Tuesday, December 28, 2010

First Impressions

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and isn't too depressed about being back to the grindstone!

The January 2011 edition of REALTOR magazine has an excellent and concise article about cost to value for home remodeling and improvements. It also lists the top 5 projects that bring the greatest percentage of return... and you may be surprised! They aren't necessarily the big ticket items. All have one thing in common, though, and that is making the best first impression possible.

Project 1: Entry door replacement (including threshold, jambs, casings, lock set, etc.)= 102.1% cost recouped (but make sure it is in keeping with the style of the home!)
Project 2: Garage door replacement = 83.9% cost recouped (and you may not necessarily need them to be insulated -- sometimes simple is best depending on common usage for your area)
Project 3: Siding replacement = 80.0% cost recouped (make sure it is prepainted, cement siding, and ask contractors for price differences with different overlaps)
Project 4: Kitchen remodel = 72.8% cost recouped (but don't overimprove... consider painting your cabinets rather than buying new ones, do a laminate countertop instead of granite, etc.)
Project 5: Deck addition = 72.8% cost recouped (add a 16 by 20... an 8 by 8 is too small, and one the length of the home will never pay for itself)

Contact me if you would like a copy of the article -- it's GREAT information if you are considering selling anytime in the near future!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Bottom Line

There is currently a window of opportunity to sell your home before the discounted properties again re-enter the market and put downward pressure on prices. If you plan to sell within the next year, now might be the time.

I know I reference Steve Harney a LOT in my blog, but the KCM Crew has sent out yet another good one. So many folks are talking about the fall of prices and speculating when they will begin to go back up, but not many people understand the reasoning why. KCMBlog.com gives an excellent illustration in today's post, likening the foreclosure crisis to water behind a dam. In short, the banks need to release just enough to stimulate the market and relieve some pressure, but releasing too many at once will flood it and cause to to spiral. Check it out yourself for more details. Good reading!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Makes Up Your Credit Score?

KCMBlog.com has posted an excellent explanation of credit scores. I encourage you to visit the website to read the information in full, but I am going to post what actually makes up the score. Very interesting!

35% is based on payment histories
30% is based on amounts owed (yikes for me)
15% is based on length of credit history
10% is based on new credit and inquiries
10% is based on the type of credit used

VERY GOOD INFO TO KNOW! Please visit http://www.kcmblog.com for more details!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mixed Signals??

There have been several reports lately concerning the real estate forecast for 2011. My favorites are the ones that say that the demand for housing will go up in 2011. Yippeee, right???? Well, yes... sort of...

Both NAR and Fannie Mae are projecting an increase in closed residential real estate transactions in 2011, but this does not mean prices will go up. Sellers, please keep this in mind! More homes will be sold, but that does not equal greater appreciation for you. We must take reports with a grain of salt. Speak with your local real estate agent for information on your neighborhood.

Info from KCMBlog.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Putting it in Perspective

The KCM Crew has done it again! Without giving into the mass hysteria created byt he media, they have presented a realistic portrait of real estate as an investment over the last decade. By citing a new article in Forbes magazine, they have helped us all breathe a little easier... at least for now. Their summary Even in what many consider a sub-par decade for the housing industry, real estate proved to be an excellent investment speaks VOLUMES. Check out the latest post at www.KCMBlog.com!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Should I List During the Holidays?

It's a pretty predictable debate this time of year -- should I list my home now or wait for Spring? Great arguments can be made for both sides. The following are some reasons why you may decide now is the time to go for it!

-- Buyers that are looking now are serious. They have jobs, have their financing lined up, and need to buy now. Otherwise, they would wait til January to look when they had more time.
-- A lot of your competition will be bank owned. This means they will be cold, drab, vacant, and in less than broomswept condition. So, yours will automatically show better.
-- If you DO wait, you have done what the majority of folks have done, which means you will have even more competition than normal.

Call me to discuss the pros and cons -- different situations call for different strategies, and I can guide you through the decision making process.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Insurance Tidbit from Mike Oelz

A Charlotte, North Carolina man, having purchased a case of rare, very expensive cigars, insured them against fire. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of fabulous cigars, and having yet to make a single premium payment on the policy, the man filed a claim against the insurance company.
In his claim, the man stated that he had lost the cigars "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in a normal fashion. The man sued -- and won! In delivering his ruling, the judge stated that since the man held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that the cigars would be insured against fire, without defining what it considered to be unacceptable fire, it was obligated to compensate the insured for his loss.
Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company grudgingly accepted the judge's ruling and paid the man $15,000 for the rare cigars he lost in the fires. After the man cashed his check, however, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of arson, with his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used as evidence.

This story is from Mike Oelz with Allen Tate Insurance. To share your own strange story (or just to get a quote!), call him at 336-544-4545.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why Own?

SO MUCH is being said in the media right now about the merits (or lack thereof) of owning a home in today's economy. Forget dollars and cents for a moment... what about the following:

• It’s a great long term investment.
• It’s a great place to raise a family.
• It gives you a greater sense of community.
• It’s less expensive than renting. Pay yourself each month, not a landlord.
• People who currently own have no regrets about owning their home.

My home is falling apart and a tremendous amount of upkeep. It's also more home than I need and still bearing the 80s decor of my precious deceased mother-in-law. But, you know what? It's where I want to raise my children. Enough said. That means more to me than interest rates, return on investment, etc.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do NOT Wait!

KCMBlog.com has an excellent, but sobering, post today about projected home prices. The post boils down to one crucial statement: "If you are looking to sell within the next two years, the highest sales price you will be able to attain for your home is its current value." If you would like to read the whole article, just visit KCMBlog.com. Fannie Mae has forecasted prices will fall and not return to present levels until 3rd quarter 2012... so sell while you can!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Putting Your Home on an Energy Diet

Another great segment on The Today Show today... small things you can do to cut your energy costs:

-- seal out drafts around your windows with an insulation kit (@ $10 at Lowe's)
-- use self-adhesive weather stripping at the bottom of doors (comes in an easy roll)
-- change your thermostat to a programmable one (I need to do this!)
-- replace light bulbs with LED -- one costs about $16, but it has a life of 50,000 hours!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Truth Hurts

"Demand for housing will remian soft until the economy recovers."

OUCH. This is from a blog by Steve Harney, a leading real estate mastermind who, in my opinion, knows his stuff! His latest blog tries to answer the question on everyone's minds, "Why do Home Prices Keep Falling?". I encourage you to visit kcmblog.com and read the whole article, but it can be summarized with 3 points:

1. Expiration of homebuyer's tax credot
2. Distressed properties and their effect on ALL properties
3. Lack of consumer confidence.

Sellers, please remember, your home is only worth what someone will pay for it and what the appraisal shows as its value. What you paid, how much you have spent on it, etc. make no difference. Hard to swallow? Yep... but realistic.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Winterizing Your Home

It's that time of year... things that we could let slide (dirty gutters, leaks in the crawl space, etc.) in the warmer months are now calling out to us in the night. MSN.com had a great article posted with some very simple tips for winterization. Here's the link: http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=13107899

A lot of these items are do-it-yourselfers, but for the ones that require more advanced services, contact me. I have relationships with a number of great vendors who can do almost anything around your home. Stay warm!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Today Show

I very rarely agree with real estate segments I see on TV, especially ones where "experts" give tips on increasing a home's value -- those experts are usually from either an extremely distressed market or one that is experiencing a wonderful bubble, so the tips ALWAYS need to be taken with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, many people see them as gospel!
Anyway, the Today Show had an excellent segment this morning. I made a point to watch it after the teaser basically so I could disagree with it, but this one was right on. It dealt with inexpensive and simple things you can do to enhance your home's value, and most of them were do-it-yourselfers. I really loved the analogy the guest expert gave when talking about shutters... she said that just as eyeliner enhances a beautiful set of eyes, shutters enhance the "eyes" of the home (the windows). So true! Some of the others were even simpler:

Fresh mulch
Paint the front door
Replace your mailbox
Power wash the driveway
Replace cabinet hardware in the kitchen
Clean off and polish the fridge
Replace light fixtures in high traffic areas
Replace toilet seats and bathroom mirrors
Bleach tile grout

Simple, right? SO many of these are easy, inexpensive, quick fixes that really polish your home. The guest expert made another great analogy. She pointed out that in an overly saturated market (like ours), these little touches make a big difference. Buyers see every dollar they will have to put into a house, and they offer $2 less for every $1. Sooooooo true...

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Rates they are A-Rising...

Ok Folks... 30 yr conventional rates are now at 4.25. That is excellent, I know, but 2 weeks ago they were below 4%! So, they are rising, and the higher they go, the less house you get for the money. It is important to hone in and decide on the home you want NOW. Call me today to get started!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

One Level Living in Yadkinville

I have just listed a home in Yadkinville that is perfect for a variety of situations. It is all one level, with a split bedroom plan -- so it's perfect for the empty nester! It has a large backyard and is on a quiet no-through street -- so it's perfect for young families! It's affordable and move-in ready -- so it's perfect for someone needing to move YESTERDAY... and I could go on and on...

Click the link to the right for a photo tour. The home is located in Stonebridge Estates, which is seconds away from 421, grocery shopping, etc... yet the neighborhood has a very quiet, relaxed, country feel to it. it really is the best of both worlds!

Tate does it AGAIN

Allen Tate has offered us yet another powerful marketing tool... when you list with Tate and your agent uploads an online photo tour, your home is featured on YouTube! Nobody does more for you than Tate! To take advantage of this wonderful marketing tool, contact me TODAY

Monday, November 1, 2010

Buyer Expectations

This weekend I had several instances of buyers with unrealistic expectations (all were working with other agents, so I am not talking about any of my folks here!). I hear a lot "the market is down, so they can't expect that price." But guess what? A lot of sellers are educated and are priced for this market already. So, before you lowball just because "it's a down market," please have your agent do a market analysis. You may still choose to lowball, but at least you will recognize that many homes are already priced for THIS market and not for a booming one. If you need a market analysis done and don't have a Realtor, contact me asap!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Foreclosure Buzz

Good info on the recent foreclosure halt on the Allen Tate blog, "At Home in the Carolinas". Clink link to see more!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's That Time of Year...

Even though it is sunny, warm, and gorgeous here in Winston-Salem today, the nights are getting cooler and cold weather is just around the corner. I know at my house we have actually run the heat a few times now (don't you love the smell when you run your heater for the first time?). This brings to mind some "to-dos" for the upcoming cooler (or just plain COLD) weather:

Have your heating system service and cleaned
Check the pilot light on your gas logs
Make your home more efficient by caulking, weather-stripping, etc.

For more ideas on things you can do to prepare for cold weather, just email or call me. Enjoy the sunshine!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I read a great post on Steve Harney's blog about why we purchase certain homes. I hear so often from sellers "but I'm not going to make any profit." Fundamentally, though, do we choose a certain home because of its profit potential? Investors do, of course, when they are purchasing rental properties, but most of us choose a certain home for other reasons. Perhaps it is in the school district we desire for our children, or it has a unique layout that makes it possible for an in-law to visit frequently. Regardless, there are often factors at play that are more important than dollars and cents, and these are often motivating factors to which we can't assign a value. As your Realtor I am going to educate you about neighborhood values, but you have to decide if that is what really matters to you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FHA 203(k) Streamline Loan Program Now Available

Breaking News!! Allen Tate Mortgage is pleased to offer the FHA 203-K Streamline Loan. It’s designed to help qualified borrowers purchase or refinance a home that needs non-structural repairs, and finance the cost of those repairs through the mortgage. It is only available for owner-occupied primary residences, and a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent is required.

A one-time close allows the borrower to finance up to a maximum of $35,000 to make
improvements. A minimum of $5,000.00 repairs is typically required to be eligible for this loan. Work must begin within 30 days of execution of the rehabilitation agreement at closing. Rehabilitation funds are escrowed and paid out to the customer and contractor jointly as work is satisfactorily completed. A specific time frame for completion of the work is noted in the agreement at closing. HUD requires all work to be completed within six months.

For more information, please email, call, or text me today! This is a fabulous opportunity for someone to buy a home that needs some work, but not have to pay for it out of pocket. A new HVAC, a new roof, even appliances can be purchased through this program. Some limitiations do apply, but don't you owe it to yourself to check it out?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We Did it Again!

The numbers don't lie... Allen Tate Company out performed all other real estate companies in the Triad in the first half of 2010! There are lots of ways to interpret that statement, but we are proud to report that we closed more transactions than any other company from Jan 1, 2010 to June 30, 2010. To ask the proverbial question... do you want your home LISTED or do you want it SOLD?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why Being a Mom Makes Me a Better Realtor

As I sit here watching my daughter blissfully nap in her swing and await the arrival of my husband and son home from a long day, I can't help but think about how being a mom has changed me. I knew it would change how I planned my daily life and how I spent my money, but I didn't realize that it would change the fundamental ways in which I look at everything, even my job. I have always worked with clients with concerns regarding neighborhoods, schools, etc. Those two things, among others, are important factors for home buyers with children. I have always understood that. I used to get that a certain school was important, or a neighborhood pool, for example, but now I GET IT. The welfare of your children colors every decision you make, from deciding where to eat supper to where to buy a home. We no longer come first, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Being a mom has made me more compassionate, empathetic, and patient (life was simpler when I didn't care so much!), and hopefully my clients will see that I really do GET IT now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mortgage Loan Application aka I'm Back!!!

You have probably noticed it's been a while since my last post -- 4 weeks in fact! -- but I am back now after basking in the bliss of having a beautiful new baby. Just let me know if you want to see pictures!

Anyway, I am working with several first time buyers or folks who haven't purchased in many years right now, and I often get asked what a lender will need for that first appointment regarding the oh-so-important loan application. Because being expedient in applying and getting the necessary documents together is part of a purchase agreement, it helps to know what to expect up front. The following is a comprehensive list of what most lenders will need:

-- Residence addresses for 2 years
-- Last 2 years of paystubs, W2s, tax returns, etc.
-- Names and addresses of all employers for last 2 years
-- Last 3 months bank statements for all savings & checking accounts
-- Addresses of all real estate owned with lender info, mortgage balance, monthly payment, etc.
-- A check to pay for your credit report and appraisal
-- Copy of purchase contract
-- Copy of divorce decree if applicable
-- Copy of bankruptcy papers if applicable
-- Certificate of eligibiltiy if VA

As always, I am here to help. Call, text, email, or tweet me today!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Real Estate v Baseball

OK, I admit it... this is copied from the At Home in the Carolinas blog -- I love baseball, so this one was very enjoyable!

South Carolina produced major league standouts like Camden’s Larry Doby and Anderson’s Jim Rice. North Carolina brought us Williamston’s Gaylord Perry, Hertford’s Catfish Hunter, and Raleigh’s Josh Hamilton. And while the Carolinas do not have a major league baseball team (yet), minor league teams such as the Durham Bulls, Charlotte Knights, Carolina Mudcats, Burlington Royals, Greensboro Grasshoppers, and Winston-Salem Dash keep the game relevant and thriving.
Being a fan of the sport, I recently spent some time thinking about the game and its myriad of rules, rituals and strategies developed over its many decades. Turns out, there’s a lot we can learn from the game when talking real estate:
 Baseball is a rewarding long-term investment of your time. So is real estate.
 In a Buyer’s market, it’s better to be the batter than the ball.
 Numbers are important. You can’t properly analyze a baseball team or a real estate market without understanding them.
 Deferred maintenance never works to your advantage (Apologies to the Baltimore Orioles).
 Waiting until next year is not always the best strategy. Get your home sold now before inventories explode. Buy a home now before mortgage rates leave the basement.
 Past performance does not guarantee future performance. Watch out for underperforming “superstars” and housing bubbles.
 Trust your coach. Love your trusted REALTOR®.
 Sometimes homeownership throws us a curve. That’s when you’re happy to have a home warranty.
 A well-maintained lawn is more valuable than artificial turf.
 Spitting should never be permitted in a dugout or a living room.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tax Credit Extension

After a close brush with the deadline, Congress has passed an extension of
the Homebuyer Tax Credit closing deadline, the Homebuyer Assistance and
Improvement Act (H.R. 5623) . The extension applies only to transactions
that have ratified contracts in place as of April 30, 2010 that have not yet
closed. The legislation is designed to create a seamless extension the new
closing deadline for eligible transactions is now September 30, 2010. There
is will be no gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill
into law.

NAR worked closely with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to
enact this important legislation. Extending the Tax Credit Closing deadline
will help provide additional stability to real estate markets across the

For additional information on the extension visit

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Our New Blog!!!

Allen Tate Company now has a blog called "At Home in the Carolinas" -- follow the link below to visit it and subscribe!


Friday, June 25, 2010

LOW Rates!

For the week ending June 11th
30 year fixed 4.50%
15 year fixed 4.00%
5/1 Conventional ARM 3.375%
FHA 4.500%
VA 4.500%
NCHFA 4.250%

Investment 5.00%

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Lead-Based Paint Regulation in Effect in North Carolina

In April of 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule aimed at protecting children from lead-based paint hazards in places they frequent. The rule applies to renovation, repair and painting activities in housing and child-occupied facilities built prior to 1978. The rule was fully effective by April 22, 2010.
North Carolina now has a new law. North Carolina's Lead Hazard Management Program (LHMP) for Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RR&P) Rule became effective January 1, 2010. In North Carolina, the Health Hazards Control Unit (HHCU), certifies firms and renovators who perform renovations in housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978, and accredits training courses and training providers who wish to teach the required renovator and/or dust sampling technician courses for certification purposes.
These rules require that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting activities provide the "Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools"lead hazard information pamphlet to the owner/occupant before the renovation begins and follow specific lead safe work practices.
To get more information on this new rule, visit their web site - North Carolina Lead-Based Paint Hazard Management Program http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/lead/lhmp.html The NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health, Health Hazards Control Unit (HHCU) can be contacted by calling (919) 707-5950.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rates for 6-8-10 -- WOW

30 year fixed 4.625%
15 year fixed 4.250%
5/1 Conventional ARM 3.375%
FHA 4.750%
VA 4.750%
NCHFA 4.750%

Investment 5.375%

Monday, June 7, 2010

Professional Movers or Do it Yourself?

This is adapted from my monthly HomeNotes newsletter. If you would like to subscribe, please let me know!

If hiring a moving company, keep a few things in mind:
-- Hire a reputable company
-- Make sure the mover is properly insured
-- Request a home visit and written estimate
-- Avoid end of the month and summer moves
-- Let the movers pack your breakables so they will be insured
-- Document everything

If doing it yourself:
-- Make a pre-move packing list for each box
-- Have more boxes and supplies on hand than you think you will need
-- Keep similar items together
-- Have cleaning supplies handy
-- Safeguard valuable items

For more details or elaboration, text or email me. I can send you the actual newsletter. Have a good week!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Staging Tips

The following tips are from the April-June, Vol 89 No. 2 issue of Insight magazine (NAR):

-- Place a new floor mat at entry, a new mailbox if existing one is aged, and new mulch around flower beds
-- Paint, stain, or varnish front door and install a new kick plate
-- Clean and de-clutter foyer (light fixtures and floor); add a small entrance table with fresh flowers
-- Put away all "collections", political and religious mementos, and business, sport, and personal awards
-- Remove all crowded furniture
-- Remove extra leaf from dining room table and place nice white tablecloth and flower arrangement on it
-- Remove all magnets from refrigerator and stow all small appliances in cabinets
-- Downplay dated ceramic tile with white rugs, towels, and window treatments; replace rusty sinks or touch up rusty spots; repair or replace old exhaust fans
-- Clean out closets to make them appear larger
-- Remove stains from garage floors
-- Clean all windows and cobwebs in corners
-- Repair all screen holes or replace completely; make sure outdoor furniture is clean and orderly

As you can see, most of these are very simple and cheap... but the impact they can have can make a huge difference!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is it Over?

A lot of people these days are asking "Now that the tax credit deadline is over, is the excitement over as well?". The answer is a resounding NO! There are still tons of beautiful homes out there, and interest rates are still wonderful... so it is still a fabulous time to buy. Email me today for an email account where you can search homes for sale in REAL time... unlike a lot of search engines where homes showing as available sold or went off the market 30 or even 45 days ago. If you don't want an email account because you worry you will get an inbox stuffed with property details, then just visit AmandaShore.com, which is updated every 30 minutes. All Triad homes for sale through our multiple listing service are there. If you are looking beyond the Triad to another part of NC, nationally, or even internationally, let me know... Tate is a part of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, which is an elite referral network covering the globe. Put your move in the hands of someone with experience and knowledge!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We've Moved!!!

WINSTON SALEM, N.C. - Allen Tate Realtors has moved its Winston-Salem sales office to a building at 147 S. Cherry St. Allen Tate will lease 9,110 square feet of space on the first floor. The new location will accommodate Allen Tate Realtors formerly working at the Stratford Street location, with extra space for new agents who join the company.

Mike Thornburg is the branch leader and broker-in-charge. Terri Massengale recently joined Allen Tate as the sales manager for the Cherry Street location and business development manager for the Winston-Salem market. Read more at http://bit.ly/cjvNX0

Friday, May 14, 2010

Current Rates

Rates are still great! According to Jennifer Tuttle and the Allen Tate Mortgage Minute, the FHA rate is 4.875, and the conventional rate is 4.75... BUT economists are predicting they will be up to 6 or higher by Christmas. That can make a huge difference, especially with the increased FHA up-front PMI now required. Call me to act now!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Way to Go Tate!

Allen Tate Company is Top Carolinas-Based Real Estate Firm
Company ranks #7 among independent brokers on REAL Trends 500 report

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 3, 2010) – Allen Tate Company (www.allentate.com) is the top real estate firm based in the Carolinas and ranks #7 among the country’s largest independently owned, non-franchised brokers, and #15 among all brokers, based on closed transactions sides for 2009, according to the REAL Trends 500 report.
The annual report, which ranks the country’s top 500 real estate firms, will be published this month by REAL Trends, the nation’s leading publisher of trends and analysis of the residential real estate brokerage industry.
Allen Tate Company closed 12,600 transaction sides in 2009 to earn the rankings. The company also ranked #10 among independent brokers and #21 in the country among all brokers, based on 2009 closed sales volume.
“Allen Tate continues to lead the Carolinas as the top-ranked real estate firm based here,” said Pat Riley, president, Allen Tate Company. “It’s also a great honor to have name recognition among relocating clients who move here from other parts of the country and are familiar with us because of our national ranking.”

About REAL Trends 500
The REAL Trends 500 is an annual research report which identifies the country’s largest and most successful residential firms as ranked by closed transaction sides and separately by closed sales volume. This report represents the most trusted standard of measuring the performance of the nation’s leading realty service firms.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pending Sales on the Rise!

(Reuters) - Pending sales of previously owned homes hit a five-month high in March as buyers rushed to sign contracts before a tax credit expired, while a jump in factory orders underscored manufacturing strength.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Is the Madness Over?

If you a Realtor, you are probably feeling a little dazed from the mad rush of folks trying to take advantage of the tax credit over the last couple of weeks. While I do think some of the urgency is gone, I think when people realize that rates will be rising we will be right at it again! I know the last couple of days my phone has not rung quite as much, but folks are still on the hunt. Happy Spring!

Now... to the potential buyers out there... Rates today are 4.875 for conventional and FHA, but they will not stay that way. Economists and leading real estate indices are indicating a rise over the summer... and on a $100,000 property, even a half point can make a difference. So, even though you may have missed out on the tax credit, the early bird still catches the worm. Call me today if you have questions or are ready to get started!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Great Article for First Time Buyers!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From the Blown Mortgage Blog

Loan Modifications, Foreclosures, Short Sales, and The Truth About Your Credit Score

Posted: 09 Apr 2010 08:04 PM

There has been a lot of ink spilled on the issue of loan modifications, foreclosure, short sales, and their effect on your credit score. Depending on which newspaper, blog, or Wikipedia article you read there are a couple dozen theories or authoritative statements on how the whole credit scoring system works.

If you are planning to do any of the above: modify your mortgage, foreclose on your mortgage, short sale your home, or any other loan related activity it is worth finding out what the effects will be on your credit score. But why is our credit score so important? And, how does your payment history affect it?

Your credit score is important because it summarizes your credit risk to lenders and businesses. It is a number that describes your financial reliability as a borrower. Some employers and landlords also use this score as one of many ways to get a background check on us. If we apply for a loan and our credit score is low we a) might not get approved, or b) will have to pay higher interest rates than if we he had a higher score. It is as simple as that.

What makes up your credit score?

The biggest factor is your payment history. Around 35% of your score is based on your borrowing and paying record. This is quite understandable; a lender is justified in wanting to know if you have paid your debts in the past. This does not mean that a single (or event two) late payment/s will automatically destroy your credit score. An overall good record of paying your loans could outweigh a couple of bad instances.

This doesn’t mean either that if you have no late payments you will have a perfect score (that would be 850, in FICO’s main scoring system), there are many other factors to consider.

How long will past delinquencies affect your credit score for?

Bankruptcies, foreclosures, wage attachments, and other cases of delinquency seriously affect your credit score. How recent and frequent a case of delinquency is also counts in your credit score. Bankruptcies will stay on your credit report for 7 to 10 years depending on what chapter you filed under. The good thing is that more recent activity in your account will weigh more in your credit score than older delinquencies. A foreclosure, even though some of our readers would like to believe otherwise, will stay on your credit report for a long time. How long is not specified by FICO, but even a 90 day late payment 5 years ago will affect your credit score. Although thankfully the longer ago a delinquency occurred the less effect it has on your score, which means it is worth trying to improve your score because what you do now will have a great effect on your score.

Friday, April 9, 2010

rates for 4/9

15 year fixed 4.375%
5/1 Conventional ARM 3.625%
FHA 5.125%
VA 5.125%
NCHFA 4.75%

Investment 5.75%

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Long Distance" Agents

I saw a snippet of a newspaper article recently that was typical for these times -- written by someone outside the real estate industry, giving advice to home buyers and sellers without acknowledging that our industry is evolving and changing every day. Can you tell I was a little bothered by it?
Anyway, the article was advising home sellers that if their agent's "home base" was more than 15 miles from the location of their home, then they needed to pick another listing agent. The reasoning was that agents further than that could not be as responsive to buyers and buyer agents as one whose home base was closer.
WOW. I have an office on Stratford Road in Winston-Salem where I make copies, store files of old clients, etc. Most importantly, if the Real Estate Commission needs to contact me, they use that address. But my "real" office, where 99% of my negotiations, communications, etc, take place is wherever I am with my iPhone! Most of my active files stay in the backseat of my car, and I log tremendous miles every day driving from Pinnacle to Lexington to Greensboro to Elkin. I have the capability to fax, email, text, phone, etc. from anywhere. In fact, my office on Stratford is 45 minutes away from my very own home -- does that mean I am not qualified to sell my own house? No!
I am licensed to conduct business in the State of NC. I do not go beyond certain areas because I simply do not have the firsthand market knowledge to service customers in those areas. If you live outside of my comfort zone, I will let you know (as will most professional agents) and will help you find someone within your area to help. But please understand, just because I don't live in your neighborhood does NOT mean I can't represent you professionally and competently in a transaction.
Ok, thank you for indulging my tirade...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rates are Already Rising

Conventional 5.125%
Conventional 15 year 4.375%
5/1 ARM 3.750%
FHA 5.00%
VA 5.00%
NCHFA 4.750%
Investment 5.750%

A week ago (March 26), conventional was a flat 5, so they are moving up...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rising Interest Rates

A lot of people don't realize the impact an interest rate can have on their payment... for example, on a $100,000 loan, the difference between a 4.5% rate and a 5.5% rate could be $100 a month! So, with economists forecasting that rates will rise after April 30, it is extremely prudent for a lot of folks to put on their home finding hats NOW, get a home under contract, and lock their rates. I have heard some buyers say "well, after April 30 there won't be as much demand, so sellers will have to reduce their prices...". While this may be true in some cases, those rising interest rates may more than make up for any price cut done by aggressive sellers. So, why not take advantage of the low rates AND the tax credit and find something now? As always, I am here to help!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekend Rates

Conventional 5.00%
5/1 ARM 3.750%
FHA 5.00%
VA 5.00%
USDA 5.00%
NCHFA 4.750%
Investment 5.750%

As always, call, text, email, or tweet for more info!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Double Whammy

Everyone knows that the tax credit "under contract by" date is April 30, but a lot of folks don't realize that coming soon, FHA funding fees will increase. So many people rely on FHA loans for their home purchases, and when that upfront fee increases, more cash will be required to close. You can get MORE house NOW for the same amount you will be able to get LESS house for LATER. If you are on the fence, jump off and call today!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Turnkey in Winston-Salem

I have just put a 2BR home on the market in Winston-Salem just off Hwy 52... talk about a dollhouse! This all brick ranch with vinyl trim (so no painting needed ever!) would be perfect for an empty nester or maybe a young person just starting out. It has 2 good sized bedrooms, a large bath, a spacious living room, and the kitchen is open and airy and bright -- when you turn the corner to enter, you will be surprised! The owner has meticulously maintained it while she has lived there, and the lot... oh my goodness! The front yard is plenty big enough, but the backyard would accomodate a garden, playset, trampoline, AND swimming pool! The home also boasts a nice storage building, a patio in back, an attached 1 car garage, and wonderful neighbors. Visit 5626 Plantation Drive on AmandaShore.com today!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Today's Rates from Allen Tate Mortgage

Rates are still wonderful with both conventional and FHA below 5%! Forecasts predict they will be going up soon, though, so you better act fast. Call or email me for more info, and please see below:

Conventional 4.875%
5/1 ARM 3.750%
FHA 4.875%
VA 5.00%
USDA 5.00%
NCHFA 4.750%
Investment 5.625%

For mortgage help, contact me or Jennifer Tuttle with Allen Tate Mortgage at jennifer.tuttle@allentate.com. Phone calls do not obligate you to use our services.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Not Much Impact from Repeat Buyer Credit
It sounded like a great idea three months ago: Hand homeowners a $6,500 tax credit to find a new place to live, giving a thrust of energy to the housing market's recovery. So far, however, people are staying put.

Taken from NCRealtors.com

Friday, February 26, 2010

Advice for Those Seeking the Tax Credit

Taxpayers Seeking Homebuyer Tax Credits, Refunds Must File Paper
by Broderick Perkins

Homeowners filing for the home buyer tax credit are not allowed to use electronic filing and must file hard copies due to special documentation requirements.

Earlier this year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) deployed new home buyer tax credit forms and instructions requiring forms that will force taxpayers to file on paper, rather than electronically.

Under the new and expanded home buyer tax credit rule , the credit is worth up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers and up to $6,500 for qualifying existing home buyers, in both cases, who buy a primary residence or have one built.

The tax credit is refundable. A credit that is larger than the taxes owed is returned to the taxpayer in the form of a refund.

The home can cost no more than $800,000 and qualifying income is limited to a maximum of $125,000 for single taxpayers and $225,000 for joint taxpayers.

Get the full scoop online from the IRS' "First-Time Homebuyer Credit" page online.

In addition to Form 5405, also include at least one of the following documents:

• A copy of the HUD-1, Settlement Statement, showing all parties' names and signatures, property address, sales price, and date of purchase.

• For mobile home buyers who don't get a settlement statement, a copy of the executed retail sales contract showing all parties' names and signatures, property address, purchase price and date of purchase.

• For new home buyers who don't get a settlement statement, a copy of the certificate of occupancy showing the owner’s name, property address and date of the certificate.

Existing home owners applying for the $6,500 maximum tax credit must additionally prove they lived in their old home for the required period.

Information courtesy of Realty Times

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Smoke Detector Law in Effect for WS!

Effective Feb. 18, 2010, the new Smoke Detector Ordinance passed 18 months ago goes into effect. It applies to ALL homes within the city limits (and jurisdictional district) of Winston-Salem.

The new law requires detectors in every bedroom (and some other "rooms that can be used for sleeping") and on every floor. The property owner is the responsible party - this is important for rental property! Property managers are also responsible to make sure there is compliance according to the NC Real Estate Commission.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Be a Smarty!

If you are a new mom or even an experienced one looking for help, resources, fun, advice, etc., look no further than TriadSmartyPants.com. It's a blog devoted to everything "mom" with interesting tidbits, helpful links, and stories that will make you laugh. Need to know about summer camp, local photographers, or upcoming consignment sales? Just visit TriadSmartyPants.com to find vendors that are "Smarty Approved"!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bring Your Sweetie!

6810 Gray Moss in Doublegate in Clemmons will be open Sunday (yes, it's Valentine's Day...) from 2-4 pm. Come see this move-in ready home, available for immediate occupancy. Its family friendly floorplan features large room sizes, separate entertaining areas on the main level, and all bedrooms and laundry on the second level. The home is all brick and is an excellent entry level home for desirable Doublegate. Come see for yourself, and bring your Valentine!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Main Level Memories...

Young parents often want their bedrooms close to their children but not TOO close... for them, a split floor plan can be ideal. My newest listing, 287 Cinnamon Way in Fernhill in Clemmons, NC, offers main level convenience and that "close enough but not too close" floorplan. The master, 2nd, and 3rd bedrooms are all on the main level, with the living room and kitchen separating the master from the additional rooms. So... no steps to climb in the middle of the night... but just a room away should your child need you... but far enough away that the parents can watch Letterman and not awaken the sleeping angels. Go to AmandaShore.com and check it out!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Do Not Wait!

Waiting a few extra days or weeks to purchase a home this spring could cost buyers thousands of extra dollars as the office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) implements several changes for loan guaranteed by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA).

Coming just weeks before the April 30 deadline for the Home Buyer Tax Credit and just days after the March 31 expiration of the Federal Reserve Board's mortgage backed securities purchase program (which has kept home loan rates artificially low for over a year), these FHA changes make it even more important to act now to save big.

Here are a few reasons why:

On April 5, the cost of required up-front mortgage insurance for loan guaranteed by the FHA will increase from 1.75% to 2.25%. For a borrower purchasing a $200,000 home with a $7000 down payment, the up-front mortgage insurance will increase by $965. Up front mortgage insurance is typically financed in the final loan amount so the impact to a monthly payment will be minimal, but overall, the increase is still borne by the borrower both upfront and monthly.

Later this Spring, the amount of money that a seller can return to the buyer from their sale proceeds will be reduced from 6% to 3%. The reduction in these "seller concessions" can increase the amount of cash a buyer will be required to pay at closing by $6000 for a home purchase of $200,000.

Information courtesy of Jennifer Tuttle with Allen Tate Mortgage

Monday, January 25, 2010

New FHA Guidelines!!!!

This is taken from an email alert sent out by Jennifer Tuttle with Allen Tate Mortgage:

FHA now insures about 30% of all new loans and is nearing the limits of loans they can make based on their capital ratio. In an effort to fix this problem, FHA is going to raise their upfront mortgage insurance premium fees from 1.75% to 2.25%.

This will bring more money into FHA thus meeting their Capital Ratio requirements to continue to lend. They also want to limit the high loan to value financing to borrowers with a 580 credit score; a score under 580 will now require at least a 10% down payment. All of the investors that Allen Tate works with will not purchase a FHA loan with a score below 620 so that change will not affect us. From my conversations with other loan officers in other companies, I don't know of an investor that will go below 620 at this time.

The bottom line... FHA loans, which have been the saving grace for so many folks, are now becoming stricter in their guidelines. This may affect your "borrow-ability"! All the more reason to find a home BEFORE April, when these guidelines take effect. If you have more questions or would like a copy of the new mortgagee letter from FHA, please contact me at Amanda.Shore@allentate.com!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Did You Know????

In the Triad in November 2009, 50% MORE HOMES SOLD THAN IN NOVEMBER 2008. In the US, 42% more sold than in 2008. What does this mean? The first tax credit that applied to first time home buyers worked in stimulating home sales! Economists are directly attributing most of those sales to the tax credit. This is further reinforced by the fact that sales slipped to next to nothing in December (even taking into account the usual December slide from all the festivities). If you are trying to sell your home now, or even contemplating it, what does this mean for you?
You do NOT want to miss the next crucial window. The current tax credit requires that homes be under contract by April 30 and closed by June 30. Do NOT wait until February or March to list your home. If your home is already listed, do NOT wait to get aggressive and proactive about pricing, incentives, etc. We don't know for sure, but what if things fall flat in July like they did in December... what will you do then?

Monday, January 11, 2010

December Stats for Forsyth County

We have just compiled statistics for sold homes in December 2009 -- only 24.67% of the homes that sold in December in Forsyth County were $200,001 and up! 69% were below $100,000. What does this tell us? For those homes over $200k, pricing, condition, and readiness are KEY... call me for helpful insights into getting your home ready and making it stand out from the crowd.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shadow Inventory... What Does that Mean?

We are hearing a lot these days about "shadow inventory" -- particularly now that the new year has begun. An understanding of this term is KEY for anyone attempting to sell or considering selling a home in 2010! Shadow inventory refers to the vast wave of foreclosures that are currently being processed but have not yet hit the market. All economic forecasts point to these really becoming a factor in Spring and early Summer. What does this mean for you?

Appraisers used to be able to "ignore" foreclosures when they did market valuations because they just weren't the norm -- not so anymore. Foreclosures are now being considered by appraisers as comparable properties simply because of the sheer number of them and because they now infiltrate all price ranges. The more foreclosures with which you are competing, the more your property value is driven down by them. If the number of foreclosures is going to go up and up and up in a few months, we need to do all we can NOW to position your home in the market.

If you have been considering a price reduction but think you should wait til Spring, do it NOW. If you have been considering listing your home but think you should wait til Spring, do it NOW. The longer you wait, the more negatively this shadow inventory will affect you!

Additonally, the extension of the homebuyer tax credit has buyers looking now. The deadline for this is to be under contract by April 30. Waiting til February to list is missing out on a window of opportunity for those buyers looking to take advantage of that credit!