Keeping Current Matters

National Association of Realtors

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Army/Navy Game: The Rest of the Story

Army/Navy Game: The Rest of the StoryThis yuletide story occurred 2 weeks ago ~ And NOW, in time for the holidays, I bring you the best Christmas story you never heard:
It all started last Christmas, when Bennett and Vivian Levin were overwhelmed by sadness while listening to radio reports of injured American troops. "We have to let them know we care," Vivian told Bennett. So they organized a trip to bring soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to the annual Army-Navy football game in Philly, on Dec. 3.

The cool part is, they created their own train line to do it. Yes, there are people in this country who actually own real trains. Bennett Levin - native Philly guy, self-made millionaire and irascible former L&I commish - is one of them.

He has three luxury rail cars. Think mahogany paneling, plush seating and white-linen dining areas. He also has two locomotives, which he stores at his Juniata Park train yard. One car, the elegant Pennsylvania , carried John F. Kennedy to the Army-Navy game in 1961 and '62. Later, it carried his brother Bobby's body to D. C. for burial. "That's a lot of history for one car," says Bennett.

He and Vivian wanted to revive a tradition that endured from 1936 to 1975, during which trains carried Army-Navy spectators from around the country directly to the stadium where the annual game is played. The Levins could think of no better passengers to reinstate the ceremonial ride than the wounded men and women recovering at Walter Reed in D. C. and Bethesda , in Maryland . "We wanted to give them a first-class experience," says Bennett. "Gourmet meals on board, private transportation from the train to the stadium, perfect seats - real hero treatment."

Through the Army War College Foundation, of which he is a trustee, Bennett met with Walter Reed's commanding general, who loved the idea. But Bennett had some ground rules first, all designed to keep the focus on the troops alone:
No press on the trip, lest the soldiers' day of pampering devolve into a media circus.

No politicians either, because, says Bennett, "I didn't want some idiot making this trip into a campaign photo op"
And no Pentagon suits on board, otherwise the soldiers would be too busy saluting superiors to relax
The general agreed to the conditions, and Bennett realized he had a problem on his hands. "I had to actually make this thing happen," he laughs.

Over the next months, he recruited owners of 15 other sumptuous rail cars from around the country - these people tend to know each other - into lending their vehicles for the day. The name of their temporary train? The Liberty Limited.
Amtrak volunteered to transport the cars to D. C. - where they'd be coupled together for the round-trip ride to Philly - then back to their owners later
Conrail offered to service the Liberty while it was in Philly. And SEPTA drivers would bus the disabled soldiers 200 yards from the train to Lincoln Financial Field, for the game.
A benefactor from the War College ponied up 100 seats to the game - on the 50-yard line - and lunch in a hospitality suite.
And corporate donors filled, for free and without asking for publicity, goodie bags for attendees
From Woolrich, stadium blankets. From Wal-Mart, digital cameras. From Nikon, field glasses. From GEAR, down jackets.
There was booty not just for the soldiers, but for their guests, too, since each was allowed to bring a friend or family member.
The Marines, though, declined the offer. "They voted not to take guests with them, so they could take more Marines," says Levin, choking up at the memory.
Bennett's an emotional guy, so he was worried about how he'd react to meeting the 88 troops and guests at D. C.'s Union Station, where the trip originated. Some GIs were missing limbs. Others were wheelchair-bound or accompanied by medical personnel for the day. "They made it easy to be with them," he says. "They were all smiles on the ride to Philly. Not an ounce of self-pity from any of them. They're so full of life and determination."

At the stadium, the troops reveled in the game, recalls Bennett. Not even Army's lopsided loss to Navy could deflate the group's rollicking mood.

Afterward, it was back to the train and yet another gourmet meal - heroes get hungry, says Levin - before returning to Walter Reed and Bethesda . "The day was spectacular," says Levin. "It was all about these kids. It was awesome to be part of it.
The most poignant moment for the Levins was when 11 Marines hugged them goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union Station.

"One of the guys was blind, but he said, 'I can't see you, but man, you must be beautiful!' " says Bennett. "I got a lump so big in my throat, I couldn't even answer him."

It's been three weeks, but the Levins and their guests are still feeling the day's love. "My Christmas came early," says Levin, who is Jewish and who loves the Christmas season. "I can't describe the feeling in the air." Maybe it was hope.

As one guest wrote in a thank-you note to Bennett and Vivian, "The fond memories generated last Saturday will sustain us all - whatever the future may bring."

God bless the Levins.

And  God bless the troops, every one...

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stone Harbor Sales of Single Family homes Statistics November 2 to December 2, 2010.

Sure it is a buyer's market, but he truth of the matter is that most sellers finally understand they need to price their property properly right out of the gate. A buyer  needs to understand most of the money he expects to shave of a list price has already been factored into the asking price by the time a listing is brought to market.

Properly priced properties will sell without a lot of negotiations. Of course there will still be some that require substantial negotiation, and plenty of others that simply fail to sell.

Buyers need to be prepared for the competition that you did not think existed for properties in this “buyer’s market.”   

 Trying to cobble a percentage off the list price in circumstances in which others are interested in the same property will only lead to frustration. Whatever you do, don’t get too greedy.
It is very clear that the buyers we have are skimming the absolute cream off the top and leaving the rest.They even fight over the good stuff, creating an illusion of urgency in some cases.

Do whatever it takes to lock up the lowest pricing we have seen in 7 or 8 years. With interest rates continuing to hover around 5%, you are already well ahead of the game.

Slowly the market is hitting bottom. 2011 may mark the end of the worst market conditions we've seen in a decade. There is lots of showing activity, and offers are being made. And properties are selling.

So why the sales activity? The stock market is up 10% in a short time. This helps.

And if your retirement funds are in positive territory again and you’ve still got a job, you're are going to feel good about a host of financial decisions, including buying a summer home.

Remember, with 322 single family listings now for sale in Stone Harbor and Avalon and 182 condos for sale, it is still a buyer’s market!

Here is your Update of Stone Harbor Real Estate Activity November 2 to December 2, 2010 by Nancy Alexander

Stone Harbor Sales of Single Family homes Statistics November 2 to December 2, 2010.

There are now 123 single family homes for sale in Stone Harbor as of 12/2//2010.

Stone Harbor Single Family Homes UNDER CONTRACT. Five Homes areUnder Contract as of December 2, 2010

Four Single Family Homes Have Sold and Settled in Stone Harbor since November 2, 2010

37 single family homes have SOLD in Stone Harbor since January 1, 2010. Average SOLD price is $1,753,324 and average days on market = 206

In 2009 exact same number of single family homes (37) were SOLD in same time period January 1 to December 2. Average SOLD price last year for Stone Harbor single family home was $1,602,202 and average days on market last year was 216 days.

Stone Harbor Condo/Townhouse.There are now 68 condos on the market in Stone Harbor . Average days on market =289 and average list price is $667,699

Three condos are now Under Contract in Stone Harbor.

Three Stone Harbor Condos have SOLD and settled since November 2, 2010

Ten condos have SOLD in Stone Harbor sice 1/1/2010 to December 2, 2010.Average SOLD price is $581,050 and average days on market =197
By Contrast, last year 20 condos SOLD in same time period. Average SOLD price of Stone Harbor condo in 2009 was $560,168 and average days on market was 302.

Buying or Selling a home in Stone Harbor or Avalon, or if you need a Summer Rental, it would be my pleasure to help you with your Real Estate needs.
You can reach me by e~mail me at or Call me! I love to talk Real Estate! Call my cell 609.425.7521

Nancy M. Alexander Stone Harbor and Avalon NJ Real Estate