Sometimes we hear stories about people doing amazing things and it gets us a little inspired. Sometimes we hear stories about people overcoming obstacles or beating the odds and that gets us a little inspired. And sometimes, you get placed in the presence of people that are doing those amazing things while overcoming those obstacles, and without any thought of not being just "what they do". It's being in the presence of those people where you can be inspired to your inner core! That's how my family and I feel about the Vukich Family, and more specifically, Mr. Cole Vukich!
We were lucky to meet the Vukich family through the University Place youth sports program when Cole and his twin brother Case were placed on the Tee-Ball team I coached the spring before the kids started school together. I'd heard about Cole and the cancer fight he'd been dealing with since the age of two. His story had struck a chord with me because I'd lost my Dad to a similar type of cancer in 1994. Knowing what my Dad went through in the last years of his life made Cole's story as a kid even more amazing.
The first day of practice I went out there knowing Cole was on the team but we'd yet had opportunity to meet. I scanned the group of typical rambuncious four year olds in front of me looking for the "kid with cancer" but couldn't find him. "Is he here?" I thought as I asked the kids to tell me their names. As we went down the list I heard this rather outgoing little guy say "Cole" when asked his name. I thought no way is this the kid I'd heard about but sure enough, that kiddo, different from nobody standing there, was him. It was then that I realized I was in the presence of something a little different.
If you didn't know already, you flat out couldn't walk up to my team and pick out the "kid with cancer". You know why? It's because we don't have a kid with cancer. We have Cole, and he just happens to be the kid kicking Leukemia's butt! That surely doesn't define him though. He's as crazy, or crazier than any kid I know. He's as happy, or happier than any kid I know. And he's just as athletic as any kid I know. Hearing about what he deals with on a daily basis no doubt makes him "the toughest kid I know". I tell him all the time he's the toughest kid I know, and the smile he gives back is enough to inspire me like nothing I've ever been around.
The stories over the last couple years are pretty awesome and the stories yet to come are sure to be even better. The next time we cross paths just ask and I'll share a couple with you. In the meantime, take a look at this article from the Tacoma News Tribune's front page. It talks about his Dad doing the Firefighter's Stair Climb to raise money for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. That's a great event and I highly recommend you donate to the cause. However, the real story here is one of inspiration and how one kid's blind toughness can inspire others to do everything they can to be their best all the time. Thanks Cole Vukich, and the Vukich family. It's a true honor to have your presence in our lives.
Click here for the News Tribune article: http://goo.gl/0We1d
Click here to donate to the Firefighter's Stair Climb event: http://goo.gl/27q09
I stumbled across this story today and felt it necessary to share. People like this make the world around them better. It amazes me how 24 notes on a trumpet can stir about so much emotion.
Take a look:
Have a great day!
In 1997 I started working in ticket sales for the Seattle Seahawks. It was my dream job (at the time) and everything about it was pretty much awesome. One of the coolest coincidences was the Seahawks acquisition of Jon Kitna from Tacoma's Lincoln High School. Jon had starred at baseball and football at Lincoln then went on to a great career at Central Washington University. If not for a chance meeting with Coach Dennis Erickson, whose son was also a student at CWU, that would have been the end of it and Jon would have gone on to a teaching career with some football coaching on the side.
That wasn't the end of it though. Coach "E" saw Jon play and decided he needed a "shot" at the NFL. He had an NFL body and the mind of a mathematician. That combination is rare, so a chance he got. First the practice squad, then the NFL Europe where he ripped it up for the Barcelona Dragons. From there, Jon made the active Seahawks roster and actually started quite a few games while battling Hall of Famer (and Husky Legend) Warren Moon for playing time.
One of my favorite things about working for the Seahawks was the fun interaction I experienced with Jon. I was sales guy and he was a practice squad player turned NFL starter….That didn't matter though. We were both kids from Tacoma walking through NFL halls and absolutely loving it. There were more than a few times when we talked about the old neighborhood and how cool it was to represent our home town together. Jon knew that he could have been making ticket sales calls like the other former college athletes that were in my department. He was living the dream…And I was happy to be witnessing it first hand.
Then came Mike Holmgren and the fit for Jon wasn't right. Jon signed with Cincinnati and went on to play with Detroit and Dallas….15 years in the NFL! While playing pro football Jon never lost sight of his first dream….Teaching math and coaching high school football. Last year, when his career finally came to end, Jon immediately jumped into the "dream" career he always wanted. A month into his "retirement" Jon started teaching and coaching at his alma mater, Lincoln High School.
It really is a story worthy of front page news. He doesn't have to be there. He doesn't need to be there. He's chosen to be there with intent to make a true difference. It's great when pro athletes make appearances at schools and hospitals to lift spirits and sign autographs. What Jon is doing at Lincoln is amazing, inspiring, and absolutely fantastic. It's more than an appearance, it's immersion in the community. To him, it's what seems right.
There have been nice articles written locally but this national one I've linked below really tells the story well. There is a lot more to be written about Jon's journey but the start is something pretty legendary already. Coach Kitna is doing things right. Stay tuned…
Here's an interesting news piece from a recent Philadelphia newscast. It talks about how people are getting ready for the US Open Golf Tournament that will be in their area at Merion Golf Club in 2013. Specifically it focuses on people renting their homes out for the weeks leading up to and after the tournament.
As you probably know, University Place, Tacoma, and Pierce County will be hosting the event at Chambers Bay Golf Course in June of 2015. This will mark the first time our area will host an event like this. In fact, this is the first time ever the US Open has been awarded to a Northwest course.
The US Open will bring lots of people to the area and with that comes opportunity. Opportunity to show off the area we love so much, opportunity to shine in the areas of transportation and logistics, and opportunity for local people to earn some extra money by leasing their homes during the event.
To learn more, take a look at the "US Open" tab on stevesloboda.com. Please feel free to email or call me direct should you want more information. I'm currently taking names and addresses of interested homeowners looking to join the list. I'll be working closely with national firms, travel providers, local venues, and official tournament organizers to deliver housing that can fit all the various needs they'll have. Corporate clients, media members, players with their families, and visiting golf enthusiasts will all need places to stay. Most people want to be nearby but unfortunately, University Place has exactly ZERO hotel rooms. Sure, Tacoma, Lakewood, Seattle, and surrounding areas will have hotel rooms for rent but close to Chambers Bay is where people will want to be.
There will be leasing opportunities that come up way before, and for many years after the US Open as well. Chambers Bay is one of the only public courses to ever host this event. That means it's one of the few prestigious US Open courses that anyone can play. People will come from near and far to play the course where Tiger, Phil, Bubba, and Ernie are going to battle for the US Open Championship.
Think about it…Would you pay $100 to play football with some friends in a stadium about to host the Super Bowl? Would it be worth a few bucks to shoot hoops on the court before the NCAA Final Four? Well, here at Chambers Bay, people will have the chance to play on the same course where it will all go down in 2015! Pretty exciting if you ask me…
Take a look at this link to see how other areas are gearing up for the US Open in the years before it arrives here in University Place.
Would you live in a dumpster? This one has hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances. No joke!
Here are some other unusual homes. Don’t miss the one in Pullman made from used car parts. Rumor has it the President of WSU is interested. He said it would be an upgrade from campus…Kidding, of course. (Go Dawgs)
Real estate agent members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service are reporting positive gains in activity. Pending sales for February increased more than 27 percent from a year ago, more sellers are listing their homes, and brokers are reporting an uptick in multiple offers.
“Buyers are beginning to realize that we may have seen the bottom of this real estate market,” remarked Frank Wilson, a Pulsobo-based member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. “Waiting to buy may only result in paying a higher interest rate, having fewer houses to choose from, or finding that sellers do not need to give up as much as they have in the past.”
Brokers reported 7,623 pending sales during February, the highest volume since August when there were just nine more mutually accepted offers. Last month’s tally jumped 27.4 percent from 12 months ago, with 20 of the 21 counties in the MLS service area reporting double-digit gains.
Total active Pierce County single-family and condo listings are down 22 percent from a year ago and the number of closed unit sales is up 9.7 percent over 2011 year-to-date.
In Thurston County, there were 205 fewer listings at the end of February and 56 more units in the pending sales category for houses and condominium units.
So there’s this guy named John R. Talbott. He seems like a pretty smart dude. His bio says he’s a bestselling author and former Goldman Sachs Investment Banker. He wrote a book in 2006 called “Sell Now! The End of the Housing Bubble”. That book basically said the housing market was gonna crash and it was in your best interest to get your real estate sold before it lost serious value. As we know now, he was right.
Anyway, now the guy has seriously changed his tune. Recently he penned an article that was featured on the Huffington Post entitled “Homes – Buy Now!”. The article got me thinking… I know, crazy right? My peeps are always asking how the real estate market is flowing and what the latest trends are showing. This seems as good a time as any to share the opinion of a noted expert. Take a look and let me know your thoughts… If it gets you jacked up, let me know and we’ll go find a place that can make you some money short term or long…
I have been waiting for more than five years to offer this advice. It is now time in most cities across the country to buy a new home or refinance your existing home with thirty-year fixed rate mortgage debt. And this from the author of The Coming Crash in the Housing Market published in 2003 and my 2006 book, Sell Now! The End of the Housing Bubble. Let me explain why.
Home Prices Relative to Peak Prices During Bubble
Home prices are off anywhere from 10% to more than 60% in cities across the country. There is no reason to believe that prices were “fair” during the bubble as we have seen they were largely caused by loose and aggressive lending by banks and non-banks. But, it is always better to buy at a discount rather than at a historical peak, and these seem like awfully big discounts. And by my calculations, in most cities across the country, real prices adjusted for inflation have just about come into line with where prices were in 1997, before all this crazy bank lending started, so there should be little additional downside risk by buying today. There are still some neighborhoods across the country that have not seen very dramatic declines in price, many of them very wealthy and expensive enclaves, but given the distribution of incomes lately heavily weighed toward the wealthy, these areas may never see a really large home price decline.
Home Prices Relative to Construction Costs or Replacement Costs
Homes in many cities across the country are now selling for as little as $60 to $70 a square foot. Depending on the quality of construction and the underlying land value, this represents a 50% to 65% discount to the costs you would incur if you tried to build a similar home today in these cities. While there is no guarantee that there will be a strong rental market in the short run, in the long run it just seems to make sense to buy if you can acquire assets at half or less of the cost of building them.
Home Prices Relative to Incomes and Rents
During the peak years of the housing bubble, entire cities like San Diego were seeing their homes priced on average at 11 times the area’s median family income. Such prices financed primarily with debt are by definition unsustainable. Now, because banks have pulled back on their lending formulas, homes in many cities are changing hands at three to four times average family incomes. Similarly, at the peak, houses traded at such large multiples of possible rents that it made the projects uneconomic from the start. Now, with homes trading at more reasonable multiples of rents, houses and condos can be purchased that are immediately cash flow positive in year one and enjoy all the upside of any appreciation that will occur as inflation returns.
Home Prices in Real Terms, Not US Dollar Terms
We still talk about home prices in dollar terms, which is silly because the dollar has lost 98% of its purchasing power relative to a more stable asset like gold over the last fifty years. If instead of pricing houses in dollars, we look and see what a home would cost in ounces of gold, we see that houses today are a real bargain. As a matter of fact, this graph shows that average homes, measured in the number of gold ounces it would take to buy them are now trading at forty year historical lows.
You might argue that this is because gold is priced highly today. I would argue that gold’s purchasing power has changed very little over time, it is the dollar that is depreciating and thus giving the appearance that the price of gold is rising. Actually, gold is quite stable relative to other assets and commodities and it is the dollar that is highly volatile and declining in value due to the US funding its deficits by printing dollars.
The Real Bubble – US Treasuries and Future Inflation
The real bubble out there is longer US Treasuries and 30-year fixed rate mortgages for homebuyers. With US debt equal to its GDP and equal to more than four times our government’s total tax revenues and with annual deficits of $1.3 trillion and growing, it is amazing to me that people will lend to the US for thirty years for less than 3.0% a year. Even more amazing is that individual homeowners can borrow at 4.0% (around 3% after tax) for thirty years on a fixed rate basis, some 300 basis points better than Italy which has a lot more people and makes much better shoes. Homes may not appreciate greatly in real terms over the next twenty years, but they don’t have to if inflation comes back, which is the only way the US and Europe are going to get out from under the huge debts on their countries and their banks. You may not make a lot in real terms on the house, but if inflation returns, you could make a killing on your investment as your thirty year debt becomes worth less and less in real terms. Run the numbers, but if inflation and interest rates go back to say, 7% to 8%, you could easily make eight to ten times your equity investment on the house because you locked in your borrowing costs and home appreciations historically have always correlated well with unanticipated inflation.
So, run, do not walk to your neighborhood banker and either finance a new home purchase or take out the maximum amount of money he or she will lend you on a home equity loan and buy hard assets, not financial securities, with the money. When inflation comes roaring back the only perfect hedge is to be a borrower, not a lender or investor. Shakespeare said “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” but they didn’t have huge government deficits and the risk of future inflation back in the Bard’s time.
John R. Talbott, previously a Goldman Sachs investment banker, is a best selling author and economic consultant to families. You can read more about his books, the accuracy of his predictions and his family consulting activities at www.stopthelying.com.
Congratulations to Shauna Fossum and her group that revived the failed Wheelz Skating Rink and turned it into Rollin’ 253! It’s refreshing to see people with passion refusing to let something they love go away! If you’re in the area, please make sure to support this local business.
Located at 2101 Mildred Street in Fircrest.
Check out their website at rollin253.com
For more information and to learn more about how this group made it all come together. Check out this article from the Tacoma News Tribune.
It’s been awhile but when the Sonics were still here in the Seattle area, I worked for the team on game nights. It was pretty much the best gig ever. I went to every game, ran the scoreboard sitting courtside, and went into the visiting locker room after the game to get quotes for the media. In short, I loved it. Still sad that they left and hope one day for their return.
In the meantime, here’s a cool video commercial for Nike. Basketball Never Stops..
Oh, one more thing…Feel free to call or e-mail if you or someone you know has residential real estate needs in the Tacoma – Seattle area. I’m happy to be of assistance.