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'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.


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

Merry Christmas!


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!