Posts Tagged ‘golf communities in the Triangle’

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 We always try to show as many tournaments as we can, but it is impossible to know all of them.

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.

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.

Tips for selling your house in 2013!

June 17, 2013
When sellers market their homes properly, buyers will find that home and buy it!

When sellers market their homes properly, buyers will find that home and buy it!

Many people are excited about the continuously improving real estate market around the country as well as in the Triangle. With demand up and the supply down, the housing market has finally moved back in the favor of the seller. More homes are selling for at or above list price and some even have multiple offers on them. This is still rare in this market, but the right property can see multiple offers. With all of that said, is it still difficult to sell a home in this market?

If you are not prepared to sell your home and make your home stand out, it can still be a challenge. We are not in a market where every home is selling, no matter the price. Those days are probably gone forever…and for good reason. Today, the appraisal process is more difficult so unless you are paying cash, you have to take this into account when selling your home.

Some basics of the home selling process has not changed and will not change, no matter the housing market. Your home has to be well positioned if you hope to sell your home. If you don’t believe me, check the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and see all of the homes that have not sold and are either expired or withdrawn. The odds are up that you will sell in 2013, but it is still not a sure thing.

Differentiate from the competition

It is important to make your home stand out among the competition. It may not be something big, but it should be something that most of the homes you are competing with do not have. For instance, I had a townhouse listing in a large community. Many of the town homes in this community were virtually similar to the other, with the major difference being price. My client did a couple of things to ensure that her home would sell quicker than the competition. First, she did not wait for the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) to refresh her deck, she did it herself. She sanded and stained the deck to make it stand out. Additionally, she had a high-end refrigerator that she considered taking with her. Since most of the competition had very simple refrigerators, this made a huge difference in getting a buyer for her home. Of course, it was included at no additional value, but she obtained her goal of selling her home quickly and at fair market value.

Other ways to differentiate your home would be curb appeal. It’s not a highly expensive task and a do-it-yourself project, but it can make the difference. Do you know how many buyers do not even walk into the front door if the curb appeal is poor? If you cannot get them in the door, you will not sell the house.

Many of the things you can do to differentiate will not add value to your home. So, I caution not to go overboard with this project. For instance, when my wife was selling her townhouse, which was priced in the low $100,000s, her neighbor had the same floor plan and was similar in many ways. However, the neighbor had granite countertops and my wife had laminate. What made my wife’s home sell quicker? She had replaced the carpets and did touch-up paint throughout the unit where the neighbor had some very loud colors in her home. Both homes sold, but the other sold only after our’s was already off the market. Caution: your upgrades should be typical for your community and price point to get the best bang for your buck.


Nothing turns off buyers more than a cluttered house. I have seen perfectly decent homes stay on the market until the clutter was cleaned. For example, I had a listing when I first got into business. The sellers had several children and the home was a complete clutter mess. I had informed the sellers that it would be difficult to sell the home until the clutter was cleared up. As with many sellers, they did not listen to me and the house sat on the market for several months. It wasn’t until my clients actually moved out of the house and thus, taking the clutter, that is sold. It actually sold quickly after they had left.

Clutter also makes the house look much smaller and the clutter is not just trash. For instance, I showed a large home in one of the nicest communities in North Raleigh. As we walked into the house, there was so much furniture that barely an inch of wall space did not have a piece of furniture in front of it. There were probably six grandfather clocks and this home that was around 4,000 square feet looked very small. The house was clean, but all of the furniture acted like clutter and my buyers could not get past all of the furniture. They wondered if their own furniture would fit in the space even though they didn’t have nearly as much. It took the home quite a while to sell. If you have a lot of furniture that you do not want to get rid of, put it in storage until you make your next move. You may not mind the excessive furniture, but a buyer will.

Remove offensive items

This can be a very sensitive area to address, but one that must be addressed if you are to sell your home. Unfortunately, in our society, everyone it seems is easily offended. This is no different in the real estate business. If you are a hunter and have stuffed prey or deer heads, remove them and put them in storage for your next home. You never know who will walk in your home as a prospective buyer and they may get offended by this display of trophies. Even if the buyer does not get offended, it is a distraction. When my wife and I were looking at homes, she was turned off by all of the stuffed animals and deer heads. In fact, she came within a couple of inches of kissing a deer head because the sellers had so many, they placed one at the top of the back staircase and she was distracted while walking up the stairs. She turned just in time and nearly gave the deer a tongue bath. She is not offended by hunters, but it turned her off.

Additionally, if you smoke, you should refrain from smoking in your house while you are trying to sell it. You should even get a company in to remove the odor from your house. As sensitive an issue as smoking is for many people, if someone who is anti-smoking walks into your home and smells the lingering effects of cigarette smoke, they are likely to turn around and leave without looking at the house. I have seen it done by clients, so remove the odor and smoke outside. I realize it is an inconvenience, but you are trying to sell a product, your home.

This may not be offensive, but rather distracting, but you should remove anything that may be a distraction for the buyers. For instance, while my wife and I were looking for a house several years ago, we went into the home of the producers of the “Golden Girls”. She is a huge fan of the show. Unfortunately for the sellers, they kept all of the memorabilia and awards from the show on display. My wife could not tell you five things about the house after we left it, but she could recall all of the memorabilia she encountered. Some agents will take this to the extreme and inform their clients to remove all family photos. I don’t think this is a requirement, but the number of photos should be limited. For example, my personal home has many family photos mounted on the up the staircase and several in the hallway at the top of the stairs. When we sell, we will have to remove the majority of these photos and caulk and paint over the holes. This can be a major distraction for many buyers.

Sweeten the Deal

Often, in a competitive market, you need to sweeten the deal to ensure the potential buyer will select your home. In the current market where there are fewer listings, this is not as imperative, but if the competition starts to strengthen, you may have to consider it. This could be anything from offering to pay some of the buyer’s closing cost to simply offering a home warranty for the buyer. As housing values have tightened throughout the bust, many sellers may not be able to pay for the closing cost of the buyers, but simply adding a home warranty, which cost between $300-400, is an easy way to encourage a buyer to select your home.

With most home warranties, if you purchase one while you are selling it, you pay for it when it closes and you are covered while it is on the market. Basically, you get a free warranty while you are selling your home and if it doesn’t sell, it didn’t cost you anything. Most warranties have a $75 service charge when you bring out a handyman to repair something, but this is minimal compared to what it could cost you. I always consider this to be a no-brainer.

Move-in Ready

I consider this to be imperative if you want to sell your home quickly and for the most money. If your home looks like the buyer can move in right away, then it will stand out among its competition. The walls should be at least touched up if not completely painted and the carpets should be in pristine condition. The colors should be more neutral, but that doesn’t mean boring. Warm, neutral colors are always best and the bright reds and blues should be avoided at all cost; even in the children’s bedrooms. If the home is positioned for the first-time homebuyers, then having move-in ready conditions is even more important. Many first timers do not know how easy it is to paint the walls and will discount your home if they believe they will have to do it.

I equate this to buying a new or used car from a dealer. When you walk onto a lot to buy that used car, what is the condition of that car? In most cases, that car is in the best condition and looks like brand new. Quality used car dealers know how to market their cars to appeal to the masses. The car is usually very clean and detailed with everything working properly. Of course, there’s no guarantee how long it will stay that way after the purchase, but while it’s on the lot, it is marketed to sell. Your home is no different. The best marketing for your home is the condition of that home. This goes with the inside as well as the outside.

Curb appeal

I have already mentioned this, but this shows how important curb appeal is. It has to look like a home before people will go inside to see the interior. The lawn should be mowed weekly and the hedges should be trimmed. Look at your house from the street and try to think like a buyer. If you were buying your house today, would you purchase it based on the curb appeal?

Buying a home is an emotional decision. I have seen it many times that when a buyer finds a home that evokes an emotional response, they will buy that home. When it becomes an emotional attachment to your home, they will also be less likely to negotiate the price down too much as they don’t want to lose the house. I have had several buyers who did very little negotiating on price or terms because they ‘love’ the house and have to have it. It all starts at the curb. I typically park the car on the street when showing a house so my clients get the full benefit of the curb appeal. If they don’t love the exterior, they will already be skeptical about the house when they walk into the front door.

Pricing it Right

Price is the number one reason a home sells…period! This sounds simplistic, but think about it. The buyer has to be able to afford the house based upon their income. The item that is negotiated the hardest is typically the price. Unless the buyer is paying cash, the house has to appraise for the sales price or they will not be able to get the mortgage approved. They may fall in love with the house, but if you cannot come to an agreement on price, it will not sell.

Now, here’s the dirty little secret. Sellers don’t set the price, the market does. If you don’t price the house competitively, it will sit there with little activity and no offers. Buyers will not overpay for a house, especially after so many were burned during the housing boom. They are cautious of overpaying. What’s more, if you are overpriced to begin, studies have shown that you eventually sell for much less than had you priced it right at the beginning.

How? I’m glad you asked. It’s as simple as this. Most of the activity you will see on your home will be when it is first listed. This is when you really know if you are overpriced. If you don’t get showings, it means the buyers think it is not priced well. After you have been on the market for several months, you will eventually decide you need to reduce your price to sell it. Then, you may be competitive after the reduction. However, now the potential buyers will see how long your home has been on the market and will begin to believe you are getting desperate to sell. This will lead to lower offers for your home. Eventually, the home will be sold for much less than it should have been. Perception is reality. Whether you are desperate or not, this will be the perception and the buyers will act accordingly.

In the Raleigh market, a home that is priced right typically sells for 97-98% of list price. However, homes that are overpriced eventually sell for about 80% of the original list price. This is not just a Wake County trend, but a national trends. So, where ever you are selling your home, you need to be priced correctly.

When I list a home, I tell my clients that we are testing the market. Once all of the marketing is in place, it becomes about testing the price. Once we get the price where the market demands, it will usually sell; especially in a good market.

If you have had difficulty selling in the past several months, you should look to these as potential reasons why it didn’t sell. In good markets, there is typically a buyer for every product, but again, this is not a guarantee. Price it right and it should sell!

Continuation of Rules for Great Customer Service!

May 17, 2013
Are you giving Ultimate Customer Service to your clients?

Are you giving Ultimate Customer Service to your clients?

If you have been following my discussion of the last few weeks, you will have already read a couple of articles on Customer Service. The rules are not all-encompassing, just a starting point that is meant to make you think about the all-encompassing aspects of customer service. We have already covered the initial four rules for great customer service and this entrance includes the final four rules.

As a reminder, the first four rules include Answer the phoneDon’t make promises unless you will keep them, Listen to your customer,  and Deal with complaints. In this post, we will extend those areas to include several other rules that should be observed if you hope to have great customer service.

We will start with one that is a challenge to many, especially those who are self-employed. Be helpful-even if there is no immediate profit in it.  This is especially difficult for those who need to maximize their efforts towards creating income and profit for their business. I have seen many who limit the amount of helpfulness they will give if they cannot see immediate results in terms of being profitable. This is especially true in the real estate industry and other such professions. Lawyers are not inclined to give free consultations because there is no income in if for them.

In my business, I give away many hours a week to people asking questions about the market, most of which are not actually interested in buying or selling a home. They simply have an interest in knowing what the market is doing. They may not buy or sell a home for several months or years, and there is no guarantee they will come to me when they make their decisions. Yet, this helps to build my reputation as a helpful agent throughout the community. Furthermore, if you only give assistance to those who will pay you, you are very short-sighted. It is not all about the money, but about the client. As long as you give clients what they need, the income and sales will take care of itself.

Train your staff (if you have any) to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable. This goes in line with the previous rule, but adds to it by making sure your staff is always helpful. It is not required for you to know everything about any question your client may have, but you need to have a general knowledge and know where to find the answers. I always get questions about housing prices or sales for a certain community or area of the Triangle. Unless I have just looked up the information for a client or do tons of business in that area, there is no way for me to have the kind of information that will be helpful for my potential clients that will not be misleading. I am courteous with them and may give them some general knowledge about that area, then inform them I will get back with them once I get a chance to look into it further.

Always be wary of anyone who tends to have the answers to every question, no matter the profession. It is impossible to have all of the answers and those who do may be misinforming you just to appear that they are knowledgeable. In real estate, as in any business, it is important to know what you know and know when you don’t know and how to get the information you need. Don’t ever just “wing” it. There is no shame in informing your client that you do not know the answer to their question and you will get back to them.

Take the extra step. This is imperative to show your customer that you care. If you are in retail, take them to the item, don’t just point them in the right direction. And once you get there, wait to see if they have any questions. In any field, there are many ways to take the extra step.

In my field, the extra step means that I do additional research for my clients to help them make better, more informed decisions whether to buy or sell a home. Taking the extra step means that if my client needs to look at five homes or fifty homes to make a decision, I should show them as many as they need to see to help them find the home that will best meet their needs and wants. Taking the extra step requires a commitment to the customer that few are willing to give and many customers are not inclined to require. As a rule, customers in the U.S. accept less than great customer service and I think that is a disservice to business. They don’t know they are not giving great service if they are not given direction.

Throw in something extra. This is a little thing to do that can pay huge dividends in the end. It doesn’t have to be anything large and can simply be a guanine smile. Some professions do not give you the opportunity to give coupons or specific discounts, but it doesn’t have to be monetary. In my industry, I always give a closing gift to clients. The value is very minimal, but it is something that they were not expecting and a way to show them that I appreciate their business.

This goes beyond just working with clients, but with employees. When I was managing people, I was constantly giving praise to those who had done a good job for me and the company. I didn’t have the control to give raises, but in most situations, simply acknowledging they are doing a great job is worth more than a monetary raise.

Giving something extra will also benefit with obtaining referrals from your customers base. As with my business, referrals are imperative for success, so the more you can give your clients above and beyond the sale, will go a long way to developing a lasting relationship with them. If you are in an industry that gets repeat business, then you may want to send your past clients something extra every month or year. One year, I sent many of my past clients a bag of coffee. The coffee cost me $10 and most of them, I hand delivered, so I had an opportunity to see them again. It is a simple touch that will help you to keep in touch with them and remind them of the level of customer service you gave them.


I hope you have found this helpful and beneficial for your business. As I have stated before, customer service is a touchy point for me. To really give a high level of customer service, it is important to also like and respect your customer. It is always easier to be nice and helpful to those you like, respect and want to do business. As Joe Williams, co-founder of Keller Williams Realty, stated, “Anyone can do dumb deals”. It is important to have a mutual respect with your customers. Otherwise, it is a dumb deal and not worth your effort or the customer’s effort.

What is Customer Service? What should consumers expect?

April 17, 2013
Have you ever waited 30 minutes for service only to be disappointed?

Have you ever waited 30 minutes for service only to be disappointed?

Customer service is an issue that has been prominent in society for many years and no less than in today’s market. Many professional fields require a level of service that can benefit from this debate. As I prepared a presentation last week to a networking group, I thought this would be a great subject for this blog. You see, customer service is important in the real estate business just as it is important for restaurants or retail stores. For professional, customer service is more important since it is more important to remain in business. If I had the marketing budget of a Home Depot or Wal-Mart, I could afford not to focus as much attention to each individual customer/client. But alas, I have a very modest marketing budget, so most of my new business is generated via personal referrals from past clients who have experienced quality service from me.

In this article, I plan to cover a few areas of customer service that many businesses fail to attend to properly. When it comes to service, you must consider why it is important, the communication aspects of customer service, time and details of customer service. In my many years of service both in the retail industry, territory sales and now real estate, I have developed a specific sense of customer service. I had a professor who once told me that one poor customer service experience is like having ten since most people have at least that many friends they will tell. In today’s social media, you can multiply that number by the hundreds. I personally have well over 700 Facebook friends and many people have many more than I do. So, if you are in business, it is important to understand customer service.

Why is it important? As mentioned earlier, unless you have a large marketing budget, word of mouth can be very imperative to your business. It works both with positive and negative. As Shakespeare mentions in his play Julius Caesar, ‘the good a man does dies with him, but the bad lives on forever’. That is not a perfect quote, but you get the gist of his words. If you do not get positive word of mouth, you will never get quality referrals to enhance your business.

Communication is important when it comes to customer service. For one thing, you must speak their language and understand their body language. If your customer is Joe Friday and only wants the facts, you need to simply give them the facts and nothing else. For this type of customer, you do not need to run completely through all of the details as they are not interested in it and you will lose them quickly. Determine their language and speak it. Additionally, you need to understand the basic body languages of your customer. For instance, if your client walks into an office supply store with a focus and the body language that they know where they are going, then you will lose the customer if you stop them to ask them if you can help them. This is me and it upsets me every time an associate stops me when I did not ask for help. It is a “self-service” retail store, so let me self-serve myself. It would be better service if they made themselves available should I have a question. I don’t have any issues with greeting customers, but pay attention to the customer and speak their language.

Time is the most valuable asset any of us will ever own. We can make more money, but we cannot make more time. If this is the case, why do you see retail store associates wasting their customer’s time by not properly stocking the shelves. If you go into a home improvement store and the shelf is out, it can take as much as thirty minutes or more for an associate to get the lift machine with a spotter, block off two aisles and get the product down for you. This is saying that their time is not important to that store and its management. Furthermore, if I walk into a store and the store doesn’t have the item I am looking to purchase, they are virtually out-of-business as far as I am concerned.

When it comes to my business, I always conduct a thorough buyer’s interview to determine what the client wants to purchase to ensure I am not showing them homes that will not meet their needs. When I am working with sellers, I take the time to understand the client, their needs and determine the reason for their selling of the home. Of course, I try to understand and speak their language to ensure I am not wasting their time.

Paying attention to detail is one of the most important aspects of good customer service. A long time ago when I was in the meat business, I improved the sales from $35,000/week to over $55,000/week by paying attention to details. I took the time to understand my customer base and from that, made the decision that we would never be out of pork products, especially on the weekends. The result, we improved sales and thus, had better customer service. It did not result in letters being written to praise the fact that the product they wanted to purchase was on the shelf, but the best reward for customer service is repeat business. By giving my customers what they needed and wanted, sales went up and my department was no longer ‘out-of-business’.

In my current business, the details that are most important for them is the contract and negotiations. It is both my fiduciary responsibility and my customer service credo to give my best in all situations. The ‘devil’s in the details’ as they say, and many contracts that go awry do so because of a lack of attention to details. Every business has details that need to be attended to ensure the best customer experience for your clients. Pay attention to the details.

In closing, one of my favorite professors in college once told me that it is not enough to satisfy your clients, but you need to make them ‘raving fans’ of your business. This is the challenge of any business entity and one that I extend to you today. Make them ‘raving fans’ of your business. In our society, too many patrons are wiling to take less than great customer service. Don’t let your customers take less than ultimate service.

Just this evening, I went to the drive thru at PDQ on Falls of the Neuse. I don’t usually do this for dinner, but as I had an appointment in less than an hour, I needed to get a quick meal since the meeting was apt to go long into the evening. When I pulled up, I was tempted to either leave or go inside as there were five vehicles in front of me. They noticed this and to ensure a speedy service experience, the management sent out two associates to take orders from the waiting vehicles. A situation that at a normal fast food restaurant would have taken 20-30 minutes to get my food, it took less than 10 minutes. They paid attention to the customer’s needs and went above the call of duty to make me a ‘raving fan’ of their enterprise.

Tips for Selling your Home!

April 1, 2013
Selling your home is a process!

Selling your home is a process!

I am often asked about some tips to sell a home. It differs to an extent based upon the market, but generally, I give the same advice to anyone looking to sell their home. As usual, this is not all-encompassing as I am prone to leave things out that I ‘meant’ to put into this post, but the goal is to give you a general idea of what is required to sell a home.

In a great market it is not always necessary to hire a real estate professional to assist you in the sale of your home to get it sold, but you will typically get what you paid for. If you are acting as your own agent, I would caution you that it can be a hard road to travel. First of all, you may have difficulty pricing your home competitively. Often those who do not hire an agent sell their homes for much less than the market value. I won’t get into the specifics, but the research performed by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has pointed towards this trend. Much more than price, a competent agent can assist with negotiating the price, terms, repairs, and miscellaneous items that are likely to arise. For instance, an agent can help you negotiate with the mortgage lender or the title insurance company. I had a listing once where I needed to negotiate with the Title company in order to provide a clear title for the buyer. You never know what may come up while you are selling your home and an agent can be instrumental in helping you navigate these special circumstances. Also, an agent can keep you legal. State law requires that all homes sold in North Carolina be accompanied with a Property Disclosure and HOA Disclosure with a few exceptions. These are primarily for information purposes only, but if you do not have one, the buyer can back out of the contract. If you do not have this in place, you will not be protected and may have your home off the market for several weeks, losing prospective buyers, just to discover the buyer has ‘cold feet’ and are utilizing the absence of a Property Disclosure to terminate the contract and keep the earnest money. If you do not have an agent, you may not be protected from this ‘out’.

The main ingredient in the sales process is price. You have to have your home priced competitively if you hope to sell it. This goes beyond any market conditions. For most people, price is the number one determinant to whether they purchase Home A or Home B. If you are not priced competitively, you will lose potential buyers who may think you are overpriced. Even if you are underpriced, the perception will be that the home needs too much work and thus, it is not worth the effort to view the home. I was in a meeting today where the speaker stated, “Perception is Reality”. If you look at it, this is the case. Potential buyers will make an assessment of your home based upon their perceptions. I have seen this many times where my buyer discounts a home based upon a perception they have acquired of a house, whether they viewed the home or not. Perception is important. A quality agent can assist you with a pricing strategy that will work.

As I just stated, perception is reality. So, your home has to give the perception of quality and value if you wish to sell it. You do not have to hire a professional stager, but you will have to look at your home objectively as if you were the buyer. If you have too much stuff in your home, you will have to remove it and put it in storage. A clutter space looks much smaller. So, de-clutter your home is key to selling your home. Look at it this way, you are moving anyway so this is a great opportunity to purge your belongings as all of us have more stuff than we really need. Right?

Cosmetic appeal is imperative to sell a home. Not as much in a strong market, but it is still important. Your home should have neutral colors as the bright colors may be your taste, but the odds are, the next owner will have much different taste. Sure, they can paint the home and will most likely do so, but it may take them a couple of years to get around to painting. Meanwhile, they know they will have to live with the neon green living room. You need to neutralize the space. More than simply taste, cosmetic appeal runs the gauntlet from chipped paint to shabby and stained carpets. The old mantra in the marketing business is “Sex sells”. You don’t see overweight people as spokespeople for a sports car. No, you see models standing in front of a sports car like you would have the same appeal if you purchased that vehicle. It is not reality, but a perception they are trying to sell you. The same goes with real estate. You shouldn’t hire a model to stand in front of your home, but you need to make it as appealing as possible. The home should be in its best condition if you are hoping to sell it for the most money. Of course, if you cannot get these cosmetic repairs done, you will not get top dollar for your home and should price it accordingly. Along these lines, curb appeal is important to get the buyers out of their cars and into your house. I have seen situations where the curb appeal was so bad, my buyers told me to keep driving.

One way to prepare your home to sell would be to differentiate your home from the competition. Know your competition and what they are offering and try to find a way to be better than the competition. This may mean you will have to do more in the interim and have greater cost to get the home ready, but ultimately, it can make the difference; especially in a difficult market. For example, I had a seller in a community where she had 15-20 similar town homes for sale at the same time. There was little she could do to differentiate from her competition on the outside of the home, but instead, she offered to include her high-end refrigerator for the right price. This was about a $2,500 refrigerator where all of  her competitors had very basic refrigerators priced for less than a thousand dollars. She couldn’t price her home higher for this appliance, but we sold her home quicker because of that refrigerator. It made her home more appealing than the competition.

Finally, be willing, ready and able to negotiate any offer that you get. This doesn’t mean you have to accept the offer, but be willing to negotiate every offer. I always tell my clients that we are not going to walk away from an offer to purchase. We may counter the offer several times, but we are going to leave it up to the other side to be the party to walk away from the negotiations. It is hard, but I also inform them to take the emotion out of the negotiations. Buying or selling a home is an emotional process. The more you can separate your emotions from this transaction, the better you will be able to negotiate. Remember, the buyer, in most cases, is emotionally attached to your home. They can see themselves living in your home, raising their children there, sharing special moments with friends and family there. They are emotionally attached to your home. So, to get the better negotiating position on this transaction, you need to remove the emotion from your side. It is a business transaction. You may have put much blood, sweat and tears into your home, and we hope the buyers appreciate all that you have done to the home. Ultimately, they may be planning on changing the house dramatically once they own it. Your taste and their taste may not be similar, so do not get offended if they do not see the value in the remodeled kitchen. Keep the emotions out of it.

In closing, there are many lists you can find online that spell out exact items for you to complete to prepare you for selling your house. These lists are good, but I am not too much into these lists. For one reason, a list gives the perception of being all-encompassing and including everything you would ever need to do. If that were the case, all of these lists would be identical (and they are not). Look at these lists, but ultimately, you need to look at your home as if you were the buyer. What was important to you when you purchased that house? It may not be a bad idea to attend a few open houses before you list your home just to put your mindset into that of a buyer. You can never satisfy every buyer, but you only need to satisfy one buyer. To ensure that you do this, you have to appeal to the masses to give you the best odds of finding that one buyer who can see themselves living in your house.

In many people’s vocabulary, house and home are interchangeable. If you are selling, you need to start looking at your home as a house. It is a product, not your home. Mentally, the moment you made the decision to sell your home, you had moved out of that home. Now, you are living in a house until you can find your next ‘home’.

Upcoming Golf Tournaments and other important items

March 4, 2013
The pose of a Champion

The pose of a Champion

As the Golfing Realtor, I feel it is important for me to emphasis and promote upcoming golf tournaments and other important items. There are many exciting golf opportunities that should impress many people. This post will not have all of the golf tournaments in the Triangle, just some that I know are coming.

Before I get into the tournament schedule, I would be remiss not to mention that the real estate season that is quickly approaching. March tends to be the month that showing and general activity begins to really take hold. The market has traditionally shown that it is tied to the spring and summer seasons. If you have been reading blog, you will know that 2012 was a very successful year for the Triangle real estate market. Sales were up and inventory was down. By some indications, foreclosures in 2013 will be up over last year. If last year’s trends continue, 2013 is shaping up to be another very successful year.

With that said, if you have been thinking of either buying or selling in 2013, now is the time to get your home ready for sale and get it onto the market. The best thing you can do to sell your home quickly is to have it ready for show from the beginning as research has shown that the most showings you will have on your home will be in the first few weeks it is on the market. So, be ready to sell and then call a qualified agent whom you like and trust to help you price your home correctly and sell it in a timely manner. Most people looking to sell a home are doing it so they can either move-up or downsize their living quarters. This means you need to definitely be priced right and showing your best foot when it officially goes on the market.

Now that we got the business out of the way, there are several golf tournaments coming up that may interest you. Also, I have listed several golf outing (not tournaments) that may interest you. As a committee member of the Downtown Links, we have monthly outings and have secured some very nice courses throughout the Triangle. If you are not a member of the Downtown Clubs of Raleigh, you can be my guest to any of these events as I will be at most of them. Please let me know if you are interested in any of these dates.


Downtown Links

Wednesday, March 13- Devil’s Ridge Golf Club, 1pm shotgun start

Monday, April 15-Prestonwood Country Club, 12:30 pm shotgun start

Tuesday, May 14-Raleigh Country Club, 12:30 shotgun start

Thursday, June 6-North Ridge Country Club, 1pm shotgun start

Monday, July 22-Brier Creek Country Club, 1 pm shotgun start

August-TBD-Hasentree Country Club,

Monday, September 23-Treyburn Country Club, 12:30 shotgun start

October, TBD-The Neuse Golf Club, tee times starting at 12:30

Thursday, November 7-Lochmere Golf Club

*Some of these dates and details are subject to change.

Local Golf Tournaments

April 9, 9th HNC Charity Golf Tournament, The Preserve at Jordan Lake, noon shotgun start. More

April 22, 4th Annual North Raleigh Rotary Golf Tournament, Wildwood Green Golf Club, 1pm shotgun start. $350 for a team, $87.50 for individuals. Email me.

April 29, RRAR Annual Charity Golf Tournament, Devil’s Ridge Golf Club, 8 am check-in. Details

May 3, AIA Triangle Golf Tournament, Lonnie Poole Golf Club, 1pm shotgun start. Info.

May 13, Wheels4Hope Golf Charity Event, Wildwood Green Golf Club, noon check-in


As you may imagine, this is just a small sampling of the golf tournaments that are available this spring. I will add more in the future. If you have a tournament you would like listed here, please let me know and I will be happy to add them to the list.

Golf tournaments are a wonderful way to spend the day while giving back to a great cause. There are typically many opportunities to play golf throughout the area while raising much needed funds for causes that may or may not be dear to your heart. I would encourage you to plan to play in one or more tournaments this year. I have only won a couple of the tournaments I have played, but I have always had fun.




Low Inventory Levels could be the story of 2013!

February 15, 2013
Raleigh, A Great Place to Live and Work!

Raleigh, A Great Place to Live and Work!

It doesn’t matter too much where you are living in the U.S. at this point as nearly every location is experiencing low inventory levels. The benefit is obvious that if you are selling a home, it should take you less time to sell that home due to the market. Where this trend is not universal, it tends to be the case in may of the highly desirable areas, which include the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill areas. According to, some of those desirable areas around the country include Denver, Los Angeles, New York, and West Palm Beach; just to name a few. To read the article, please click on the link, Low Inventory.

In the Triangle, we are sitting on an average of 5.9 months of supply. As we have previously covered, the Triangle saw sales increase in 2012 of 21% as a whole and the median home price increased 2.6% from the previous year to $189,900 and the average home price was $226,561; up 1.5% over 2011.

For the year, nearly 24,000 homes were sold in the Triangle, which rivals our better years before the bust. In 2011, the number of sold homes in the Triangle was less than 20,000 to give you a gauge.

As also discussed in previous post, our inventory levels have been down nearly 25% over the previous year. This means that the Triangle has about 5.9 months of supply. This puts the Triangle in a seller’s market. Typically, anything less than 6 months supply is considered a seller’s market, but again, it is just barely in that range.

What does that mean to you, the homeowner? It means that if you have been considering selling your home or previously attempted to sell, that it is now one of the most opportune times to sell in recent years. According to NAR, 2012 was the most affordable time to purchase a house and they predict that 2013 will be the third most affordable year since 1970 to purchase a home.

So, with the low inventory levels and the high affordability index, it gives even more weight to the conception that it is a great time to sell a home in the Triangle. If you have been trying to sell and have not been successful, it means you are definitely overpriced for the market.

For more information about the market condition or to get a personalized Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for your home, contact me immediately. We do not know how long this market trend will continue so you need to get ahead of it while there’s time. If the unemployment level begins to rise in 2013, then it will directly affect the housing market and your probabilities of selling your home will decrease dramatically.

The time to act is now!

Downtown Links Golf Calendar

January 18, 2013
Lochmere...A Golf Experience!

Lochmere…A Golf Experience!

As a member of the committee for the Downtown Links, I am pleased to announce the calendar that we have do date. The Downtown Links is a group of professional who are also members of the Downtown Clubs of Raleigh, The Downtown Clubs of Raleigh is a combination of the Capital City Club and the Cardinal Club. Each of these clubs are business and social clubs that include many opportunities for networking, each with wonderful dining rooms.

This calendar is for informational purposes and may change at the committee’s direction. If you are not a member of the Downtown Clubs of Raleigh and would like to play one of the beautiful courses we have scheduled, please contact me and you can play as my guest.

March 13th, Devil’s Ridge Country Club in Holly Springs

April, Prestonwood Country Club in Cary. Date and time TBD

May 14th, Raleigh Country Club in Raleigh

June 6th, North Ridge (Lakes Course) Country Club in North Raleigh

July 22, Brier Creek Country Club in North Raleigh

August, Hasentree Country Club in Wake Forest. Date and time TBD

September 23, Treyburn Country Club in Durham

October, The Neuse Country Club in Clayton. Date and time TBD

November 7th, Lochmere Golf Club in Cary


Upcoming golf tournament

April 22nd, North Raleigh Rotary Golf Tournament, Wildwood Green Golf Club, 1pm shotgun start

We are excited about this group of courses and it should be another great season. Most of our outings this year are shotgun starts, but not all of the final details have been negotiated. If you are interested in playing any of these courses, please contact me at to get on the list of players.