Carolina Feathered Friends

30 Jan

Northern Cardinal and light snow in winterAlmost every Carolina home has a place for bird feeders and bird shelters, and the winter months give us the opportunity to provide a little extra help for our feathered friends.

As a reward, you can expect to enjoy these and other lively songbirds in almost every North and Upstate South Carolina backyard:

  • Northern Cardinal
  • Mourning Dove
  • American Goldfinch
  • Carolina Wren
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • House Finch
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Blue Jay
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • American Robin

For a more complete list of common birds by state, click here.

Attracting songbirds with food

Plants, especially native grasses and perennial wildflowers, provide seeds for birds in the fall and winter. Do not prune seed heads at the end of the growing season for an additional source of winter food for birds.

Bird feeders supplement natural foods and attract birds in one place for easy viewing:

Black oil sunflower seeds are the best all-around seed type for hopper or platform feeders. Cardinals, chickadees, grosbeaks and buntings love sunflower seeds.

Thistle seeds can be used in tube feeders or in mesh bags, attracting goldfinches, house finches, pine siskins and purple finches.

White millet can be spread on the ground beneath shrubs, in piles of brush or under above ground feeders for Juncos, mourning doves and sparrows.

Suet, whether store-bought or homemade, is enjoyed by an incredible variety of birds, including bluebirds, catbirds, kinglets, nuthatches, pine warblers, woodpeckers, wrens, and yellow-rumped warblers.

Attracting with winter cover

Dense vegetation provides birds with places to escape from harsh weather and predators. Plant evergreen vegetation to provide daytime cover and nighttime roosting habitat for birds during harsh winter weather.

Loosely stack dead limbs, pruned limbs and other debris for brush cover for sparrows and juncos during the winter. Brush piles located near bird feeders generally are hubs for bird activity.

And don’t forget water during winter dry spells. Warm water in a bowl or birdbath is especially welcomed on those days when the temperature is below freezing.

FHA Loans Now More Affordable

28 Jan

Real Estate Mortgage Approved Loan DocumentIf you’re thinking about buying a home this year, there’s good news about a popular loan product.

FHA has recently announced that they will be cutting their annual insurance premiums from 1.35 percent to .85 percent. What this means for borrowers who finance with an FHA loan is a significant savings each year.

Traditionally, FHA has always been a good financing option for first-time homebuyers, only requiring a 3.5 percent down payment. However, in recent years, FHA has been increasing their monthly insurance premiums, making this loan program more expensive than some other options.

Your Allen Tate Mortgage Consultant can offer you a side-by-side comparison between an FHA loan and the new 3 percent down payment loan offered by FNMA (Fannie Mae) to see which product is a better fit for you.

For buyers with a lower credit score, FHA may be the better option. One thing to keep in mind is that the monthly insurance premium on an FHA loan cannot be cancelled. With the FNMA loan option with 3 percent down, you can request to drop the insurance when you have equity in your home of 20 percent or more.

The reduction in the FHA premium, along with the new 3 percent down payment option by FNMA, are evidence that the industry is making it more affordable to purchase a home. Both of these programs will also consider a gift for a down payment, which helps renters – who often struggle with saving for a down payment – become home buyers.

The FHA premium reduction goes into effect on January 26, and makes an FHA loan worth considering. Let us walk through the options with you to see what you may qualify for.

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Lisa Green (Vice President of Loan Origination)

Allen Tate Mortgage NMLS# 79543

Loans available in NC/SC

*Some restrictions apply and all loans are subject to final approval

It’s Time for Your Annual Insurance Checkup!

26 Jan

147839484Do you have a New Year’s resolution? Here’s an easy one that you can do now and appreciate later – an annual insurance checkup.

Simply put, an insurance checkup is a review of your current insurance coverage and cost by a trusted insurance professional. This no-cost evaluation ensures you are getting the best coverage, at the best price, while adequately insuring all of your personal assets.

What can you expect at your annual insurance checkup? Here are some helpful items to discuss.

Have you recently installed a central station burglar and fire alarm in your home?  If you have, you may be eligible for additional discounts on your homeowners insurance premium.

Have you acquired new artwork, jewelry, firearms or collections? These categories have limitations on a standard homeowner policy, so you may need extra coverage for these items.

How old is your vehicle? If your vehicle is paid for, you may not need to carry both comprehensive and collision coverage.

How do you use your vehicles? Are you still driving to and from work? Has your commute changed? Have you retired or started working from home since your last review?

Who is driving your vehicles? Do all of the drivers listed on your policy still live in your household?

What’s your deductible? The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

Do you have all the discounts you are entitled?  Most carriers provide discounts to your auto and home when your coverage is with the same carrier.

What else do I need? These common “peace of mind” coverages are available – and smart considerations in today’s world.

  • Identity theft coverage
  • Water and sewer backup
  • Replacement cost coverage on contents and dwelling
  • Jewelry/artwork riders (when applicable)
  • Towing coverage (for when you have an accident)
  • Rental car reimbursement (for when your car is being repaired)
  • Repair/replacement cost on new vehicles (a total covered loss can buy you a new version of your vehicle)

Before the year moves into full swing, take a few minutes to make sure you are protected. Schedule your annual insurance checkup now with your Allen Tate Insurance agent.

Robin Price
Vice President of Sales

Opportunities Abound for Real Estate in 2015

21 Jan

Market Update for CarolinasI’m optimistic about the opportunities waiting for us in 2015.

In 2014, real estate activity nationally decreased 8 to 15 percent, on the heels of a strong comeback year in 2013. Across the country, challenges that impacted housing included severe weather in the first quarter, the retreat of institutional investors; and the slow pace of new construction activity.

In the Carolinas, we fared better – and stayed right on par with 2014. (Allen Tate Company had $4.519 billion in closed sales volume in 2014 vs. $4.501 billion in 2013.)

In the January-February edition of Carolinas Market Update, I share my vision for the market for 2015 – which could very well mirror the growth and activity of 2013.

Homes will appreciate about 2.5 to 3 percent on average, with some neighborhoods appreciating more. That’s the type of “normal” growth that’s sustainable over time – the type we like to see.

The market will be busy, with empty-nesters downsizing to smaller homes, condos or continuing care facilities. Move-up buyers will find their next homes. Millennials buying their first homes will continue to dominate, making up 36 percent of the active buyer market.

Strong economic development activity will continue to positively impact the region, resulting in job creation and ultimately, more qualified buyers in the marketplace.

Buyers who have been waiting the past few years are expected to finally make a move, potentially prompted by a slight rise – maybe one point – in mortgage interest rates by summer.

The Carolinas remain in the sweet spot when it comes to real estate in 2015. Our demographics, economic development and attractive markets – combined with interest rates and low inventory – all point to 2015 as another year of growth.

The future is bright, and I’m excited.

As you make plans for 2015, include a call to your Allen Tate Realtor®. Whether you’re ready to buy, sell or simply understand what’s happening in your local market area, your Allen Tate Realtor is your trusted advisor and homeownership partner and is ready to help.

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Pat Riley
President and Chief Operating Officer, Allen Tate Company

What are you doing for others?

19 Jan

19. January 2015 Martin Luther King's BirthdayFor the past 20 years, the third Monday in January has been designated a federal holiday, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

While the holiday means a day away from school and business for many, it is not intended to be a day away from work – just the opposite. It is a day to come together, as neighbors and communities, to work together to provide solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. It is a national Day of Service.

At the Allen Tate Companies, we share Dr. King’s vision to serve others in our local communities.  For 57 years, we have placed giving back to our communities at the forefront of our mission and vision.

Our Tate Cares charitable giving program allows our Realtors and staff to support organizations and programs that make the most significant difference in the quality of life in communities where we live, work and play.

Tate Cares supports public education; arts, culture and history; and United Way organizations across the company’s footprint in North and South Carolina. Our annual FUNday to benefit public education has contributed more than $1.52 million in the 17 years it has been held.

I’m proud of what we do as a company, and I’m proud of what our agents and staff do to make a difference, through their time, advocacy and service.

Today is a great day to remember, celebrate and serve. But Dr. King would have wanted us to “walk the talk” each and every day. Let’s keep that in mind as we enjoy our many blessings and move forward in the coming year.

Pat Riley
President and Chief Operating Officer, Allen Tate Company

 

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