Home Buyers: Test Drive The Driveway!

When home buyers in the Triangle drive to properties in a separate vehicle from me, I always tell them to park in the driveway.
“Test drive the driveway.  It is part of what you are buying.”

We don’t have mountains here in the Piedmont, but the topography certainly rolls. It is easy to find steep driveways in both Raleigh and Cary.  And that steep driveway can be a deal breaker.
A Buyer needs to know they are comfortable in the driveway, if their car scrapes bottom entering or leaving, if they have good sight lines when backing out, if that side entry garage requires a three-point turn to enter and exit or if it has adequate space for a pad that allows easy access.
The time to know is prior to going to contract on an otherwise appealing house.
As their buyers agent, I want my clients to notice before we write, before we give up a large Due Diligence Fee to get a contract.

Inducements to Buyers Agents on the Rise?

It is only fair that consumers know about incentives offered to their agents.
This applies particularly to commissions, bonuses, and spiffs offered to buyers agents by builders, or resellers, who offer fat checks to agents to drive traffic to their subdivisions or resale homes.
Nearly 90% of resale listings in Wake County offer me 2.4% of gross contract price as my commission for bringing a successful buyer
Many builders offer 2.5%.
My Buyers Agency agreements all stipulate either a 2.4% or 2.5% Expected Compensation.  I always inform the Buyer client if I am offered a higher pay from “across the table.”
And, I am seeing an increase in higher offers dangled in front of me, if I will bring my client to contract with a builder.
For example, I just received this email from a builder’s representative:

Hi Mike,

“XYZ” is offering 4% commission on all 5 quick move-in homes at “XYZ Development” in “Lovelytown” if they can close by the end of November. That’s BIG money.

As an incentive to attend our luncheon this Thursday 9/14 from 11-2pm we’re offering a $25 gift card for the first 10 agents to arrive. In addition we’re having a drawing for 3-$50 gift cards for touring our quick move-in homes.”

I have a file of many offers like this, from many builders, collected over the last few months.
Transparency in ethics, and current Buyer Agency regulation, require that I disclose these incentives to my buyer clients ASAP, and definitely prior to writing an offer for them.
A buyer should rightfully know, early and clearly, that I stand to reap an increased financial benefit for guiding them, or pressuring them, to purchase any property.

I remember well in 2009, when the market was completely reverse of that we have experienced over the last couple of years, when we bragged about getting contracts in less than 3 months on the market.
And, sellers were desperate.
I saw buyers agent commissions as high as 8%.
You read that right.  “8% of contract price.”
Now, THAT is really BIG money.

I showed a new house in a subdivision where the builder was offering me 4.5%.
And, in follow up, the on-site agent whispered conspiratorially to me, “And, Mike, we want to take care of YOU, too.  I’m sure I can get you more money, if we can get your buyer under contract.”
All I could think was, “EEEwwwww!  So glad my buyer has no interest in these homes.”

I am seeing an uptick in these bonuses and increased commissions, usually in outlying areas outside the Hot Hot Hot Cary, Raleigh real estate market.
Builders want contracts and closings before the end of the fiscal year.  Help those top and bottom lines, and get more houses coming out of the ground.
This happens every year.
I don’t see anything unethical in their actions.  Ethics?  That is my responsibility, and I can choose to be transparent or conceal my motivations from a client.
Transparency, ethics, integrity, clarity.  It’s a package deal.

JUMBO Rates are Lower than Conforming Rates?? Wow.

JUMBO loans, Home loans for more than $417,000 for upscale homes in the Triangle market, are coming in cheaper than conforming loans at less than $417,000!
Luxury Home buyers and Home sellers, Rejoice! This may be a shot in the arm to a stodgy real estate market strata.
That just does not happen, historically. There has been a cost penalty for JUMBO loans, varying from a quarter point, to a point or more, just about forever.

The reasons? Banks have money and need to put it somewhere. JUMBO home markets are flooded with stagnant inventory. Luxury homes in the Triangle are just not moving, with 2 years’ inventory in many local areas for homes in the $800,000+ price ranges.
And, as Nick Timiraos noted in the Wall Street Journal last night, volatile mortgage bond yields are driving up confirming loan interest rates.

As usual, fascinating stuff. Structuring loans for upscale and luxury homes with 80/10/10, 75/25 products, or other scenarios has been a staple of JUMBO lenders in the past. And it is hardly a concern today, with JUMBO money very competitive and even more competitive than cohforming money.
Will this give the Triangle’s upscale home and luxury home real estate markets a boost? Stay tuned….

Moving to North Carolina? A LOT of other People are, too!

This fascinating graphic of relocation statistics from Atlas Van Lines shows that as of 2012 50% more people are moving to North Carolina than are moving out of the state.
And that relocating to North Carolina has been quite common for years.
Of course, those of us who have been living in the Triangle for many years have noticed that. Neighborhoods spring up and fill up rapidly! I moved to Cary in 1997, and have seen Cary swell from abuot 80,000 residents to almost 140,000. And Raleigh has also grown tremendously in that time.
They had to come from somewhere!

The graphic, courtesy of Atlas Van Lines:

2012 Migration Patterns
2012 Migration Patterns by Atlas Van Lines

RealtyArts.com Renovations near completion, 2013 Style

We are nearing completion of the complete redesign of the website, and enjoying the outcome tremendously.
Originally we were, MikeJaquish.com, then CaryRealEstateSales.com, and now RealtyArts.com

What’s in a name?
Well, I use Mike@MikeJaquish.com for my email address, so it is personalized.
But… The website is supposed to be focused on my clients and prospective clients, and descriptive of my business, so I changed the website to CaryRealEstateSales.com. That was fine, but also put a geographic box around the business name. And I help folks buy and sell property all around the Triangle. I found myself routinely answering, “Do you work in Raleigh?” Or, Durham, or Apex, or Morrisville, or just in Cary NC…. etc etc.
I wanted something less geographical, not all about me, and descriptive of the business practice.

Eureka moment:
Realty Arts LLC, dba “Realty Arts” was born. Think “Service as an Art.” “Real Estate Artisans.” Perspective. Effort. Creativity. Real Estate.
The LLC was followed immediately by RealtyArts.com

RealtyArts.com is the general landing page for the firm.
I believe that people visit real estate sites for three reasons:
To search for homes. To learn about the area. To learn about general real estate topics. We present a great deal of information freely and conversationally, without sales pitches or reservations.
Obviously, we hope that a visitor will see the merits of how Realty Arts presents itself, and will give us the opportunity to serve. If not, we always hope for the best for everyone.
And I had a lot of fun shooting and editing the photos in the slide show, too.

When arriving at RealtyArts.com, you will see choices of navigating to:

No Hassle Property Search
“Search Triangle Listings as Long as You Care to, Without Ever Registering.” No Hassle. No sales pestering. How I would want to be treated.
We updated the Search function to IDXBroker’s Platinum service. It offers a nicer interface, shows you if the listing is “Active,” “Contingent,” or “Pending” on the MLS, and has more available search filters than you will find anywhere else on the internet. Work it. Drive it like you stole it. Let me know if I can help you with any questions.

Triangle Neighborhood Profiles
This site consists of write-ups I have done on various neighborhoods, and photos and links to help people with questions about Triangle Neighborhoods. I usually include a link to No Hassle Property Search so folks can see what is currently on the market in the neighborhood.

blog.MikeJaquish.com
My personal blog page. I hold forth on real estate and housing information and topics, or whatever I feel like offering. I LIKE houses, renovating, and construction, so a lot of the posts are oriented that way. And, I like talking about the documents and how they are used.

Triangle Real Estate Forum
This is a fun site, where visitors and members present questions, give answers, talk about the Triangle region, and about real estate and houses. With no fear of being solicited by service providers. Sales pitches are forbidden in the Terms of Service.

Contact
Yes. You can contact me from that link, and also see the map to the office.

These navigational choices are presented on all pages for the firm. Visitors were struggling to move from one page to another and leaving the site, when information was readily available. So, we present the navigation in a fixed panel on the left side of the screen that is always visible.

We are in shakedown cruise mode. There are some further tweaks to be done. But the intent is clear to visitors. Just the facts, delivered very accessibly. No Hassle. Ready to Serve.

I am so delighted to be writing this post. I give a great deal of credit, and a great deal of gratitude, to Katherine Bishop, who has worked hard on the upgrades, and has been very very tolerant of my heavy hand in the process. She assumed the role delivering on my concepts, so it will work for you with a clean interface to the public. Two thumbs up for Katherine to anyone who needs a website. You should talk to her.

Realty Arts, LLC: A New Name. Same Real Estate Service Philosophies

“Do you sell homes in Raleigh?” used to be a common question. Or homes in Apex? Or Morrisville? Or Holly Springs?
Concentrating marketing near my home in Cary, and my website: CaryRealEstateSales.com worked together to make the questions quite reasonable.

And, Yes. I sell homes in Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Holly Springs. Yes, I sell homes in Durham. Chapel Hill, too. Garner. Yes, I sell homes in Chatham County. Etc. I sell homes all around the Triangle.

I opened as an independent real estate broker in December, 2012, leaving KELLER WILLIAMS® Realty in Cary behind after 7 great years. And in February, we formed the LLC, Realty Arts, LLC. I wanted something catchy and not anchored in one town or geographic local area by its name.
New domain name: www.RealtyArts.com and more good real estate stuff to follow.

My focus group (friends and family) was somewhat split on “Realty Arts.” Some liked it a lot. And some, a LOT less. “What do Real Estate and Art have to do with each other?” and “It sounds like you are selling paint,” were two comments.
Well, think of other great strong real estate companies. What about “Century 21” or “ERA” or “Zillow” or “Trulia” screams “real estate?” The words alone don’t do it. It’s their marketing that puts their message and meaning into your mind.
“Oh, yes. If you market your brand, it will have meaning to the public.” Sure. McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Honda, you name it. And, “Realty Arts” already has “realty” in it. Off to a good start!

Regarding “Arts.” Besides focusing on an artist’s palette of oils, or acrylics, or clay, landscapes or portraits or statuary, I am focused on the skills attained through study and practice that will help me be a great Realtor®.

The Art of Service.
The Art of Negotiation.
The Art of Home Sales.
The Art of Poise.

The list of skills that can be developed to an Artful level goes on and on.
Study + Practice + Skill + Application = Service.

I had fun with a client this evening, referring to myself as “Realty Artist, Mike Jaquish.” Then, I thought, a lofty goal to attain. Why not?

2012 and Wake County Property Taxes

2012 is the mid-point of the Wake County property tax assessment cycle. We reassess all properties every eight years. Last full property tax reassessment was performed in 2008, and the next full reassessment is scheduled for 2016.
Volatility in the Triangle housing market has raised the question of whether such a cycle is adequate. When some real estate values dip or increase more relative to other properties, should assessed values be corrected to be accurate? What costs would taxpayers have to be willing to absorb for more frequent reassessments?

The N&O had an article today, regarding the quandry, and the issue in Orange and Chatham Counties where property tax reassessments may possibly be delayed to avoid increasing the tax rates to maintain revenue.

It is more politically feasible to delay assessment than to be the one who voted for a tax rate increase, even if the bill stays the same…

Basements! Or, no basement. How we roll in Cary NC…

Cary home buyers who want basement homes often have to compromise. Many select finished attics.



Basement Homes in Cary NC

Basements in Cary NC

Cary home buyers from other regions often are shocked that many Cary homes do not have basements, and buyers agents need to do some explaining.

There are several contributing factors to that situation.

1.  Basements are not structurally necessary, so they are luxury priced.  We just don't need them.  In the north and midwest states, it is necessary to excavate footings 4 to 8 feet below grade to get below frost depth.  We only need, by code, to bury footings 15 inches below grade, so further excavation is unnecessary.  And expensive.

2.  Many Triangle areas have high water tables on site.  Water around foundation walls  is more likely to intrude into the interior of the basement. 

3.  Expansive clay soils.  Our soils will expand and contract as they get wet and dry.  This movement can stress walls, and allow more opportunity for water intrusion.

4.  Cost of finish.  It is usually more cost effective to convert attic space and finish it than to create and finish a basement.  And the home buyers benefit from being high, dry and lit by sunlight.

Yes, you can get a basement in Cary NC.  Commonly, it will be a "walk out" basement, also known as a "daylight" basement.  one or two walls will be above grade, with exit doors and windows.  And the lot will have some slope to accommodate this.  Dugout, hole in the ground, basements are extremely rare.

Cary Homes for Sale with Basements

 


Termites? Termite Protection Plans? We have them both. 60 Seconds in Real Estate Cary NC

Discussion of termite plans, termite inspections, and how that varies from pest services in Cary.





Termites?  In Cary NC?  Well…. Yes.

One home inspection that home buyers always have performed on a Cary home is to have a licensed pest firm check for termites.  Termites are very common in the Cary area and a smart buyers agent will press the home buyer hard to have the property checked out during the due diligence period of the contract.

It is also common for a home owner to carry a termite protection contract, which usually includes a repair policy for any termite damage.  If the home seller has carried such a plan, the seller should let the listing agent know, and that becomes a selling point in the listing.  If the plan is transferable, it is even more affordable and valuable to the home buyer.

Some folks confuse a termite plan with quarterly pest service.  Those are two very different services, even though they are offered by nearly all pest and termite control firms in the Triangle area.