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ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 I WAS ON A PLANE

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On September 11, 2001 my mom and I were on our way home from a long European vacation.


I remember sitting in the terminal at Gatwick Airport re-living the prior two weeks in my head.  My mom and I had visited Ireland, Russia, France and England. I had the time of my life and was just disappointed that it was all coming to an end. I was headed back to Atlanta for another week of selling vitamins and gold cards at my GNC store that I managed in Buckhead. I recall wanting to be closer to home.  Spending time with her made me realize just how much I missed Tennessee.

We loaded up on our Boeing 777 Delta flight 11 traveling from Gatwick to Atlanta.

As we made our way into the air my mind drifted. I just felt something tugging at my heart.  I put my head phones on and fell asleep.

I don’t recall exactly how many hours had passed, but I do know that we were over the ocean coming into United States airspace.   The music in my headphones was temporarily interrupted. It was the voice of a noticeably shaken pilot.

What happened next will be etched in my mind for the rest of eternity.

“Ladies and Gentlemen….I need……you… to listen to me very carefully. There has been an attack on the United States. Two commercial planes have flown into the World Trade Center. The United States airspace has been closed and we are being diverted to another location.”

The terror I felt over every inch of my body was intense. I thought I was going to die. I knew we were close to New York because we had the GPS system playing on our screen. He mentioned two planes. Could our plane have hijackers on it? Was this a full scale attack on America and here I was sitting right in the middle of it?  If I died what would happen? Could I survive a plane crash?  These are not questions that I ask myself every day.  A few moments later the pilot came back on and gave us additional information. We were flying to St. Johns Newfoundland until further direction from the United States was given. I was scared.

St. Johns NewfoundlandWe landed in Canada. This Canadian airport was an international airport. It serviced one international flight per week. 27 international Jumbo jets were now sitting on her tarmac.  How long would we have to be on this plane? The pilot only told us to try and relax. I had my video camera and videotaped fighter jets in the air and soldiers with machine guns guarding each plane. I am sorry but relaxing is not what I was doing.  Mom and I were on the phone with my sister Andrea and she was really shook up.  We didn’t know what to tell her because we really didn’t know anything.

I was asking myself a lot of questions.  I had a long time to answer these questions, because the pilot came on the PA system and told us that they were going to unload one plane at a time. They had to search each plane and each passenger. This would take around an hour per plane from smallest to biggest and we were one of the biggest planes that had been diverted there. Well, 19 hours passed before we greeted Canadian soil.  We were carefully brought off the plane. Security was at high alert.  We were greeted by armed guards, some with machine guns.  After making it through customs they loaded us all on buses where they transported us to the local hockey arena which they were using as the central transportation center for all diverted passengers.

When we walked into the arena it was the first time any of us had seen it. There it was on the jumbotron. You could see the planes slamming into each building. The planes looked eerily similar to our plane.  Most Americans watched this horrific tragedy in the comfort of their own home. Mom and I were on uncomfortable seats, had been awake for two days, and had just spent over 20+ hours on a plane.  We still had NO idea what was going on. My heart sank for those who were killed.  I could not even imagine how horrific it was for the families.  My heart aches for them to this day.

Each plane was assigned a section of seats in the arena. We had time to get to know some of our fellow passengers. There was the Director of Communications for Coca Cola UK. There was a VP for a Video Tech company in America. There was a couple that was on their honeymoon. There were so many others but these to just name a few.

Finally we were told that they would transport us to our Hotel. Actually, it was Holy Heart High School. Not really a bed and breakfast. The people were amazing there. The care and love that they showed us made it abundantly clear that God was in control.

We were assigned to the Science room on the second floor. We had about 15 or so people in our room. We were so exhausted so we decided to try and sleep for a few hours. I couldn’t sleep because A) The floor was hard B) The snoring and C) I felt like I had been skinned alive and thrown into the ocean.

The community came together and put their collective arms around us.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the way we were treated. They brought us food, sang for us and invited us into their homes. They took us on a tour of their beautiful city which we learned was the eastern most city in North America. They even took us on a boat to show us around.  I found out that the remains of the Titanic were only a short boat trip away. There was actually a group docked in St. Johns that was shooting a documentary about it.   It was the director for the movie Titanic and some other folks.

I had several days in Canada to reflect on my life. What had I accomplished? I was the Region 2 #1 Gold card seller at GNC. I was ranked nationally for my sales per hour and profit margins. But what had I really accomplished.  I could feel God tugging at my heart. He had something in store for me which wasn’t completely clear yet.

So after 4 days we were finally given word that we would be going home. I had mixed emotions. I really didn’t want to get back on a plane, but I really wanted to go home to my apartment in Atlanta.  A week in the bed and several bags of cheetoes is just what I needed.  There was thunderous applause as we lifted off the ground.  The trip home was very solemn. I felt relief and terror all at the same time. The last four days felt like four years. We were the first diverted plane to arrive back in to Atlanta. When we touched down we all cheered and whistled as if we had just scored the winning touchdown to beat Florida in overtime.   As we taxied back to the terminal the Delta employees clearly wanted us to know just how much they cared. There were hundreds of Airport employees lining our route as we taxied in with flags and banners that said, “WELCOME HOME” and “WE LOVE THE USA.” I could not help but to cry, as did most the passengers on the plane. Seeing those American flags and people cheering made me feel safe. Unfortunately, the victims and their families will never feel safe again.  I pray every day for the families.

This was a major moment in American history. It was also a major moment in Kevin’s history. I needed something to change.  I had made changes in my life, but there was something more that I needed to do and God was showing me.  I believe that God was calling me to come back home to Tennessee.  I had lived in Atlanta for over 3 years and I had my Aunt and many friend here.  I needed time to collect my thoughts and let God show me the way.

Then something amazing happened.

I received a job opportunity in Knoxville. With the counsel of my Mom, Dad and those around me, I decided to jump on it.

I came home in April 2002. God works in such amazing ways. I started my new job on May 1, 2002 and my future wife, Pam, started two weeks later.  We started dating in August and I proposed to her one year to the day after our first date, August 11, 2003. We got married on December 20, 2003 and then found out we were having our first child on October 21, 2004. Olivia was born on June 6, 2005. We found out that we were having a little boy on June 18, 2007. Patrick Callaghan Rhea was born on February 22, 2008.

I owe all of this to God. He had a plan for me. Part of His plan is for me to share with Olivia and Patrick the love and Grace of our Lord. His Grace is so incredible in my life. I have problems like the rest of humanity. I have anxiety, loneliness, fear and times of hopelessness. The difference today is that I have a purpose. That purpose is becoming clearer, but part of it is to share His love with others.  I need to get out of my shell and spread the Good News…God has a plan for you too!

September 11 is a day of remembrance for us all. I also use it as a time to reflect on my life.  Where have I been and where am I going.  I regularly get off track and I constantly need to be reminded that God loves me no matter what. It’s easy to let life take over and I start to forget what is most important in my life.

My prayers are with all of the family members who are still suffering with the events of that day. I pray that they may find peace and understanding from a world that knows not these things. I pray for the salvation of a nation that does not know the Truth. Not the truth about worldly things, but the Truth that God loves them.

To all of my fellow passengers in life: I hope and pray that along this journey I might be able to give something back to you. Maybe a kind word or encouraging smile is what you will need. Whatever that is, I hope that God, not me, is in the middle and you have the window seat.

God Bless

Air Date 11/17/12- Fire Prevention and Awareness!

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Presented by:

Mortgage Investors Group Logo

This is one of the most important shows The Housing Hour has done:

….it could save you and your family’s lives!

Fire Prevention and Awareness:  Will your Smoke detector work?

Did you know that Thanksgiving Day is the number one day for cooking fires?

Knoxville City Fire Department Captain DJ Corcoran joins our show and discusses everything from the top things that can cause fires during the holiday season to smoke alarm detectors.

The Housing Hour has learned that under certain conditions the smoke detector in your home could fail to go off.

Common home Smoke Detectors Failing:

Also, we have discovered another study regarding Children under 10 and smoke alarms…we discuss this study and will be posting a video on the study. Every parent with small children must see this video!

Also, on a lighter note….we will be posting video a comical video regarding fires caused by Turkey Fryers.

Please join us for this very important show!

Fire Prevention Website

Do Quotient by Terry Adams

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Do Quotient by Terry Adams

Terry Adams

Do Quotient by Terry Adams

The Housing Hour is honored to have Terry Adams and Phillis Burnett of  Adams Law Firm and Admiral Title as our show  sponsor but we are extremely  proud to announce Terry’s recent article in Cityview Magazine and soon to be new book: Do Quotient.

“Today is a big day for us. After more than 7 years of research we have officially announced the Do Quotient to the world in this months Cityview magazine. There will be much more to come, including a book this year of the same title. We believe that this added value approach to counseling clients is the future of practicing law & will provide a framework for success in business & life.”  Terry Adams

Listen to our interview with Terry as he talks about his career, interests and Do Quotient!

Kevin Rhea shares 9/11 story with Hallerin Hilton Hill

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Kevin Rhea, Host of The Housing Hour, was asked by his friend Hallerin Hilton Hill to come on his show and share his and his mother’s story from 9/11. Kevin and his mother were aboard a plane as the first plane then second plane struck the twin towers on that fateful day. Kevin describes the feelings and emotions as the spent over 20 hours sitting on the tarmac in Canada

Air Date 3-30-13: Maggie Koerth-Baker-Author/Columnist

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Special Guest: Maggie Koerth BakerAuthor / Editor / Columnist

Science Editor: Boingboing.net

Topic today, Maggie’s New Book: Before the Lights Go Out

Maggie joins The Housing Hour series, Energy Efficiency in Homes, by discussing her latest book, Before the Lights Go Out. The book is  a wonderfully crafted historical journey of electricity and the genesis of our nation’s power grid with anecdotal stories that make this read fun, fascinating and educational. She tackles our energy problems by pointing out there is no single solution  or silver bullet but a series of smaller, practical, hard choices that we must do as a country.  This book is not a technical journal but a story of how it started and where we need to be focused. Order your copy today and read this book  Before the Lights Go Out!

About Maggie:

  • Science editor at BoingBoing.net, one of the most-read blogs in the United States with millions of monthly readers.
  • Columnist for The New York Times Magazine. Her column, Eureka, covers the intersection between science and culture. It appears monthly.
  • Freelance science journalist whose work has appeared in magazines like Discover, Popular Science, and New Scientist, and on websites like Scientific American and National Geographic News.

Our Last Segment:

We talk with Jim and Joey Hackworth. You have to listen to this truly American story:

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Home prices rise: Biggest increase since housing bubble!

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Home Prices Rise

Mortgage Investors Group

Home prices continued their recovery, rising 8.1% in January!

Home prices rise. The S&P Case-Shiller index, which tracks the 20 largest markets in the nation, showed the biggest year-over-year gain in prices since June 2006.

“This marks the highest increase since the housing bubble burst,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

In a separate government report Tuesday, new homes sold at a 411,000 annual rate in February, down nearly 5% from the January sales pace but up 12% from year-earlier levels. The typical price of a new home sold in the month was $246,800, up about 3% from both the January and a year earlier.

Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank, said that bad weather in February could be partly responsible for the slowdown in sales. But he said market fundamentals suggest that the market for new-home sales should remain strong.

“Despite the pullback in sales in February, the uptrend in housing remains clearly intact,” he said. He is forecasting even stronger sales in the second half of this year.

The Case-Shiller report shows the recovery in home prices is widespread. All 20 markets posted a year-over-year gain, and the pace of increase picked up in every market except Detroit.

Some of the markets hurt the most by the bursting of the housing bubble have enjoyed the biggest gains, led by a 23% rise in Phoenix. Prices were also up more than 10% in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Detroit, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Miami, all markets that had been hit hard by foreclosures.

New York posted the smallest rise, up only 0.7%.

Even with the recent rise in home prices, the overall index is down 28.4% from the 2006 peak.

But experts say they see a lot of strength in the current market.

“The market still has a long way to go nationally, but the healing process — and a return to a normalized housing market — is definitely well underway,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

Home prices have been helped in recent months by a number of factors, including tight inventory of homes available for sale, near record-low mortgage rates and a drop in homes in foreclosure. A decline in unemployment is also helping the housing recovery.

The housing recovery itself is helping support overall economic growth, as builders scramble to hire workers to meet the renewed demand. The lift goes beyond the impact of increased construction on the economy, as the rise in home prices lifts household wealth.

Rising home prices also reduce the number of people owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. That, in turn, can help them to refinance those loans at a lower rate, freeing up money to spend on other goods and services.

CNN

History of the Kitchen

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Mortgage Investors Group has recently announced that they are partnering with The Ten City Challenge starting on March 18, 2013!  “MIG is a family, and we want our family to have the tools they need to be healthy and happy in their lives.  The Ten City Challenge is going to empower us to begin that journey,” stated Chrissi Rhea, President of MIG, at the Invest Well, Live Stronger kickoff event.

Why the challenge?

Tennessee is the 4th fattest state in the country with 31.9% of its population obese. The other top 9 states are Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Arkansas and Michigan. There are many reasons for obesity; a quick Google search pulls up things like idle lifestyles, environmental, cultural, genealogical, medical, emotional, age…..the list continues to grow.

The Housing Hour would like to add another reason to the lengthy list: The Kitchen. A subtle but significant change has occurred over the last 150 years or so, in the construction styles and technological advances in the kitchen.
A little history first.

basement kitchenBasement Kitchen
The Kitchen has fully evolved over the last 150 years. The Industrial Revolution changed how and where we live. Americans moved from rural farm lands into large populated cities. The kitchen was typically located in the basement among city dwellers. The hot summer days made it necessary for the cooking fires to be located in an area that tended to be cooler. This also helped protect the family from the choking conditions of the smoke from cooking.

In rural areas, acreage created an opportunity that city dwellers did not have; an entirely separate building for the kitchen. Kitchen fires were just as prevalent as they are today, but firefighting techniques were primitive compared to present day. The security of having a separate building for cooking helped keep families safe.

However, fires were not the only dangerous aspect in kitchens of the past. Spoiled food and poor storage practices caused illnesses such as botulism. As we entered into the modern era of cooking, significant technological inventions made cooking easier and safer.

By the late 1800’s, gas stoves allowed the kitchen to be moved into the main living areas of homes. The threat of an open flame was still real, but control knobs made it much safer.By 1920, electric stoves began sweeping across the country with close to 60% of the homes owning one. The electric oven and newly invented refrigerators revolutionized how we prepared, cooked and stored food.

1920's Gas Stove1920’s Gas Stove
By the 1940’s, kitchens began to be a focal point and emerged as carefully designed centers of  homes. The kitchen became the meeting place for families as activities, of all types, occurred around the kitchen table.

1940's kitchen1940’s Kitchen
Today, the main expense of construction is the kitchen. The modern home invests a lot of attention to practical, stylish and comfortable designs making the perfect kitchen that reflects the owner’s interests and personality.

Today’s Style kitchen
Furthermore, in the last 10 years, kitchens have started to flow into outdoor living areas. This has led to to the creation of elaborate patios and decks featuring luxuriant and functional kitchen designs.

Love for food, fun and family bonding, has made The Kitchen, the number one place to congregate in the home.

So it is easy to see that the availability of fresh food, ease of preparation and the proximity to the family, makes constant eating (or grazing) convenient and always accessible. Therefore, it is necessary to add ‘The Kitchen’ to the bulging list of obesity causes.

Air Date 3-26-13: Sam Mullen, Expert/Author: Emergency Planning for Utilities

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We continue with our Series on Protect Your family.

Our Special Guest: Sam Mullen: Expert/Author:  Emergency Planning for Utilities

Sam Mullen has more than 30 years experience in utility operations, planning, and management. He is the author of three books on contingency and emergency planning and technical communications, including Emergency Planning Guide for Utilities (2nd Edition), and Critical Communications: An Operations Guide for Business. After a long career in power system operations and system control, Mullen founded MPS in 1994, a practice working primarily with utilities. Sam consults on a full range of projects involving power system emergencies.

An increase in major natural disasters—and the growing number of damaging events involving gas, electric, water, and other utilities—has led to heightened concerns about utility operations and public safety. Due to today’s complex, compliance-based environment, utility managers and planners often find it difficult to plan for the action needed to help ensure organization-wide resilience and meet consumer expectations during these incidents. Emergency Planning Guide for Utilities, Second Edition offers a working guide that presents new and field-tested approaches to plan development, training, exercising, and emergency program management.

The book will help utility planners, trainers, and responders—as well as their vendors and suppliers—to more effectively prepare for damaging events and improve the level of the utility’s resilience. It also focuses on planning needed in the National Incident Management System and ICS environment that many utilities are embracing going forward. In doing so, utilities will be able to improve the customer experience while reducing the impact that damaging events have on the utility’s infrastructure, people, and resources.

Check out Sam’s latest book: Emergency Planning Guide for Utilities (2nd Edition)
Emergency Planning Guide for Utilities (2nd Edition)

The Bidding Wars Begin

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The Bidding War large

The Bidding Wars Begin

Let the Bidding Wars begin! The battle lines have been formed and expanded since 2007. This is a battle that no powers or principalities will be waging. In the truest sense, it’s a duel; “An encounter between two or more individuals with equal numbers on each side that results in combat where both parties are equally armed….”. However, these duels will spill no blood. The weapons used are only pen and paper. And to be sure, with any duel, there are rules,  or Code duello. In this war, the Code duello, is enforced and managed by Realtors, expertly trained in the art of negotiation and real estate laws. It’s a scary place to be without a Realtor.

Why the bidding war?

Answer is simple there are not enough homes for sale to handle the recent explosion of buyers onto the market.  Mortgage Investors Group Loan Officers are being told by customers and agents that multiple contracts on homes are occurring within a very short period of time of one another. Also, market data is revealing that the percentage of sales price to list price  are increasing. Typically markets trend to run about 92% to 95%, but some markets across the country are seeing percentages in excess of 98% with some areas over 100%. In Tennessee, Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin are at or near the 98% range as far as the ratio of sale prices to list price, putting them in the number one ranked position in the Core Based Statistical Area for May. Nashville area is presently considered one of the most affordable markets in the United Stated and one of the best places to get a job.

This is a great sign for our economy, but these conditions create challenges for all parties, not to mention creating new home price bubbles; sound familiar? As these bidding wars ramp up, other issues will occur, such as appraised values. For example, once the bidding war has bid up a home’s list price, the question arises, will it appraise for that amount? If it doesn’t, the buyer will have to put the difference down in cash or risk losing that hard, fought duel.

What’s being done?

Realtors are trying to add more inventories to their MLS. Builders are scrambling to build more units, but they are finding it hard to find construction workers in some areas. Plus, the sudden increase in building permit requests have created big delays in local government offices. It’s true, the sudden change in our economic environment has created some issues in the home buying and selling markets, however, it will eventually seek some form of normalcy as things stabilize and balance.  If you’re a seller, now’s a great time.

The great news is simply this, the housing market is back!

Check out this CNN video:


Mortgage Investors Group understands there are a lot of choices when it comes to financing the purchase of a new home or refinancing an existing one. Our licensed and experienced loan officers are here to help you gain a better understanding of those options and answer your questions about the loan process, qualifying and the different features of each loan program. We offer everything from conventional mortgages to government loans.

Call us today and take advantage of these incredible market conditions!

The Skinny on Fannie

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the skinny on fannieThe Skinny on Fannie

The Skinny on Fannie

Here’s the skinny on Fannie. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been the lead financial stories since the housing collapse in 2008. These GSE, Government Sponsored Enterprises, are private companies that have the full backing of the Federal Government, whose full purpose is to keep money flowing in the housing market.. On the brink of insolvency, the Feds pour millions of US Tax payers’ money into these companies to keep them from going under. To date, the amount of dollars spent is close to 170 million, with about 37% of that having been paid back to the US Gov in the form of treasury dividends.

Here’s some good news, the economy is starting to take off and the housing market is leading the charge. As a result, FNMA and Freddie Mac are starting to make money. Because of their new found profitability, the Federal government has taken steps to speed up repayment of their debt to the tax payers. Before, FNMA/Freddie were only required to pay back 10% in the form Treasury dividends. They were obligated to make that 10% repayment even if they had an income loss. A loss would require them to borrow from the Treasury to pay the Treasury dividend payment. In the mortgage business we call this negative amortization; in home finances, we call this robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Now there is a much better plan. Since FNMA/Freddie are returning to profitability, the government is requiring that all profits be swept to the repayment of the outstanding debt. If there are no profits, no payment will be required. However, it is fully expected that their profits will continue to rise due to the simple fact that FNMA/Freddie/FHA finance 9 out of every 10 homes. That means that 90% of all home loans are still financed, basically, by the Federal Government.

Which lead us to another point.

There has been a lot of talk about dissolving FNMA/Freddie but until someone figures out how to reduce the government’s financing of 90% of the housing market, FNMA/Freddie will be the main player in supplying the market with liquidity. “I can see FNMA and Freddie Mac merging, perhaps, but I can not see them being totally eliminated, at least not in the near term.” Jesse A Lehn, Executive Vice President, Operations, Mortgage Investors Group.

Here’s the bottom line: the housing market is strong and there is plenty of money to lend.

Mortgage Investors Group understands there are a lot of choices when it comes to financing the purchase of a new home or refinancing an existing one. Our licensed and experienced loan officers are here to help you gain a better understanding of those options and answer your questions about the loan process, qualifying and the different features of each loan program. We offer everything from conventional mortgages to government loans.

Call us today and take advantage of these incredible market conditions!