The Perils of Too Much Information

There is no denying the impact that social media has had on our lives.  Websites like Twitter, LinkdIn, and Facebook make it possible to communicate with people 24/7 no matter where we are in the world. All of these sites all have their places in our lives and our businesses and they can be a fun diversion….when we use a bit of common sense.

Facebook in particular has become a hot spot for all sorts of information sharing and I admit to spending more time there than I should some days.  I learn things, I pass along information that I think my friends would like, and I enjoy the occasional debate over hot topics. But sometimes I’m amazed at what people post about their relationships, their jobs, and frankly the intimate details of their lives. Some posts make me outright uncomfortable because it is just TMI – too much information. In one case, I decided to “unfriend” a woman who posted daily details and photos of her young child’s progress at potty training.  There are just some things I don’t need to know.

This same tendency for “over sharing” can be the un-doing of many a job applicant.  Think those pictures of you having way too much fun at a frat party won’t hurt your image or your chances of landing that job you want? Think again. Today’s employers consider a search on Facebook just another stop in vetting job applicants.

Social media has it’s benefits, though, and can be an effective way of carrying a message to a wide and varied group of people.  So how can Facebook and other social media outlets be used to help you sell your home? Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

• If your Realtor has produced a video or a virtual tour for you, DO get the link and post it on your timeline.  Ask your friends to share it with their friends. Just make sure there is appropriate contact information so anyone who is interested knows who to talk to.
• If you don’t have a video, DO ask for a link to your Broker’s website where your home is featured, and share that link.
(Side note: If your Broker doesn’t do videos or virtual tours and doesn’t have a website, you should consider hiring a different Broker)

BlahDON’T use Facebook as a place to vent about your home’s short comings. As a seller, you are required to disclose what you know about your home such as any trouble you have had with the HVAC, or a roof leak. But the place for that is on a Property Disclosure form provided to you by your Broker.  Facebook is NOT the place to talk about how you cleverly patched that hole in your roof so no one can see it’s damaged and it’s NOT the place to talk about how steep your driveway is or how loud your neighbors are. At least not if you’re trying to sell your home any time soon.
• If you’ve already moved to a new location DON’T tell the world of Facebook that the home you are selling is now vacant.  It’s the same reason you don’t announce that you’re leaving the next day for vacation.  That kind of information is dangerous in the wrong hands.
In today’s information world, you don’t have to be the FBI to find out pretty much anything you really want to know about a property including how much some one paid for it, whether or not there is a mortgage, or how many times it’s been on and off the market. It’s all out there somewhere if you know where to look for it. The same is true for  a lot of your personal information.  Now, in addition to public records, today’s savvy buyers are using Facebook and websites like it to gain more information about sellers including the home they are selling.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to using a little common sense. To paraphrase that now famous slogan for Las Vegas…what you post on the internet stays on the internet.

2014 Year End Report

It’s the first week of January 2015.  For the most part, holiday decorations have been stored until next year and people are moving on and into the new year.  Before we get too far into this new year though, I’d like to take a look back at 2014 and what happened in our area this past year in the way of real estate.

For_Sale_StampResidential sales ended the year on a high note, showing a 19.4% increase in sales over 2013.  A total 486 homes sold in 2014 over 407 in 2013.  December itself was very active all on its own. In 2014, there were 51 homes sold compared to only 26 homes in 2013.

Look a little closer at the data and we find that the average list price in 2014 was $298,916 and the average selling price was $264,325. That tells us that homes sold for about 88% of the asking price. They were also on the market for an average of 253 days.  Unlike previous years, we saw more cases of homes selling quickly when they were priced appropriately and we also found ourselves in several situations where there were multiple offers.  In 2013, the numbers were a little different. That year, the average list price was $255,556 and the average selling price was $234,011 which calculates to about 91% of the asking price. But homes last year were also on the market 10 days longer than this year.  Are prices going up? It’s hard to say because our MLS includes the Lake Toxaway area where it is common to see million dollar or more price tags.  When those homes sell, and there have been a number that sold this year, it drives the overall average up.  Even so, the lions share of the homes that sold in Transylvania County this year continue to be $350,000 and less.

Land sales also saw a nice uptick this year. In 2014, 121 parcels sold compared to 112 the year before. The average list price this year was $117,072 with a selling price of $97,316 or 83% of asking. In 2013 the average list price was $145,947 and the selling price was $120,551 for about the same 83%.  Land listings are staying on the market longer which I believe is reflected in the lower average listing prices as sellers get more and more motivated.  In 2014 a listing was on the market an average of 480 days compared to 423 days in 2013.

So what’s ahead for us in lending?  According to Gina Breedlove, Mortgage Specialist at United Community Bank in Brevard, interest rates are predicted to stay low until the 4th quarter of this year and then predicted to go into the 5% range. At the moment, a 30-year fixed rate loan with no origination fee is only 3.875% at UCBI.

If you would like more information about the Transylvania County market, or details about the Henderson or Buncombe county markets, just drop us a line at carol@clayteamrealestate.com or visit us online at BrevardNCProperty.com.

 

 

 

Rails to Trails

When I bought my first house in Florida, a railroad track ran more or less parallel to the back of my property. We were separated only by a small bit of undeveloped land. Beyond the track was the intercostal waterway so I enjoyed the relative privacy in an otherwise busy area. The railroad had been active for many years but shortly after we bought the house it was closed down like many others across the country. In some strange way I actually missed the sound of the train as it rumbled past our back yard to who knows where.

The Florida Department of Transportation eventually bought the right of way from CSX and seven years later the County Commissioners approved the funding to create a bike trail on the 34 miles of abandoned rail road including the section that ran behind my house. In the years that followed, I watched as the trail grew, linking parks and people in small communities. It became a part of the landscape and part of my life style. I logged hundreds of hours riding my bike past the palmetto bushes and under the overhang of live oaks draped with Spanish moss. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I had long conversations with God as I walked along the trail at sunset on so many nights. The trail taught me that no matter how hard I tried, I was not cut out for in-line skates but it was the quickest bike route to a nearby ice cream shop. I have never been a runner and I find walking a little tedious but a ride on the trail gave me a chance to get a little exercise as well a quiet place to collect my thoughts.  I eventually sold my first house and moved but I never lived far from any section of the trail and I enjoyed it for many years.

It’s been a decade since I lived in that part of Florida but I am seeing a similar opportunity for a “rails to trails” project cropping up here in the Brevard area utilizing a 19 mile stretch of track that travels from Hendersonville to where the Ecusta paper plant used to stand near Pisgah National Forest. After years of service, the rail road was closed in 2002 and has since changed ownership. The group Friends of the Ecusta Trail (FOET) is hopeful that the new ownership will get on board with the plan of converting the unused rail to a bike friendly path for walkers, runners, and riders.

trailHaving a trail like this is a natural fit for Transylvania County. Our area has long been known for the quality of life and the bountiful options of outdoor activity. DuPont State Forest is known throughout the southeast as some of the best mountain biking around. The French Broad river is there for paddlers and hiking trails are everywhere. According to the winter newsletter for the North Carolina Rails-Trails organization, “some people say there’s no place on earth quite like Transylvania County for outdoor recreation, especially bicycling and hiking. And the French Broad River – meandering alongside and under the proposed Ecusta Trail – has 100 miles of dam-free paddling including designated put-ins and campsites every few miles along the entire route. ”  I couldn’t agree more.

This trail idea is a slam dunk for our community. As the newsletter explains, not everyone wants the heart pounding rush of mountain biking, especially some of us baby-boomers. We’re looking for a safe place to get some exercise outside and enjoy the incredible beauty that surrounds us. If anyone has any doubts about what a trail like this can do for an area we only have to look south of us to the Swamp Rabbit trail in Travelers Rest, South Carolina or north of us to the Creeper Trail in Abington, Virginia for two great examples.  I haven’t ridden the Swamp Rabbit trail, but I can attest to the amazing beauty and accessibility of the Creeper Trail.  I’ve ridden it twice now with a group of gal pals from the area and can’t wait till I can go again.

I’m hopeful that the folks who make projects like this a reality will see things the way I do.  If you want to get more information, or get involved start with Friends of Ecusta Trail visit their website EcustaTrail.org.

I Won’t Do An Open House. Period.

I’ll just say right up front that I’ve never been a big fan of Open Houses. They’ve always seemed like a colossal waste of time and money. Now and then, if we have a really special property, we’ll host a Broker Open imgHouse in the hopes that other Brokers will stop by for some free food and check out our listing. Ideally they will have just the right buyer and in a matter of months, we’ll all be sitting around the closing table together. I can assure you that has never happened. In fact, the only chance we have of getting local Brokers to come to an Open House is during the winter months when everyone’s business is a little slower and they are looking for a free lunch.

A public Open House is another story. Let’s look at the anatomy of one. When you do an Open House, you’re asking your agent to send flyers to the neighbors, put signs on the street corners, and maybe even run an ad in the paper inviting people you don’t know to come walk through your house while you aren’t home. You have no idea if any of these people are actual buyers and if they are, are they qualified by a lender. Do you know if these people have criminal backgrounds? Can you spot the ones who might be scoping out your house so they can break into it at another time when you aren’t home? Can you pick out the ones who might walk through your home and pocket a valuable piece of jewelry?  The answer is no. It’s been a long-standing fact that statistically, open houses are among the least effective ways of finding a buyer and when you factor in the risk, why in the world would anyone in this day and age encourage this type of activity.

As a Real Estate Broker we are placed in harm’s way more than you can imagine. Every time we meet someone to show a property or walk land with them we are at risk. Just recently an agent in Arkansas was murdered by a man she was showing a home to. Worse yet, it wasn’t a random killing. He set up the whole scenario and targeted her as a “a rich broker”.

There are certain cardinal rules in real estate that we should all adhere to to address the risks we have to deal with as part of the business.  For instance, when we are meeting clients for the first time, we always go together and we always meet at the office. To this day, I never take clients out on my own unless Robert and I have both spent time working with them together. The fact is, real estate is a dangerous business for anyone who works on their own, but especially women. So when you ask your agent to hold an Open House for you, remember that you’re not only putting yourself and your home at risk, you’re putting your agent at risk as well.

Personally, I think the days of Open Houses are numbered. There are far more effective ways to find buyers that don’t involve this kind of unneccessary risk.  There are a few die-hard agents in our market who continue to hold Open Houses and that’s certainly their decision.  But in my opinion, in today’s world, Open Houses have no place in the scope of services that we provide our clients.  So please. Don’t ask me to hold an Open House. I just won’t do it.

So there is more than one offer…now what?

In the past month, we have found ourselves in two multiple offer situations.  In one case, there were three offers on one home.

Before the real estate market took a nose dive back in 2008, multiple offers were fairly common.  So were higher listing prices, higher selling prices, and fewer days on market.  Things were different then and while I don’t think we’ll see the “hey day” of 2006 again any time soon, I see definite signs of a shift in the market. Homes are selling for more and the number of days on market is getting shorter. Even so, it’s been many years since we’ve been in a situation with multiple offers and now it’s happened twice in the past month. What the heck is going on here?

Personally, I’m not a fan of multiple offers. Homes can end up selling for more than any reasonable comp which means buyers can end up paying more than they really should.  In most cases the seller has the edge but it’s a tricky situation no matter what side you are on.

So what should you do? What are the pit falls to avoid?

If you are a seller, it is admittedly a “luxury” problem to have.  If your home has been priced right and marketed properly, you should expect to get offers. If you have multiple offers and they are close how do you choose? My first piece of advice to any seller is to remember that just because you have more than one buyer presenting an offer doesn’t guarantee you will end up with either.  Demand too much from buyers and they could just walk away. More than likely, the buyer has been looking at other homes and if yours doesn’t work out, most buyers we work with have a plan B.  So compares all offers, but be fair because an offer doesn’t guarantee a closing.  Look at all aspects of the offer, not just the price.  Is one offer cash and the other contingent on financing?  Does one offer have a 45 day closing and the other has 60?  Is either buyer asking you to pay their closing costs or include furniture in the deal? There many twists and turns in an offer so make sure your Realtor explains them all.  If you just can’t decide or if neither offer is entirely to your liking, you can respond to the buyers with a request for their “highest and best offer”. But be careful.  The offer you got may have been their highest and best, or signing contractthey decide they don’t want to be in a bidding war and one or both could walk away from the deal all together.

If you are a buyer, our advice is simple. Get your financing in order before you start looking at homes so you don’t waste any time. If you know you’re going to need a loan, get pre approved before you even start looking.  If you are paying cash, make sure you have quick, easy access to it.  A cash deal and quick closing is usually music to any seller’s ear.  If you find the home of your dreams but you learn there is another offer on the table give it your best shot, but be prepared to walk away.   This is not the situation where you can get on the dance floor with a low offer and hope to negotiate to a figure somewhere in the middle.  Make your offer as attractive as possible from the start, but know your limits.  If you’ve ever been to an auction and bid on something you really want, you understand that sense of urgency and competitiveness that comes over you when that guy on the other side of the room is also bidding on that same item. Don’t fall into that trap.  Know what your budget is including the cost of making any repairs, and stick to that.   All that being said, the biggest shift I’m seeing is that good homes that are priced right don’t stay on the market long so be prepared to act quickly if you know this is the home for you.

Is this a good time to sell?  Is it still a buyer’s market? For more information about what is going on the market here in western North Carolina, give us a call.

 

 

October Market Update

Everyone has their favorite season. For us, that season is fall.  Usually towards the end of August I start thinking about the fall colors, the cooler temperatures, and the corduroy pants that are waiting to come out of storage.  By September, I’m mentally willing fall to get here and relieve us of the last signs of summer. I’m happy to say that fall is officially here.  There have been mornings when a sweater was called for and some nights where an extra blanket was needed. Pumpkins, mums, and corn husks are everywhere and just the other day I caught a whiff of the first wood smoke of the season coming from a neighbor’s fireplace. The big show, the changing leaves that people come to see, has started and for the next month or so, the colors throughout western North Carolina will be at their best.  Reports vary, but the middle of October is expected to be the peak. It’s been our experience, though, that weather permitting, we will enjoy the colors through Thanksgiving.

In terms of real estate, the year is winding down, but it’s far from over.  In fact, for anyone who is thinking about buying land, fall is the ideal time of year to look. As the leaves are falling, it makes it easier to see the topography of the land and what’s around it. Plus, the cooler temperatures makes hiking around more fun than during the warmer months.  The land market is coming back slowly but it hasn’t seen the recovery that home sales has. That means land prices will continue to be accessible for just about any budget.

Here is a look at home and land sales for the month of September in Transylvania County. You’ll notice that home sales have had a nice increase, even in the higher brackets. Research is showing that home sales will continue to do well. In fact, just this week, I found myself in a “bidding war” on a home that was priced higher than the comps and had only been on the market 22 days.

If you have any questions about this report feel free to give us a call at 828-551-6290 or drop by our website at BrevardNCProperty.com for a closer look at specific properties.

autumn_fall_nature_57384_l
How is the Transylvania Residential market doing? 
Total Residential Properties Sold in September 2014 –  48 Total Residential Properties Sold in September 2013  – 37
Total sales year to date 2014 – 361
Total sales year to date 2013 – 317
Prices
Sept. 2014 Sept. 2013 # Currently on the market
$0 – $150,000
17 11 118
$150,001 -$250,000
11 10 200
$250,001 – $350,000
5 6 154
$350,001 – $450,000
6 5 88
$450,001 – $600,000
7 3 83
$600,001 – $1M
1 1 90
$1M +
1 1 67
 
How is the Transylvania Land market doing? 
Total Residential Properties Sold in September 2014 –  10 Total Residential Properties Sold in September 2013  – 13
Total sales year to date 2014 – 80
Total sales year to date 2013 – 71
Prices
Sept. 2014 Sept. 2013 # Currently on the market
$0 – $25,000
2 5 164
$25,001 -$50,000
2 3 180
$50,001 – $75,000
0 1 116
$75,001 – $100,000
1 1 108
$100,001 – $250,000
3 1 195
$250,001 – $500,000 1 2 84
$500,001 – $1M
1 0 25
$1M +
0 0 21

Small Town Politics and The Real World

The awful, crazy stuff going on in the world today makes me all the more thankful to live in a small town in the mountains of western North Carolina. That’s not to say that living here makes us immune or any less sensitive to what we hear on the news, but there is some measure of comfort knowing that because of where we live, we are buffered to some extent. Or at least I feel like we are.  I worry about my friends and family who live in big cities. I did it for most of my adult life and have no desire to do it again. I like living in a town where it takes me longer to do my grocery shopping because I’m always running into people I know. I like the notion that being behind four cars at a traffic light is considered a traffic hold up.  Like any town in America, we have our issues but the crime is petty stuff. There are no riots, no one is looting our stores and burning down businesses, putting innocent business owners in jeopardy of losing their livelihood. Our newspaper isn’t filled with that kind of news. Community sections ask for prayers because someone’s Uncle Roy isn’t feeling well this week and a child coming home from college for spring break will likely be celebrated at a pot luck supper.  It’s not to say that what happened at Vaughn Foods this week couldn’t happen anywhere, including our small town, but I can’t say that I live in fear of that here.

At the moment, the controversy in our community centers around whether our entire county should be allowed to sell alcohol.  For anyone living in a big city, it may come as a shock that liquor laws are even a point of discussion in today’s world. But it is Transylvania County. This is the south and this is the Bible belt so there are very strong opinions on both sides.  As it stands now, you can buy a drink if you’re in the city limits of Brevard, but head south to Cedar Mountain and you can’t.  I have my own opinion on the matter but the point is, while the folks of Moore, OK are reeling from the violence that has infiltrated their community and shattered their sense of security, we’re talking about whether people should be able buy a beer. Sorta gives you pause to consider what’s really important in life, doesn’t it.

courthousemoose

The Art of Life in Brevard, NC

Part of the appeal of Brevard, North Carolina is that it’s a small town nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. Smalls town hold a lot of charm and a quieter life style that many people are looking for. So you might be thinking that living in a small town means giving up arts and culture. When you live in Brevard, nothing could be further from the truth.RedWolf

Fact is, Brevard has more art galleries per square mile than any small town in western North Carolina and rivals towns twice its size when it comes to things to see and do. Whether it is pottery or painting, weaving or sculpture, the arts community in Brevard is home to a host of creative talent.

Sculpture Tour – Around Brevard you’ll find 17 different sculptures depicting a variety of animals that we share our area with including panther, bear, squirrels, and more. It’s a walking tour that you can do on your own and at your own pace. It’s a great way to discover art in some unexpected places and get to know Brevard at the same time.

Gallery Walk – From April through December, the 4th Friday of each month is known as Gallery Walk in downtown Brevard. The art galleries and the merchants stay open late to welcome visitors.  There’s music in many locations and many offer wine and snacks to enjoy as you stroll from store to store visiting with artists and merchants.  Gallery Walk is one of my favorite things to do, especially in the spring and fall. I always run into lots of people I know and we usually end up at one of our favorite downtown restaurants for dinner afterwards.GalleryNite

Scenic 276 Art Corridor – Hwy 276 is a winding mountain road that leads you south out of Brevard and into South Carolina.  When you travel that way, be sure to stop into one of many pottery galleries and art galleries to enjoy some of the best craftsmanship in the Appalachian area.  Some of the galleries also offer classes if you want to get more in touch with your own inner artist.

Paul Porter Center – Located on the campus of Brevard College, the Porter Center plays hosts to an impressive array of performances.  The acoustics and intimate setting makes it ideal for musical performances, dance, theater, or educational presentations.

Brevard Music Center – The highlight of every summer here in Brevard is the summer music festival at the Brevard Music Center.  Students from around the world travel to Brevard to learn and be inspired. This year, there were over 80 performances including opera, chamber, orchestra, and guest performances.  We happened to see Mary Chapin Carpenter in concert this year, but other greats like Yo Yo Mah also grace the stage every year. For seven weeks for the past 78 years the Brevard Music Center has been the highlight of the summer.

There is a lot to love about Brevard that involves the natural beauty of the mountains and waterfalls that are part of every day life.  The rich, vibrant arts community captures all that and more in clay, on paper, in fiber, and in the sound of music. We invite you to come discover the art of living in Brevard.

 

 

 

 

September Market Update

Homes and land sales continue to be higher than the same time last year, especially homes. In 2013 280 properties sold compared to 313 this year and we attribute that to two things – great mortgage rates and price adjustments. In 2013, a look at homes listed year to date show a median price of $314,500. During the same time this year, the median price range had dropped to $279,000. (Note: any average or median price range can vary significantly due to very high end properties in our market) The greatest number of homes sales continue to fall where they have the last several years and that is under the $350,000 price range. Land sales are also slightly ahead of last year and prices continue to adjust. As we go into the fall months, if you are considering buying land, this is a good time of year to do it. The temperatures will be cooler and as the leaves start falling, it’s much easier to see the land and surrounding properties.

For a complete breakdown of the market and a more detailed looked at the various price ranges, sign up to receive our FREE e-newsletter. It’s chock full of information about the Brevard NC area as well as the most up to date information about our market. Sign up today!

 

 

 

Fall in the mountains….my favorite time of year.

It’s September. The kids are back in school, football season is starting, and it won’t be long before we’ll be needing a sweater in the morning. It’s almost fall in the mountains – my favorite time of year.

As the calendar flipped over to September yesterday and we all celebrated Labor Day the temperatures were still hovering in the 80’s but my mind was already racing ahead to those crisp fall days that are just around the corner. I love that time of year when I can smell wood smoke coming from the fireplace and hear the sound of leaves crunching under my boots. Fall means football on Sunday afternoons and a pot of spicy chili on the stove. It also happens to be, in my opinion, the most beautiful time of year here in the mountains of western North Carolina.

I grew up in Virginia where we enjoyed four distinct seasons like we do here in western North Carolina. After living in Florida for over 30 years though, I had all but forgotten the beauty of spring and the colors of fall. All that changed though when we relocated here to the Brevard area. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring. The flowers and trees are beautiful and there is something special about the sense of renewal as we come out of the winter months. But spring is still the season that leads into summer, my least favorite time of year. But fall….oh how I love driving the mountain roads in the fall. Every turn in the road is a different shade of gorgeous. There is a particular stretch of Hwy. 64 up near Sapphire, NC that never ceases to take my breath away and I always feel particularly blessed on those days when the falling leaves and a gentle breeze create a shower of color all around me.  Fall is the time of year when some of my favorite foods are at their best. Turnip greens in particular call my name this time of year as do apples. Lucky for us, we live in the area of North Carolina that produces the most apples in the entire state and is the 7th largest growing area in the whole country. If you are visiting the area this fall, there’s nothing like a cool afternoon spent picking your own apples at places like Grandad’s Apples ‘n Such or Stepps Orchard over in Hendersonville.

It won’t be long before we start to see dried corn husks and pumpkins on porches and talk turns to Halloween…and then Thanksgiving. Perhaps that is another reason I love fall.  It lasts longer than other seasons, includes Thanksgiving, and then blends into winter, my second favorite time of year.  As winter rolls around, that means birthdays, Christmas, and before you know it, we’re starting a new year. Spring won’t be poking it’s head up again until April.

Every day now I look for the subtle signs that signal the change of season. I look for shadows that are longer, days that are shorter, and the restaurants and grocery stores that are less crowded because our seasonal residents have gone home. Then comes the day when I notice how dry the air feels and how nice it is to sit on the front porch in my favorite sweater watching dappled sunlight through yellow leaves.

Fall in the mountains of western North Carolina. It can’t come soon enough.IMG_0199