In the Carolinas, Business is Building

23 Jul

Market Update for CarolinasIf your daily commute involves more than a few miles, there’s a good chance you’ve been stuck behind a construction truck in recent months. And while that can be frustrating, it’s also a good thing.

In 2013, the Carolinas were one of the top regions in the country for the most single-family home starts, according to U.S. Census Bureau building permit data. In 2014, we’re continuing to see strong activity with new construction.

Are we in the midst of another building boom? Perhaps, but I see this trend more as creating more opportunities for buyers who are ready to sell now. In the July-August edition of Allen Tate’s Carolinas Market Update, I explain that when new construction is available, this puts more existing homes on the market – and in turn, helps boost housing inventory.

New home starts have been slow in recent years, as builders left the market or significantly slowed their projects. Homebuyers who prefer new construction have been waiting patiently – and now they are ready to make their move as strong job creation in the Carolinas has strengthened the economy.

When newly built homes are available, 41 percent of the market prefers new construction. About half of that – 21 percent – prefer an existing home, and 38 percent have no preference, according to an April 2014 Harris Poll.

While new homes run about 20 percent higher than existing homes in the same Zip Code, buyers are willing to spend a bit more to get modern features; choices of models and décor; and a home initially free of maintenance and repair issues.

Most people who buy new simply want a brand-new home – free of dirt and wear-and-tear from previous owners.

When people ask my advice about buying new construction, many of them are surprised to learn that they still need a Realtor®, and it doesn’t cost them more than going “direct” to a builder. A Realtor offers sound advice and experience to help you find the right property, navigate the process and represent you on your way to becoming a happy new home owner.

Ready to check out new homes in your area? Call your Allen Tate Realtor today – and let’s go!

Pat Riley
President and Chief Operating Officer, Allen Tate Company

Which way is the wind blowing?

21 Jul

7.21.14 Weather damageEarlier this month, when Hurricane Arthur threatened the Atlantic Coast, many insurance carriers restricted binding new coverage until they determined which way the wind would choose to blow.

We often get asked the question “Why do insurance carriers restrict binding in the event of a storm that most likely will not affect inland property?”

Hurricanes, as we’ve learned from history, are fickle creatures that are capable of changing their mind – and their direction and strength at any minute. As a result, carriers start early to restrict binding.

If you lived in the Carolinas in 1989, you most certainly remember the unexpected wrath of Hurricane Hugo. After weakening to a Category 2 hurricane, Hugo picked up strength again, hitting Charleston, South Carolina as a Category 4 hurricane, with 140 mph winds. The storm reached Charlotte, North Carolina six hours later as a fairly strong tropical storm with sustained winds of 54 mph and gusts of 87 mph. (A side note: The name Hugo was retired by the World Meteorological Organization, the naming body of hurricanes, because of the catastrophic damage it caused.)

So what does restricted binding mean to you as a consumer?

  • If you are a current homeowner, and your home is hit by a hurricane, you are most likely insured for the typical coverage perils: wind, hail, lightning and fire. But you only have flood coverage if you have a separate policy that specifically covers flooding, and you can’t get that once a hurricane or flood has been forecasted.
  • If you are trying to close on a home and you need insurance coverage, your closing could be delayed. If there is a storm in your area and you have not already confirmed insurance coverage is in place, you will not be able to obtain coverage until the storm has passed and your carrier is able to bind coverage again.
  • If you’re trying to purchase a new vehicle, you cannot purchase physical damage coverage, also known as comprehensive and collision coverage, when your insurance carrier is unable to bind coverage.

Hurricane season runs through November 30. Don’t wait until the wind starts blowing to contact your Allen Tate Insurance Agent and make sure you’re covered.

Robin Price
Vice President of Sales, Allen Tate Insurance

The Housing Recovery

16 Jul

7.16.14 House on increasing moneyAn economy is not a complicated thing. It just has a lot of moving parts. – Ray Dalio

The lack of rebound in home sales in most of the country this spring can be tied to three things: unseasonable weather; aggressive home price appreciation and rising interest rates.

Above-average appreciation the last few years was caused by lack of supply at certain price points and consumer demand.

Builders were very aggressive in their pricing last year because they could be – due to years of pent-up demand. Even they are having a wake-up call that annual appreciation rates are getting back down to post-World War II rates of 2-5 percent.

Conversely, those parts of the country that are enjoying economic development – and job creation – are certainly on a better track when it comes to housing.

There’s good news for homeowners who are underwater (owing more than they can get for their property); more and more are climbing back in the game each month. According to Corelogic, 312,000 residential homes regained their equity in Q1 2014. That means the number of residential properties with equity is about 43 million. What that leaves is 6.3 million homes still underwater – down from 8.3 million from last year.

A factor in the recovery pace is that 10 million of the 43 million homes have equity that is less than 20 percent. Many homeowners who want to upgrade to a larger or more expensive home may not have the income to get the payment where it needs to be, with the new mortgage qualification ratios.

What does this all mean? It means that the housing recovery will be steady but slower than some would like, depending on your particular marketplace.

2014 is the year that we are normalizing and righting the ship. The future is bright, despite the unusual variables out there. It’s all good and necessary. We have come out of a once-in-history storm so the unexpected is to be expected.

Call us to help you make your next move. We will help you navigate.

Pat Riley
President and Chief Operating Officer, Allen Tate Company

We’re rockin’ in Rock Hill

14 Jul

7.14.14 Rock-Hill-Dave-LyleIn business, there are two big challenges: getting started and managing growth. But in Rock Hill, growth is a good problem to have.

After 21 years as the leading real estate company in the area, locally owned Allen Tate Realtors® has opened a second Rock Hill location to serve its growing population of agents and clients.

The new office, located at 2391 Dave Lyle Boulevard, is in the heart of the Rock Hill retail corridor. Directly in front of WalMart, near Sam’s Club and Academy Sports, and next to the recently renovated Galleria Mall, the location offers high visibility and convenience for clients who are already out and about shopping, dining and running errands.

The Rock Hill – Dave Lyle Boulevard office embraces Allen Tate’s new flex-space, open floor plan design, catering to different work styles, including agents who prefer to work virtually. It is equipped with the latest wireless technology, conference space and a relaxing “living room” setting where clients can view property listings on video screens.

It’s easy to see why more and more people are calling Rock Hill home. Just 30 miles from Uptown Charlotte, Rock Hill offers a small-town atmosphere with the convenience of major metropolitan amenities. Lower taxes and excellent schools also make it attractive.

While Rock Hill has maintained its historical appeal and character with attractions like Historic Brattonsville and traditional main street storefronts, it has become somewhat of a mecca for competitive sports events. Baseball, soccer, and lacrosse tournaments, cycling criterium and BMX racing are popular. Winthrop University and nearby Carowinds amusement park both draw visitors from near and far.

I’m excited about the opportunity to serve the Rock Hill community from two locations – our current office on Ebenezer Road and our new space on Dave Lyle Boulevard.

It’s a great time to buy or sell a home. Come see us in Rock Hill!

By Colleen Coesens (Branch Leader – Rock Hill) – Guest Blogger

Why I Love Baseball in the Carolinas

11 Jul
7.7.14 Max Gongaware at 8 waiting to play catch with his dad

Max Gongaware, age 8, waiting to play catch with his dad.

The Game of Baseball requires patient study to fall in love with it, and I’ve been studying it for a long time. For me (like many boys growing up), it begins with the tender and tense game of playing catch with your father – and spans years until you’re the one playing with your own children and grandchildren.

Those intervening decades found me collecting Topps baseball cards, deciphering box scores, playing on muddy fields, and praying that I’d actually catch the lazy fly ball.

Maybe it was the delicious smell of summertime, the rambling prattle of legendary Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince, or the spirited games of my youth that made me fall in love with the sport. I remember bouncing a rubber ball off the side of the house, chipping away the paint while re-enacting the diving catches of my heroes.

Baseball has always been an activity I can lose myself in … a game reckoned only in outs and not in time. Play the game right and you could stay forever young.

In the Carolinas, organized baseball has a long history. Many Carolina towns fielded local clubs beginning in the 19th century. Teams like the Charleston Seagulls and the Charlotte Hornets were early representatives of a sport that expanded to nearly 100 teams. Today, within the Allen Tate footprint, there are nine professional, minor league teams remaining. These teams are part of Major League Baseball’s “farm system,” where rookies strive to prove themselves and veterans rehab or retire.

My boy is grown now, but we still occasionally toss the ball around. And when I’m at a ballpark in the Carolinas, I’m still gleefully immersed in the only game that joins together the generations of fathers playing catch with sons.

If you’re keeping score, here are links to the nine minor league baseball parks within the Allen Tate footprint (Feel free to invite me to a game):

Tom Gongaware
General Sales Manager, Triangle Region



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