Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category

How Mold Grows & Why Prompt Removal Matters

May 21, 2014

Article Courtesy of John Leneschmidt, President & Owner, PuroClean Property Damage Restoration Services 

Is your home infested with mold? There are many different forms of mold and some can be deadly to you and your family...get it checked out!

Is your home infested with mold? There are many different forms of mold and some can be deadly to you and your family…get it checked out!

At our recent Continuing Education class on May 14, we covered the topic of Toxic Mold Remediation, including how water-damage related mold develops in homes and buildings, as well as how mold affects the health of the structure and its occupants.  In our next two newsletters, we’ll recap some of the key points, for those of you who were unable to attend.

Let’s start at the beginning, with a brief discussion about how mold develops inside a building.  In most homes, conditions are nearly ideal for mold to grow.  Mold needs only three things to thrive: (1) an organic food source such as wood, paper, fabric, leather, wool, etc., (even dirt on inorganic materials has enough organic material to support mold growth); (2) an agreeable temperature range between 68º and 86º F, which is typical of most occupied buildings; and (3) sufficient moisture that can come from a plumbing leak, water damage from a storm (or even high humidity).

Of course, nearly every home has items #1 and #2.  When you add the third, usually missing, indgrediant, conditions are nearly ideal for mold to grow.  Whether the waters comes from major rain storms, a massive flood like those we recently observed as close as Fayetteville, or from other pre-existing sources, remediation must be done quickly and correctly, or mold WILL grow.

When molds are found indoors, they can damage or destroy the structure, and they pose serious health concerns to persons living in that environment, especially those who are highly susceptible:  the very young or the very old, persons with pre-existing respiratory ailments such as asthma or lung disease, persons who are already ill or are treating a chronic illness, etc.  Department of Health officials state that, “Many, if not most, molds can produce potentially harmful substances, whether it’s allergens, mycotoxins, or other compounds. Hence, all indoor mold growth should be removed promptly, no matter what type(s) of mold is present or whether it can produce toxins.”  (www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/mold/index.html)

Of course the very best way to ensure that mold will not begin to grow is to contact restoration professionals, such as PuroClean Raleigh – Property Damage Restoration Services.   We can remediate the loss, or even to do an inspection to confirm that there are no lingering (mold-causing) problems in the home.  Restoration professionals have a wide variety of professional tools and meters to evaluate a home quickly and thoroughly.  If there are problem areas, we will be able to develop a plan for complete remediation and restoration of your property.

Regardless of the circumstances – damage from storms or floods, damp basements & crawl spaces, unattended leaky faucets, or air conditioning overflows, please call PuroClean Raleigh – PDRS at the first hint of a problem.  Our well-trained technicians truly are Paramedics of Property Damage™. We provide the latest state-of-the-science services to all property damaged from water and mold, as well as fire/smoke and other disasters. We will mitigate the loss to prevent further damage and will then deliver restoration services to return the property to a pre-loss condition as quickly as possible.

In this newsletter, we’ve talked about the conditions that lead to mold infestion, as well as the reasons it is so important to remove mold quickly and completely.  Next time, we’ll share information about tell-tale signs for mold detection, as well as tips on how to remove small amounts of mold yourself, and which circumstances call for a professional remediation company like PuroClean – Raleigh.

In the meantime, if you, or clients, family members or friends, experience mold and water-related problems, please be sure to contact them at PuroClean Raleigh – Property Damage Restoration Services immediately. 

You can also follow them on Facebook at PuroClean of Raleigh, where we cover topics related to water damage, fire damage, mold & biohazard removal, as well as other restoration tips, in greater detail.  This month, we are devoting special attention to this topic of mold remediation.

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Referrals: The backbone of any local business

April 15, 2014
A personal introduction can be invaluable for building your business. Ask for the referral!!! Be specific!!!

A personal introduction can be invaluable for building your business. Ask for the referral!!! Be specific!!!

As I look back on the last several years in business, the one source of growth that is often overlooked and under appreciated is the referral. A referral is the most source of prospect that any business can receive…including my business. Many talk about referring business, but few actually do. Why is that? Whether you are selling real estate, legal advice, or servicing an HVAC unit, referrals are the easiest way to build a strong relationship with a future client. So, why don’t many people refer?

The answer is simple, but also very complex. The primary reason a business doesn’t get referrals is they fail to ask for a referral. I am no different in my business as I often fail to ask for the referral. As a business owner, I often believe that my professional services I give to my clients will result in referral business. This can happen, but not in the kind of numbers you would think. Many people do not think about you when they run into a potential referral situation. I know I have many things on my mind in any given day and often, I fail to think about those service providers who have made my business a success. A past or current client is no different. They simply do not think about you.

Another reason few referrals are passed occurs from a lack of training. As a professional, I need to demonstrate to my contacts how to best refer potential clients and who would be a good candidate for my services. In my business, anyone is a potential client and a potential source for a referral. It is not like this in all businesses, but a good many professions are similar. For instance, a property and casualty insurance agent has a wide range of potential clients, if not all adults. If you own a car, you need insurance and this is a potential source for an insurance agent. As we know, most people in our area own a car. Even if you don’t own a car or a house, you need renter’s insurance to protect your belongings from a fire or flood. How do we get more referrals as business owners?

When you are speaking with a potential referral source, be specific with them. Ask them if they would prefer a lunch with the three of you or if you can use their name when you call the person. Find out what their preference is and follow it. Be flexible, but ask for the referral.

The most effective way to train your contacts while asking for a referral is to describe the client you are looking for. For instance, I am looking for renters who are considering buying their first home. This client would be a young professional who’s in their late twenties or early thirties and have an interest in investigating homeownership. I would phrase my comments like this “I heard your son/daughter recently landed a great job and are they interested in possibly owning their own home? I would love to sit down with them to discuss their options and see if buying a home is the right thing for them and if it is the right time for them to purchase a home”. It is that easy…but you need to know what type of client you are looking to gain.

On the other end of the spectrum, I am looking for homeowners who are considering downsizing or up-sizing. This would be too broad to ask, so I should limit to one or the other when asking for a referral. Since I have experience working with homes on golf courses, it would be a natural fit for the downsizing client. So, I would ask in much the same way if they have a neighbor or friend who is a recent empty nester and looking to downsizing their homes. “Are they interested in selling to move into a condo in downtown Raleigh?”

If you are in a profession that requires you to continually lead generate such as a financial planner or a real estate agent, you need to work on building your referral base to insure you are successful. The cost to generate a new client can be extensive, but typically, referrals do not cost you a dime. You may have to take someone out to lunch or buy them a drink, but you would be eating and drinking anyway and this is not a typical business cost since you have some personal enjoyment out of it. For instance, I send out postcards to generate business. This is more expensive than a lunch would be and is less effective. Don’t be cheap when trying to garner referral business…take them to lunch or host a dinner party. You will build a stronger relationship and can build a referral base that will benefit you and your business.

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you have a son/daughter or family member who recently landed that dream job and is now considering homeownership. If you do, I would appreciate an introduction. I hold my referrals dear and give them a level of customer service that will make you look good in their eyes.

Golf Fanatic? 2014 will be a great year for Triangle Golfers!

March 24, 2014
The pose of a Champion! Who will pose at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst?

The pose of a Champion! Who will pose at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst?

The Triangle will be the focus of golf this year as we welcome both the 2014 U.S. Men’s and Women’s Open to Pinehurst in June. It will be a unique opportunity to watch some of the greatest golfers in the world compete. Nothing is more impressive than witnessing amazing golf shots with millions of dollars in prize money on the line. We all remember the great shot by Payne Stewart to win the U.S. Open in Pinehurst or the more recent Bubba Watson shot to win The Masters in 2012. However, if you are like me, you would much rather play golf then watch it. Here are some of the great opportunities to gather your friends and business associates to play tournament golf in the Triangle this year.

The tournament was named after past president Jack Andrews who supported this tournament. We lost Jack in 2013, but he will never be forgotten!

The tournament was named after past president Jack Andrews who supported this tournament. We lost Jack in 2013, but he will never be forgotten!

I would be remiss if I didn’t place the greatest emphasis on my Rotary’s club golf tournament which will be held at Wildwood Green Golf Club on May 6th. It is a 1 pm shotgun start with pizza lunch provided by Little Caesars. The 5th Annual Jack Andrews Memorial Golf Tournament will benefit the many organizations that the Rotary Club of North Raleigh supports throughout the year. More details can be found here or you can contact me directly as I have the inside information on this event. This is an important fundraiser for this organization and without your support, we cannot help the many people we do every year.

 

The Inaugural Holly Hill Hospital Charity Golf Tournament will be held on May 12th at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course on the NCST Campus. Registration opens at 11 am with a noon shotgun start. Cost is $130 per player and more details can be found here. The Lonnie Poole Golf Course is always a challenging and interesting course so you will want to make your plans to participate in this event.

The Wake Tech’s Sixth Annual Athletic Golf Tournament will be held on April 25th at the Eagle Ridge Golf Club. It sounds like a wonderful event with a silent auction, 50/50 raffle and a $5,000 putt for Cash. More details for this event can be found here.

The Northern Wake Optimist Club’s Golf Tournament will be held on April 4th at the Reedy Creek Golf Course. Proceeds benefit kids in our community. There will be a monetary prize for the top 3 teams. The cost is minimal at $65/player or $260/team and it includes both a bag lunch and dinner after the round. For more information, please visit here.

The Camp Royall Classic Golf Tournament will be held on May 5th at the Preserve at Jordan Lake Golf Club. The tournament will help provide life-changing experiences to children with autism at Camp Royall, the largest and oldest camp exclusively for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States. The cost is $500/foursome. You can learn more about this effort and register here.

On June 16th at Bentwinds Country Club, the Eighth Annual Raleigh Area NFFF Golf Tournament will be held. It will support the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation which supports the families of fallen firefighters. The cost is $100/individuals or $400/team with many sponsorship opportunities. For more information on this wonderful event, please click here.

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Golf Tournament will be held on May 15th at River Ridge Golf Club. It will be a 9 am shotgun start and sponsorships are still available. Please visit here for more information.

The Raleigh Claims Association (RCA) Golf Tournament will be held on May 16th at Wilmar Golf Club. It will be a 1 pm shotgun start and cost is minimal at $50/player to include golf and the picnic. For more information, please click here.

The Ed Shook Golf Classic raises money for the education of developmentally challenged children in Wake County!

The Ed Shook Golf Classic raises money for the education of developmentally challenged children in Wake County!

The Ed Shook Golf Classic will be held on September 8th at the famed Raleigh Country Club. Celebrating its 49th anniversary, this event is one to remember and participate. Sponsored by the Frankie Lemmon School and the Rotary Club of North Raleigh, this event directly assist students with developmental challenges. The school was named after the founder’s son shortly after his death. For more information about this event, please visit here or contact me directly.

This is just a sampling of the golf tournaments throughout the Triangle region. As you can see, there are many opportunities to play golf for a good cause. If you have a tournament that I didn’t mention, please let me know and I will promote it as well. You can email me at Steven@BackNineHomes.com. We always try to show as many tournaments as we can, but it is impossible to know all of them.

Trulia’s Housing Predictions: How 2014 Will be Different

January 22, 2014

Since I didn’t think I could word it any better, I have copied and pasted this article, written by Jed Kolko, Chief Economist for Trulia. It was written on December 11, 2013. All rights reserved by Trulia.

Do you have your Crystal Ball to tell you what the real estate market will be like in 2014? I don't, but this is a great assessment!

Do you have your Crystal Ball to tell you what the real estate market will be like in 2014? I don’t, but this is a great assessment!

Next year looks to be the year of the repeat home buyer, as worsening affordability discourages first timers and investors; also, the buying process will be less frenzied. Hot markets to watch are primarily in the South, Plains, and Mountain states. Rental activity will swing back toward urban apartments, away from single-family homes.

The housing market continued its uneven recovery in 2013 and will enter 2014 closer to normal than it was a year earlier. Consumer optimism is climbing back: in Trulia’s latest survey, 74% of Americans said that homeownership was part of achieving their personal American Dream – the highest level since January 2010. Even among young adults (18-34 year olds), many of whom struggled through the recession and are still living with their parents, 73% said homeownership was part of achieving their personal American Dream, up from 65% in August 2011. Rising prices over the past two years have been great news for homeowners, especially for those who had been underwater, and the real estate industry has benefited from both higher prices and more sales volume.

At the same time, the effects of the recession and housing bust still sting: the barriers to homeownership remain high, and a few markets – mostly in Florida – still have a foreclosure overhang. Plus, the housing recovery itself brings its own challenges, including declining affordability and localized bubble worries, especially in southern California.

Barring any economic crises, the housing market should continue to normalize. Here are 5 ways that the 2014 housing market will be different from 2013:

  1. Housing Affordability Worsens. Buying a home will be more expensive in 2014 than in 2013. Although home-price increases should slow from this year’s unsustainably fast pace (see #4, below), prices will still rise faster than both incomes and rents. Also, mortgage rates will be higher in 2014 than in 2013, thanks both to the strengthening economy (rates tend to rise in recoveries) and to Fed tapering, whenever it comes. The rising cost of homeownership will add insult to injury in America’s least affordable markets: in October 2013, for instance, 25% or less of the homes listed for sale in San Francisco, Orange County, Los Angeles, and New York were affordable to middle class households. Nonetheless, buying will remain cheaper than renting. As of September 2013, buying was 35% cheaper than rentingnationally, and buying beat renting in all of the 100 largest metros. However, prices and mortgage rates might rise enough to tip the math in favor of renting in a couple of housing markets – starting with San Jose.
  2. The Home-Buying Process Gets Less Frenzied. Home buyers in 2014 might kick themselves for not buying in 2013 or 2012, when mortgage rates and prices were lower, but they’ll take some comfort in the fact that the process won’t be as frenzied. There will be more inventory on the market next year, partly due to new construction, but primarily because higher prices will encourage more homeowners to sell – including those who are no longer underwater.  Also, buyers looking for a home for themselves will face less competition from investors who are scaling back their home purchases (see #3, below). Finally, mortgages should be easier to get because higher rates have slashed refinancing activity and pushed some banks to ramp up their purchase lending. Moreover, the new mortgage rules coming into effect in 2014 will give banks better clarity about the legal and financial risks they face with different types of mortgages, hopefully making them more willing to lend. All in all, more inventory, less competition from investors, and more mortgage credit should all make the buying process less frenzied than in 2013 – for those who can afford to buy.
  3. Repeat Buyers Take Center Stage. 2013 was the year of the investor, but 2014 will be the year of the repeat home buyer. Investors buy less as prices rise: higher prices mean that the return on investment falls, and there’s less room for future price appreciation. Who will fill the gap? Not first-time buyers: saving for a down payment and having a stable job remain significant burdens, and declining affordability is also a big hurdle for first-timers. Who’s left? Repeat buyers: they’re less discouraged by rising prices than either investors or first-time buyers because the home they already own has also risen in value. Also, the down payment is less of a challenge for repeat buyers if they have equity in their current home

    Biggest Obstacle to Homeownership

    All adults

    18-34 year-olds only

    Saving enough for a down payment

    55%

    58%

    Not having a stable job

    36%

    43%

    Having a poor credit history

    35%

    33%

    Qualifying for a mortgage

    32%

    29%

    Unable to pay off existing debt

    26%

    30%

    Rising home prices

    22%

    23%

    Rising mortgage rates

    15%

    18%

    Limited inventory

    5%

    5%

    Among renters who wish to buy a home right now. Respondents could choose multiple options. Survey conducted November 2013.
  4. How Much Prices Slow Matters Less Than Why And Where. Prices won’t rise as much in 2014 as in 2013. The latest Trulia Price Monitor showed us that asking home prices rose year-over-year 12.1% nationally and more than 20% in 10 of the 100 largest metros. But it also revealed that these price gains are already slowing sharply in the hottest metros. How much prices slow matters less than why. If prices are slowing for the right reasons, great: growing inventory, fading investor activity, and rising mortgage rates are all natural price-slowing changes to expect at this stage of the recovery. But prices could slow for unhealthy reasons, too: if we have another government shutdown or more debt-ceiling brinksmanship, a drop in consumer confidence could hurt housing demand and home prices. Where prices change matters, too. Slowing prices are welcome news in overvalued or unaffordable markets, but markets where prices are significantly undervalued and borrowers are still underwater would be better off with a year or two of unsustainably fast price gains.
  5. Rental Action Swings Back Toward Urban Apartments. Throughout the recession and recovery, investors bought homes and rented them out, sometimes to people who lost another (or the same!) home to foreclosure. In fact, the number of rented single-family homes leapt by 32% during this period. Going into 2014, though, investors are buying fewer single-family homes; loosening credit standards might allow more single-family renters to become owners again; and fewer owners are losing homes to foreclosures to begin with – all of which mean that the single-family rental market should cool. At the same time, multifamily accounts for an unusually high share of new construction, which means more urban apartment rentals should come onto the market in 2014. Urban apartments will be the first stop for many of the young adults who find jobs and move out of their parents’ homes. In short, 2014 should mean more supply and demand for urban apartment rentals, but slowing supply and demand for single-family rentals. Ironically, economic recovery means that the overall homeownership rate will probably decline, as some young adults form their own households as renters. Still, the shift in rental activity from suburban single-family to urban apartments would be yet another sign of housing recovery.

What other reasons will cause 2014 be different? New local markets will take the spotlight. Our top 10 markets to watch are entering 2014 with strong fundamentals, including recent job growth and longer-term economic success, as well as recent construction activity typical of vibrant markets. They are, in alphabetical order:

Why are so many of the high-profile markets of 2013 missing from our list? We ruled out markets that were more than a little overvalued according to our latestBubble Watch, which eliminated most metros in Texas and coastal California. We also struck markets with a large foreclosure inventory (thanks for the data, RealtyTrac), like most of Florida. Our 10 markets to watch, therefore, should have strong activity in 2014 with few headwinds.

Finally, our most certain prediction: Trulia will be giving you the inside scoop on the housing market in 2014. Our Housing Barometer will track the recovery; our Price and Rent Monitors are the earliest leading indicators of how asking prices and rents are trending nationally and locally; our Rent vs Buy reports will lay out all the math; and we’ll keep analyzing home-search patterns, demographics trends, affordability, and more. We can’t wait for the year to begin.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist

Jed leads Trulia’s housing research and provides insight on market trends and public policy to major media outlets including TIME magazine, CNN, and numerous others. Jed’s background includes a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University and more than 15 years of publications and research management in economic development, land use and housing policy, and consumer technology adoption.

Making 2014 the Greatest Year Ever!

January 7, 2014
What is your New Year's Resolutions? Do you have your goals? Make 2014 the best year ever!!!

What is your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you have your goals? Make 2014 the best year ever!!!

As we enter into a new year, it is important to establish your goals or resolutions that will make it a successful year. I know what you are going to say about resolutions…they are useless and are typically broken before the end of January. Yes, this is true in most situations, but there are ways to ensure your goals/resolutions are a success.

I am not a personal expert on reaching goals and achieving resolutions, as I haven’t always been successful with mine, but the one driving theory with any goal is to plan it out. A goal without a plan of action is basically a dream. We all have dreams but how many achieve our dreams? This is where you must have an established plan.

Once you have your plans, you have to break it down into monthly, weekly and even daily activities you will need to perform in order to reach your ultimate goals.

Goals should be grand, but attainable. Goals need to be measurable and transferable to an action. In other words, your goal cannot simply be to become a millionaire unless you have the means to make it a reality. If you do not have the expertise that will assist you with becoming a millionaire, then you will need to first take the measures to learn how to achieve this goal before you can take action to make it happen. You cannot learn to run before you have learned  to walk.

You should have a well-rounded set of goals that can include professional, personal, spiritual and many more. I have never met a person who on their death-bed said they wished they had spent more time at the office. With this in mind, you have to focus on your personal as well as your professional/business goals.

I have several actionable goals/resolutions for 2014 that will make this the greatest year for me in my 45 years on this planet. I am also taking it to the level where I have developed a plan to reach these goals. For the sake of accountability, I wish to express my goals and resolutions for 2014. In fact, you may be able to assist me in reaching  some of my goals as ultimately, I am hoping to improve my business in the new year.

My first goal/resolution as it pertains to my business is I would like to improve my sales volume by 50%. I experienced a 90% increase in business for 2013, so this is an attainable goal. I plan to continue to reach out to my database, social media and continue to build my brand in order to accomplish this goal. I also plan to spending more time on the 20% of activities that directly correlates to 80% of business growth. In other words, I am going to try to eliminate those activities I have traditionally done that results in little business growth. This is where you can help me as your referrals can mean the difference between reaching my goals and falling short.

On a personal level, I plan to get at least two books published, possibly a third. One book, My First Home, has been written for some time, but I plan to get it proofed by a real estate expert for legal reasons and then get it self-published. I have already started the track to get it published and have an expert reading it. I should have it ready for distribution by the Spring of 2014. The other book is a novel that I have spent most of 2013 writing. I finished the initial draft at Christmas and will spend the next couple of months doing personal edits and additions. Not knowing how long this will take, I am hoping to get it done by the end of February or the beginning of March. Once I get this second draft, I will employ a professional editor to review the book to get it ready for publication. The next step will be to shop the book around to publishers. If I fail to get it published, I may decide to self-publish it, but my ultimate goal is to get it published by an established publishing house. I am also considering other social media avenues to generate a buzz about the novel to assist a publisher in wanting to publish it. I have other ideas for books that I may start working on in 2014, but the ultimate goal is to get these two projects completed.

Another personal goal is to get more healthy. I hope to reduce my weight by 50 pounds in 2014 and have already started the process by building a diet plan that will work for me. I am keeping track of my food intake to ensure I do not overeat while planning times to exercise. In this vein, I would like to utilize my love of biking and get out with my bike more often. Once it warms up a little, I will make a plan to ride at least once a week while utilizing the Greenway system in Raleigh.

Of course, I have other spiritual and familial goals which I will not share here, but I am establishing a plan of action to accomplish these goals as well. Ultimately, I will hang the final goals in my office to be a constant reminder that I have these goals. Every week, I will establish a weekly ‘to-do’ list that will push me closer to accomplishing all of my goals. This is important to make your resolutions and goals a reality. You need to break them down into daily and weekly occurrences in order to ensure you stay focused on the ultimate prize…your goals.

I hope this has been helpful for you and I would love to hear from you concerning your personal goals and resolutions. Like I mentioned earlier, it is important to make yourself accountable and the easiest way to do this is to share it with others. It is often a daunting task to share your most inner personal goals with family and friends, so this can be an easy way to do it that allows for a bit of anonymity.

Let’s together, make 2014 the best year ever!!!

Like new home on a quiet street in Garner

December 21, 2013
Welcome to your new home! A well maintained home in a quiet neighborhood close to amenities and downtown Raleigh.

Welcome to your new home! A well maintained home in a quiet neighborhood close to amenities and downtown Raleigh.

I am pleased to announce a like-new home for sale in Garner that I am representing. This home has many upgrades and additional features that would be hard to find in a home priced in this range or this neighborhood. Priced at $129900, this 3 bedroom 2 bath home offers over 1,300 square feet on a corner lot.

Home offers a drip irrigation system for the flower beds with each plant getting direct water on a timer. As one who attempted to do this myself, I know the time required to install this system. It is the most efficient way to water as your plants do not get too much water and you use less water. Furthermore, this house offers a very well manicured lawn (best in the neighborhood) and the drainage ditch is in the backyard, eliminating the front yard ditch. The seller has even installed a decorative cap over the main drain so it doesn’t stick out.

The house offers a whole house water filtration system that give you the best tasting water. It uses city water and sewer, so there are no issues with a backed up sewer or replacing of a pump for the well. The seller has even placed a water filtration on the shower head to ensure the best water being used for your showers. This treated water ensures smooth skin and is more healthier.

The sellers have also upgraded the appliances. A like-new solid surface oven and a refrigerator with a filtered ice maker are just a few of the upgrades with the appliances. It also offers a built-in microwave and a dishwasher. The washer and dryer, which are being included, are front loaders with the capacity to wash a comforter.

The home has additional energy-efficient features to include a higher grade of insulation to ensure a lower utility bill. The seller actually had the builders remove the original, lesser quality insulation and replace it with the higher end insulation.

The family room offers cathedral ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace with a mantle that is a focal point in this room. The fireplace can easily be converted to a gas fireplace should that be your preference. The plush carpet is in great condition and is great for those cold winter evenings. The master bedroom also has cathedral ceilings with a large, decorative picture window for tons of natural light. The master bathroom offers a separated double vanity and a huge walk-in closet.

The kitchen is amazing for the size of this house. It is spacious with tons of cabinets and counters for those large family meals. It offers pull-out shelves for easy access to its contents and a corner lazy susan. The seller has taken great care of the counter tops. It has two pantries for storage, one in the kitchen and the other just outside the kitchen. The attached dining room is cozy and offers a warm window that overlooks the backyard.

With two additional bedrooms, this house is waiting for your family. Each of the bedrooms are spacious with oversized closets and huge windows for natural light. It has a split bedroom floor plan to allow for privacy for the masters of the house.

The community is quiet and well situated. It is close to shopping, dining, movie theaters and less than ten minutes from downtown Raleigh and all that Raleigh has to offer. It is a real find and is move-in ready, waiting for your family. You will not be disappointed.

For more information and photos, please visit its own website at 123GrassyRio.com.

 

A Raleigh Cultural Experience

October 16, 2013

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet an Editor for the New York Times and a resident of that city. He had come here to visit his daughter whom I sold a house to and wanted to take me and my wife out to dinner. We ate at the always amazing Second Empire Tavern and as a New Yorker, he was eminently impressed with this restaurant. We are lucky here in Raleigh to have some fine dining experiences without the New York, Boston, Chicago, or Los Angeles prices.

Raleigh, A Great Place to Live and Work!

Raleigh, A Great Place to Live and Work!

This led me to consider all of the cultural benefits to this fine city. After dinner, I drove him around the downtown area and pointed out the many amenities our great city has to offer and he was impressed with the vibrant downtown. This further impressed upon me the important cultural relevance our city offers both North Carolina and tourist, but the local residents as well. If you do not take full advantage of the arts and museums, it is at your own peril.

My wife and I recently attended the dinner at the NC Museum of History for the new exhibit of the Russian Czar. It was a wonderful evening and the history was awe-inspiring. While in St. Petersburg Russia last year, my wife and I attended a Dinner with the Czar at Catherine’s palace and this experience led us to partake in this evening. The dinner here was much more impressive with the lone exception of the entertainment at the palace that featured Russian dancers and singers. The exhibit at the museum was very educational and flowed beautifully. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would highly encourage you to visit the museum on Edenton Street. It will be worth the effort. The exhibit will be in Raleigh until March 5, 2014, so you should plan accordingly.

At the same time, the NC Art Museum has an exhibit that I am sure most husbands will be willing to attend, the Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed. Yes, you heard me correctly…Porsche. My wife and I are planning on visiting the exhibit this Saturday and it should be amazing. As a car buff, I have always appreciated the Porsche and their design. This exhibit shows cars from the 1930s to the present to include Janice Joplin Porsche that is on loan from the Rock and Roll Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. It should be a wonderful exhibit and one you are sure to remember for years. It runs through January 20, 2014, so don’t miss it.

Until the 27th of this month, the NC History Museum has the “Turn the Radio On” exhibit which is a salute to Carolina Bluegrass. If you enjoyed the Bluegrass festival last month, you are sure to appreciate this exhibit which is in the lobby of the museum. While there, check out the North Carolina and the Civil War: The Ragin exhibit which will also close on the 27th of October. It is the second exhibit in a three-part series that commemorates the Civil War and the tumultuous year of 1863 which saw tremendous losses for North Carolina troops.

There are numerous events in the Downtown area throughout the month and I would encourage you to visit the Downtown Raleigh Alliance events to plan the rest of your month. If you are not taking advantage of these opportunities to expand your knowledge and appreciation of the world around us, you are missing a treat.

To see more of the exhibits at the NC Museum of Art, click here for more information.

What Motivates me to Sell Real Estate?

September 26, 2013
Snicker at the beach trying to warm up after going to the beach. He was cold and he stayed this way for several hours...trying to warm up!

Snicker at the beach trying to warm up after going to the beach. He was cold and he stayed this way for several hours…trying to warm up!

Aside from the basic reason to earn a living to pay my bills and save for retirement, this is a basic question that has had a profound impact on me and has changed since I first got into this business. Initially, it was a great way to make a living and earn a solid income while giving me a more flexible schedule. However, it has evolved over time to something much more than the income aspect of this business. As I have been prone to say, I could work in retail and make a better hourly salary than I would in real estate as this business can be long hours to include evenings and weekends. My motivation rest in other areas thanks to the personal growth I have experienced since going into business nearly 15 years ago.

My number one motivation will always be my family. Even though I don’t have any children, my wife is a huge source of motivation for me. I want her to be proud of me and give her a reason to tout me as a person and a real estate professional. Income aside, it is more important for me that my wife believes in what I am doing and accepts my chosen profession, despite the fact that it sometimes impacts our vacation time. We are a small, but impressive family. With only a Schnauzer named Snickers, we do not have the financial commitments that many have to deal with as it pertains to the cost of raising children, but we do enjoy travelling and experiencing the world.

We spent a couple of nights at the Empress in Victoria, BC prior to getting on a ship in Vancouver for our Alaskan cruise. It was amazing!

We spent a couple of nights at the Empress in Victoria, BC prior to getting on a ship in Vancouver for our Alaskan cruise. It was amazing!

This leads me to my second motivation for selling real estate…the ability to travel. When my wife and I first met, the only time I had been outside the Eastern Time Zone was as a child in Michigan when we would travel to Chicago. Since we have been together, we have been to Europe twice, Alaska, the Caribbean several times and Tahiti. I have personally traveled to Guatemala and none of this would be available to us if it were not for my career in real estate. This profession gives me the flexibility to travel with my lovely wife. We have additional travel plans and goals and I know that due to my profession, we will be able to travel as much as we would like.

Posing with fellow Rotarian Boyd Bennett and a couple of Guatemalan students who have benefited from the textbooks and computers that Rotary placed in their school. They were very pleasant and thankful for Rotary's presence in their country.

Posing with fellow Rotarian Boyd Bennett and a couple of Guatemalan students who have benefited from the textbooks and computers that Rotary placed in their school. They were very pleasant and thankful for Rotary’s presence in their country.

Another motivation for me is my ability to give back of my time, resources and talents to my community and the world. As a Rotarian, I have had the opportunity to participate in many wonderful activities that have changed people and their lives. From traveling to Guatemala for the Literacy project we support there to driving to New Jersey to work on a home that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, these experiences have helped change me and give me a greater appreciation for my life and life in general. Last spring, many members of my club donated our time to tutor students in Wake county who were reading below grade level. This was a very simple activity, but one that will have a lasting impact on those children as they learn to appreciate reading as I do. Rotary has become very important for me because it has given me a vehicle to make a positive impact on this world. As humans, we impact our world no matter what we do whether it is positive or negative. Rotary helps me make a positive difference in our world. This motivates me to work with sometimes difficult clients so I can donate to causes, whether it be my time or money.

The primary motivation for me is ultimately….the client. For a brief moment in time, I am invited into the personal lives of my clients. I learn more about them than anyone else does as it better assists me in serving them. I remember a client recently who feared to let his child play outside due to the neighborhood. We listed their home and sold it. Now, they have purchased a new home in a community where he need not fear for his daughter’s safety to play outside. Another client wanted to sell her home so she could go back to the care-free lifestyle of renting. She wanted to live in the famed Midtown (North Hills) area and couldn’t afford to buy there. We sold her townhouse and now, she is renting an apartment there and enjoying walking to the shops at Midtown. The stories and examples go on and on…and this is the real reason I enjoy what I do.

I remember my first transaction once I got licensed. I had sold my client’s current home in ten days and as we began to look for their next home, it was apparent when we found it. After looking at several homes, some making an impact on them while others were simply forgettable. When we walked into ‘the home’, her eyes went wide and she began to picture her and her family in that home. This moment doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, it is always rewarding. That day, we didn’t find her a house…we found them a home!

So, ultimately, the reason I am selling real estate as a profession is the people I encounter on a daily basis. Each has their own specific story and I am welcomed into their lives….if only for a moment in time.

Mortgage rates level off…but what is the future of Interest Rates?

August 16, 2013
Do you have your Crystal Ball to tell you where interest rates will be in a year? I don't!

Do you have your Crystal Ball to tell you where interest rates will be in a year? I don’t!

Freddie Mac is reporting that interest rates have leveled off a bit after rising since last year. They are averaging 4.4% for a 30-year mortgage.  The average 15-year mortgage rate is 3.4%, slightly up from last week.

30-year mortgage rates hit a record low last November at 3.31% but has crept up ever since. The result is a person borrowing $200,000 would be paying $125 more a month today then at its lowest point in November. Demand for mortgages to purchase homes has increased as the market continues to improve, but the demand for refinancing mortgages has fallen in 12 of the last 15 weeks since early May. It can be attributed to the fact that many of those who refinanced over the last year are at a lower rate than is currently being offered.

With the overall decrease in mortgage applications, it has leveled demand and as a result, leveled the rate charged. The Market Composite Index, a measure of total loan applications volume fell 4.7% from the previous week. Another indication that the need for a lower rate has subsided. The Refinance Index went down 4% and the Purchase Index went down 5%.

According to the Washington Post, the refinance share of mortgage activity has not moved in a month when it reached its lowest point in 27 months. Overall, refinance activity makes up 63% of all mortgage activity.

The future of the mortgage rate is anybody’s guess. Some are predicting that as the Federal Reserve relaxes their hold on interest rates, they will start to climb. Part of the reason Interest rates have been so low over the past several years it due to the Fed keeping rates low by buying up mortgages from institutions allowing them to free up capital to make new mortgages. As some point, this will cease, or at least decline, which will result in higher interest rates.

According to an article by Yahoo Homes in March, the average rate today compared to 1981, there is no comparison. Rates in 1981 averaged 18.45% where in March of this year, they were 3.51%. If you break down the numbers, a loan for $300,000 in 1981 would cost the borrower over $4,600 per month where in March that same mortgage would be $1,348.81. Will rates ever get back to that level?

I would highly doubt they would rise to that level unless the economy collapses as it did during the Carter administration, but I would predict they would continue to rise. I don’t have a crystal ball to say how high the rates will go, but I would think they would inch up to the 6-8% as the market attempt to adjust to inflation and economic trends. I don’t think the Feds would allow the rates to climb to 1981 levels, but they cannot continue to keep them at such low levels. If the economy continues to improve, which is not a guarantee with the Affordable Health Care act taking effect next year and all of the cost associated with it, then rates will follow. Supply and demand is the number one indicator of Interest rates, especially without the interference of the Feds.

I would personally recommend you make your home buying or selling decisions while the market is good. Currently, houses are selling and there is a limited number of homes available. Since there is no crystal ball to tell us the future, I would strongly encourage you to take full advantage of the market we are experiencing.

Easy ways to Update your kitchen at little cost

July 12, 2013
Low cost kitchen updates can help you sell your home!

Low cost kitchen updates can help you sell your home!

One of the major features that homebuyers look at when inspecting potential homes for purchase is the kitchen. As you may know, kitchen renovations can be very costly and you will only see a portion return on investment when you sell. Many agents will say that a renovated kitchen or bath will result in a higher return on investment, but in reality, it is hard to put a number on it as there are so many different factors that play a major role in the price your home will get. For instance, the neighborhood plays a huge role in the price. As the old saying in real estate, “Location, Location, and LOCATION”.

One thing I always recommend to my sellers is to keep your updates in line with your neighborhood if you hope to see any return on your investment. Otherwise, you will simply sell quicker, but not necessarily for more money. For instance, if your home is in a lower end town home community where the average price is less than $150,000, you may not want to go to the expense of placing granite counter tops in your home. Buyers in that price point are not counting on having granite so your impact will be limited. For example, my wife sold her pre-marital town house, which was priced around the $120,000. Her house did not have granite, but rather a laminate counter top. We did touch up the paint and replaced the aging carpet. At the other end of her building, which was further away from the parking lot, had granite counter tops. It also had bright red and blue colored walls. My wife’s house sold before her competition, for more money and in fact, the buyer of that home had scheduled to see her town house, but she had gone under contract prior to them seeing the home. I know the agent personally and she mentioned to me that her buyers wanted to buy our house, but had to settle for that one.

The theme is keep your upgrades in line with your competition. In the Raleigh market, pools do not get the same value as they would in other parts of the country such as south Florida. You don’t want to over update to see the value. It could assist you in selling quicker than the competition. For instance, I had a town house listing where the sellers had purchased a very nice refrigerator that was much nicer than all of the competition. Even though we did not sell for much more money, we sold quicker because the buyers saw an added value in the refrigerator. With everything being equal, these items can ensure you get sold quicker.

Now for the easy, low-cost updates. These are easy, do-it yourself projects that can pay huge dividends if you are trying to sell your home. Remember, it is not how much you spend, but how you spend your money that will make the largest contributions to your ability to sell your house quickly and for the most amount of money.

Paint

This is a no-brainer and can make the kitchen appear modern. A fresh coat of paint on the walls will make everything look better. Depending on your market and the overall decor of the house, you can even consider painting the cabinets. This can give your kitchen a more modern look. The caution here is it may turn off some of the more traditional buyers who are turned off by the modern look.

Lighting

Great lighting can make all the difference in a kitchen. A dark kitchen will almost never sell a house. Under the counter lighting can add illumination and definition to your space. Select your lighting carefully. It is not always the most energy-efficient lighting that will give you the best impact. Consider the impact the lighting will have when selecting the right light source. Strip light or puck lights can do wonders to your space.

Organizers

An organized kitchen can do wonders for the sale of your home. You can buy some for both the pantry/cabinets as well as for the counter top. Often times, a kitchen will have a corner that is not very usable space. A great organizer can optimize this space and show your potential buyers the advantages of this space. My wife has placed a simple stand shelf organizer to our kitchen and it doubles the space. We have some items below this shelf while placing smaller items such as spices on the shelf. It optimizes the space and for little cost. The larger, more spacious a room looks, the better it is for that potential buyer.

Flooring

Modifying the flooring can be expensive and not an easy do-it yourself. Cutting tile or laminate is a more exact science and I would recommend expertise when installing some of these flooring options. Depending on your current floor and its condition, a simple approach can be to utilize area rugs or carpet runners. It will give your kitchen a new look and make it stand out. The key when selling is to make your home stand out, but not be so unique that the pool of potential buyers will be minimal. A simple carpet runner can segregate the space and make it memorable.

Rearranging

Simply rearranging the kitchen to make it more usable is a very low-cost way to revitalize your kitchen. If you have an eat-in kitchen, rearranging the table and chairs can open up the space. The key is eye-flow when arranging the space. Use your imagination how to open the space and make it appear more open.

As a non-professional decorator, these are some simple ways to make your kitchen appear more modern and up-to-date. Use your imagination and seek professional help. You do not have to hire a professional, but simply reading some of the decorating magazines can give you some great ideas.

Whenever you sell your home remember, you are responsible for the product (house) and the agent is responsible for the marketing.