Monday, December 21, 2009

Ways to Deal with the Enevitable Holiday Stress...

A great message arrived from the President of Allen Tate today, thought I would share it with you as you may be dealing with the tiny nuiances of holiday stress as we count down the days to Christmas...

* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

*Always keep your words soft and sweet, in case you have to eat them.

*Always wear clothes that make you look good, in case you die in the middle of whatever you are doing.

*Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be "recalled" by their maker.

*If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

*If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

*May it be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.

*Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because you won't have a leg to stand on.

*Nobody cares if you can't dance well...just get up and DANCE!

*Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird--sleep late!

*The second mouse gets the cheese.

*When everything is coming your way...you're in the WRONG lane!

*Birthdays are good for you...the more you have the longer you will live! :)

*You may be only one person in the world, but to one person you are the world!

*Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once!

*We could learn a lot from crayons...some are sharp, some are dull, some have weird names and are all different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

MY FAVORITE:

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour!

Merry Christmas!

Brooke

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shop Local!! Top 10 Reasons!

Ok, T Minus 8 days and counting!!

It's definitely crunch time and the race is on to get those last minute gifts. May I suggest 10 Reasons for BUYING LOCAL?

10. Nothing says Christmas like long lines of red tail lights in parking lots. Admit it, something would be missing if you didn't have to get into "some" traffic while jammin' to 99.5 and Christmas classics.

9. You DO need to touch, smell and see what you are purchasing...I can say from experience that a size online MAY NOT be what you receive just days, sometimes hours before Christmas.

8. Friendly, helpful service from folks in local stores who REALLY know what they are doing! Not script-prompted call centers that can't pronounce Kernersville or Mocksville, NO IT'S NOT KNOXVILLE!!

7. Local businesses need YOUR DOLLAR in this tough economy...why send your money to some off-shore account or to some corporation housed in Timbuktoo? Well over 50 cent of each dollar spent locally STAYS LOCALLY and supports our LOCAL ECONOMY! It's the economy stupid! :)

6. Unique gift ideas...go online or to a big box and you get what everyone is getting! These shop owners spend a ton of time trying to find items that set their stores apart...take advantage of their knowledge! Grab a cup of coffee from your local coffee shop or bakery and STROLL...see what nuggets you can pick out special for that special someone on your list!

5. Take time to remember that it's the thought that counts! Sure thoughts can be ill-fitting, ugly and sometimes embarrassing (me: thanks for the big red underwear mom!) but when you know that someone spent time shopping for you (mom: you like red Brooke and red brings good luck according to my reflexologist) you know that they really were thinking about you and what you like--not just clicking on a random sale item or ordering yet another thoughtless gift card.

4. Make it a social outing...remember the cup of coffee I suggested, well, turn it into lunch or dinner after a long, productive day out with the girls or guys...have fun, talk, search, discover your town!

3. Make history! Yep, you can do just that. Visit some of historic sites and older local shop owners for a bit of local flare! Buy Moravian cookies, tins, candles or send some North Carolina goodies to those friends far and wide...we have such a rich history, unlike so many other states, so share that NC pride!

2. Create a tradition! Yes, I know it might be hard to do everything locally, but it can be done. When we opened our office in downtown Kernersville in 2005, I did all of my Christmas shopping in downtown Kville. Now, it was challenging and especially then, when there weren't a great deal of shops open, but I did it! Now, the tradition in the Cashion family is to still enjoy a shopping trip to downtown Kernersville for gift purchases for ANY SEASON...we start there first! A book at Shakespeare and Co., a basket of NC goodies from Baskets and Beyond, jewelry at Splurges, and the list goes on and on.

1. Because you LIVE HERE! This is your town, city, village, etc. Take pride in knowing that you play an integral part in keeping small, local businesses alive. Your part will make all of the difference in this economy, so that everyone can have the Merriest Christmas possible!

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Changes to Good Faith Estimate Just Around the Corner...

At our office meeting last week our Allen Tate mortgage VP spoke to our group about the changes on the horizon for Good Faith Estimates (GFE). For those of you out there who haven't purchased a home in a while, you may not remember that a GFE is required from the lender prior to loan commitment. Due to so many recent lending changes and loan defaults, the government has stepped in to simplify the process--thanks!

What was once a one page form has grown to three pages and is a basically a hand-holding, step by step worksheet for buyers to compare and contrast lenders and the loans they have to offer.

There are still caveats...dates are important to pay attention to because rates change, programs are eliminated and funds for certain programs can be limited.

It is still crucial to go with a reputable lender who can explain your options and make sure you are comparing "apples to apples" so to speak. Meaning that origination fees, points, transaction fees, estimates of expenses and escrows are broken out but can vary widely.

The one thing that jumps out at me and some of my colleagues is the fact that the lenders must disclose up front fees for services by third-party vendors. These fees cannot change but a certain percent from the overall cost. This means that your lender may say that they have an average price for legal services (closing attorney), but you want to choose someone you know. If the person you choose costs significantly more, bundled with other items that are variable, and your lender is basing their estimates on folks they have historically used, this may upset that proverbial "apple cart". If it does it could mean essentially limiting your choices because by using someone not in the "pool" could throw the estimates on the GFE out of whack, thus delaying the closing.

How, you say, if I am ok with the fees and the possible change can this delay my closing? Well, another change is that if these amounts charged change outside of the allowed percentage...the lender has to draw up another GFE and make sure that the closing occurs no sooner than three days from receipt.

There will definitely be "tweaking" of this document and though lenders are required to use the new GFE now, they are also in a transitional period to allow for instruction and adjustment.

Bottom line is that as a consumer of real estate it is necessary to find a means of understanding the cost of borrowing money and transacting real estate. Find a professional lender that understands the various programs and their ups, downs, ins and outs. Once you have several GFEs from various mortgage lenders, share them with your professional REALTOR so that you can talk about the programs and how they may effect what kind, what price and what location of the home you are going to purchase. That way everyone, most importantly yourself, is on the same page regarding your strategic plan to buy a home or investment property and that my friend, will bode for a smooth and professionally executed transaction!

Feel free to post questions or your own experiences with this new Good Faith Estimate or any other questions or comments you have regarding the real estate process!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Triad Area: Buy Local This Holiday Season!

Great public service annoucement as to why YOU should buy LOCAL this holiday season and EVERY season! Check it out and see if you can find your hometown! Kernersville is representing! :)



Triad Area: Buy Local This Holiday Season!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Update on Tax Credit Extension...

This is an excerpt from an email that my lender-friend, LuAnn Davis sent just a few minutes ago...

November 5, 2009

Senate has passed legislation making if virtually certain President Obama will sign the
Homebuyer Tax Credit Benefits Extension and Expansion!!

If signed into law . . . . .

* The first time homebuyer tax credit of $8000, due to expire at the end of November would be
extended through April, 2010.

* Legislation is expanded to allow qualified move-up buyers to be eligible for a credit of up to $6500.

* Income limits have been expanded for first time homebuyers with incomes up to $225,000 for a married
couple now being eligible.

* Existing homebuyers will have income limits and must have lived in their current residence for 5 of the prior 8 years.

* Primary residences only qualify.

I am here to provide unsurpassed service when helping your buyers take advantage of this tax credit. Rates are still incredibly low and our common sense approach to underwriting will create a positive experience for you and your client. Please call me!

LuAnn DavisSr. Loan Officer
WR Starkey Mortgage

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

For The Record...NC Real Estate Update

Per Issue 6, November/December 2009 North Carolina Realtors Association:

Just some quick factoids regarding the current state of NC real estate. We hear so much nationwide news, I thought it would be beneficial to share some state numbers with you. Keep in mind, all real estate is local and even though these are state numbers, numbers specific to your area and/or neighborhood can be obtained by contacting me, Brooke Cashion at 336-817-3598 or brooke.cashion@allentate.com

*First-time buyers continue to fuel the housing rebound. Most are between the ages of 25-45 and they have accounted for nearly 50% of the homes sales in the first 7 months of 2009!!

*NC existing homes sales posted its fourth consecutive month of improvement in September, the longest period of gain in 5 years. **My commentary** This may be attributed to prices adjusting to more "normal" levels**

*NC ranks as the 6th most popular state in the nation when it comes to where people want to love, according to a recent Harris interactive poll.

*National foreclosure rates soared in the 3rd quarter with 1 in every 136 homes going into foreclosure...HOWEVER in NC, we had the 14th lowest rate of foreclosure with only 1 in every 417 homes going into foreclosure.

Please feel free to post commentary on your observations of these facts and figures and contribute any additional pertinent information you may have, including references and links.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Great Tips for Preventing the Flu or other Viral Maladies...

I SWEAR by the Neti pot...a cheaper version, which is just as effective, is to take a 3" bulb syringe (pharmacy supply store) and warm water mixed 3 parts salt 1 part baking soda and gently flush your nasal cavities. Best performed in the shower or over the sink, because it unless you are good, water goes everywhere!

This message is from Dr. Vinay Goyal a renowned doctor who visited last week to lecture on the topic H1N1 (SWINE FLU), its origin and precautions. He is an MBBS, DRM, DNB (Intensivist and Thyroid specialist) having clinical experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like Hinduja Hospital , Bombay Hospital ,Saifee Hospital , Tata Memorial etc. Presently, he is heading our Nuclear Medicine Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and Critical Centre, Malad (W).


Thanks to media hype about H1N1, several people who trust me have either approached or called me to advice. The hype in media about the utility of face masks and N95 respirators as a tool for g eneral protection against H1N1 can't be deplored enough. Yesterday, a friend who listened wanted me to write down briefly what I advised so that he could tell others in similar words. Hence this short email to friends whom I have advised recently (and others whom I haven't yet). Please realize that this is not an official advice, especially the one about face masks or N95.

Most N95 respirators are designed to filter 95% particulates of 0.3µ, while the s ize of H1N1 virus is about 0.1µ. Hence, dependence on N95 to protect against H1N1 is like protecting against rain with an umbrella made of mosquito net.

Tamiflu does not kill but prevents H1N1 from further proliferation till the virus limits itself in about 1-2 weeks (its natural cycle). H1N1, like other Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper respiratory tract and proliferates (only) there. The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as prol iferation is. While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps not fully highlighted in most official communications - can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face
3. *Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). *H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to 3 above, *clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. *Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but *blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.*
5. *Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). *If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6.* Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. *Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

All these are simple ways to prevent, within means of most households, and certainly much less painful than to wait in long queues outside public hospitals.

Hard Work and Relaxation Shouldn't Be a Thing of the Past...

Ok, it's Friday, a day to start winding down-right? Sorry to burden you with a heavy blog before the weekend, but it's the first time recently I have had the chance to really sit down and write.

Jake and I were talking last night about how Christmas was only 65 days away and I brought up how different it was going to be this year for Thanksgiving and Christmas without Nanny around. Most of you who read regularly, know that my grandmother, fondly called, Nanny, passed away in July. I have been saying that I want to write about that experience, but time, like everything else, has been limited for me to feel like I could do justice to the subject.

A little background...Nanny was a worker. From the time she was a child, on her family farm in Kernersville, just off of Pisgah Church Road, Nanny worked. She had several siblings that died as infants and two sisters who she enjoyed for many years to come. Nanny was no stranger to difficult times as her family survived the Great Depression and continued to live on meager income farming tobacco. However, to hear Nanny describe her life, you never would know that they ever wanted for anything. Days were occupied by hard work and hard work paid off. During the depression, Nanny talked about having plenty to eat, most of it being provided on their farm, from home-grown vegetables, slaughtered animals, eggs, milk and the like. They didn't go hungry like the folks who relied on the "business-world", the stock market or "easy" money...barely a ripple was felt according to her recollections.

When the family wasn't chipping in to keep the place running, they enjoyed each others company. In a time pre-television and radio, the Bible was a mainstay of family gatherings and church and the work-free Sunday afternoon were a welcome respite to the weekly grind. These Sunday afternoons were literally without running around, shopping, cooking, cleaning or anything that resembled work. The family would gather on the front porch, visit near-by family and friends or take moments to reflect on the upcoming or bygone week. Even the food was pre-made for Sunday dinner and it was fresh, scratch-made and plentiful!

Though this is only a snippet into the inner-workings of most families that grew up in this era and only a small glance at my grandmother's childhood, I challenge you to look at your own situation and how we define work and relaxation. I too, am guilty of working non-stop both at home and in the office, running myself into a place where I am neither pleasant to be around and have a hard time coming down from. This pattern makes it almost impossible to stop, enjoy family or take a "breather" without feelings of guilt or anxiety.

Take a lesson from Nanny...work hard when it's time to work but enjoy the fruits of your labor and the company of those you love most when the opportunities present themselves. Because of her and her family's hard work and limited reliance on outside sources, they had an independence that allowed them to dictate when they relaxed, what their lifestyle looked like and provided time for friends and family without outside distractions. I understand that times have changed and they continue to change. In order for us to maintain a resemblance of sanity during these times, we must breathe and take personal responsibility, working hard and rewarding ourselves for time well spent. Turn off the t.v, the blackberry, the ipod, the radio and reflect on your family, your friends and what exactly it is that you are spinning your wheels for.

WOW! Deep thoughts by Brooke Cashion...sorry if I bored you to tears, but brace yourself, because more "Nanny" installations are to follow. Have a great weekend and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on hard work, self-sufficiency, family members as role models and anything else you would like to share...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Housing Prop on the Horizon....

Courtesy of the NC Realtor newsletter...

Yet Another Housing Bailout on the WayJust as federal officials seek to wind down many bailout programs, the Obama administration announced earlier this week another initiative to prop up the housing market. http://money.cnn.com/2009/10/19/news/economy/housing_finance_agency_bailout/index.htm?postversion=2009101918

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feds Hedging on Extension of Tax Credit....

This article appeared today. What are your thoughts on whether or not the tax credit should be extended or revamped to include "move-up" buyers?

HUD Secretary Hedges on Extension of Homebuyer Tax CreditOct 20, 2009 11:30 AM

By Richard Rubin,

CQ StaffHousing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan equivocated Tuesday on whether Congress should extend an expiring tax credit for first-time homebuyers.“I can assure you that the administration will work with Congress to fashion appropriate and effective homebuyer incentives, mindful of both their benefits to stimulating new demand and their costs to the American taxpayer,” he said in prepared testimony for a Tuesday morning hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Donovan acknowledged congressional support for an extension, but he did not endorse it himself.The current $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, created in the economic stimulus package (PL 111-5) enacted early this year, expires Nov. 30. Housing and real estate interests and their allies on Capitol Hill are pushing hard for an extension. Some also want to make the credit available to all home purchasers, not just first-time buyers, and to loosen the income eligibility limits.Various extension proposals have drawn support from lawmakers in both parties, including Senate Banking Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn.“The credit is set to expire in five weeks,” Dodd said in his prepared opening statement. “But the work of stabilizing the housing market won’t be done. We still need to use every tool at our disposal to fix this problem.”The intensified focus on the tax credit’s looming expiration came as the Commerce Department said Tuesday that while construction of new homes and apartments rose 0.5 percent in September, new applications for building permits fell 1.2 percent. That was the sharpest decline since a 2.5 percent drop in April and may have reflected uncertainty about the tax credit.Under questioning from Dodd, Donovan said there was “clear evidence” that the tax credit has helped housing markets, but he added that the administration wants to do more research on the costs.“We understand the urgency of this situation,” Donovan said. “And we believe that within the next few weeks, we will have additional data that will allow us to sit down with you” and discuss whether and how to extend the credit.Donovan downplayed the potential impact of allowing the tax credit to expire as scheduled next month. “The end of the tax credit would have some negative implications for the market,” he conceded, “but I do not believe based on all of the other actions that we’re taking . . . I do not believe that a catastrophic decline would be the result of the end of the tax credit.”The lead Senate supporter of an extension, Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., also testified at the hearing.Under a plan he is trying to attach to legislation extending unemployment benefits (H.R. 3548), the tax credit would be available to all purchasers of a primary residence. His proposal would double the allowable income of homebuyers eligible for the tax credit, to $150,000 per year for individuals and $300,000 for married couples. The credit would be available through June 30, and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates it would cost $16.7 billion, according to Isakson’s office.“It brings a lot of Americans to the market that are sitting on the sidelines today,” Isakson said of his plan to broaden the credit, pointing in particular to the “move-up” market among people who already own homes.Isakson said that based on his conversations with administration officials and his Senate colleagues, he did not think there was support for boosting the maximum credit to $15,000, as he originally proposed, or extending it beyond June 30, 2010.“It’s the art of the doable and the art of the possible,” he said.Many economists have criticized the tax credit, saying that it would subsidize people who would buy houses anyway.Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the committee’s ranking Republican, echoed those concerns and said “some basic questions need to be answered” before the credit is extended. He also said that a credit offset by a reduction in government spending would have a much different impact from an extension offset by higher taxes elsewhere.Supporters of the bill have varying ideas on whether and how any extension should be offset. Isakson and Dodd said they are looking for offsets.“If we can find a pay-for, I’m all for it,” said Dodd.

Source: CQ Today Online News

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm Baaaack....

Goodness Gracious! I am back, refreshed and ready to go! Jake and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in the Dominican Republic. It was beautiful and relaxing, but definitely not the United States!

While I was gone real estate was hoppin'! Thank God that Beth and Marianne were able to continue to work and keep our group moving forward.

Because, we are swamped with catching up, I didn't want to leave you too awfully long without some interesting information.

Just before I left, I attend our Kernersville Economic Development Council meeting, with the Kernersville Chamber. The speaker presented great information on the 2008 Forsyth County Trends. I thought I would share the link with you.

http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Planning/NewInPlanning/Articles/WhatsNew


More great info to come from the Allen Tate Advance that I attended in Charleston, SC for the top 100 Tate agents in the Carolinas! Great info moving forward.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Mini-Farm in Lewisville...NEW LISTING!



www.allentate.com/brookecashion/558186
Tranquil 4.98 acre tract with country cottage in Lewisville! Possibility to combine with other acreage tracts around the property that are currently for sale to make a large, working farm. Home is in great condition, has a deck, fenced area, trees, storage buildings and a ton of charm! Under tax value and priced to sell at $179,900! Check it out...




Friday, October 02, 2009

The Fountainhead...my latest EXCELLENT read...

It's been awhile since I wrote anything on what I read...and for any of you who know me-I LOVE TO READ! My friends Beth and Dave turned me on to The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, a couple of weeks ago. I won't go into an actual review and synopsis of the book, as I could go on forever on the varying themes and topics of interest. I would, however, encourage each of you to read this amazing work which is by the same author, who penned Atlas Shrugged.

Jake and I were talking about the book and came to the conclusion that what we liked most, is that she put into, amazing words, the thoughts and frustrations, that those concerned with mediocrity have felt. She speaks of "second-handers"--folks who glean ideas and prestige from society and have no thoughts of their own. Rand shows a world where the man that stands alone and works towards "greatness" is ostracized as a threat to the general good and where mediocrity is not only accepted but encouraged and propped up by the mainstream media-to use a modern term.

One of the statements from Wikipedia sums it up best.
("A world where the thought of each man will not be his own, but an attempt to guess the thought of his neighbor (...) Men will not work for money, but for prestige, the approval of their fellows - not judgment, but public polls") Toohey makes no mention of any overt dictatorship or coercive apparatus. Rather, Toohey's methods throughout the book suggest that such a regime might be able to retain the forms of democracy, multi-party elections and a free press, with actual power held by Toohey-like "informal advisers".

We see so many of our struggles today and the ridiculous nature of these ideals in the text of this book. One of my favorite pieces of dialogue in the book is one between Howard Roark (the protagonist) and Gail Wynand (tragic character with second-hander tendencies toward power) in which Roark has no interest in Wynand's propping him up financially or making social/political connections for him. Roark does not want a hand-out but goes on to say that he only wants the ability to see that success is possible, happiness and contentment are possible and that is enough to encourage his work and life.

As I said, I could go on and on, but don't want to bore you with my words when the author is so brilliant with her plots and verbiage. Anyone who is interested in the current state of our society, country and world should pick up this book and digest it's premises so that they can open their own eyes and minds to current situations, notions and trends--

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand c. 1942

**If you have read this book, please post comments and future recommendations--I would love to hear from you**

Brooke

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fabulous New Listing for First-Time Buyers! Kernersville Under 150K!!


Check out this great new listing at 431 Overbrook Meadow Court, Kernersville. Click on the link for 21 photo tour, specs and community info! Priced to sell at $145,000!!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Mondays = Heart Attacks!...Courtesy of my 3rd Grader!

1-A human being loses an average of 40-100 strands of hair a day.
2-A cough releases an explosive charge of air that moves at speeds up to 60 mph.
3-Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie!
4-A sneeze can exceed the speed of 100 mph.
5-According to German researchers, the risk of a heart attack is higher on Monday than any other day of the week!
6-After spending hours working at a computer display, look at a blank piece of white paper. It will probably appear pink.
7-An average human scalp has 100,000 hairs.
8-If the average man never trimmed his beard, it would grow to nearly 30 feet long in his lifetime.
9-By age sixty, most people have lost half of their taste buds.
10-Humans shed about 600,00 particles of skin every hour or 1.5 pounds a year. By age 70 the average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Popping Up Everywhere...It's That Season!

It's that time again and yet it seems like just last Fall! I bet most of you haven't even noticed--not yet, anyway! A few smatterings of election signs have been popping up around the community. This year is a little slow to start given the fact that there are no major state or national elections to bring folks to the polls. Interestingly enough, it is the local decisions that have just as great an impact on your day to day life. Local elected officials decide the following:
*Property Tax Rates
*Schools, Road Maintenance, Police & Fire
*Trash and Recycling
*Car Tax/Fees
*Stormwater Fees
*Parks and Recreation-parks, trails, sidewalks, etc.
*Local Zoning--Not In My Backyard Issues
The list goes on and on...So, the moral of the story is that it is VERY important to take this time of year seriously and really make sure you know what the candidates REALLY stand for. Investigate how they stand on various issues...ASK THEM-READ THE NEWSPAPER, ATTEND THE CHAMBER HOSTED DEBATE, ETC...

All of the incumbents voting records are available online for you to review. Just because a candidate talks a certain way, has a sign that you like, runs in the same groups you do or looks a certain way, doesn't mean that they vote or represent you the way you would like.

PAY ATTENTION! This is a very easy thing to do and it could mean NEW JOBS, NEW BUSINESS, LOWER TAXES, BETTER ROADS depending on your vision for our community. If you need help finding any of this information or would like to talk further about local issues affecting our town/area, please feel free to post a question, email me or call...

**As stated before this information can be found on the Town of Kernersville's website--www.toknc.com which has recently been re-vamped to be user-friendly. The site looks great and is easy to navigate! Other county and communities info can also usually be found on their corresponding websites--**

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Kernersville STILL Qualifies for USDA 100% Financing!!

For those buyers out there who thought that the 100% financing was "gone with the wind"--think again! Kernersville still qualifies for USDA Government financing because of the rural status attached to it during the previous census. As the upcoming census gets underway, this opportunity could very well be limited, especially since the population projections put us outside of the definition of "rural". Price limits are based on income and number of dependant individuals in the home. Take advantage NOW if you are looking for a new home as Kernersville is one of very few areas in Forsyth county that qualify. If you are not working with an agent and want to talk about this program and how to find out if you are qualified, please give me a call or shoot me an email and I can put you in front of LOCAL KERNERSVILLE lenders who offer this program.

Thinking About Selling?--Wanna know if your home qualifies for USDA financing?--Contact me and I can help you to move forward capitalizing on this unique and limited program through marketing and positioning.

Just Curious? I have included a link, courtesy of LuAnn Davis at WR Starkey that allows you to search addresses to see if a particular property qualifies. Happy House Hunting!

Brooke

Thursday, September 03, 2009

AMAZING RATES!

-This just in from Allen Tate mortgage! For all of you sitting on the fence regarding purchasing a home or for those of you waiting for prices to fall and great interest rates...NOW IS THE TIME! Keep in mind my previous blog posts regarding how much prices would have to fall as compared to interest rates going up as it relates to your monthly payment. For those of you who may not have seen that post, you can reference it or the basic premise is: Prices can dip another 15-20% but if the interest rates crept up 1% your payment would be the same! Take advantage of these awesome rates coupled with great pricing and inventory.

Give me a call or email and let's talk about what is out there...First-time buyers---Time is especially of the essence for you guys...you really need to be under contract in the next couple of weeks to take full advantage of inventory, condition of homes and not be bottle-necked in the last few weeks of November, while lenders are under the gun to close everyone out during Thanksgiving week!

Per Allen Tate's mortgage consultant Jennifer Tuttle:

Here is some valuable information for you. RATES ARE GREAT!!! See below for a list of Allen Tate Mortgage Rates and Programs. Rates are very low….at their lowest in several weeks. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance to your buyers. I would love the opportunity J

Conventional 4.875% Conventional 5/1 LIBOR ARM 3.750% This is NOT a typo…..Holy COW!!
FHA 5.125%
VA 5.125%
Jumbo 5.750% 90% LTV Most banks or other lending institutions are capped at 80 – 85%LTV on Jumbo loans

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First Time Buyers Beware....Deadlines and Short Sales....

As I have said before, I have several first-time buyers looking to close before the November 30 deadline. These folks have to be closed by this date in order to take advantage of the $8000 tax credit, unless it is extended. At this point, no one I am working with is taking the risk that it will.

Therefore, everyone is scrambling to find the perfect home, in their price range and condition. That being said, a good deal of buyers are finding homes that meet their needs, have prices that work for their budget, but as a result of varying circumstances, are in a short sale situation. Short sale, meaning that the seller has the home listed for less than they need to clear out the mortgages and other cost incurred by selling the home...hoping that the bank will take less for the home, rather than allow the home to go into foreclosure. This process can take quite some time. Which is why I blog today...

I am making a prediction that all of the buyers that are currently waiting on responses from banks regarding short sales are on the cusp of failing to meet their deadline to close. If solid responses are not gotten in the next few weeks, there is going to be a mad dash for those remaining properties (most of them being under $150,000) that are not short sales. Good for those new constructions and for other existing sellers, but not so good for the buyer. This is going to place them in a situation that we have not seen in quite some time...multiple offers. This does not give the buyer as much flexibility in price and terms if they are competing with other buyers just as anxious to cash in on the tax credit.

My advice is to get with your Realtor or get with a Realtor (preferably me) and discuss your options and strategy for the next month, so that you don't get bottle-necked into the end of November, which also coincides with Thanksgiving. As a buyer's representative, we are also including language to protect the buyer in the event this does happen.

Great time to buy, but buyers need to use their heads and make sure that they have all of the information available in order to expedite an uneventful and pleasurable buying experience!

Brooke

Friday, August 28, 2009

Conflicting Policies and Promotions...Just Like Washington...

I have had a flood of first-time buyers call or email in the past couple of weeks. Whether they are finally coming to the realization that the $8000 tax credit may really expire and they need to get on board or they have heard that there are additional credits and assistance for those buyers willing to purchase foreclosures, the interest has been phenomenal. That being said, you can almost see the smile disappear from their face when they realize that most of the incentives and policies are extremely contradictory to what they are saying they want to achieve.

Take for example the first-time buyer wanting the tax credit. The buyer cannot make but $75,000 per year as an individual or $150,000 combined as a couple. That does sound like a bit of money in this day and time, but these are some of the only folks who have the minimum 3.5% down required for an FHA loan and even then, they cannot purchase a home in our area for over $277K. Most folks who make less than that are not able to buy because they have little or no cash reserves for the down payment, much less the additional 3% in closing costs that would be required.

If the credit applied to everyone, regardless of income or first-time, second-time, vacation, investment, etc. the inventory would be drastically reduced, thus stabilizing prices and putting contractors back to work on homes that need a little TLC because they have been on the market for so long or have been bank-owned.

Speaking for foreclosures...there are apparently programs out there from local municipalities on up that are offering down-payment assistance or breaks for purchasing foreclosures. I am assuming this is being done in an effort to reduce the inventory as well. However, with the buyers that are calling, most of them being first-time buyers and having barely enough to cover their down-payment, meaning they are doing FHA or VA loans...these foreclosures are not even in condition to pass the guidelines for these loan programs. Sounds good, but it just doesn't work. Everything has a catch...once again, a great example of not being able to take everything you hear in soundbites at face value.

If you are trying to buy before the deadline or you think that you may qualify for some of these programs, give me a call or shoot an email and we can sit down face to face and find out what exactly is going to work for you, what you qualify for and how you can get the most bang for your buck on this major investment.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Absorption Rates...

I have blogged recently about the number of months that certain price points are staying on the market. As a result of that blog, the question has been asked, "How exactly do you come up with those numbers?"

Those "numbers" or months of inventory are figured by using an absorption rate formula. Relatively easy, here's how it goes:

Take your subject neighborhood or micro area...let's say it has 20 listings on the market and 4 that have sold in the past 6 months...

Take the supply (4 sales divided by 6 months) = .66
Divide those 20 active listings by .66 = 30.30 months

That means that if there are no new listings, it will take over 2 years to sell the existing inventory if no new listings come onto the market...

So let's do another:

As of today in Abington there are 16 active listings and 11 have closed in the past 6 months.
11 sales divided by 6 months = 1.83
16 listings divided by 1.83 = 8.74

Which means that currently it would take close to 9 months to sell all of the listings currently listed in Abington.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Well Wishes Chief Stockton, aka Superman...

An icon in our community is retiring...most of you who are not living under rocks have heard that our very own Chief Stockton, who has been with the Kernersville Police Department for 36 years is retiring.

His reception was held last night at First Christian Church with approximately 800 in attendance. The Chief was received by many well-wishers who enjoyed recalling some of the funnier moments in the Chief's career. There was a video of folks in town with numerous accounts and the end of the evening was definitely highlighted by a video produced by Derek Crews featuring Damien Marotz and Keith Mason. I for one, hope that this production debuts on YouTube....it was a riot!

Thank you Chief Stockton for all that you have done for our community by making the quality of life second to none in North Carolina!

Please feel free to leave comments to this post for the Chief and I will make sure they are passed along!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Those That Bear Down The Hardest...

Any of you guys who know me personally know that it is difficult for me to take "no" or "that's not going to work" for an answer. Sometimes, my delivery methods may be a little skewed or abrasive, but all in all, I chalk it up to good ol' fashioned American drive and work constantly on softening the delivery while keeping the message intact. That being said, I was at an attorney's office for a closing last week, when the attorney made a comment that was very apropos to life in general.

Most of you have seen the bumper sticker that says "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History". How true that statement is. I am not an women's activist by any means, but I do expect equal treatment of my ideas and ability if they are worth it. ( I guess that could be pretty subjective :)) Anyhow, his comment was based on the following and I thought it was a neat illustration of why you need to be involved and stay at the forefront of causes you feel passionately about.

So, the story goes:

My client was signing a ton of paperwork for his loan and noticed that because there was no glass on the conference table, that the impression of his name was being engraved into the wood of the table over and over. He started his apology to the attorney and commented on how many other names joined his on the table. The attorney replied,

"Those folks that bear down the hardest, always seem to leave an impression."

Now, the attorney was talking about the physical consequence of the pen. But, I think that this applies aptly in life where those who speak up, speak out, go against the grain, etc. make the impressions that are to last. However, in the life-lesson of the comment, it doesn't indicate whether the impression was good or bad, just lasting.

I've had my share of both and it's up to us individually whether we will work toward making future impressions as we bear down the hardest for the things that touch us the most.

Brooke

Where to Buy? Helpful Hints...

In a recent article published in the August edition of Money magazine, the author highlights the common elements that certain markets of stable value have. Everyone wants to purchase a home in a location that is going to maintain it's value and most of us (I'm guessing YOU) want to buy a home in an area that appreciates over time, since the purchase is usually one of the largest investments we will ever make.

Most buyers I work with are very concerned with proximity to their work, the spatial qualifications of the home (# of bedrooms and baths, square footage), the condition and what the area looks like maintenance-wise. But as the article suggests there are more things that you and your "seasoned" Realtor should be looking at. Some of the items in Money magazine are:

Proximity-High gas prices, long commutes...no one wants to drive further than they have to.

Great Schools-Home prices in areas with great school systems tend to be more stable and hold up best during downturns according to the article. You should consider this item even if you don't have children because whoever buys your home next, may.

Strict Limits on New Construction-Studies show and the article points out, that towns that have stricter zoning regulations and limited supply hold their value better. Also, towns that have limited growth areas, such as towns situated between metro areas or bordering natural barriers such as mountains or lakes.

Plenty of Commerce-Money says that towns with stores, banks, theatres and white collar employers tend to hold up best.

Lots of Flower Boxes-Carefully manicured lawns, entrances, parks and streets are responsible for the values of the surrounding neighborhoods and properties. Checking out the number of foreclosures in an area as compared to other areas of consideration can also play into the sustainability of pricing.

Very interesting article, some of these items we have discussed here before on the blog...but always good to keep you up to date on these things as you and your friends and family are out there looking for real estate investments. To view the article in it's entirety you can go online or purchase the August 09 copy of Money magazine.

Have a great week!

Brooke

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lenders Leary...Article from Inman

Survey Shows Lenders Still Cautious Release date: 07/22/09

Nearly three out of four major U.S. banks tightened their underwriting standards for residential mortgage loans in the 12 months ending March 31, and one in five discontinued or planned to discontinue one or more retail mortgage products.
While not unexpected, those and other findings of an annual survey by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency demonstrate the extent of a second consecutive year of tightened lending standards following four years of eased underwriting.
The survey included the 59 largest national banks and $3.6 trillion in commercial residential loans of all types, or more than 84 percent of all outstanding loans in the national banking system.
Among the 52 banks engaged in retail mortgage lending during the survey period, 73 percent reported tightening standards and six said they have exited or plan to exit the business altogether.
That compares with 56 percent of banks that reported tightening underwriting standards for residential mortgages the year before and 14 percent two years ago.
For the second year in a row, no banks reported easing underwriting standards on residential mortgage loans, although 27 percent left them unchanged.
One in five banks had discontinued or planned to discontinue one or more retail mortgage products -- a sign of a diminished appetite for risk, OCC said. None of the banks surveyed offered payment-option adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans.
In addition to residential first mortgages, the survey examined practices in six other categories, including home-equity loans, high-loan-to-value (LTV) home-equity loans, credit cards, and affordable housing.
Taken as a whole, the survey showed tightened standards for 71 percent of retail loan products, no change in the standards for 29 percent, and easing of standards for less than 1 percent of retail loan products.
Banks tightening their retail lending standards cited more stringent collateral requirements, pricing and loan fees, and debt-service requirements, OCC examiners said.
Despite the additional tightening of standards, examiners still expect retail credit risk to continue to increase over the next 12 months at 87 percent of the banks -- particularly in home-equity and credit-card portfolios.
During the survey period, all but one of the 14 banks still making high-LTV home-equity loans said they tightened their standards, and all of the banks had either exited that business in the last 12 months or planned to do so.
Of the 51 major banks making conventional home-equity loans, 78 percent said they tightened their standards during the survey period, and 94 percent said their level of credit risk from such loans had increased.
Source: Inman News

Interesting Numbers Presentation...

In our office meeting this morning we were presented with some very interesting statistics as to where the market is heading, where we have been and the new definition of "normal" that we are all going to have to learn to live with.

Overall, Forsyth county in particular seems to be faring well compared to it's closest counterparts, especially Alamance and Guilford counties. I am going to focus on the numbers from the WS MLS because that is where I hold my membership, that is what covers the majority of Forsyth county and what effects most of you readers.

As of right now, based on Winston-Salem MLS stats, the following holds true:

Average Active Days on the Market-----148 days

Average Active Listing Price------------$236,839

Average Closed Price-------------------$172,888

Total Active Units-----------------------2,995

Total 2009 Closed Units-----------------1275

List Price to Close Price Ratio for 2009---95.63%

2009 Current Inventory Supply----------10.5 months

The most interesting part of this presentation was that homes listed over $600,000 in our area have a 36 month average time on the market!! By contrast, under $599,900 the time is cut in 1/2 at just 18 months! Attributed to difficultly in obtaining jumbo mortgages, foreclosures, conservation of resources and influx of inventory, the message is that pricing does matter.

More numbers to follow as the report is emailed to us...these are just from my notes...amazing stuff...recovery of pricing and stabilization not expected until 2012...let's settle in, get used to these numbers, familiarize ourselves with our market and make the best of our situation, as it is more fortunate than others across the nation!

Ciao!

Brooke

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What about foreclosures?

After the interview the other night on WXII 12, http://www.wxii12.com/money/20083045/detail.html

I have been getting some questions about how to find foreclosures. Folks are hearing that the numbers of foreclosures are up in NC and our area and when they hear that, they hear "deal." There are also credits out there for purchasing foreclosures but the details can be sketchy and may vary from bank to bank. I have just responded to an email from a client and thought I would share it with you.

Dear ________,
There is not a central search engine for foreclosures, so we have to look at the basic criteria in MLS which fits your needs (price, size, location, etc.) and then review each set of comments, as that is the only place it is disclosed to us (Realtors).


My word of caution is grant/assistance money or no, you most always get what you pay for. Keep in mind the foreclosures are purchased as-is, where-is, and if the area has a foreclosure, it usually is not the only foreclosure in the area, which could drive your price down regardless of the amount you paid or the improvements you make. You have no idea when you purchase these homes what the maintenance history has been or any additional background on the home. Now, this isn’t to say that you know everything about owner-occupied, existing homes either, but at a minimum you are dealing with a person, not a bank.

I used to do about 30-40% of my business in foreclosures and found that by the time the bank got them back into their asset management, paid everyone and everything off and got the home up to showing standards, that sometimes it wasn’t anymore of a "deal" than other homes in the area—it just happened to say “foreclosure.” Sometimes, finding a "distressed-seller" prior to bank possession is a better deal if you can get a home at or below “market value”. We do this by finding a home that meets your spatial and financial needs and then looking at the comps to establish value.

In regards to the credit, there are several government or charitable grants/credits out there floating around and I am not familiar with the specifics of the one you are asking about regarding foreclosures. Even though the credit may exist, keep in mind that if you are going with an FHA loan, which I believe you were, that the home you put under contract has to meet the minimum condition standards of FHA and be able to pass their appraisal condition and value standards. This alone may rule out the purchase of foreclosures for folks trying to use FHA or VA loans.


I hope this helps a bit and if you have any info on this matter, please post and share your experiences with us!

Brooke

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Foreclosure Numbers Up--Why You Ask?

Just finished up an interview with WXII 12. The topic was the fact that foreclosure numbers are up 23% since last month here in the Triad. No one is giving any concrete reason for the change but there are some issues to speculate on and that's where I come in.

1-ARMs may be adjusting. May, June and July are pretty busy months and typical months to close real estate in due to the weather, school is out and folks are trying to relocate and register kids in schools elsewhere. If someone purchased a home 3-5 years ago when the market was booming and ARMs were all the rage and everyone was banking on having their job AND making more money, NOW they are dealing with that ARM adjusting. This adjustment could just be enough to send someone into foreclosure especially if margins and ratios were thin to begin with when originally qualified.

2-Unemployment benefits may be running out. Anyone who lost a job within the past year is probably on the verge of losing their benefits. Without new jobs to be had this will put folks in a pickle, especially if they had cut their family budgets and were just eeaking by with these monies.

3-Reserves have ran out. Even responsible buyers who saved 6-8 months of liquid reserves are coming on those funds drying up. Whereas family budget cuts were made and funds were skimpy, they were making it by with a little subsidy from the family's "rainy day fund"--that same fund may now be all dried up.

Those are three possibilities and of course each situation varies greatly. Though the foreclosures may be up the market overall is CERTAINLY NOT DOWN. We have been swamped with folks wanting to purchase and first time buyers wanting to take advantage of tax credits, inventory and low rates.

As we speak I am still here at the office after writing and having two of three offers accepted. We are still waiting on word from the last one submitted.

If you have input on why these numbers are up or want to share your experience with the current real estate market, by all means, POST!

Brooke

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Great Buy in Abington! www.BrookeCashion.com/522800


Movin' Up and On...

I know it's been a while since I last posted, but my Nanny passed away last week...more about that in a later post.

I am playing catch up this week and have now worked two back to back 12 hour days...and that, my friends, is what I want to catch you up on.

We have been BUSY! Regardless of what you may hear in the general media, our local real estate market has really seen a pick up. Now it's not what it was 3-5 years ago, but some of the numbers are comparable...I have 8 closings on the books for the next 3o days and that is definitely what I consider to be a strong month.

There are several factors that I attribute this increase in business to...

1: I didn't stop working when things slowed down. No, this isn't a pat on my back, but I am a full-time Realtor. Meaning that while some folks took it easy at the beach/mtns., got a second job, etc. I spent my time with my assistant working on new marketing techniques, tracking successful and not so successful marketing practices, keeping up databases, writing to you folks, etc. This is important and separates the "wheat from the chaff" as my dad would say. Thanks Barry!

2: I continue to market my listings, call my buyers and stay on top of new legislation and how it effects the real estate industry. I know you folks in other sectors don't have time to do it, that's why I do. Thanks Jake!

3: Referrals!!! Wow! I have been in the business 10 years this year December and folks who have worked with me know my style, know my work ethic and know that I am detail-oriented not to mention a "straight-shooter". This is no time for blowin' smoke...my previous clients know I can get the job done...from contract to closing. Thanks to all of my clients who refer business to me...your confidence in my ability means so much!

4: Hard work. It pays off. I have a great team of associates, a supportive family and fabulous clients...what more could a gal ask for?

5: Location. The Triad is a premier location for businesses relocating due to its proximity and the investment in infrastructure of the surrounding counties and municipalities. i.e aerotropolis, Fed/Ex, Honda Jet, Triad Business Park, medical industry and research, etc. What a great place to live!

6: Experience. I don't know it all by a long shot, but I do stay abreast of recent real estate trends, have a good deal of knowledge in negotiating offers and inspections, equity preservation, contracts, financing, legislative issues, etc. All of these experiences mean a virtually seamless transaction for my buyers and sellers. We use past experiences to anticipate issues and hurdles so that your transaction is as pleasant an experience as possible.

That's it...enough already. Point being, real estate is good, you need an experienced, dedicated agent who isn't scared to work and represent you. Visit www.BrookeCashion.com to learn more and to see my featured listings.

Brooke

New home appraisal rules stir backlash - CharlotteObserver.com

New home appraisal rules stir backlash - CharlotteObserver.com

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Monday, June 29, 2009

KDPDC Written Statement

Copy of my written statement from the July Board Breifing held on June 24th. The statement is regarding the current status of the organization known as the Kernersville Downtown Preservation and Development Council. Currently, this organization is classified a non-profit, but annually requests money from the Town of Kernersville in order to sustain their operating budget. The amount the Town gives is $47,500 out of the general fund of the governing body and also a sum for marketing and promotions, normally in the amount of $8100 but this year $12,000. The board holds that it wants to be independent from scrutiny or oversight from the Town of Kernersville and taxpayers, yet wants to continue to receive funding without benchmarks or tracking of successes and failures. Should anyone want to see a copy of this year's Town budget, one can be made available to you in the next week or so at Town Hall for a small fee.


It would be my recommendation to shift funding currently allocated to the KDPDC to the community development department. This being a direct result of future growth opportunity, the culmination of the downtown task force recommendations and most importantly, this is the most cost effective and responsible manner in which the town can continue to fund and assist the KDPDC.

Let me clear by saying this does not dissolve the organization that has done much over the years to promote and nurture downtown when little attention was being paid to the core of our community—however, as the needs and opportunities have multiplied the funding level requests have as well, almost on a yearly basis.

The KDPDC has itself admitted that they constantly battle with appropriate funding, staffing, resources and marketing dollars-not to mention the volunteers’ hours are stretched thin not only with meetings, but with day to day operating activities such as accounting, bookkeeping, project maintenance, seminars, workshops, human resource management, insurance, technology maintenance and the list goes on and on. Many volunteers once on the board have no idea how much goes into the day to day activities and takes away from the crux of their purpose and passion—that which is downtown’s growth and sustainability.

By leaving the board intact and moving it under the town’s guidance, resources beyond our current reach can be under one roof and coupled with other town-led organizations such as the Pedestrian and Bicycle committee and Community Appearance Commission, which fit like a glove with the KDPDC and often overlap in efforts, yet stretch and sometimes divide resources.

As many of you are aware, the overwhelming majority of the task force’s work and recommendations included the town. How better to honor these commitments that the board of aldermen signed off on, than to take on the responsibility given to us and act to see them to completion. So much of what the KDPDC strives to do is already being done by the town at the expense of town staff and taxpayers.

As for the notion that this move is last minute and hasty, I have to cry “foul”. Anyone reading the minutes of last year’s budget session can see that this very board of aldermen along with the mayor acknowledged that the KDPDC needed guidance, direction and possibly oversight. I have met or talked with everyone present on multiple occasions and my plea to you for ideas on how to address this situation is no new notion. So here we are, one year later, with a strong town, a lean budget and a downtown that is poised to go to the next level, if we will allow it.

Mapping, planning, GIS, more diverse citizen involvement and greater collaboration will do nothing but strengthen the organization known as the KDPDC. Under this model, it and the downtown can thrive and taxpayers’ money will not only be used more effectively, but actually saved and we all campaigned on doing just that.


I hope that I can obtain your support. My support of downtown has been evident since day one and I thank taxpayers for making the infrastructure possible and now the taxpayers look to us to continue the momentum of their hefty investment
.

-Brooke Cashion

Monday, June 22, 2009

What's the Value?

Upon working on creating a new look for my website, the designer Chris Bormann, came up with the tag line of "What's the Value of a Good Agent?"

It's a great question to ponder, especially in these uncertain times. There are tons of folks out there with real estate licenses and a good number of folks who are Realtors as well. Beyond that, it can sometimes be difficult to determine value vs. savings when on the outside all things seem to look the same. But keep in mind, as the old adage goes, you truly do get what you pay for!

In the age of Internet, most folks looking to buy or sell begin their informal education of the real estate market in their area on the web. Sometimes this can give you a pretty good indicator of where your market stands, how many days homes are staying on the market and the list price vs. sell price. What those figures can't usually give you are some of the things that matter most...the condition of the home, square footage and usability, allowances or concessions that were offered, etc. Those are things that an experienced agent who shows and sells property regularly in your area can help you with.

There are so many websites out there currently to assist for sale by owners offering limited services, such as mls entry and scheduling. It is great to have your home in your local multiple listing service, but this should not, by any means, be the best your agent has to offer.

For example, is it really worth saving $5000 in commissions when your home is going to sit on the market for an additional 6 months? That's 6 months of mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, insurance and the risk of damage going unnoticed because you no longer permanently reside in the property... Depending on your situation, it may or may not be the right move to go it alone. My thought is, that that money could be better spent in your pocket rather than sitting dormant in a home that you no longer desire. Not to mention, once the buyer contacts you to transact the deal, you are now saddled with negotiations of terms, repairs, attorneys, etc. This is the perfect example of time value of money.

Now if your agent is not full-time and competent, then yes, it may be just as well for you to do this yourself...however, look for a full-time Realtor at a reputable firm to begin with...

After that make sure you are asking your agent some important questions depending on your needs:

How many transactions do you generally do in a year? How many homes have you sold in this area? Do you advertise on the Internet? Do you have your own website? Does your website feed it's information to other popular websites? How many photos and virtual tours do you have on your site? Does your site have mapping features? Do you do any print advertising? Are you involved in the community? Do you have any assistance if you are sick or on vacation? Do you communicate effectively and/or have access to cell phones, texting, computers, email? (You may be surprised as to the response!) What do your fliers and interior books look like--do you even do them? How do you track your marketing and what has been successful? What is your list to sell price ratio? How will you keep me up to date on the activity on my home? Do you have folks who can help me with staging, maintenance, etc. if needed? Do you have good relationships with other brokers at other companies? Do you sell mostly existing or new homes?

These are just a few questions to get you started when interviewing your potential agents...my suggestion is to bring three or four into your home and compare answers and then choose the most qualified agent for your needs...but keep in mind there is tremendous value in a good agent. If you have ever had one, you know...for more tidbits and testimonials, please visit my new-revamped website:

www.BrookeCashion.com

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Victims of the Digital Conversion...

How you might say? How does this happen to one who has known for so long that the analog signals of yesteryear were bound for digital crossover? Even after the extension from our floundering Federal government, could we, the Cashions find ourselves without television!?

Let me start by saying that several months ago, we decided that we could do without cable service and that surviving on the basic channels that could be picked up via "rabbit ears" was just o.k. with us! As a matter of fact, last week, The Wall Street Journal published a report indicating that cutting cable was one of the best places to start when trying to save money. We were ahead of the curve...moving on....

We knew that our little color t.v in our bedroom definitely would not make the crossover because only a clothes hanger enabled it to bless us with the 11:00 news each evening before bed. We had never connected more than the living area to cable. As news reports became less and less informative, more and more negative, not to mention more and more repetitive, the habit of "dousing ourselves with despair" prior to a potential good night's rest was no longer.

Fast forward to digital countdown last week...we just KNEW that our main television would make the cut--when we replaced it several years ago, we specifically asked if it had a digital converter box--and were told yes. So as we watched Conan O'Brien and the clocked slowly inched towards midnight, we felt confident that at least one t.v would make it--"rabbit ears and cable t.v be damned" we said. A couple of digital channels would be fine, still no need for outrageous cable bills and being a slave to the mainstream media and the nonsense of unrealistic "reality" television. (I did have to admit, not being able to see Rock of Love, was going to hurt for a while.)

Midnight of "D-Day"-
Conan disappears on both sets and is replaced with a message that says something to the effect of "Channel 12 Nightlight". So for the next few minutes we watched in a trance, as the bright orange glow bathed our room and we sat, stunned ,that WE no longer had access to television programming...a little while later an infomercial from the station began to cycle through, letting us know what could have gone wrong, why we fell through the cracks, what we needed to do to make things right.

Well hear this! It's been almost a week and we are doing just fine...we've had to read (yes-real chapter books with no pictures) and we've been outside by the pool, we've played some games, ran and walked the neighborhood, gone to bed early, saved a little cash for a rainy day and most importantly, we've bought ourselves some peace of mind! The fact that we are no longer constantly bombarded with images to compare ourselves to, things that we don't need, tempting foods and cars, news that cripples you and the plethora of immorality that floods the digital signals has made for quite a nice little change and that my friends is about the only CHANGE that we can currently appreciate.

Brooke

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mentoring...Not So Easy...

Today should have been my final day to meet with my mentee at one of local high schools, however, she bailed on me at the last minute. We were meeting at 2:30 and the text I received at 2:20 was "I went home". When I asked why, the reply was "Because I had nothing to do" Well, that "nothing" was me. After hours spent with her throughout the year, this was the big "thank you", the "whole enchilada" the culmination of all of OUR work--the end??

Let me back up by filling you in on some details...I volunteered to be a mentor last year and my time with my student began mid to late February. The purpose of the program is to take seniors that are "at risk" of not graduating, but are "close" and to help them stay the course until they graduate in June or take some summer school courses to make up what may have been missed. All in all, the goal is to obtain a high school diploma so that the ONE MILLION dollar drain on society can be prevented early on. Yes, folks, that's the number...that a high school drop-out will cost society around ONE MILLION dollars in their lifetime! So, when asked, I thought, heck yea, I want to be a part of preventing this.

My student has no discipline problems that I am aware of, attends class fairly regularly, but the thing that surprised me most with my student and the other mentors I spoke with was the general apathy and indifference towards school. No real perception on what not graduating means in their lives and no real perception on the reality of life, for that matter. No real consequences for actions or lack thereof...For example...senior project not completed? Oh well, didn't want to do it--so they don't! Kept the cell phone, still got to go to the prom, still gets to drive the car, still gets spending money, new clothes, etc.

I don't know what I expected but I did expect it to be somewhat of a two-way street, like someone who wants to graduate with a little help and motivation from an outside party. The mentors and mentees meet once or more a week, (if the student shows up) and then every mentor I spoke with texted, emailed and/or called their mentee throughout the week. It sounds as if overall, the program is successful and who knows, even if graduation doesn't occur there is no telling what the lasting impact on the student may be...it's possible that some snippet of information or encouragement stuck...

I have no idea as I write this whether or not my student will graduate, but I do know this---she could have! She was very smart, very capable and if all of the pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place and she had exerted a little of her own effort, this would be a win-win for everyone involved.

If you have the chance to mentor, I would recommend doing so...not only to help a student with accountability, but to get a taste of what is going on out there in the education system. Something has to give and as long as there are citizens out there willing to give of themselves, whether you full-fill the ultimate goal of graduation or not--I can say it WILL make a difference maybe in their life but definitely yours!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Arts D'Vine Event in Downtown Kernersville This Weekend...

Much like the Salute! wine festival featured in an earlier blog post, downtown Kernersville is joining the act by featuring not only local NC wineries, but also local artists and musicians. Unlike, Salute! this event is FREE and open to everyone. This unique event is a first for Kernersville and is an effort to draw residents and visitors to the downtown area who may not be familiar with what downtown Kernersville has to offer. After the recent 1.3 million dollar renovation, there will be plenty to enjoy!

The event will consist of businesses that will open their doors to local artists and wineries. Scattered throughout the event will be varying musical acts including The Chris Lane Band which seems to have a pretty decent following based on the crowd at Indigo Joe's a little over a month ago. There will be some sort of indicators on the participating businesses so make sure that you don't stay in one spot too long though the temptation will certainly be there!

My suggestion would be to arrive right at the beginning of the event, scope out some various vendors and then settle in to one of the more central locations for some music and some good 'ol fashioned people watching.

So I look forward to seeing you THIS FRIDAY, JUNE 6 from 5-8 in downtown Kernersville!

Cheers!

Brooke

Friday, May 29, 2009

Housing Numbers Looking Up....

For the past four months the number of residential real estate transactions have been up! Great news for sellers and buyers alike. Still looks to be a great market for first time home buyers with the average price during this period around 130K. Not an indication of falling home prices but of entry-level buyers finally putting their heads around the low interest rates, $8000 tax credit, tons of homes to choose from and the "traditional" Spring market (though maybe a little later than usual.)

Other bonuses added by companies like Allen Tate that are sweetening the deal are Job Loss Protection, one year home warranties, rate buy down, etc.

This being said, the Winston-Salem Association of Realtor's press release on May 26th, indicated that these numbers are a sign that we are "getting back to more normal home buying patterns in our community." Sounds great!

What this means for you, whether looking to buy or sell OR if you know someone who does....is that they need an experienced, full-time agent who understands the opportunity and is willing to commit the time needed to appropriately serve their needs--guess who you could recommend? Yep, you got it! Brooke Cashion and Associates...www.BrookeCashion.com

Thanks guys for ALL of your support so far this year!

Brooke

Thursday, May 21, 2009

NEW Tate Program--Rate Buydown!

We rolled out the Job Loss Protection several weeks ago with great response...I have several sellers that have offered the Job Loss Protection on their property--for a list, give me a call--for details see the older blog post. :)

We have another great program that is basically an older concept with new life! This recent program allows the seller of a home to "buy down" the interest rate for a new buyer rather than taking such a huge hit on the price. It actually benefits both the buyer and seller by reducing the monthly payment for the buyer close to $200 on a $200,000 home and even though it costs the seller approx 3% of the purchase price it is usually much less than reducing the home by as much--a definite equity-saving measure for the seller!

What about the buyer you may say? Well you can see one of my earlier blog posts about the effects of rates vs. pricing and in this case it is the same. The buyer actually benefits more by having the rate bought down a point, rather than trying to have an amount reduced off the price. The buyer would have to be able to purchase the home for almost 15% less than the asking price to realize the same savings. In our market, the current list price to purchase price percentage is 97%--a far cry from what would be needed to actually effect the monthly payment! The buyer would be much better off requesting a rate buy down...imagine your rate going from 5.5% to 4.5%--for the full life of the loan!

Just one more great tool that I offer to help you as both buyer and seller get the most bang for your buck in this most opportune real estate market...

Call me today or shoot me an email for a list of homes that qualify for the Job Loss Protection or Rate Buy Down OR to view or ask questions of any home in the Triad. During these times you need a Realtor who is committed FULL-TIME to working for you and I hope that you will find my services beneficial...

"When Details Matter...Experience Counts!"

Have a Wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Brooke

Fresh Tomatoes, Squash and Cucs...Oh My!

I don't know if it's the economy or if we all just are trying to get back to the basics, but I have talked to so many folks this year that are planting a garden of some shape or fashion. From container gardens, like Beth's, to the huge 1/2 acre spread like Mr. Whitley's, gardening CAN be for everyone! Planting your own fruits and vegetables can save you time and money, not to mention it's a great way to involve your family in an inexpensive "stay at home" activity. Plus the yield can be quite satisfying!

Jake, Maddie and I love tomatoes...I enjoy the meaty German Johnson, where Maddie can pop cherry tomatoes straight off the vine and eat 10-20 in a sitting. There is NOTHING better than a fresh tomato sandwich on Bunny bread with Duke's mayo, salt and pepper! Especially if the tomato is still warm from the sun and you labored to grow it! This year we expanded our home "tier" garden and have 3 good sized tomato plants, a Better Boy, German Johnson and Cherry Tomatoes plus we added several squash, cucumber and pepper plants. These are things that I buy regularly at the grocery or farmer's market and can sometimes pay an arm and leg for! Not this year my friend!

For those of you who don't even want to tend to a couple of rows of plantings, try a planter garden like Beth, Dave and the boys. They have a huge container garden with a tomato plant as the focus, surrounded by various peppers and herbs. She has it on her deck, it is getting great sun and it's really thriving! Easy to maintain and to harvest--plus it looks great on the deck!

Just a few of my favorite summer treats from our garden:
*Cucumber Sandwiches with mayo, salt and pepper
*Stuffed Squash-slice squash length-wise, place in microwave-safe bowl, cover with saran wrap,cook until insides are easily removed with spoon. Remove inside of squash-place in bowl with Italian bread crumbs, Velveeta cheese, salt and pepper, mix. Place mixture back inside of the squash "shell", broil until brown on top--serve and you can eat the entire thing! Yummy!
*Tomato Sandwiches--see above for must have ingredients
*Roasted Red Peppers-slice, coat in olive oil and sprinkle with soy or preferred seasoning, grill or broil
*Freezer Pickles--no need to pickle, just paper thin slices of cucs & sweet onions, sugar, water, vinegar--details can be gotten from my aunt, but MAN THEY ARE DELICIOUS!
THE SUMMER STAPLE at the Cashion house: Sliced tomatoes, Vidalia onions, cucs with vinagar, olive oil, a tad of sugar, pepper-allow to marinade, serve as a side at any meal!

Bon Apetit!

Brooke

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Legislative Update by Guest - Jake Cashion

Because Brooke has been showing property and processing some new listings, she has been pretty busy this week, therefore, not able to post as much as she would like. She asked if I would blog for her this time and mentioned that she would like for you all to hear about some of the legislative things going on. So here goes:

Recently, the Community Development/Housing/General Government Committee with the City of Winston-Salem held a public comment session on proposed tree ordinance for the city. Environmental stewardship and economic growth can and should work together.

However, at the last minute, a piece was added to the proposal called, Protection of Trees in Associations with Development, otherwise known as a “pre-clearing condition”. This piece throws out of balance the environmental stewardship and economic growth, is a huge infringement on property rights, and is basically a backdoor application to a moratorium on growth and development. This "pre-clearing" condition says that the burden of proof will be placed on the property owner to prove that a substantial amount of trees were not removed from the property prior to rezoning or building. If the owner cannot prove this, the application for building or rezoning will be denied for a period of three (3) years. If the owner of a property willfully acts and determines he would like to timber his land, then sale the property, the property cannot be developed for a period of five (5) years.

This dangerous proposal would have stopped development and growth at a time when it is most needed. This piece was pulled out and an agreement is now close for a tree ordinance in Winston-Salem

The state Senate gave final approval last week to a proposal that would prevent North Carolina’s gas tax from dropping lower than its current rate of 29.9 cents per gallon through mid-2011. Lawmakers supporting the bill say the move is necessary to provide more road-building funds in the face of a $60-plus billion transportation funding shortfall. The change could reportedly generate an additional $67.5 million in much-needed road revenue for the state.

The state Senate also passed a tax law change requested by the state Department of Commerce to lure a company to North Carolina that is purportedly willing to invest at least $1 billion in the state. The proposal would change the way corporate taxes are calculated and would impact companies that invest heavily in land and equipment, but have relatively fewer sales in the state. According to Commerce officials, the proposed changes conform to how other states calculate corporate taxes. Neither legislators nor the Department have yet named the company, but media reports indicated it is likely Apple Inc.

Finally, House Bill 177 and Senate Bill 534 introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly has good intentions but is bad public policy and will cause financial harm to many employers, employees and the economy. The bill is a costly mandate, will erode the employer’s ability to manage the workplace, and will drive up cost of doing business in NC. It mandates that all employers provide up to seven (7) paid sick days to all employees -- including small employers who can ill afford yet another costly government mandate that also contains mandatory sick day accruals, payouts and stiff employer liabilities if the statute is violated.. NC would be the only state in the southeast with this type of law, therefore reducing our competitiveness.

These are just a sample of the things that are happening with local and state government.

I hope everyone is doing ok - what are your thoughts on the above issues?

Jake