June 2010

30 Jun 2010

The School House At The End of The Street

Everyone who owns a home or aspires to own a home has a vested interest in the quality of education being delivered at their neighborhood school.  We hear so much today about staging and making your home memorable; doing everything possible to make sure it stands out in a crowd so that it will sell.

Truth be known, we can have the most appealing home on the market, but if the perception or the reality is that the children can achieve a better education somewhere else property values could be negatively affected. Homes associated with top-notch schools typically sell faster, in good and not-so-good market conditions. If and when a market goes south, areas with excellent school systems are still sought after areas to live. As a result, these regions usually retain their values better than the overall market.

29 Jun 2010

Finding the Right Agent For You

I bought my first home before I began my career in real estate.  It did not occur to me that I should be the slightest bit picky about who would represent and help me make one of the biggest investments of my life. Instead, I just picked up the phone and called my best friend’s step-mother who I knew was in the business. I trusted my best friend with my life, and therefore assumed those qualities would be reflected in her step-mother.

Luckily, she did a good job for me. But what if I had been wrong? Knowing what I now know about real estate, it scares me to think about that.

Just because someone has been in the business for years, doesn’t necessarily mean they will be the best agent for you. While experience is certainly a plus, the best agent is also one who will listen to you, knows the ins and outs of your target market and asks questions.

Here are some questions that will help you find the right agent.

28 Jun 2010

Buying New? Here’s the 411 on Home Inspections

Here’s a question buyer’s ask a lot: “Do I need a home inspection if I’m buying new construction?

The short answer is, it depends. If you a purchasing a home from a reputable builder that offers a long term warranty, has a pre-closing inspection process, has a warranty service department with a defined program and has allowed you access to the home during construction, I would say not. However if the answers are no or the house was in inventory and has been “standing for a while”, I would probably hire an inspector.

I can’t say that builders welcome inspectors with open arms, since in their mind it questions their reputation, quality and integrity. However they have learned to accept the practice and in most cases have a policy and procedure in place to accommodate the inspection process. Some builders have their policy in writing and as a part of their contract. If there is no written policy be sure to discuss and include an addendum if you intend to hire an inspector.

26 Jun 2010

Buying at the Housing Bottom

When I was an investment banker, we used to say “Pigs Get Fat, Hogs Get Slaughtered.” It was a catch phrase explaining the realities of trying to “time” the bottom or the top of any market. If you were close and hit the market before the turn, even if you didn’t hit the EXACT bottom or top, you were the Pig: fat and happy. If you tried to hit the bottom and missed it, you were usually a Hog: dead in the water and wondering what happened.

It is really the definition of a bottom that makes it absolutely impossible to hit it precisely. A bottom is only recognized when it has two sides: the down turn and the upswing. If anyone waits until the bottom is announced, they have by definition missed the bottom.

In today’s market, so many people are focused on the bottom of housing prices, but, for buyers, the current focus should be on the bottom of the interest rate curve.

25 Jun 2010

Summer Is Here – What’s Next For Residential Housing?

As the historic residential “spring market” comes to a close and we enter the transition period following the expiration of the tax credits, I am often asked questions such as, “where does the real estate market stand?” and “what is next in the recovery plan?

Let’s look at the first half of 2010 to understand what we can expect moving forward.

Overall, the trends have been very favorable in 2010.  I can best illustrate what is happening by examining one of our regions. In May, 2,537 homes were sold and the average closing price was $212,454.  This was the largest number of closings and the second highest average sales price in the past 12 months.  This is indeed good news and is reflective of most of the Carolinas.

24 Jun 2010

Making the American Dream a Reality

Carl Sandburg told us that “nothing happens unless first we dream”.  A fundamental dream that is as American as apple pie is the dream of owning a home. 

That dream just got a boost earlier this month with the launch of a workforce housing program that will educate the public about affordable housing options.  It will also prepare REALTORS to lead the way when they complete a Workforce Housing Certificate Program.

Why put a program like this in place? The bottom line is that it just makes sense!

First time home buyers accounted for almost half of all home sales in 2009 and are projected to be the fastest growing segment of the housing market through 2012.  When we help our everyday heroes, like police, firefighters and school teachers join the ranks of homeowners we are building communities, stabilizing our neighborhoods and putting their dreams within reach.

23 Jun 2010

You DO Have Options for Downpayments

So you want to begin a search for a new home. Great! You have everything ready when you realize that you have not saved enough money for a 10% or larger downpayment. What now? What are your options?

A few years ago there were options for everyone, including those with no money down.  Unfortunately, these options have become more limited with the tightening of programs over the past 2 years. Today, most programs want buyers to put down at least 5%, with all of this being the borrowers own savings.

So, what are your options?

The best one still out there is FHA financing, which is available with as little as a 3.5% downpayment and is now used over 50% of the time.  In cases where a buyer may have issues with coming up with that 3.5%, he or she can use a gift from a family member as the downpayment.  What many home owners don’t realize is that, FHA financing allows the entire 3.5% to be a gift.

22 Jun 2010

Let Your Home Take the Stage

I was taught very early on in my real estate career that what buyers look for when they first enter a home is light and space.  This is what your real estate agent or staging professional is aiming to achieve when they “stage” your home. Making a home appear more spacious can only benefit the homeowner, whether the house is on the market or not.

Not sure where to begin? I’m here to help!

A great place to start is by cleaning up the clutter. We get so used to the things in our home that we tend not to see them.  For example, you may not notice that your refrigerator is filled with pictures and papers, but others well. Remove them. It is important that buyers see your appliances, counters, etc, because it is important to them. Less clutter creates a more welcome, friendly and stress-free environment.

21 Jun 2010

Why is Now the Time to Buy?

If you are in the market for a home or are thinking about purchasing a home…let me tell you now is the time to buy.  Interest rates are at a 25-year low and the inventory of homes available is high, which means the advantage lies with the buyer. So there is a perception that buying a home in today’s market can be an easy decision if you have a steady job, good credit and don’t have a home to sell.

Let’s take a closer look at that statement.

Historically, we could win on both sides of the transaction because America’s housing values were appreciating.  Within the past three year’s however, we have seen depreciation creep in, especially where acute price increases were enjoyed.  Like the stock market, we are recalculating our market values to reflect the new norm.

18 Jun 2010

Agents Take on Social Media at RE BarCamp

Last Friday I attended my first Real Estate BarCamp. For those who may not be familiar with the term “Bar Camp” let me tell you that if you’re thinking tents and tree’s or lecture halls and motivational speeches, you’re heading in the wrong direction…on both accounts.

So what is a BarCamp? Put simply, it is a gathering of people who all have a strong desire to share and learn. What makes a BarCamp unique is that it is also defined as an “unconference.” If you are sitting there thinking to yourself “I have no idea what an unconference is”, don’t worry, you are not alone. If you aren’t tuned into social media or web-based technologies then you are not likely to come across the term “unconference.” When a meeting is designed as a series of open participatory workshops whose content is pitched and provided by participants then that meeting becomes an “unconference” (for more details check out this great blog from Jeremy Blanton).


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