Saturday, March 19, 2016

5 Landscape Maintenance Tips

Spring is here!  

With the trees and flowers blooming or in progress of starting to bloom, I thought I would share a couple quick tips on landscape maintenance.  A home with a well-manicured and maintained home adds quite a bit of value to a property.  It’s also something that could help decide whether someone wants to visit your home while it is on the market. 

Landscape Maintenance Tips:

1. Freshen up beds by laying down new pine straw or spreading new mulch (I’m a fan of pine straw).

2. Apply fertilizer to your grass.  Make sure to spread in a crossing pattern so you achieve an even application.  If your budget allows, it may be worth discussing with a professional.

3. Trim those bushes! Make sure for blooming plants like Camilla or azaleas that the plants have finished blooming.  Make sure to trim after they have fully bloomed but before next year’s buds have started.

4. Trim lower hanging limbs from the trees.  We can all use pruning every now and then to freshen things up. 

5. Plant those wonderfully, beautiful annual flowers! Don’t be afraid to fill those pots up with many different varieties! (you may want to make sure to wait until the last frost which is normally in mid-late April)

These are just a few tips to get your spring off to a great start.  Landscape maintenance is not a chore – it’s a money-maker!

Happy Landscaping!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The time to list your NOW!

It seems that the real estate feeds on the Internet are filled with reasons why you should list your home now. As a matter of fact, Allen Tate marketing emailed a couple of weeks ago asking me to contribute to their own Top 10 list. We are all on board this train right now for a variety of reasons and ones that you should heed if you are considering a move in the next 3-5 years. You may be saying to yourself, “Wow!” I need to plan NOW to move after my kid graduates in three years?” My answer to you is a resounding YES!

My professional advice is that you can do everything in your power to make the move you want to make in three years, THIS YEAR! I can hear you groaning right now and some of you are going to not even read the rest of this post because it seems so impossible. My message to you is simple. If you thought you could save thousands of dollars by moving this year, instead of in 3 years, wouldn't you at least consider it? I know I would. This is why selling today just may be the perfect situation for you and your family.

Rates are still low and this helps you two-fold. One, the buyer and afford more house than they will be able to in years to come as rates go up, which means if you are commanding a top dollar, the buyer may be able to afford to meet your price. Two, it means you can afford more home as well and if you get a lower rate today, than you would in years to come, you save thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Inventory is low. Yes, there are homes on the market but there's also a lot of junk still for sale. The inventory is begging for homes that have been well-maintained, are priced appropriately and are ready to go. The sooner you can get on the market, the better. The longer folks wait in the year, the more competition you will see and that will affect your pricing. Also, do all the things your Realtor tells you to do. This is not the time to skimp on freshening up paint, staging or demanding an unrealistic price. This is the time to SELL, so that you can move on to the house you want to be in for the next 10 years and not be stuck in your current home for another 10 months!

New construction is coming back. With that means added competition for you, the existing homeowner. In our area of NC, construction starts have been slower than anticipated, which means you will have time to sell before buyers are lured with sunshiny new bells and whistles and incentives that builders have to offer. Currently, buyers have not had the choice of new construction do the recession, but now, its as if new ares are back on the market and everyone else getting in line to see what will be offered. More new construction competition means lower prices for existing homes. Even if lots are smaller; more neighborhood amenities, interior upgrades and customization will entice buyers from existing inventory.

Historically, Spring is a great time to sell. Families looking to relocation will use the Spring to identify and typically purchase their new home, spending summer adjusting and moving, so that the school year starts with few hitches. Not only does the above reason factor in to typical Spring activity, but we all know that Spring the the Carolinas does nothing but good when it comes to the curb appeal of the home. Who can resist the Carolina jasmine, azaleas blooming around the porch and daffodils and tulips adorning every flowerpot and flower bed around the home? Something about Spring is magical, creation at it's best and all on the backdrop of a Carolina blue sky. (Please do not take this as a UNC compliment as most of you know I am a die-hard NC State fan.) :)

All of this being said, I know all too well, that moving is a daunting and overwhelming task for most. I am currently helping many sellers to ready their homes by connecting them with painters, stagers, handymen and window cleaners. This is a team effort for sure, but the ultimate decision lies in your hands so that you can accomplish what is best for you and your family. As always, I am happy to consult with you, discuss options and plans of attack, and if afterwards we decide this isn't the right time, that's okay too. I look forward to hearing from you and please feel free to post questions or contact me privately for specific inquiries.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Triad Sees Success with New Transportation Policy Passed by NCGA

Prior to the 2015 NC General Assembly legislative session, North Carolina’s transportation network face an uncertain future. Decaying infrastructure had resulted in the 37th worst bridge safety rating and the 2nd highest fatality rating on non-Interstate rural roads of any state in the nation, while growing congestion meant North Carolina drivers spent an extra $6.5 billion annually in additional vehicle operating costs, lost time and wasted fuel – approximately $1000 extra dollars/year for each Triad driver.  To make matters worse, elected leaders had cut and capped transportation revenues on numerous occasions and allowed transfers out of the Highway Fund to pay for non-transportation expenses.  All of this was impacted NC’s competitive business environment.

Sticking with the status quo would have only further constricted the flow of commerce and harm businesses’ ability to compete for new growth with each passing year. Recognizing the challenge, state elected leaders agreed to focus on the state’s transportation network – and funding it with a stable, reliable, recurring revenue source was in order to ensure our fast-growing state will remain connected to, and competitive in, the 21st-Century global economy.In 2015 legislative session, the following was seen:

  •  Additional $1.158 billion in transportation revenue availability over biennium
  •  $708 million in new, recurring revenue to fund future transportation projects
  •  $70 million in port modernization investments to better position North Carolina to compete for global shipping
  •  No more revenue transfers from Highway Fund to General Fund, putting trust back in transportation funding
  •  Streamlined procedures to ensure effective long-term project delivery over entire transportation network
  •  Support for 1.5 million new direct and indirect jobs over the next 15 years
  •  Securing a transportation future that keeps North Carolina’s commerce lifelines flowing for decades to come

You may be wondering why this is important to the Triad area.  Many projects will now be advanced forward in a quicker time manner.  One of the more important projects for our region is I-74 or the Northern Beltway in Forsyth County. If you travel around Business 40 in the Kernersville area, you’ll see construction occurring. This project was advanced many years ahead of schedule because of the passage of new revenue and the economic benefits it will yield the region. Also, hopefully the property owners who have been held up with this project will be able to see long-overdue closure. This project alone will generate more than 30,000 jobs for the Triad region and will add over $2 Billion to the state’s economy.  We do not think about our transportation network as important to real estate but real estate cannot function without a strong transportation network. 

This project along with others are very important in creating a dynamic region. Thankfully, we are generating a strong transportation network in the Triad which will help attract, grow and create jobs and therefore a strong real estate economy. 

More information on I-74 can be found here:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tour de Food - A Fun Way to Experience Winston-Salem

Saturdays in winter are always tough and somewhat deceptive. In my case, if I’m not working, I’m usually up around 8 and hope that Jake has his special French press coffee on it’s way. This is definitely a weekend treat, as weekdays don’t allow for this type of leisure. The deception comes in when you look out the window and see the sun brightly shining and you immediately long for warm summer days, as opposed to what you know will greet you once you step outside—brisk and fresh Carolina air. What to do on a day like today? How do you spend your day if all of the chores are complete, the yard is dormant and in no need of a trim and your kid(s) are out of town? Well, let me give you a suggestion.

Last Saturday, Jake and I, along with two couples decided to take advantage of the Tour de Food, which is a walking tour of downtown Winston-Salem and some of it’s featured restaurants and markets. The tour began at 1:30 at the Jeffrey Adams, which is the swanky sister restaurant of 4th Street Filling Station. We met our tour guide and proceeded to walk and talk and eat and drink our way through downtown over a three hour period. Stops included Bibbs BBQ, Breakfast of Course, Black Mountain Chocolate, 6th and Vine and Washington Perk. Each venue offered a sampling of food and drink and included a time for questions and info. We met other couples from the area and interestingly enough, all of us were local to the area. We all agreed that the tour was great for us and would be exceptional for newcomers.

After the tour, we proceeded to Foothills Brewery to sample their latest seasonal batch of Sexual Chocolate which was just released that day. The patrons had come from all over the state for a pint of this coffee/chocolaty goodness. We proceeded to dinner at Quatra Basta, which is the newest Italian restaurant in downtown and has the same owner as Spring House, which is just up the street in the old Bahnson homeplace. Delicious wine, delicious specials and fabulous atmosphere. One of our friends commented that it had a “New York” feel, with Triad prices. So true.

My point in telling you about our Saturday, is that Winston has so much to offer, even if you’ve lived and worked here the majority of your adult life. There is always something or someplace new. As I describe to my clients, it’s like a “little” Asheville. Very eclectic and artsy, yet with a sense of place and an undercurrent of traditional values. It’s a super-tolerant town, given that most of it’s original residents were headed to our area from the mountains and other rural areas to form a town built on farming and manufacturing, yet growing today through medicine and education.

So this morning, as I met two of my former clients for coffee and a pain du chocolat at Atelier, which is a French pastry and coffee shop. Amazing find is the best way I can describe this shop. After speaking at length with the owner, Pablo, a graduate of the renowned Cordon Bleu culinary school, you can see why business owners from the Triad are figuring out that Winston-Salem has a lot to offer. Why not treat yourself this holiday weekend and let the city “love on you” a little bit. I look forward to your comments on the best places in town! Cheers!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Falling In Love...

We all know that sometimes love hits us at the most unexpected times. Whether you are falling in love with a new dessert,  a new cashmere sweater or the kid who sat beside of you in English; you know that love can create havoc and lead to irrational decision-making.  The same type of experience can take place when you purchase a home.  That is why it is so important to have a trusted advisor at your side, so that the dreamy feelings of love don't interfere with the rational process of making a solid investment.

There are many reasons to love a home.  The location that tucks you back in the privacy of the wooded cul de sac lot among the autumn leaves or even the slight smell of the wood burning fireplace that reminds you of your childhood.  You can love the thought of cooking in the kitchen and seeing the kids nestled up the bar doing their homework while you cook dinner or you can love that your beloved puppy will finally have a place of his own.  Those feelings and notions can overshadow your ability to look rationally at a variety of factors, such as price per square foot of surrounding similar homes or the fact that there is a major roadway being built close by.

It takes an experienced Realtor, familiar with the area you are looking in to make sure that your decision to fall in "love" is tempered with facts and outside resources to consider.  You may decide that much like that first high school crush, you don't want to be committed to listening to the band practice every night.  These things are important for your long term satisfaction with the home and with the potential for resale.  Talk to a local, seasoned Realtor who is not intimidated to be direct with you and give you the tools you need to not only "fall" in love but to "stay" in love.

Happy Friday Y'all!


Monday, May 04, 2015

Taking a Turn...

No excuses. It's been a while since I've posted. Almost a year to be exact.  Like anything else, when time is limited you prioritize.  The market has turned and activity has increased tri-fold and that in itself took me away from something that I enjoyed regularly, which was communicating ideas and notions regarding our local real estate market with YOU! So, I'm back!

Just a quick update as to where we stand currently.  Market inventory is still limited. I mean the good stuff. Homes that are priced appropriately and in good condition.  I have buyers that can't find what they want and when they do, we are in multiple offer situations. That means for all of you sellers who are waiting for the right time to sell, that time is NOW.  Rates are great, inventory is limited and buyers are out there for the first time in a long time.

So what have I been up to?  Well, the short story is listing homes.  Our team focus is traditionally on listing homes. Making sure that the homes we are showcasing are priced and positioned appropriately, marketed in the proper channels and that our clients are enjoying an experience that takes them from contract to closing in an efficient and professional manner.  With our range of systems and check-lists in place we believe we are better positioned than any other agent in the area.

We are also working with some awesome buyers! Matching them to homes and going after homes in communities that may not even be on the market yet.  Networking with the real estate community to fit buyers and sellers together and bring them to the neighborhood of their dreams.  Most of the buyers are referrals from past clients and associates across the state and we are so pleased to continue to assist them!

Marketing-wise, I am currently working to update the website to better reflect our community, our services and the experience we bring to the table for each of our clients.  Also, be on the lookout for a video and testimonials that give you a first-hand look at who we are and what we do best.

So it goes without saying, it's been a busy time for us, but I am going to work hard to continue to post on a weekly basis continuing to give you information on our community, real estate and what it means to work with Brooke Cashion and Associates-Allen Tate Realtors.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Due Diligence vs. Repair Requests...What's the BIG Deal!?!

If you have been involved in a real estate transaction within the past two years or so, you probably have heard the term due diligence.  Prior to that, you may even have the mental acumen to remember repair request periods in our old contracts.  Most folks who aren't in the real estate industry (and some who are) don't really know or take the time to understand the differences, challenges and advantages between the two.

First, due diligence is a time period.  One agreed upon by buyer and seller, not agent and agent.  During this period for an agreed upon amount of non-refundable money, (again, agreed upon by buyer and seller), the buyer has the opportunity to inspect, think about, mull, brood or whatever he or she wants to do in order to determine that it is the right property for them.  The seller must, during this period, make the home available to the buyer to investigate.  That does not mean that it should be a revolving door of inspections and visits or late-night stalking, but it does mean that the buyer should have reasonable access to have inspectors, surveyors, etc. out to the property.

During this period, not only are inspections made, but it is up to the buyer to make sure they can obtain financing.  There is no longer a financing contingency.  This period is it.  Not only should a buyer have full loan approval prior to the period ending, but this means that the appraisal is complete and satisfactory, the cost of insurance is satisfactory and that any and all info you might want on restrictive covenants, HOAs, etc. is obtained.  Now the list above is NOT all-inclusive.  If you want to see if there are sex offenders, ghosts, take soil samples, check flight patterns, lights from stadiums, noise from trains or anything else you can dream up...this is the time to do it!  If for any reason, something doesn't suit your fancy and you just can't live with it or the seller can't fix it, you can get out of your contract and only forfeit your due diligence money.

That's right!! During this period the buyer can "walk" from the property for any reason or no reason whatsoever.  This means that the negotiated amount of money put down for the negotiated period of time needs to make sense for buyer and seller.  Again, all of this is negotiable.

Before you think that this favors the buyer or seller, one over the other let's look at some scenarios.

A)  If the buyer is getting a 100% loan, then they may not have a lot of "extra" cash laying around to bring to the table for due diligence, so maybe the time period is shorter to investigate the property.  The buyer and seller could ask that the inspections to be performed in the first week or two so that anything unusual in the "typical" inspections could be addressed.  The period of time could still allow for full loan approval which usually takes a little longer than two weeks BUT the buyer now has "skin in the game" since they are out of pocket with the cost of inspections, which on the low side would be $400+.

As the buyer has more of their own money, the likelihood they walk away for something petty, is typically decreased.  By the time the buyer has the minimum inspection, appraisal and survey, they are in well over $1000.  Usually, it is not easy to walk away from that amount knowing that you are going to have the same out-of-pocket expenses on the next home you purchase.

B)  Let's say a buyer is looking at house that has just come on the market and it is HOT!  The buyer knows they need to get their financial ducks in a row, because they weren't even planning on buying this soon.  If they can get the seller to accept their offer, they can use the due diligence period to get their loan in place but the seller is skeptical to take the home off the market for these buyers knowing they are not quite ready to close.  The buyer in this situation may offer the seller a larger due diligence amount, showing that they are serious, knowing that the house is in good shape and is desirable to other buyers.  Their money may be non-refundable, but they also know it's a credit to them at closing and they love the house and intend on buying it barring something major.  This also, provides a little cash to the seller in the event something does come up during the inspections that needs correcting.

The due diligence period is also the time to negotiate repairs.  If the buyer and seller cannot come to terms during the due diligence period as to what will and will not be repaired, the buyer can terminate the contract.  Usually, buyer and seller do come to terms and there is a give and take.  This is an appropriate place to note that repairs do not have to be completed before the end of the due diligence period, only before closing and with adequate time for the buyer to re-inspect the repairs to confirm quality of workmanship.

Due diligence is a great tool that works for both buyers and sellers as they navigate the purchase of real estate.  If you have questions about the process, would like more information on local real estate or need a first-hand referral to an agent in our worldwide network, don't hesitate to reach out to me via email, phone or text.