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Firestorm 2007 - San Diegans come together in times of crisis!

by Best Homes Team

On Sunday, October 21st I met with the soccer team I coach (7 year old girls) at 10:00 AM to take our team photo.  One of the parents and a friend of mine, Chris Sovay, is a San Diego firefighter.  He was considering playing in a benefit golf tournament  with me that day, but had to bow out.  He mentioned casually, "We're expecting there might be fires with the Santa Ana winds.  I'm on call to go in to work."

"Might be fires..." would be the understatement of 2007, and perhaps this decade.

The golf tournament went on, without Chris.  At tee time, 1 PM, we had heard nothing of fires.  By the time we finished at 6, we understood that there were fires burning.  When the dinner was over at 8:30 PM, we were aware that evacuations were well under way and many homes were in peril.

How quickly things change...  From an October morning that the Chamber of Commerce might feature in a brochure to the onset of the worst firestorm in history in just a few hours...  I'm not going to try and report upon that; the media has done an excellent job in keeping the citizenry updated and informed.

I just want to take a moment to thank the San Diego Firefighters, The Division of Forestry Firefighters, all Law Enforcement officers and officials, The American Red Cross, The San Diego Food Bank, the Media, and so many other entities (including politicians) for making this potential disaster as tolerable and controlled as it possibly could be.

Hats off to everyone involved for orderly handling of this.  It could have been a crisis, and I'm certain it is for those who have lost their homes, yet the handling of the situation undoubtedly saved many lives.  Homes can be rebuilt, but the valuable things - life and families - have been spared by the quick and decisive actions of the entities noted above.  Great Work.

I also want to take a moment to congratulate the people of San Diego County.  I just returned from making a donation at the evacuation site at Qualcomm Stadium, and I must say that I have never seen such an outpouring of aid.  There were mountains of supplies - food, water, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, canopies, pet & animal food and more.  Here's a photo I shot with my cell phone as I was passing out water to the site workers.

Let's give ourselves a pat on the back for our efforts.  There is more here than they can use, yet I was assured that the supplies will be needed elsewhere.  The woman who put me to work told me that when they need anything, they simply notify the media.  Whatever they ask for is there, with cars lined up to deliver it in less than an hour.

WOW.  I'm impressed at the efforts of San Diego in pulling together in this time of need.  I know that there are people using the shelter I brought for relief from the sun, there are kids enjoying the toys that my own children donated from their toyboxes, and the other supplies we've donated are helping make life easier there as people wait to return to their homes.

My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes.  I lived through the wind-whipped flames of the Panorama fire in 1980.  We managed to save our home then; 100's of our neighbors did not.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those folks today who've suffered loss, just as they did 27 years ago to our friends and neighbors.

Good luck to the men & women still out there on the lines!  And thanks, Chris, for skipping golf to save lives and homes.


Oktoberfest! A Best Homes Team Tradition Coming to an End?

by Best Homes Team

Hola to all our friends and clients!

Well, as things go, changes have come and for the first time in at least 14 (and maybe 17) years we will not be at the La Mesa Oktoberfest.  Yep - if you wander past our location that has been a fixture at the corner of Pine and Allison (thank god the City didn't change the name of this street that honors a founding father of the City), you will not find us there handing out balloons to all kids and real estate flyers to those interested in properties.

It seems decades ago that we started the tradition of being on the boulevard with our flyers and brochures.  My wife Suzy and I tired to think about when we got started there - we've been together 13 years (10 married) and I had put in 3-4 years B.S. (before Suzy).

We've always been innovators in the field of real estate marketing and sales, and I was indeed the first real estate broker to have a presence at the Oktoberfest.  It was a new and exciting concept to have real estate information available at the venue.  In those early days EVERYONE from La Mesa went to the event.  We saw past and present clients, and made lots of new friends. 

And, we sold homes there.

We must remember that the Internet did not exist as a marketing medium until the last 8 years or so.  There was no way for buyers to see homes without calling a Realtor, and the concept of having full color flyers there at the event for 100,000+ people to see was unique.  Each year we sold at least one home to someone who stopped by the booth.  One year we had a buyer stop by on Friday, take a flyer, and they bought the home on Saturday.  That buyer's home was listed on Saturday - we made a quick color flyer for it, and that home sold on Sunday at the booth.  It was amazing!

It is said that everything changes, and so has the Oktoberfest for us.  Now buyers can visit homes on the Internet and take full interior and exterior tours.  Over the past few years the public interest in seeing real estate flyers has diminished.  This is understandable, as anyone interested in buying or selling need simply go on-line and view homes to their heart's content.

Another factor that has contributed to our opting out of this fine La Mesa event is apathy of the people in La Mesa and the surrounding communities.  Let's face it - we've been there, and so has everyone else.  What used to be a fun little gathering in the quaint Downtown area has now become a mega-event that attracts 200,000+.  The local people don't come out any more!  Over the past 3-4 years we haven't seen the same friendly faces.  I've met folks from Santa Barbara, Temecula, and Ensenada there, but see fewer and fewer from our area.

So for the first time in many, many years, the Best Homes Team will not be a fixture at the La Mesa Oktoberfest.  Will we be missed?  At least 10 of our past clients have asked us is we would be attending.  A few may wonder where we went, but the Oktoberfest will go on without us.

Everything changes, and this Sunday as I'm taking my kids water-skiing & fishing at our home on the Colorado River (don't worry - I have my laptop & cell phone for offers & communication), I may just get a bit of mist in my eye as I recall Sundays for 14+ years listening to the "Chicken" song and handing out balloons in downtown La Mesa.

Thanks to you all for your continued support.  New and innovative marketing ideas are coming!  It seems the Oktoberfest has passed for us, but you never know - we could be back next year!

Rob & Suzy Northrup and the Best Homes Team

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Photo of Best Homes Team by Rob Northrup Real Estate
Best Homes Team by Rob Northrup
Best Homes Team CA BRE#: 00938658
2552 Fletcher Parkway
El Cajon CA 92020
Fax: 619-463-1427