Friday, February 27, 2009

Cheap and Easy....

Talking about a few simple things you can do between now and Spring to give your home a face lift on a relatively small budget. These were suggestions taken off of the Today Show at the beginning of this week. Most of them are very relevant to any area and I believed them to be good advice that I would like to share with you whether or not you are selling your home or not. Every home out there could use a little "lift".

1-Repaint or replace your front door. If the door is in good condition, paint it with car paint and wax it with car wax. It's bold and I had never heard this before but they swear it looks great, but be careful with the color and the amount of "sparkle" the paint may have--go high gloss!

2-Add color to the front of your home via planters, potted flowers and make sure you are adding fresh pine straw or mulch, edging beds, pulling weeds and trimming back out of control bushes and trees.

3-Replace old windows. Now this can get a bit expensive. However, the national average for replacing windows was $300 per window. Window World is advertising $189 with labor...this can save you on your energy bill and let's the world know that you are taking great care of your home.

4-Have carpets professionally cleaned. You don't have to replace your flooring unless its just dated and beyond it's useful life cycle, but a professional steam-clean is a good idea for odors and stubborn spots.

These are just a few of many but even by doing one or two of these items it can really improve the overall appearance and perception of your home. Buyers are out there but you have to think of this as "The Dating Game" and there are hundreds of contestants and you need to stand out and be the best looking with the most to offer so that you can make it to the Top 5 and eventually be THE ONE!

If you would like to discuss other ways to improve your home's image or needs references for folks that can do the work mentioned above, please don't hesitate to call me 336-17-3598 or email me at

No better time to start on these projects than this weekend! Have a good one!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Keep Your HEAD In The Game...

In these unique economic times there are many so-called "bargains" out there, such as homes in short-sale, homes in foreclosure, homes for sale by owner, homes "under tax value", homes for "swap", homes for lease-purchase and so on. You get the picture. Everyone wants a "deal" and make no mistake "deals" are out there, but you have to adhere to the adage that you truly "get what you pay for". Meaning that just because a home that you are considering making an offer on has one of these glamorous tag lines that assures you that you are getting a deal that no one else can--doesn't mean it's so. Keep in mind these points when making an offer so that no matter what market you are in, your investment in real estate is as sound as it can possibly be.

*Buy a home that fits YOUR needs--don't buy a 2 bedroom home with one bath and no garage because you feel like its a bargain if your family needs more space and you have a classic car collection--buy a home that makes you happy in the short and long term.

*Don't assume that all foreclosures are bargains--You never know the condition of the home, how the previous owner cared for and maintained (or didn't) the home. Also, there may be other homes in the same neighborhood or area that are in better condition, that offer the same or more amenities AND at a similar or lower price. Why pay for something that needs a ton of work, has no history that you know of and may have other negative attributes, when you could pay a couple thousands of dollars more for the same or better home, less work and peace of mind? Make sure you've seen all of the homes on the market in an area and have compared the pros and cons...sometimes distressed sellers can offer better bargains than the banks!

*Be aware of short sales--Until the banks have additional staffing in place to handle the volume of short sales that they are experiencing, you as a buyer could wait for MONTHS to even receive a reply. In that time other buyers are also submitting offers that are directly competitive with yours. If you are considering purchasing a home that is part of a short sale situation, make sure that both your agent and the listing agent have had experience in this arena and make sure that they have good working relationship and line of communication with the bank involved in the sale.

*Just because it's under tax value doesn't make it a great investment--Tax value is assigned by the local government, in our area, the county tax assessor. These folks don't enter your home or your neighbors' and usually use a multiplier based on previous years' values and overall appreciation over the past five or so years. They don't know that you changed the green shag carpet or updated your kitchen...they make an educated guess based on numerous factors and equations. Tax values are all over the place as compared to market values and have little bearing as to what a buyer and seller agree is a good price on a given day. Tax values are a "catch-22" --meaning, you want a low value as an owner because you don't want to pay a lot of taxes, but when you sell, you want the value higher because unfortunately buyers look at this number as some sort of "rule of thumb" as to what kind of "deal" they are my advice is let's use this number for what it's intended for and that's to pay Uncle Sam--not to establish value!

*It must be a great deal if it's a FSBO! Not so! Just because the unrepresented seller isn't paying an agent, that doesn't give it the stamp of approval as a certified DEAL! Keep in mind that the sellers establish the price they are asking for the home with little to no experience in setting prices--of course they think their home is best--it's theirs, which usually means an inflated price! This understandable passion for their own home can translate into awkwardness and difficulty when negotiating and not using a licensed agent as a third party perspective. I cannot even begin to tell you how many listing appointments I have been on where the folks trying to sell their home have discovered that they grossly overpaid when they purchased years ago because they thought the seller was "cutting them a deal." Though it's getting easier to get comps off of the Internet to see what other homes in the area have sold for, it's not so easy to find out if the area has a stigma due to new road construction, railroads, air traffic or industrial nuisances. Usually it's not the owner who is eager to share these tidbits with you or know that they are legally obligated to do so.

So in a nutshell, be vigilant in these times of opportunity, keep your head on straight and don't be swayed by lots of catchy marketing verbiage. Employ a buyer's agent to keep you on the right path, to represent your interests and to advocate for's well worth it and it doesn't cost you a dime out of your pocket!

If you need more information on any of the topics discussed here or to talk about how I can represent you, please contact me via phone 336.817.3598 or visit my website I would be happy to discuss your specific situation and provide references should you request!

Happy house hunting!


Thursday, February 19, 2009


Over the Valentine's Day weekend Jake and I visited Westbend Vineyard...we are not big wine fans however visiting the vineyards that are right here in our backyard has always intrigued me. We have visited Biltmore, Raylen and Childress over the past five years or so, but some of the smaller, less advertised wineries have not been on our radar.

Working within a budget and celebrating a holiday that Jake thinks is a "scheme" is difficult enough, but when I came home to 18 red roses, I knew that I had a chance...Love was in the air!

We arrived at Westbend around noon and they were having a Valentine's Day special. For $10 per person you would receive a collector's glass, a sampling of five wines of your choosing, gourmet chocolates and a glass of your favorite wine...all while enjoying a band play a variety of tunes...We had a blast! The day was beautiful and we sat outside to enjoy our glass of Les Soeurs which happened to be a red that was the product of one of the oldest vines on the property (planted in '72) was smooth and would have and will pair (we brought a bottle home) wonderfully with a filet. The atmosphere was peaceful and very charming with a nice gift shop and beautiful grounds that surround the main building. Once the weather warms up I want to come back out to Westbend with friends and enjoy the abundance of outdoor seating one late afternoon.

It was such a wonderful day meandering through the countryside to get to Westbend which is located on the Yadkin River minutes from Davie County and Lewisville and one turn off the Dinkins Bottom exit off 421. From Shallowford Road you turn onto Williams and the winery is one Williams Road.

We are going to make it a point whenever we need a mini-vacation to visit one of the many wonderful wineries that our area has to we understand it, there are summer concert series, tasting events and culinary events year round.

If you have experienced any of the wineries and would like to share hints, secrets or things NOT to miss...please post...and of course "Cheers!"


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Homeowner Perception Changing

Recently Zillow released an interesting article about homeowners and their changing perception of their home's value. The crux of the article is that most homeowners believe that their homes are increasing in value as other homes in their area are on the decline. According to the article Northeasterner's had the best grip on reality with the "point-spread" between reality and perception being the least...Southerner's were simply in denial, coming in dead last.

33% of Southerners believed that their homes were increasing in value, while 20% felt like the value was staying the same and over 47% believed that their home's value had decreased. The reality of the matter was that 70% of homes in the South decreased in value, not the meager 47% as thought by those being surveyed.

The upside is that all of these statistics are subject to their own "reality-check". Folks in the South typically did not see the major, double-digit increases in value that other "bubble" areas did...but some folks thought that their home did appreciate rapidly or that their community/city appreciated rapidly...when the REALITY is that homes in the South appreciated at about 2-3% a year...a really nice, steady appreciation...prices may have fallen a bit off of the peak of 2005-07 but if you are maintaining your home and keeping it in good/excellent condition and updating it with "the times" then you should be enjoying a healthy home value as a result of being in the South.

If you are curious about what you can do to your home to keep it up to date or if you would like to know the value of your home in today's ever-changing market, don't hesitate to email me, send a post or give me a call...336-817-3598.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Blessed Be the Tie That Binds...Housing to Stimulus...

You hear it everyday, you hear it on every media source and you hear it out of the mouths of anyone who is discussing the economy and how to bring it out of it's funk....You MUST fix housing before the economy begins to turn...

The question on everyone's mind is HOW to fix you:

Delay or stop foreclosures...the short term is that it allows folks to stay in their homes a bit longer while searching for work or trying to sell...the long term is that if the foreclosure is inevitable, meaning that the home has no equity or the person has lost their job, it is just a delay of the obvious problem...only exacerbating the total economic crisis...

Free up money and continue to lower low can you go? Good question, everyone thinking of buying a home seems to be waiting on this answer...rates may fall a bit lower, but as you can see, continuing to lower the rates simply hasn't had the effect that was predicted...rates are GREAT right now and folks are still waiting...for those who have good credit, money can be borrowed, but for those with credit issues, freeing up money will not benefit them as much because regulations are relatively stringent compared to years past, especially for non-conforming borrowers...

Tax Credit...the jury is still out on this one...sounds great, but how do you get the message out to folks? What is the story? Just what does a tax credit of $8000 or $15,000 mean to YOU? Good question. Until the credit unfolds or there is a stand-alone bill that allows any buyer to benefit with no income limits, it's going to be difficult to tell if this portion of the package is going to have a major effect...folks want to know how this helps them and how does it translate in to their personal budget at the end of the game.

Banks adding more resources/ there's an's extremely difficult to transact a short sale...not because the idea is so foreign and complicated, but because there is such a backlog with banks, that as an agent when we have a ready, willing and able buyer who presents an offer on a home that qualifies for a short sale, it can take MONTHS to process and go through the necessary hoops to even get a response, much less an actual offer worked out and closed...some of the stimulus money should be directed towards adding additional resources to expedite this process so that willing and qualified buyers can get some of the inventory off of the market, fix the home up and either live in it, rent it or put it back on the market at market value...

The National Association of Realtors, our State Association of Realtors and members of our local boards have been lobbying on behalf of homeowners and buyers everywhere, not to mention on behalf of the country as a whole, to lend insight to this issue and help in any way possible...some of the successes...

1-Loan limits were raised in order to accommodate higher valued areas (such as metro areas)

2-The tax credit was raised to $8,000 with NO PAYBACK (a real credit) for first-time buyers

3-Interest rates should come down a bit more as a result of foreclosure relief efforts

4-Over 50 billion dollars going towards foreclosure relief efforts (see results of this in #3)

So there you have it...just a few ways that housing has been and will be impacted by the recent stimulus package...I look forward to more to come...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Staying Close to Home...

Weekends in my opinion are far and few between, kinda like just can't get enough of them and if you really enjoy them, its almost like you need an additional weekend day or vacation to recover...

As Spring approaches, we will feel this more and more as the kids start soccer and baseball, folks get married, have parties, yards need to be mowed and maintained and all the stuff that comes with warmer weather.

What do you do on the weekend? So many folks I talk to head out of town for expanded dinner options and entertainment. While there certainly isn't as much to do in Kernersville as say Winston or Greensboro, there are things to do that don't have to take you on a long car ride away....Now is the time to support our local businesses and encourage others to plant their roots in Kernersville...but we have to USE them and SUPPORT them!

So, I pose a question to you...What do you and your family do that is fun AND keep you in Kernersville? It can be free or pricey...I would love to hear from you and share it with the other readers in the area. I have included a few things that my family and friends do in try a few out and maybe I'll see you there!

*Last Saturday of every month, karaoke at Smitty's--Food, Fun and Friends--
*Take the girls and the kids to Don Juan's for great seating for large parties, fabulous service and an authentic atmosphere...not to mention great deals on margarita pitchers!
*Enjoy and day in the dog park with the family's best friend and then take a picnic in one of the many shelters or down by the creek...for additional excitement, watch the skateboarders and some of their moves!
*First run movies for only $3 at Countryside Cinema...sure it's not the glamour of the big multi-plexes, but it's close to home and it's inexpensive...the popcorn is great!
*How about late night at Cookout? Best grilled chicken sandwich ever and a milkshake outside under the stars...
*Dinner at Salem Kitchen...they have a wonderful, creative chef who has been there approximately a year...unique dinner specials, great drink selection and you can eat outside in the quaint alleyway of Shoppes on Main...bring some friends after work and make it an evening...
*Coffee at Shakespeare and Company on Saturday mornings...enjoy the paper over a 99 cent cup of joe
*Lunch at The Pegg House Tea Room...need I say more!? The BEST chicken pot pie anywhere around and specialty teas and a featured daily iced tea, such as raspberry or get your nails done at Vivian's and drop in for lunch with the girls or hubby here!
*Dinner at Outwest (best steaks around in my opinion) and drinks afterwards with friends at Smitty's--sit outside and enjoy the sure to come warm weather!
*Romantic dinner at Basil's--ambiance is somewhat lacking, but the food is rich and romantic...pastas, unique sandwiches and lemon cello cheesecake brought in daily by a pastry chef out of Greensboro...great wine and beer selection...'re turn...:)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Piedmont Aviation to Add Jobs

More great news for Kernersville...

With the help of Forsyth County, the WS Chamber of Commerce and the State of North Carolina, Piedmont Aviation, who is currently located just off of 421/Market Street, has announced the addition of 120 new jobs. The company was looking at either moving locations (possibly out of state) or adding jobs to their current facility. We are ecstatic that they decided to stay in Kernersville to grow!

So many businesses recently have announced either expansion or relocating to Kernersville...those of us who live here know why-- but what can we do to tell the rest of the world our story?

The challenge that the town and its citizens have is to not only grow as our demographics change in order to meet the demand in services (town and private entity) but to be able to spread the message of what we have to offer so that others know what a great community we are blessed with!

The board of aldermen is working currently on re-vamping the website with third-party advisers and we are trying to stay in front of the media as good news comes our way--and Lord knows we need all of the good news we can get on the t.v!

These are small things...the bigger things are going to take time and private investment dollars...the town has stepped up to the plate and carefully used taxpayer dollars to improve downtown infrastructure and aesthetics as well as numerous road projects that ease congestion and improve traffic its time for us to "toot our own horn" when we are out and encourage restaurants, shops and entertainment to join our community so that we don't have to continually go "out of town" for a wide selection of dinner choices and a entertainment....let everyone you know, know that Kernersville is definitely the best place to call home!

Congratulations Piedmont Aviation on your expansion!

Monday, February 09, 2009


Just a quickie...

Jake, Maddie and I were on our way home from dinner last night around 8 o'clock...when a fox crossed our path on Old Winston Road close to Dr. Harper's first glance it looked like a really large cat, but as it passed under the street light, you could see that it was a medium sized fox with a large, long tail...

Most of you know how close this is to the residential areas of Kernersville, so don't be surprised if you see something foxy running around town...and no, its not me in stilettos....

Stay tuned for more info on home ownership tax credits from the proposed stimulus package and how it may benefit ALL buyers...just doing my research...

Kernersville Open House Extravaganza!

If you are currently looking for a home or have even remotely considered the possibility in the past few months or've heard it before--NOW IS THE TIME! I won't belabor it, but great interest rates, tons of inventory to choose from, competitive pricing and now the tax if it sounds interesting to consider purchasing, the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with Kernersville businesses to promote a one-time open house weekend for folks looking to buy!

All of the major Kernersville real estate firms, including Allen Tate are pairing up with lenders, insurance agents, home improvement specialists and the like, to make as many homes as possible available for you to view the weekend of March 21-22. Homes all across town, in all price ranges will be open for you and any other potential buyer to view from 1-5 both Saturday and Sunday. Real estate agents will be on site at each home to assist you as well as a representative from ancillary real estate services. Throughout the weekend, mini-seminars will be conducted and lenders will be pre-qualifiying folks and allowing them to assess their ability to purchase.

The goal of this event is to make folks all over the Triad realize what a great, diverse, affordable market for real estate we have to offer in Kernersville. The focus is to "turn-up" buyer awareness to the fact that folks "You CAN buy!" Lenders are waiting to lend money and down payment assistance and closing cost assistance is STILL available. Even if you don't qualify currently, the upside is that by speaking with some of these experienced folks, you can start the ball rolling and figure out what it is you need to do in order to make your vision of owning a may be something minor such as correcting a mistake on your credit report to actually paying down some debt or saving for a down payment. The message is simply one of "can-do!" You have to take the first step and everyone participating is not only committed to that message but has invested their time and efforts in order to make Kernersville the best place to live in the Triad.

So mark your calendar and feel free to call me or email me with questions about this exciting event! If you would like your home to be showcased or if you have considered putting your home on the market this Spring and want to make sure you are a part of this event, you need to give me a call or email as soon as possible as the agents involved are already trying to line up who will be at which home....We don't want yours to be left out as all of these buyers are out there making purchasing decisions! :)

See ya there!

P.S. I will let you know in a future post and in my e-newsletter which homes I will have open during this event, so be on the lookout. If you are not currently receiving my e-newsletter, please email me at and we will make sure that you are put on our mailing list! Ciao!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Lunch Options In Kernersville

Just a quickie!

Had the $5 quick lunch just now from Shakespeare and Company...perfect portion for those on the go...not too much, not too little...for the most part, healthy. I had the Pegg House chicken salad, croissant on the side and some red favorite, is the Orangina that I am sippin' on right now! Great little Canadian/French treat...tastes like orange juice but with fizz! I love it, Maddie and Jake love it! Stop in for a cold one at Shakespeare and Company any time or try one of her other unique beverages, ranging from coffee, sodas, sparkling waters, etc.

Menu at Basil's Changes:
Couple of additions to the lunch menu at Basil's, however, even if your old standby's are not there (Pimento Cheeseburger) they will still make it for you. Yesterday I had an AMAZING ham sandwich with caramelized onions and homemade coleslaw on the side! Can you say "num-num"?

So once Fitz on Main opens (projected March 17th??) we will have several quality options for lunch depending on your needs...just make sure you support these folks so that we can have them around for years to come!

More on Bailout

Found this today from CNN! Fit so well with my previous post, thought I would include it.

More earmarks from the stimulus package! Take a look at some of these!

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.
• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.
• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.
• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).
• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.
• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.
• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD's.
• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.
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• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.
• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.
• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.
• $75 million for "smoking cessation activities."
• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.
• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.
• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.
• $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.
• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.
• $6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings.
• $500 million for state and local fire stations.
• $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.
• $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs.
• $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.
• $412 million for CDC buildings and property.
• $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.
• $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service.
• $5.5 million for "energy efficiency initiatives" at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.
• $850 million for Amtrak.
• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.
• $75 million to construct a "security training" facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.
• $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.
• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.

Make sure to write, call or email your representative and tell them what an outrage this is!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bailout Package

Hi All!

Heading to a board of aldermen meeting here in an hour or so and had a few minutes to write while Maddie is watching Andy Griffith and I am watching the snow fall. I hope that it sticks around!

Well, the title of this piece is about the bailout...I don't have a tremendous amount to say, or a great deal of details but it does reinforce several principles that I believe in:

*Any bill sent through the House or Senate should be "clean"--no stuff attached to it, no special projects, nothing to sweeten or entice representatives--simply put "No Pork" and the president (whoever he may be at the time) should have line-item veto.

*Remember back in October, when the world as we knew it was going to simply cease to exist? Banks would go belly-up the next day, bread lines would form, the value of the dollar would plummet further than it already has and gas lines formed while gas prices soared? The BIG government (including folks I voted for & some I didn't) demanded a HUGE bailout--immediately...WELL, here we are, still no bailout and now we are in the midst of spend, spend, comes INFLATION!

*Could you use a million or two, or heck say a couple hundred thousands...well, while you and I cut our personal budgets, cease to spend on any extras and basically go on a pinto bean diet...the government wants to borrow and spend MORE of your hard-earned money! I don't suggest that we borrow money from China to give each taxpaying American a portion, I say, we don't borrow at all...

*IF WE DO BORROW...we must focus-focus! Housing--not bailing folks out, but making more money available to borrow to the average American...allow money to get to "Joe-Investor" who will buy up the foreclosures and short sales...they can fix them up, rent them out to the folks who have been displaced and eventually as the housing market stabilizes, they will sell will be employed, goods will exchange hands, laborers will be back in business...FIX HOUSING & BANKING, not the arts, or contraceptive programs, or museums, FIX THE BASICS!

*Support the folks who don't take government dollars...THERE ARE BANKS out there who had good, solid lending practices. They loaned to folks who had good credit, assets and money down...yes times may be hard for these folks, but they are paying their bills and other people's too! Some of these banks turned down TARP money--yes, you heard me right! Turned it down! They are cautious and understand that taking government bailout money makes them beholden to the government...Keep in mind Ben Franklin's mantra: A government big enough to help you is a government big enough to control you....that's paraphrased folks and could have been Thomas Jefferson...nevertheless, you get my point!