Posts Tagged ‘Golfing in Cary’

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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 Steven@BackNineHomes.com to get on the list of players.

To Resolve or Not to Resolve: that is the question

January 2, 2013
Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.”
– Oscar Wilde,
Irish Writer & Poet

Each year around this time, people around the world make New Year Resolutions and typically by the second, they have failed to keep these resolutions. Too many look at resolutions as a waste of time as they rarely last a week before they are broken. So, what’s the sense in making them?

Resolutions can serve as your goals for the year. One of the most utilized resolutions is loosing weight or working out more. Therefore, you start the year and after a bad day where you eat a fatty meal or you miss your scheduled workout, you declare the resolution broken and go back to your old habits. There are other ways to look at your resolutions instead of all or nothing. Consider it a tool to begin the process of self-improvement. Life is not all or nothing. We are all fallible and as such, none of us can completely change a negative or bad habit in a split second. It is a process.

Studies have shown that it takes 30 days to change a bad habit. This is true, but you can also change a bad habit by being committed to that act for 30 days. Even if you have a bad day and fail to accomplish your resolution that day, start fresh the next minute, hour, or day. Continuing to work on ourselves is the only thing that truly separates us from other species whose only concern is basic survival needs like food, water and shelter. We, as humans, have a need and desire to be more and to accomplish more than basic needs.

I have personally set several resolutions or goals that I intend to work hard to keep. I will not be completely successful on all of them, but I plan to accomplish the ultimate goal of the resolution…changing my bad habit into a positive one. I will not go into my resolutions as they are personal and private, but one involves a healthier lifestyle in terms of losing weight and exercising more consistently. Will I reach my weight loss goal? We will find out, but I will spend 2013 striving towards that goal. I will not give up after a stressful day where I eat those cheese fries that I love, but are not good for me. It is not about a one-time ban on cheese fries that is meant to last an entire year, but rather, it is about reducing the amount of cheese fries I eat in 2013 and ultimately, improve my waist line and health.

I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.” 
– Anaïs Nin,
French-Cuban Author

Resolutions are about a daily compact with yourself to improve yourself. We all have our own bad habits that we need to change. So, if you have not yet made your New Year’s Resolutions, it is not too late. Start today…start tomorrow…start next week, just start! Call it what you want to call it, but start.

New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” 
– Mark Twain,
American Author & Humorist

I develop my resolutions by categorizing them. I do the same with my goals as life is not about work alone. I typically have professional, personal, spiritual and familial categories. From there, you can analyze each category to determine what you would like to accomplish in each category. There is not a magical number of resolutions you should have and…this is important…you do not have to wait until next year to modify them. As life changes, our goals and plans change. Your resolutions should change or modify as life changes for you. For example, you may resolve to maintain your yard more consistently, then for reasons beyond your control, you have to sell and buy a condo. Obviously, your commitment to the yard will not be applicable. Typically what happens is your focus changes and that results in modifying your resolutions/goals. I could have some home sales goals that would change if I took a sales position for a national builder.

Ultimately, resolutions help us better ourselves…and everyone can be a better person.

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” 
– Benjamin Franklin,
Author, Inventor & Diplomat

Your resolution for 2013 may be to purchase your dream home. If this is the case, contact me to see how we can make that resolution a reality.

Is it a good or bad time to sell a home in the Triangle?

December 7, 2012
Put a sold sign on your home today!

Put a sold sign on your home today!

The Triangle market has seen some positives. WIthout being too technical, I will attempt to give you a brief assessment of the current conditions and try to explain some of the data you will be given. Of course, it stands to reason that statistics can be modified to say what you want them to say, but I have not made up these statistics, just reporting them, courtesy of the Triangle Area Residential Realty (TARR) report and the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors (RRAR).

October appeared to have been a great month for the Triangle as a whole. According to the RRAR, sales in the Triangle rose 31.1% and 33.2% in Wake County. Median sales price also rose in October with the area seeing a 2.7% increase while Wake experienced a 3.8% increase. The month supply for each has decreased over last year at this time with the Triangle having 6.6 month supply and Wake reporting 5.1 months of supply, down from 8.8 this time last year.

The year-to-date numbers run very similar to October numbers. The Triangle area saw 19.7% increase in sales and Wake boomed to 23.7% increase. In fact, Wake County had over 11,000 closings, the first time we have been over 10,000 since 2008. Median sales price has gone up in both areas; 2.4% and 2.9% respectively.

One of the glaring inaccuracies in the market is the reduction in inventory over the last two years. In Wake County, we are at 2005 levels of inventory. Normally, a market with improving sales would result in an increase in listings…as more homeowners will want to take advantage of an improving market. This has not been the case in the Triangle. Why?

I believe there are two reasons this trend has occurred. First, many of the homeowners who tried to sell in 2011 and could not sell because of the market have decided to stay in their homes. Whether they do not have the confidence in the market or they are tired of trying, they are staying put.

Another hypothesis reported by TARR centers around the four main reasons homes go on the market. Relocation and distress sales will be in the mix no matter the market condition. In our current market, there may be more distress sales, but ultimately, this will be present no matter the market. Those looking to move up or downsize are making emotional decisions that are not our of necessity and as such, are more tied to market conditions, or at least the perception of the market conditions.

Before the real estate market crashed, homeowners in the Triangle were staying in their homes on an average of 4.5 years. Today, we are seeing that trend move upwards to 9 years on average. Most of this can be attributed to the depreciation we have seen in the Triangle and the nation as a whole. As a general rule, people who do not need to sell are staying in their homes, hoping to wait out the market decline and see appreciation again.

With the fewer listings on the market and the rising sales, the Triangle and Wake County in particular, has been moving towards a seller’s market. Technically, less than 6 months of supply indicates a seller’s market. So, we are currently experiencing a seller’s market in Wake County. But, I would caution that as the market continues to improve and the perception of the economy recovering, we will begin to see more homes put on the market with those moving up or downsizing. Additionally, I had read an article several months ago that stated that only about 10% of all foreclosures have been released for sale to avoid decimating the housing values across the nation. If this is accurate, appreciation will be minimal over the next several years until these homes can be sold.

In conclusion, the market is not great and it is not bad. I expect that if the current trend continues through 2013, we should start to see some appreciation by the end of the year. A rise in median home sales price does not mean we have seen appreciation. With the cheap money (low mortgage rates), people are able to buy a little more home than they could with higher interest rates.

So, to answer the question of whether it is a good time to sell in the Triangle. I think it is a great time to sell. Traditionally, the winter months are the slowest times for the real estate industry. With nearly a third of all homeowners having school age children, the market tends to be tied to traditional school calendars, even though Wake has year-round schools. With this time of the year, historically there are fewer homes on the market during these months. However, as you have seen in October, there are still buyers out there looking to buy. This will allow you to take advantage of a seller’s market before Spring hits and thousands of potential homes flood the market. This may result in the market shifting back towards a buyer’s market. As Warren Buffet always says about the stock market, “buy when others are selling and sell when others are buying”. This is the best way to ensure you take full advantage when you sell your home.

What Golf Community would you buy a home and join the club?

September 18, 2012

Payne Stewart’s Glorious Moment!

 

Last week, I had a meeting with a gentleman who asked me a question that made me think. His question: If money was not an issue, what Wake County golf community and course would you recommend to a client? This question was also predicated upon location not being an issue for the client. With these open options, it made me think. I must admit, no one has asked me that question in the past.

It made me think of all of the great courses and communities here in Wake County. Most people do not realize, but there are nearly 20 golf course communities in Wake County alone, not to mention the Triangle. My answer to this gentleman was simple, “it depends!” This is the number one answer to all real estate questions as the answer depends on different factors. For instance, what types of courses do you like to play and do you want multiple golfing options with your purchase?

For me, I would want to join a club that gives me multiple course options as I get bored with the same course, day in and day out. Variety is so important to me that I rarely travel the same route home. I have always been like that, but others may be happy to have access to simply one course where they can learn all of the nuances of that course and “master” it. Others still may have specific ideas of what type of community. Some may be more interested in older homes with larger lots as opposed to many of our newer communities that have smaller lots and the rooms tend to be smaller. All of these and many more factors can play into your decision.

For me, I would have to recommend a community like North Ridge that has two courses or Wakefield that would give you access to all of McConnell golf courses. Some may prefer single courses like McGregor Downs, which has an amazing course, but only one course. In this blog post, I hope to address some of the great golf course communities in Wake county and give you an idea of which are the better ones.

To start, I need to cover some of the less expensive communities with public or semi-private courses. Among these would be Hedingham, Eagle Ridge, and Crooked Creek. The benefit of each of these communities is purchasing in these communities, you have the option of joining all three as the Fred Smith Company now owns all of these courses and have a membership level for these communities. These courses are very nice and are typically in good shape. Last year, Hedingham was closed for major repairs and regeneration of its greens, fairways and tee boxes. I played it shortly after it re-opened and it played very well. It has many challenging holes to keep your interest, but not so much that you are over challenged and cannot score well. Eagle Ridge and Crooked Creek are very nice courses. I cannot speak too much about these courses as I rarely play them due to driving distance, but as memory serves, they are both challenging and fair at the same time. If housing price is a factor, these communities offer affordable housing, many with great golf course views. Hedingham is the most affordable as it offers town homes for less than $100,000 up to single family homes in the $200-low $300s. Eagle Ridge and Crooked Creek consist of single family homes that tend to be priced in the $200s.

If money is not an issue, then the choices increase dramatically. I will start with the Southwestern Wake communities. There are several and one that I really enjoy is Devil’s Ridge, located in the Sunset Ridge community in Holly Springs. The community is well done and well maintained and the course is always in great condition. Membership in Devil’s Ridge will give you the option to join the Triangle Society with ClubCorp and give you access to several courses in the Triangle. A great way to be introduced to several courses. The community is primarily single family with housing from the mid $200s up to half a million. Membership in Devil’s Ridge is affordable and the course is semi-private.

More high-end in this area would include both McGregor Downs and Prestonwood. McGregor Downs is an exclusive community that is laid out very nicely with larger lots and is a highly established community. Many of the homes were built in the 1980s, so if you want an older community in this area, I would highly suggest this course. Membership in McGregor Downs will give you access to this amazing course and all of the additional community features such as tennis courts and lakes. This club was formed in 1967, so it is one of the oldest in the Triangle. Prestonwood, home of the SAS Championship, is more modern with additional benefits such as 3 courses to choose. All three courses are amazing courses with some very challenging, but fair holes. I have only played the Meadows course and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience (though I didn’t score well). Prestonwood has housing that consist of condos around the $200s to town homes for a little more and tops off with single family homes from mid $200s up to well over a couple million. Most of the lots are smaller than you would see in McGregor Downs, but most are more modern and updated as it is a newer community.

Moving north, you have several options in the Northern Wake area to include Brier Creek, Wildwood Green, North Ridge, Hasentree and many more. I will try to talk about each of these in some detail, but there are too many to cover in much detail.

Brier Creek and Hasentree are very nice courses and are both Toll Brother properties, so membership in one will get you membership in the other. Plus, you can add to your membership access to all Toll Brother golf communities in the U.S. Both communities are fairly new, but Brier Creek tends to have smaller lots than Hasentree, primarily due to the fact that there is more room with this community. Brier Creek course is very nice, but is currently being repaired as many of the greens were infected with a disease, which has caused them to close down the course to rid the greens of this infestation. If they have not yet re-opened, it will be soon. The course is challenging with one of their signature holes being the 18th, which is an awesome finishing hole. This hole offers a blind tee shot and a green that is surrounded by water on three sides. Brier Creek offers housing from condos priced in the low $100s to single family homes over a million. It is convenient to all the amenities that you could ask and very close to RTP and I-540. Hasentree is not as convenient as it is located off Hwy. 98, close to Wake Forest, but the benefits are larger lots and more nature areas. Housing starts in the mid $300s and goes up from there. The golf course is always pristine and the 88 bunkers on this course may make you curse Tom Fazio as they tend to be well placed for danger at every turn. For shopping, you would have to head towards Wake Forest. If you work in downtown Raleigh, the commute can be difficult.

A little closer to Raleigh, you will find both Heritage and TPC Wakefield Plantation. Both are fairly new communities with varying pricing range for homes and smaller lots than can be seen in some of the older communities. To get a larger lot, you will need to purchase one of the larger homes. I have never played Heritage, but had the opportunity to play Wakefield for the first time last week. It was an amazing golfing experience with some very challenging holes. The signature 18th hole is a Par 5 where you aim for the clubhouse from the tee box. The approach shot is over a stream, but do not go long as it elevates quickly towards the clubhouse with two bunkers. My approach shot sailed over the green and I thought it landed in the bunker, but it was not there. With the tall, thick grass, I couldn’t find the ball.

Heritage is a semi-private course located in the heart of downtown Wake Forest. Membership is affordable as it pertains to golf clubs. You only have access to that course along with the swim and tennis. Being closer to Hwy 1-Capital Blvd. the commute to Raleigh is much more efficient than the other courses around it. Wakefield membership offers the 18-hole course, the 9-hole walking course, access to all TPC Network courses and reciprocal golf privileges at all McConnell Golf Properties. McConnell Golf has eight golf clubs in North and South Carolina to include three in the Triangle, Raleigh Country Club and Treyburn being the other two. Membership is affordable based considering what you get for your membership. Even though I don’t live anywhere near Wakefield, I would probably be more inclined to this membership or at least it’s sister club, Raleigh Country Club due to the variety of clubs you can access.

North Ridge is another wonderful course with two courses available. It is located in North Raleigh and offers tennis and pools. I have only played one of the two courses and it was an intriguing experience. Many of the holes have water with a couple of Par 3s that go directly over water on the Oaks course. It plays very nicely with many challenges, but fair. Membership is not the most affordable, and to get the most value for your membership, you need to play multiple times a week. My wife and I almost purchased a home in this community and would have joined this course had we purchased that home. Housing is diverse with town homes in the low $100s-mid $200s and single family homes range from the mid $300s to well over a million. If you have not played this course, I would highly recommend it. I hope to be able to play the Lakes course at some point in the future as I have heard that this course is better than the Oaks.

Finally (but not lastly), Wildwood Greens Golf Club is also located in North Raleigh and is a course all about golf. The John Budwine Golf Academy operates out of this course and offers teaching professionals for any player. The course is very challenging, but fair with several water hazards throughout the course. I am a member of this course as it is very affordable, especially for someone who likes to play other courses. Membership dues are less than $200 a month and the initiation  is extremely reasonable. This course was in place before the community was developed around the course. The community offers homes priced from the low $200s to over $400s. The community is well laid out well with the golf course so you are not crossing several streets throughout your round of golf. If you are on a budget, this is a great course.

I hope you have enjoyed this and please let me know what your preference is. I haven’t covered all of the golf communities in Wake county as there are more than I can cover in this blog. Keep following this blog as I am always talking about individual courses in Wake county and usually focus on one course per blog post.

In answering the question, what community would you join if money was not an issue? I want to hear from you!