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Open House Etiquette for Buyers

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Buyer Open House EtiquetteIf you’re just starting your home search and aren’t sure what type of home you’re looking for, open houses are a convenient way to view homes without scheduling an appointment. It’s easy to daydream about homes you see on the internet, but, oftentimes, you can’t get a clear perspective on size and layout until you step into one. Viewing homes can take a lot of time, so the more you can narrow your needs and wants, the better. But it’s important to note there is some etiquette buyers should display when attending an open house:

  1. Be polite. Yes, you are a buyer and the home owner DOES want to sell their home, but they can just as easily tell you “no” as you can refuse to make an offer. So, it’s best for you to use all your manners while dealing with the hosting agent, who may or may not be their personal agent.
  2. Notify the hosting agent if you are working with another real estate agent. Realtors are required to follow a code of ethics and that includes upholding a level of transparency with other agents. They are not to provide any sort of counseling or advice, or pursue a business relationship with another agent’s clients. Additionally, any follow-up should be done through your agent.
  3. Give your name and contact info, if requested. After the Beverly Carter tragedy, you can be assured that there will be increasingly more agents implementing extra security measures, especially when they are completing job tasks that require them to be alone with strangers, like hosting an open house. Additionally, it’s important to track who enters the home in case any damages or a theft occurs. If you don’t want to be contacted about the home, let them know. They are required to abide by your requests.
  4. If you’re a neighbor, don’t be shy to admit it. After all, most agents can recognize a neighbor from a mile away. We’re not opposed to neighbors walking through the house. We recognize that they’re often a source for buyers, because friends and family want to live near each other. So, come, take a look, and let us know if you might have anyone interested.
  5. Consent to homeowner requests. If the hosting agent asks you to remove your shoes or wear booties, please be agreeable. You’re in another person’s home, and they have their own rules for keeping their home clean.
  6. Please don’t chat on your cell phone. It’s just a matter of courtesy to the hosting agent, who is there to answer your questions and show you the home. It can also be disturbing to other people viewing the home.
  7. Don’t touch anything. It’s expected that buyers will want to open cabinets and closet doors to see how much storage a home has, but don’t touch any personal belongings, especially the prized autographed baseball on display in the den or the desktop computer in the home office…just examples!

If you follow these simple guidelines, visiting open houses will be a breeze and, if you’re in the greater Wilmington area, you could win money by visiting homes during Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage’s “Coast In & Win” Weekends (keep an eye on our site for announcements).

Meghan Riley

Monday Market Update - October 20, 2014

by Melanie Cameron, The Cameron Team

The Cameron Team's Monday Market UpdateHappy Monday!  What a beautiful weekend.  Hoping you enjoyed every moment of it and made the most of the sunshine!

According to RISMedia, after years of debate, it appears US regulators are finally set to finalize and implement a more relaxed set of mortgage standards.   This is great news for the real estate industry.  We certainly won't see requirements go as soft as they did in the melt down of 2008 but hopefully this change will enable more responsible homebuyers to have access to safe and affordable credit.  The Federal Reserve has a scheduled "open meeting" on October 22nd with 5 other regulators and should be signing off on the agreement by the end of the month.  Stay tuned... we'll be watching this one closely.

If you're thinking about buying, we've got a list of "To Do's" for you.  Whether you're a seaoned buyer or a newbie, this list applies to you.

1. Know your credit/credit score -  You are entitled to one FREE report per year so get it.  Make sure your credit history is accurate and if not, start working on getting it fixed.   You want to correct any errors on your report BEFORE you are ready to buy.

2. Get Preapproved for a Mortgage -  Have your financials in order.  A preapproval is different from a prequalification.  With a true preapproval, the lender has checked your credit and verified the income information that you provided with your loan application.  Most sellers these days are wanting to see this and having it makes your offer that much stronger.

3. Budget your Finances - In the preapproval process mentioned above, you'll determine how much home you can afford.  How much you can "qualify" for and how much you want to spend may be completely different.  Budget your finances so you know what you can comfortably afford without over-extending yourself and stick with it.  Remember to include taxes, insurance, utilities, etc..... all are monthly expenses too.

4. Have the Home Inspected - A home purchase is a HUGE investment.  Have it thoroughly inspected by a licensed inspector.  They'll inspect all the major systems of the house including the roof, plumbing, and electrical.  We also recommend a termite inspection, survey and well and septic (if applicable).  If any repairs are completed by the seller, get proof (invoices) and always do a final walk through prior to closing when the sellers have moved out.

5.  Hire a TEAM of Professionals - Find an experienced and reputable Realtor, Mortgage Professional and Real Estate Attorney.   There is a lot that goes in to a home purchase.  Surround yourself with professionals that know the ins and outs of the process so the headaches are avoided and your interests are protected.

If you have any questions or comments, we're always here to help.  Contact us any time at cameronteam@seacoastrealty.com or 910-202-2546.

Have a great week!

Melanie Cameron

The Real Estate Truth Behind "Funny Farm"

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Chevy Chase Funny FarmHave you ever watched the classic comedy Funny Farm starring Chevy Chase and Madolyn Osborne? The story is centered on The Farmers, a couple who buy a farmhouse in rural Vermont after the husband quits his day job as a sports reporter to write the Great American Novel. Little do they know they are moving to a small town filled with eccentric characters. Quirky situations ensue and their marriage reaches a breaking point. They decide to sell the farmhouse and what arises is a situation that I think some homeowners wish they could pull off – a staged sale, town and all!

The Farmers realize that they won’t be able to sell their home if buyers get to know their neighbors and the townspeople. At the monthly town meeting, they tell the residents that they will donate $15,000 to the town and $50 to each person who acts like the iconic characters portrayed in Norman Rockwell paintings. The town agrees, but little do they know what kind of chaos will be created. Everyone wants their $50, so when the potential buyers arrive to get the grand tour with The Farmers, they’re subjected to a town that has been so transformed a normal person wouldn’t believe it (like the Christmas Carolers who stay outside the farmhouse singing all night). Yet, the buyers are so sold on the home’s perfect features that they are ready to buy the home and everything inside, including the dog!

Of course, as much as a homeowner would love to have that much control over the sale of their home, it’s unrealistic. The movie is based on a book that was popular in 1985. Today, buyers and sellers typically leave the negotiating up to Realtors, and they certainly don’t spend a night in the home. Paying off the town would most certainly break some misrepresentation laws and, in today’s economy, I’m not sure they would work that hard for $50.

Still, in typical Chevy Chase fashion, we get the chance to laugh at the honest truth. No home is perfect. In The Farmers’ case, the neighbors left something to be desired. When you list your home for sale, you can’t help but run every quirk and negative feature through your mind, and wonder, “Is this going to turn-off buyers?” But you need to remember – you bought the home for a reason, right? There was something about it that you loved and, even though you’re ready to move on, that’s still going to leave you a little biased.

One of the benefits of using a Realtor is that they are constantly in and out of houses seeing what buyers like and what’s getting sold. They can pinpoint potential issues and suggest ways to compensate for those negative features when marketing and selling the home. Some sellers can predetermine what might hold the home back from attracting a buyer, but it’s not uncommon for sellers to be surprised when they get negative feedback on their home. Maybe the feedback is for a feature that originally attracted them to the home, like the fancy fixtures that are now outdated, or maybe the neighborhood doesn’t have the amenities people are looking for now, but the market changes and Realtors are the best at staying on top of it.

If you’re thinking of selling your Wilmington area home, we would be happy to take a look and show you our marketing plan. We’ll share the weaknesses and strengths of your home, and suggest some easy changes you may want to make prior to listing it. Just give us a call at 910.202.2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.

 

Meghan Riley

Halloween Events Happening Around Wilmington

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Jack o' Lanterns

Halloween is prime event time in Wilmington. Non-profits hold fundraising galas, churches host "Trunk or Treats", schools put on haunted houses...there's really something for everyone! Here are some of our favorites.


Lyceum Academy Haunted House - $10

Every year, the New Hanover High School Lyceum Academy in Wilmington hosts a haunted house. This year’s theme is Twisted, a scary take on Alice in Wonderland. It’s open every weekend from now through Halloween with an extra day the Thursday before. More Info.

Haunted Library: A Spooky Storytelling Festival for Kids - FREE

The main New Hanover County Library on Chestnut Street in Wilmington will be hosting three floors of fun Halloween activities. The fun will include games, storytelling, dancing, face painting, and more. It only happens on October 25th (Saturday). More Info.

Trick or Treat Under the Sea - $11

This event at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is perfect for young children. Organizations setup booths throughout the Hands in Fort Fish Aquarium Alligator Tankaquarium and kids can collect candy at each one. There are also games and prizes, giveaways, a “haunted” forest, and live animal interaction. Also, make sure you check out the giant tank for a special treat. There are four nights of fun (October 23rd, 24th, 29th, and 30th). We suggest buying tickets in advance, because they sell out. More Info.

Poplar Grove Halloween Festival - $10-15

On the outskirts of Wilmington is the Poplar Grove Plantation and every year they host a Halloween event that includes a haunted manor, wagon rides, fortune teller, petting zoo, food, and inflatables. Each activity has its own fee and the daytime portion of the event is better suited for young children. More Info.

Bellamy Mansion Halloween Movie Night - $5

Enjoy the family-friendly Halloween movie Hocus Pocus and Alfred Hitchcock’s famous Psycho from the lawn of the historic Bellamy Mansion downtown. Bring blankets, chairs, coolers and candy. There will be popcorn, beer, and wine for sale. More Info.

Legacy Farms Haunted House, Woods Trail, and Corn Maze - $25.00

If you’re willing to travel an hour outside of Wilmington, there is a great event at Legacy Farms in Wallace. You can get the full Halloween experience with family-friendly daytime events (animals, face painting, inflatables, hayrides, corn maze, etc.) and PG-13 scares (haunted house, haunted woods trail, scary corn maze, etc.) in the evening. Dates and times vary, but most fall on the weekends from now through November 1st. More Info.

If your organization is hosting an event or you have a favorite of your own, please share it in the comments below!

Meghan Riley

Furnishing a House on a Budget

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

DresserMaybe you just bought your first home or you invested all your money in pre-move-in renovations. Whatever the case, you now need to furnish your home on a budget. The best way to do that is to buy used furniture. Some people assume “used” means “flawed”, but you’d be surprised by what treasures you can find. I’ve seen practically brand new items being sold at a discount and, if you’re willing to do a little work by adding a few coats of paint or varnish and new hardware, you can make an older piece look brand new.

Here are some tips for finding furnishings for cheap:

  1. Visit local yard sales. They are a great for getting furniture cheap, because the sellers are ready to get rid of it and are usually willing to negotiate. However, you can’t approach them all willy-nilly. You have to have a plan, because the good furniture goes within the first hour. A day or two before, you need to scan the yard sale ads in the newspaper and online, choose what you really need, and get there right when they begin.
  2. Check out online classifieds, like Craigslist. I’ll be honest and say I’m always hesitant to use Craigslist, because of news stories of people getting robbed when they go to look at something for sale. So, use your common sense. Try to meet in a public place. WilmingtonYardSales.com is like an online “yard sale” and has a lot of furniture for sale. If you are a bit eclectic and like antiques, I’ve seen some pretty neat things listed, like antique phone chairs and sewing machines. Many are even from thrift stores, which I find a bit safer than purchasing from an individual.
  3. Visit a local thrift store. There are a number of them located in and around Wilmington. Some benefit nonprofits, including The Salty Paws Thrift Store (animal rescue) in Wilmington and Hope Chest Thrift Store (domestic violence shelter) in Leland. They often have furniture and art at a deep discount.
  4. If you are young or not too picky, visit UNCW’s campus on the last few days of spring classes. I know this sounds crazy, but some students are either forced to leave perfectly good furniture behind because they can’t move it home or they flat-out don’t need it anymore. You can find shelving, chairs, etc. by the dumpsters or on the side of the road near the rentals around the campus. Of course, give whatever you find a DEEP cleaning. It’s a university, after all.
  5. If you’re handy, make your own! Palett furniture is all the craze now and there are plenty of websites online that show you how to make it. A good place to start is Pinterest.
  6. Ask your Realtor for help. At Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, agents are often sending out office-wide emails for clients who are selling or giving away furniture, and asking for items clients may need. So, they may be able to help you too.

You don’t need to be an expert to refinish furniture. Here are some tips for refinishing without stripping the finish and painting furniture. Most importantly – have fun and decorate your home for YOU. Don’t worry about what others think. You live there!

Have a tip for furnishing on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Wilmington Weekly Update - UNCW Chancellor News, Salty Paws Festival, and more!

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Our weekly round-up of news stories making their way around Wilmington, North Carolina.

Instagram of the Week:

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ICYMI: DAY 1 #TheChoice

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In Case You Missed It

The City of Wilmington and CFCC executed a real estate swap this week after realizing they both owned property that would be more beneficial for the other to have. The swap included the city-owned lot at the corner of Front and Walnut Streets and the college-owned maintenance facilities across from PPD. The swap will help grow business in the main district downtown and provide more land for the college next to the facility they plan to use as a police station. Learn more at Port City Daily.

UNCW will be holding a campus forum and a public forum on the search for a new chancellor. The forums will be happening TOMORROW, Thursday, October 15 on campus in McNeill Hall’s multipurpose room (1051). If you are unable to attend, you can email the university comments and questions. You can find the email, as well as the times for the forums, on Port City Daily.

Parents of AIG students at Roland-Grise Middle School presented to the New Hanover County School Board their argument that the school should return to the previous classroom structuring that had gifted students in their own classes. Seeing the results of 7 weeks of school in the new cluster model, they feel it is lowering academic efficiency. See the board’s response at Star News Online.

At that same New Hanover County School Board meeting, the purchase of almost 18 acres on Edgewater Club Road was approved for the building of a new school called Northeast Elementary. The funds to build the school will be included on the Nov. 4 School Bond Referendum. Learn more at Star News Online.

Coming Up

The 6th Annual Salty Paws Festival is happening Saturday, October 18 at Carolina Beach Lake Park in Carolina Beach and includes a day of furry fun for families and four-legged friends. The event features arts and crafts, food, music, and entertainment, plus pet contests, children's activities, raffles and prizes, and rescue animals for adoption. It runs from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.. Admission is $7. Kids under 10 are admitted free. Proceeds benefit animal rescue. Learn more at the Saving Animals website.

MeghanSalty Paws Festival Riley

Monday Market Update - October 13, 2014

by Melanie Cameron, The Cameron Team

The Cameron Team's Monday Market UpdateHappy Columbus Day! Hope you had a great weekend. What fantastic weather! It's the middle of October and in the 80's around here. Boat ride anyone??? LOVE this time of year!

September stats are in and things have slowed down a bit but we are still expecting good things from the last Quarter of 2014. In September, the average sold price was down a bit to $227,552 and the number of homes sold was down 57 homes compared to August. Our current pending index is currently at 1,046 units. Our average days on the market has been pretty consistent over the summer. For September, the average days on the market decreased slightly to 114 days.

The listing inventory decreased by 102 units in September. We currently have 4,125 single family homes for sale in our MLS with an average list price of $351,987. The number of sold homes for September vs. the current inventory puts  us with a 7.2 month supply of homes. The list to sales price ratio has also remained strong at 96.4%. The year to date average sold price, $240,432  is still outpacing 2013 by 3.4%.

Interest rates have remained stable over the past month or so. The average 30 year fixed rate is currently at 4.12% with an average of .5 points. This is great news going in to what is typically our slower time of year. Lenders are still lending and sellers are still selling so if you're in the market, it continues to be a great time.

Have a great week and we look forward to helping you with all your real estate needs.

Melanie Cameron

Are Open Houses a Thing of the Past?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Are Open Houses a Thing of the Past? Fifteen years ago, open houses were a primary method for marketing and selling homes. The listing agent would place an announcement in the local newspaper a week in advance and interested buyers would come out in droves on the Saturday or Sunday the home was open. Not all of the buyers were 100% interested, but it was the best way to see a home besides scheduling a private showing with an agent.

Then, the internet boom happened and computers started appearing in homes at an increasing rate. Real estate websites multiplied, online MLSs became the norm, video usage grew, and virtual tours became standard for many listing agents. Now, buyers don’t need to go into the home to see it. They can view pictures and tours online to determine if it’s a home that fits their needs. That’s why 90% of home searches begin online now.

But are open houses a thing of the past? Both sides of this argument provide valid points:

YES

  • They just don’t attract the traffic that they used. It’s common for no one to show up.
  • Nowadays, it’s more a way for an agent to pick up new clients than to sell your home.
  • The people showing up are often just nosey neighbors.

NO

  • Agents are still picking up buyers from open houses.
  • It depends on where the home is located.
  • The right incentive can get buyers to the home for an open house.

Just a few months ago, we had one of our listings go under contract (and sell) as a result of an open house. As a team, we have found from experience that homes that are located 2-3 turns from a primary road, like Greenville Loop or Market Street, are likely to get the most visitors. That’s why we don’t push to do open houses at every listing. Open houses can be an inconvenience to owners and tenants, so if we know an open house may not get any visitors, we try to focus on other methods of attracting buyers.

We also encourage open houses on “Coast In & Win” weekends. Once a month, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage holds a drawing for $500 for anyone who visits a Coldwell Banker agent hosted open house on a specific weekend. This has proved to be a good incentive for buyers to get out and look at homes.

While open houses don’t produce the results they did ten years ago, we’re not ready to remove them from our selling toolbox. They might not be the best choice for every home’s marketing plan, but they have their place.

Have questions about selling your Wilmington area home? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

What Would You Do If You Weren't In Real Estate?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

The Cameron Team What Would You DoDo you ever think about what you would be doing if you weren’t in your current profession? For some of you, probably a lot! I think it reveals something about a person’s personality when you consider their “second choice”. For fun, I asked my team members what they would be doing if they weren’t in real estate. Here’s what they said…

Melanie Cameron – Team Leader and Listing Specialist

If I weren’t a Realtor, I think I’d be an attorney. When I moved to Wilmington after graduating from college, my intent was to take a year off and go back to law school. Through high school and college, I knew either law or real estate would be my future. Once I arrived in Wilmington and settled in, I knew it would be my forever home and 20 years later, here I am. I have always been intrigued with our judicial system and especially the thought of arguing my point in a court of law. Negotiating has always been a strong trait of mine (just ask my mother) so I guess real estate really isn’t that big of a stretch for me.      Now my “dream adventure” is to travel all over the world….But I guess that’s what retirement is for!

Sloan Reese – Buyer Specialist

When asked what I would be if I wasn't a real estate agent, the first thing that comes to mind is a Veterinarian. My love for dogs is a bit over the top and I would be perfectly happy with ten dogs. My husband on the other hand is not much of a pet person, so I think it is safe to say this would not be a wise career choice.

If I wasn't a real estate agent, I would love to be a developer. It bothers me to see old buildings and areas that have gone defunct and I lose sleep over how to turn it into something useful and beautiful. My first project would be the area of town just north of downtown right along the river. This is such a great area that we live in and I hate to see any part of it not being utilized to its full potential.

Kellye Brill – Buyer Specialist

Tough decision!  I love Pilates so much, and I think it is a wonderful discipline for so many people who may not even know about it.  I would enjoy becoming certified and running a studio with affordable classes to help other people become strong and confident and more balanced.  And if that didn’t work out, I’d probably open a small marina so I could be outside and play around with boats all day.  Wait!!  I could teach Pilates at the marina……..”Balanced Boating” could be a great name! 

Tammy Suggs – Buyer Specialist

OK so if I were not a Realtor, I would have loved to have gone to Pharmacy School to be a Pharmacist.  I have always been drawn to the pharmacy land and understanding the different types of medications, how they work together and how they help people.  Still in the “people helping business.” 

Meghan Riley – Team Admin/Client Specialist/Tech Support

If I wasn’t part of The Cameron Team…or moonlighting as an author…I’d be a professional blogger focusing on a specific niche or further in the tech field developing an innovative app, because I so often face situations where I wish I had a program that would do something, but none exists.  

Meghan Riley

Wilmington Weekly Update - Inland Greens Golf Course Renovation, Wilmington Beer Week, and more!

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Our weekly round-up of news stories making their way around Wilmington, North Carolina.

Instagram of the Week:

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Good morning WB #sunrise #wrightsvillebeach #wb #johnniemercer #pier #beach #northend #northcarolina #welovenc #shellisland #ocean #coastal #hightide

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In Case You Missed It

Last year, the City of Wilmington installed a few smart parking meters, those that take cards and coins, to test if an upgrade to other meters downtown would be a worthwhile investment. Revenue at the smart parking meters showed an increase so a proposal will be presented at the October 21st meeting. There are funds already available to cover the upgrade. It just needs to be approved. See the details, including how much it will cost, at Port City Daily.

The U.S. State Department has awarded a $1 million grant to UNCW as part of a program that encourages mutual understanding and learning between universities in the U.S. and Pakistan. Students at UNCW will work along with students at International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) to learn about cultural differences and perceptions in an effort to create a global awareness among them. Learn more at Port City Daily.

The Wilmington City Council approved a $1.1 million contract to convert part of Inland Greens Golf Course to a park, as well as renovate 9 holes of the course, which will operate under the same fund as the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course. This has been a project in the making since 2011 and the first phase of improvements will take about 9 months to complete. Learn more at Star News Online.

Taste Testing in WilmingtonComing Up

Wilmington Beer Week starts this Saturday, October 11. Breweries and venues around Wilmington will be hosting events to celebrate the city’s growing craft beer community. Some of the events include a fundraiser for All 4 Cats local feline rescue, detox yoga with Longwave Yoga and Light House Beer, the official release of Sweet Potato Amber Ale by Front Street Brewery, multi-course meal and beer pairings, and numerous brewery take-overs you won’t want to miss. The event all lead up to the Annual Lighthouse Beer and Wine Festival scheduled for October 18th. See the full schedule of events at the Wilmington Beer Week website.

Meghan Riley

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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

The Cameron Team - Wilmington North Carolina Real Estate

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

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