Everything has its time

23 Apr

Beach houses 4.23.14Housing is the first sector of the economy to head into a recession – and the first to lead the country out of the recession, because of all that follows.

Within the housing segment, condos lag coming out and lead going in. Vacation homes go in first and come out in a later time frame. It make sense, as a lifestyle change impacts both condos and secondary housing.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, the number of vacation homes purchased in 2013 jumped 30 percent to 717,000, vs. 553,000 in 2012. These numbers exclude institutional investors. But while this looks like an impressive increase, we are still lagging 33 to 40 percent behind 2006.

Carolinians with discretionary income want to make sure that appreciation rates are good before they purchase a secondary home to live in part-time or rent. Last year, 13 percent of all investment properties were vacation homes. Lifestyle (using the home), potential retirement and income opportunities are the primary motivators for this type of home purchase.

As homes regain value, several interesting trends are happening. Millennials are coming into the market for the first time. Boomers are downsizing and/or buying vacation homes, and the elderly are selling their paid homes to move into communities with a more predictable lifestyle.

While it varies by generation, housing once again is leading us out and moving us forward.

Pat Riley
President and Chief Operating Officer, Allen Tate Company

Please join us this spring!

21 Apr

Buy Sell House 4.21.14For the past 12 months, real estate in the Carolinas has seen the best activity in more than five years. We have seen more buyers entering the market; prices stabilizing and increasing; less distressed properties; and interest rates still at record lows.

So what is the only thing missing from this great comeback? Houses to sell! While buyers are busy, potential sellers are moving slowly.

Across our markets in the Carolinas, you can see a familiar pattern if you look at March 2013 vs. March 2014. Number of homes listed for sale are either down or have only slightly increased in most areas. During this same time, we have seen most markets increase in number of sales.

  • Burlington – 1,634 to 1,651, up 1 percent
  • Charlotte Region – 19,464 to 20,025, up 3 percent
  • Greenville, SC (Upstate Region) – 6,689 to 6,630, down 1 percent
  • Rock Hill, SC – 1,997 to 1,893, down 5 percent
  • Triad Region – 12,307 to 11,645, down 5 percent
  • Triangle Region – 17,062 to 15,117, down 11 percent

But what does this mean for buyers and sellers this spring?

For sellers, this is a great time to sell your house, and we need you! Houses that are priced right and in great condition are moving very quickly, and often are seeing multiple offers. You have less competition than ever before, and interest rates are still great for you to purchase that new home you have been thinking about.

For buyers, low interest rates are proving that ownership is still a better value than renting, and stable prices will allow you to consider your dream home. Our economy and housing market will continue to gain momentum in the next year, which ultimately will lead to higher rates and prices. Now is the time for the “once-in-a-lifetime” purchase before the markets heat back up.

Years from now, 2013 and 2014 will be the time we will look back and remember what a great opportunity it was to sell and purchase a home due to a real estate market that bottomed out.

Don’t miss out. Join us this spring as a buyer and/or seller, and you’ll have your own great story to tell.

Tony Jarrett
Regional Vice President, Triad

Relocating with Kids?

18 Apr

178770991The spring and summer months are peak times for moving to a new home. For relocating families, that means the added challenges of moving with kids.

One of the big questions that must to be answered when moving with kids is “When?”

Do you move during the school year – or during the summer when the kids are out of school? Two factors to consider are the ages of the kids and the timeline that will work best for the family.

Moving during the summer allows kids to finish out the school year at their existing school. In some cases, this might not matter, as the children may be moving up to middle or high school or to a new school next year anyway because of redistricting.

A challenge of waiting to move is the family might be separated for several months, with one parent remaining behind with the kids to finish the school year. Another consideration is enrollment in summer sports or camps. The registration for these activities is often well in advance of the summer, so kids may miss the opportunity to take part. Summer is also a popular vacation time, so neighborhood kids may be gone when your family arrives at your new home.

Moving during the school year allows kids to establish relationships and meet other kids immediately. They can jump into their new routine, joining clubs and sports teams.  School can help provide activities – so parents don’t have to entertain while they are busy with unpacking and getting settled.

Knowing when to move may be based on the children’s ages. Kids under 10 typically are more involved with and find support within the family unit. Teenagers, on the other hand, have begun to build relationships outside the family structure and friends are more involved in their lives. If a child is outgoing, they may not have difficulty becoming a part of new groups, while shy kids may find an easier fit through established school groups.

Whatever time of the year you move, it’s important to get kids involved in activities as soon as possible so they do not get bored or lonely and begin to regret the move. And thanks to technology, kids can continue stay connected with their friends while transitioning to a new home and making new friends – in real life.

DJ Stephan Blog 
DJ Stephan
President, Allen Tate Relocation

Which flooring is for you?

16 Apr

Flooring samples 4.16.14Want to upgrade your floors, but can’t decide which way to go? Laminate, hardwood or engineered hardwood? And what about resale value or your home’s marketability?

To help you decide, let’s look at these three flooring options:

1) Laminate is a durable, less expensive option and comes in a variety of colors and textures. The core is typically made of High Density Fiber (HDF) as opposed to actual slabs of wood. The top layer is a photographic layer designed to look like woods, etc. It’s the most durable and easiest to clean.

2) Hardwood floors are made from solid, natural wood. They are easier to damage and harder to clean and maintain and the most expensive option, but look lovely and feel solid.

3) Engineered hardwood flooring usually has a core of plywood or high-density fiberboard. The top layer is composed of a of hardwood veneer glued on top of the core. It has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species and greater moisture and heat resistance than solid hardwoods.

So when it comes to resale, can you describe your “wood-look” laminate floors as hardwood? Well, it could be that if you market laminate as wood, buyers might be turned off when they discover your “hardwoods” are not.

However, if you have used laminate in some areas due to their resistance to warping, or for over in-floor heating, be sure to point out this advantage. You could also describe your laminate floors as “wood-grain, low maintenance floors” to set buyer expectation.

Since engineered wood IS real wood, emphasize that engineered wood is a great product and fully as durable and sturdy as hardwood flooring, with more resistance to heat and moisture.

It’s up to you – choose your option based on need, preference, marketability and budget. Then let any potential buyers know what they are getting and why, so they can make an informed decision, too.

Tom Gongaware
General Sales Manager, Triangle Region

New Flood Insurance Law Might Mean Refund for Homeowners

14 Apr

73271468If you’re a homeowner who carries flood insurance, you might be eligible for a refund, as the result of some recently passed legislation.

On March 21, President Obama signed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 into law, which repeals and modifies certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The Biggert-Waters Act extends the National Flood Insurance Program through 2017 and is designed to protect homeowners who are at risk from flooding.

In a nutshell, the new Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act takes a closer look at some of the unintended consequences of Biggert-Waters, including program funding shortfalls, claims handling, flood hazard mapping and management of floodplains.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) are working to analyze the changes this new law brings and determine how it will be implemented.

What could this mean for homeowners with flood policies?

  • Some policy holders could receive refunds for overpaid premiums.
  • Some policy holders could pay a slightly higher premium.
  • Annual policy rate increases, set by FEMA, will be kept to a maximum of 15-18 percent (instead of 25 percent).
  • All policy holders will see a surcharge ($25 for a primary residence policy) to help the program remain financially sustainable.

Policy holders are not expected to see refunds or increases for approximately 12-18 months until FEMA and NFIP can review and implement changes. FEMA also advises homeowners not to cancel flood insurance policies, leaving them unprotected and subject to losing possible discounts on their rate.

Questions about flood insurance? Your Allen Tate Insurance agent is your best source of information and will make sure you are adequately protected.

Robin Price
Vice President of Sales, Allen Tate Insurance
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