October 2010

29 Oct 2010

My First Home: We Almost Lost It

In 1978, we purchased our first new home in the Washington DC suburb of Centreville, VA for $76,000. I was a new home sales person working for a home builder, so I was able to buy a brand new single family home with the company discount and since I was a veteran was able to purchase it with no money down…what a deal!

Today, Centreville is a popular DC suburb where everyone wants to live. Back when I bought my home, it was an exit on I-66, with a McDonalds, a shopping center and right next door to the Civil War Battlefields of Manassas.

The community we lived in was called Newgate Forest and it was actually a former Civil War encampment for the Confederate Forces. When they developed the site many Civil War artifacts were unearthed, cannon balls, buttons, bullets, muskets, you name it. Can you imagine today building a subdivision on a Civil War battlefield…I don’t think so!

28 Oct 2010

Uncertainty vs. Swagger

Ever heard the old adage, “Paralysis of the Analysis?” Well today, many individuals and businesses, both large and small, are centering their decision making process around this very idea. They are unsure whether or not they should invest time, energy and money into something they need, want or believe in.

In my opinion, America is either at the bottom of this economic cycle or close to it.  As to when exactly we will be off the ground and on the mend … that is being argued by economists daily all over the world. The problem with economic studies is that the most economists are reading history or judging the future based on historic charts and recovery tools that worked in the past.

We are in a new territory today, and we are writing history.  The data, before it’s printed, is outdated and being rewritten.This recovery is like no other because no one has dealt with the present circumstances.

Confidence and determination, or swagger, have served Americans well since our first ancestors set the stage.  How do we get back to that way of thinking?  It is all about mindset after all. America’s mindset, if truth be told, is the world’s mindset.

27 Oct 2010

What is Happening to Housing Prices?

Worried about the value of your home? As we have discussed in previous blogs, the best future indicator of your home’s value is the Housing Inventory level in your market. Historically, housing inventory has predicted future pricing in the following manner:

  • Appreciating Market = <5 months inventory
  • Stable Market = 5 to 6 months inventory
  • Depreciating Market = 7 to 9 months inventory
  • Double Digit Depreciating Market = 9+ months inventory

Year over year, the Charlotte Region’s inventory levels were up in all price ranges below $250k. Above $250k, inventories have come down significantly from last year and are even below 2008 inventory levels. (Please note the extremely tight inventory levels in September 2007 at the height of the market – inventories during this peak season ranged between 2.5 and 6.2 months. We can see that the inventory levels at the peak were solidly in an “appreciating market”.)

26 Oct 2010

How to Engage A Community Using Social Media

An individual or company’s success with social media is dependent on multiple factors. There is however only one factor, in my mind, which stands above the rest when it comes to failure. That is the inability to take online relationships offline.

So, when it came time to incorporate a social media component into our sponsorship with the Carolina Panthers, I knew that we would need a program that accomplished two goals simultaneously. The first would be to tell the Allen Tate Company story and the second would be to engage and interact with the community.

We were presented with the idea of a social media challenge. An event that would be part scavenger hunt and part “Amazing Race.” It was different and unique; something that had never been done before. Immediately we saw the potential of an event that would allow us to interact, face-to-face with potential clients and create a viral message that would reach an infinite amount of people within our community. And so the Panthers Purrsuit was born.

25 Oct 2010

What Does the Luxury Market Look Like?

In June I posted about the upper end market and its rebound.  Since then, we’ve seen the market continue it’s up and down course. So what does the upper end market in our region look like today?

First, inventory of $750,000 and plus homes in the Triangle, Triad, and Greater Charlotte markets has decreased significantly in the past 12 months. In fact, inventory is at its lowest level during the past 24 months.  New home inventory is not getting replaced so expect to see inventory numbers continue to decline.

Second, demand has increased 40% or more in these same markets since a year ago.  Why? There are great values in the market as median prices have dropped 10% or more.  There have been comments from Wall Street Journal, Karl Case, John Paulson and others that now is the smart time to buy real estate and the wealthy are heeding the advice and buying homes.

22 Oct 2010

How To Increase Leads on LinkedIn: Add Video

A few weeks ago I touched on the importance of LinkedIn. That’s right LinkedIn. Now I know you’re probably thinking that LinkedIn isn’t as sexy or exciting as Twitter, Blogging or Facebook and I’m not here to say otherwise. It isn’t as sexy and it’s not as exciting, nor has it had the type of updates and revamps like both Facebook and Twitter recently underwent.Nevertheless, LinkedIn should not be considered the ugly stepsister of social media. It is powerful and if used correctly and creatively can yield powerful results.

Still not convinced? Well how about this:

  • LinkedIn has over 80 million members in over 200 countries.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second, and about half of our members are outside the U.S.
  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members.

Recently, I have been researching different ways to optimize a LinkedIn profile so that it truly stands out from the crowd. If you haven’t learned this already, when it comes to social media, creativity is key. But be careful because even creativity has its limits and boundaries. By all means, reach for the stars but do so in a realistic and practical manner. Reach too far and the results may not be the ones that you wanted or expected.

21 Oct 2010

Picking the Right Paint For Your Home

I am a decision maker. My theory is that if something is wrong it can be fixed. Oddly though, the bigger the decision, the easier it is for me. Picking out paint colors is seemingly easy right? Not for me and my decision-making self! I can honestly say I have an easier time picking out a car than I do a color of paint. This fact was made clear to me the last time I had to pick out paint colors, I was so frazzled that no one in my family was talking to me by the time it was all said and done…

Lucky for everyone, this will not happen next time around. With the help of the internet, I solved all of my decorating dilemmas.  With great tools, like virtual paint tools, you can upload a picture of the room and change the color simply with a click of your mouse!

Not sure how much paint you need?  Make painting even easier by buying the right amount by using a paint estimator. For those that choose wallpaper over painting, there is also a calculator for that as well.

20 Oct 2010

What Did the Housing Market Look Like in September?

Every month, Carolina Multiple Listing Service releases the Charlotte region’s monthly statistics.

Though many articles like to quote month over month or year over year statistics, I believe that it is important to look at today’s statistics versus historical norms because our typical cyclical housing market has been skewed dramatically by government incentives. Below please find Carolina Multiple Listing Statistics from September 2003 through September 2010.

Charlotte’s Activity:

In September 2010, Charlotte’s housing market experienced historically low levels of activity in New Listings (4043), Pending Contracts (1658) and Closed Transactions (1658). These activity levels are well below any September between 2003 and 2009.

19 Oct 2010

Robo-Signing and the Foreclosure Scandal

Robo-signing is a new word coming from the Foreclosure Scandal that has found its way into our everyday lives. So, what does robo-signing mean exactly?

Upon initial review of the information robo-signing looked to be a result of the huge number of foreclosure documents that needed to be approved and signed off on.  What I believe is that many people thought these were qualified individuals who were overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork they needed to complete to have a foreclosure proceeding move forward. 

Now, in some recent developments, it seems as though another component of robo-signing took place.  As the servicers of the lenders tried to keep up with the paperwork they started to hire employees who did not have the correct mortgage background.  How can someone who does not have an understanding of basic mortgage terms and practices be expected to appropriately review foreclosure documents?

18 Oct 2010

My First Home: Blessed With Great Neighbors

My husband was online recently and he decided to look up the first home we purchased.  The tax value was over $400,000 – certainly not any where near what we paid as a newly married couple.  It was a small 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch house in Laurel, MD, a suburb of Washington DC – which experienced a bit of a spike in housing cost the last few years.

We purchased the home in 1987 after moving from Stamford, CT, where we certainly could not afford a home at the time, to the Washington DC area.  When we decided to buy a home, we became a 1 car family who used the Metro system to commute to work and shared the car on weekends.  We ate lots of pasta and hot dogs while we saved for the down payment!  To us, it was worth the sacrifice to be able to buy our first home- there was no such thing as 0% down at that time. Potential homeowners needed at least 10% or 20% to avoid paying PMI (private mortgage insurance).  We were very excited to move into our first home with a fenced in backyard and one car garage.  Living in MD, there is a fair amount of snow, so a garage was a blessing!

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