Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's on the Inside?

We are often disappointed when we find out what is inside a person does not live up to what is outside. The same can be said in a real estate transaction. You may walk through a home 3 times with your agent, family members, and close friends, but there could still be latent defects under the surface that are just not readily apparent. Radon gas could be building up, for example, and you can't see it, touch it, or smell it. For this reason, if no other, you MUST listen to your agent when they advise you to have a home inspection! Yes, home inspections will set you back $300 or $400 (or more), but it is money well spent. Consider what happened to my client Sharon. Her husband was a very handy guy, so they decided not to have a home inspection done. They had looked over every nook and cranny of the property and felt comfortable buying it without one. On the day they moved in, they began to wash dishes in the dishwasher that had been packed up. The dishwasher leaked, and by the time they realized it, their recently repaired/refinished hardwoods had been ruined on the whole main level! A simple home inspection could have saved them thousands in floor repair. It's better to be safe than sorry is a cliche, but it's oh so true!

Friday, August 21, 2009

$8000 Tax Credit Q&A

The deadline is fast approaching to take advantage of the 2009 first time home buyer tax credit, so I am getting more and more questions about it. I thought I would take a second to explain some basic principles. Of course, if you have more questions, consult your lender or tax adviser, but here goes...

The credit is available to first time buyers who purchase on or before November 30, 2009. "Purchase" is defined as when closing occurs and title transfers. A first time buyer is defined as someone who has not owned a principal residence during the 3 years prior to the purchase. For a married couple to qualify, both people must meet this condition. It is not automatically $8000 for everyone -- the credit is equal to 10% of the home's purchase price up to $8000. Income limits do apply, and unlike the tax credit enacted in July 2008, this one does not have to be repaid. However, buyers must use the home as a principal residence for at least 3 years or face recapture of the credit amount.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's Your Story?

At our sales meeting yesterday, our guest speaker talked with us about being trusted advisers to our clients. He emphasized to us that we should be fostering "clients for life." It really hit home with me -- some of my best friends are past clients of mine. He talked about looking past the purchase and seeing the person. What makes people tick? What circumstances led them to my door? What are they hoping to accomplish?

The most interesting part of my job is getting to know so many different people. When you spend hours and hours within the confines of a vehicle, you can really learn a lot! So, just be aware -- when we are viewing homes, or I am giving you tips on how to prepare your home for the market, I will ask a lot of questions. You may feel I am being nosy or intrusive, but it is very important to me to understand the whys, whats, and hows of a situation. If I know that you don't want to remove the wallpaper in the extra bedroom because it's the last project your mom did before she died, then I'll probably quit pushing so hard. Knowing what motivates you helps me develop the most effective strategy to helping you accomplish your goals. From now on, don't be surprised if I ask "What's your story?"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Are All Agents REALTORS?

A common misconception among the public is that all real estate agents are REALTORS. They are not, and the difference is very important to understand. To be a real estate agent, you must complete the coursework required by the state in which you hope to practice and pass the state test. REALTORS, on the other hand, undergo yearly ethics training and voluntarily adhere to a strict code of professionalism. In short, "When you enlist the services of a REALTOR®, you can be confident that you're being dealt with honestly. Every member of the National Association of REALTORS® makes a commitment to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. The Code of Ethics is a promise—as a customer of a REALTOR®, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. It is mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years" (taken from

As a REALTOR, I must approach the real estate transaction with some basic principles in mind. I must be honest with all parties in the transaction – not just with you, as my client, but also with the other real estate practitioner and his or her clients; put your interests ahead of my own, at all times; disclose all pertinent facts regarding the property and the transaction to both buyer and seller; and be truthful in all communications with the public (taken from

Friday, August 14, 2009

Digital Billboard!

As you drive west on Business 40 from Kernersville, pay close attantion to the billboards... you just might see me! Allen Tate has a spot on the only digital billboard in Winston-Salem. It's right next to Baptist Hospital near the Hawthorne & Cloverdale exits. Agents that produce a certain amount are rotated on the board... good thing I didn't have anything in my teeth when the picture was taken!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina..."

According to RealtyTrac Inc., the foreclosure rate in NC rose 8% in July 2009 from June 09. Over 3400 homes were involved in the foreclosure process in July. This translates to 1 out of every 1200 households. But this is only part of the story.

Nationwide, foreclosures rose 7% in July, jumping 32% from July 2008. But this is only part of the story.

The real story: North Carolina foreclosures FELL 20% from July 2008 to July 2009. Real estate is local! As bad as we think we have it, those of us who live here are blessed to live in NC. In Nevada, 1 of every 56 households received a foreclosure filing in July. They had the highest foreclosure rate in the country for the 31st consecutive month.

This information was taken from The Business Journal of the Greater Traid Area/American City Business Journals Inc.

Are Home Sales Up? -- part 2

Here is a chart that shows the trend noted earlier regarding homes sales v. median price. Median sales price for June '09 in Forsyth County was approximately $135,000 (down $40,000 from 24 months ago). While this chart is Forsyth County specific, Forsyth County is pretty indicative of what is happening in surrounding counties as well.
What does this mean? Homes are selling, but price is key. The less expensive the home, the more likely it is to sell.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

When One Door Shuts...

Some things have happened lately in my personal life that have been disappointing to me and my family, but I can't forget the saying "when one door shuts, another one opens." Things may not go according to our plan, but that doesn't mean we won't have a better, brighter opportunity down the road.
The same thing can be said in real estate transactions. I have clients right now, for example, who made an offer on their dream home... only to be outbid and not given a chance to bid again. They were so frustrated. They took a break from looking for a while and then came across a new listing. We offered on it, and their offer was accepted. We just found out it appraised way over what they are paying for it. Whoo hoo! The other property was at their max price range, and it would have been a tight appraisal. This one is much more affordable, versatile, and they are going to go into it with some built-in equity. What started out as a disappointing set of circumstances is giving them reason to celebrate now. Let's always be looking for that open door!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Are Home Sales Up?

According to national statistics, home sales are up. This will prompt sellers to ask, "why should we reduce our price if sales are up?" Just as with any statistic, there are 2 sides to this story. Home sales are up, but home prices aren't. "Sales" refers to units and does not take into account median sales price. Please keep this is mind as you price your home. Yes, homes are selling... but the median sales price is going down. So, the higher you price, the less chance you have to sell -- and isn't selling the goal?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A House or History?

One of my favorite aspects of my career is the different people I get to meet. I have a home listed now in Asbury Place in Clemmons that is owned by a really sweet lady. When we listed the home, she got teary-eyed talking about all the wonderful memories she had made there. It really hit home with me that not only am I selling someone's home but someone's history. When I look at my clients and their different situations as such, it really humbles me to think I have been entrusted with something so sacred. Even more motivation is there to make their selling experience a positive one, so that their memories are not tainted. She talked of evenings sitting on the beautiful back deck with her husband -- looking out over the flowers they had so lovingly cultivated, the birds that regularly visited their birdfeeders, and their sweet grandchildren playing. Every time I go there, I stand on that back deck and just imagine... and fervently hope someone comes along who will make such wonderful memories as well.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Is it a Deal or Not?

I'm writing today about buyer expectations... I showed property to a man this morning who is, unfortunately, pretty typical of a lot of buyers today. So as not to give away too much, I'll call him Jay. Jay is looking at a home priced (hypothetically) $100,000. From my market analysis, the home is worth $95,000-$100,000... so the list price is pretty dead on. Jay wants to offer $70,000 though, because it will need a roof in the next few years, the trim needs painting, the hardwoods need refinishing, etc. What I couldn't get Jay to understand was that the list price takes those things into account. In other words, if it had a brand new roof, refinished floors, no needed exterior maintenance, etc., it would be listed at a price much higher.

My point in writing about this is really just to emphasize that buyers need to be educated. Our market is definitely being affected right now by the nationwide housing crisis, but that doesn't mean you can buy every home out there for 80% of the list price! Many agents, particularly those with experience, are cautioning their sellers and advising them to price homes right for their condition, so $100,000 may be a good deal... even if that is the list price. The important thing to remember is that not all sellers are out to make a huge profit. This validates further the importance of having an agent (shameless plug!). With so many homes priced under market right now, it is hard to know what is a great investment and what isn't. Your local real estate agent can help you through this process.