August 2010

31 Aug 2010

Where Does the Real Estate Market Stand?

It is always about supply and demand.

In May I wrote about the factors that most affect supply and demand: the availability of jobs in the market, consumer confidence, and the affordability of housing (the cost of homeownership).

Last week, The National Association of REALTORS released the July housing report showing that existing home sales were sharply lower, but median home prices continue to rise.

Why? First demand.  First time homebuyers left the market in July with the end of the tax credit.  The market took buyers from the summer and early fall months and moved them into May and June. And other buyers continue to be waiting for a bottom.  But that could be a risky play with median home prices rising.

30 Aug 2010

Center City Charlotte . . . The Story Continues To Unfold

Charlotte, NC, the economic engine for the region, has seen steady employment growth over the years (55,000 to 70,000 jobs). Headquarters to many national firms, we are also becoming a nationally-recognized destination supported by a thriving convention and hospitality business with numerous restaurants and nightlife locations to chose from.  More than one billion with a “B” has been interested in the arts, cultural and entertainment venues.  Uptown and the Southend area have become vibrant with residential growth; with over 15,000 residents combined.

In Charlotte, we are always looking to the future. What can we do next? How can we continue to grow? This mentality has allowed us to push forward and brought us to a point where we will be able to roll out the 2020 Vision Plan in the fourth quarter of this year.  The 2020 Vision Plan, which has had input from countless citizens and organizations, is an innovative ten-year growth, development, and urban design plan for Charlotte’s Center City.  It is a blueprint for not only development growth but also economic, public and investor growth.

27 Aug 2010

Where Are the Jobs in the Triad Region?

The news is pretty bad this week.  A lot of doom and gloom in the national headlines, especially with unemployment rates still in double-digits, and with employers sitting tight with no new hires.  There is however, some great news coming out of the Triad Region this week and we can only get excited about where we are headed in the short-term.

The first announcement was a big one – Caterpillar, Inc announced they would bring a significant manufacturing operation to Winston Salem. This represents 392 full-time jobs with an average salary of $36,000 per year plus benefits.  This is a $426 million dollar investment that will also create some good construction jobs to build their facility – a 850,000 square foot facility that will be used to build parts for their large mining trucks.

26 Aug 2010

Move Up Buyers and the Mortgage Process

If you ask many loan officers, although dealing with first time homebuyers is challenging, it is easier to set the right expectations on the mortgage process as they have not been through it before. Today’s first-time homebuyer never experienced the easy mortgage process prevalent in the late 1990’s to 2007.

The most difficult group to set expectations with are move up buyers or refinance customers.  Most of them bought homes during the 1990’s to 2007 and in many cases did not have to provide anything in terms of documentation.  At the most they provided paystubs and bank statements and usually just the first page of their bank statement.   They did not have to write explanations for recent inquiries or address old credit issues.   As for the requirement for all loans to have tax transcripts pulled( what is called a form 4506), this entails the lender getting confirmation back from the IRS that the tax returns given were indeed filed and are accurate.

25 Aug 2010

Insider Secrets: Main Street, Greenville SC

I moved to Greenville in 1998. What drew me to this great place was the quaint and charming Main Street, lined with cafes, shops and delightful restaurants.

My first job when I moved here was located in a historic building right on Main Street.  I was somehow lucky enough to have an office with a window that overlooked it. On Friday evenings I would open the windows and listen as the Jazz music started playing in the street.

I remember when I first moved here, people told me that just three years before you did not venture out onto Main St. The shops were few and far between, but the same thing could not be said for the crime.  As a witness to a lot of this change, I am in awe of it.

24 Aug 2010

Back to School: Get Organized

It is that time of year again.  The start of the craziness that is the school year.  School buses are on the road and the kids are on their way back to school.  I don’t know about you but I wonder what happens to summer.  They never seem to be long enough but at the same time they last forever.  So vacations are done and we have started our yearly run to get everything done in one day.  Whether you have kids starting school or you yourself are starting back, this is the beginning of a new year.

This also the perfect time to get organized.  Mornings are so much easier if you and the kids are not running around looking for that special shirt or that one shoe. If you are like me, I try to do the spring cleaning but I never do anything for the beginning of the school year.  Why is that?  Getting organized now gives you a wonderful start to the year.

23 Aug 2010

Taking a Closer Look at Falling Foreclosure Rates

It’s no secret that “foreclosure” has become a hot topic.

CNNMoney recently posted a story about a decline in the national foreclosure rate, referencing recent numbers collected by RealtyTrac, the leading online aggregator of foreclosure data. The article discusses an overall 5.14% decline in the number of foreclosure filings in the first half of 2010 from the last six months of 2009.

The report also points out that, nationally, 1 in 78 homes remain in danger of foreclosure. Nevada, Arizona, and Florida continue to lead the nation in the number of foreclosures (as a percentage of the total number of housing units in the state). 1 in 17 homes in Nevada received at least one foreclosure filing in the first half of this year, while 1 in 30 and 1 in 32 housing units in Arizona and Florida respectively suffered a similar fate.

20 Aug 2010

Get Recognized on LinkedIn

On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend Social Fresh, a conference in Charlotte that covers all things social media. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Email Marketing, Blogs and LinkedIn. The day-long, six-session, jam packed conference featured some of the best, brightest and most adventurous social media panelists including, Bert Dumars of Newell Rubbermaid, Greg Cangialosi of Blue Sky Factory, Amber Naslund of Radian 6, Lisa Hoffmann of Duke Energy,Jennifer Ecclestone of General Motors and many, many more.

Events such as Social Fresh highlight how important and beneficial social media can be when it’s used correctly. When used incorrectly…well let’s not even go there. It was a day of information overload but a piece of advice that truly resonated with me was that LinkedIn is overlooked and underused.

19 Aug 2010

Building A Custom Home Part 3: The Architect

Selecting an architect has become infinitely easier and much more affordable. With the advent of plan books and computer aided design known as CAD, you can now buy a ready to build set of blueprints at a very affordable price. However as we have mentioned in this series, don’t let price be the driver of your decision since the cheap way in could end up costing you more in the end…so let’s explore!

The complexity or the uniqueness of the project will dictate whether you should enlist the services of an architect, a home designer that uses CAD, or buy a plan out of a plan book. If you have a unique home site with topographical challenges or a complex design, an architect is probably the way to go. If you’ve seen a home in a plan book that has most of your wish list but needs some tweaking and some of your own touches, the CAD designer may be the way to go. If you see a plan in a plan book that you love and has a floor plan that suits the way you live, then that is the route to go and the most economical.

18 Aug 2010

Identity Theft is Alive- Are you Protecting Yourself?

Picture this.  You sit down one morning to check your online banking account and see a number of charges that you don’t recognize—some are even out of state and you haven’t been traveling!  You also check your credit card statement and find that you have no available balance because of purchases made that you don’t remember making.

The sinking suspicion you feel is correct- you are a victim of identity theft!

Out of every 100,000 people, roughly 67 report an identity theft claim.  Identity theft scams are on the rise and, despite the perception, it is not just the elderly who fall victim to them.  The criminals that want your information and intend to assume your identity have proven that they will go to any length to get it- stealing mail, using internet pop-ups, and some get it from the most reliable source- YOU.


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