The Season’s Most Important Square Footage

26 Nov

Presenting the TurkeyReal estate practitioners love to talk about square footage. We expound upon “Living Area” square footage, “Above” and “Below” grade square footage, the mysterious matter of “Other” square footage, and the dreaded “Unpermitted” square footage (which is “Living Area” square footage created without the benefit of a lawful permit).

But this time of year, my square footage attention turns to the 675,000 square foot Butterball turkey facility in Mount Olive, North Carolina … home to the world’s largest turkey plant. Mount Olive, named for the Biblical Mount of Olives, is a small town about 80 miles southeast of Raleigh. Not only is Mount Olive North Carolina’s unofficial pickle capital (the Mt. Olive Pickle Company is based there), it may also have been the origin of your Thanksgiving bird.

Butterball produces 20 percent of all the turkeys in the United States. That’s 1.2 billion pounds of turkey … and that’s why it takes this 675,000 square foot facility plus five smaller Butterball plants to feed us. 675,000 square feet would gobble up nearly 16 acres … and is roughly 65 times larger than the largest residence currently for sale on I can’t imagine how many bedrooms and bathrooms they could fit in there.

Butterball itself is headquartered just outside Raleigh in the town of Garner. But unless you’re trying to find the CEO (the head turkey), the better location to know about this time of year is in Naperville, Illinois. That’s where the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line® is based. The famous turkey hotline opened in 1981 and handled more than 10,000 consumer calls that year. Today, the line receives more than 100,000 callers during the Thanksgiving season alone.

So, let the feasting begin! Set aside your measuring tape and be thankful for your many blessings and opportunities to overeat. And keep this number handy … 1-800-BUTTERBALL. Even the most powerful person in the world sometimes needs help at Thanksgiving.

Tom Gongaware
General Sales Manager, Triangle Region

The Gift of a Down Payment

24 Nov

House of ribbon with bowAs we enter the traditional season of gift giving, it’s a perfect time to look at the ways you can help a family member buy a home of their own.

The down payment is typically what first-time homebuyers struggle with. The good news is almost all types of loans allow the use of gift funds from a family member or friend – and are a great way for someone to get into their first home.

Gifts are used most often in loans with FHA financing but are increasingly used in conventional lending as well.  According to the 2014 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 14 percent of all buyers used gift funds. Among unmarried couples purchasing a home, 24 percent have the assistance of a gift.

If you want to give the gift of homeownership this holiday season, here are some things you need to know:

  • You must write a gift letter. This must include (1) the amount of the gift; (2) the property address of the home to be purchased; (3) the relationship of the “gifter” to the “giftee”; and (4) a note that indicates the gift is actually a gift (not a loan) and will not be repaid.
  • You must show the lender where your funds come from (aka “the paper trail”). This is where it can get tricky. Funds must be documented to ensure that you as the donor have the ability to give the gift. The gift can come from bank accounts including a home equity loan, but it cannot be cash. You will be required to provide a copy of the account statement from where the money is coming from. You’ll also want a copy of the check you write for the gift.
  • The recipient must show proof of deposit of the gift into their account. This is why it is important to give the gift early in the loan process so the deposit has time to clear the bank.

So rather than another ugly sweater or DVD, consider giving the gift of homeownership this holiday season. It might be the most appreciated gift you’ll ever give.

PS – And if you’d like to find a special gift from Aunt Trudy or Grandpa Jim under your tree, feel free to print this blog and leave it in a conspicuous place … along with some cookies.


Lisa Green (Vice President of Loan Origination)

Allen Tate Mortgage NMLS# 79543

Loans available in NC/SC

All loans subject to credit and collateral approval.

The Right Fence for You

21 Nov

White FenceA fence can help define and enhance outdoor spaces, block a view or noise, provide security and privacy, give children and pets a safe place to play, and offer a design enhancement to your landscaping. Let’s take a look at some of your options:


Pros: Wooden fences come in a wide range of styles, from split rail to classic white picket, to stockade.

Cons: Most wood requires protection from rot and insects, or must be stained or painted. It will eventually require replacement or repairs.

Chain Link

Pros: Chain link fences are strong, provide air and light flow, security and containment. Vinyl-coated chain link is virtually maintenance-free, affordable and comes with a 15-year warranty.

Cons: Uncoated galvanized steel chain link rusts within 10 years.

Vinyl Fences

Pros: Vinyl fences are low maintenance, require no repainting, and are not susceptible to rot. Usually come with 20-year warranties from peeling and cracking. Just wash as needed.

Cons: Initial cost is high and styles and colors are limited. This fencing won’t hold up to hard abuse, will burn intensely if it catches fire, and can become brittle in cold weather.


Pros: By far, the longest lasting option and the most efficient choice for reducing noise and providing privacy.

Cons: The most expensive fencing option and may require periodic repairs.

Wrought Iron

Pros: Wrought iron is strong, looks beautiful and is the best design choice for historic properties.

Cons: High maintenance and cost. You must sand and repaint every two or three years.


Pros: Durable and handsome. Bamboo is “green” because it is more sustainable than wood from slow-growing forests.

Cons: High maintenance. It will need a coat of strong polyurethane finish or varnish every five to seven years to prevent blackening from weather exposure.

Don’t be afraid to get creative. A tall, privacy fence in back works well with a short, ornamental fence in front. A nicer, front-facing nicer gate dresses up a backyard chain link fence.

Fencing is an investment you will enjoy for years to come. Ask your Allen Tate Realtor® for advice regarding popular fencing options in your area.

By Angela Dole (Regional Vice-President) – Guest Blogger


Do it “Your Way”

19 Nov

Happy senior woman standing by sign board with clipboardMany of us can recall the words – and more importantly – the message of My Way, the 1969 ballad written by Paul Anka and popularized by crooner Frank Sinatra.

The lyrics reflect on the many choices we face in life, the goals we set for ourselves, and the difficult decisions we must make. The reward for the man in the story, as he approaches death, is that he did it his way, with responsibility and integrity.

The ability to make your own decisions in your career is not a luxury many have. Often, those decisions are determined by the company/supervisor you are working for. It is their vision, their message, their style – and done their way.

In real estate, the options for you to personalize your business around you are truly limitless. You need to live by the Realtor Code of Ethics and the stipulations of the Real Estate Commission, but the rest is up to you. It’s your game, your way.

Is this difficult? Might you make a mistake or do something that you wish you hadn’t? Of course. With great power comes great responsibility. But consider the rewards along with the risks.

You get to create “Me, Inc.” with all of your signature strengths featured front and center. Is marketing your thing? Perfect! Are you at your best when you are developing relationships and working with people? Are you a pro at social media? Or maybe the analytical side is for you. Whatever it is, you can develop your real estate career around your strongest skills and deepest passions.

With unlimited earning potential and freedom from a time clock, real estate can provide the career you have always wanted.

And as so eloquently stated … with few regrets and done your way.

By Barbara O’Rourke, Director of Career Development

Auto Insurance Myths

17 Nov

Car insuranceAs insurance professionals, we often hear reasons why someone believes their insurance rates should be lower. While these beliefs are good to start a dialogue, most of the time they are untrue.

Consider these common myths about car insurance:

  • I am older than 25, so my insurance rates should be cheaper. Some carriers use age as a rating factor, but most insurance carriers consider how long you have been a licensed driver. Less experienced drivers (and therefore, younger drivers) will pay a higher rate. Rates vary by state, but most states will reduce rates after three years of driving with a good record.
  • My car is older, so I just need the minimum insurance coverage. If you are involved in an accident, you could have injuries or cause injuries to others. Don’t get caught with inadequate coverage based on the value of your car. Make sure you have as much liability and medical payment coverage as you can carry. You could consider, based on the age of your car, to eliminate collision coverage (if the car is paid off), but liability and medical payment coverage are “musts”. 
  • My car insurance should be less expensive than my friend who drives a red car. The color of your car has no bearing on your insurance. While some would argue that you are spotted easier when speeding in a car of a certain color, the year, make and model are what matters in respect to insurance costs on a particular vehicle. Your liability limits, comprehensive and collision deductibles and driving record will also impact your insurance rates.
  •  My car continues to get older, so my rates should not increase. Rates are based on many factors: cost of repairs, cost of your vehicle, and driving history. An older car may be more expensive to insurance because it’s more difficult to obtain parts. By reviewing your insurance coverage annually with your trusted insurance advisor, you can make sure you are getting all discounts that may apply.

What other things have you heard about auto insurance coverage? Talk to an Allen Tate Insurance agent to find out which of these is a myth – and which are truths.

Robin Price
Vice President of Sales



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