2019. Lets go.

perspective, real estate

A little look in the rearview mirror as we slide into 2019.

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The beautiful road back from our holiday, through Northern Transkei, and into 2019.

If I wanted to choose a movie title to best describe my last year, it would be Fight Club. Or maybe The Long Walk to Freedom? My bank account’s cash flow would best be visualized like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan… absolute carnage!

A career in real estate is not for the faint of heart. Earning commission selling houses in a third world country that is battling through a recession, whilst politicians threaten property redistribution without compensation, is quite honestly a mad man’s game.

If you can look past the aforementioned horror show there are diamonds in the rough: new friendships, freedom, and true satisfaction of sailing your own ship. 2018 taught me much, but the most important thing it gave me was a belief in myself, in my plan and the simple truth that if you want something, you can roll up your sleeves and go and get it.

Every fight comes with its own small amount of glory. There are 52 agents in my office and roughly 250 on the north coast, every day it’s me vs everyone else. On all good property deals, it’s always a race to the finish. Closing a deal reminds me so much of my early surfing career, that feeling of winning an event was the exact same rush.

I love it.

The property market on the north coast was buoyant in 2018, largely thanks to the increased influx of young families from Durban and Gauteng. Ballito is a very unique space in the sense that it has found itself in a prime position after the new airport was built, and sugar farmers started offloading large tracts of land, close to the town’s heart, for developers to custom design living spaces that are perfectly in line with the demand of new generation. The result has been a radical expansion, as huge investment money has poured in. Elaleni, Zululami, Barbets Crest, Birdhaven, Loxley, Mont Calm, Tahari, Brooklyn and Ballito Hills are just a few of the new estates currently being built in and around the Ballito area.

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Barbets Crest is a new development going up alongside Simbithi Golf Estate,

Simbithi continues to be a favourite, with its location, facilities and incredible lifestyle offering. I live in a sectional title unit, a 3 bedroom duplex in the estate, and by far the two biggest perks of our lifestyle are they security and the lifestyle my kids live. With many young families in the sectional title complexes, our kids spend most weekday afternoons and all weekends running amok on the nature trails, fishing in the dams with their mates. Joel has a watch alarm set for 5pm so he knows when it’s time to make his way back to the house. Not only is it a great way to grow up for them, it’s a huge pressure off Kimmy and me as parents, because we have space, and the TV remote!

As much as estates are the premium demand, we saw freestanding homes bounce back into favour again this year, as prices continue to climb in gated estates, free-standing houses (which have had minimal demand in previous years), found themselves as great value for money in 2018.

I sold R50 million worth of property this year, 12 of those 14 deals were neck and neck races with other agents. One thing you can be sure of, if it’s a good deal, there’s going to be multiple offers, and navigating that deal to the finish is the hardest part of this profession. It’s something I’m really starting to enjoy the pressure of (I only lost 2 deals to other agents). My most intense negotiation this year was a R10 million cash deal, which was close to a record high price in Simbithi. It went backwards and forwards over 3 days until we settled at R10,650,000. Such a rush, and a great boost for my own confidence in negotiating and closing big deals.

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A view worth every cent.

No matter how much the deal is worth, the highlight of my year in sales always comes back to the people I get to meet. This year I’ve worked with some incredible people, made some new friends, but few more inspirational than Mr Harold Mac Millan.

Mac, as I’ve come to know him, is a character like no other, and getting to meet people like him is exactly the reason why I love my job. My first intro to him was quite an experience, a range rover pulled up, with the number plate Mach2, which left me half expecting a Ferrari loving racing fanatic who shmaaked to go fast,  instead out jumped the closest looking human to the Goonies pirate, One-Eyed Willie.

A few years ago life granted Mac the cruel privilege of a tumour behind his eye socket, and as a result, half of his facial bone structure had been surgically removed. Steele plates and bone grafts had been put back to restore his faces shape. A patch of skin has been sewn over the place where his eye used to be, leaving him with literally half a normal face.

Now I say privilege of a tumour because life can really be a shit, you can guarantee it will throw you curve balls and how you decide to respond is what makes you who you are. What Mac has lost, has only left more space for his incredible human spirit to shine through. A decision he probably made during a very dark time, and one that defines his true character. Perhaps having walked so close to death, free’s a person to truly shine the way we all should. Mac walks this earth free of the limitations that many of us carry, and when he speaks to you, it is direct, straightforward, and from the heart.

We connected instantly.

Anyone who knows me knows I have a dark sense of humour and love a good laugh at life’s cruellest jokes, somebody once described it to me as “cheap laughs in dark times”. I like that. Mac is no different and disarms everyone he meets with comical quips about his appearance (he introduced himself as the pirate of Simbithi), not allowing you a moment to feel sorry for him. But what’s really cool about him is his passion for life, this guy ain’t waiting for tomorrow, he is ALL about today!

He came to me through a good friend, looking for an investment property, and we struck gold pretty quick. We closed a deal on an apartment in Simbithi, and it needed a lot of work to get it into a rentable state, but scooped it for a fantastic price. Now on average, it takes 3 months to transfer property into a new owner’s name, and it’s never advisable to begin renovations until it belongs to you. If anything goes wrong in the transfer process, you risk losing any money you spend on renovations.

Trivial things like this weren’t going to slow Mac down. He asked me to get permission from the seller to get started early, which I did, and when I walked into the property a day later, the entire place had been dismantled, tiles ripped up, cupboards sent for a respray, lights replaced… all this in one day! Ol Mac wasn’t messing around. When people operate on that level, it inspires you to raise your game too. Over the coming days we sorted out locks and keys, fixed the garage, re-tiled, sanded the deck, and found him a tenant (a good mate of mine who I think connected with him instantly as well), now we only have to wait another two months for the lawyers to catch up and register this place.

The point of my story about Mac is really just to give praise to a person who inspired me this year, those connections are rare. It’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves, to say life’s unfair and make excuses. Mac reminded me that we should only make room in our lives for positive energy, regardless of our circumstances, life is not fair and never will be, we should grab a hold of our passions and go after them like there is no tomorrow. Cheers to this legend for giving me a new perspective, something I value a lot in this world.

Kimmy took a big step this past year too, starting her own photography business, and it has taken off! We both really wanted careers where we decide when and how we work, so we could maximize our holidays and time together. You can see some of her work at littlemcdonald.com (she is the youngest of three McDonald siblings). She has specialized in property images for real estate companies to start, with a few family shoots, a wedding and a even a hotel in the midlands thrown in to make for an exciting first year. Her real passion is wildlife and hopefully she will be shooting a game lodge soon. I’ll be there to carry the bags.

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So here’s a huge THANKS to those of you who I’ve worked with so far, it is always a pleasure working with my friends! I look forward to driving more of you around our town this year, talking nonsense, comparing war stories, venting about parental responsibilities, and connecting over a beer.

I’m really excited about 2019, and I plan to make the most of it. I wish you all good health and wild adventures this year, make the most of this trip around the sun.

See you all soon.

S.

Time To Explore

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This picture is a good snap shot of my happy place, living where the land meets the sea, I find so much peace in the ocean, but mostly it reminds me that the world is a mystical place.  It also reminds me that I need balance. I took this picture on Thursday evening last week, its been a busy couple weeks at work and the end of the year is fast approaching. Kim and i sat quietly on the beach listening to the sea and breathing fresh ocean air, it was a good time to reflect on things, be appreciative for what i have. it got me thinking about the pace of life and how we go through it with comfort blinkers on.

We all cling to things that comfort us, things that we can bury our faces into when the world scares us…. for some of us its religion, for others its material objects to distract and play with, maybe its a person, who makes you feel safe, or the ocean . Some of us fill our lives up with so much drama and gossip that we never need to stand still, quiet our mind and stare out into the night wondering why all of this … is.

I have made a conscious decision to explore myself, my mind, what makes me tick and what the hell are we doing here.

What I have started unravelling is fascinating. I have so much to say, so much running through my head I can’t write fast enough to get it all out. Like water falling from a huge waterfall landing on my head, every drop is a new thought, idea, energy pounding through me, its relentless and intense. It’s the most exciting feeling to have this unlocked this part of myself. I feel like im an explorer who has landed on a new mystical shore in another galaxy and anything is possible.

So I’m searching, looking at myself from so many angles, my life, the world, the universe, whats is really happening right now and I’m fascinated by us, and the bizarre and complex life form we have become.

Death has brought this curiosity to me, and the first anomaly that I have come across is my life… have you ever wondered where you were before this? the observable universe (what we are able to see so far) is 13 billion years old …well that’s as far as we can tell for now…. that is a long time…. if you had to scale that period of time into one year, the human race only showed up in the last few seconds of the last-minute of Dec 31st…. and the longest surviving human life is not even a millisecond on that scale… in the scale of time and space, our life time almost doesn’t exist it is so small. for some strange reason I find this fact comforting? I don’t know why it just seems today we all take ourselves so seriously but we are really small and insignificant as individual beings…

So where has your life force been before this?  You are not afraid of where you came from, why should you be any more afraid of where you are going after you die? You had no say in coming into this world, yet you did, you are here, conscious, thinking, powerful human being that has the incredible power to imagine, think and most exciting of all… choose. You call the shots. If you want to do something you have the ability through the left hand side of your brain to turn that thought or idea from your right brain into a reality… that is just fascinating.

We have crawled out of the sea, and climbed into spaceships and stood on the moon, in the shortest conceivable time we have begun looking back to where we came from, and started figuring out our place in this universe. but fear holds us back, fear of the unknown, fear of the black space we float in, fear of our temporary consciousness… we find ways to make ourselves feel safe, things to cling to, things to distract us…

My facination is as much about what we don’t know as what we do,  there is so much we have yet to understand about our potential. Much of these questions stem from the last few weeks of my late wife’s life, her brain tumour had taken ownership of the left-hand side of her brain, and left her unable to communicate with us. It was a very scary thing to watch the person I love go through, but that fearful experience left me with so many questions, I needed to know what she was going through… one afternoon we were sitting at the little table in her ward, I was helping her eat some lunch, and I asked her ( almost as a rhetorical question, because she very seldom spoke more than a yes or a no at this point)… “what is going on in that head of yours Jess?” I asked…she looked at me, peaceful as anything, and said…”I’m trying to get to you but im stuck up in the ceiling over there…” it was the strangest thing sitting there with her, knowing that she was experiencing a completely different reality to mine.

Then I came across this incredible story… a neuroscientist who had a stroke and lived to tell the tale, she describes in detail the experience of losing the left hand side of her brains functionality, her version of events is as specific as you could ever hope to hear. Then another video on a similar life changing near death experience, then I recalled the near death experience of a friend which I witnessed first hand, I helped him pulled from the ocean with no pulse, and watched as he was slowly brought back to life over 15 minutes of resuscitation. a few weeks later after he described to me a similar experience to this woman, all random, all very similar experiences and all have different beliefs. Now im not searching for answers to the afterlife, in my opinion that is a waste of precious time, we all get to find out one day, I am more interested in the seemingly common thread of clues that suggest a higher realm of consciousness, we can understand our place here, and how we all are connected. It’s pushed me to a place where I need to ask questions, I’m not satisfied with my contribution to the world so far, I think I’m better than this… I think we all are.

So I have become consumed by self discovery, by exploring myself and educating my kids in way that will help them understand themselves and the effect they have on others, I have promised myself I will not let life get in the way of this most important journey. I am aware that we have a fantastic amount of potential and live in a world with such incredible possibilities, but we allow ourselves to be ensnared in the belief that we need to go to wake up, work, make money, watch tv, go to bed and repeat, day after day. I’m not saying we should quit our jobs, there is virtue in an honest day of work, and our modern world is governed by the monetary system we have created, stepping away from that will make life very difficult, what I’m going after is how you balance that work, how do you spend your down time, what are we leaving behind for the next generation. That’s where I want to be different, that’s where I need to change.

So the December holidays are here, and its the best time of year to get a little personal with ourselves? But it’s so easy for that time to come and go in the blink of an eye, happens to me so often, I’ll get a break from the kids and ill have 5 things im so excited to do, by the time the kids come back I have only managed 1 or none! So I have become good at planning my time off, i try to understand what exactly it is that I want achieve and then structuring my precious time in a way that sees me get the job done. Here is such a good TED talk about such an experiment, if you are looking for a good idea on how to balance your inspiration time and work (okay, it’s an extreme example but very cool nonetheless) . The point is, there are some very clever people in this world and they are doing some amazing things if we just take the time to look up from our daily grind, we can participate.

I think that as a human race, we have the responsibility to figure out how to exist on this planet without killing it and each other, we are all connected and responsible for finding a way. I’m not sure the majority of us are doing our part at the moment.

This December, I’m going to start a new project. I’m going to plan my children’s education, I’m not talking about schooling, I’m talking about the lessons I want my kids to learn, the virtues and knowledge I want to expose them to by the time they walk out my door to a home of their own. I figure I have about 13 years until Joel is 18, and about 10 years until my Anna (who just turned 3) starts telling me how things happen around here, so I better get cracking while they still listen. I want to show them this planet, I want to take the time to explain the different races, religions,  cultures and let them make up their own minds what feels right and wrong, not because I say so, but because they have seen it with their own eyes. So I will start with a list of virtues, subjects, and break it down from there, into travel locations, books, movies and experiences that will help them attain the greatest objectivity I can give them. It will be a big list, but once I know what the lessons are, it will be that much easier to get there, because I will know where we are going.

I know this is all very idealistic, and I’m pretty sure I sound like I’m having a sort of mid-life crisis, but the thing is I feel more alive than ever, I feel like I have the clearest understanding of the value of time, and I want to use it in a way that makes my kids into the people who can change the world we live in.

Here are some links to that have been inspiring me lately:

A rad website  with all kinds of inspirational forward thinking stuff about the universe and reality as we know it:

http://www.lucidtree.com  (lots of conspiracy theory stuff in here too.. I stay clear cause all it really does is bring me down)

A movie on quantum physics ( done in a way that makes sense to dummies like me 😉 )

A collection of 20 min talks from the greatest minds our world has, an absolute favourite of mine.. TED Talks.

http://www.ted.com

The neuro scientist woman who had a stroke and lived to tell the tale…

A great visual perspective of the observable universe:

My mate Craig shared this awesome site, where you can learn just about any new and creative skill you can think of, through video tutorial :

http://www.skillshare.com

Since I’m fast approaching some very touchy subjects that throw humans into a complete frenzy at the best of times… i thought the following disclaimer would be a wise addition for any newcomers…

Disclaimer: This blog is therapy for me, and record of my thoughts for my kids. I don’t pretend to have all the answers and I sure as heck wont ever tell anybody that my way is the highway. I am always prepared to admit I might be wrong , so long as you are too:) If you disagree, please don’t hesitate to comment, but remember that I am merely sharing my personal journey, not asking you to alter yours.  Let’s keep it constructive!  Hambe Kahle (go well).