Road Trip Revelations

The last thing I said to my assistant as I headed out the door for Casper Monday morning was that I wished I’d have taken the time to get a book on CD or download something for the long drive.  Boy did I need an attitude adjustment!  I was only a few miles down the road switching from one radio station to the next hoping someone would be playing my favorite song when a radio preacher with a very British accent said  ” It’s no wonder we don’t think anymore, we are all half drunk on entertainment.  Our children can’t recognize our own Prime Minister in a photograph but they know who was voted off Dancing with the Stars last night.”  ( I wish I would have caught his name to give him credit here)  At that moment I shut off the radio and pondered that statement.  The rest of my trip was driven in relative silence.  As I attempted to quiet my mind I kept thinking of things I had forgotten to complete before I left.  Each time I would pull over and write them down.

  • I need to send a counter offer to another agent
  • We are out of butter
  • Did I pack my medicine?

The drive home was even better.  As I was leaving Casper city limits my hand kept habitually reaching for the radio dial and I kept telling myself no.  Listen to the quiet.  In the silence my mind starting jumping around like a steel ball inside a pinball machine again.  I was remembering my very first  Realtor convention and wondering…

  • was that in 1996 or 97?
  • I forgot to stop at the mall and pick up a couple pairs of jeans for my 8 year old son.  (His name is Noah so I CAN’T let him go around with pants that are too short.)
  • I wish I’d have had the wisdom and insight Leigh Brown taught about 20 year ago.

I actually visualized my thoughts as this out of control ping pong ball.  Then I realized I have 4 hours ahead of me today with virtually no distraction so it’s okay to just allow my mind to wander and ponder.  In Wyoming there are no billboards and just a couple of miles out of town you can see nothing but desert and sky as far as the eye can see.  It goes on like that for 99 miles.

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It was a process as my mind gradually slowed.  I was able to complete one thought and then another rather than continually forcing myself back to focusing on the task at hand.  A couple of hours into it I had absolutely no unfinished mental business and it felt so good.

Then in the Wind River Canyon I was able to be totally captivated by the magnificent beauty that I was surrounded by. I can’t even believe how blessed I am to live so near this beauty.

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It was at about this point that I had a few road trip revelations

  • Life moves at the speed of whatever pace I choose.
  • My productivity and my mental pace are inversely related.
  • I need to allow my mind to wander WAY more often.

If you ever need to clear your head….I highly recommend a drive across Wyoming!

Casual bus photo

Sarah Johnson

Posted in Motivation and Inspiration, The Great State of Wyoming | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

8 Inexpensive Ways Sellers can Improve Their Curb Quotient

Curb appeal has been a buzz word in real estate for a long time.  The concept of an attractive “drive by” quotient is becoming more critical.  Buyers don’t load up their agent’s Cadillac and go out for an afternoon of showings. Let me rabbit trail for a moment and tell you that when I was 12 years old and dreaming of becoming a real estate agent….that is what I pictured.  Driving around in my nice Cadi with power everything, showing well staged homes to cash buyers.  I wonder why I never envisioned myself in a musty crawl space wearing high heels and coming face to face with a black widow spider…on steroids!

Anyway…..there was a time when the agent chose the houses based on the description and price range the buyers gave them. Plus 10 grand for good measure.  This was back when the Multiple Listing Service was simply a book. A book!  We faxed a handwritten MLS input forms to the Board of Realtor’s office and then once a MONTH we received our MLS books. Oh happy day! We sat around in the break room drinking coffee and scanning the books to see what was “new” on the market. They were about an 1/4 of an inch thick.  Maybe a half inch in the summer-time when inventory was up.  Buyers looked at the houses the agents showed them and if they didn’t like the looks from the outside?  Too bad!  Because, Hello!  They had made an appointment. We didn’t cancel appointments in those days because not everyone had a cell phone and because in general people were courteous.

Now buyers look on line and find all the critical information about the house, interior and exterior photos, virtual tours, videos  and at some point drive by the property before ever contacting an agent to requesting a showing. It is a beautiful thing because it saves everyone a lot of time!  However this brings me back to curb appeal.  A house with a below average curb factor has a HUGE disadvantage over it’s competition.  Even….if the interior is superior.  Buyer’s eliminate houses based on the drive by and the interior doesn’t get a chance to show off.    First impressions can not be over-emphasized for people who are planning to list their houses.

  Here are a few quick, easy and inexpensive ideas to sharpen the curb appeal of your home.

1. New Welcome mat–  I recommend something with a splash of color.

2. Neat & Tidy – Make sure that all toy, bikes etc. are put away and the only things out are there on purpose.

3. Well manicured lawn-Hire help if you need….it will be worth the investment.

4. Sidewalk- Keep free of snow and ice in winter (and spring and fall if you live in Wyoming)

5. Look through your windows from the outside– There is nothing worse that blinds with bent or missing slats.  Sometimes you can’t even see them from the inside but from the outside they are screaming…”This house is JUNK”

6. Make sure your doorbell works if you have one-If you don’t normally use the front entrance make a habit of it and you will notice things that are out of sight out of mind. 

7. Look at your front door knob.  If it is wobbly or has issues fix or replace

8. House Numbers- Make sure your house has numbers and that they are in good shape.  Buyer’s can’t drive by a house when the numbers are hidden behind a shrub or are otherwise mia.  Contact your local zoning to see what the requirements are regarding house numbers.


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My 3rd Grade Teacher Was Wrong

Dear Mrs. ___________,

In the early 1980’s you had a self-conscious and somewhat awkward student in your class. I still have my awkward moments but overall I’m doing rather well.   When I was in your class we spent a lot of time on cursive handwriting.   I never could quite get it right.  Remember that brownish/grey lined paper with the dotted line down the middle?


Because of my experience in your 3rd grade class I now have “red pencil phobia.”  You did have quite the fascination with marking papers up with red didn’t you?  We even had to bring red pencils to school so that we as 9 year olds could mark up other student’s papers.    Did I mention I was self-conscience?

One day you wrote:  Use up all the space!! across my paper. You also had lines going every direction indicating the inconsistency of my slant.  Remember slant and slope?

I fixed my letters to be sure they took up the all the space and got back in the line that had formed at your desk.   This time you looked and my paper and with a disgusted look wrote:

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Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday


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Is Real Estate Data Valuable to YOU?

Or is it the interpretation of that data that adds value to a consumer, a patient, or an investor?   If my financial advisor gave me a couple of prospectuses and asked me how I want to invest my retirement funds they would not bring much “value” to my decision making process.  If a doctor gave me the statistics about a particular condition or disease but didn’t educate me about the risk vs. benefits of a preventative procedure…..then what use would all his years of experience be to me?  If my lawyer read the law to me and left me to proceed without his expertise what value would there be in hiring him?

We all know that consumers want value.  I am a value-oriented consumer myself.  There is nothing quite like getting your money’s worth for a product or service. It makes me want to do a happy dance.    On the other side of that coin I am equally miffed each and every time I  get short changed.  I work hard for my money and it chaps me to no end when I pay for a product that doesn’t meet my expectations, or I am “served” by people with a bad attitude.

In real estate data is readily available.   Not as much so in Wyoming as it is in other states because Wyoming is a non-disclosure state so sale prices of real estate are not of public record here. Even so…..sold, pending, active, and failed to sell are all categories that must be analyzed when attempting to navigate any real estate market.  Values are primarily determined by comparing similar sold properties to the subject but there are many other issues in play before the homeowner or the potential buyer really knows all they need to know and is ready to make an informed decision.

  • How long were the comparables properties on the market and is that more or less than the average DOM (days on market) in that area?
  • Were there incentives offered? Are those typical or unusual in this market?
  • Was there any internal or external obsolescence related to the sales price or DOM of any of the comps?
  • How many times was the property list price reduced?  Why?
  • Why did some similar properties not sell at all during their listing period?
  • What economic issues affected the salability of the comps?  Interest rates? Job market? Fear? Urgency?
  • Were any of the sales distressed?

If you are looking to buy or sell real estate I strongly suggest you hire a professional that has the experience to interpret the data and show you how the data affects your specific and unique situation.  No one would put up with financial advisor who makes decisions for them or a doctor who would jump the gun.  Your real estate professional should always keep you in the position of decision maker.  We disclose… decide.  It is our job to provide you with not just the data but accurate interpretation of that data so that you are in the best possible position.

I heard an expression not long ago that really resonated with me.  It said….”90% of making any decision is gathering information.”  Let us help you gather information before making one of life’s most important decisions.

Business Card photo

Sarah Johnson

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10 Things I Wish I Knew at 21

I got in to real estate at the ripe ol’ age of 21. I just turned the BIG 4-0 last week and it caused me to reflect about some of the things I learned (mostly the hard way) that I wished I would have known earlier.  It’s kind of Like the Brad Paisley song….If I Could Write A Letter to Me.


1. Don’t take it personally.

2. Get up even earlier.

3. Pay cash for everything.

4. Use the slow cooker.

5. Hand write notes/letters to people every week.

6. Take pictures and videos of normal family activities not just special occasions.

7. Weekly date nights.

8. Set a timer when you are online.

9. Take a 3 day weekend off (unplugged) every 6 weeks. Even if it’s a stay-cation.

10. Don’t take life too seriously…it’s all going to be just fine!

It’s only been a week but so far…. I love being 40.

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Sarah Johnson

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The Downtown Lovell Artist Walk

Tomorrow is going to be a big day around here.  Lovell it’s hosting our annual Film Festival and it is going to be so fun! We are going to be hosting the Artist Walk again this year on Saturday in between films. Stop by our office between 11:00 am -2:00 pm (JUNE 21st)and take a look.  We are so proud to have to be able to display the outstanding wildlife and scenic local photography of Lynn Richardson.  Lynn is a dear friend of our from many years ago when he was a full time home inspector.  Now he is the owner of Wyoming Images and his Lovell “gallery” is here at Johnson Home and Land.

Tomorrow we are giving away a recent photo that Lynn took of the Northern Lights over Badger Basin near Powell, Wyoming.  It is like nothing I have EVER seen.   Just stop by and put your name and phone number in the hat and just shortly after 2:00 we will choose a winner and call you to come pick up your new barn wood framed print of “Northern Lights…”  Every one who enters will get a token prize just for stopping by.



and while you are here take a look at the other framed photographs, various- sized matted prints, greeting cards etc.





We will also have some refreshments so please stop by and say hi and see if a print strikes your fancy!

Sarah Johnson

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