Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Band of Brothers - Thanksgiving Reflections

I was able to read Stephen Ambrose's book "Band of Brothers" over Thanksgiving. One cannot help but reflect upon and be thankful for the sacrifices made by those of The Greatest Generation who defended our way of life with unspeakable courage and valor.

Particularly poignant was the story of Lt. Thomas Meehan, Commander, "Easy" Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Lt. Meehan's C-47, with 21 men aboard, was loaded with Bangalore torpedoes and blew up when hit by enemy fire in the first hours of D-Day, the remains crashing to the ground southeast of Ste. Mere-Eglise. All aboard were killed. Just days before he died, Meehan had written his wife a letter in which he described why he and his men were being sent to liberate France and conquer Nazi Germany. In his letter, he wrote the following:

"We're fortunate in being Americans. At least we don't step on the underdog. I wonder if that's because there are no "Americans" - only a stew of immigrants, or if it's because the earth from which we exist has been so kind to us and our forefathers: or if it's because the "American" is the offspring of the logical European who hated oppression and loved freedom beyond life. Those great mountains and the tall timber; the cool deep lakes and broad rivers; the green valleys and white farmhouses; the air, the sea and wind; the plains and great cities; the smell of living -- all must be the cause of it. And yet, with all that, we can't get away from the rest. For everyone of our millions who has that treasure in his hand there's another million crying for that victory of life. And for each of us who wants to live in happiness and give happiness, there's another different sort of person wanting to take it away. . ."

"Those people always manage to have their say, and Mars is always close at hand. We know how to win wars. We must learn now to win peace. . . If I ever have a son, I don't want him to go through this again, but I want him powerful enough that no one will be fool enough to touch him. He and America should be strong as hell and kind as Christ. That's the only insurance until human nature becomes a tangible thing that can be adjusted and made workable."

Over sixty years later, Lt. Meehan's words continue to ring true today. Thank you, Lt. Meehan, and all those who have risked their lives over the years to defend our way of life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Little Traverse Bay - Harbor of Refuge

Little Traverse Bay became a harbor of refuge today for two Great Lakes freighters seeking safety from November gales. Both the 635 foot Sam Laud (below) and the 671 foot Wilfred Sykes (far below) anchored not far from shore, with the Sam Laud just off of the Bay View Pier and the Wilfred Sykes off of the Petoskey Breakwall near Magnus Park.

The NOAA Marine Forecase indicated that Gale Warnings will be in effect through late tonight, with Northwest gales to 35 knots, snow showers, and waves from 7 to 11 feet. With the thirtieth anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald having been observed just days ago, perhaps the laker captains are showing a little bit more respect than usual for the awesome power of the November storms on our Great Lakes.

Monday, November 14, 2005

1031 Exchanges For Vacation Homes

Are you looking at the possibility of realizing a hefty capital gain on the sale of your business or investment property? Perhaps you should consider the possibility of purchasing a second home or vacation property in Northern Michigan. If you sell your business or investment real estate and replace it with a different business or investment property as a tax deferred exchange under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, you should be able to defer payment of the capital gains tax on the sale. A 1031 Exchange provides additional proceeds for your next investment, substantially more than you could gain through the re-investment of after-tax proceeds.

Generally speaking, to qualify for a 1031 exchange, a vacation or second home must be used fewer than 14 days a year by the owner, and rented out the rest of the year. Ultimately, it is also possible to not pay any capital gains tax by converting your vacation home held as an investment property into a primary residence. After two years as your primary residence (and at least five years after the exchange), you could then sell the home and the first $500,000 ($250,000 if you are single) of gain would be tax free.

We have a number of locally based qualified intermediaries who would be happy to handle your 1031 exchange. Make sure to consult with a tax professional for advice prior to purchasing or selling your investment property to ensure that your proposed transaction qualifies for 1031 exchange treatment.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Landscaping A Wise Investment

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) reports that appropriate landscape improvements are estimated to return 100 to 200 percent of their cost when a house is sold, arguably the best return on investment of any home improvement you can make. How much to spend? One rule of thumb is to invest 5 to 10 percent of your house’s worth.

Monday, November 07, 2005

NAEBA Conference - San Francisco

Craig Rose and I just recently returned from the 11th Annual Conference of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA), which was held in San Francisco. In addition to networking with other exclusive buyer agents from across the country, we received advanced negotiation training on how to achieve optimal results for our real estate clients from nationally renowned real estate educator Dianna Brouthers, DREI. We also were fortunate enough to go for a sail in San Francisco Bay with fellow NAEBA member Ray Anderson in his Catalina 34. What a hoot!

NAEBA consists of real estate agents who work for firms that do not represent sellers or list properties for sale. Exclusive buyer agents are able to offer their clients their undivided loyalty and objective advice when it comes to buying real estate. In the May, 2005 issue of Consumer Reports, in an article entitled "Your Home - Buying, Owning, Selling - How to Protect Your Biggest Investment", exclusive buyer agents were recognized as the "true" and "genuine" buyer's agents.