all that it takes to make a closing run smoothly. As for our family, she has her priorities right and keeps our house humming with efficiency. A true multi-tasker, she keeps our work schedule straight, our "kid schedule" straight and our social engagements in line--each Sunday she even sorts out a menu and plans our shopping list for the week! I am the designated sous-chef, though I sometimes 'pinch hit' for her when she's out (in fact, pray for me tonight as I try to make 'something' for the first time; ask me about it tomorrow)--she is awesome with recipes, assembly instructions, (patience) sewing instructions, baking instructions (and closing instructions of course). I hope I am getting across that she is an awesome lady! Please join me in wishing Susie Wagner a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Reality" TV

Like many people, we have a DVR for recording our favorite television shows. And from time to time, we get 'behind' and have to catch up. Two of our favorite shows hit pretty close to home for me in the last week or two. Modern Family recently wrapped up its first season by taking the family to Hawaii. As we started watching, several things looked familiar and I started to say 'that looks like..." as the guy on TV said "Welcome to the Four Seasons, Maui". The episode was touching and funny (as always) and it really 'hit home' for me and Susie as MY Dad & Mom took our family to Hawaii (including the Four Seasons Maui) in July 2009 to celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary (if you're curious, you can check out photos on our photo site). That was our last family trip together before his passing in September and was an amazing memory that we won't forget! I hope to someday take our family to the Four Seasons; hopefully with less 'madcap adventures' as shown on that TV program :)

Another show that we watch regularly is Deadliest Catch. If you follow the series, one of the captains recently had a stroke. Not to be a 'spoiler' but sadly Captain Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie passed away. The episode we watched last night ended with Captain Phil being taken away in an ambulance. I was blessed to have made it to Kentucky prior to my Dad passing away, and seeing Phil in a gurney reminded me of my Father in the ICU. I feel for anyone else who has lost a family member and I try to focus on the good (Hawaii, childhood, our relationship) with the bad (his passing). God bless you all and take a moment to call your loved ones and hug your family.

With all the silly trash that can be found on the TV, I am surprised when something touches me as much as those 2 programs recently have... Take care, Bo

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kill Bill! (Actually, Kill THIS Bill!)

Take a glance at this article on HR 5034. This bill is going to take wine consumption back to the dark ages of Prohibition! Write your Congressman! Likewise, check out this site and find out more about this horror-show.

As for Georgia residents, time to go on the attack! If you are in the following districts, you need to yell at your representative NOW. As for John Barrow (D-12th), Paul Broun (R-10), John Gingrey (R-11), David Scott (D-13) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-3): SHAME ON YOU. I plan to research your contributors and I can almost guarantee that the big distributors have given them a lot of money. Meanwhile, I still can't get Ridge wine shipped directly to me due to overzealous restrictions on the State level--if HR 5034 passes, I will NEVER get the specialty wines I used to get from them. BOO!

My comments to Hon. Tom Price, Georgia Congressman re: HR 5034

"Please do NOT join in the support of this bill. I know this bill is not the most important issue facing our current Congress but it is an important issue to me. I want open trade with other wine states. It is not an issue of taxes; it is an issue of freedom of choice and less limitations on the Commerce Clause. Enacting this bill will not aid consumers, it will aid only the large distributorships. I am very disappointed in the Georgia legislators who have signed on to support this bill. I suspect that I need only look to their list of contributors to see names like National Distributors, Empire Wholesale and others donating to 'the cause'. It is not the cause of freedom; it is not for the consumer. The Supreme Court has already ruled on this; don't restrict Granholm v. Heald's ruling. Thanks for your time."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father's Day 2010!

Father's Day is upon us again, and like many other holidays it has crept up quite quickly. And like many other events, it marks another 'first' for me. This email's title is "Bittersweet". In a word, bittersweet expresses how proud I am to be a Dad but reflects how much I miss my own Father who passed away last September. All the "marquee" holidays have come and gone (Thanksgiving, Christmas) but we still face his birthday in August and I know my Mom will sadly mark what should have been their 52nd wedding anniversary this June 28th. I know how painful it would be for me if I didn't have Susie by my side each day; my heart saddens to think of how that feels.

I am lucky to have 'jumped into' such a wonderful family through marriage--Susie is a great Mom. Julia is 10 going on 35, Joey is an old soul at 17, soon to be 18 and entering his Senior year. Christi recently gave us a second grandson (and you can click on the link to the right to see some wedding shots of the whole family). After 3 years of marriage, I still find myself learning something new as I am not a father. To that you say, "huh?" I may be a Dad, but I don't call myself a Father as I never had kids of my own. Either way, it's odd how your mindset can change once you have kids. To those like my Dad who raised their children from birth, it must come easy to 'know what to do'--to be patient (well, most of the time!), kind and loving; not to judge, not to make fun of silly dreams and schemes. To know when to discipline and when to show restraint. The toughest one? To put others (your kids) in front of yourself--he always did that. He taught me how to be a good Dad; all I can do is hope that all the lessons rubbed off (though I still yell at Julia when I have to play 'find the phone' when all the cordless phones in the house are MIA : ) So to all you Dads and Fathers out there, HAPPY FATHERS' DAY and I miss you Frank W. Wagner, Jr!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Freedom of Choice!

In a prior posting I was talking about the web and our company; this month I need to play Mythbusters or Snopes and talk about some interesting "myths" in our industry--especially as it relates to choosing your real estate business partners.
I had a great closing this week where the agent said they ordinarily use their broker's closing attorney mainly because they can get paid right at the closing table. Guess what? We do that too! All we need is something in writing from your broker with the proper splits to be paid at closing. We have done this for several companies, both large and small. Ask your broker--in all honesty any closing attorney should be able to do that for you! Don't let them 'sell you' that this is a 'special service' that only they can provide!
Another myth that comes up from time to time relates to friends complaining that they are stuck using another firm for an REO closing and they really aren't very customer friendly. In many cases (esp. if the lender is in California) you can actually choose your closing attorney. The seller pays for their lawyer; the buyer would ultimately pay for the closing--again, just like any other closing. The only Catch-22 I have seen is that the closing costs (if any) would only be paid if you used their firm, or the seller would pay for Owner's Title only if you use that firm. Call me for a quote for OTP (Owner's Title policy)--it may turn out that it would be worth having a smooth and timely closing in lieu of the "free" OTP. For the record, if the purchase price is $50K or lower, your OTP will be around $150, so "free" isn't truly that much of a bargain! For us, a short-sale or REO purchase transaction is not much different than a 'normal' closing--it just takes a bit more to get everybody to the closing table. Just call us and inquire; we can close it for you!
What about the "you're not on our approved list" myth? That happens from time to time when someone is trying to force you to use 'their' preferred attorney. While our firm is not quite 2 years old we have a lot of experience. Likewise, we have everything necessary to be approved to close for any lender (E&O, insured closing letter, etc.). Many lenders have recently reduced the number of attorneys on their 'official' approved list in order to make it easier for RESPA compliance due to the new GFE--that doesn't mean that an attorney not on that short list can't close for them, however. We can close without issue--we can do the same for YOUR lender as well!
And finally, let's look at the myth of "easy". At the end of the day, I know it can be convenient to 'walk down the hall' and close with the in-house attorney. You can also use other in-house services that are provided (lenders, etc.). All I am requesting of you is to honestly ask yourself how well you were treated at your last closing. Were you appreciated? Did anyone 'care' if you were there (you as an individual, not just as another closing, agent, loan officer, etc.)? How was the service prior to (and after!) the closing? I hope that all your questions were answered and all your calls/emails were returned--we certainly do! And don't forget that we can close at different locations around the metro-ATL area. Click on the links on the sidebar for some examples. So remember you have a choice--and we hope that you choose the Harris Wagner Law Group!

Have you seen the movie "UP"?

Here's your 'feel good' story of the day: Man crosses English Channel with helium balloons. Kinda have to smile at this one.... Here's to good planning, eh?

Friday, May 14, 2010

An obituary for an old black dog

It's funny, I am still a bit teary over an old black dog that wasn't even mine. In fact, she belonged to Susie's ex-husband! I guess I'm a bit surprised that I get so emotional over things like this, but at the same time I am very sentimental and 'events' like this do touch me.

Nora was a stray picked up by Susie over 10 years ago--the Vet guessed she was already 5 or 6 at that time. After several hundred dollars to cure her of heart worms (I think Jeff called Nora the world's most expensive stray) she lived a happy life with their family, the evil border collie Lillie (evil in her puppy days that is) and (after Susie and I were married), 'solo' at home with Jeff, until he adopted Gibson the three-legged wonderdog (a story for another day). Nora was a lab mix and was a bit overweight, as many old dogs can be, but she always had a smile for you behind her graying muzzle. Old age caught up with her and after a rough night, an early morning trip to the Vet established that it was her time. So tonight, I'll go home and hug Spike and Lillie and perhaps raise a toast to old "Nora-belle". May she rest in peace...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Which recession is over?

I love watching Frank Garay and Brian Stevens "Think Big, Work Small". THIS POSTING is great--when is your PERSONAL recession over? All I can say is that several things formed a perfect storm in my own life, most centered around my old house sitting for almost an entire year and not selling. It is currently rented so we're in 'better' shape, but issues stemming from the carrying costs have left their mark on our finances. Starting our own company (translation: no paycheck for several months) was 'fun' as well, though things are more stable to date. With that being said, we still need to get rid of a lot of debt. SO, am I out of my recession? Not yet. What is it going to take? Unlike our government, I have done the obvious stuff--cut back on spending, try to pay off debt, but that can only do so much when you start out in the red. I know that it is up to me to secure our future. Yes, I depend on God and I am truly blessed. I have to step it up, however, and see what I can do to secure more business. How can I help YOU today? How can I help you get out of YOUR recession as well?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Time to "March for Babies"!

Watch this video! Help us out!

Click here to help me reach my goal!

Atlanta Closing Attorney

It's funny how people 'find' you on the web. Obviously you can do a Google search for "Bo Wagner", though you will not only find me, but a tap dancer and marimba player from the band "Starbuck" (remember the song "Moonlight, Feels Right"?). Choosing the search term "Harris Wagner Law Group" will point you right to our website (or my original 'fun' site at that I created prior to having an official site). You might even try searching for "real estate attorney" and other terms that the web dudes put together for SEO (Search engine optimization) and find us. Regardless, I hope you CAN find us as a) we spent some money putting up and b) we want to be YOUR firm of choice.

To continue with buzz words, what's our USP? Our "unique selling proposition" is actually no different than many other firms out there. We all offer 'service' and promise to take care of your customers. Likewise there are firms out there that are both cheaper or more expensive to work with. Ditto for some firms that may have a disco (my word, means a really 'trick' or 'cool') system for ordering titles or emails that keep you in the loop each time a document is received. All that is great, but our USP is really tied up in 5 things:

Bo, Susie, Jeff, and Will (Ellen too!)

WE are the USP and WE make this a 'family' affair. Every person working in a real estate firm gets paid for their efforts (well, maybe not last year : ) but do they have true ownership in the firm? Sure, the partners or owners actually have ownership, but how important is that title order or contract on the fax to them? Is it a paycheck or a person? Obviously we aren't in this as a charity; I do need to pay my own mortgage. However, I know that each person walking in the door is hugely important to us. YOU bring your friends/clients/co-workers/referrals to us; not only is it our JOB to take care of them, we are lucky enough that you are entrusting them to us! I've shared the tears of a widow selling her old home that's become too much for her to handle; I've laughed at the excitement of a first-time homebuyer overwhelmed at the stack of paperwork. From time to time we've even dealt with situations where the buyers and sellers aren't getting along. We've stayed late on a Friday to make sure that a transaction is closed so the movers can do their job for the 'homeless' buyers moving from out of state.

WHY? We LOVE our job! We LOVE the people! This is our job, this is our LIFE. Each time we sit at the closing table, the world revolves around the people sitting at that table--not me. Other closings may be blowing up or we may have issues behind the scenes but that closing table is a 'refuge' and we will take care of everyone there. Sometimes I feel 'evangelical' as this process can take the form of a ministry for me. In my life I am far from perfect--but at that closing table, I know that I have to take care of the people surrounding me. We are all home owners here, we have our own stories and problems we face. We all have had good experiences with firms and bad--that's why we opened our OWN firm. We understand how this process works and the way it feels when something does or doesn't work. The last thing I'll say is this: WE CARE. Give us a shot and you'll see that passion at work. Real Estate is what we do. It's ALL we do. Come see us soon!

Proud to be an American

THIS ARTICLE shows why America is such a great country! The freak situation related to the volcanic ash clouds over Europe has stranded many travelers, both IN Europe and in the USA. While our European brothers and sisters may be doing the same thing for these poor souls I wanted to share the article I read so that you can see God in action/alive and well in our country. God Bless our Country and its Citizens! Kudos to the people graciously opening their homes!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Poll: 4 out of 5 Americans don't trust Washington

DUH! Read THIS ARTICLE to see the details, but I can summarize by saying that BOTH sides have failed us. It seems to be more important to be re-elected (to keep their power and perks) versus actually serving the constituents that elected them. My 2 cents... Get rid of all of them this November!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Autographs here!

It's always nice to see your name in print--well, let me edit that... It's always nice to see your name in print for a POSITIVE story! Read THIS ARTICLE from the AJC and hear a bit of positive news about Real Estate. Plus, it's great to have a comment from our own Jeff Harris included! Cheers! Bo

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The best column I've read about Health Care "Reform"

Someone forwarded this article to me from Hillsdale College. No clue about the school, no clue about Congressman Paul Ryan. I do, however, think this is incredibly well-written! Read it and see what YOU think...


What's important to you? I know it's still a rough economy out there and to even contemplate giving away money is difficult to consider. But still, we try. Needs are still great and we all do what we can through charities, churches and other organizations. As a Rotarian, I support many charities, both locally and internationally. Years ago I made an annual commitment to give to the Rotary Foundation and it will be a struggle to keep that promise, but I must. Check out to see what good works are done in the name of Rotary (such as the worldwide eradication of Polio). Check out to see how Haitians and many others in the world have been helped in their time of need. Why Rotary? The money given to Rotary goes straight to the charitable effort named. NO administrative costs, etc. Check out your favorite group and see how they compare!
Recently I was asked to co-chair the North Fulton "March for Babies" for the March of Dimes. As noted above, it is a goal of Rotary to eradicate Polio in the world. Who 'cured' Polio? The March of Dimes! That's an interesting story-they cured their disease and faced the wonderful reality of "Now What?" Their focus shifted to babies, babies and more babies! Premature births are on the rise and that is one of the many focus areas for the March of Dimes. There are so many other charities under the research umbrella of the MOD--Leukemia, Cystic Fibrosis, Autism, Diabetes, Cancer, and Heart Disease are just a few. Please consider either joining our walk or even consider donating a few dollars to the cause? Thanks for your consideration!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bet on ATL!

I love positive articles about ATL! Here's one from John Adams noting that we shouldn't count Atlanta out yet. I share his optimism!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Interesting article on Milton County

Whether you're for or against splitting up Fulton county, here is an interesting article on the history of Milton County. I for one am annoyed at the constant media portrayal of this being only against the 'rich white North Fulton' versus the 'poor black South Fulton'. Actually, this is all about MONEY and REPRESENTATION. Fulton County is too large to govern properly and the Fulton County Commission seems to only tax North Fulton more and provide less services to them in return. Last I checked that's why our country was founded (e.g. taxation without representation); why not allow Milton to declare its independence? Yes, I know that there will be duplicated services as the article states; yes there will be some ineffeciencies at first. However, I can't believe that Milton County could ever be as much as a mess as Fulton County is today. Fulton County stepped in to help years ago; now it's stepping in to 'help itself' and send the money back to others. I don't think that's fair and if I lived in Fulton I'd be all over this issue. By the way-that's one reason WHY I won't live in ATL or Fulton again. Too many taxes and too little service. Again, my 2 cents. Happy Monday : )

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mind your own business, Walter G. "Pete" Borden

Here's an article for you, from a guy that is trying to stop the installation of artificial turf on Cobb County football fields. I wrote this comment on a 'letter to the editor' on the Marietta Daily Journal website:
I voted FOR SPLOST. WHY? Because of each line item in the proposal. I CHOSE to vote for this as my kids are in Cobb County Schools and I wanted their equipment and schools to be upgraded. YES, that includes the football field at Sprayberry (my son) and Kell (when my daughter is older). If you were out there watching football you would have seen the dustbowl at Osbourne in 2008 when we played 'away'. In 2009, you would have seen the mud and puddles (and heard about games being cancelled due to water on the field, etc.). There is a high cost to maintain the fields and you cannot escape this fact. My yard? I don't spend a dime on it. Not important to me. As for the Mr. Borden, he doesn't even pay school taxes so where is his standing to sue? I read the proposal and voted FOR this money to be used. If you don't like it, don't vote for it. IT PASSED, get over it. Now our tax money is being wasted on thousands of dollars in legal fees (ask a litigator-the average price to bring a lawsuit to trial is over $5,000-$10,000. Could a teacher have used this money in the classroom?). Bottom line, after the laptop debacle, they clarified where every penny would go; that's why I voted for it (and why it passed, I guess?). To use a silly sports analogy, stop "Monday Morning Quarterbacking"!
In essence, this could delay the installation for Fall sports. Is this the most important issue in my life? NO. However, one guy is holding up everything and I hate it. I just wanted to vent; should you desire to get involved, call the Judge who will be presiding over the case: Judge Steven Schuster – He needs to know that the people of Cobb County voted for this and we expect him to honor that vote! Staff Attorney-Brittany Jones (770) 528-1851 Administrative Assistant-Janet Smith (770) 528-1849 Office Fax (770) 528-1854

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Headline: "Not much impact from repeat buyer credit"

Saw this article on my startpage today; my response is a big DUH. The points made in this story are correct (that the 'carrot' may not be big enough, and you can't buy a home without a job). However, the main point is the one that was not stated: this tax credit was worthless from day one. Read the actual law--I'm in the middle of working on taxes right now (don't get me started, but all I can say is PASS the FAIR TAX!) so I will simply refer you to this prior post to explain the tax credit. In essence I believe that you had to be in the same house over 5 years (i.e. it had to be your principal residence for 5 of the last 8 years) to be eligible for that tax credit. Stop right there... How long have you lived in your current home? I have NEVER lived in one house for 5 consecutive years. SO I couldn't even get this tax credit if I wanted it! So we have a highly transient populace and the 'move up' market is definitely transient. Is this $6500 credit going anywhere? Not as it was written friends.... Our 'friends' in Congress didn't help us at all with that one.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Abercrombie & Fitch

It's funny--today I had on an 'old school' striped tie that I bought years ago at Abercrombie & Fitch in St. Louis. I was on a trip with my parents and it turns out that location was a 'clearance center' of sorts and I bought 2 ties for about $5 including this one! Fast forward about a decade and A&F is definitely not the store it used to be! I remember visiting Atlanta when A&F took up 2 floors at Phipps Plaza. The first floor was mainly clothes, but the 2nd floor has a lot of cool 'stuff' like hunting and fishing gear, old books, and even random collectibles (I even remember seeing antique rifles if I remember correctly!). "Preppy" was still in and classically tailored (and styled) clothing was how their brand was positioned in the marketplace (along with the image of the 'gentleman traveller'). My how times have changed! Yes, I'm acting all of my 44 years of age today, but I do miss the classic chinos, books and 'toys' that you could find there. Now? You can still find chinos, but you'll find them worn by a topless model (yes, maybe even a topless female model, with 'parts' covered of course). It's also quite loud in there too and I doubt you'd know much of the music ; ) I can't fault their marketing prowess (and the clothes still seem to be well made) but it's clear that this old fart is no longer their target market! Oh well, I can still wear their ties... Happy Friday!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Do you disagree?

My first answer, YES. I disagree with this man's actions. Joe Stack crashed his plane into an office building and killed himself as well as innocent person. So do I agree with his actions? NO.

HOWEVER.... have you read his rant? Not all of it makes sense to me. Not all of it applies to me. However, he hits some solid, well-reasoned arguments. Again, I DO NOT CONDONE his actions. I must admit that I agree with many of his comments... Be honest: Read his rant. What do YOU think?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The end of "Left Lane Bandits"?

I like the fact that the Georgia Legislature is considering a fine on left-lane bandits. No, that's not what the legislators called it, it's my term (actually, a term stolen from Car & Driver). If you are driving under the speed limit in the left lane (a/k/a passing lane) you will be fined $75. I love it! As we all know, Atlantans are apt to speed; there are those who like to park in the left lane because it's their right, dammit, to impede traffic (usually in the name of 'safety'). Their logic is flawed, however, as people will STILL speed past and since the LLB is blocking the correct passing lane, the speeder will have to illegally pass on the right (and as they are already speeding, they may make this move dangerously). So spare me your righteous bleating that the speeder is breaking the law; the LLB is the one who is MORE dangerous! If you want to drive slowly, go for it--there are lanes on the right for your meandering pleasure. As for me, I like the European model where the left lane is empty unless/until you pass. You get in, you get out. That's my 2 cents anyway... Happy Thursday :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rotary and Shelterbox to the rescue in Haiti

People in Haiti are homeless and have nothing; no place to go, nowhere to live. That's where Shelterbox and Rotary International comes to the table to help! I am a 14 year member of Rotary International and I am proud that my club (The Rotary Club of North Fulton) was able to contribute 3 Shelterboxes (that's $3,000) to the cause. Watch this video from CNN to learn more about this worthy cause. There are many charities that are helping out in Haiti, with one of the main preferences (in my opinion) being the American Red Cross. You should also consider Shelterbox as it is likewise a worthy charity and in this disaster it is probably the most useful thing that can be done for the people of Haiti besides medical supplies or food/water.

By the way, Wayne Robinson is also a North Fulton businessman--if you need office furniture, check out Roswell Furniture Outlet on Alpharetta Highway in Roswell. Good products, fair prices and we know that the owner truly gives back to the community and world! Thanks for what you do, Wayne!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I talked a bit about the new Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Settlement Statement for residential closings previously. Yes, it's official and any new loan 'started' in 2010 will have the new GFE and new HUD. Expect a lot of questions and confusion on this but as with anything new, 'this too shall pass'. What I want to talk about today is somewhat self-serving but very important for the future. Why is choosing an attorney important? For that matter, why is closing a loan with an attorney important? First off, it's not all about fees. Yes, I know how self-serving that statement is. When you look at a new GFE or HUD-1 you'll see all of our fees combined are almost $700 (without lender's title). I know one firm that will do all that for just shy of $300. They may be a great firm, but we never set out to build a high-volume closing firm. I've been there--the lobby full of people waiting to close, delays, tempers and it seems that customer service is tossed out the window. When we chose to open this firm in late 2008 we knew that's not what we wanted.
So our fees are about the same as most closing attorneys out there and we all have to quote the same title insurance rates as dictated by our title companies. If the playing field (e.g. 'fees') is level, more or less, why choose us? We are all veterans here. We can handle your first-time homebuyer's questions with ease (and patience!). We can handle "issues" at the closing table (we've all been there before) with tact and finesse (yes, even me!). For that matter, we don't let files 'lay around' until the day before closing so there really shouldn't be surprises on closing day. Come see us again and I know you'll be pleased. And remember not to think of us as 'just' an in-town firm--we can close all over metro ATL!
Final topic--why close with an attorney at all? This is less relevant for purchases but there are a lot of options out there for consumers. Many large national lenders use 'closing services' to close transactions and issue title insurance. Yes, I've closed loans in homes (even a Starbucks or two). However, there is a huge difference between us and these companies. We believe (as do most Georgia real estate attorneys) that a closing should be handled by the firm from start to finish. We run (and clean!) the title, close the loan, issue the title insurance and fund it through our IOLTA (trust account). This should be the bare minimum that a licensed Georgia attorney should do but some lenders insert themselves into the transaction. A witness-only attorney is just there to watch you sign documents--where are they when you have questions or issues after closing? An out of state 'title company' or 'escrow provider' won't help you clear up a messy title with open loan deeds--if you can even get someone on the phone or in the correct department! The bottom line? Even if you don't choose Harris Wagner Law Group, do yourself a favor and choose a licensed, LOCAL Georgia attorney to handle your transaction. You could even say the same thing about lenders and agents as well. Choose wisely as your home is the largest investment you own!

The Holiday Hangover

I guess I have to start off with a New Year's resolution: I promise to stay in touch more in 2010! As always, it's been a bit busy, but not so busy that I couldn't have said Hi and let you know how we're doing! This blog is a labor of love for me--I like to do more than provide info on boring legal topics unless it's new and/or useful; I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy the writing!
Christmas is over... Sad puppies under an empty tree, a big mess of pine needles left behind to clean up. But the email tagline of "Holiday Hangover" doesn't reference over-indulgence. It speaks to the first few weeks of the year and how you just can't get back into the swing of things after the holidays. It seemed as if time hit a standstill at some point in mid-December and early January was no different. But now people are starting to wake up; bills are coming due and activity is stirring. Hopefully we'll see more houses being bought and sold in 2010! Take care, Bo

Monday, January 18, 2010

A simple thank-you...

So what's up with the blooming onion pic? I place it here as a fond reminder of a great date night last night. Even better than that, it was a low-cost date night due to a thank-you gift received by my wife for all her work on a difficult closing. An agent friend was kind enough to give us a $50 gift card to Outback Steakhouse and noted we needed to enjoy some beef, a blooming onion, and a pitcher of margaritas after difficulties getting to the closing table. Well, I did have beef (Susie had Salmon) but we each had wine (quelle surprise, eh?) instead of margaritas--we felt 'duty-bound' to have the blooming onion, however and I had forgotten how yummy it was!

It was also fun to go to the movies (though the popcorn was a bit much after dinner) and enjoy a great new chick flick, "It's Complicated". I do admit I enjoy so-called chick flicks, but this one had some true "LOL" moments and I highly recommend it. (our last date night included "Up In The Air" with some other dude from Kentucky and it was great as well, though the ending was a bit of a surprise to us).

So yes, we're a cliché (dinner and a movie) but we had a great time! The closing was 'all in a day's work' but we truly appreciated the gesture. Get out there and enjoy yourself!