Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not Ready to Let Go of Christmas 2010

For the past month, I have loved waking up to the mingled smell of coffee in the pot and fresh cut evergreen as it decorated our home. Jake would have the tree lit each morning before I woke and it was an inspiring sight. I will have to say, that this year, as far as decorations were concerned, I went a little overboard.

As a result of our home being on the market for the past few months, being under contract for two and then not closing, I decided that "Grinch be damned", I was DECORATING for Christmas, in addition to moving our stuff back in. I say that because normally, other than our tree and a few "homemade" items given to us by our daughter, we usually keep it simple. Not this year-not me.

I hired a very talented friend and former client of mine to decorate my banister, mantle, mailbox and to spruce up my tree and a large wreath. This was no simple undertaking. After giving her my Southern Living Christmas edition (hardback of course), I envisioned pineapples, pears, citrus fruits, magnolia, boxwood, holly and a variety of other fresh decor to grace my home to show that nothing would get me out of the spirit. Hours of toll led to an end product that was marvelous, simply stunning.

Fast forward almost 40 days later and let me just say, I was ready to move on. I took down most of the decor, but this year, unlike others...our tree still stands. It's fresh smell has left, but the lights still twinkle magically each morning as I enjoy my coffee in front of the fire. When will we take it down? Who knows, but this year, I want the beauty and serenity of this Christmas to linger. The Christmas message, the snow and the family and friends contributed to a relaxation over Christmas that was different than Christmases of the past and our tree symbolizes that for me...Jake is going to have a difficult time prying that last thing out of my grasp...funny thing is, I think he doesn't want to see it go either.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Christmas-A-Plenty Around Town...

The holiday season is certainly a magical time of year. Shorter days, brisk, star-filled nights and the tinkling of bells can be heard on most any sidewalk. Then there are the traditional holiday events such as local parades, caroling, church nativities, shopping, ski-trips and the like. If you just want to stay around the Triad this season, here are a few suggestions to make your season as bright as possible.

*Festival of Lights @ Tanglewood--a seasonal favorite which meanders through a park of magical light displays. The best part is they change it up a little each year, so every holiday, it's a new treat!

*Walk Through Bethlehem--Kernersville 7th Day Adventist Church--only on weekends through the 11th of December, this is a must-see. Journey through Bethlehem during the time of Christ's birth, experience the sights and smells of the holy land during this interactive tour.

*City Sidewalks and Nightscapes--as a kid, our Christmas Eve treat after leaving my nanny's was to drive through downtown Winston-Salem and look at the several towns have beautiful downtown favorite? Downtown Kernersville with it's twinkling tree lights and lit figurines make for a simple, yet intriguing holiday drive.

*Tree lots--maybe a fresh tree isn't your thing, but pick a cold Winter evening to stroll the tree lot and take in the sweet excitement of families choosing their own tree, grab a cup of cocoa to stay warm!

*The Nutcracker--produced by students at The NC School of the Arts, this is a long-standing holiday tradition for many families. The pageantry of the costuming, the incredible music and the grand feel of the Stevens Center can be the icing on the cake as far as holiday treats!

*Restaurant Hopping--with so many great ones to choose from, pick a town and grab an appetizer at one, maybe another appetizer at another, an entree at yet a different venue and top off the evening with dessert at your final stop. Why? Because so many of our restaurants have holiday specials that can't be missed and the days of Christmas are certainly limited!

Just a few suggestions... I look forward to you adding some of your suggestions for holiday fun! If you live in a town outside of the Triad, please add yours too, you never know who might be coming to your town to see if you've been naughty or nice!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Tax Time and Closings--Deal Breaker? It doesn't have to be...

You may have received your tax bill in late August or early September, but if you escrow your taxes and insurances, then you probably just received a copy of the bill being sent to your mortgage servicing company.

Though the bills are sent out 3rd quarter our mortgage companies usually hold on to these bills and don't pay them until November or December. The deadline for payment is December 31.

As a result, the question often comes up during closings that occur during October, November and December, why am I paying taxes again on the settlement statement? This amount for many sellers can potentially break a deal, as they forget during the fourth quarter, if the payment from said mortgage company has not arrived and been recorded at the tax office, they are responsible for the bulk of the year and if you live within the city limits it can be thousands of additional dollars.

Now, don't get too panicked. Sometimes, especially in November and December, the mortgage companies have already paid the bill and it takes a friendly phone call to the tax office to get verification of payment. You can handle this confirmation but the final confirmation at closing will have to performed by the attorney or paralegal. Remember, the reason for this, is that there can be no outstanding liens against the home at closing.

If you do have to bring your portion of the year's taxes at closing because they have not been paid yet, you will be reimbursed, but it could take weeks to do so. Once again, if you planned on bringing little to no money to closing because your deal is a "break-even" so to speak, this could really put a wrench in things if you don't have the liquid cash on hand at closing time.

My advice is that if you are currently under contract or think that you may be going under contract soon, have your agent to help you verify the status of your tax bill for the current year. Sometimes, banks will work with you if enough time is given and allow you to use the portion of your escrow that they are holding for taxes to pay the tax bill. Keep in mind this is rare, but I have been made aware of exceptions that have occurred.

Once again, it's a matter of being proactive and having a great agent to help you with these challenges along the way.

"When details matter, experience counts!" Call or post today if you have questions or suggestions regarding this topic. Have a great weekend!

Brooke Cashion

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It Can Happen to Anyone...

Selling your home can certainly be a lesson in patience. We found this out the hard way this past week...

As a seasoned professional I have always worked to dot "i"s and cross "t"s and to look for and mitigate any red flags that come my way and may prevent my clients from closing on time. Of course I would do the same for myself. My "fallthrough" rate is extremely low compared to the average...usually only one to two each year.

After only a couple of months on the market and lots of daily, last-minute cleanings and showings, we had a couple of offers. The offer that we accepted seemed solid, dates were in place, their home was on the market but going under contract within the next few days and the buyers seemed to love the home. Inspections were immediately ordered since that is typically where you get most of your issues, the appraisal followed close behind....all was good. During this time, the conversations between us and the buyers were friendly and we exchanged information on measurements, systems and personal property that we would be willing to leave behind.

My husband, the consummate planner, rented two storage units and started the task of boxing and moving items so that the buyers could move some of their items in three days prior to closing. We felt like it would be a nice gesture so that they would not have to rent a storage unit for a 24-48 hour period if we could be out over the weekend.

I was in constant contact with the lender and buyer and all seemed to be moving smoothly until the last week. The friendly banter ended, no returned phone calls regarding curtain rods or pool furniture. You could tell in the tone of the buyers and the lender that something was amiss. Red flag flapped violently in the breeze...there was a storm a-brewing.

Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the lending process, the bottom line is this:

You shouldn't find out three days before your closing that the buyer can't secure a loan! We as agents are seeing this and several of us, personally experiencing this, more and more frequently. Not a proponent of additional regulation, this is certainly an instance where our elected officials could work with the regulators to flip the process on it's head. What would be the harm in a buyer not getting just pre-approved or approved with conditions, but actually approved for a loan, documents submitted, verified and signed off on by underwriters, before they ever set foot in the first house? Then the contingencies would be only based on satisfactory appraisal and final verification of employment. As it stands now, there are too many what-ifs and not enough confirmations.

No one should have their entire life boxed up weeks prior to an anticipated closing. The time and money spent to get to that point is unbelievable. The buyers walk away with several hundred dollars in inspection expenses and certainly don't have a home to move into, but the sellers are left with virtually nothing but "maybe" an earnest money deposit, an upside down home, storage building expenses and a healthy fear to go back on the market.

The upside is this, it has given me a renewed empathy for my sellers and a fire lit under me to work with our representatives to encourage the system of lending to be more proactive on the front side.

Finding buyers in this economy is certainly hard enough without everyone getting to the final hour and returning to square one.

Have you or someone you know gone through this recently? Could anything in your opinion been done to prevent the below so that we can pass these stories on to Washington!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Foreclosure 101

Questions and comments swirl in the media, coffee shops and living rooms across America regarding short sales, foreclosures and how they work. You hear of folks living in their homes months, sometimes years after not making a payment. You hear of others who miss one payment and are never able to rebound. So what is the skinny on the foreclosure process?

*Missing one payment does not constitute foreclosure. It can take months or years from the first missed payment for the bank to repossess the home and make the borrower leave.

*According to the NC Commissioner of Banks, over half of foreclosure proceedings that start, actually are foreclosure sales.

*When a buyer misses a payment, the bank starts by sending threatening and ominous letters. These letters include notions of accelerating the loan balance, phone numbers of credit counselors, information for military service, etc.

*Sometime around the 90 day mark, the bank contacts a trustee. This trustee is supposed to make sure that everyone receives proper notice of the pending foreclosure and the proceedings to follow.

*Once notice is given, a date is set to establish a hearing. This usually takes place at the "courthouse"--most of the time in the Clerk of Courts office.

*Proof must be given at the hearing that there is a debt to collect and that all outlets have followed the proper guidelines to get to this point.

*Once the home is foreclosed on actual eviction can occur forcing the borrower to vacate the property. More and more often, borrowers are leaving their homes well before this process occurs.

*Because there are more "strategic defaults" (folks walking away from their homes because continuing to make payments doesn't make financial sense) we are finding more of these foreclosures in better condition than in times past.

*Foreclosed homes that are in good condition are becoming competitive with homes that are owner occupied listings, thus driving prices down and resulting in a vicious cycle of depreciating values.

Monday, October 25, 2010

All Treats...No Tricks! Making Good Real Estate Choices...

*Purchase a home in an area with limited land availability (supply v. demand premise will help to insulate your value)

*Look for "good bones"-older or newer homes with quality construction, slow-growth wood members, warranties, attention to detail and the like--don't let the "bells and whistles" of new construction or cosmetic restorations deceive you!

*JOBS! Look in areas that are poised for growth, have substantial job centers and are relatively stable as compared to the surrounding areas--check with local chambers of commerce and city/county government officials for this information (I am always happy to have this information available)

*Schools--whether you have children in school may not matter to you now, but it might matter to future buyers. Pay attention to desirable school districts and look at school "report cards"

*Roads--Being close but not on top of major roads and commercial centers is a bonus, especially for commuters, add to that easy access to airports for an added bonus!

*Adjacent Property Owners-How do the neighbors keep up their yard, the exterior of their home, etc. What may seem not so big now may present a bigger challenge down the road when trying to sell. Also, make sure that if vacant land adjoins the property you are looking at, that you understand its current zoning use and that it could change based on governmental land use plans. It's a good idea to visit your local planning department to check things out or ask your agent to assist you.

*Crime-No one wants to live in an area riddled with crime--make sure that not only do you look at published public reports available on the Internet, but it's also a good idea to talk to the local police or Sheriff's department about the nature of the crimes. Sometimes what sounds bad on paper has no bearing on you and the same holds true for some crimes that sound minor being bigger and more intrusive than the report reveals.

Have any tips you'd like to add? Need to talk further about purchasing the home that's right for you? Comment or give me a call 336-817-3598 or email me

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The "Real" Social Network

With so much talk about social media I felt it an appropriate time to blog about the importance of "old school" social networking! Old school in the sense that as I look across my shelves of listings and upcoming closings all of them are connected in some way, shape or form. Some are the result of a relationship established with a landscaper who maintains my vacant listings, some are friends, family members, attorneys, business associates, neighbors, church friends, high school friends and some of them are from reaching out to neighbors at listings and talking to folks at my favorite restaurant.

The point is this...everywhere I go, I am a walking billboard for the industry that I love. I told a client today that I love to solve problems, find solutions and see my transactions from start to finish and beyond. If you spend a minute with me, there is no doubt in your mind as to what I do to bring bread to the table and you will also learn why I do faith, my family and my friends.

Writing a note, sending an email, calling a past client...these are all simple things that can and should be done on a daily basis. Nothing wrong with Facebook, blogging, etc. because they are necessary to the new paradigm and are fun to boot! But there is something to be said for a cup of coffee with a lender partner or a glass of wine with a small business owner to talk about what they are doing to survive.

During tough times it's natural to draw inward, to try our best to insulate ourselves from the reality of it all, but what I have learned during these challenging times, is that if I didn't get "out" and learn about our market, our challenges and our opportunities then my business would shrivel up and die on the vine. So thank you for helping me to keep on keeping on doing what I love to do...selling homes and helping buyers in our that's work that socially nets dividends!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Transportation Needs Critical to Job Growth In the Triad

The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce recently held a transportation summit. This event was conducted in order to give a forum to local elected leaders to speak out about transportation concerns affecting citizens and businesses alike.

The turn-out was exceptional with representatives from most area communities. The elected officials had the chance to ask specific questions of the State Transportation Secretary regarding road improvement projects and new traffic mitigation projects in and around Winston that have been on the back burner for quite some time.

Most folks know the headache that heavy traffic can bring, but many don't realize the economic impact that crowded and hard to access roads have on critical logistics for business hubs in our area. These improvements or lack thereof will dictate whether or not our region is looked to when new business look to locate to our area or existing businesses decide whether or not to expand or even remain.

Great news piece prior to the event...recognize anyone?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Winston-Salem Beltway Update--To Be or Not To Be...

I spent a fraction of my time this afternoon writing a hardship letter, from an agent perspective, for a client of mine. Per her request, I outlined her needs, her challenges and options as it relates to her current home and the Northern Winston-Salem Beltway corridor. As I was developing my thought process, I realized that even though many of us receive snippets of information via the local news media, that I am sure that there are still some lingering questions as to where this project currently stands and how things look moving forward. I am not attempting to answer any and all questions but simply to provide you with a synopsis for your digestion and to direct you to links and individuals that may get your specific questions answered--or leave you more confused. :)

As of end of August the DOT held public meetings to gain comment and input from affected citizens. This information is being used to provide more detailed information to the property owners and to planning departments in Winston-Salem and Forsyth county. Per the DOT, efforts are being made to improve communication with property owners by moving forward on some of the following items:

1-NCDOT plans on writing each property owner within the protected corridor to inform them of proper procedures to follow when requesting improvements to property in the corridor. Information on corridor policy protection should now be on their website.

2-NCDOT plans on addressing distressed property that has already been purchased, is being rented or is vacant within the corridor. Requests can be submitted via City-County planning or through DOT. All reasonable requests will be supported to maintain the quality of life in affected areas.

3-Review of DOT rental agreements is currently underway, making sure that properties are kept in proper condition and comply with subdivision covenants. Enforcements of these requirements are ongoing.

4-Properties that have previously submitted a hardship letter for advance acquisition which was not approved will be reviewed. New letters will be sent advising of status and to provide contact information if they have additional questions and concerns.

5-The major issue moving forward is simply put, funding.

The website has been updated and can be accessed at

All questions concerning Right of Way hardship acquisitions, corridor protection, property improvement or leased properties questions can be directed to Division Right of Way agent Rodney Hatton at 336-760-8737.

If you would like to talk to me about your options, need opinions of current market value or would like to begin looking for new property because of a successful buyout or a pending buyout, please contact me via email or call me at 336.817.3598

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?

Just ran into a frustrating situation this past week on an appraisal where the value came in significantly lower than the contracted purchase price and tax value. Where as I have been preaching for years that tax value has little if anything to do with actual market value, I would hate to think that a seller/owner would pay close to 50k more than the home's "market" value as determined by one individual, in this case the appraiser, who is following a governmental set of guidelines. I say this because I in no way believe that the appraisal was the accurate indicator of the home's value. Real Estate 101 tells us that the value of a home in a given market is determined by the price that the buyer and seller can agree to on a particular day. It takes into account what is on the market during that period of time, the price the competition is available for and the overall thought that the buyer will choose what is best suited for them at the best price.

Well, how things have changed. As we are in the midst of "recovery" and the real estate market is taking a deep breathe as we enter what has been historically a slow period, it is now no longer good enough to bring said buyer and and seller together on price and terms, you now battle an unknown set of rules. Those rules are the ones determined by the lender or quasi-governmental entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as they throw down regulations depending on the loan program that the buyer is using, that will dictate which set of criteria will be used to determine the value of the home.

Buyers and sellers are spending unheard of amounts of time and money to find the "real" value of their home in a historically unique marketplace. As they are trying to discover and negotiate this value, the lack of comparable sales, due to the depressed market is being used as an excuse as to why values are not there. This is happening in markets that are considered to be somewhat "stable". Meaning that nothing has been sold in the past several years because nothing has been on the market, because folks actually LIKE to live there! That usually means high demand and a relatively safe investment. Banks say NOT SO FAST! No comps, no values or they will compare and adjust the subject home with homes of varying age, quality of construction and design...for instance comparing a one level home to a two story with a basement.

The moral of the story is to
1-be aware of these risks as you are searching for homes or trying to sell your home
2-have comparable homes in your back pocket should an appraiser ask for assistance in establishing value
3-use more traditional forms of lending when possible, such as conventional loans with lower LTVs that have fewer governmental strings attached
4-don't buy anything unique (just kidding, but it does present challenges on on Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac backed loans)

Have anymore questions? Don't forget to give me a call or post if you have had or heard of a similar experience.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Arts for Life

Jake and I sat down the other day at lunch with the director/coordinator for Arts for Life. Based here in Winston-Salem, this organization is active at children's hospitals such as Brenner's and Duke. Not a new concept to have arts as a therapy, as Elizabeth Messick explained, but certainly one that lost luster and has recently come unto its own through hard work and donations by individuals and corporations.

Arts for Life in my simple terms, is a program designed to bring hope, self-confidence and purpose into the everyday hospital lives of critically ill children. From pre-packaged projects, such as mobiles, weaving, sculpting and textile crafts to artists coming in and reading, leading discussions or mentoring, this program injects life and possibility into what can feel like a pretty bleak situation. Elizabeth explained that though we could not actually be with these children one on one due to their compromised immune systems, that the packaged projects and donations to sustain this program would certainly contribute to their overall improvement. She went on to describe how some children are not even able to see their siblings for months on end due to the fragile nature of their condition during treatments. These projects allow them to occupy their time with more than a t.v. or medical treatments, it allows them the ability to nurture their creativity and to see that the completion of a task is a possibility and that positive outcomes DO exist in their world.

Jake and I met with Elizabeth because we wanted to know how we could help and how our daughter could begin developing her own character by serving the community. We are currently discussing the best way to assist this organization and some of the suggestions given to us or that we could come up with were:

*Host a party where participants make jewelry, magnets, etc. and sell them at the Arts for Life showcase.
*Donate money raised from a bake sale or lemonade stand to purchase supplies for packaged projects.
*Take up a love-offering at your church or Sunday school class to be given to Arts for Life.
*Assemble a class, scout troop or neighbors to assemble packages
*Collect donated art supplies for packages
*If you know an artist, ask them if they would donate their time to help

These are just a few of their suggestions and our family is looking forward to finding our place in this fabulous organization. There are so many groups in need currently and so many folks out there asking for funds, but this is one that often gets over-looked and can easily be contributed to with your time and talents, not just your dollars.

If you would like more information please contact Arts for Life in downtown Winston-Salem or shoot me an email or post and I can put you in touch with Elizabeth and her group!

Know of any other cool service projects that are kid-friendly? Post here and let me know!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

a lot about nothing

Rainy mist out of sallow clouds that can't really decide what to do. It's a no yard work, kid at a friend's kinda day...

What to do if anything at all? That was the question that weighed on my mind early Saturday morning as sleep escaped me, as it always seems to do on those mornings that time doesn't bind you to. Of course, no one knows what it is that wakes you on these lazy mornings. A bird whistling to it's mate at 5 am for an early morning rendezvous or a teenager sneaking in during the wee hours of the morning before the sun has a chance to throw a beam their way and expose their misdeeds. Hell, whatever it was, it woke me and started chanting in my brain, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TODAY!?

I hate that question, as if our very existence hinges on the fact that we always have to be doing, producing, thinking, spending and yet, I fall victim most every time. Not this time I promised myself as Jake rolled over to grab the last couple of zzzz's before he woke to my staring at him full on. That always seems to do the trick, it's like I can use my eyes to pry his open, but it usually doesn't put him in a very good mood. I was careful this morning. I didn't want any of that nonsense to get in my way of having what was going to be a wonderful, relaxing, romantic, Mary Poppins crosses Dirty Dancing kinda day. I mean, I could already envision Jake and I dancing across the countless vineyards in the rain. Seriously, was I delusional? How could I work this to my advantage and NOT do anything, yet NOT waste this precious day with its hourly pockets of freedom from sun up to sun down? Carpe diem!

Well for starters, we both woke up starving. A late night Chick Fil A combo meal just didn't stick to our ribs, so food was on our brains. Rather than just "grabbing a quick bite" I wanted to work this to my advantage and into the master plan and that I did! Jake was so hungry that he agreed to drive 50 miles up Hwy 52 and Hwy 268 to Shelton Vineyards to have lunch at Harvest Grill, which we discovered had recently been featured in Our State. Our stomachs churning the entire way, we pointed the Honda north and between hallucinogenic moments due to lack of food and the hypnotic swack of the windshield wipers, we are certainly lucky to have made it in one piece. When we exited the car just steps away from the restaurant and entered the door, it was clear that we were just in time. We were the first ones there, which was perfect, because my food and beverage would take top priority, which it ultimately did. Jake was served a fresh cup of Starbucks and I enjoyed my first glass of a 2009 Savignon Blanc. We were seated in the patio area and the rain on the roof and the views of the vineyard started me to visualizing the romantic embrace of a slow dance, I thought I even heard Van Morrison in the background...maybe it was just the wine.

Fast forward, lunch was wonderful, the tour was lovely and we determined that the rest of our afternoon would be cemented with window shopping in Mt. Airy. Who was this man and why was he doing all of these things that I wanted to do? He even held my umbrella, parked close to the shops and didn't roll his eyes or stay outside when I wanted to look at boutiques and home furnishing stores. We strolled, we laughed, we took silly pictures and posted them on facebook. We people watched, we talked about the shops and restaurants our town needed and the differences in places and really, we did nothing. We didn't make phone calls or close million-dollar deals, we didn't talk politics or solve budgeting woes and we didn't spend gobs of cash on trinkets that would be hauled off to Goodwill or displayed in next year's yard sale.

After a few hours of hanging out in downtown, we hopped in the car looking like kids who just snuck out to play in mud puddles and found ourselves grinning and relaxed. We pointed the car south this time, popped in the grocery, grabbed two steaks and a bottle of wine, and headed home. Thoroughly satisfied with our day, the rain continued to intermittently hiss and mist and the wind cycled through the trees, we settled in to a couple of movies. Sure, it sounds like we did something. I know your brand of cynicism that wants to accurately define and categorize what something and nothing are. But we did nothing by our definition and I want more nothing and that in itself is saying something.

Monday, July 19, 2010

6 Quick Tips to Sell Your Home - Guest Blogger: Jennifer Sammons

Hi! My name is Jennifer Sammons and I am the Buyer's Agent working for Brooke Cashion & Associates. Based off of my past years of experience in home design and staging, Brooke has asked me to provide you with some quick tips to help sell your home. Here we go...

In today's market, competition is thick and you must take extra steps in making your home stand out from the crowd. How can you do this? Well, it's really easy, it just takes a few minor attitude adjustments and you moving out...just kidding, you do not have to move out! You do have to take the "Home" out of your "House". What I mean to say is, depersonalize your home and turn it into a model house. This house is now on the market and your goal is to sell it...right? Everything must have a place and less is more. Here are a few quick tips to help you stage your home and sell faster for more money.

  • Less furniture in a room can make a room feel bigger. Even if you think that showing your massive bedroom suite/living room suite with all 5 or 6 pieces clearly shows what the room can hold, think again. You have just eaten up useful floor space for your potential buyer's wants and needs and your room is viewed as small and cramped.

  • Clean your windows, inside & out. Let the buyers see clearly all of the potential in your home and outdoor living space. Also, change your mini blinds out for 2" faux wood blinds or if you don't want the investment...just take them down completely.

  • Remove all the knick-knacks and items that you do not use on a daily basis from all countertops (kitchen & baths), bookshelves and furniture. Your collectibles are distracting to the space and your buyers. They can't see past your stuff to visualize their belongings in the house.

  • Update the fixtures. Thanks to the big box stores, lighting and plumbing fixtures have become more and more affordable. You can replace most fixtures for less than $100 each. Try not to get caught up in the trend colors...remember that is personalizing. Stick with polished chrome or brushed nickel. Currently polished chrome fixtures for lighting and baths are making a major come back. They are classic colors that never go out of style and they are the least expensive. By the way, do not forget to change out switch covers and outlet covers to match or go neutral. NO BRASS! Also, always check your light fixtures for burnt out bulbs...light is good!

  • Spruce up the entry. Make someone want to enter your home. You remember "don't judge a book by it's cover" well, that's what people are doing when they drive by your house. They are assuming that a rundown porch or entry could only indicate a neglected interior. A new rug, fresh paint on the door, new (black) shutters, new (black) light fixtures and live plants in good condition will add major value to your curb appeal.

  • Re-evaluate. Have you, your spouse, a friend and/or family member walk through the house and point out things that stand out, take the good with the bad. Remember try not to take this personally...this is no longer your "home", it's a "house" that's on the market. Highlight the good areas and fix the bad. You are moving on and the ultimate goal is to sell!

Finally, just as a bonus...list your house with Brooke Cashion & Associates to sell faster and for more money!!!!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

10 Years....

Almost a month and how time flies! My daughter just turned 10 yesterday, so it seems fitting to reflect on the past 10 years. Months after Maddie was born, I took the real estate course and state test and began selling real estate. My how times have changed and haven't!!

When I first started my real estate career, the market was not exactly what you would call "stellar". Meaning, rates were around 9%, there was a pretty large inventory and I felt, as I sat on phone duty rearranging Post-It notes, that buyers were few and far between. So few and far, that on my very first transaction, the buyers could not secure financing and we negotiated an owner finance agreement, that eventually worked out in every one's best interest.

Banks and lenders at the time were still requiring sizable chunks of cash down and the first-time buyer had to save (gasp!) money or have it gifted in order to make a go of purchasing their first home. I remember one office meeting I sat in at the first firm I worked at, when someone came and spoke to our office about 100% financing and USDA rural housing loans. They showed a slide-show, (yes, not PowerPoint but slide show) of the various income levels and how they correlate to the number of people in the family. I remember the buzz around our office as to how could this be sustained and do these folks really need this kind of governmental assistance if they can't qualify under the current standards of lending....Well, you can now sit back and Monday morning quarterback, but you also know where that got us. Now the government backs over 90% of all loans and establishes outlandish criteria and hoops to jump for legitimate buyers while still offering, up until a very short while ago, these SAME exact loan programs!! Guess we still haven't learned...

As I became more experienced, changed companies, owned and sold my own company, my perspective changed. I grew into a position that allowed me to consult and advise buyers and sellers on the purchase and sell real estate. No longer, cold calling (done away with by Do Not Call registry), no longer giving recipe cards and tossing candy in the parade, time and experience blessed me with a trusted and loyal client base that is always sending new leads and referrals my way. Folks now understand my job for them doesn't stop at closing, it continues as an advisor for home remodeling, refinancing, additions, real estate tax questions, advocacy on their behalf to banks and attorneys and so much more. This career is fulfilling and challenging, ever-changing, rewarding, sometimes emotionally-draining and sometimes down-right sad.

Our family has gone from sitting in our first 800 square foot home, with a computer hooked up to a phone line and an AOL disk received in the wireless and handheld SmartPhones, able to download documents anywhere and databases that includes thousands of names and contacts with a key-stroke.

Easier? No. We sit here today and have no idea where the market truly is because of a false-floor placed on real estate. At least 10 years ago, the buyers and sellers drove the market and the supply and demand, not bureaucrats in DC. Until fewer regulations and requirements are placed on real estate and lending, rather than more and the market settles because of a good dose of old fashioned common sense, then we will continue to speculate on what the next 10 years will look like. Locally, we are in good shape and for that I am grateful, but our market is affected by those trying to sell in other areas and true recovery can't happen until the job market stabilizes and the private sector adds and innovates. And until then, our industry will have to be innovative to not only survive but find a way to thrive in this period of ambiguity.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

7 tips for picking a real estate agent

Wishing there were a good way or formula to choose a Realtor? Great article on
I would be happy to provide any of my clients or future clients this information and look forward to helping you and your friends and family with all of their real estate needs...Click below! Have a great day!

7 tips for picking a real estate agent

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Congratulations On Your New Arrival!

Gotcha! Nope, not me having a baby...but our team does have some exciting announcements to make regarding some very special additions!

First, Brooke Cashion and Associates welcomes TWO new members to the team! Jennifer Sammons has just joined me as a new agent on the team, specializing in buyer's agency, new construction and the Surry and Stokes county areas. Funny how things work, but Jennifer was a former client of mine who lived in Kernersville and I sold them a beautiful home on 7 acres that backs up to Pilot mountain. Needless to say, I was thrilled when she told me she was looking to change careers and get into real estate. Jennifer previously worked several years with a national new home builder as an interior designer and most recently she worked with a local plumbing fixture company. Needless to say, she knows homes and has been around remodeling and new construction for well over the past ten years! Not to mention, she is super active in the Winston-Salem Home Builders Association and sits on their board of directors. I cannot even begin to describe what a pleasure it is to have Jennifer and her positive attitude, witty sense of humor, excitement and her fashion-sense in our office! She is available full-time to serve all of your real estate needs and can be reached at 226-399-5218.

Our next addition is Dawna Compton, our new right-hand gal, who filled in when our beloved Beth left to spend more time with her boys. Though we miss Beth dearly, Dawna fell right into the groove. Dawna will be specializing in systems, organization and marketing implementation so that our day to day processes go smoothly in order to allow Jennifer and I to be out in the field and physically with our clients more often. Dawna also brings a ton of resources with her, especially her knowledge and enthusiasm for technology, her "can-do" attitude and her strong work ethic--each of which are seasoned with a dose of quirky humor! If you are a current client and need anything regarding fliers, books, website management, etc. Dawna is your gal--but of course, you can still call me anytime!

We do have another arrival to announce and that is Allen Tate Winston-Salem's arrival to our new location in downtown Winston! We have FINALLY settled into our new building located at 147 S. Cherry St. and it is beautiful! Please find the time to drop in and say hello or wave as you pass by on Business 40!

With these additions, I look forward to all of the good that is certainly to come from it and I am excited about implementing new resources to better serve you and your referrals!

Keep 'em coming!


Sunday, June 06, 2010

That's What I Call a Great Deal!

What a wonderful and relaxing weekend, after the madness of tax credit deadlines, soccer tournaments and end of school activities, it seems as if life has gotten back to normal...well at least until tomorrow!

Several interesting bits of information to be relayed to you that have recently occurred...great home on Fielding Drive in the Post Oak subdivision is back on the market after only have recently exchanged hands in the past month or so. One of my close friends asked me to confirm if the first sell actually went through and it did, but for any of you looking for a great one level brick ranch in an established and super convenient Kernersville location, contact me for the specs...listed at just $205k--not much more than what it sold for only a few weeks ago!

Several of my listings have recently been reduced...placing them in a category that I call "What a Great Deal!" That means if I had millions of dollars, I would grab these homes up and hold on to them for a few years and well, you know the rest of the story. One of these is my mother-in-law's home in Salisbury Crossing at 605 Charles Conner. She just authorized another reduction of 5k, making this a steal at 195k!! Check it out

Another one of these "deals" is a new listing located in Tredegar at 1719 Tredegar Road. Things have been pretty slow for this subdivision for some reason, but this home is priced to sell at just 250k...4 bedrooms, all-brick and a huge, level fenced backyard.

Also, if you know of anyone looking for something below 150k that is move-in ready check these HOT PROPERTIES out!! Perfect for an investor wanting to hold and flip, great for rental property or for someone just needing some great space for the money! Check out the lot sizes, condition and location for the price.
908 Huntington Run in Kernersville
1140 Ziglar Road in Northern Winston-Salem

Anything else that you hear of or have questions on please don't hesitate to call me, text, email, Tweet, FB or post to the blog...we'll pick it up and get back to you!

Stay tuned for days on market updates, inventory and new listings!

Keep an eye out for the June e-newsletter coming your way this week with tons of new info!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Weekend Update: Wine Festival, Dash Game and Spring Cleaning...

Always one to try and keep you abreast of community happenings, I'll let you know of a few activities taking place this weekend in the Cashion household.

The Salute wine festival began on Thursday, May 20 with several restaurants and local vineyards pairing to bring you customized menus/selections that feature the best of wine and food the Triad has to offer. If you are new to this event the dinners are certainly something to check out. They start at $60pp which is a bargain if you view the selections. If you can't enjoy the dinner portion, then take a moment on Saturday to come to downtown Winston to take part in the actual "street festival" portion of the event. There will be tons of wineries offering tastings and selling their products along with live music and various entertainment. Stay for the after-party which I hope to attend, that will start around 6ish and will host one of my all-time favorite bands Absolute 80's.

Tonight will also be a BIG night in our family, as we are joining some dear friends and attending our first Dash game as a family. Both Jake and I have been to the games, but never together and Maddie has yet to see a game at the new stadium. One of the highlights of the evening, besides spending this gorgeous Carolina night with friends, will be one of our friends' son singing as entertainment with his chorus. As my friend declared, to these kids, it might as well be Yankee stadium...can't wait to hear the performance!

To round out our weekend, because the weather looks to turn nasty, we are going to make a push to Spring clean. Trying to de-clutter to possibly get ready to put our home on the market is a real chore. Slowly, we have made progress getting some of our TO DO list knocked to all of my listing clients out there--I FEEL YOUR PAIN! We have painted our exterior trim, replaced front porch post columns, landscaped, pine strawed, had windows cleaned, painted, had carpets cleaned and the list still has several items that need to be knocked out. Goodwill here we come!

Have a great weekend and I hope that you take the time to enjoy your family and friends regardless of your activity! If you know of anything else fabulous going on in our area, feel free to post for the rest of us to enjoy!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Tax Credit Opportunity Over...Step by Step to the Closing Deadline

I believe this has been the longest break I have taken from blogging since I began this journey over a year ago. However, with the demands of the tax credit and deadlines looming, it has been a necessary evil. I would like to share with you a synopsis of the path from contract to close and how it will effect those trying to obtain the tax-credit.

As a review, the buyers and sellers taking advantage of the tax credit had to be under contract by April 30 and now the clock is ticking for them to close by June 30 which is fast approaching. What that means is that several hurdles have to be crossed for closings to be successful, which reflects on the ability of the Realtor, the lender and the financial viability of the buyer and seller. What in the world does that entail you ask?

Well for starters, after the contract is executed (which our team was doing up until midnight of the deadline!), the clock starts ticking for the buyer to obtain inspections, including a general home inspection, wood-destroying insect, radon, structural, etc. Upon completion of the inspection, the buyer can submit a written request to the seller for broken items to be repaired. This is usually one of the major sticking points of the negotiation process. However, now with these first-time credit eligible buyers, they have lost some of their ability to negotiate these repairs effectively with the seller. Meaning that the seller can say no to the request and if the buyer walks from the contract to find a more suitable home and begins this process over again, they are no longer eligible for the credit. I believe that you will find more and more buyers sucking up some of these minor repairs, unless they exceed their "cost of repair contingency" or exceed the $8000 credit threshold in repairs. Certainly, this is an interesting and new position for buyers to be in, to say the least.

Once the inspections are behind the buyer, the paperwork is continually being submitted on their behalf to the lenders for loan approval. This process normally takes 30-45 days in a natural real estate setting, but with the large influx of loans those buyers under contract on April 30 may now be facing a longer "wait" period, pushing them precariously close to the deadline to close of June 30. Agents such as myself, added language that makes the contract null and void, with earnest money returned, if the deadline is missed, should the buyer desire. My belief is that these kind of statements being added to contracts are few and far between, as far as the deadline performance is concerned. Now, don't get me wrong, I have several buyers that qualify for the credit, but would purchase regardless because their housing needs require such--therefore, that particular language was not necessary.

Another layer of buyer-loan approval is now the additional information that is required per new and existing Federal regulations. This could mean, verification of condo v. townhouse, how many rentals are in a particular subdivision, if the home meets FHA/VA guidelines for condition, if there have been any deposits in the past 30 days that are out of the norm, verification of employment, well and septic testing, lead-based paint testing, structural letters for any previous termite activity whether treated and repaired or not, name verification, marital status verification, primary-residence verification, and the like....THEN AND ONLY THEN after all of these items and more are met, does the package go to the closing department for a once-over and get sent to the attorney for organization and closing.

Yet, here's a new hurdle for these tax-credit buyers given the state of the economy...short sales. By now you have all heard of short-sales and understand the basic concept of the process. So keep in mind that a good deal of these buyers are attempting to purchase properties that are going to require "third-party" approval, better known as bank-approval. In most cases this requires bank approval from two separate banks on a first and second mortgage! The typical time was 120 days, but with the recently passed legislation that bonuses banks and sellers to expedite short sales, we are hoping that this can cut the time down to the less than 60 day window we were looking at with the tax credit deadline.

As you can certainly see the pieces have to fall into the right places for the tax-credit buyers to enjoy success and this takes monitoring of the transaction, pre-planning, watching for red-flags and the like...but with diligence, the majority of these buyers and sellers will close on or before the June 30 deadline.

When details matter...experience certainly does count!


Friday, April 23, 2010

So Much To Do...You Can Buy a Home or Have a Glass of Wine...

As the weekend approaches I am sure that you are just wondering what in the world you can do to fill the time...I was just teasing one of my friends and telling her that for Realtors, Fridays are our Mondays. This is the time when everyone has off work and is gearing up to go out and fervently look for homes before the tax credit expires. Well, that is certainly a great way to spend time and if you have waited until the last minute, there are some of us out there that will certainly make time to find you the perfect home! Just give me a call, text or email and we can carve out some personal time for you.

On another note, there are some great events taking place this weekend, in and around town that might interest you. As always during the Spring, downtown Kernersville will host the Music and Mingle at The Factory. Tonight features guitarist Adam Turner, who teachs at Love That Music, where my daughter takes guitar. I have heard only excellent things about his skills. Those in attendance can take advantage of the lovely weather, enjoy the shops, which will be open, grab a glass of wine or beer from Shakespeare and Co. or just hang with friends while winding down the week. All excellent options for a Friday!

Tomorrow morning, for those of us looking to have a little Saturday morning pick-me-up, there will be a charity 5k Walk/Run for Debbie Varner. Debbie is a fellow Realtor who works at Prudential in Kville. She is a mother of three and has been battling cancer for quite some time. Registration begins at 8:30 at the Kernersville YMCA and is $20 for an individual and $25 for a family. What a great way to help one of our fellow neighbors in need, while getting some much needed exercise. Maddie and I are both participating...this will be her first 5k and my first event with her! Exciting!

Also, tomorrow night Korner's Folly is the annual Wine Tasting event. Always a fun time to get together with Folly supporters and out of towners, this event has grown a TON since it's inception several years ago. Lots of North Carolina wineries will be featuring their selections and there will also be food provided as well as live music. Information and ticket prices can be found on the Folly website.

So, there you have it...If you aren't viewing real estate, which I will happily doing for a large part of the weekend--then maybe I will see you at one of the many community events that are being offered this weekend! Cheers!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Celebrating Successes...

This year Allen Tate and Brooke Cashion and Associates had numerous successes. Despite a difficult national real estate market, our local market spoke for itself and we capitalized on the movement of buyers and sellers in and out of the Triad. Here are just a few of the things that we can be thankful for:

*Enhancement and diversification of our media branding strategy, including beefed up online advertising, electronic billboards, mapping features, social media marketing and more

*Contributed over $370,000 to United Way for cultural initiatives and public education--all staying within our local communities

*Recorded more that 25 million property details and page views on

*Recorded over 2500 hits per month on

*Exposed our listing inventory locally, regionally, nationally and internationally via more than 6,000 websites!!

*Introduced Tate Chat, a live chat feature which allows consumers to communicate in real time online conversations with client-care reps

*Introduced Job-Loss Protection and Rate-Relief programs in order to build consumer confidence and inevitability sell more homes

*Implemented the Allen Tate Short Sale Program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure

*Maintained weekly updates to our clients via text messaging, e-newsletters and activity emails

*Maintained yearly volume for Brooke Cashion and Associates even in a "down" market

*Hired an assistant and a full-time buyers agent for Brooke Cashion and Associates

*Implemented video tours of listings for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, my blog and more...

*Continually brainstorming about how to make your real estate experience the best it can possibly be...if you have a suggestion or idea, please let us know.

Brooke Cashion and Associates

Animoto Video Tour of 1140 Ziglar--OPEN HOUSE THIS SUNDAY the 25th from 2-4

Great video tour of this fabulous listing in Winston-Salem! Acreage plus pond! 3bd/2ba--Only $125,000! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Ziglar Road

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tax Credit Leaving You High and Dry?? Certainly Not the Only Reason to Buy! (or sell)

Approximately two weeks left in the first-time buyer and move-up buyer tax credit period. For those of you still looking to take advantage of the credit, you must have a completely executed contract by April 30 and be able to close no later than June 30.

However, if you are not one of the select few to have your home under contract by the deadline in order to get your $6500, don't despair...there are still great reasons to keep your home on the market, sell your home and purchase a new one!

Rates are still low. Regardless of how familiar we have gotten with historically low rates, this is set to change. The federal government has put a halt on purchasing mortgage-backed securities meaning that banks will start charging more to lend money-resulting in that higher rate.

A small change such as a 1/2 to 1% can easily eat up the tax credit advantage. I have blogged previously about the actual numbers (see archives), but 1% can change your payment as much as a price decrease of 10% can. What does that mean to sellers who need to sell in order to buy?

Price your home not just competitively but make it compelling. Get a secured contract in hand while you can still take advantage of low interest rates, inventory selection and prices that have been whittled away over the course of the past year. You may take a hit on the front side however, if you ever see yourself needing more space, a better location, easier maintenance or the like, NOW IS THE TIME!!

It is my opinion that the momentum of the credit has peaked and most folks who are going take advantage of the credit have made efforts to do so, but that means opportunity for others. Our housing market won't be confined by governmental whims and incentives but rather in true market supplies and demands. Once the dust settles we are going to have a very good idea of where our local market stands and I think those that took advantage of historical real estate situations will certainly be pleased with themselves in years to come--especially in the Triad!

Feel free to call me or email me to discuss your personal real estate situation!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 Social Networking and New Addition to Team

Another piece of exposure for listings nationwide! 7 million buyers searching on can share your home with folks on their social networks...Get Involved and Start Sharing!
Remember you can always become a fan of Brooke Cashion and Associates and also have the ability to view and share listings, real estate blog posts and much more!
We welcome Dawna to Brooke Cashion and Associates as administrative support! Dawna is going to help this train keeping moving forward...we look forward to having your on our team!
As always, keep in mind that we want you to contact Brooke Cashion and Associates for ALL of your real estate needs! Whether you are remodeling, refinancing, landscaping or any investment in your or email us first OR post a question on Facebook...allow us to consult you before making changes that could permanently effect your home's value.
Happy House Hunting!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

No Need to Sell First to Get Tax Credit...

For those of you out there with homes on the market, keep in mind that you do not have to sell before buying your "move-up" home and realizing your $6500 tax credit. As time grows near to have a property under contract, you can certainly consider other options for your current home such as renting or lease/purchasing. Now, the kicker is that you may have to show a lease or income before being able to qualify for the loan on your second home and you may not feel comfortable paying two mortgages. All of this hinges on your personal financial situation and how comfortable you feel. According to an article on RISMedia they say the following about the "move-up" credit.

A home buyer does not need to sell their current home in order to be eligible for the repeat buyer credit. They can continue to own both homes and rent or use their former home for something else, as it no longer serves as their principal residence. The taxpayer is required to use the new home as their principal residence, and live in it for at least 36 months or they will have to repay the credit.

Certainly something to consider as time approaches for the credits to end. If you have any questions about your personal tax situation, remember to consult your tax advisor. Should you have questions about your personal real estate situation, remember to consult your local Realtor, Brooke Cashion.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Burning the Candle at Both Ends...

1140 Ziglar Road-Winston-Salem Acreage, 3bd/2ba cottage on large fishing pond! $135,000
It's been a few days since I last posted and at that point I was trying to put something out there that was a little lighter...I think I did, heck, I don't even recall what the last post was on! And that, my friend, is exactly my point...things have been wild here, which is good, but crazy!

Real estate in our area has definitely gotten legs under it. As a company and as an individual agent we are up significantly in number of new listings. Personally, I have several new buyers, some being relocated to the area with their jobs or with the hospital. I also am fortunate to be working with several referred buyers and just wrapped up helping some dear friends of mine, sell their home in Lewisville and purchase another. So, yes, juggling soccer, school, Spring Break, dinners, church, running AND fitting in 70-80 hour work weeks can be challenging BUT fun and rewarding at the same time!

Because of all of the new listings, if your home is currently on the market NOW is the time to get the price right and the condition impeccable. I have viewed so many homes in the past few weeks and cannot believe that the little stuff such as clean windows, counters, floors, fixtures are not taken care of prior to listing the home. Some of the homes we have seen smell like pets, have huge stains in the carpet, fingerprints on the wall, crust from who-knows-what on the counters and excuses for landscaping that would make Olmstead turn over in his grave! Now your home doesn't have to look like Biltmore, but by God, cleanliness goes a long way my friend!

Beyond what should be obvious items to tackle prior to listing your home, getting the rest of the home in impeccable condition is paramount. Yes, I know you are moving and why didn't you do this years ago so that you could enjoy it? Can't answer that one for you! Take care of trim that is rotting or needs to be painted, replace/repair your front door, patch holes, paint ceilings if there are stains (and the stains have been repaired), de-clutter and clean out, replace light bulbs, put out fresh flowers, am I starting to hit a nerve?

I hope not because now more than ever getting the highest and best price for your home means being ready for this wide-open race we call "real estate" right out of the gate! Be the shiniest apple in the bunch AT THE BEST PRICE! It's not good enough any longer to be competitive, you must be compelling!

So join me in capitalizing on this upswing in our market by getting your home in tip-top shape and enjoying this beautiful weather...burn on my real estate friends, not out!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Springing Forward...

As I drove through Buena Vista this morning coming from a closing...I looked around and was overwhelmed at how many trees and shrubs were pushing blooms towards the overcast sky. The grass seemed greener than usual and flowers, such as jonquils and crocus were popping through freshly laid pine straw. Then it dawned on yard doesn't look like this, heck, no yard around me looks like this. Could it be that the affluent also enjoy the unique privilege of enjoying Spring a little earlier than the rest of us?

Another testament to the benefits of properly landscaped and manicured yards...hmmm...guess I'll detour through Buena Vista when I need a pick-me-up until Spring officially arrives at my home or maybe I'll just spring for some new pine straw and create my own little slice of heaven!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Running from Something?

Ok, I've done it AGAIN...I'm a runner!?

For any of you who really know me, you know that last year, about this time I started running/walking/training for a 5k. Never been a runner, never wanted to be a runner, however, this is an item on my "bucket list" and I decided before I get too awfully old I need to cross this one off! During the course of training last year, I subscribed to a training plan called "From Couch to 5k" is an incremental plan that can be found online that gives daily training guidelines in order to work you up to being able to run successfully (which means FINISH) in a 5k. I made it last year up to about 3 weeks before the big 4th of July race in Kernersville, when I came down with a nasty respiratory virus/fever which kept me from exercising for almost 3 more weeks...then my grandmother passed away and there went the summer and all of my momentum and enthusiasm was sucked away like the last slurp of a frosty margarita. Done, finis, never to be picked up again? Not so...I am back with a vengeance and beginning week 4!

This year, I have started earlier, eating better and sticking with the plan like toothpaste on a sink...only 3 weeks left until the Kernersville 5k on March 27th! The runs are easier this year and I have fortunately had a running partner and a supportive husband which makes it more pleasurable. I now find myself pushing an extra minute or to the next stop sign rather than just doing the minimum...what does that mean? Am I a runner again? That's yet to be seen...however, when I received an email from a college roomie of mine asking me to do a half marathon in November, I didn't laugh it off immediately, I actually gave it a second thought...Am I crazy? Nah...just a runner!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When Details Matter...

I had lunch today with a former client and a dear friend of mine who is considering a career in real estate. I look forward to continuing our conversation as she works step by step to obtain her real estate license and moves into the position of "trusted advisor" and Realtor.

As we were discussing opportunity and risk, the conversation took an interesting turn as she was filling me in on details of a friend of hers that is in the market for a home. She gave me their information and let me know that they would be contacting me in order to start the home-buying process. We would work in this fashion until she obtains her license and is able to help them if they haven't found the "perfect house" by that time.

She started talking about why she told them that they should work with me, and I have to admit I have never seen it from the outside in quite like she was discribing. Keep in mind this person had just sold and bought a home with me this year, wants to work with our group of associates and is now referring me a friend! Wow! My ego was really getting inflated! The points she made regarding my service and what I could offer her friends buying a home were these...

*Anticipation of problems before they arise "nipping it in the bud" , "worst case scenario" and then "most likely case scenario".

*Taking time to find the right house for a buyer...because of my experience and established clientele, having the patience and resources to spend the necessary time finding a home that works, rather than "pushing" someone into something that doesn't.

*Understanding the marketplace...what it means to understand home values, future development and growth areas and what homes meet varying and ever-changing governmental guidelines.

*Team of Experts...working with the right partners in lending, inspections, attorneys to make the deal go smoothly and knowing that everyone working on the deal is working together to get the job done right the first time!

*Having a system to take care of the details...I admit...I am a little OCD when it comes to my system of business practice...everything is filed, categorized and noted so that we can refer back to previous conversations, provide documentation and make sure that your interests are taken care of...

All of this works to make my clients' real estate experience the best it can be and I love her for taking the time to tell me WHY she trusts my advice! So on that note, I'll refer back to one of my previous marketing mantras and thank my friend for helping me to revive...


Happy House Hunting!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Wesley--Film Review...

I haven't posted "cultural" events in a while, so I thought I would give it a whirl.

Last night, we attended Wesley, with another couple from our church. I had been hearing bits and pieces about the film since it debuted several months ago at the NC School of the Arts. The film was produced here in North Carolina, more specifically, the majority of it was shot locally. Easy to recognize places such as Old Salem, Salem Lake, etc. unfortunately make it one of the main highlights of this production. Understanding that budgets are limited in ventures such as this, small adjustments could have been made to authenticate some of the scenes.

The story was intriguing and I found it very interesting that John Wesley struggled so hard with his own faith prior to finding a place in his heart to "preach to the masses." I also enjoyed the storyline interlacing with the Moravians as his personal religious beliefs were tested and adjusted. Local faces made this production all the better! Kernersvillian Richard "Dick" Stromehieher made a lengthy appearance as a close-minded minister in the Church of England. For those of you who enjoy him in Kernersville Little Theater, it makes it worth viewing!

My favorite part of the evening, excepting the company, was the venue of this film. The newly opened A/perture in downtown Winston-Salem, located directly across from Mellow Mushroom at 311 Fourth Street. Trendy and bright, as well as intimate and artsy, is exactly what Winston has been needing in order to showcase some of the independents that don't appeal to the mass audience. Each auditorium seats 80, the seats are comfortable and the area clean. The concession area, though I did not purchase anything, featured beer and wine, cupcake cups, cake balls, popcorn and traditional movie fare.

Take the time, grab dinner downtown and enjoy a film "indy"-style...if you hurry, you may catch Wesley!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Culture of Spending...

If you are like us and most of our friends, you've done just about all the "trimming" to your budget that you can without giving up the "necessities." Now, I know that "necessities" can be a subjective term based on your priorities. In our household, we have not had cable for almost one year now. In March of 2009 while whittling down our personal budget, we rid ourselves of cable AND television. It was only until my grandmother passed away in July that we ended up with a television, courtesy of my aunts and uncles. Fast forward to today and still no cable and the digital rabbit ears are double-time, trying to grab that elusive digital signal out of the sky, which can sometimes be tricky in strong winds, rain, snow, sleet, too much sunshine, etc. :)

Speaking of priorities, when we tell folks we don't have cable, you might as well have told them that we only use leaves as toilet paper. "Unheard of! Are you crazy!?", they ask. Well, I believe that these "crazy" cuts, regardless of your priorities are all a part of the new culture of spending.

Money has been relatively easy over the past decade or so and while I am certainly not an economist, easy money has been true, for most folks. If you weren't making it, you could borrow it, if you couldn't borrow out right, you could leverage "equity" and get your hands on some. At times, it felt as if everyone was walking around in "a rich man's world." Advertisements catered to high-end, super-vacations, homes had tons of square footage and were "macked" out, giving rise to the term "McMansion", where "normal" homes were being torn down and replaced with mini-castles. For a while you would hear how much someone "spent" on an item, not what a "great deal" you might have gotten. Having name brand or the best and most of everything was the sign of the time.

As far as businesses go, my husband and I were new small business owners at the time, we said "no" very rarely when a new marketing idea was presented or a charity asked for money. We had a business plan but because money flowed, it was easy to veer away under the excuse that we needed to "branch out" or "try something new". Now, still business owners, our business plan is rarely "tweaked" during the year, except when we see a way to save and everything is tracked religiously to see the ROI. I have made it a personal business goal to focus on zero-based marketing by teaming up with other "trusted advisers" and pooling our resources and ideas to create the best experience for our clients.

So, for me and many others out there, it's back to the basics. Quality, hometown-feeling service, taking time to chat over coffee instead of lavishing gifts, quaint gatherings in lieu of big, impersonal, corporate parties, purchasing "homes" instead of "flips", fuel-efficient rather than monster-like, trusted advisers over "sales" and yes, maybe even cold beer and a home-grilled steak occasionally over cable t.v.
Like I said, it's all about priorities...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Those Who Wait Will Pay Thousands More This Spring

This just in from Allen Tate Mortgage courtesy of Jennifer Tuttle, Mortgage Specialist--Winston-Salem, NC

Waiting a few extra days or weeks to purchase a home this spring could cost buyers thousands of extra dollars as the office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) implements several changes for loan guaranteed by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA).

Coming just weeks before the April 30 deadline for the Home Buyer Tax Credit and just days after the March 31 expiration of the Federal Reserve Board's mortgage backed securities purchase program (which has kept home loan rates artificially low for over a year), these FHA changes make it even more important to act now to save big.

Here are a few reasons why:

On April 5, the cost of required up-front mortgage insurance for loan guaranteed by the FHA will increase from 1.75% to 2.25%. For a borrower purchasing a $200,000 home with a $7000 down payment, the up-front mortgage insurance will increase by $965. Up front mortgage insurance is typically financed in the final loan amount so the impact to a monthly payment will be minimal, but overall, the increase is still borne by the borrower both upfront and monthly.

Later this Spring, the amount of money that a seller can return to the buyer from their sale proceeds will be reduced from 6% to 3%. The reduction in these "seller concessions" can increase the amount of cash a buyer will be required to pay at closing by $6000 for a home purchase of $200,000.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Real Estate Stats--January 2010

"If prices come down by another 10% but interest rates increase by 1 percentage point, that would mean the same monthly payment today versus waiting."--New York Times 7/27/2009

"As the Fed begins to wind down its purchases in the next few months, rates will become less enticing. Analysts expect them to rise to at least 6 percent from the current 5 percent."--New York Times 10/24/2009

In 2009 the percent of total sales in the Winston-Salem, NC market were as follows

Should YOU wait until the market rebounds to sell? According to Housing Wire 9/21/2009 and Moody's analyst:

At least another decade will pass before housing prices return to peak 2006 levels, according to analyst Celia Chen at Moody's She wrote that housing prices will decline for another year bottoming out in the second quarter of 2010 before rebounding.

"The correction will be not only deep but also lengthy. The national price level will not regain its 2006 high until 2020."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Free House? Depends on how you view the glass...

Well, there isn't such a thing and home ownership does come with a ton of responsibility, but nothing is more American than owning your own home. With the extension and expansion of the tax credit and the raising of the limit of how much money you can make in order to qualify (125k-singles**225K-couples), there has never been a time that felt more like, well, free!

If you take the notion of a borrower paying $900 in interest and property taxes each month, this would equate to a loan amount of $165,000. At this loan amount, the interest is around $690 and the property taxes, let's say are $210 for a total of $900--both of these items being normal tax write-offs.

So on this $900/month budget or $10,800 per year they are probably close to a 25% tax bracket with federal and state taxes, so they could potential recognize $2700 in income tax benefits PLUS the additional $8000 in credits from the stimulus!

WOW! They just got their home for $100 this year! Of course, back to the expenses...there is of course home owners insurance, which should be a little more than the renter's insurance they SHOULD be carrying and they will have to maintain their new home.

In this situation it is obviously one scenario and as I tell all of my clients, even those who look like they have "cut and dry" situations, that they need to consult their tax advisor. I also have to say that this novel idea was not mine, but passed on to me by a dear mortgage associate.

Bottom line is this...the tax credit was extended and expanded and if you are even remotely considering moving up or out, NOW IS THE TIME! Any financial advisor that you read in the WSJ or see on t.v preach that this is a historic time for buying real estate...imagine the value 20 years from now!

Make the credit work for you and give me a call so that I can help point you in the right direction so that you too can take your piece of the stimulus pie!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Rules For Living

This has been hanging over our kitchenette at the office and I have enjoyed it, so i wanted to share these sentiments by Kent Keith.


1-People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered. Love them anyway.

2-If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

3-If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

4-The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

5-Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

6-The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

7-People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

8-What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

9-People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

10-Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

Monday, January 04, 2010

X Marks the Spot...

Well, now the holidays are behind us and 2010 or the Year of X is now upon us. I have been super busy listing and consulting folks who are weeks away from listing, so there will be plenty to choose from if you are a first-timer or move-up buyer looking to take advantage of the extended and expanded tax credit before April 30, 2010.

The numbers show the "hot spots" in the market and I have some stats from November 09 I would like to share that demonstrate just that.

These stats are residential stats for Forsyth County-November 2009

Homes closed between 100,001 and 150,000---112 sold
Homes closed between 150,001 and 200,000---41 sold
Homes closed between 200,001 and 250,000---17 sold
Homes closed between 250,001 and 300,000---12 sold

TOTAL of home sold that were over 300,000---29 sold!

Hot market is definitely between 100-200K and those over the 300K mark are going to have to price aggressively, still be the shiniest apple in the bunch and be open to buyer incentives at least for the next quarter or three.

December and January's numbers will be very interesting since it is my opinion that these figures above from November 09 are artificially inflated due to the perception that the tax credit was ending on Nov 30...we'll see how we adjust to the new deadlines and where the market ends up after April 2010...As far as bottoming of the market, it is my hope that X will truly mark the spot as the bottom and we can go onward and upward from there.

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year!