October 30, 2010

Real Haunts and Ghosts of Catawba County and the Greater Hickory NC

Real Haunts and Ghosts of Catawba County and the Greater Hickory NC Area
Real Haunts and Ghosts of Catawba County

Just in time for Halloween!

Here's a starter list of possible real haunted places and ghostly tales from in and around Catawba County and Hickory NC.  If you decide you'd like to visit some of these places, please remember to first ask permission from the legal owners...No Trespassing!

Catawba County

1859 Cafe - Hickory NC: This restaurant was originally built in 1859 by Henry Link.  It is reported haunted by a 'gentle blond woman.'  She has appeared in the dining room and in the womens' bathroom.  A ghostly image of a woman has been seen in photographs of the Cafe, as well.  Stop in for a bite and see if you can catch a glimpse! 1859CafeOnline

Alice M. Raeford Memorial Center - Hickory NC: Reports are that doorways seem to disappear after you pass through them and there have been several sightings of shadows and 'misty figures.'  Some people have heard faint whispering sounds and a few have even said that they were touched or pushed by an invisible hand.

Catawba Memorial Park - Hickory NC: There have been several reports of ghostly images and shadows around this cemetery.  Some have claimed to have captured 'ghost orbs' in their photos, as well.

Crown Cinema VI - Hickory NC: Though this movie theater is now closed, while open, there were several sightings of shadows and apparitions.

Hickory Community Theatre - Hickory NC: Supposedly, a ghost has a "special" seat in the balcony of this grand old theatre.  The sit is always in the down position. If it is ever put up, when you return, it will be down again.  Other apparitions have also been seen around the place.  One appeared onstage and seemed to be dancing about.  See some great LIVE performances at the Hickory Theatre.

Lenoir-Rhyne University - Hickory NC: The whole campus is haunted!  The main points of 'interest' are Mauney Music Building, where ghostly footsteps are heard, and several have reported a phantom orchestra playing.  Highland Hall, where more ghostly footsteps, as well as slamming doors are heard.  Apparitions have been reported here, and several motorists have seen a strange light coming from a third floor room.  Carl A. Rudisill Library, where many have heard the the ghost of the 'crying boy.'  And Schaeffer Hall, where the ghost of an elderly lady sometimes decides to make "bed checks" on the 2nd floor. University Website

Old St. Paul's Church - Newton NC: The ghost of a runaway slave that was shot by his owner while hiding out here is said to haunt this old church, built in the 1750's.  The organ has been heard playing when no one is near it.  Their website.

Alexander County

The Old Jail - Taylorsville, NC: Now, the Old Jail is a museum and the offices of the Alexander County Ancestry Association and their Genealogical Research Library.  The second floor is where the old lock up was, and it's reported that sometimes, you can hear footsteps coming from that floor and the sound of the metal doors closing.  The Old Jail Website.

The Lucas Mansion - Hiddenite NC: James Paul "Diamond Jim" Lucas built this mansion in the some community, famous for it's one of a kind emerald, about 1920.  He died in 1952 and the place was abandoned.  Now, it's been fully restored and is the offices of the Hiddenite Center Cultural Arts Center.  Several ghostly sightings have been reported over the years, as well as ghostly sounds and music and other 'bumps in the night.'  Take a tour of the place and see if you can feel an unearthly presence.  NOTE: although beautiful to see today, when I was a kid, this house was an overgrown wreck that I had to walk by on my home from school.  It was creepy in the daylight and plain scary at night!

Iredell County

The Bostian Bridge - Statesville NC: On August 27, 1891, a passenger train from Salisbury bound for Asheville derailed and plunged off the bridge, killing some 30 people and injuring many more.  If you go to the site on the anniversary of the wreck about about 3am, you can reportedly here the sounds of the wreck again.  Many people have reported hearing the phantom human screams, the crashing metal, and the moans of injured and dying.  Some have even seen an apparition of a conductor on the tracks holding a pocket watch just before the ghostly recreation begins.

Old Davis Hospital - Statesville NC: Now vacant, Davis hospital is home to several ghosts.  Many who have entered have seen apparitions of former patients, heard the sounds of babies crying on the pediatrics ward and have felt an overbearing feeling of dread while in the building.  Reportedly, the building is always cold, even in the summer months.

The Warren Bridge - Statesville, NC: Named for Claude Warren, who was shot and killed by his brother-in-law, in 1916.  Every afternoon, you can hear a bloodcurdling scream, reportedly that of Claude's sister, who witnessed the shooting.  Several apparitions have been seen in the area as well.  Many claim that at least one of them is the ghost of Claude himself, searching for his missing head, which was removed by the shotgun blast from his brother-in-law.

Caldwell County

Chapel of Rest - Happy Valley NC: In the 1920's, the preacher of the church caught his wife cheating, and overcome with despair, hung himself from the rafter above the front pew that Saturday night.  The congregation found him hanging there the next morning.  Supposedly, you can still see the his blood stains on the floor, and indention on rafter from the rope, as well as the scuffs on the front pews from his shoes.  At night, you can see his ghostly image swinging from the rafter and at the podium is a Bible that can apparently predict the exact date and how you will die.

South Caldwell High School - Lenoir NC: There are two ghosts in the school.  One is of a young man that died while building the elevator.  He 'operates' the elevator several times a night, causing it to go up and down unattended.  Another is reportedly of a girl who died while rehearsing a play.  Now, she is said to cause blackouts and to play around with the lights and set and props during productions.

Other Areas

Brown Mountain Lights - Linville NC: Probably the most famous North Carolina 'haunt,' the Brown Mountain Lights have been appearing since around 1200AD.  Seen from various vantage points, the lights appear to be small, dancing orbs that appear and disappear.  Many say that these lights are the spirits of dead Cherokee and Catawba braves.  Others say that they are the spirits of Indian maidens lighting a torch for their dead warriors.  No one really knows what they are, but many, many people have seen them.

Do you know of any ghostly haunts in the area?  Let me know.  Comment here or send me an email with the details and I'll post it.  Thanks.

UPDATE: Due to the incredibly high number of attempted spam comments on this post, I have had to unfortunately, lock comments.  If you enjoyed reading this and have other areas not mentioned, please drop me an email.  Thank you

October 23, 2010

Trunk or Treat Celebration at Valley Hills Mall - Hickory NC Event

Trunk or Treat Celebration at Valley Hills Mall - Hickory NC Event

You can double the Halloween Fun this year in the Greater Hickory NC Area!

On October 30, you can trunk or treat, with games and prizes at
Newton NC Spooktacular Event

And the next day, you can trunk or treat again at Valley Hills Mall!

On Sunday, October 31, 2010 from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, children from the area are invited to the Trunk or Treat Celebration at Valley Hills Mall.

Sponsors participating in the event will be handing out goodies from the trunks of their cars, all from the comfort of inside the mall.  The event is mall-wide and there will be plenty of activities to keep the ghouls and ghosts happy!

For more info, you can visit Valleyhillsmall.com or call 828.328.2436

Valley Hills Mall
Valley Hills Mall
1960 Highway 70SE, #244
Hickory, NC 28602

Newton NC SPOOKTACULAR This October 30, 2010 - Newton NC Event

Newton NC SPOOKTACULAR This October 30, 2010 - Newton NC Event

Looking for some good, clean fun for you and your little ghosts and goblins this Halloween?  Come on down to downtown Newton, NC for this year's
Looking for the newest event?  CLICK HERE
Spooktacular Halloween Event!

Newton NC SPOOKTACULAR This October 30, 2010 - Newton NC Event
The goal of the event is to provide an old-fashioned fall festival that
is family-friendly, featuring storefront decorations, Halloween-themed
inflatables, and spooky music and lots of candy and treats via 'Trunk or Treat'

Spooktacular will begin Saturday, October 30, 2010 and will run from 5:00pm to 8:00pm.  Activities will center around the Courthouse Square of Newton.

Don't miss the costume contests that begin at at 6:00pm.  There will be winners from several different age groups, including 18 years old and up, so it's okay for you to dress up, too!

Groups or individuals that are interested in participating in the “trunk
or treat” should call Festival & Events Committee Chairperson
Catherine LeFevers at 828-234-5986

For more information on this event, you can visit www.newtonnc.gov.


Warm up at Zander's Coffee House!  Anyone that brings in a copy of this article will get a FREE small gourmet coffee with a dessert purchase.

October 21, 2010

Newton NC ArtFEST - October 23, 2010 - Newton NC Event

Newton NC ArtFEST - October 23, 2010 - Newton NC Event
This Saturday, October 23, the Newton Merchants Group is hosting the 4th annual Newton ArtFEST from 10am until 5pm.

This one day multi-media event has lots to see and do: There will be local
artists and craftsmen, food vendors, sidewalk sales and entertainment
for everyone.

The day starts off at 10:00am with the Chalk it Up!  event.  Anyone can participate and show off their artistic talent within a 6 x 6 sidewalk space.  The entry fee for this event is $5.00, but area students that pre-register for the event will have their entry fee paid courtesy of Jackie Weaver State Farm Insurance.  The top three Winners will receive $50.00 gift certificates from area stores.

Arts and crafts will be on display, and for sale, that are  
There will be local wineries offering samples and bottle sales,
and plenty of entertainment throughout the day.

You don't want to miss this!  And don't forget to bring your lawn chairs!
For more information, visit www.newtonnc.gov or call Ana Christina Godoy at 828-466-9881 or 828-465-9745

October 13, 2010

A Seller's Guide to Lease Options

A Seller's Guide to Lease Options
In the first part of this series, I gave a brief overview of what a lease option is and is not.  If you need details on the terms, check there.

Many people think that only desperate sellers and real estate investors are the only types of sellers that try to sell via a lease option.  Hopefully, this guide will help to change your mind if you happen to be one of those people.

Why Offer A Lease Option When Selling?

Even if you are wanting to sell outright (normal sale), it may be wise to offer a potential lease option.  Why?  More potential buyers, that's why!  Anytime you offer something other than "get a loan and come talk to us" you property will get more attention.  And contrary to popular opinion, most buyers looking at lease options are not "the bottom of the barrel."  In fact, many may be in a position to buy now, if the price is right.  A lease option gives them a choice and that's appealing to today's generation.

Moreover, it's not getting any easier to get a loan these days.  Even if a buyer is qualified to buy today, the process may take longer than they, or you, may want.  A lease option is a viable "in between" solution.

Are There Benefits to a Lease Option for the Seller?

Yes.  Of course, the benefits may vary depending on your situation.

One major benefit
of a lease option is that price is rarely negotiated in a lease option deal.  The terms and conditions are usually the primary factors.  That's not to say that you can over-price the property and have no problems getting it.  The home still has to be priced right, but you'll usually sell at the top of your value range rather than the bottom.

It's a delayed sale.  Again, this may or may not be a benefit depending on your position, but many sellers view this as a positive.

You'll get more money You get top dollar on the purchase price, but you'll also get to collect lease payments for the term as well.  If you're profiting $200/month, that's an extra $2400 per year in income.  Plus, the option fee is yours the minute you cash the check, as well.

You may get tax benefits.  There are taxable benefits to owning rental property, so check with your accountant.

What About the Bad Stuff?

Like anything, there are pros and cons, and a lease option is no different.

You are a landlord.  Being a landlord isn't for everybody.  Lease options often have conditions that make the landlording job a bit easier, but you are still a landlord.  You may have to evict the tenant/buyer at some point.  If you think that you won't make a good landlord (or if you're going to be an out of state landlord), you need to consider hiring a good property manager

You may get your property back.  And it may not be in as good a shape as you left it.  Most tenants in a lease option treat do not trash the house.  They are intending on it being fully their house someday, after all.  However, not everybody has the same standards, and sometimes, if you get the house back, it may require some fix-up to get it back into sale shape.  The counter to this is to get enough option fee to help cover this cost.

You may lose some tax benefits.  What?  One of the pluses is getting a tax benefit, how can you do both?  Well, as it stands, today, if you've owned the property long enough and it's your primary dwelling, you can sell and the profits (up to a certain amount) aren't taxable.  Check with your accountant to see if selling via lease option would affect you on this.

So, if you're selling, you may want to consider offering a lease option.  And if you've got any questions, you can always call me.

Guide to Lease Option Series
The Quick Guide to Lease-Options  
A Seller's Guide to Lease Options

    Why You Can Go Terribly Wrong using Price Per Square Footage to Determine a House Value

    Why You Can Go Terribly Wrong using Price Per Square Footage to DetermWhy You Can Go Terribly Wrong using Price Per Square Footage to determine a House Valueine a House Value
    Recently, I've gotten several people ask me what I thought their home w
    as worth.  Usually I here something like this, "Bob just sold his home for X and he only has 2000 square feet.  I've got 2500, so mine should sell for Y, right?"

    Sorry, but home values don't work quite that way.  If you're trying to determine your house's value by comparing the square footage of others that have sold in your area, then you could be off by a lot!

    First thing about square footage values is that it is location-based.  That is, home values per a footage price will only remain similar if they are in the same neighborhood or very close to the subject property.  If you get out of the area, the per footage value may change.  We can all agree that a property in a crime-ridden neighborhood would have a lower per footage value than a house in an upscale, gated community, right?

    Even if you're comparing homes within the same neighborhood, there are lot's of other factors to consider other than square footage.  For instance, not all square footage is valued the same.

    Unheated square footage isn't the same as heated square space.  Then their is finished vs. unfinished.  A basement's square footage isn't given the same value, whether it's heated/finished or not, as the main level.  The square footage of the second story of two story home isn't valued the same as the main level.

    Finally, you have to compare the age of the homes.  Not only the actual physical ages, but also the 'perceived' age of the property as well.  For example, is one home fully upgraded with new appliances, flooring, etc where the other is not?  Was one not as well cared for and has a few dings and needed repairs?  It makes a difference.

    There are several factors that determine a home's value and the price per square foot is only a small factor in the process.

    Location, acreage, age, style, amenities...these are just a few that also must be considered when you're trying to place a value on a home.

    photo courtesy of wwarby flickr photostream

    October 08, 2010

    More Renting Myths BUSTED

    Man, the media seems to really be pushing renting over buying these days.  It seems that there is an article out there daily about the "benefits" of renting over owning.  I'm sure that the landlords of the nation are loving it.  Nevermind that the "data" supporting the articles usually come from places like Apartments.com or the National Landlords Association (which, btw, is Why it's Important to know WHERE the Data from a Survey Came)

    Awhile back, a posted, It's Better to Rent than Buy: Busting the MYTH! when one of these articles was pushing truly false information.  Now, Yahoo publishes this article and it's time for a new post as well.  The article was originally published by Steve Thompson on Associated Content, but it seems that it's no longer there, so I linked to the Yahoo post instead.Popping Balloon

    Basically, Mr. Thompson lays out 10 reasons why he thinks renting is better than buying.  He goes into details for each, but for those that don't like to click on links his ten reasons are as follows:

    1. No Property Taxes
    2. No Association Fees
    3. No Maintenance Expenses
    4. No Roots
    5. Free Utilities                          Photo courtesy of AMagill Flickr Photostream
    6. Lower Utilities
    7. Free Perks
    8. Less Risk
    9. Lower Insurance Rates
    10. Opportunities for Investments
    As a former landlord, I can say this with absolute certainty; landlords LOVE people who think like this.  They are the reason landlords become landlords.  Why?

    Mr. Thompson has items 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9 as "perks" because they're "free."  I hate to break it to you, but they're not free.  He even mentions sometimes that they're "included" in the rent.  They are ALWAYS included in the rent.  Always.

    He mentions lower utilities because apartments and condos are usually smaller than a single family house.  In a word, DUH!  A smaller house would have lower utilities than a larger one.  This is plain common sense.

    Renting to him is less risky because you don't have to worry about foreclosure.  Has he read a paper lately?  If the landlord gets foreclosed on, trust me, you, as the renter are going to be worried about it.

    Finally, he mentions 'Opportunities for Investments'  By not having his money 'tied up in the equity' of a house, he could invest it somewhere else.  First, you never have money 'tied up' in equity.  You either have equity, which gives you a means to possibly get money, or you don't have equity.  Second, a house payment is usually fixed and has a set number of payments.  A rental payment usually goes up annually and is until death.

    The only real, honest perk to renting in all of his 10 reasons is "No Roots."  It is fairly easy to quickly pack up and move if you're a renter.  If moving around alot is your lifestyle, either through choice or through work, then renting is definitely the best choice for you.

    Some people prefer to rent over buying and I'm not knocking that choice.  But, please don't use these reasons to try to convince yourself or others that it's 'better' than buying.  Nothing is ever free.

    This Weekend, Oktoberfest in Hickory NC and Car, Truck & Bike Show in Newton, NC

    Lot's of entertainment in Catawba County this weekend!

    Oktoberfest is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Oct 9, 10, 11) in downtown Hickory, NC
    Oktoberfest is full of fun with several stages featuring non-stop live shows, 2 beer gardens, lots of rides and games, arts and crafts and more food than you can shake a stick at!

    for more info Oktoberfest, you can click here.  Make sure to check out the map.

    Also the weekend, The Knights of Colombus is sponsoring their Christmas for Kids Car, Truck & Bike Show
    The Car show is being held in downtown Newton, NC this Saturday, October 9, 2010 and besides lots of great vehicles, there will be some good family entertainment, music, food and door prizes.  Don't miss it!

    For more info on the Car show, you download the flyer, or call 704-462-4005 or 828-234-0896

    In the Hickory, NC area (including the Newton-Conover area) and need a real estate professional with honest answers to your questions?  Contact Roger A Johnson, today.  828-381-9245

    October 07, 2010

    NC Attorney General Calls for Lenders to Suspend Foreclosures in North Carolina

    NC Attorney General Calls for Lenders to Suspend Foreclosures in North Carolina.  Yes, Sir, NC AG Roy Cooper has already been investigating "questionable foreclosure tactics" in NC.  Now, with this whole mess going on with suspended foreclosures by most of the big banks (if you're not aware of this, Google "suspended foreclosures"), Cooper has called on 14 mortgage lenders to also suspend foreclosures in North Carolina until they can prove that there were no issues with the foreclosures done here.

    North Carolina is a non-judicial foreclosure state.  Up to this point, all the moratoriums on foreclosures by the big lenders have been in judicial foreclosure states.  However, that may be changing pretty soon, as AG Cooper is not the only State Attorney General requesting that foreclosures in their states also stop until more investigating is done.  In fact, several congressmen have taken up the fight to ensure that foreclosures are being done legally and validly.

    The fourteen lenders that North Carolina's AG is requesting to halt foreclosures in the state are:

    Bank of America
    Wells Fargo
    JP Morgan-Chase
    Citi Mortgage
    SunTrust Mortgage
    PHH Mortgage
    OneWest Bank
    PNC Mortgage
    Aurora Bank
    US Bank Home Mortgage
    MetLife Home Loans
    BB&T Mortgage
    American Home Mortgage Servicing

    UPDATED TO 15:  GMAC has also been requested to halt foreclosures by AG Cooper.

    The Quick Guide to Lease-Options

    Lease-Options, also referred to as rent to own, rent2own,
    lease-purchase, as well as a few other names, is a very misunderstood
    concept in the real estate market, even with many real estate agents. 
    Hopefully, this new series will help people learn what a lease-option is
    (and maybe isn't), and when it may be a good idea to offer it.

    As stated, the term lease-option is often used interchangeably with those above, but strictly speaking there are differences between them.

    A Lease-Option is an agreement between the owner of the property (usually called the landlord/seller) and a person(s) interested in owning the property (usually called the tenant/buyer).  As the name implies, there are two basic parts of Lease-Option

    The Lease:  The lease in most lease-options is like a "normal" lease in any rental situation.  The length can vary from 6 months up to 3 years (depending on state laws) and is usually negotiated at the time of contract between the landlord/seller and tenant/buyer.

    The Option:  This is where many get confused with a lease-option.  The option is an agreement between buyer and seller giving the buyer the option, but not the requirement, to buy the property within a set time frame.  When an option is put together with a lease, the time frame is most often the same length as the lease (for example, a one year lease with a one year option).  To make an option valid, the buyer has to pay to the seller an Option Fee.  Most options used in conjunction with a lease also have clauses that make them voidable by the seller if the lease is violated in any way.

    The Option Fee:  This, too, is often misunderstand.  The option fee is paid to the seller by the buyer for the right to hold the seller to a specific price AND to prevent the seller from selling to another for a set amount of time (ie, 1 year option).  The option fee is NOT a down payment on the property, though in many lease-options, the seller does agree to count it towards the purchase price IF the option is exercised (the buyer decides to buy).
    The option fee is NOT a security deposit.  A security deposit may be required as part of the lease, though.
    In most cases, the option fee is NON-REFUNDABLE. Again, this may vary with your state laws and can be negotiated upfront, but, generally speaking, the option fee is the seller's money as soon as it is given by the buyer.  Why?  This is the fee the seller has agreed to accept for taking the property 'off the market' for time specified.

    Finally, lease-options may not be legal and valid in all states.  Please review your state laws before considering a lease-option transaction.

    October 02, 2010

    Low Ball Offers are a Part of Selling in Today's Market

    If you're selling a home in today's market, then you know that it is taking longer to get your property sold.  Pricing your property correctly from the start is probably one of the most important factors in making sure that your home doesn't sit on the market longer than it should.

    Even when you are priced correctly and marketed well, another factor in today's real estate market, even here in the Greater Hickory, NC area, is the low-ball offer.

    Yes, even homes that are priced well, or even a little under market value, many times will get the low-ball offer thrown out at them.  When sellers get these type offers, especially if it happens to be the first offer, many get frustrated or discouraged in the selling process.  I'm here to tell you...don't.

    Unfortunately, low-balls offers are a part of selling in today's market.  The news media has pushed into most buyers minds that everything up for sale can be had "at rock bottom prices," and that most sellers are "desperate" to sell for any price.  With some buyers, it may be nothing more than a ploy to see how far you'll actually be willing to come down from your initial price.

    Do not get mad or discouraged at low-ball offers on your home.  In almost all cases, the best thing to do is discuss the offer with your real estate professional.  If the buyer is really a qualified buyer, then counter the offer with a reasonable price for you.  If the buyer is only 'out for the deal' then you've not lost anything.  The two of you would have never comes to terms anyway.

    Most likely, it's a buyer 'testing' the price.  Once they see that you aren't the 'sell at any price' seller, they'll be much more willing to negotiate at the true market value of your home.

    In the Hickory, NC area (including the Newton-Conover area) and need a real estate professional with honest answers to your questions?  Contact Roger A Johnson, today.  828-381-9245

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