Knoxville Fun: A Trip Down Fantasy of Trees

It’s November! You know what that means for most of the Knoxville population? Pumpkin spice everything. You know what that means for me? The countdown to Fantasy of Trees is on! Just 24 days in fact–woohoo!

If you haven’t been to one yet, it’s a fabulous way to get into the Christmas spirit! Trees, gingerbread houses, and fun holiday activities for the kiddos–oh yay!

I’ve been in Knoxville for 3 years, and I haven’t missed a Fantasy of Trees yet, and I don’t plan to miss one anytime soon. The first year, I went as a tourist so that I could take it all in. Last year, I even got to volunteer, and it was so much fun! In fact, I’m planning to do so again, so if you come, be sure to say hello!

Whether it’s your first time in Knoxville or you’ve been here for years, be sure to mark the Fantasy of Trees on your event calendar so that you don’t miss it. It starts right after Thanksgiving, and here‘s the link to the event and the Fantasy of Trees website.

Ho-Ho-Hope to see you there!

That’s so Greek!

One of the many great things about Knoxville is its variety of cultures.

At the end of September, Saint George Greek Orthodox Church treated Knoxvillians to some delicious Greek food, spectacular dancing, and of course, as with all events in Knoxville, great company!

Greek Dancers in the Pavilion

One of the highlights inside was being able to see the newly-restored Greek Orthodox church and be able to receive a tour. It was fun and very interesting learning about the symbolism behind the images and their placements within the church.

Fr. Anthony giving a tour of the church

So, even if you happened to miss Greek Fest 2019, you should definitely stop by Saint George Greek Orthodox Church if only to see its beauty because trust me: just like in a house hunt, pictures don’t do the physical space justice.

Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to see you at Greek Fest 2020!

How do you find a good real estate agent/REALTOR®?

I’m sure that we’ve all heard the horror stories from friends or family members or even, gulp, from our own experiences of real estate agents going MIA, being too much of helicopter agents, or some variation in between. So how do you choose a good real estate agent?

Personally, I was very lucky during my first-time home-buying experience and ended up with a wonderful REALTOR® (shout out to Travis Redmon!) Working with him showed me three essential traits that you should look for when you “interview” your real estate agent, and these are all traits that I strive for in my own business as well.

Trait #1: Industry Knowledge

This sounds obvious because, of course you want to work with someone who knows the real estate industry. However, not all agents are created equal. One big and easy difference is that some are simply real estate agents whereas others are REALTORs®. Without getting into all the nitty gritty details (although if you really are curious, you can always check out the National Association of REALTOR’s® website to read the code of ethics,) a REALTOR® is held to a higher standard than one who is only an agent.

Also, keep in mind that “industry knowledge” doesn’t necessarily equate the number of sales that they’ve completed or the time in which that occurred. These are common sales tactics that listing agents will commonly use, but realistically, all of those sales could have taken place in a completely different area. For example, a listing agent may state that he/she will conduct open houses, and while those sometimes work well in high-traffic locations, they are generally not as successful in more rural locations. You want to choose someone who can prove that he/she knows how to best market your home if you’re selling or how to find you an ideal location if you’re buying. Be sure to ask questions and, if you’re looking to buy or sell in a pretty large area, give your agent time to research the area as well since it’s difficult to be an expert in every specific location.

Trait #2: Trust

When you hire an agent, you are hiring a representative for you. That’s why so many buyers and sellers rank trust very high in the list of what they want in an agent.

Do you trust that agent to represent your best interests? If you answer no to that question, then you need to try another.

Trait #3: Humor

I don’t know if sellers for moderately-priced homes, at least in Knoxville, Tennessee, really need this last trait in an agent, although it’s always nice, but I would argue that most buyers actually do. In my own experience, I always joked with everyone (including my REALTOR®) that I was playing whack-a-mole because a house would come on the market, and BOOM, it would go off the market. It’s frustrating when that happens, but that’s why it helps to have an agent who has a good sense of humor because you can laugh a bit (eventually) and then move on in the house hunt.

What would you rank as the most important traits as a real estate agent? Please share yours below.

Must-Visit Knoxville Destinations, Part 1: Lakeshore Park

Of course, one of the best things to do once you find that perfect home is to explore the area. Since Knoxville is well-known for being dog-friendly, it’s very easy to explore it alongside your best friend. And that’s my favorite way to explore it!

One of my favorite places in Knoxville is Lakeshore Park. (It’s one of Lily’s, too. Notice that big smile on her face?!)

Lily and me by the beautiful yellow day lilies at Lakeshore Park.

I’m sure that everyone who regularly visits the park has their favorite spots. Personally, we always walk one of the ways that allows us to see the spectacular Smoky Mountains and the lovely lake, and we’ll often stop there to enjoy the view. (By the way, while you’re welcome to climb the hills at Lakeshore Park, there is at least one way that doesn’t have steep inclines, and the view is just as nice!) Then, it’s back to hitting the paved trails, and I have to say that it’s great getting to meet so many friendly people along the way. There’s just something about the park–maybe it’s the fresh air, maybe it’s that people are more relaxed, or maybe it’s something else–but we always enjoy greeting people (and dogs!) when we go.

Interested in visiting yourself? You can read all the details about Lakeshore Park and how to get there on the website here.

Do you have a favorite park that you enjoy visiting? I’d love to hear about it! And who knows…Lily and I might just go and visit one of your recommendations one day!

Considering Pets When Buying a Home

When I was looking to buy a home three years ago, my pets’ happiness was high on my priority list. Is the yard big enough for my dogs to enjoy but still small enough to take care of? Will my indoor cats have enough windows to look out of? Will I have enough room for the cat furniture? Will my canary be in a safe, non-drafty area?

Chances are, I’m not alone in asking these types of questions. Pets have become integral members of our families, and because of this, many believe that they deserve a dream home just like we people do!

One of the best things to do to ensure that your pets will be happy in your new dwelling is to think about their routines now. Do you walk your dog every morning, rain, snow, or shine? If so, then a big yard probably isn’t necessary. If you have a cat, is he or she used to wandering the neighborhood? If so, then is the one that you’re looking at relatively safe? What is the speed limit for the neighborhood and the surrounding areas? How have you observed people driving around the area?

Once you find that perfect home for you and your pets, you’ll have new considerations for both of you. If you’re moving across states like we did, you’ll have to consider how to safely transport them over long distances and decide where you will be able to get them out to walk around for a bit if able to be leashed. Regardless of how far you travel to your new home, you will need to give the pets the time and space to check out the new home and/or yard on their own.

Moving is a stressful experience for humans and pets alike. However, you can minimize the stress for pets if you ensure that they’re able to keep up their old routines in a different home. So, before you move, ask yourself what are the daily routines that your pet is used to and be sure to plan those same experiences in your schedule so that they can start to see that everything is okay.

Of course, once you settle in to your new home, it’s likely that your pets will surprise you and develop some new routines of their own!

For example, my Labrador Retriever, Lucy, adopted the master bathroom as her very own space shortly after we moved into the new house. She enjoys hanging out in there so much that I have renamed this room “the doghouse.”

And that, my friends, is how you know that this house has become your best friend’s home!