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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!


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


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


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 6/8/13: Chief Economist, CoreLogic Case-Shiller


Special Guest: Dr. David Stiff, Chief Economist, CoreLogic Case-Shiller

Home Prices Rise by 12.1 Percent Year Over Year in April

Chief Economist, CoreLogic Case-Shiller, Dr. David Stiff – CoreLogic, joins us in studio to talk about the state of the economy and its effects on housing and prices. Dr. Stiff is the chief economist for CoreLogic’s nationally known Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

Home Prices Rise by 12.1 Percent Year Over Year in April!

CoreLogic, a leading residential property information, analytics and services provider, today released its April CoreLogic HPI™ report. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 12.1 percent on a year-over-year basis in April 2013 compared to April 2012. This change represents the biggest year-over-year increase since February 2006 and the 14th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 3.2 percent in April 2013 compared to March 2013.

Highlights as of April 2013:  Full Report click: News Release

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were:  Nevada (+24.6 percent), California (+19.4 percent), Arizona (+17.3 percent), Hawaii (+17 percent) and Oregon (+15.5 percent).
  • Including distressed sales, this month only two states posted home price depreciation:  Mississippi (-1.7) and Alabama (-1.6 percent).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+22.6 percent), California (+18.3 percent), Idaho (+16.4 percent), Arizona (+15.3 percent) and Washington (+13.9 percent).
  • Excluding distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation in April.
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to April 2013) was -22.4 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -16.3 percent.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-47.3 percent), Florida (-40.5 percent), Michigan (-36.1 percent), Arizona (-36 percent) and Rhode Island (-34.7 percent).
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 94 were showing year-over-year increases in April, the same as in March 2013.

Full-month April 2013 national data can be found at http://www.corelogic.com/HPIApril2013

Economic reports strengthening economy!


Things are humming in regards to news from the economic front. Consider this good news:

  • Jobless claims decreased
  • Jobs are increasing
  • New home sales posted gains
  • Existing home sales rise
  • Pending home sales rise
  • February and April reported some of the fastest home sales months since 2008
  • Home values continue increasing
  • Home sales rose 29% higher than last year
  • Building permits rise in April
  • Durable goods rose in April(a very good housing indicator)
  • 1st Q economy grew at 2.5%
  • Consumer spending faster rise in 2 years
  • Consumer confidence at a 5 year high

    The US Economy continues to get stronger. Mortgage rates are up but they are still at historic lows.

    Here’s the bottom line, expanding economy + rising home prices + rising mortgage interest rates = time to buy.

    Timings everything, now’s the time.

    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!

Steps to Winning the House Bidding War!


Why is there a 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.

The Bidding War largeThese are  great signs for our economy, but these conditions create challenges for all parties. There are things you can do to prepare for the bidding war:

Steps to winning the house Bidding War:

1.  Get a professional Real Estate Agent.

They will be able to alert you with the latest homes that hit the listing market. Timing is everything, and fast reaction increases your chances to submit a winning bid. Plus a Realtor knows the art of negotiation and all the complexities that are involved in a transaction. Don’t go it alone.

2. Get pre-approved by a Mortgage Investors Group NMLS licensed Loan Officer.

The Realtor will insist you get pre-approved but make sure you keep the LO updated on all your financial changes. Good piece of advice don’t do anything that will affect your credit during the process. That ‘must have’ car, TV or whatever, can wait. No one like surprises, focus on one thing, finding that perfect house and winning the bid.

3. Keep the offers simple and sale conditions to a minimum.

Remember, the bidding war is due to more buyers than sellers. You are going to have to offer more than the list price. Also, the less complicated the offer the more likely the contract will be considered by the seller. Too many demands may put you at a significant disadvantage. Listen to your agent;  don’t try to get creative, keep it simple.

4. Earnest Money Deposit.

Follow the advice of your Realtor, but a large earnest money deposit may have a psychological effect on a seller. Small deposits may not appear sincere or worse it may look like you may not be able to afford the home. If this is the house of your dreams, don’t be afraid of stepping up that deposit.

5. If your bid gets rejected act fast.

You may have thought your offer was perfect, but things happen. If your agent calls you late at night and says you need to re-submit the bid, don’t delay; it may be more convenient to wait until morning, but it also may be too late.

6. Winning or losing.

Winning is the goal but losing is a possibility. Don’t lose heart. Get ready for the next call from your Realtor and start the process all over, you will eventually win!

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 let us help you find the best loan that fits your family’s need!

Special Interview: Magic Mulch


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Special Guest: Chris McComas



Magic Mulch

What is Magic Mulch?

Magic Mulch is a 100% recycled product made from used tires. The tires are removed of all metal and wire, and then de-oiled to prevent dry rotting. It is finely shredded to mimic the look of wood mulch.


How long does it last?

Magic Mulch rubber does not break down, disintegrate, erode or biodegrade. The natural black uncoated mulch, which mimics the look of midnight black wood mulch, is likely to last forever (guaranteed for 10 years). The brown and red mulch is coated with a polyurethane organic dye and is guaranteed to hold its color for 10 years. The dye will not wash or rub off.


How is it installed?

We sell our mulch in 40lb, 60lb and 2,000lb Bags. We recommend laying a fabric weed blocker down before installing the mulch. This will not only help prevent weeds from growing, but will also protect the mulch from sinking into loose soil over the 10+ duration. If you chose to use a fabric, however, make sure you secure it very well with fabric pins to ensure it does not ride up and show. We also recommend some sort of edging or border to prevent wash away due to flooding.


Is it hard to maintain?

Magic Mulch is a very low maintenance product. Once you lay it down, it will not change for 10+ years. If you get leaves in the mulch you must use a leaf blower on the lowest setting to remove them. Keep the leaf blower approximately 2 feet away from the mulch and never use a higher blower setting.

Air Date 5/25/13: America’s 10 City Challenge


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Are You Ready For America’s 10 City Challenge?

Special Guest: Shauna Bryan, CEO

America’s 10 City Challenge

We are initially challenging the nation’s 10 fattest states to lose a total of 1 million pounds. Think this sounds impossible? Not so! With the help of America’s Ten City Challenge trained coaches and partnerships with state and local government officials, professional athletes and celebrities, and nation-wide and local sponsors, this aspiration will become a reality. This is only the beginning. Our goal is to extend this challenge nationally to every state in the country.

Who We Are

America’s 10 City Challenge is a dynamically evolving, highly creative, health and wellness company that develops innovative programs that are tailor made for individuals and corporations.

Through nutrition and smart choices we are dedicated to eradicating obesity and creating a healthy mindset and lifestyle that will build and maintain a reality of wellness in every client we encounter.

How It Works

First, you will need to register.

After registration, your account will be created and you will receive an e-mail with information on how to login and download the required forms need for the challenge.

Beyond the Challenge

America’s 10 City Challenge will continue, through this website, to encourage, educate and support participants in maintenance with their new healthy lifestyle.

What Sets Us Apart

We understand that nutrition is the foundation for optimal health. For this reason, the initial month of America’s 10 City Challenge focuses mostly on healthy eating. We are confident that every participant will see improvements in their overall health. Weight loss will simply be a bonus! Through our proprietary program and the guidance of trained health coaches, participants will truly experience the positive impact that healthy eating has on their lives.

After the initial 30 day program is complete, we will encourage participants to continue their journey of health through continued guidance with health coaches and America’s 10 City Challenge wellness programs. Our goal, through education and mentorship is to provide our participants with a set of tools that will allow them to become their own health advocate as they strive for total well-being and optimal health.

Download our New Mobile APP!!


History of Sears Kit Homes


William Levitt was not the first person or business to use a prefabricated method of home construction. He certainly took the science to the next level when he was building almost 30 homes per day in the late ’40′s in Levittown.  But, the prefabricated business of home construction was 50 years old by that time. In the late 1800′s, Sears and Roebuck was the leading retailer in the home mail order business. Almost every rural community in America relied on their highly anticipated thick catalog full of every gadget known to man. The catalog contained every necessary item for the house and barn, and when  no longer needed, it supplied the outhouse. Sears was known for reliability, quality and, convenience.

Around the turn of the century, Sears was entering the catalog Home building business. They would design, cut, package and ship, by rail, more than 70,000 homes between 1908 and 1940. Sears created hundreds of different floor plans and exteriors. They were also able to take any individual customer’s design and pre-package the order with all the required items. This style of construction was extremely efficient and affordable. Traditional forms of home building required creating, fashioning, forging or milling the necessary materials to complete the home at considerable expense and time.

The construction techniques designed by Sears were clearly ahead of its time. The builder was occasionally the home buyer with help from willing neighbors but most of the time carpenters were hired. Unskilled labor was not an issue due to the simplistic construction design.  One of  the newer building techniques, for example, consisted of the interior walls being constructed from nailed framing of 2×4 pine studs extending from the floor sill plate to the rafters, instead of the heavy timbers that had typically been used which required hand hued mortised tongue and groove connections. This new style of construction was called ‘balloon’ studded framing; it made possible for fewer, less skilled workers to erect a single wall section. This design was used into the 50′s and modified techniques continue today. There are other examples of cost saving and simplistic design methods, like inexpensive sheets of dry wall nailed  over the balloon framing of the interior walls instead of the labor intensive plaster over lattice and wire mesh that was normal for the day. Asphalt shingles for the roof were relatively new to construction but much more efficient than the typically, labor intensive, split shingle (shake) system or a Tin roof covering, both requiring extensive labor and skill.

Modern conveniences were continuously being incorporated into plans and the catalog was full of add on options. Kitchens had the latest appliances and homes were outfitted with central heat and in some cases, central air.

Detailed in her book entitled, The Houses That Sears Built,  Rosemary Thornton writes: “Between 1908 – 1940, more than 75,000 Sears’s homes were built. Sears kit homes contained 30,000 pieces, including 750 pounds of nails, 27 gallons of paint, and a 75-page instruction book. Sears estimated that the average carpenter would charge $450 to assemble those 30,000 pieces of the house. The painter’s fee – $34.50. Other estimated skilled labor would cost $1.00 an hour. Prices for these build-it-yourself houses ranged from $147.00 to $6,000.00. After selecting a house design from the Sears Modern Homes catalog, customers were asked to send in $1.00. By return mail, they received a bill of materials list and blueprints. When the buyer placed the actual order for the home building materials, the $1.00 sent in earlier was credited toward the purchase.”

Sears catalog orders were robust until the Great Depression gripped the nation, stripping over 30 billion dollars of her wealth in the first week. The continued effects were devastating as businesses, and home owners lost everything they had. Home foreclosure rates soared to approximate 1,000 per day. Sears catalog orders certainly were affected by the Depression as their business started to slow. Although, The Great Depression never stopped the Sears Home catalog business, changing housing codes would bring an end to it. Sears could no longer adapt to the changing local building codes in municipalities and states. By the 1940′s,  Sears had dropped their catalog home mail order business.

Special Guest:  Rosemary Thornton Author and Authority on Sears Catalog Homes

Do you live in a Sears Home? Learn how to identify a Sears home! We want to hear from You! Mark.Griffith@migonline.c

*Click to buy book!

 Sears Catalog Homes:

For more than 10 years, Rose Thornton has traveled throughout the country, seeking and finding Sears Homes. In that time, she’s written countless newspaper and magazine articles, in addition to several books.

Rose is the author of The Houses That Sears Built (2002,) Finding the Houses That Sears Built (2004) and she’s the co-author of California’s Kit Homes (2004) and Montgomery Wards Mail-Order Homes (2010). Rose’s newest book – The Sears Homes of Illinois – was published in December 2010.

Rosemary Thornton

Order your copy today!