Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Job Loss Protection for Real Estate....

Out of our office meeting this morning, Allen Tate unveiled two great new products exclusive to Tate buyers and sellers...the details are limited other than the concept, because training is mandatory in order to offer the job protection program.

That's right, following in the auto industry's successes with job loss prevention programs, Allen Tate is working in conjunction with Rainy Day Foundation to provide our sellers with an additional, unique marketing tool. The program is not an insurance policy but a non-profit organization that provides up to 6 months of mortgage payments in an amount up to $1800 per month. The coverage is for the buyer and good up to 24 months after purchase. There are certain conditions for the buyer to qualify but this particular organization has some of the simplest criteria to qualify. This product is paid for by the seller at closing and will cover primary residences, 2nd homes and single family investment property! Wow!

Some of the buyer criteria to qualify:

*Must be employed at closing--duh!
*Must be full-time--30 hours or more per week
*Cannot be self-employed or active military
*Cannot own more than 10% of the business that you are employed at
*Have to be ages 18-66
*Must be eligible for state unemployment benefits
* Only Allen Tate listings are eligible
*Other terms and conditions as I complete the training*

The other new program is really an old program all dressed up with hopefully somewhere to go. Based on one of my previous blogs, which I would recommend referring back to, interest rates play a larger role in buying power than waiting for prices to come down. This new program called "Rate Relief" capitalizes on that notion. Basically, sellers would pay up to 3% in order to buy down the interest rate say from 5.25% to 4.25%. On a 300K house this would reduce the buyers payment by roughly $145 per month, requires less income to qualify for MORE house, it is a PERMANENT rate buy down, allows you to DEDUCT the points as the buyer from your tax during the year the property is purchased!

Folks that don't take advantage of these two items are missing the boat...between lots of inventory to choose from, low rates made LOWER, potential job protection coverage, coupled with the confidence that you have an experienced, detail-oriented agent working in your corner...what's not to love! Call me today 336-817-3598 or email me to talk more about how we can help you make your next purchase, be it YOUR home, an investment or a vacation home!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Virtual Buyer...

We've heard it forever, the web is king when it comes to any kind of search--especially real estate. If the numbers are correct, and I don't suspect that they are far off, then over 87% of folks looking to purchase real estate begin on the web.

As an agent that has been in the business full-time going on 10 years, I have had to shift my marketing significantly to capture those buyers who are out there looking in the vast expanse of web-based real estate. All real estate is also local, which means that marrying these two premised of the "world wide web" along with a local, FULL TIME agent with local market knowledge can result in a productive real estate experience for both buyers and sellers.

I love that Allen Tate has embraced this notion and given its agents something that no other company in our area has--virtual mapping with a boat-load of awesome features! It is addicting! According to John Scott of John Scott real estate, in his recent article The Virtual Tilt, real estate mapping a raw form has been around for about 5 years. The premise was to allow buyers to see all homes in a certain price range and area.

My how times have changed! From this simple approach you can now visit and do the following:

*Zoom to a regional area and focus on specific price ranges, neighborhoods, bedrooms/baths, etc.

*The mapping includes ALL real estate listings on MLS--not just Tate listings-so it really is "one stop shopping"

*Less granular search criteria--you've all seen it--its so pixilated you can't tell if its your home or your neighbors

*Point of Interest Searching--search areas within a certain distance of a school, friend or family member's home or work, etc.

*School links and links to websites

*Tate office locations

*Three Views Available--Road View, Aerial and Bird's Eye

*Coming Soon! You will be able to save favorite properties

With Internet tools like these, searching in NC and SC is easy! The hardest part is finding a full-time, competent agent who brings confidence and knowledge to the transaction--I sincerely hope that you can find that in me should you have real estate needs or know someone who does! :)

So visit my website or to begin using these tools and many more TODAY! Happy Shopping!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Foreclosures Down in the Triad----I'll Drink to That!

The Triad Business Journal reported last week that foreclosures in the Triad were down 42% in the first quarter from the same period last year. This hopefully means some price stabilization for our area and local sellers. The state's total was reported at just under 6,000 last quarter according to the article. Please take the time to read previous posts as to why sometimes a foreclosure is a good idea and sometime needs a good hard look at what kind of investment you are making and at what price.

Tax re-evaluations are really "fiddling" with our local real estate market. Overly gracious evaluations have left current sellers feeling as if they are "giving" their homes away and that prices should be listed up, rather than where the buyers are dictating. Most homes on the market are showing "under tax value". Well, that's not saying much, since it seems that most of my current listings are under tax value and could not sell for close to the county's estimate of value. Beware when the government tries to set housing a local real estate professional for an a market assessment. Makes good info when submitting or going before the board to lower your value.

This weekend Kerner's Folly is hosting its second annual Cheers to the Folly. A beer tasting, chili competition and music event. The event is this Saturday, April 25 from 4-9 with proceeds going to Folly restoration funds. If you have never attended the wine or beer event or have never visited the Folly, it's a great opportunity to enjoy historic Kernersville for a great price! Hope to see you there!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thanks, but No Thanks--Big Government...

April 15 was a big day for all of us, well those of us who file taxes. I spent the day with several thousand extremists in downtown Winston-Salem. I had no idea that peaceful assembly was such a radical notion! No bra-burning, police-assaulting, effigy-waiving, America-bashing, going on where I was, so that must mean that it didn't fit into the guidelines of "acceptable" forms of protest as defined by some. But was a spirited group with representatives from both sides of the aisle, looking to do some soul-searching regarding the fact that our governement no longer represents tax-paying citizens, they simply tell us what THEY are going to do to "help the greater good" while we continue to foot the bill, unfettered. Great points were made regarding spending and taxation. There was a great sampling of all ages, parties and socio-economic backgrounds. Unfortunately, the event did not get the press coverage that two global warming protesters would get outside of Exxon, but none the less, it was the beginning of a movement that has been a long-time coming. I hope that previously apathetic voters will continue to support events like this one and that folks will pay more attention to what their government is doing rather than ranting, raving and protesting their Time Warner Cable bill. Heaven forbid someone may have to pay more for those 500+ channels or not be able to afford every channel under the sun...oh my, would that mean someone may have to "read" for entertainment??? As long as everyone is glued to the "boob-tube", government will continue to slip rules and regs in all around you with no problem and no protest.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fitz's On Main...A Welcome Addition!

Being stuck in an office or car for a long period of time isn't that much fun...but when that's what you do for a paycheck, it makes it a bit easier to swallow. You may be wondering where exactly I am going with that sentiment and I'll tell you. I have been working for days and weeks on end with no break in between until this past Easter weekend. Once Friday rolled around and the day wrapped up, I was ready for some down time. However, being the person I am, that didn't last long and I felt as if I just wasn't doing anything. But heck, it had only been a few hours! I took a deep breath, did some stuff around the house, took Maddie to see the new Hannah Montana movie, dyed eggs, you get the picture. Well, back at work on Monday, it still felt as if I were moving in slow motion as I hammered out the mound of paperwork that was the result of the properties I just put under contract. (Thank God!) Office life doesn't suit me very well, I like to think of myself as a "people person"--trite, I know, but that's what I am. So I promised myself that I would GET OUT of the office this week and enjoy the world around me--you know, "Do it differently today!"

So I did. This morning I met a great friend for breakfast, just to catch up. We had seen each other in passing over the past couple of weeks, but I looked forward to sitting down over a cup of coffee and talking. That we did--at Fitz's. If you live in Kernersville, you may already know that I am referring to our newest restaurant addition in downtown. If not, hop in your car and visit this eclectic, remake of historic Kernersville, the way it used to be and the way it should be.

Fitz's was started by none other than David Fitzpatrick, well-known and loved icon in Kernersville. Recently retired as Principal of Kernersville Elementary, his gregarious personality, coupled with his intimate knowledge of the people and places of Kernersville, make Fitz's, Kernersville's version of Mayberry's, Snappy Lunch. Lisa and I arrived around 8:45 to a full house...that is as full as a nine foot wide building can be. Formerly, Snow's, a almost 40 year old Kernersville hotdog mainstay, Fitz's has a very similar feel and menu.

Even though, a bacon-egg-cheese sandwich was not on the menu, the very cheerful waitress gladly put the order in and it came out excellent--could have maybe been a bit more "melted together" but still very good! Good coffee, service was excellent, my coffee never made it below half a cup and never got cold--a very good sign. No feelings of someone rushing you out to "turn the table" and conversation from staff and patrons was easy going, light and jovial.

So impressed, that when I saw Luann in the parking lot at the chamber around 1, we went back for lunch! Same great service, saw a ton of folks we know (the best part of eating out in Kville) and had a wonderful, messy all-beef hotdog and some of Fitz's famous homemade chips. The only negative was running out of sweet tea, which, might I mention, I didn't need anyway AND I was offered another beverage of my choice to compensate. Once again, friendly staff, great conversation from the patrons and the historic decor was great to look at. Old Justice Theatre movie bills, antique thermometers, a piece of furniture from Pinnix's Drug Store and much much, that you must check out Fitz's on Main...a most welcome addition to our downtown! See you there!


Monday, April 06, 2009

The Skinny on Appraisals and Broker Valuations...

The other day a potential listing client of mine asked me a great question. She wanted to know why her home appraised for higher than the amount that I was suggesting she list for. I get this question a good deal and wanted to let you guys in on what I believe to be the "skinny" on appraisal vs. market values. Keep in mind my opinions are just that,opinions, and I do not mean to imply that this blanket summary includes everyone...but by golly, it includes most!

So here is my answer to her, via email. All names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.

Yes, there is a difference in Broker market opinions and re-finance appraisals. Broker's market opinions, such as the one that I completed, factors in what a potential buyer and yourselves, as sellers can agree to, based on what else is currently on the market during this snapshot in time and what kind of competition you are dealing with.

We are NOT appraisers and do not look as specifically as an appraiser would at cost of replacement, adjusted price per square footage, upgrades and other adjustments. We look at a "sell factor" of our current market inventory. Though our approach may not be scientific, it is pretty darn accurate because we, as Brokers, have been in most of the homes or the neighborhoods that we are using as comparable. If we haven't had that opportunity, the Broker is usually up to date on what various price points and styles bring in a given area.

Another factor that weighs heavily on pricing is inventory. Currently we have 12 months of inventory, which means that at the current rate of absorption and number of buyers out there, it would take 12 months to get the current homes off the market and sold with NO others coming onto the market. You can either be priced to be at the top of that 12 month cycle, in the middle at 6 months or at the end…with prices anticipated to fall over 10% total in ’09, pricing high is not a risk I would advise taking.

On a refinance appraisal, the bank is taking into account that you need to have equity because they are not going to typically lend you over 80% LTV…that being said, they also anticipate that because you are re-financing that you plan on staying in the home long enough to re-coup the cost of refinancing which usually runs 3% or more. It would make little sense to re-finance, pay the costs associated with it and then move within the year. It takes approx. 3-5 years to absorb that cost, therefore the bank can be a little more gracious with your values because they are coupling a realistic look at today’s values with future values—helping you as a homeowner to achieve your goal to either improve the home and it's condition, thus improving value getting that higher number or helping you to consolidate debt, thus putting you in a better position to remain in the home for years to come.

For example, if an existing home had a re-finance appraisal at $310K a year ago and I know that the market value is not over $275-280 if the seller needed to sell in the next 6 months or less given the amount of inventory, the condition and the pricing of competitive homes and the amount of new construction that still saturates the market with viable choices and incredible incentives…that doesn’t even begin to touch the iceberg as foreclosures continue to come into the picture…which is why I leave them out of my comps, because we know owner occupied homes are typically in much better condition.

A great deal goes into valuing a home for re-finance, re-sell or purchase, however the end results may be different. If the values are really far apart, then this may be a red flag as to something going on. My advice is to keep in mind what it is you are trying to achieve, don't stretch values and rely on professional Realtors for valuing your home in today's market and rely on professional appraisers to value your home for re-finances and purchases.