August 2011

31 Aug 2011

Get Friends Together and Throw Shrimp in a Pot!

With Summer coming to a close, I always like to get friends together to celebrate the end of another great season. It’s hard to believe that Labor Day Weekend is right around the corner. Times flies, doesn’t it?

Hosting a “Low Country Boil” is a great way to casually entertain during the hot summer months. While it is typically seen as a Fourth of July or Memorial Day meal, I think it serves as a perfect Labor Day Weekend festivity.

The “Low Country Boil” originated in the 1960s. When Frogmore Stew was first cooked in the 1960s, Frogmore was a little hamlet on St. Helena Island, near Beaufort, South Carolina. Unfortunately, much to the annoyance and dismay of the local residents, the name Frogmore was abolished in the 1980s by the postal service. That changed the name of the popular dish to Lowcountry Boil or Beaufort Stew-except. I’ve been told that the residents of Frogmore have kept the name Frogmore Stew.

30 Aug 2011

Another Recovery Perspective

Last month I attended the meeting of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World Board of Directors in Chicago. The board members represent premier residential real estate companies and, as I was heading back to my home sweet home in the Carolinas, I felt a sense that the second half of the year had the promise to be very positive. Even our Florida and Midwest brokers are reporting an increase in business without the tax incentive that we had last year.

Overcompensation in mortgage reform is still causing more-fall throughs than we would like. However, as the pendulum is trying to get back to a place that is a win-win for the customer, as well as the investor, we are seeing some movement.

29 Aug 2011

Looking for Opportunities in Real Estate?

There is little question that foreclosures are a major part of the real estate market today.  One of the challenges that comes along with buying a foreclosure can be the condition of the property. If the property is damaged, neglected or just plain outdated, you may want to consider a renovation loan.  Here are some simple steps when considering such a loan:

26 Aug 2011

What It Takes To Remodel Your Kitchen Part II

Surviving without kitchen was actually easier than I had anticipated.

To get by, we set up a make-shift kitchen in the basement. Now, I know what you must be thinking. The basement?!? Really, DJ? The reason it worked out so well was because of my husband, who, afew years ago, installed a utility sink next to the washer and dryer. The old refrigerator that we had in the garage also came in quite handy. We moved the microwave next to the sink and set up a card table and had our own little kitchenette!

Everyone but the dog adjusted well. After being let out in the morning, he continued to go upstairs to wait for my husband to cook breakfast and give him his snack.  I would hear him come up the stairs and plop down, waiting for my husband.  Then, a few minutes later, I hear the microwave beep and Keona trots back downstairs as he realizes that is where breakfast is being served!  The card table was a bit lower than our kitchen table which made it easy for Keona, being a large golden retriever, to run his noise along the edge of the table. But as far as we could tell, nothing ever went missing.

25 Aug 2011

Empty Nesters…Time to Downsize?

I have several boomer friends who are now calling themselves “empty nesters.” The kids are off to college…or have graduated…and curiously they’re aligning themselves with primitive avian nesting habits. They imagine that now that they’re back to being a couple (the lucky ones), they’ll have more “freedom” and revert to happy college-era activities…like going sockless and eating over the sink. They fantasize about spontaneous get-togethers with other empty nesters, learning Russian, walking around the house naked, and taking more long weekends. For extra cash, they consider renting out their child’s room and finally emptying the garage of scooters, pink bicycles, and remote-controlled dump trucks. That’s when it hits them.

After the initial rush of joyful irresponsibility passes, these new empty nesters are finding themselves, in their words, “rattling around in a too big house with too many rooms, a too big yard, and too many memories.” They look around and see all the “stuff” accumulated during their “family years” and wonder if the TV show about hoarding is about them. “Well, the kids will want to come home [just twice a year] and they’ll want to relive their childhood in the old family homestead.” To which I say, “Stop it! You’re not The Waltons!”

24 Aug 2011

Protect Yourself During Hurricane Irene

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? Anyone living in the Carolinas will remember Hurricane Hugo back in 1989.  Since hurricanes change directions at any given minute, our carriers will start early restricting binding authority.   Don’t get caught without insurance and delay your closing.

Physical damage coverage, also know as comprehensive and collision coverage, can’t be purchased for new vehicles when our binding authority has been revoked. If your home is hit by a hurricane, you have your typical covered perils, wind, hail, lightning and fire. Flooding is not covered unless you have a separate policy that specifically covers flooding.

23 Aug 2011

Have You Visited Winston-Salem, North Carolina?

Having lived in the Carolinas for quite some time, I’m always looking for something new to try and a different place to explore. What I’ve come to discover is that sometimes you don’t have to go very far to find that “something new.” The hidden gems in your neighborhood or city, those one’s you keep meaning to try one day, are a perfect place for discovery.

Take Winston-Salem, North Carolina for example. A quick history for those who have never been to this part of North Carolina: Winston-Salem is the county seat and largest city of Forsyth County and the fourth-largest city in the state. It is also called the “Twin City” for its dual heritage and “City of the Arts” for its dedication to fine arts and theater.

22 Aug 2011

A Look Into the Luxury Real Estate Market

Luxury home sellers and buyers want many of the same things as their counterparts at all price points. A recent Harris Group research project shows that these buyers want a highly respected company that shows results, a professional, experienced real estate agent and strong marketing efforts with an Internet presence.

Conducted on behalf of Luxury Portfolio, “How Today’s Highly Affluent U.S. Consumer Selects Luxury Real Estate Associates and Brokerages,” was done to gauge priorities, likes and dislikes related to the selection of an agent to buy or sell a $1 million plus home.

19 Aug 2011

Impact of Unemployment on Housing

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A question often posed and one that, even with all our technology, we will never truly know the answer to.

Which came first, an increase in our unemployment rate or the magnitude of foreclosures?

How has the unemployment rate affected housing? It is safe to say that the current unemployment situation has directly influenced many facets of our economy.  I think we all agree on that. But how has it specifically affected the housing market?  Individuals without an income unfortunately can’t afford to invest in housing.  And sadly, many homeowners became unemployed after already having a home mortgage.  When homeowners can no longer fulfill their financial obligations, homes are forced back on the market, for lack of a better way to put it. This scenario ultimately adds more homes into a growing inventory, then causing the lowering of housing prices.

18 Aug 2011

How to Remodel Your Kitchen Part 1

Have you ever remodeled your kitchen? If you have, my next few blogs will probably hit close to home. If you haven’t, well, I hope my experience sheds some light on what is involved because what an experience it was!

My home in Matthews was built in 1985 and was reaching the age that welcomed some updating. My husband and I had been talking about remodeling the kitchen for a few years now and felt that it would definitely need to be redone before the time came to sell our home.

We spoke to our Realtor who told us that new kitchens and baths can greatly enhance the resale value of your home.  While we currently do not have any plans to sell our home, it made more sense to update the kitchen now so that we could enjoy it ourselves (the added value we would gain when the time to sell rolled around was a nice bonus!).

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