Posts Tagged ‘Raleigh’

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.

Advertisements

Giving of yourself to a grateful nation…1Lt. Nathan Rimpf

November 8, 2013
A great photo! L-R: President Steven Nelson, 1st Lt. Nathan Rimpf, Tim Minton (Pres. of Operation Coming Home) and Scott Tarkenton (our liason with Lt Rimpf and OCH).

A great photo! L-R: President Steven Nelson, 1st Lt. Nathan Rimpf, Tim Minton (Pres. of Operation Coming Home) and Scott Tarkenton (our liason with Lt Rimpf and OCH).

I had the immense pleasure this week of meeting a young man who inspired me through his service to our nation and his positive approach to life. 1Lt. Nathan Rimpf is a young man of 25 years, born and raised in the Raleigh area, who felt the ‘call’ to serve his country in the Armed Forces. As a graduate of Leesville High School and East Carolina University, he joined the U.S. Army as an officer after serving in the ROTC program in college. He was stationed for a brief time in Kansas before deploying to Afghanistan.

He was in country for 53 days when he stepped on an IED. He recalled that he wanted to show leadership to his company so he remained calm and instructed them in the proper procedures they had learned from their training. As he later explained, it was a ‘flesh wound’ and there could have been worse things that could have happened to him. He is a very grateful and humbled young man.

With all the praise that has been given him over the last year, he explained to the members of the Rotary Club of North Raleigh on Wednesday that he doesn’t know how to accept it. While there, his purpose was simple, “My mission, my men and myself”.

Nathan was selected by Operation Coming Home, a local charity of homebuilders, to receive a new home. The key ceremony would be the following day, but he will not actually move into his new home until the first of the year, when he will officially be retired from the military.

The Rotary club had taken up a donation from its members the previous week and the club matched the funds, which presented Operation Coming Home with a check for $1600 at the meeting on Wednesday. President of Operation Coming Home, Tim Minton was on hand to receive the check that will help defray some of the cost with future builds. This home was the sixth home they built for a returning wounded veteran and they have already planned the seventh and eighth.

L-R: President Steven Nelson, Tim Minton (President of Operation Coming Home) and Scott Tarkenton with our BIG check for $1600 donated to OCH. The newly built home for Nathan is the 6th OCH with more to come. The returning vet does not pay anything for the house!

L-R: President Steven Nelson, Tim Minton (President of Operation Coming Home) and Scott Tarkenton with our BIG check for $1600 donated to OCH. The newly built home for Nathan is the 6th OCH with more to come. The returning vet does not pay anything for the house!

North Raleigh Rotary Club president Steven Nelson was on hand to present the check to OCH. “I am honored to give this check on behalf of this club to this organization whose commitment to assisting local veterans who have given more of themselves than many people would ever think to give”, commented Mr. Nelson, “I just wish we could do more as a club”.

At the meeting, a standing ovation was given to Nathan Rimpf and to all those brave young men who volunteered to serve their nation is such a dangerous capacity. “As one who did not serve, I am always amazed when I see these young men and women who serve, despite the apparent dangers to their life. It is truly a selfless act”, added Steven. “They deserve our respect and our support”.

Nathan vows to do much with the gifts he has been given. He plans to attend grad school to earn his MBA. It is not sure where he will attend as he has applied to Duke University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia. He plans to continue to be involved with his community.

 

A Raleigh Cultural Experience

October 16, 2013

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

Raleigh, A Great Place to Live and Work!

Raleigh, A Great Place to Live and Work!

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Motivates me to Sell Real Estate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed Shook Golf Classic!

September 5, 2013
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!

As the current president of the Rotary Club of North Raleigh, I want to take a moment to promote our upcoming fundraiser that we partner with the Frankie Lemmon School, the Ed Shook Golf Classic. This is the 49th year of the Ed Shook and the 3rd year that Rotary has been involved.

The golf tournament was the brainchild of Ed Shook and Ralph Lang Sr., who wanted to create a special golf tournament that would benefit preschool and kindergarten children with special educational needs. As a result of their vision and initiative and the countless others who have followed in their footsteps, this tournament has become the area’s largest one-day golf tournament run entirely by volunteers.

Proceeds from the event are used to defray the cost of education and therapies provided free of charge by the Frankie Lemmon School to qualifying children who reside in Wake County. The public school system funding covers less than 50% of the actual costs to operate the school, making the tournament and other fundraising efforts vastly important to the education and support of an increasing number of children in our area who have various types of developmental challenges.

The North Raleigh Rotary Club became involved with the Frankie Lemmon School many years ago when we partnered to establish the Triangle Uncorked. The Triangle Uncorked ran for six wonderful years and due to our great relationship with this fabulous organization, they invited us to join them with the golf tournament. Half of the money that we raise for this tournament goes to fund the projects that our club promotes to include the Guatemala Literacy Project, the Boys and Girls Home of NC, the Ukrainian Orphanage program, and many other worthwhile programs. The Rotary Club of North Raleigh was established in 1967 and over the years has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for great causes in the community and beyond. The club consists of professionals who have a high ethical standard for themselves and are looking for ways to ‘do good’ in the world. As a members since 2007, I have found this to be a wonderful group of people with the similar goals to make a difference. I have traveled to Guatemala twice and returning a third time in February of next year to participate in the Guatemala Literacy Project.

As club president for this year, I have become enamored with the culture of this club and Rotary International. I have met great people from around the world through Rotary and it is becoming an increasingly large part of my life. As a Rotarian, I have hosted a couple from Scotland on a Friendship Exchange, traveled to Guatemala, worked on a house in New Jersey devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and built shelves for a local school for severely disabled children…just to name a few things over the last five plus years. Participating in and supporting the Frankie Lemmon School with our co-sponsored fundraisers is among the highlights of my experiences with Rotary.

I have often been asked what is Rotary? I explain it this way. Rotary is that young Guatemalan girl I met three years ago with the red sweater, sticker on her forehead, thanks to then president Boyd Bennett, and a broad grin on her face. She posed for a photo, holding a textbook in her small hands. Because of Rotary, this young girl has an opportunity that wasn’t afforded her parents or grandparents…an opportunity for an education that could change her life, her family’s life, her community and with the concerted effort of the more than 100,000 students who have benefited from the Literacy project in their country, change their country…through education. Our children take textbooks for granted, but in many Guatemalan communities, students will never attend school because they cannot afford a pencil. That is what Rotary is all about…and in it’s own way, that’s what the Frankie Lemmon School is all about.

To participate, please contact me at Steven@BackNineHomes.com. We are looking for golf foursome, tee and sign sponsors, and we are selling Raffle tickets. The tournament will be held at the esteemed Raleigh Country Club, the last golf course offering by the legendary Donald Ross. It takes place on September 30th with both a morning and an afternoon shotgun start.

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.

How to Select a great bottle of Wine!

July 26, 2013
Don't get discouraged, even you can select a great bottle of wine with little effort!

Don’t get discouraged, even you can select a great bottle of wine with little effort!

You may think it strange that I will write about purchasing wine on a real estate blog, but sometimes I get tired of simply writing about real estate and want to mix it up. As a passionate wine consumer, I have a few ideas about purchasing wine and as one who has well over 200 bottles in my cellar, I have learned a few things about purchasing wine. Most of the wines that I purchased using some of these concepts have been winners. It has only been when we purchased wine without fully understanding that wine or grape variety, have we made some poor purchases that made for bad wine experiences.

Before I get into it too much, I want to encourage each of you to expand your horizon and experience varietals that you may not know. There are about 8-10 well-known types of grapes, but there are literally thousands of different grapes though not all are made into wines. If I hadn’t taken the time to understand some of these different varietals, I would never have experienced the Carmenere grape, which has become one of my favorite varieties. With over 60 different varietals in my wine cellar, I can attest that there’s more to wine than a simple Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel. Try new varieties and you may be surprised.

You do not have to be an expert to enjoy and purchase great wines and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Twenty years ago, you may would have to pay for good quality wines, but today, there are many more great producers of wines that are also cost-effective. Of all of my wines, I only have a handful that are considered costly by my standards. I actually prefer not to spend too much for a bottle of wine. As a frugal individual, it is hard for me to open an expensive bottle of wine as you can only enjoy it once.

The most important suggestion I could give you would be to ask an expert. As I wouldn’t recommend you purchase a house without the assistance of an expert, you shouldn’t purchase a bottle of wine without the aid of an expert. This is especially true if you are in a wine store. The sales associates taste and learn about the wines they have in stock and can be very helpful. Since there is no one producer that dominates the market share, it is nearly impossible for an individual novice to know about all of these wines. Don’t think you are less of a connoisseur if you need to ask for help. Many of the bottles in my cellar made their way there because an expert recommended it to me. Be wary of those experts who point you to the highest priced wines. They may not be as knowledgeable as they may seem. Give them your price range and the features you want in that wine and they can help you select the right bottle for a memorable evening.

The next suggestion would be to pay attention to what you taste. Of course, this is easier said than done. Unless you take professional classes and have tasted hundreds of wines, it is difficult to fully understand what you are tasting. The key is to be able to pick out a note that you can identify and help you with future selections. For example, I sometimes like a little pepper on the finish, so I would look for a Shiraz or a Zinfandel. Of course, you have to realize that the soil and temperature of vineyard makes a difference in the finish. For example, a Zinfandel grown in cooler regions will be more fruity with hints of raspberry where warmer climates will produce a Zin that has more of a blackberry, anise and pepper notes. You are not expected to know all of this, but it is a good idea to understand what you taste and what appeals to you. From there, you can find a wine that works for you.

Another suggestion would be to trust your own palate. My wife and I have very different ideas of what makes for a great wine as our palates are much different. I cut my teeth on the sweeter wines such as Riesling, but my palate has grown to the point where I predominantly drink red wines today. My wife is a huge fan of un-oaked Chardonnay. She has learned that she doesn’t like much oak, so she shops for the un-oaked. In a restaurant, we look for French Chardonnay as they are typically fermented in steel casts. A little bit of knowledge has helped her find what she is looking for in nearly any restaurant or bar. Compared to my increasing knowledge of wines, she knows very little about wines, but she knows what she likes and has embraced it. On a side note, don’t be too concerned about parings your wine with your meal. Today, this is a little overrated and served only to keep the wine experts in business.

Don’t be too loyal to a particular wine producer or variety. With the countless number of producers and varieties that are out there, you are doing yourself and your palate a disservice if you are too loyal to a particular wine. This is one reason I have over 60 varieties in my cellar and I rarely purchase a case of a specific wine. I am not loyal in the least and will try many different wines. It is due to this effort that I have become more aware of the differences between a Merlot and a Pinot Noir. I have tasted several offerings of each and enjoy each in its own time. If I am not in the mood for a heavy wine, I will typically choose a Merlot, but if I want a robust drink with lengthy tannins, I will choose a Pinot Noir or a Shiraz. Life is too short…try new wines!

Finally, I would suggest you read. If you are like me, I don’t have the time to read all of the magazines and articles from wine snobs who pontificate on certain wines. I don’t expect you do to it unless you have the time and the inclination to do it. I would suggest that you find a source that you can trust and use when purchasing a wine. As many of you know, I have an I-Pad and rarely am without it. I have several applications on it that I use to research a specific wine to help me make a better decision. If you have a SmartPhone, you will be able to download a similar app that can be of assistance to you.

The key is to have fun with it and don’t take it too serious. We are not talking about life and death and any poor decision can easily be rectified. Make sure you are enjoying your wine because that is the reason we drink it.

I hope you enjoyed my two cents worth on purchasing wines. If you want to learn more from true experts (I am not an expert), there are many ways to find out keys to purchasing and enjoying good wines on the Internet. The app I use the most is Cor.kz. It is associated with the website, http://www.CellarTracker.com. If you have a collection of wines, I would encourage you to visit this site as it allows you to keep tabs on what wines you have in your cellar. I use it and with my tablet, I have access to the contents of my wine cellar where ever I go.

Easy ways to Update your kitchen at little cost

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

Low cost kitchen updates can help you sell your home!

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

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

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

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

Paint

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

Lighting

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

Organizers

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

Flooring

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

Rearranging

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

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

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

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.

De-Clutter

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.