Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Got a Blessing? Give a Blessing...

Recently I have both experienced blessings from others.  Those random acts of kindness, given by complete strangers, just because.  I ordered a meal in the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A last week and as I hastily got off of my phone, the attendant handed me a manila business card from Triad Baptist Church that indicated that they had paid for my meal as a Christmas blessing.  I thought "wow!", what a great way to brighten someones day.  Just earlier that morning, I had purchased enough coffees at my favorite drive-thru, Blend and Brew in Kernersville, and received a "free" coffee.  Upon exiting, I saw a man sitting on their picnic table under an umbrella.  He was nicely dressed but had mud on his knees and it was raining, so I asked him if I could give him my free coffee.  He thanked me and kindly declined.  Needless to say, I still received a blessing to see him smile.

On Sunday, we were headed back from soccer and had the opportunity to give a beggar on a corner a "power bar" as a snack.  The comment was made that he probably didn't want the food, he probably wanted money.  I immediately recalled what one of my disciple class members had said the previous week.  They indicated that it is only your responsibility to GIVE the blessing, what the person does with it after that is up to them.  I have thought often of that statement this week and realized that too often we look for immediate gratification or an outpouring of thanks from the receiver. Who if you think about it, never ASKED for what we thought was the blessing to begin with. We look for award and accolade to legitimize our perceived sacrifice, when in fact, we should expect nothing, except the knowledge that God will use that blessing in some way, shape or fashion that may never be revealed to our eyes here on Earth.

How difficult is it as a human to not want acknowledgment of our good deeds when this is what we have been raised on?  It does feel good to be recognized, believe me, I know; but as I mature I realize that it feels good just to be able to have the blessings from God to be able to bless someone else.  That in itself, is recognition enough...most of the time! I still love to see my name in lights...I'll have to work on that! :)


Monday, December 10, 2012

Domino Closings Aren't a Fun Game...

Though you might recall the game of dominoes being fun as a kid, this particular kind of dominoes can be the worst kind of stress for buyer/seller and agent alike.  First, let's define the domino closing for all of you out there who have no clue what I am talking about.  Rest assured, if you have ever been a part of one, or are currently a part of one, you'll never forget it.  The domino closing is a reference that agents usually make when one home's successful closing depends on another home's successful closing.  I have seen these go back 3 and 4 deep. Meaning that one house has sold, those buyers are buying a house, those buyers are buying a house and so on.  Usually these occur on or near the same day due to the fact that no one wants to be homeless or loaded in a truck for longer than necessary. 

As we all know, most homes are occupied, making the stress of getting out of your current home into you new home, difficult at best.  Add to that the anxiety of making sure all of the buyers and sellers before your transaction close on time and without incident because your home is dependent on the buyer obtaining monies from their sell and you are usually in a position that requires the money from your successful transaction. Oh, and did I mention that you know NOTHING about the buyers and sellers before you or the caliber and qualifications of their agent. Thus the anxiety, which typically stems from the lack of control of the unknown and exacerbates as a result of the typical moving tasks; such as switching utilities, schools, arranging movers, cleaning, painting and the list goes on and on.  This time of year, add to that, the holiday season, kids' exams and top it off with the mounds of paperwork that now litters the lending process.  It's enough to set the most resilient and experienced buyer/seller over the proverbial edge and directly into the nearest bowl of eggnog.

The question becomes, how do we mitigate the risk associated with these transactions and how can we ever be certain that nothing goes wrong?  Well, the truth of the matter is simply that we cannot assure that nothing will go wrong.  As a matter of fact, brace yourself for the fact that most definitely something will not go as planned, and that you will have to redirect your course to reach your destination.  If that expectation can be grasped, then we can move on to the things you can do to make your life easier when experiencing the domino closing. 

Start by hiring an agent experienced in real estate and who is organized, so that no detail regarding your actual transaction goes unnoticed.  Again, no one is perfect, but you do want an agent who uses a system of checklists and reminders to make sure that your transaction meets date deadlines for paperwork, inspections, walk-through, etc.  A good agent can help you to use these times to coordinate painters, designers and contractors so that you can obtain estimates for work to be completed after closing. This same trusted agent will make sure that the closing times and paperwork are in order so that there are few hiccups on the actual closing day.

Once your home is under contract, go through and purge.  This is something you can and need to do even if your transaction falls apart.  Then begin to pack.  First pack things you don't use on a daily basis, then move on to other more critical items, leaving the large items and "must-haves" to the movers; if you are lucky enough to have hired movers. Make sure you pack yourself  and your family a "travel bag" of prescriptions, contacts, toiletries and a few days worth of clothes in case you do find yourself at a friend or family members home for a night or two in the event something does get delayed.  Better to be prepared than to have to rummage through your neatly packed boxes digging for undergarments in the middle of the night.

Schedule everything you can for the day of closing.  Housekeepers, carpet people, etc. can be pre-booked to ensure you get all that you can completed before the moving truck arrives.  If your goods are being held overnight or for a day this gives you additional time to think about how you would like to place furniture and it allows you to clean out debris and garage areas so that you can use these areas as a staging area if additional paint or construction are being done after closing.

Schedule your utilities a week in advance if possible.  That way you won't be surprised to arrive and find out that you have no water over the weekend or that the power is out when you show up to unload at 5am on a Sunday morning.  Have your agent give you a list of utility providers and mark it off as you complete the task.  Cancel your current home's utilities at the same time for added convenience.

Relax.  So much is out of your control and out of the control of the individuals involved.  There is nothing additional that you can do to make things go faster or slower.  All things work in God's time, so at this point, once you have done all that you can, turn it over and enjoy the privilege that you have to be selling and purchasing a home in these challenging economic times.  There are many buyers and sellers that would love to be a part of the opportunity you are experiencing. (Oh how you wish you could share with them some of this joy I speak of!)  How you handle this and how your agent handles the transaction determines how those around you respond when things wrinkle, as they inevitably will.  So keep your head on straight, make lots of lists and take time to rest...you are no good to anyone if you are tired, hungry or ill-prepared.  God Bless your patience and may the dominoes fall right into place!


Monday, December 03, 2012

Like Deducting Your Mortgage Interest? Read This NOW!

Never in recent American history has the housing industry struggled so much to gain solid footing. In addition to home purchases providing the obvious place to rest your head and gather your family, home ownership provides many not-so-obvious benefits.  Owning a home creates a sense of belonging in your community.  You know that but for unforeseen circumstances you plan on being in a community for a while because you've invested your time and money to make it that purchase.  Owning a home also creates stability for your family.  There's something to be said for being at the mercy of a landlord who may or may not decide to raise rents, sell the home or not take care of it as you would like.  For hundreds of years, owning a home has also been the largest investment, we make in our lives.  This purchase and the ownership of a home drives the economy in a way that renting cannot.  Home ownership and the ability to own a home is the backbone of the American economy.  That is why in these shaky economic times, where we are working to obtain solid footing and stable market conditions, the feds should NOT, under any circumstances take away or scale-back the mortgage interest deduction.  If you feel the same way, please click on, take action on and share the link below.  If you don't feel the same way, I'd be interested in hearing why. 



Monday, November 19, 2012

What does it take?

If any of you regularly follow my blog, then you know that last week, we talked about how the community of Kernersville was WINNING and WINNING BIG!  After the Chamber awards banquet and the "medalists" that were honored during this event, it was easy to see why Kernersville has made the best of it's assets and continues to succeed.  All of you know that success is not possible without leadership.  It was intentional that I waited to write about the BIG WINNER of the night, the award for Citizen of the Year.  This award is the highest honor that the Chamber bestows on a citizen of the town of Kernersville.  In years past in ranges from business leaders, education leaders, spiritual leaders and elected officials, but this year all categories were represented.

This year's Citizen of the Year, I happen to know very well.  After serving with this individual four years on the Board of Aldermen, having children at the same school where she was PTA President and very active in the advocacy of the students and parents, and having children in the same sporting organizations; it was easy for me to see why Dana Caudill-Jones was awarded Citizen of the Year.

Dana and I originally met at Cash Elementary when our children entered school, but it was a quick, surface introduction.  Shortly after that, I decided to run for Alderman and Dana and I were both elected and served together for the next four years.  During that time we got to know each other very well.  It's tough to spend hours on end in meetings and events and not learn a little or a lot about your fellow board members.  Agree or disagree, I could see that Dana had a passion for her hometown that touched everything that she involved herself in.  We could be deeply in a disagreement and both bring up stories about our grandmothers' lives in Kernersville, these ladies were major influences in our lives and we enjoyed sharing these histories.  We constantly talked about similar Kernersville experiences that we had, those that enriched our lives and those of our families.  Again, regardless as to what side of an issue we were on, there was no doubt that Kernersville's well-being was at the root of it.  It's easy to see that Dana makes time for her family, especially her son.  Even with a demanding schedule she is quick to carve out time for the important things in life like her church and her family.

As her mom, dad and son, stood in the "wings' the night of the banquet waiting for the big announcement, it was clear that when she saw her family in attendance that it would move her more than the award itself.  And it did.  You just can't call those kind of emotions up at whim.

To Dana:  Thanks for all that you do for the community and for being an inspiration to other women who juggle being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a spiritual leader, a community leader, an educational leader and simply a leader.  It can be done and you truly embody that spirit and the spirit of the award as Citizen of the Year. Congratulations!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

And the Winner Is...

Kernersville.  Yep, I said it.  Kernersville is the winner.

Last night, Jake and I attended the Annual Kernersville Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.  I would suspect that over 200 business owners and community leaders attended.  As I looked around the room, it was easy to see why I believe that during this tough economy Kernersville is the winner.

These folks are familiar.  By that I mean, you see them around town, you see them around church, you see them around school and work.  They make things happen.  They aren't just elusive foundations hiding behind the names of the unknown dead, they are real people, who give real money and time to their hometown.  Take for example, the LE Pope Foundation.  Mr. Pope helped to really build Kernersville.  By setting aside land acquisitions, understanding growth and development, Mr. Pope, for whom this foundation is named, helped to form Kernersville's industrial and commercial-base into what it is today.  Through the company that Mr. Pope created and owned, projects such as Southpark Industrial Park, Deere-Hitachi, Kernersville Hospital, Sleep Inn, VA Medical Center and so many more revenue and job producing entities have been incubated and thrived.  You can see in his employees, their continued commitment to Kernersville's betterment.  As their president Jeff Hunter stated last night after receiving the Economic Development Award, "We are blessed."  How true.

It only took glancing across  my table to see another winner.  Starting a relatively small $3000 program to assist educators with school supplies, Monica Young, grew the educational grant program at the chamber to it's current total level of $75,000!!  This is a person that I SEE in church, whose children give back to our community, who gives of her talents in her career and her family and never shirks from "stepping up to the plate".  You know where Monica stands and you know that you can count on her.  Another big win for education as a result of her tireless efforts.

Another big factor that makes Kernersville a winner are folks like Jim and Henrietta Barrett.  Their list of accolades read as prestigious as any of those receiving national-level volunteer honors.  However, the Barretts are humble and don't seem to know the full impact their lives have had on others.  Jim and Henrietta may have helped build the Shepherd Center and Crisis Control buildings and may have counseled scores of folks in the community dealing with crisis and grief, but for me, it's more personal.  I'm sure that Jim doesn't even recall challenging me to take my first Disciple class at Main Street UMC, but he did.  And I did take it.  It by far, is one of the best things I have done for my spiritual growth.  Had it not been for his words, I doubt I would be in Disciple II today.  A jewel in Jim and Henrietta's crowns for sure!

A smiling face, a bit of assistance with one of my "dumb" questions, a fellow Kernersville Leadership class member.  Well, that's Mary Kay Csanyi.  Our past chamber chairman, Sharon Tucker, chose Mary Kay to receive the Chairman's Award, reflecting her ability to make Sharon's job easier this past year.  Mary Kay embodies Kernersville and it could be said of her that she is Kernersville's ambassador, as she is usually the first face that greets you at the chamber.  Her energy and effort are the glue that makes events such as the ever-popular Christmas Parade and Spring Folly a success. Her quiet work behind the scenes never goes unnoticed by those around her, but highlighting her with this award was a winning idea!

So, not only with these awards does Kernersville earn the title of WINNER.  Where else do you have job growth, housing that has been relatively stable, a central Triad location, access to most main interstates and highways, excellent schools, enormous sports programs for kids such as lacrosse and soccer and citizens who are committed to making sure their town "makes it".  Regardless of the political landscape, the season of year or the economic situation, the people of Kernersville both native and transplant, are drawn to the "true grit" nature and "get it done" mentality that allows this small town to continuosly be WINNING!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Food Favorites...

As the temperatures are perfectly warm during the day and crisp and cool at night, we are primed for a gorgeous leaf season here in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina!  These cool evenings beg for bonfires, crock-pot meals, sweaters and football!  It's also the time of year, that as we spend more time indoors, we turn towards those comfort foods that make our NC culture what it is.  Here are a few of my favorite Fall meals, beverages and snacks...

**Pinto Beans and Cornbread accompanied with chow chow or cole slaw
** Salmon Patties, Cabbage and Mac and Cheese
**Zucchini or Pumpkin Bread
** Spaten Oktoberfest Beer
**Pulled Pork
**OYSTERS--roasted, steamed, raw, stewed or grilled
**Butternut Squash-soup, grilled or roasted
**Brunswick Stew, Chicken Stew or Oyster Stew (see above)
**Fried Apples

What are some of your favorite Fall comfort foods?


Why the real estate market is rocking...and will it continue to roll?

For those of you who follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I have been experiencing a real estate "surge" over the past month.  I would like to say that I had a specific explanation as to why this much and why now during this atypical time of the year, but I don't. I do however, think that I know of some of the contributing factors.

*YOU.  Plain and simple.  Your referrals keep me rolling. You have no idea how much your honest feedback and kind words mean...especially when I hear them from someone that you referred to me!!  Thanks a million!

*Low interest rates.  Rates are still low and have stayed there for the past few weeks.  Buyers who thought they could wait to see them drop further have come off the fence in anticipation of rate increases after the election.

*Weather.  I know it sounds crazy, but good weather means buyers WANT to get out and look.  They love NC this time of year and those dreams of buying in a climate that offers four seasons is really appealing this time of year.

*Consistent Marketing.  With the addition of my new assistant, Loretta, our marketing is consistent.  It was occuring before, but now it's clockwork.  We send tweets and Facebook updates every morning and every afternoon with new, reduced, under contract and sold listings.  We are also back to a FULL newsletter, which I hope you enjoy!

*Systems.  I implemented several years ago a system of following up with ALL leads, regardless of whether they appear to be hot or cold.  At some point, these folks will buy and I want them to sell or buy through me!  This system is starting to gain traction and is proving itself time and time again.  I have buyers and sellers that I have been communicating with on a regular basis since 2007!  That's a long time to work a lead, but they are starting to convert and that is encouraging!

*Cash.  I would say close to 10% of all of my buyers are paying cash right now.  The national average is 18%...that's downright amazing if you ask me.  Why, would they do this when money is so cheap?  Different reasons for sure, but the ones I talk to believe that having a tangible investment is better than have paper in a fund at this stage in their life and this stage in our economy.

Why do you think we have been so busy?  Happy House Hunting!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Falling for Fall Festivities...

**Oktoberfest--Korners Folly October 6th--Beer, Brats, Strange House, Preservation Fundraiser

**Dixie Classic Fair--September 28-October 7--Rides, People Watching, Roasted Corn, Hushpuppie Samples, Pig Races

**Kersey Valley Spook Trail and Maze--Heart-Pounding Scares, Sweaty-Palmed Surprises and Coffin Rides

**Picnics Under Cloudless Blue Skies--Tanglewood, 4th of July Park, Harmon Park, Reynolda Gardens

**Outdoor Dining--Mozelles', 4th Street Filling Station, J Peppers, Smitty's OYSTERS!!

**Brunswick, Chicken and Oyster Stews, Caramel Apples, Popcorn, Cotton Candy, Oysters-raw, steamed, grilled, roasted

**Football--NC State, Wake, WS State, Pee-Wee, High School, Homecomings

**Church Homecomings, Bazaars, Weenie Roasts, Bonfires

**Hiking Hanging Rock, Pilot Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, Camping at Doughton Park, Beach Weekends Under Carolina Moons

**Mums, Pansies, Pine Straw, Mulch, Leaves, Pumpkins, Goards, Hay Bales and Corn Stalks

**Sweater-Sets, Tights, Boots, Oxford Shirts with Sweaters (collars out), Jeans, Wool Socks, Pajama Pants and Sweatshirts from College PE Class

**Dark Beer, Whisky and Ginger Ale, Spiced Hot Tea

**Robert Earl Keen, Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker Band, Widespread Panic, Avett Brothers

What do you FALL for in the Carolinas?

Are You Being Fished or Are You Living in the Reef?

It used to be called fishing.  You baited your hook, dropped it in the nearest body of water and well, you know the rest...you waited...patiently, or not so patiently, in my case.  I always liked a great deal about fishing, but not actually waiting for them to bite.  I liked the boat or pond-bank, I liked the serenity and the notion of being in nature, but never really liked waiting for something that was abundant at the store or fish market.  I was told time and time again, that the waiting would make me appreciate the catch even more, but to me, the fish were the fish; they all tasted the same.

In real estate, the same term has been used to describe the act of throwing multiple marketing "hooks" out and waiting for bites. Again, I look at the act of "fishing" for business and have little patience, when there are clients out in need, waiting for guidance, in some of the most obvious places.  If you like to market, then ok.  If you like "being in real estate", then ok. But I like pulling from my ocean because it just seems to make good business sense.  This is how that ocean looks...

I've been a full-time Realtor for 13 years.  Over the course of that 13 years I have closed over 500 transaction sides.  That means helping over 500 individual buyers and sellers across the Triad.  Those buyers and sellers have experienced my service, attention to detail and professional knowledge.  They swim in "my real estate ocean".  The thing is, I don't want to keep fishing.  I like to think of these past clients as a reef of referrals.  I don't need to drop a line or a net and pluck them out one by one, only to serve my hunger.  Nope, these fish are the ones who swim and share with their fellow "reef mates".  When someone moves out of their current "shell", they know who to bring into the "reef" by means of sharing the real estate experience they had with Brooke Cashion.  All I need to do is to be a good steward of the "reef", making sure that it is nourished, cared for and appreciated.  No need to bait and wait, I just have to "dive in", explore and appreciate the beauty of the "reef". These "reef-mates" are more than willing to share info with friends and family that I provide them on current listings and market trends, and they are always looking for "reef-mates" to be in the "club".

So the next time someone is fishing for your real estate business, ask yourself, "Am I being fished? One time and done?" or "Am I a part of the "reef", being nurtured and cared for throughout my real estate lifetime?"


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Property Taxes...Interesting Take on Valuations...

Property Taxes

County officials across the state are grappling with the prospect of conducting property revaluations that would significantly reduce their property tax base, which could force them to hike the tax rate to keep revenue steady. Counties are required to revalue property at least once every eight years, a process designed to make sure the tax burden is being equitably distributed among all property owners. The tax value is set roughly at market value, but that market value can fluctuate significantly in the years between revaluations. For counties that experienced large amounts of speculative building and conducted revaluations at or near the peak of the market, the decline in real estate values posed a number of challenges. During the boom years, new high-end homes experienced the greatest appreciation in value. But since the bubble burst, many of those same homes are depreciating much faster than other sectors of the market. “How do you explain to the public we’re lowering your (property) value but raising your tax rates?” said Frank Clifton, Orange County’s town manager, summing up the tricky political problem revaluations now pose. The solution for 27 North Carolina counties has been to delay the revaluations by anywhere from one to four years, but such action has drawn criticism, particularly since many counties had reduced the time between revaluations to four years to capture appreciation in the marketplace. “It’s all about equity and truth,” said Gary Phillips, owner of Weaver Street Realty in Carrboro and a former Chatham County commissioner. “Once you make that commitment to do them every four years, they ought to be done every four years because the entire community needs to know what that snapshot looks like.” Under a state law passed in 2008, any county with more than 75,000 residents whose median sales values differ more than 15 percent from tax values must perform a revaluation within three years. Only Union County has so far met the criteria; its median sales price was 20 percent below tax value this year.

Marcus Kinrade, Wake County’s revenue director, said if all sectors of the market are falling by equal amounts compared to their tax value, there isn’t really a problem in delaying a revaluation. “But if the high-end homes are selling significantly less compared to the tax value than the low-end homes, than you’ve got an equalization problem,” he said. “The burden of the tax is unfair” to those high-end homeowners whose property is now worth much less than its current tax value. Although the state puts out annual estimates showing the ratio of each county’s median sales price to its tax values, getting a clear picture on how much the two are diverging is tricky. One problem is that there have been far fewer property sales since the bust. When doing a revaluation, counties are supposed to use only sales in which there is a willing buyer and seller, meaning foreclosures and short sales are not to be included. This has only added to the disconnect between market and tax values, as a homeowner in a neighborhood riddled with foreclosures is likely to wonder why his or her tax value does not reflect all those distressed sales. The lack of qualified sales also can play havoc with commercial property assessments. “The biggest problem that we still had, even delaying it two years, was the lack of qualified sales,” said Shane Mitchell, chairman of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.(David Bracken, THE NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/02/12).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rental v. Purchase...

I have had several calls in the past day or so with folks looking for rentals in our area.  Upon further investigation and much to my surprise, these folks thought that they would not be able to purchase due to credit issues or lack of credit.  One guy even thought that he could not afford to purchase.  I still find this so hard to believe that after all of the hoopla that we have endured, as it relates to banking/lending, that the message is not more clear from the top down; purchasing a home makes sense as opposed to renting for "most" people.

Now, you should NOT purchase a home if:

*You plan on moving every few months or years
*Don't believe in paying bills on time
*Don't believe that legal documents and the obligations that ensue apply to you specifically (i.e deeds of trust/mortgages)
*Don't like to maintain anything
*Don't like tax deductions
*You believe housing should be free

You should buy a home if:

*Your rent is going to cost more than your mortgage payment
*You plan on being in the same area for at least 2 years
*You like tax deductions (interest and MI)
*You like making improvements to your surrounding knowing they benefit you
*Don't mind taking care of what you call "yours"
*You understand that owning a home creates stability for your family and a sense of place in the community
*You take seriously your financial obligations and commitments (I understand that job loss and extenuating circumstances are sometimes unavoidable)
*You are willing to take a serious look at your budget and the affordability of your new payment

If you would like to discuss further your personal options, I would love to talk with you further...who knows owning a home just might be right for you?!  And if you currently own a home and decide that renting just might be the better option, call me too, and we can talk about planning on getting your home sold and finding you something that requires less energy...Happy House Hunting!

**Please note, some of the bulleted items are meant to be tongue in cheek...don't get worked up!!  Feel free to add other points for fun**


Thursday, June 07, 2012


Pretty Persuasive Arguments to BUY NOW!

I feel like a broken record.  For the past several years I have been preaching "BUY NOW! BUY NOW!"  Funny, thing is, at no point was I telling a "fib".  Whether you realized the $8000 tax credit and listened to BUY NOW then or if you are one of thousands to enjoy historically low interest rates because you listened to BUY NOW, then you have taken advantage of one of the greatest times in history to purchase real estate. 

Throughout these past few challenging years, each and every day has held potential for the individual to capitalize on a unique time to benefit from their real estate purchase.  Not letting THE house pass you by while enjoying a great rate, purchasing an investment you can live in or rent (you can't live in a stock share), not having to hassle with future, undefined governmental regulations that are creeping down the pipeline and having tons of choices coupled with some of the lowest prices in years.

According to a recent post from Steve Richman the house price index as provided by the FHFA (fhfa.gove) shows the home values have gone down 11.6% over the past five year, down 1.33% over the past year and up 1.45% over the past quarter.  Richman goes on to say, that whereas this can't necessarily define "rock bottom", it is a pretty persuasive argument to get "off the fence" as prices look to be stabilizing if not increasing.

Also, Richman does a nice job (as we have shown in a previous post) of showing how though housing prices may not be at their bottom, if you couple slightly higher prices with the low rates, a slight incline in rates coupled with low prices still may make for a larger payment and more interest paid over time.

Bottom line, NOW is and has been a great time to invest in real estate.  Feel free to reach out to me or one of our team members to discuss  your personal situation and decide if you should BUY NOW!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Help Wanted!

According to news media these signs are seen pretty infrequently in today's economy, however, I believe that there just might be a good reason employers are frustrated when hanging out this particular shingle.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, then you are aware that I am currently in the search for an office manager who possesses sound administrative skills.  Since the expansion of my business to the Triangle area, I have found that one of the most critical spokes in the wheel of our team's success has been that "key" person who keeps us in line and on-task.  We have been very blessed in the past several years with three awesome assistants who helped to take our team's business to the next level, the most recent, allowing us the ability to achieve Chairman's Circle, which is the highest level of closed volume awards that Allen Tate gives to agents and teams.  This assistant left us just before Christmas and in my mind, I thought that as soon as the holiday season passed I would be able to put out a post and applicants would flock to my office, resumes in hand, ready to work.

Fast forward to the first of January, I posted, told some close business associates and community influence peddlers and I did receive a short burst of applicants.  What I found was that the pool of those searching for these jobs have limited technology experience, despite gains in technology accessibility; a lack of desire to be a "part" of an organization; wanting to simply show up and leave when the clock strikes 5, and no sense of self-motivation; always wanting tasks to be given one at a time.  Unfortunately for those folks, this is not how I work and not how I see the majority of successful businesses work.

I am looking for a self-starter, someone who wants to help to grow our team and benefit from that growth, someone who can find answers on their own, who takes pride in themselves and the work that they accomplish, someone who wants something greater than the position they are in, a creative individual with new ideas and better ways of accomplishing things, solution-oriented, positive and helpful.  Wow!  Is that all?!  I know it sounds steep and possibly naive that  I can find this fit...however, I have had it before, our team members possess these qualities and I feel confident I will find it again!

If you feel that I am describing YOU, then please send me a message or call me...these are exciting times in the real estate industry and we are poised for amazing growth and I can't wait to share them!

Brooke Cashion

Monday, February 06, 2012

Who is John Galt? Looks like we could use a present day Galt with this kind of sham...

(CBS News)

Just before Christmas, American workers got a rare gift from Washington politicians - the current payroll tax cut would be extended for two more months.

At the time, both President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner lauded the move to avoid a tax increase for millions of working Americans.

But there's something the politicians weren't bragging about - the fact that they're paying for the two-month tax cut with what has turned into a brand new fee on home buyers.

The new fee is a minimum of one-tenth of 1 percent on Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed loans, and is likely to go much higher.

It will be imposed for the next 10 years on most mortgages and refinancings and it lasts for the life of the loan.

Obama unveils mortgage refinancing plan

Congress preps Round 2 of payroll tax-cut fight

Budget cuts, fees eyed in payroll tax talks

For every $200,000, it amounts to an extra $15 dollars a month.

It's bad news for Patty Anderson, who's buying a home in Virginia.

Anderson will save a couple hundred dollars from having her payroll tax cut extended but her mortgage broker told her the new fee would cost her almost $9,500.

"I was absolutely startled that it would add up to that much," she said.

The $35.7 billion collected in fees won't go into the Social Security fund to replace the lost payroll tax. It goes to the general treasury where Congress can spend it however they please.

Bill Burnett, Anderson's broker and president of the Virginia Association of Mortgage Brokers, said you won't see Congress' new charge in the paperwork, but it's there.

"It's actually built into this [interest] rate. You would never see the fee as a cost to you," he said.

Burnett said the fee will affect a "very large number" of homeowners.

"Your pocketbook is being raided in order to pay for a tax policy issue decided at the last minute by probably people who didn't understand fully what they were legislating on."

CBS News went to Capitol Hill ask what Congress was thinking when they passed the mortgage fee hike. Boehner pointed the finger at the Senate.

"As you're well aware, this bill came over from the Senate. I don't know how they justified it. We would rather have offset that two-month extension with reductions in spending," he said.

But the Senate blamed the House. And Democrats and Republicans blamed each other.

One congressman, Florida Republican Allen West, said he tried to blow the whistle on the whole thing before Christmas.

"I read the legislation and raised the flag. Unfortunately nobody paid attention to what I was saying at the time," he said, calling the fee a backdoor tax increase on the middle class.

"It absolutely is because you're talking about the homeowners - when you're talking about the people that are gonna be using the Fannie Mae, the Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises - it is absolutely a tax increase on them."

An Obama administration official defended the mortgage fee, calling it "modest." (Modest to who?!?!?!)She said it's "unlikely to negatively affect borrowers" because increases "will be phased in over the next two years." And it will "help bring private capital back into the mortgage market, which [is] good for borrowers over the long term." I’d really be interested in learning what this means – I guess they are saying that people will go to more conventional loans where the fee is not included? But what happens when they do and the tax does not cover the new payroll extension and/or is this a cover because no one can afford a conventional at 15 – 20%. One place to start is learning how many loans are currently being backed by Freddie and Fannie.

Maybe so. But Patty Anderson only knows that for the next 30 years, she'll be haunted by the Washington ghost of Christmas past.

"I think it just looks like Washington grabbing more money," she said.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Commerce Makes Me Cry...

I spend a lot of time on the road.  Actually, that really may be an understatement.  Given the nature of my career which demands quite a bit of road time--showing homes, picking up documents, listing appointments from the Triad to Triangle and having an active 11 year old--let's just say the 'ol Honda gets it's fair share of use.

I40/85 has become a new hang-out of mine, as our team recently expanded into the Triangle market after 12 successful years in the Triad.  Several days a week I make the relatively short jaunt back and forth from Winston-Salem to Raleigh, passing all kinds of people, in all makes and models of automobiles but most of all, I see lots of trucks!  Flat-beds loaded with machinery, military equipment and lumber; transfer trucks hauling livestock (always seems to be hogs), fast-food replenishment and other freight; and a variety of other multi-axle vehicles designed specifically to carry goods across our state, nation and continent.  Let's just say, sometimes it brings a tear to my eye...

I am sure by this point you are asking yourself what the heck I'm talking about and if I have finally gone over the edge...is the economy so poor that I am in tears about it's future?  Nope, just the opposite.  I am moved to get misty-eyed when I think that somewhere in our great nation and most likely in our great state, an entrepreneur has taken the wherewithal, to think up a product that can make his fellow man's life easier or more full-filled.  This same individual produces said product, markets it with a fervor and passion that creates a following (desirability) or a need and therefore the demand becomes so great that he must find a way to bring that product to the masses, thus employing the very vehicles mentioned above.

These multi-colored vessels of commerce are daily testaments to our mind and it's boundless energy.  We noticed, with a sad tug of something we might not have been able to identify, when truck-traffic temporarily thinned out after 9/11.  Something just wasn't right...we could feel it...

As I drive today across the roads and interstates of North Carolina, along one of the most productive and busiest commercial corridors in the nation, I am reminded of my own potential and the potential of my fellow commuters, as we all play an integral part in the strength of our economy, locally, nationally and globally.  It is not only inspiring, but it stirs a place in my soul that reminds me, that I'm unique, I can produce and therefore earn, I can influence our economy...and I will...because I'm an American.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

For ITIN Borrowers There Is Still Housing Opportunity...

Just an interesting bit of info I acquired in the past 24 hours.  There are still lenders out there who will loan to folks that have ITINs.  If you are asking yourself, what exactly an ITIN is, then you probably don't or won't need one.  ITIN, stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.  These are issued by the government to documented workers for purposes of collecting taxes. 

If you are a holder of an ITIN you can still purchase real estate in the United States, however, it has become more scrutinized as additional information and documentation is now required on the status of the holder's visa.  It can depend on the stability of your employment, debt to income ratio and other fairly standard rules of thumb for discerning qualified buyers.

The good news is that this product still does exist.  I had been under the impression that it was gone with the plethora of other boutique loans that disappeared. 

If you are a buyer looking to purchase a home and have an ITIN, feel free to call me or email me to be put in touch with our Allen Tate Mortgage representative who can assist you in the qualification process.


Monday, January 09, 2012

Those Pesky Pieces of Paper...

They're everywhere you turn...in a drawer, dog-eared in a book, stuffed in your wallet or crammed in a file--your subtle attempt at organization and accountability.  Yet, every year, it's the same thing, pulling all of those receipts together for tax time.  Yup!  It's that time of year again.  Just when you breath that sigh of relief that the last Christmas gift return is made and you are looking to the upcoming Super Bowl and Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, you remember that there's a stack of paper and Uncle Sam gently nudging you "to get it together".

Each January, Jake and I open our credenza and stare wide-eyed and the file of receipts from the previous year.  From donations to business expenses and everything in between we vow that next year, we will start with separate files for each group.  But like any resolution, life gets in the way and old habits die hard when you're in a hurry with day to day nuances, so the stuffing begins.  It's well-intended at first, so few in the file that you can organize them appropriately next week.  Then the file balloons a little during the first quarter and you vow that when you turn in your taxes to the accountant in March or April, you'll reorganize then.  Well, you're so exhausted by the rigor that the IRS puts you through, you feel as if you are owed a break--receipts be damned, you can do them over the summer but before half the year is up.  Fast forward to "back to school" and getting re-organized for the new school  year and the file is already starting to look like it ate a ticker-tape parade.  By that time, it's too far gone and you know that you'll just organize it over the Christmas break when you have "plenty" of time.  Yea right!

So here we are, receipts of all shapes and sizes.  Handwritten notes grace their margins and in reality it's a little like a trip down memory lane when you sort them at one time.  A timeline of sorts--your personal year-in-review.  Easy to tell if the year was good (fat file) or if it was lean.  It's a great time to set goals for business planning, technology upgrades and personal savings.  Those tiny, tangible tickets of your memories are there for you to study and assess in preparation for your future while appreciating the blessings of your recent past. 

Organizing them throughout the year just wouldn't be right...


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A History Lesson...

Over the holiday break, we decided to take a quick jaunt to Colonial Williamsburg/Yorktown and Jamestown, otherwise known as the Historic Triangle.  This is a trip we have been wanting to take Maddie on for quite sometime so we headed north the day after Christmas.

We stopped along the way at Shirley Plantation, one of, if not the oldest plantation in Virginia, still owned 12 generations later by the Carter family. We then arrived to a cold rain in Williamsburg and took in a few of the indoor sites late in the afternoon.  We spent the remainder of the evening enjoying some 21st century entertainment, watching NCSU win the Belk Bowl.  We also took some time to plan the next few days activities and events so that we could absorb as much as we could in the short period we were there.  One of the events we planned was a lecture with Patrick Henry which was to commence at 10 am at the Governor's Palace gardens.

We arrived early only to find out that Patrick Henry was under the weather and George Wythe would be speaking in his stead.  It all worked out as Mr. Wythe elaborated on the importance of a classical education being made available to the nation and the necessity to keep laws short in length.  His recommendation was to keep them down to one page or less to avoid "unnecessary mischief" being embedded subsequent pages.  The particular bill he was upset about was a whopping 41 pages filled with all kinds of irrelevant fluff, imagine what our founding fathers would have thought about some of the bills that are passed today, such as health care reform!

The education portion of his lecture was very interesting, for it did not go into detail over what should or should not be taught, however it focused on educating our nation in the skill of thinking for oneself in the classical manner, questioning, debating, basic reading, writing and arithmetic.  It struck me how wound-up today's educational system gets over content of text books, zoning and redistricting, when such a large majority of our students don't have the basics mastered.  The detriment, described Wythe is that a government that allows for ignorance is one that is doomed for uprisings and class warfare.  Our current educational system certainly provides the notion that all are or have the ability to be educated, but as we well know, this education is very "surface" and the lack of depth and true self-improvement has created a society that knows more about the latest video game or Hollywood gossip than the very system that allows or limits our basic rights.

I could ramble on about this at length, however, my point is that the trip opened our eyes up to the challenges the budding country had and the challenges that our current nation still faces.  It also further reinforced the notion that our government was established not to dole out rights like rewards or provide us with everything we need to survive on a daily basis, however it was established to make sure that no one or government could encroach on our basic rights.  This was configured so that nothing could stand in our way as citizens who were using their minds and bodies to create a better life for themselves.  It was not originally contrived as a crutch on which to lean out of lack of ingenuity and effort.

We could all use a little more "schooling" on our country's foundation and three days did nothing but "whet" my appetite to educate myself more on this subject. If you get the chance, jump on 85N, head over to Petersburg, check out the battlefield and Blandford Church, take Scenic Route 5 which winds with the James River and then head into the Historic Triangle for a step back in time.