Fake it but still rake it: Today’s artificial turf

27 Jul

Artifical Grass TextureWhile the Carolinas aren’t quite in the severe drought conditions of the West Coast, it has been a long, dry summer for most of us here, making a lush green lawn only a dream. However, if you’re open to alternatives, you might be surprised to know that according to houselogic.com, 10 to 15 percent of households a year in the U.S. are installing synthetic grass.

Today’s artificial grass is not your grandfather’s AstroTurf. It may have long, smooth blades of grass that look exactly like real grass but are made of plastic. You can also get putting green short or somewhere in between. Variegated strands or a thatch layer can give it an even more realistic look. The sheets of artificial grass are made of filaments threaded into a backing that lets water through.

How much does it cost?

Artificial grass runs $5 to $20 per square foot, installed. Once down, it’s virtually free for the next 15 to 25 years.  And while professionally laid sod costs only 14 to 60 cents per square foot, you have to water, mow, and fertilize — all of which cost money and take time.

Intrigued? Let’s look at pros and cons:

Pros:

  • You’ll conserve water.
  • It’s easy to maintain.
  • Synthetic grass can be environmentally friendly.

And according to the Synthetic Turf Council, the recycled layer used in installation keeps 20 million rubber tires out of landfills every year.

Cons:

  • It’s not 100% maintenance-free—you still have to blow and rake leaves.
  • It can’t absorb and break down pet urine—you’ll have to hose off regularly.
  • It heats up in direct sun.
  • It can’t be recycled.

So, fake may be the real deal for you if:

  • You’re tired of watering, weeding, fertilizing, and cutting real grass, just to have it turn brown in the summer heat.
  • Your water bills are high.
  • You don’t want to use chemical fertilizers and herbicides.
  • You believe artificial grass looks as good as real grass — maybe better.

For more information, visit http://www.sunset.com/garden/landscaping-design/synthetic-grass-lawn.

By: Susan Larkin (Vice President, Marketing & Public Relations)

What You Need to Know about Homeowners’ Associations

23 Jul

You’ve found the perfect home, and had it inspected inside and out.  But do you know everything you should know about it prior to closing?

If your new community is governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA), it’s time to read the fine print.  Not understanding the rules (or lack of) of your HOA can result in frustration, conflict and lower property values in the future.

iStock_000006650982_SmallIn North Carolina and South Carolina, sellers are required by law to provide buyers with an “owners’ association and mandatory covenants disclosures statements” prior to acceptance of a signed purchase contract.  This includes information regarding restrictive covenants, HOA contacts, dues, services and judgments.  Additionally in South Carolina, sellers and buyers are required to complete and sign an Addendum that covers HOA covenants, conditions, restrictions, bylaws or rules (CCRBR) before making an offer.

Sometimes HOAs lack restrictions—and professional management.  If rules are too lax, i.e. parking, mailbox design, etc…and management is elected from the community, then each situation becomes a decision of neighbor vs. neighbor.  Proper cash reserves are also necessary to maintain community amenities such as pools, landscaping, signage and common areas, or special assessments are likely.

Buyers should look for a professional management company vs. a board of homeowners, clear guidelines, deed restrictions, policy on how assessments are enforced, and a detailing of proper reserves for capital investments.

Sellers should understand that they will need to disclose any HOA information to buyers, and that the HOA may charge a fee for current budget information, etc.  Sellers may want to proactively obtain this information and position as a benefit to potential buyers.

phyllis_brookshire2

Phyllis Brookshire
President, Allen Tate Realtors®

No longer your Grandpa’s generation

21 Jul

One of the strongest segments of today’s homebuying public is the Baby Boomers. Right up there with the Millennials who represent about 31 percent of buyers, the Boomers are ready to do business.

CMU BlogNo longer your Grandpa’s generation, Baby Boomers are active, engaged, and savvy. They know what they want – and don’t want. And they are owning their freedom and their choices.

In my latest edition of Carolinas Market Update, I take a closer look at the Baby Boomer generation and how they are driving the economy – and impacting the real estate market.

Born from 1946 to 1964, the Baby Boomer generation controls almost 70 percent of the disposable income in America and half of all Consumer Product Goods spending. A whopping 89 percent are open to trying new brands.

According to a recent Metrostudy report, this group of 79 million Americans ages 55+ will buy more than half of new U.S. homes in the next five years. And 64 percent of retirees will move to a new home at least once during their retirement years.

And what you might believe about the real estate preferences of Baby Boomers is likely wrong, according to a Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey.

While we see many Boomers move to the Carolinas to be closer to family, 83 percent of Baby Boomers actually choose to retire in the same state.

Baby Boomers are not all looking for a smaller home with less upkeep, or a condo with no yard to worry about. Surprisingly, 30 percent of Boomers actually upsize their home as they age, to make room for family to visit or live with them.

Two-third of Baby Boomers say they are living in the best home of their lives. Less than 10 percent of those homes include renovations for aging; Boomers are simply refusing to be labeled old. And of those who do make renovations? One-third add a home office, because they plan to continue working.

Move over, Millennials. The Boomers are not done making their moves. Fortunately, today’s real estate market has plenty of room for every generation. Give us a call and get started.

Pat Riley

Pat Riley
President and Chief Operating Officer, Allen Tate Company

TRID: What it means for you as a buyer or seller

17 Jul

Mortgage_1CAnyone in the real estate or mortgage industry understands that new regulations called TRID (TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosures) are coming. Maybe not as soon as we were expecting in August – but they will be here by October 3 of this year.

At Allen Tate Mortgage, we’re ready. But what does TRID mean for you as a buyer or seller in the fall real estate market?

If you have previously bought or sold a home, you’ll see two main changes: forms and closing deadlines.

Forms. The Truth-in-Lending Statement and Good Faith Estimate will be replaced by a new Loan Estimate. The Final Truth-in-Lending Statement and HUD-1 documents will be replaced by the Closing Disclosure.

These forms have been changed to provide the buyer with a clearer picture of the costs involved with mortgage financing, and to give the buyer more time to review and accept these terms. These changes originate from the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) as part of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Deadlines. What is most important is the impact on the time it may take to schedule a closing under these new rules. Buyers must receive and acknowledge their Closing Disclosure at least 3 business days prior to the closing. This will require more coordination and communication between agents, closing attorneys and lenders to ensure this takes place.

After 3-6 months, the new deadlines will become “business as usual,” but any buyers or sellers entering into contracts after October 3 will be among the first to work under these new guidelines. It’s very important to make sure you are working with an informed team of agents, closing attorneys and lenders in order for the process to go as smoothly as possible.

Our Allen Tate Mortgage Consultants and real estate agents have been in training for these changes since June and can help guide you through this process. In August, look for more information here on what you can do as a buyer to prepare for these upcoming TRID changes.

Lisa Green
Vice President of Sales, Allen Tate Mortgage

Allen Tate Mortgage NMLS# 79543

Loans available in NC/SC

It’s halftime!

15 Jul

How is the housing market in the Carolinas so far this year?

iStock_000050210472_SmallDespite a bump in recent months, interest rates are still historically low. Builders are returning and developers are developing to meet the in-migration of corporate transferees, retirees, second-career parents following their children and huge numbers of people moving to the Carolinas for a job and quality lifestyle.

Inventory – both new and resale – remains low. Our 7,546 listings so far this year are only a 2 percent increase over the same period in 2014, while sales units are up 16.4 percent and sales volume is up 22 percent. Higher-priced homes are picking up the pace.

Because Millennials and Baby Boomers are on the move, the demand for certain homes and neighborhoods is causing greater appreciation than predicted – more than the historic average of 3.5 to 4 percent annually.

But we are not in a “bubble” situation here in the Carolinas, by any means. This is the Year of Normalcy, and truth be told, we are still way off of 2007 numbers. We don’t ever want to go there again.

Lending guidelines are very strict, and only those qualified can own a home. This is very important for the long-term stability of our economy. Since World War II, approximately 62 percent of all homes in America have been owned. We’ve reached highs of 73 percent, but we are now down to 64 percent – a healthy number.

Builders are on the move again, and four living generations are all in play in the real estate market. Any home that is priced right, memorable, decluttered and marketed well will sell. The one difference today is that buyers are not interested in doing the work. They want hardwoods, open space, and outdoor living. Commercial brass is out, and master suite down is in. Convenience to amenities is a huge plus. For these reasons, some homes are selling much faster than others.

Call us today for advice on how to make your home desirable to the buying public – today or three years from now. We can help you be ready, and enjoy the improvements in the meantime.

Pat Riley

Pat Riley
President and Chief Operating Officer, Allen Tate Company

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