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.