November 29, 2010

NC Foreclosure Help - NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund

NC Foreclosure Help - NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund
If you're a resident of North Carolina and are unemployed or facing a financial hardship and are at risk of falling behind on your mortgage payment or have already fell behind on it, you may qualify for help from the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund.

If you qualify for these zero interest loans, you may be able to receive up to $36,000 for up to 36 months to help you pay your mortgage.  These loans are available in our area, which includes Alexander, Catawba, Caldwell and Burke counties.

This is being offered by N.C. Housing Finance Agency in partnership with HUD-certified counseling agencies statewide.  The contact for this area is the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.
You may be eligible for help if you:
  • are unemployed or are earning less than you have in the past, or
  • are facing a temporary financial hardship (for example, a divorce, serious illness, or death of a co-signor). To be eligible, you must also:
  • need assistance with payments for your principal residence, which must be located in North Carolina,
  • have satisfactory mortgage payment history prior to your job loss or financial hardship, and
  • be a legal resident of the United States.
If you need help, it's best to contact the counseling agency as soon as possible to determine if you qualify.

Western Piedmont Counsel of Governments
736 4th Street SW
Hickory, NC 28602
(828) 322-9191
Below are a couple of videos to help explain how the process works and what to expect when speaking with a counselor

November 25, 2010

One Family Can Make a Difference - Happy Thanksgiving!

Way back in 1990, Al and Debbie Bandy, of Newton, NC, started cooking a Thanksgiving day meal for the community.  They served about 125 people that first year.  Today, with the help of volunteers, they expect to serve over 500 people.  And they deliver, too!

The dinner is held every other year (and this is the year!) at First United Methodist Church, located at 300 North Main Ave, Newton, NC.

Takeout is from 11:00 am to 12:00pm today and dine in is from 11:30am to 12:30pm today.

So, who do they serve?  Anyone!  "It's for people who don't want to cook, can't afford it financially or don't have someone to eat with."  says Debbie.

If you ever think that you can't make a difference, think about what this one family has done for their community on Thanksgiving.  You can make a difference!

November 15, 2010

Need A Quickie? Quick Tips to Staging Your House to Sell

Need A Quickie?  Quick Tips to Staging Your House to Sell

If you've even considered selling your house in today's market, you've probably already heard about staging.  Want a great example of a perfectly staged home?  Visit a few builder open houses, or better yet, take a tour through a few model homes on a manufactured home lot!  Those mobile home people can really stage a house!

Still, many people who or trying to sell, or considering selling, don't know a good staging professional or simply don't want to, or feel they can't,  afford to hire a stager to make their house the best that it can be.  Now, in my opinion, a good stager is worth their weight in gold, but if you're watching every dollar in your selling price, there are a few things that you can do yourself to get your property in better selling shape.

Get a Truthful Friend or Neighbor to help:  By that, I mean you really need a neutral set of eyes looking at your house the way a buyer may, and the person with those eyes needs to be able to tell you exactly what they see (No being "nice" here).

Clean up the Outside:  Curb appeal is the big numero Uno for staging a home.  Cut the grass, edge it, trim it, trim up the bushes and shrubs.  Clean up any debris (and dog poo).  Add some color if it's lacking.  Do the shutters need painting (the house?)?  Consider painting the front door a bold color (red and emerald green work well with alot of homes).

De-clutter:  I know you've heard this one a lot, but it's one of the hardest to do.  I'm not talking about cleaning, but actually removing stuff from the home.  Your doll collection bookshelf, your trophies, your animal heads, personal photos, and various other nick-knacks need to be put up.  You're moving anyway, so go ahead and box these things up and get them OUT!  These things distract a buyer from the house.  That's never a good thing.

Clean:  Once you de-clutter, then it's time to CLEAN!  And I mean really clean, not just tidy up.  Clean everything you can see and even those spots you can't (like under the sink) because it's likely that the buyer may look there.

Update:  Let's face it, some homes need some updating.  A fresh coat of paint works wonders for any home.  If you have light fixtures that are dated, update them.  Paneled walls?  There are various ways to make them look like sheet-rock when it's done.  Consider it.  Those little "fix-it" jobs you never got around to doing...well, now it's time to get them done.  The less work a potential buyer sees that the home needs, the higher they are willing to pay for it.  A little money spent now means more in your pocket at the closing.

Stage the Rooms:  Yes, stage it.  You may not be able to get 'showroom' quality like a pro could, but you can make each room show it's best.  A dining room needs to look like a dining room.  Likewise with the bedrooms.  You may need to tone down the living area a bit by having less furniture than you're used to having.  You can find several TV shows that focus on staging to get some ideas.  The main point is to get the buyer to picture themselves in this "dream home"

Now, I'm no professional stager, just a REALTOR® with years of selling experience.  These staging tips will make a difference, both in the amount of time it takes for your property to sell, and the selling price.

November 08, 2010

The True Costs of FSBO vs Hiring a REALTOR®

The True Costs of FSBO vs Hiring a REALTOR®

Most FSBOs (For Sale By Owners) begin marketing their homes themselves in an attempt to "save the commission."  Unfortunately, very few of them ever really compare the true costs of selling FSBO to the costs of hiring a REALTOR®.

Assuming that you've correctly priced your property for the current market (let's say $200,000 is the 'right' price) what is the true cost of selling one vs. the other.

Century 21 SignIf sold at full price, and the REALTOR® and you agreed to a six percent commission, the cost of selling would be $12,000.

By going FSBO, to be truly equal, you have to be able to market your property comparably to the average agent.  So what does that take?

Data shows that up to 90% of buyers start their searches online, so you have to be on the Internet, and not just a single listing on one or two small websites.  You have to be where the buyers are looking.  Estimates may vary, but to get the online exposure that an average agent has built up over the years, you'd probably have to spend around $2-3000.  BUT, you still wouldn't be at the number one spot on the Internet that buyers look, which is  To get there and still maintain your FSBO, you'll have to find a flat-fee company to the tune of $500-1000.00.  Want to get your property featured on or some other top real estate website?  That's another $1000 or so.

It's all cool!  You're still at $5k tops, so that means you're still way to the good, right?  But wait! Research also shows that some 80-90% of buyers also use the services of agent For Sale by Owner Signwhen buying a property.  You don't really want to exclude any buyers that are using an agent (and if you're doing a side-by-side comparison, you can't).  Using the commission fee from above, usually a buyer's agent is entitled to half or 3% of that fee.  So that's $6000 that has to be allowed for a buyer's agent.

Hmm,  now we're only at $1000 or so in savings.  Hey, you're still saving, right?  Well, have you figured in your time, yet?  Someone has to field the calls, show the house, handle the paperwork, schedule the inspections and all the other things that an agent would normally do.

Put side-by-side, are you really saving the commission when marketing FSBO?

It gets worse, my friend.  The majority of buyers that specifically look for FSBO properties are looking at them for one reason and one reason only...they want to save the commission! 

That's right, they're looking to save the very same commission that you intended to save on selling.  If you want to sell, can you guess which one of you gets to actually save the commission in order to get a deal?  HINT:  It's most likely the one with the $$$$ and that's the buyer!

So, after all your hard work and effort to get your property sold yourself, it's very likely that you'll actually sell for LESS than what you would have if you had used the services of a REALTOR®.  That's a tough pill to swallow there.

Folks, if you can truly sell your property yourself faster and for more money, then I say, GO FOR IT!  That just makes sense.  However, if you're considering it, be sure that you're actually doing a true comparison of the costs instead of just looking at the number that happens to be the agent's fee.  It may actually save you a lot of time, trouble and dollars in the long run!

for sale by owner photo courtesy of Casey Serin

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