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5 Tips for Selling Your Home in the Fall and Winter

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

5 Tips for Selling Your Home in Fall and WinterWith the change of seasons comes different challenges that may affect your home’s sale. The fall and winter are some of the most challenging; however, small adjustments, to both your home and your approach, can really improve your chances of selling. Here are 5 tips to for selling your home in the fall and winter:

  1. Turn on the lights! During the fall and winter, the northern hemisphere of the Earth is tilted away from the sun making its light hit us at a different angle. Days are shorter and often gloomier, which can really affect people’s moods, but simple tweaks can counteract that for the people who enter your home and leave a positive impression. Before each showing, turn all the lights on in the home, even if it’s daytime. The brightness will naturally lift their moods, but don’t forget to clean all your light fixtures. Dust and dirt will become more apparent and negate the impression you’re trying to leave.
  2. Keep your yard groomed. It’s easy to neglect your yard in the fall and winter, because growth slows and plants die back, but it’s so important to maintain the home’s curb appeal. You should continue to maintain the yard. Trim bushes, remove dead foliage, and rake leaves in the fall, as well as throughout the winter. In Southeastern North Carolina, we don’t have to worry about snow too often, but some trees, like huge oaks, will drop leaves in the fall and at the end of winter. So, you may need to keep up with that. Also, remove lawn ornaments that look out of season, and clean up exterior furniture and decorations that look weathered, like birdbaths that have a tendency to turn scummy. Without all the green of summer, details like this become more obvious and detract from the home.
  3. Use the season to your advantage. You know what comes with fall and winter? Lots of nice, warm smells – cinnamon and cloves, apple pie, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, etc. These incite happy feelings, the kind you want buyers to feel in your home. Before showings, bake a pie, burn a candle, or melt fragrance wax, so the scent is still lingering when the buyers arrive.
  4. Shape the perfect frame of mind. Expectations can set you up for feelings of success and disappointment. Throughout the year, the real estate market sees lows and highs. During the fall and winter, sales are naturally slower due to fewer buyers. School schedules are direct contributors to this, because parents don’t like to move their kids mid-year. If you realize this before listing your home, it’ll be easier to deal with the lower number of showings, but don’t take this as your home won’t sell. We usually see more serious buyers during the fall and winter.
  5. Be flexible and communicate with your real estate agent. There are a good number of holidays in the fall and winter. That means family events, houseguests, etc. If you’re going to have a solid month of people visiting and won’t be allowing showings, it’s probably best to take your home off the market. If it’s just for a week, let your agent know beforehand, so buyers are given plenty of notification through the MLS and the showing center. You’d be surprised how many people want to put in an offer the week before Christmas.

The key to selling in the fall and winter is to remain positive and diligent. Time and again, we see flexible owners and maintained homes resulting in successful sales before others. Of course, every situation is different and sometimes you need some creative brainstorming. If you have any questions about selling your home in the Wilmington area, give us a call at 910-202-2546 or send us a message through our website.

New Mortgage Lending Forms Now in Effect

by Melanie Cameron, The Cameron Team

The Cameron Team's Monday Market UpdateHappy soggy Monday! 

If you live in SC or coastal areas of NC, I pray that you, your family, and property are safe and dry.  We've had quite the storm system move through our area over the past few days.  For the most part, Wilmington has faired pretty well with the exception of some low lying areas that have taken on some water.  Overall....very thankful!  It could have been much worse!

There have been some major changes recently in the mortgage industry.   New documents are now going to be required on all transactions and these new documents and new rules will most likely increase the amount of time it takes to close on your loan.  Here is a recent article from Realty Times that talks about the new items that went into effect on October 3rd.

The Know Before You Owe disclosure form issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will go into effect on October 3, 2015.  The rule provides for easier to use mortgage disclosure forms that clearly lay out the terms of a mortgage for a homebuyer.

But some lenders and real estate agents say the new mortgage rules may delay closings.  What will change is that three documents, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, the Good Faith Estimate, and the Truth in Lending Disclosure will be pared down to two new closing forms called a Loan Estimate and a Closing Disclosure.

The Loan Estimate form must be given to consumers no later than 3 days after they formally apply for a loan.  That means providing financial information to the lender and signing a mortgage application.

When the consumer receives the Loan Estimate form, he or she will know what the loan amount and the interest rate will be, how much the monthly payment is, an estimate of taxes and insurance based on local rates, and how much down payment is required.

To prepare for settlement, homebuyers will have a three-day period to review the Closing Disclosure form.  Because of the added review period, lenders are recommending that borrowers lock in their mortgage rates for longer periods than they normally would.

CNBC real estate reporter, Diane Olick explains that the  "new rules will require lenders, title companies, real estate professionals and insurance representatives to all come together sooner in the process to ensure the disclsoures do get out in time."

For example, a 30 day lock rate is typical, but borrowers can extend the lock period up to 45 days or 60 days.  However, there may be a question as to whether or not more time is really needed to close the loan.

According to, borrowers are often told there's no charge for a rate lock.  That's true in the sense that the rate lock isn't associated with a fee.  but a rate lock isn't free.  A longer rate lock typically involves a higher interest rate which is more expensive for the borrower.  The interest rate or "pricing" difference between a 15 day rate lock and 60 day rate lock might be as little as one-eighth or as much as half of a percentage point or roughly $25 to $50 per month for the life of the loan.

Meanwhile, real estate agents are preparing for the worst.  According to a new survey by the National Association of Realtors says that about 56% of Realtors say they plan to add more time to their contracts.

As always... any questions, comments or needs, just give us a call.  We are here to help you with all of your real estate needs.

Have a great week!

A Hurricane is Coming? But I’m Buying a Home This Week!

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Limb on HomeBuying a new home alone is one of the most stressful processes you will go through in your life. Add to that an impending hurricane and you’ll be wondering who you ran over to bring on this amount of bad karma. Sadly, when you live on the east coast, things like this happen, but rarely does it affect your purchase in the ways you’re imagining…Admit it, the first thing you thought of was your home being washed away or tree landing on the roof…but there are some things that could affect your closing when a hurricane is on track for the area.

The first is obvious – the weather could prevent everyone involved from getting things done. The attorneys may not be able to get to their office, government buildings may close and prevent the deed from recording, and you may not be able to get where you need to in order to sign paperwork or do the walk-thru. All of this is possible if your closing is scheduled the day of the hurricane or a few days after. If everything is pretty well wrapped up with your closing and it’s not happening within that timeframe, chances are that it can go on as scheduled.

The second is not so obvious – insurance companies put policy writing on hold around hurricane activities. They don’t want to promise coverage for a scenario that may change. Most buyers need home insurance, because lenders require it before they will fund loans. As a result, closings get postponed until insurance coverage can be guaranteed.

Of course, property inside and around the cone of the hurricane is at risk for wind and flood damage. Lenders require North Carolina properties to have Wind & Hail Insurance. Properties in specific flood zones are required to have Flood Insurance. If something happens to the property, good chances it will be covered, and your real estate agent will work to have any damages resolved quickly.

Remember, we live here and this isn’t our first rodeo. If you’re our client, we do everything we can to make the buying process as smooth as possible. Things can quickly become complicated, especially if you’re selling your current home and have the moving van scheduled. There ARE options and we’ll do what we can to help you adapt to the situation. If your closing gets postponed, be thankful that the hurricane is happening BEFORE you sign anything and that your interests are being protected.

If you have any questions about buying in the Wilmington area, give us a call at (910) 202-2546 or send u a message through our Contact page.

Why You Should Buy Your First Home Now

by Melanie Cameron, The Cameron Team

The Cameron Team's Monday Market UpdateHappy Monday!  And if you live in the area, I hope you've dried out from the weekend!  WOW, we have had some rain!

I recently read the following article from Realty Times discussing why now continues to be a good time for first time buyers to act now rather than later on their home purchase.

With some of life's milestones, there may not be a picture-perfect time to take the plunge.  But when it comes to buying your first home, the combination of good market conditions and your own financial situation can dictate timing.  If you've got the credit and down payment, you'd be crazy not to buy now.  Want to know why?


The Federal Reserve was expected to raise rates this summer, but so far they have stayed put.  There is still talk that rates could go up before the end of 2015.  So what does that mean for buyers?  Well, if you're a millennial, a rise in interest rates could spell bad news.

"If mortgage rates hit 6%, a third of millennials (people younger than 35 years old) wouldn't be able to afford homes as they're currently listed, according to an analysis by HouseCanary, a housing data analytics company," said Money Magazine.  "Mortgages are huge loans, so a seemingly small shift in interest rates can change the borrower's monthly payment by hundreds of dollars (though going from the current 4.08% rate to 6% is in no way a small shift.)"

Investopedia's example using a $215,000 home with 20% down (leaving a $172,000, 30 year mortgage) figurers a monthly payment of $821.15 at an interest rate of 4% and $923.33 at 5%.  Is that $100 a month enough to get you moving?


First time buyers have typically gravitated toward FHA loans for their low credit score requirements and down payments of just 3.5%.  But new loans from Fannie Mae require as little as 3%.  Known as the 97% LTV (Loan to Value) loan or Conventional 97, it can be more affordable for first time buyers because "the Conventional 97 program does not require an upfront mortgage insurance premium, and because its annual mortgage insurance rates are cheaper, too" said The Mortgage Reports.


In many markets, home prices are up significantly from their lowest levels several years ago, but are still within range of many buyers.  Rents, on the other hand, continue to go up, pushing household spending to new, uncomfortable, heights.

"Payments on a mortgage used to purchase a 3 bedroom home were more affordable than paying rent on a similar home in 66% of the counties recently analyzed by Realty Trac,"  said Mortgage News Daily.  "Across all 285 counties analyzed, the average percentage of median household income neededd to rent was 29.96% while the average percentage of median household income needed to buy was 29%."


When you pay rent, the entirety of your payment goes to the landlord or property owner, and all you get in return is a temporary place to stay.  When you own the home, the government essentially pays you money back for your investment.

"Your biggest tax break is reflected in the house payment you make each month since, for most homeowners, the bulk of that check goes toward interest," said BankRate  "And all that interest is deductible, unless your loan is more than $1 Million."

Any points you paid on your loan are also deductible the year you paid them, as are your property taxes.  "These taxes will be annual deduction as long as you own your home," said BankRate.  "But if this is your first tax year in your house, dig out the settlement sheet you got at closing to find additional tax payment data.  When the property was transferred from the seller to you, the year's tax payments were divided so that each of you paid the taxes for that portion of the tax year during which you owned the home.  Your share of these taxes is fully deductible."


First time homebuyers who put less than 20% down on an FHA loan will have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).  It's one of the drags of having limited cash.  For the past several years, those payments have cost buyers an annual premium of 1.35% of the loan balance, but a recent change dropped the premium to .85%.

"This change is expected to save more than 2 million FHA homeowners about $900 a year and allow about 250,000 consumers to buy their first homes in the next three years," said

Remember also that your PMI may also be tax deductible, subject to a few restrictions (And remind yourself again what portion of your rent is deductible: NONE).

Have an incredible week and we look forward to helping you with all your real estate needs!

Some Favorite Wilmington Coffee Shops

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Wilmington CoffeeEveryone in Wilmington knows about Port City Java. It started in Wilmington in 1995 and has since expanded to 30 cafes, a bakery, roastery, and distribution center. It has locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington DC, Jordan, and Abu Dhabi. It’s even appeared in television shows (Tree Hill Café on “One Tree Hill”). However, it’s not the only locally owned coffee shop offering up a great cup of joe. Here are some of our favorites.  

Java Dog
303 N. Front Street (Cotton Exchange)
This little coffee shop has it all – a unique atmosphere, friendly staff, and great coffee! Located in the Historic Cotton Exchange, every time I head in there it’s bustling with patrons, many of them students from Cape Fear Community College. Not only is their black coffee wonderfully rich, but their espresso drinks are delicious. They have a latte special every day and if you aren’t sure what to order, ask for a suggestion. I did the first time I went in and their suggestion was spot-on. The folks here love their craft and they are the type of people who will remember you. Oh, and yes, they are dog friendly.

Grinder's Caffé
5032 Wrightsville Ave
Grinder’s is easy to pass by when you’re travelling down Wrightsville Avenue, but take my word for it – don’t! They have great coffee and food, and clearly believe in providing a quality service. The place is laidback with a sitting area where you’ll often find patrons working on their laptops or listening to performances at open mic night, and they have a wide range of drip and espresso drinks to choose from. With names like Honey Bunny and “Coconut Cream Pie”, you’ll find more than just the caramel lattes here.  

Folks Café
1201 Princess Street (Corner of 12th Street) or 706 N. 4th Street (Brooklyn Arts District)
Are you looking for a place where loyal customers meet in the morning to drink coffee and chat? Folks Café is the neighborhood coffee shop where they roast their own beans (fair trade, organic and fresh roasted coffee). While they do serve espresso drinks, if you’re a coffee purist, this is probably the place for you. They also serve breakfast items, sandwiches and daily specials, including vegetarian choices. For an all-around “home” style experience, check out Folks Café.

Do you have a favorite coffee shop not listed here? Share it in the comments!

The Wilmington Brewery Scene

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Wilmington Ale TrailThe Wilmington brewery scene has exploded in the past year and is quickly becoming a destination for beer connoisseurs. There are 9 functioning craft breweries in Wilmington and more are in the process of being built. A year and a half ago, there was just 1 brewery; so, the growth is apparent.

Not only have breweries popped up, but so have side businesses, like bottleshops. There are 8 located throughout the Cape Fear area, as well as restaurants that serve locally brewed beer. There’s also educational tours providing consumers with a look at the brewing process. One is the Port City Brew Bus, which takes participants 21 years of age and older to 3 local breweries to learn about brewing techniques and styles, and yes, to taste test. Recently, the founders of Port City Brew Bus launched a guide for the Wilmington brewery scene called Wilmington Ale Trail (WAT).

WAT is a website and print publication that provides an introduction to local breweries. Consumers can find information about what makes each brewery and bottleshop unique, as well as hours of operation, locations, and local history. If you’re looking for a hops-themed event, you can find it there. The print publication is scheduled to come out twice a year and can be picked up at local breweries, bottleshops, some hotels, and the Wilmington Visitors Center.

Want to learn more about the Wilmington brewery scene, here’s a good video to watch:


Keep checking back for more information on what makes Greater Wilmington the place to live!

Thinking about relocating to Wilmington? Have a specific question about buying? Don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page!

OPEN HOUSE: 305 Lido Drive, Wilmington

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Stop by for a tour of this home and have all your questions answered. Also, don’t forget that every Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage open house you visit gets you entered in Coast In & Win for the chance to win $500!

305 Lido Drive - Palm GroveSaturday, September 26
305 Lido Drive

Wilmington, NC 28411
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Realtor Judy McGuire will be hosting an open house this weekend at our listing located in Bexley!

Property Details:
Convenient 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with a split-bedroom floor plan and 2 car garage located in the quaint community of Palm Grove! Home includes 1,500 square-feet of living space and 12 foot ceilings in the great room. Hardwood floors span the living room, sunroom, and kitchen, which also features granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances (fridge conveys). The home includes a large laundry room with a washer and dryer, and a master suite that boasts a trey ceiling, double vanity, garden tub, and large walk-in closet. At the rear of the home is an airy sunroom, which has access to the rear patio and partially fenced back yard. Palm Grove has walking trails and picnic areas for community residents, and it’s just minutes from Ogden Park where there are tennis courts, soccer fields, a playground, dog run, and large pond.

Click here for a map, more details, and pictures!

21% of Home Buyers Make an Offer Without Seeing the Home in Person

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

The Cameron Team's Monday Market UpdateHappy Monday!

Today, we're sharing some interesting buyer facts that may prove useful to you if you’re considering buying or selling a home in the near future.

The recently released National Association of REALTORS® Real Estate in a Digital Age report showed that searching for homes online is the first step in purchasing for 40% of home buyers. Others, contacted a real estate professional, looked for information online about the buying process, talked with a friend/relative, contacted a mortgage banker, or conducted drive-by searches. 43% of home buyers found the home they purchased online, followed by 33% who found it through a real estate agent and 9% through a yard sign. 87%-88% used a Realtor to purchase a home.

The typical home buyer is now a Millennial (age 25-35 years) and with that comes a larger emphasis on technology in buying trends. According to a recent study conducted by Redfin and Survey Monkey, 21% of respondents (home buyers) bought their home without seeing it in person. That’s 1 in 5 home buyers. 53% of these buyers paid $750,000 or more for their home. These results are a strong argument for the importance of quality photos and video tours for online listings.

Of the buyers who purchased a home without seeing it in person, the largest segment was Millennials at 30%. However, despite this action, which many would associate with risk, Millennials were the most likely to choose a home and neighborhood for its stability. According to this same survey, their priorities include schools and safety.

Previous studies have identified walkability as a growing importance among buyers, but only 11% of buyers in this survey identified that as a priority. The study also conflicts the stereotype that Millennials prefer urban properties with only about 13% of Millennials naming walkability as an important feature, as well as 12% citing access to public transportation.

Despite changes in technology and the way people buy homes, the reasons for buying haven’t really changed. 58% of home buyers said they purchased for “a sense of stability or permanence”, 44% for “a safe place to invest their money and wealth”, and 35% “to achieve the American Dream of homeownership”.

As always, if you have questions about buying or selling a home, just give us a call at 910-202-2546 or email us at We’re here to provide guidance and assistance at all stages of the buying and selling process.

Have a great week!

The Economic Impact of a Home Sold in North Carolina

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

When a home is purchased, the real estate agents aren’t the only ones to make money off the sale. Mortgage lenders, title insurance companies, real estate brokerages, rental and leasing companies, home appraisal companies, moving services, furniture companies, appliance companies, remodelers, restaurants, and sports teams are some of the other entities that benefit. Anything that contributes to establishing a home and experiencing what an area has to offer has the potential to benefit from a home purchase, and from there, money leaks into other areas of the economy through staff salaries and the company’s own purchases. This is why the housing industry is so important to the American economy.

The national average for money put back into the economy is $57.5k, but it varies from state-to-state. In North Carolina, it’s $48k. The state with the highest return is Hawaii, where it provides $177k.

Here’s an infographic showing every state:

Economic Impact of Every Home Sold 

A direct financial contribution isn’t the only thing home sales help with. They also generate jobs. According to the National Association of Realtors, two home sales equal one job on average. This is based on an average salary, but this too can vary from state-to-state.

No matter what the exact numbers are, it’s clear that a home sale has a positive impact on the economy and reaches far beyond the buyer, seller, and real estate agents. Remember that when you buy your next home and keep us in mind if you’re purchasing in the Wilmington area.

State Budget Agreement Reached: Includes Changes That May Affect Property Owners

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

NC State FlagAfter delays to the state budget, which was to go into effect in July, North Carolina House and Senate Republican leaders have come to an agreement on the 2-year state budget. The full Senate and House are expected to vote on the new budget this week and, hopefully, the budget will be passed before the temporary one expires on Friday. If signed into law, the new budget will execute a number of changes affecting local residents, including school budgets, road maintenance, and tax deductions for medical expenses.

You can see a rundown on the changes at WRAL, but here are a few budget details that may affect homeowners specifically. They include:

Historic Tax Credit. After much lobbying, leaders have agreed to reinstate the tax credits for historic preservation projects. These tax credits give a financial break to property owners of both commercial and residential historic properties that meet specific requirements. The amount set aside in the budget isn’t as high as it has been in past years, but it will still provide aid for those wanting to rehabilitate properties, like those found in the Historic District.

Renewable Energy Tax Credits. The House and Senate disagreed on including the energy credits in the new budget. The Senate argued that the private renewable energy industry had changed and there was no longer need for the credits. In the end, the energy tax credits were removed from the budget.

On a similar note, state income taxes have been cut from 5.75% to 5.499% with cuts offset by new taxes on repair, maintenance and installation services (like appliances!). North Carolina residents should know if the budget will go into effect by this weekend. So stay tuned!  

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 1096




Contact Information

The Cameron Team
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage
1001 Military Cutoff Suite 101
Wilmington NC 28405
Office: 910.202.2546
Toll Free: 800.522.9624
Fax: 910.795.4723