My Cup? Still Half Full With Holes

Like billions around the globe during this public health Covid19 and economic crisis, the insatiable desire to see friends and family is real. The exhaustion is eye-dropping heavy by the end of the work week. The at-home meals are becoming too repetitive. The Zoom and WebEx meetings are not as much fun, and in fact, a bit of a burden now. The walking route is starting to get a bit stale, since the beach is not open. Getting dressed up, going to the office, and the feeling of helping others are all missed deeply. And as an owner of a real estate company, this market is challenging sellers and buyers to stay true to their contracts; it’s also challenging bankers, appraisers, and title companies to make solid decisions that benefit all parties.

Yes, there are lots of holes, but my cup is still half full. And if you own real estate right now, be resilient and keep your cup half full. Let me share with you some examples of having a real estate part-time gig, while you work a full time role.

In early April, five of my eight rental homes were damaged by hail and wind storms. My primary home in Indiana was also damaged in that same storm. So let me get this straight: I have six storm damage claims, in the midst of COVID19? Yes, Jen, you do. However, your cup is still half full because you invested years ago, own these homes, and you have insurance. Life happens. Storms happen. That’s why you have insurance.

This past week, a huge tree at one of the rental homes was not showing it’s normal Spring green growth. So let me get this straight: I have a dead tree, that could fall on one of the rental homes and potentially a neighbor’s home? Yes, Jen, you do. However, your cup is still half full because it’s only one tree. All the other trees are alive, blooming and bringing their Spring green colors of hope. The dead tree was removed quickly, to help ensure no further damage. And that tree contractor was thrilled to have the work.

In the last couple days, two of our clients (tenants) have reported that their dishwashers are not working. Is that because of anything that I did? Of course not. Maybe too much food in the drain or a forceful push on the top plastic rack that broke it? So let me get this straight: Two dishwashers aren’t working now, during COVID19, when most families are home cooking 1-3 meals/day, and it’s my responsibility to fix these dishwashers? Yes, Jen, it’s yours. However, your cup is still half full because these families feel secure enough to call you and ask for some help. And we did help them; the dishwashers are back up and running again.

The locusts didn’t show up, but the termites, roaches, racoons, and mosquitos did all at the same time in our new Florida home. In all my years of owning real estate, I’ve never had termites. So let me get this straight: You have tiny critters trying to eat up your home? Yes, Jen, you do. However, your cup is still half full because the previous owner had a termite bond, so the pest control company quickly came out to address the issue.

On March 16, we high five’d as I accepted an offer to sell my primary home in Carmel, IN, for nearly the listing price. Committed to help ensure this sales contract closed easily by early June, I spent over $6,000 to address items on the inspection report the first couple weeks of April. And then fast forward to the past two weeks. Both appraisals came in and were $45,000-$70,000 lower than the sales contract price. So let me get this straight: this home of mine that had 20 showings in 48 hours back on March 14-16, the sales contract has now blown up because of two, low appraisals? Yes, Jen, that’s right. However, your cup is still half full because there are other families who will want this home, and one of them will live there happily ever after. And, don’t forget, you are remodeling another rental home, so it actually gives you a bit more time to thoughtfully get that done, while I re-list and market my primary home again.

On Valentine’s Day, I signed a contract to sell a building lot to a young family, only to find out that the deal couldn’t close recently. Why? The previous owner of the lot, an unnamed Christian college, deposited my money back in Feb. 2019, and yet did not release the lot from the mortgage. So let me get this straight: I buy a lot in 2019, go to sell it in 2020, and the paperwork still isn’t ethically processed correctly? Yes, Jen, that’s right. However, your cup is still half full because on April 10, you did sell the other two homes that are next to the lot. Those two deals were 20x’s the size of the lot deal, so keep it in perspective.

In mid-March during a routine HVAC check up, learned that one of the steady-eddy rental homes needed a new furnace, immediately. So let me get this straight: I buy the HVAC maintenance plan, and it turns in to a $3,450 new furnace? Yes, Jen, that’s right. However, your cup is still half full because the air conditioner was just fine, the new furnace is safer, quieter, and more efficient for the long-time tenant. She deserves that, as she rarely complains. And you just upgraded your home’s value.

The USA government announced numerous programs in early April to help the economy, individuals, and small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program was touted to help small business owners, like me. After I filled out the paperwork for an EIDL loan, I was informed that I might receive $1,000 for the two $10,000 applications that I filled out. So let me get this straight: 50% of my clients have incurred lost wages, I am discounting rent by $200/month and also allowing late payments, and yet I get zero assistance from the USA Government. Zero? Yes, Jen, that’s right. However, your cup is still half full because all of your clients have paid rent, and are communicating proactively with you. They are making it happen, and for that I am grateful.

In early March, I was able to sell two other homes that had been non-positive cashflow drains on my business. So let me get this straight: you sold two homes the week before the COVID19 “stay home” social distancing all started? Yes, Jen, you did. My cup is beyond half full because of these two deals actually closed in-time and on-time.

We good with all those examples? They clearly indicate to me, again, that my cup is half full with some holes. Be grateful. Be resilient. Real estate is one of many ways to make a living; it’s a comforting feeling to provide housing for others and watch it change their lives. Yes, Jen, that’s right. It does!

Thinking That…

Thinking that…this public health crisis will teach us all about the importance of understanding and learning more about the impacts that science and math have on our daily life. 


Thinking that…just like after the 9/11 terror attacks and the resulting surge of brave men and women who joined the military, we’ll see an increase in people retraining to become nurses, respiratory therapists, and doctors. And cleaning companies will establish even better processes to clean workspaces.


Thinking that…we will visit our seniors more frequently and observe their care more closely at nursing homes. 


Thinking that…I hope and pray that I never end up in a nursing home, not me nor any of my loved ones.


Thinking that…we (my partner & I) will quarantine once a year, as we are finding it beneficial to take some time to focus on our health, exercise, nutrition, tech & digital aptitude, writing, cleaning, organizing, home projects, continuing education, and things that rarely get reviewed (like insurance and umbrella policies). It also allows our bodies to take a break from the forces of life, and yet still be outside to see and wave at the neighbors and go to the store. 


Thinking that…because I had a couple personalized, proactive discussions with physicians here in Florida, I changed a few things up, because they taught me to proactively care for my own immune system better, immediately. 


Thinking that…losing weight now is a benefit of staying home. We are eating less and much more intentionally to help protect our immune systems.  We’re also exercising 100’s of minutes each week. 


Thinking that…embracing technology & doing business digitally, with a highly personal touch, has kept me, my company, and the company that I work for highly relevant during these times while many are working from home. 

Thinking that…I am beyond grateful that we both are working, and it’s probably MORE, and that my clients are paying their rent. Felt good to give our clients a discount in April and May. Truly feel for those who aren’t working, and can’t pay their rent.


Thinking that…since I have been working from home for nearly eight years, I got a jump on this whole “work from home” movement.  Grateful to be able to share quite a few best practices with many of my colleagues.  


Thinking that…when I was a young adult, so glad that I listened to the financial experts who said emphatically, “save up to build an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses,” and “pay yourself first (401K or similar), have your company match it, and do it for your future retirement or cash flow needs.” Praying that many young adults can do that again, as we come out of this public health crisis.


Thinking that…we will all be a bit cleaner, wash our hands more frequently, and really think about who we hug, and why. And who we shake hands with, and why. 


Thinking that…appreciation will spike about all those events that happen naturally and/or annually, like graduations, tournaments, weddings, funerals, classes, trips and holidays. 


Thinking that…we were stocked up, but the run to the store will happen even earlier in the future when we hear about something that’s happening across the world. We will be even better stocked with healthy options to strengthen our immune system, and to also have a few key go-to items, like toilet paper, water, fuel, etc. 


Thinking that…Google and Apple can trace and track me to keep me and others healthier. I am good with that. Nothing to hide, absolutely nothing.


Thinking that…many of us are becoming even better at client service, and more astute entrepreneurs. Creativity is flowing; I mean, check out Zoom calls, TikTok, You Tube, carry out in restaurants/stores/pharmacies/etc.


Thinking that…I can’t wait to see and hear a live concert. Music has impacted me more positively than I ever realized. 


Thinking that…although I love sports, actually not missing the games as much I thought I would. Wasn’t sure how I’d make it without March Madness. But, realizing that there is so much to learn and read about, and to do. 


Thinking that…staying connected with family and friends has always been a priority, and thus thankful for low levels of anxiety right now, and no depression. It’s fun seeing them on Zoom & Facetime regularly and spontaneously. Praise the Lord. Praying for those who are experiencing stress and anxiety.


Thinking that…my parents are being remarkably healthy and yet staying engaged thru this quarantine with physical distancing. So proud of them. Zero complaining. 


Thinking that…we are praying more, before eating at the table. And that’s a great peace to have and to also feel the deep connection with Him and each other. 


Thinking that…although our lives have been disrupted, adjusted routines have been tweaked and are working pretty darn good. 


Thinking that…it’s not been that bad. In fact, I see (as mentioned in my earlier blog) much HOPE. I Hope. 


Jen Wilfong 4/20/2020 

I Hope

I Hope we remember our resilient grandparents and great grandparents, who got through World War I, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and World War II during the early-mid 1900’s.

I Hope we remain resilient for a few months, to help save 1,000s and 1000’s of lives.

I Hope we remain patient and calm, yet confident and full of Hope.

I Hope we truly appreciate the nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, and doctors, and every single member of the cleaning crews, who are going to work in extreme circumstances to help save lives.

I Hope we remain home, so that these caregivers soon have less cases of COVID-19, not more. I Hope when we do go out, it truly is “essential.”

I Hope we are grateful because we do or did have a job, and complain a bit less in the future. I Hope we find purposeful and meaningful work again soon, if your work was lost.

I Hope we pitch in and help those that have lost their jobs.

I Hope we cook more at home, eat at the kitchen table, and wash our own dishes.

I Hope we tip more happily, and I Hope we praise the chefs freely, when we return to our favorite restaurants and bars.

I Hope we say THANK YOU more, not less, to every one of those fellow humans who serve us.

I Hope we allow teachers to teach in the classroom, without helicoptering over our teachers. I Hope we thank them for managing overcrowded classrooms with minimal supplies, day after day, year after year.

I Hope we let our kids learn consequences, both good ones and the bad.

I Hope we teach our kids at home, how to help run and operate a home, manage a budget, cook a meal, change a furnace filter, clean the house, do the laundry, etc.

I Hope we save more, and build an emergency fund, so that we are ready for any future inconvenience.

I Hope we love, teach and care for our children, and not abuse them more.

I Hope we keep taking walks outside with our partners and family.

I Hope we don’t hole up and never trust again.

I Hope we can trust ourselves to make the best decisions, for ourselves, our families and others.

I Hope we further realize how difficult it is to lead, and the deep complexities to it. I Hope we help our leaders become better, with calm feedback.

I Hope we refine our own crafts and trades. I Hope we are more astute entrepreneurs, and become even more in tune with what our clients and customers truly need.

I Hope we continue to wash our hands, even more thoroughly than ever.

I Hope we appreciate our hair stylists and barbers, and give them appropriate tips.

I Hope we keep riding our bikes after dinner, instead of allowing the tires to go flat.

I Hope we keep saying hello to our neighbors on down the street, like we are doing now, while out on walks.

I Hope we always care for our most vulnerable, our seniors and elderly, who have the most wisdom and love to give. They’ve seen it all; I Hope we always listen to them.

I Hope we embrace technology even more, as a way to allow efficiency and ease in to our lives…instead of rejecting it like in the past.

I Hope we keep doing our “Zoom” happy hour meetings and those “House Party” get togethers.

I Hope we appreciate public spaces like parks and golf courses, and pick up after ourselves when we visit them in the future.

I Hope we beam with excitement like never before when we can once again attend all the movies, sporting events, and concerts. I Hope it’s a flipping blast!

I Hope we respect and thank the police, the National Guard, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and security personnel for caring for our needs, and handling the deep, dark horrible acts that continue to happen in our cities during this crisis.

I Hope that we remain thoughtful and caring Global citizens.

I Hope that if we are sick, we will STAY HOME. I Hope we think more deeply about that one decision in the future.

I Hope that we prep a bit better, and have our necessary supplies in our home, so that we don’t rush to the stores and create havoc for grocery and general stores.

I Hope we continue to allow long-haul semi-trucks, Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and the US Mail trucks more room as they travel to deliver OUR goods and products.

I Hope we smile at the garbage and recycle workers, and be grateful they do what they do. I Hope we realize they are picking up our messes, every single day.

I Hope when we travel in the future, we understand and do the research so that we clearly understand the situation where we are headed.

I Hope when we are in airplanes and using public transportation, we have clean hands and our coughs are covered properly. I Hope we say “Bless You” when one sneezes.

I Hope we continue to pray more, and embrace our place of worship and our Lord.

I Hope we love more, selflessly, like our care givers love us under this COVID 19 threat.

I Hope that we can trust again.

As I woke up this morning, I simply said to myself, “I Hope.” Today, April 2, 2020, the USA now has over 200,000 cases of the nearly one million cases of COVID 19 globally, which is two times as many as any other country in the world. And yet I still woke up, saying and thinking, and now writing, “I Hope.” Please, do what you can. Stay home. Stay physically distant from others. Stay deeply connected to those you love. Stay in touch with your people and your families, leveraging the wide variety of technology tools. Stay close with your Lord. – Jen Wilfong 4/2/2020 8am E

April 2 morning prayer: The world presses in on me and defeats me, despite my best efforts, until finally I call on You for help and find You there, just waiting for me to ask. Thank You, Lord, for helping me. Amen.

source: Johns Hopkins COVID 19 Dashboard https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

It’s Time For Fun, Isn’t It?

On a cool, rainy evening in October 2018, Hoosier Park was hosting the “Super Night” of Indiana’s best in harness racing.  And a long-shot named “It’s Time for Fun” was in 6th place as the horses came down the stretch. But then “Fun” hit a faster gear and sprinted past them all and won easily.  Friends and four generations of the breeder and owner got to the winner’s circle just in time for the celebration and fun. And that owner shined a grin and said, “It takes a team!”

Who is the owner and breeder of “It’s Time for Fun”? My dad, Lynn Wilfong, 79 years young. I intentionally used the word “young”, as he sure loves his phrase that he shares regularly: “Have someone to love.  Love what you do. Have something to look forward to.” And he has also been heard to say, “I will die with my boots on.”

Love. Four generations showed up to see “It’s Time For Fun” win the 3 Year Old Filly Indiana Sires Stakes: his wife, Barbara, of 58 years; his three adult children & their spouses; and some of the grand children and a great grandchild.

Work. Lynn has been working with harness horses since he was a young boy.  And he continues to be patient with them, even after 6-7 decades of being around these large and loving creatures.

Look Forward. Although my dad has suffered some losses and also some health challenges in the last couple decades, he sure studies his own health and how to improve it just like he studies harness horse breeding and racing. He is looking at ways to find the right mixture of breeding to win at the value that he is willing to pay, and still bring a return to his harness racing business.

How does he do this and also leverage his team? He has a vision, and that is to keep winning, especially in Indiana and Illinois. He and mom, along with my brother and his wife (Brett and Candy), truly have defined roles.  Dad studies and recommends breeding, and helps ensure the mares have healthy foals.  He and Brett raise and haul them, and Brett trains them.  My nephew, Kyle (Brett’s son, who is 4th generation in the harness racing business now) is the driver.  Kyle’s girlfriend, Nicole, is the caretaker (groom) of the horses that are being raced and trained, and she is growing and now a trainer.  And the revenue and expenses are tracked by Barbara and Candy.  For decades, Barbara leads the effort to ensure all of the horses are named and registered.  Very clear roles, with a goal of winning in Indiana and Illinois with well cared for horses.  They also leverage vets, blacksmiths, and feed companies. All of these roles are very specific, and they rarely duplicate work.  The goal for everyone is to be accountable to helping the horse(s) be as healthy as possible so that it can professionally perform in nearly any condition (rain, heat, sleet, wind and cold weather).

With a clear Vision, clear Roles, and clear Goals for each person on your team, you will most likely continue to succeed even as you approach your 8th decade.  In my coaching work, I can sense dysfunction or lack of accountability quickly.  It typically is because something is NOT clear with the Vision, or the Roles, or the Goals.  If all three are clear, you can most likely expect good results.  And good results just might lead to “It’s Time for Fun”.