The Beginning

My daughter Bailee started a blog in college a few years ago and her thoughtful musings inspired me to start one for a number of reasons.  Hopefully, some will find our effort of value and maybe it will help me gain some focus in this busy world we live in.

Usually when someone says “to make a long story short” the story goes on and on.  I’ll try to do better.  Here is the who, what , when, where, and why.


Ric Bowman and Susie Bowman, born a while back, grew up in Colonial Acres, Overton High School, Memphis State, and Memphis College of Art.  Susie worked part time, did volunteer work, sold real estate, and raised 2 children, Kendall and Bailey, now 29 and 22 years old. Ric worked in the newspaper business until going full time into real estate.  He opened BenchMark Realtors and BenchMark Mortgage in 1999.  Raised 2 kids, Bailee and Tyler, now 25 and 21 years old.  Yes, that’s correct we both have kids named Bailey(e)!

In 2009 we got married, blended our families, bought a house, and purchased a Weichert Realtors franchise.  In 2010, just before our first wedding anniversary, we were in a boating accident which left Susie in a wheelchair. Incredible how a split second can change a life.  This event lead us in many directions.  This blog is one of them.


Hopefully, our blog will be a literary vehicle to share information about the real estate profession, our travels, our country, and info that other real estate professionals want to share.  We are a part of 450 Weichert offices nationwide (hence the corporate yellow) and have learned a great deal from other broker/owners in the network.  We want to further connect with Weichert offices and share what we continue to learn for the benefit of our agents and clients. A mobile conduit if you will.


It starts now and will continue as long as we feel it could be a benefit.  We have had a travel vehicle on order that is part RV, part tailgate vehicle, part limo, and part accessible van.  I think Susie will pack it with survival supplies so I suppose it could be our bug out vehicle should that become necessary!  Check out midwestautomotivedesigns.com.  They build some incredible vehicles and were the only company willing to take on our special build.


September 25th, we are heading to Destin, FL for a stay at the beach with all the kids (we hope).  On from there, we will head to the Weichert National Convention in Orlando Florida. After that, we plan to take trips to Weichert offices across the country as we have time and money to take off work.  We will start in Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida.


5 years post accident with airline travel and conventional cars not practical for long travel distances, it is time to get out of town!  Time to see new places and meet new people.  We also see this as an opportunity to contribute to our  profession.  Sure we could have volunteered or run for positions on our local board, but we thought we would try something different.  Sometimes I tend to overdo things.  We’ll see how this effort turns out!
I learned a long time that the hardest part of doing something new is taking the first step.  Then you have made a commitment and things snowball.  I guess we just made a commitment.

The Andrews Group – Nashville

Thanks to Mickie and Tom Andrews for their time on sales meeting day and just before our Sales Rally in Nashville…We were able to meet with Jason Grissom and their team of lead specialists.  They really have their stuff together!  They are attracting more and more buyer leads and some that need additional help qualifying.  Our office in Memphis also operates benchmark Mortgage and PumpUpMyCreditScore.com to assist buyers with credit challenges.  We hope to help the Andrews Group Qualify a few more buyers.
As we meet with different Weichert offices we want to give them the opportunity to talk about their market, there office, and their staff.  Jason was nice enough to take the time to follow a short outline and provide us something to post here from the Andrews Group.  Thanks Jason!andrews-group
From Jason:
Why Weichert?
Training and accountability. I’ve never seen a company so dedicated to ensuring their agents are equipped and ready to represent their clients. Even scheduling time to use the training room is rough because our calendar is so packed.
And while knowledge is vital, it does nothing without accountability. Every day, the agents are outside my door working, taking each other to task, and helping when it’s needed. While our brokers do an excellent job of guiding and establishing a culture of responsibility, they often don’t have to – the agents know they have to answer for their actions and they strive for nothing less than 100%.
Our company strengths are:
Culture. I see veteran agents and brokers helping new agents navigate all the pitfalls of real estate daily. I’ll see those same veterans admit when they didn’t know something and embrace every chance to learn.
We have a culture in this office that draws people in and makes them want to work. It’s impossible to hold people accountable for their efforts and actions, or to celebrate their successes, when being in the office is more burden than boon.
Positives and negatives in our market:
Oddly, it’s the same thing: Nashville is incredibly hot right now.
Your first time buyers are having a tough time finding anything, and are disappointed time and time again by every home being under contract. While seller have it easier, a “hot market” attracts agents that aren’t always trained or qualified to navigate multiple offers and tense negotiations, making for a lot of failed transactions and unhappy clients.
The positive is that well-trained agents thrive regardless of the market conditions. We find our buyers homes before they hit the market, and get creative in how we can generate inventory for them. With our sellers, we make sure they are fully educated so they can accept the RIGHT offer for them, not just the first or the highest.
What’s great about your city?
The easy answer is music, but Nashville is way more than cowboy hats and guitars. What truly makes Nashville great is how it’s become a melting pot of art and creativity, melded with a history of hard work and determination. You don’t see people flocking to “get discovered” like in New York or L.A.. Instead, you’ll find entrepreneurs, song-writers, chefs, writers, craftsmen… people from all walks of life giving it their all to make their dreams a reality.
Biggest local festival?
CMA Fest is surely the largest, spanning 4 days and 70+ hours of live music from big name stars. Passes demand a premium, but people will still flock to downtown, as bars, venues, and restaurants all hold companion events. It’s truly when Nashville comes alive.
Favorite driving or road song?
“Have Mercy – The Judds.” Picked by Christina, our assistant in the Murfreesboro office. It’s the song her mom used to wear-out on long drives through Ohio. The best road songs are the ones tied to a near and dear memory.
Watch it here!
What do you love about real estate?
Everyone has their own reason for getting in to real estate. Of course we all want to make a good living and take care of our families – but people often come in to for the freedom, the opportunity to build something themselves, or chase a dream.
Regardless of your reasoning, we all value the moment when all your works comes to a head and you get to hand the keys over to an excited family. It sounds cheesy – and it sounds exactly like what you’re supposed to say – but knowing that you just helped make someone a home owner justifies all the late nights, frantic phone calls, and miles on the odometer it took to get them there.
Anything else you would like to post?
I think it’s telling of what makes working for Weichert great that this blog even exists. Few people would go on vacation and think “You know, I want to see what our other offices are like.” But that’s just it – no matter where you come from, you know you can stop in to a local office and there’ll be someone waiting with good stories, and invitation to good food and drink.
Ric and Susie – we’ll get dinner any time you’re in town!

The Wild Wild West

August 2016


We recently drove to see Susie’s sister Pam and her family in Denver, Colorado.  We saw a lot of different real estate markets along the way and some great scenery…soaring blue skies decorated by huge mountain ranges as far as the eye could see. Such a refreshing change to our every-day stoplights and pavement. wild-west-3

We saw some things we did not expect to see.  We stayed in some small rural towns in nice hotels.  But the towns felt like ghost towns with the majority of the commercial buildings around the hotels abandoned. wheat-fields I assume this is the evidence or our failing economy over the last decades.  Even so, there was evidence of renovation and reinvestment in the areas.  Hopefully, those markets will see continued recovery like our own but  it looks like it will be much slower.
In sharp contrast was Denver, Westminster (think Franklin outside Nashville), and Boulder.  New commercial buildings, shopping, restaurants, and sky high real estate prices.  Talking to residents of Boulder, they said a problem they have is virtually no first time buyer homes are available because of the high pricing.  This leaves hard working families stuck in older, small rental properties or mobile homes.
We tried to meet with a few Weichert offices in Denver, Colorado Springs and Forrest City, Arkansas on the way back but they were unavailable.  Hopefully they were all out showing property! Anyway, the scenery was fantastic and we had a great time over 12 days and 4,000 miles!!  wild-west-4The following youtube video seems to fit especially this close to a presidential election!
Special thanks to Pam, Mark, Diane, and Greg for their hospitality.




My Memphis

September 2016

Recently, Susie and I went on a date…..we traveled to downtown Memphis to spend the night at the Madison Hotel and go to the Joe Walsh concert.  Since we intend to write about our destinations, real estate offices, and different markets I thought I should include downtown Memphis.  I grew up here so will share my memories of downtown through the years.

Riverside drive, the old bridge, and the new bridge shaped like an “m” seems to be a good place to start.  In high school we went to the old bridge and walked out over the river on the railroad tracks.  You can climb down a ladder and hang out on top of the huge concrete posts that support the bridge.  Why?  Because we could.  A very interesting view at night of the sunset-bridge-picMississippi river rushing below.  And then they lit the new bridge.  What a sight.  I still enjoy the feeling of coming back from any trip west of Memphis, driving across that bridge, seeing the Memphis skyline, and knowing I’ll be back home soon.
Lots of festivals through the years.  Fireworks on the 4th, Memphis in May – with the Beale Street Music Festival, International BBQ contest (it would take hours to tell all about that), and the sunset symphony with James Hyter singing  Ole Man River. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d9IcV9scUk
I worked downtown at the Commercial Appeal for 15 years on Union Avenue, a 2 minute walk to the Sun Café for lunch which was right next door to Sun records where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, Rufus Thomas, and others recorded. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Salq2Xl5YrI
The Peabody Hotel renovation in the 80’s was a milestone in the revitalization of peabody-hoteldowntown Memphis.  A grand place then and now.  Roof top parties, the march of the Peabody ducks, Chez Phillip restaurant and 2 story suites.  Then the Pyramid arena was built, Peabody place, AutoZone Park.  The FedEx Forum eventually replaces the pyramid for basketball and concerts leaving it useless. It was purchased last year and turned into one of the largest Bass Pro shops with indoor lake and an observation deck offering an entirely new view of the bridge.
Mud island.  a great name for a peninsula separating the Mississippi River and the mouth of the Wolf River.  Too much sand and not safe to build on they said until developers decided to do it anyway some 30 + years ago.  memphis-bridgeHigh end homes with river views, the monorail from downtown to the amphitheater for outdoor concerts, and the river walk.  a duplicate of the river done on a small scale in the sidewalk that the kids can follow all the way to the swimming pool made to look like the gulf of Mexico.
Beale street, slow to develop over the years but still growing.  A. Schwab’s department store where you can find everything from magic potions to size 50 overalls.  a-schwabMiss Polly’s Chicken and Waffles,  Rum Boogie Café, and Doe’s Eat Place. Wednesday night bike night. Silky Sullivan’s where you can enjoy a “diver” with half a dozen friends with straws, and a live goat.
BB King’s place where he played a couple of times a year.  I was able to take my son and a black Gibson Lucille guitar to a show one night and put it in Mr King’s lap for a signature.  Outdoor bands and street acrobats doing stunts for tips keep it interesting.
1990s and 2000 brings development including condos, renovation of the old Holiday Inn Riverfront, and new retail and dining.  south-mainThe “Mid America Mall”  added cobblestones and a trolley to main street many years ago and now serves as a path to restaurants, Beale Street, condos, and South Main art galleries, and the Loraine Motel and Civil Rights Museum.
And then there’s Raiford’s with a dancing pole, open drum set, lighted dance floor, and fog machine.  I’ll let you just look that one up for yourself….dsc00015

St. Jude Tour & Barrel Jam!

St. Jude Tour

Weichert Realtors is a national corporate charity partner of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As the local franchise, Weichert Realtors-BenchMark and BenchMark Mortgage are also involved and huge supporters of St. Jude. To that end, we are proud to announce that we are major event sponsors for St. Jude Barrel Jam at Shelby Showplace Arena. If you enjoy watching show horses, then you probably know what barrel racing is all about. If you aren’t familiar with the sport, then let me tell you about it….drill-team

Barrel racing is done by mostly young women on highly trained quarter horses. Quarter horses are among the fastest horses in the world in short bursts and in the quarter mile. They can also stop and turn on a dime. Three barrels are placed in the arena in a triangular pattern. The horses and riders are timed on their ability to complete the pattern around all three barrels and exit the arena.  These horses are tremendous athletes and it’s fast and exciting to watch!

As a major sponsor for this event Weichert Realtors BenchMark and BenchMark Mortgage logos are on the barrels this year! We are getting a lot of Facebook love from St. Jude this week, they have posted thanking us for our participation and asked their followers to like our page. We love supporting such a wonderful cause and hope that we will excite others to join in our support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as it is near and dear to our hearts.






Somewhere Elvis is smiling

A friend of mine recently sent me several links from different news outlets listing Memphis, Tennessee – my home town – as a contender in travel articles as best places to eat or vacation. They followed it up with a negative comment joking about our city, and it got me thinking. It is not uncommon to hear negative remarks from friends, family and neighbors about Memphis, locals seem to be the hardest on our town. It’s like it has been imprinted on our brains over the years. So when we read or hear something positive about the bluff city,  I think it surprises us. But isn’t this the wrong way to help our city thrive? Shouldn’t we stop that way of thinking for our future generations? Memphis has so much to offer, we should embrace these articles and encourage folks to spread  the good news – scary right?

Memphis is known for Elvis Presley, the Mississippi River, The Peabody Hotel, The Rendevous, Beale Street and of course the best Barbecue around – period. It’s good enough for The Grizzlies, Justin Timberlake and Penny Hardaway to call it home. Time.com lists Memphis, TN as #3 in Best Domestic Destinations! Let’s soak it up Memphis! As the article says, “With the drop in airfares, a new Graceland hotel, and all that great barbecue, you won’t be singing the blues here”  We’re even ahead of Vegas….Somewhere up there “Elvis is smiling”.

Check out the article here:


So what does this have to do with our business? Well, EVERYTHING!  We should be sharing the positive press and bragging about it every chance we get. Selling Memphis is our job, as realtors we aren’t just selling someone a house, we are selling them a lifestyle. We are helping them find that perfect location and all the amenities they require in a home. We are telling those that are re-locating for work what a great town they are moving to, and how much they will love it here. If we’re not, then we aren’t doing our job properly. So next time I hear someone crack a joke on our town…I’ll make sure to tell them how much I love it here and why!

Check out Justin Timberlake’s newest hit about Memphis here:


More beef, less bun

Most of us may remember the Wendy’s commercials with the elderly lady showing her disappointment with a hamburger that was all bun and little beef.  More beef stands for superior quality and value in a burger.
Just to refresh your memory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug75diEyiA0
I wanted to take a moment to compare this to our profession.  I feel many realtors are delivering more bun than beef to customers.  The disclaimer paragraph in our contracts and additional disclaimers we have clients sign limit our liability in a transaction.  Have we gone so far to the point that we don’t take enough responsibility and deliver the services we should?  When buyers and sellers read our disclaimers could they be asking themselves what value we really provide?
Are we really providing valuable services to our buyers? They can find homes on the Internet, schedule their own showings with listing agents, review their own contracts, etc.  Can we run the numbers for them?  Do we attend the loan application?  Are we in constant contact with them to really help them find the right home or do we just tell them to call when they see something they like?
What about sellers?  Our own MLS gives us a choice on service type.  Full service, limited service, and entry only.  Isn’t bigger better?  Doesn’t everyone want more cash?  Do any customers ever brag on limited service???   What level of service should we provide?  Do we make a detailed listing presentation that outlines our marketing efforts?  Is it professionally written and printed?  Do we provide full color home brochures or have we stopped because of the cost?  They still sell homes!  Do we provide a full time efficient service to set appointments and follow up for feedback?  Are we using the expanded listing opportunities on Realtor.com?  Do we provide a written service guarantee?
Sometimes it is the little things that demonstrate service levels.  When waiting on a response from another agent, I like to make that last phone call at night to tell my client to relax and go about their evening.  We will not hear anything until tomorrow.  This accomplishes the same thing as saying, I’ll call you when I hear something, but just a little better.  Also,  I have 2 pet peeves when it comes to outgoing VM recordings on cell phones.  The first is “I’ll call you back at my earliest convenience”.  Does this really communicate that you are anxious to speak to the customer?  The other is “if you are calling after 7pm, I will return your call tomorrow“.  This seems fair because we all need time with our families but phone calls can be managed without drawing this line every time a customer gets your VM.
I want to deliver more beef and less bun to my customers.  I believe it’s what leads to more repeat business and more referrals.  And I still prefer Wendy’s!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

January is a great month in this business. Broker/owners are reviewing their company numbers for last year, business planning with agents, recruiting new agents, and planning improvements for the New Year. Agents should be planning their year to increase their skills and their business. New buyers and sellers are getting spooled up after months of school, football, and holidays.

Look at the amount of change in our business over the last 10 years. 2007 was the top of the market and we were blowing and going. Then the Mortgage Meltdown, sales slowed, agents took “real jobs”, real estate and mortgage companies cut back or closed completely, foreclosures increased, short sales increased, etc. How has your personal life changed over the last 10 years? Huge changes too, I’ll bet.

And for 2015? Foreclosures and short sales down, folks now leaving “real jobs“ to get into real estate, multiple offer situations, and overall a renewed enthusiasm. Locally, the municipal schools were formed, Memphis got a new mayor, and The Pyramid became a Bass Pro Shop!van at bass pro On the personal side, 2015 brought Susie’s daughter, Kendall, her husband, Mark, and grandson, Coleman from Nashville back to Memphis, her son Bailey is moving up in the restaurant biz, my daughter Bailee landed a big job in Atlanta, and my son Tyler and Kendall got their real estate licenses.




I have made enough new year’s resolutions through the years to know that for 2016 I won’t eat right and exercise, I won’t clean up my office, and I won’t get caught up on my to do list. So maybe the baby steps approach this year. I ate right this morning. I will exercise today. I’ll work a little on cleaning up the office. And this blog post has been on my to do list. All in all, a better effort than yesterday.

Instead of focusing so much on the finite calendar year, I think I’ll try to take a moment each day to improve somewhere even if just a small step. And instead of setting goals with only year end in mind, I’ll try to consider what the next 10 years might bring. Maybe that will make 2016 a good year.

Finally, Susie and I said we wanted to do something different for Super Bowl Sunday so we will be staying in a hotel room with screened porch overlooking the retail floor at Bass Pro! Come watch the sunset with us.

Have a good day, year, and decade!


In Susie’s words…

Hey everyone, It’s Susie. I’m finally trying to take some time to reflect on some of the big moments from 2015. Getting the van completed was such a relief and accomplishment. It all happened just in time for our trips and of course football season & tailgating!

It is finally ready for the road….thanks to these guys

After much anticipation we set off on the maiden voyage in our new Sprinter/RV/mobile office to Destin, the first leg of our 15 day working vacation. The house on Miramar beach had been reserved for months, kids & new grandbaby were in route. Ric & I breathed a sigh of relief, on the road again, 9 months of waiting vanished like mist in the morning sun. We finally made it to Destin, FL for our family vacation. Despite a few of the crew getting a nasty 24hour bug the week was fantastic and filled with good food, lots of baby giggles, sand and sunshine.

Traveling with a disability is difficult at best & I appreciate why many disabled people choose to stay home. However, staying home is not in my husband’s DNA. Finding a company to design and build a custom van that would allow us greater mobility is just the kind of challenge Ric relishes, he saw the project as an opportunity rather than a problem. After much online research & even more phone calls we finally settled on Midwest Automotive Designs out of Elkhart Indiana. Creating an accessible van like we envisioned is not a simple build, in fact, Midwest was the only company willing to tackle the job. Every inch had to be carefully considered & measured with a wheelchair in mind. Many design obstacles, decisions and changes came into play in the months that followed. Imagine designing a limousine camper van complete with sofa bed, mini kitchen, shower & toilet, vanity, wardrobe & bar all with enough space to accommodate a 25″ wide wheelchair! It took some time to say the least but the finished product was well worth the wait.

After a nice long week in Destin with the kids our next stop was Orlando, FL for the Weichert Realtors Convention where we spent several days with brokers and agents from all over the country. We were entertained and inspired by great speakers and engaged during break-out sessions. It was a refreshing look at real estate and opportunities that the market may bring over the coming years.

Since convention, Memphis, Tennessee – my home town –  has been on two different “Top Ten” lists for markets to watch in 2016, affordable cost of living and job availability.

“In addition, each of the markets on the list is in high demand, with 60% more listing page views than the U.S. overall and inventory that sells 16 days faster than the U.S. average. Surging demand in each market can be attributed to growing household formation, a prosperous job market, and low unemployment rates as well as large populations of key demographics. Older millennials (25 to 34 years old), younger Gen Xers (35 to 44 years old), and retirees (65 to 74 years old) will be driving home sales in 2016.”

Check it out here:  http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/top-10-real-estate-markets-to-watch-in-2016/

Stay tuned as we begin 2016! I look forward to sharing more as you follow us on our upcoming adventures in life and real estate.


Maiden Voyage

Pictured above:  Jeff Grebe, Knoxville,TN Weichert Realtors – Advantage Plus, Ric Bowman, Germantown, TN Weichert Realtors BenchMark, and Tom Andrews, Nashville, TN Weichert Realtors – The Andrews Group

Our new accessible, RV, Limo, tailgate vehicle was delivered 2 days before the trip. 600 miles from Elkhart, Indiana to Memphis, Tennessee and perfect. We load up to head to a Tigers game and 5 minutes on the road the “coolant low” indicator lights up and I smell the leak. Towed to dealership at 9pm. picked up Friday at 5pm, left for Destin at 10am Saturday. Super nice van but still a typical machine. I used to get a kick out of my mother -in-law when she said “I don’t understand my car was fine yesterday”. That’s because yesterday it wasn’t broken 🙂

Storm rolling in from the Gulf in Destin, Florida

The first trip was 2000 miles, 10 days in destin, 3 days at Weichert Convention in Orlando, and a night in Destin on the return. We expected challenges and problems along the way but had confidence it would work out fine. The van met all the needs of the trip. A few people got sick for a day or so, the weather was a little cold and cloudy, but overall a great trip. Good food, great scenery, and a lot of quality time with family, friends, and coworkers. Miramar Beach, Grayton Beach, Seaside, Seagrove, Lake Bueno Vista, Universal Studios, St Joe’s, Mexico Beach, Panama City, Watercolor Inn, and of course the Crab Trap, just to mention a few stops.

Our 2 newest recruits are pictured from the convention.  Tyler Bowman image3and Kyle Beard.  Tyler had a listing that sold while we were gone and Kyle is close to taking his test.  These young guys got a lot of attention at the convention.  Tyler spoke to Jim Weichert twice!  What a trip they had!  A beach house, 4 days at a golf resort in Panama city, Weichert convention and the Alabama Arkansas game in Tuscaloosa on the way back to Memphis.  No flats, no running out of gas, or lost keys…which if you know these guys that is a successful trip!

van in seasideWe visited with Brokers and owners from Connecticut, Michigan, Nashville, Knoxville, Huntsville, Miami, and Houston, just to name a few. It is always great to exchange ideas with others that reinforce Weichert’s ongoing efforts to support our owners, agents, and clients.
I am really looking forward to sharing all the info with our agents so that we can continue to improve our service to customers and clients.