Tag Archives: homes for sale in raleigh

First Day in Guatemala…What a memorable experience!!!

This young lady recently graduated due to the scholarship she had received...now she works for CoEd!

This young lady recently graduated due to the scholarship she had received…now she works for CoEd!

The tour this year was a little different from years past. We were the first group where the Cooperative for Education staff decided to visit a school on the first Saturday in town. Of course, the school was not in session and the students were not there, but we visited them for a much different purpose.

Cooperative for Education has expanded their student scholarship program. In the past, it was centered in one school with 100 students being guaranteed a six-year scholarship that would get them through primary and secondary school, which amounts to grades 7 through 12 in American terms. Last year, CoEd made the decision to expand this program dramatically by adding two new schools and 200 additional students. Today, we had the opportunity to visit one of the newly added schools and meet some of the 6th graders who will be scholarship students in 2015.

It was an absolutely amazing experience and the young people are excited about the prospects for their future due to these scholarships. Many, if not all, of these students would never be able to advance beyond a 6th grade education if not for a scholarship. Another aspect to this program that has changed is the focus on not only a scholarship, but a development focus on building future leaders in Guatemala. These students will not only be given an education, but will also learn skills to make them leaders in their communities.

Beberly is a wonderful young lady who wants to be a police woman...thanks to the scholarship she will receive next year, she can fulfill her goals.

Beberly is a wonderful young lady who wants to be a police woman…thanks to the scholarship she will receive next year, she can fulfill her goals.

At the school, Terry Hutchens and I were given the opportunity to meet Beberly. She is 12 years old and the second of five children. Her older sibling could not move beyond the 6th grade because her parents could not afford to pay for her education. Bebverly wants to be a police woman or at least a professional and thanks to the scholarship she will begin next year, she will have the opportunity to realize her dream. How many of your children have dreams for their future? In America, they have all the opportunities to reach their dreams and goals, but it is not the same in Guatemala.

In the home of a new scholarship student, you can see the sparse accommodations. Aren't the children adorable?

In the home of a new scholarship student, you can see the sparse accommodations. Aren’t the children adorable?

After speaking with her and sharing with her, we actually visited the home of a current scholarship girl. The home was grand for this community, but in fact, very desperate for Americans. She is one of nine children in her family with two older sisters who could not advance their education. Her father spoke to us that he and his wife realize the importance of an education, but they simply could not afford to send them to Primary school (6-9 grades).

This young lady wants to be a teacher so much that she has been teaching her younger siblings the school lessons she has learned to date. Her parents rent their home and a 1/4 acre of land to farm to support this growing family. Imagine eleven people living in a two-room brick dwelling with limited electricity. Without the scholarship she earned, she would not have an opportunity to move out of poverty while supporting her family.

All of the Rotarians in my group posed with the family. The mother is not present since she just gave birth to their 9th child three days ago.

All of the Rotarians in my group posed with the family. The mother is not present since she just gave birth to their 9th child three days ago.

This was the first time any of the visiting Rotarians had an opportunity to visit the home of a student who is benefiting from the Guatemala Literacy Project. It was an eye-opening experience. The cost to support a young student is equivalent to $70/month or $840 for the entire year. This helps them purchase uniforms, supplies, pay their fees for the textbooks/computers and pay for the CoEd staff to work with them throughout their school years to help develop them as productive members of society in Guatemala.

Many Americans pay $70 a month for a dinner for two in a decent restaurant in the states. Your money will go so much further here in Guatemala and will change the life of a young person here.

At the school, we heard from a young lady who had recently graduated from Secondary school as a result of a scholarship. Going into the program, she wanted to become a teacher. After graduating, she developed a new dream…to work for CoEd in Guatemala to ensure other students like her could have an education and a future. She was just hired by CoEd to help them identify and recruit new students into the scholarship program. If not for this program, she would have to go to work for minimal pay and would probably be married to a farmer with no hope to get out of poverty.

Another focus of the scholarship program is a focus on drawing young ladies into a higher education. CoEd’s studies have shown that if the women are more educated, they are more likely to educate their children. It is a substantive program that takes a little longer to reach a certain level of success, but one that develops “true” success in the long-term.

Thanks to the generosity of a sponsor, this young lady now has a scholarship to pay for her Primary and Secondary education (7-12 grades). Her life will be changed forever!!!

Thanks to the generosity of a sponsor, this young lady now has a scholarship to pay for her Primary and Secondary education (7-12 grades). Her life will be changed forever!!!

My wife and I are currently supporting a young man named Ricardo, who is in his final year of Primary school this year. I will see him again next Saturday and cannot wait to see him and hear of his progress. When I first met him two years ago, he wanted to learn computers. His goals may have changed as is customary for young people, but either way, we are supporting him and his efforts. Through this scholarship, he has the opportunity for a brighter future. It is said that half of the top paying jobs in Guatemala require computer skills. Ricardo can use these new skills to help support his future family and his current one. How else can your money do more good?

Terry Hutchens, a past president of this club, told me today that the most impressive thing for him with this program is the passion of the staff to make a difference in this country. If you have been following this blog, you know it is a beautiful country, but what makes it more beautiful is the people. Our tour guide yesterday in Guatemala City with limited education spoke passionately about his country and learning more about its history and its future. He was an older gentleman who is still passionate about reading and learning more. It is symbolic of the people of Guatemala.

Positives from the Triangle Economy

Despite a difficult year for many around the nation, the Triangle (Raleigh/Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill) is holding its own during these difficult times. Unemployment is up from last year, but we have seen some positive moves with the area’s unemployment. Additionally, housing sales are starting to get stronger as we delve into the Spring and Summer buying seasons. Finally, local retailers are holding on and trying desperately to withstand this slumping economy. After all, I was at Michael Deans on Sunday for brunch and the restaurant was packed and I am sure you are seeing similar signs throughout the area at stores and restaurants. With all of this said, what is the condition of the local economy and the housing market as a whole. Will we see an improvement in the housing market and the economy? Or are we in for a long and trying depression? Some of these will be answered (or at least attempted to be answered) as you read this posting.

I am sure you have heard that our unemployment is up from last  year. This is to be expected during a recession and is not new. Businesses hire during good times and reduce staff during bad ones. Every business has a payroll to maintain while attempting to make a profit. You may have also heard that the unemployment went down in March to 8.5% from February’s 8.7%. Whether or not this is a true picture of the unemployed, the positive to take from this figure is that it is lower than the state’s unemployment rate, which is currently at 10.9%. Furthermore, the Triangle rate has dropped where the nation as a whole has increased to 9%. The Triangle, due to its diverse economy, tends to be holding strong in these troubling times which makes for a positive for the citizens of Wake, Durham and Orange counties. Compared to my home state of Michigan, whose unemployment has skyrocketed to 13.4%, up from 8.% in August 2008, we are doing wonderful.

There are many positives aspects of the Raleigh economy but just as many negatives. Many people are concerned that inflation will be a major issue in the next couple of years. Should inflation hit some of the marks that we saw during the last 70s, then we may also see the high interest rates that was experienced shortly after that in the early 80s when interest rates were in the double digits. Of course, if we see higher interest rates, then there is no telling what will happen with the housing values.

Will they fall or rise? There is no easy answer to this question and I don’t even know what will happen if we see higher interest rates. I am convinced that the reason that housing values have risen so much over the last 20+ years is directly related to the low interest rates that we have experienced for a number of years. With lower interest rates, people can afford more house. Will the opposite happen if the interest rates rise dramatically? Of course, household income has risen in the same period by nearly the same rate as housing values, so it would not have as dramatic effect, but it may cause a number of potential homeowners to be priced out of the market.

Please comment if you have any ideals about the local economy as I am open to discussion on this most important topic. For a more immediate response, please email me.

Buying a Home in a BUYER’S Market

I have had numerous people ask me recently whether or not it is the right time to buy a home in Raleigh, North Carolina. The concerns come from lending issues to declining housing values and whether or not the market has reached the “bottom”. First of all, the answer is a RESOUNDING, YEEEEEESSSSS!!!!

There has never been a better time to buy a home in our market then today. Many real estate professionals have predicted that the Wake county housing market will see a minor depreciation in values throughout 2009, especially with re-sale homes to primarily keep up with the price reductions that we have been seeing in new construction for the past year and a half.

If this is true that the market will see depreciation this year, why is it still a great time to purchase a home in Raleigh? Simple, interest rates are low and there is no guarantee that they will remain this low. Tax credit for new home owners that will end on December 1, 2009. Even if you are not a homebuyer who would benefit from the tax credit, the financial are in place to purchase today. If we see depreciation this year, it will be minimal like 2-5%. If you purchased a home for $200,000 today. If values fell by 5% this year, then you would possibly loose $10,000 in value by the end of the year. However, since this market usually sees around 5-7% appreciation annually, then you can easily make up this difference in your first year in the home. Furthermore, the rates may be higher next year as better economies tend to have higher interest rates, so you may actually have a higher mortgage payment if you waited until next year for the proverbial “bottom” to hit then you would pay today.

Let’s face it, a single year of 5% depreciation can easily be turned around within the first 3-5 years you are in the home. Traditionally, homes will appreciate over time so whether or not you get the absolute bottom price today is diminished over time. The longer  you are in a home, the less it becomes important.

When is it not a good time to buy a home? It would not be a good time to purchase a home today if your finances are not in the proper condition to allow you to purchase today or your credit needs some work before you can get a great rate. If you are planning on purchasing before the end of the year to take advantage of the Tax Credit, then you may want to begin to speak with a lender today to see if there is any credit issues that need to be repaired. If you wait for the last minute to speak with a lender, then you may not be able to purchase a home for another six months while you go through the process to correct your credit issues or raise the required down payment. However, if you begin the process today, you will know exactly what you need if you want to purchase a home by the end of the year.

For more information or contact information for a quality mortgage lender, please let me know and I will be happy to give you the information you need.

What’s Happening in the Real Estate business?

I wanted to add just a few words about the real estate business and what is occurring in it. As usual, real estate is always local so your individual market may or may not be similar to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill market in North Carolina.

The general brokerage report that came out a few days ago from Stacey P. Anfindsen of the Triangle Area Residential Realty (TARR) has some very informative information for any buyer or seller in Raleigh, North Carolina.

First of all, the number of listings have gone down slightly and there are currently just over 8,500 residential listings for sale in Wake County and only about 225 are classified as being owned by a financial institution or have been listed as a foreclosure. Of course, this does not include those short sale possibilities. Therefore, foreclosure listings represent about 2.5% of all current inventory.

Stacey points out that foreclosure activity, as defined by the transfer of title from the Trustee t the financial institution, has accounted for 4.5% of Wake County closings within the past 13 months. He also points out that the average sales price of a foreclosure has been $178,500 and the overall average sales price is $262,800.

The average percent per year loss compared to prior sales price was 3.58% for homes transferred from the Trustee to the financial institution and 3.83% for homes transferred from the financial institution to the new buyer. This means that buyers of banked owned homes are potentially getting these homes for a discount and over time, should have built in equity.

Sandlin Branch, Wakefield and Hedingham are the leading developments where financial institutions have taken title from the Trustees, which means these communities currently have an increase in foreclosure listings on the market.

The majority of foreclosure activity has taken place in Little River-Eastern Wake (10.5%), St. Marys-Garner (10.85%), ad Marks Creek-Eastern Wake (13.45%). White Oak Township, which includes Apex and western Cary has the least amount of activity at .49% of all closings.

This can be spinned either way you want to spin it, whether positive or negative. I choose to be positive and say that the foreclosure market in Wake county is a very small portion of the market and does not impact the overall market. I have found buyers calling and seeing these foreclosures, but in the end, will probably purchase a resale as there are fewer cosmetic issues to address. If a higher portion of our market’s sales are due to foreclosures, at least these homes count as sales in the marketplace and we are reducing the number of foreclosures on the market. As I mentioned before, nearly 60% of all foreclosures in the U.S. are isolated in 6 states, and fortunately, North Carolina is not one of those states. We ranked 1st in population growth last year so we are still a place where people want to live. Additionally, unemployment in Wake county is less than most metropolitan areas throughout the nation.

For more information about the real estate market, please feel free to contact me via email or phone.

Speaking Engagement at the Western Wake Leads Group

2484 Sapphire Valley Drive

2484 Sapphire Valley Drive

This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking to a room full of business people at the weekly meeting of the Western Wake Leads Group. As I spoke to the group, I pointed out many statistics that attempt to explain the market in Raleigh, Cary and the Triangle. I pointed towards a number of articles that I researched as well as reports from the Triangle Area Residential Realty (TARR) reports.

One of the articles that I mentioned was actually a new story on WRALthat aired on Oct. 23, 2008. It mentioned several facts that were pertinent t the local real estate market. For instance, it pointed out that Raleigh-Cary foreclosure were down in Sept. 2008 from the previous month by 17% and NorthCarolina foreclosures were down 46% during the same period. Furthermore, the article talked about the fewer foreclosures for the 3rd quarter of 2008 of 16.7%. The most telling figure that was in this article is that all of the foreclosures in the Raleigh-Cary area was 1,279 or 0.31% of all properties in this area. I pointed out that many articles point to the large increases in percentage points, but fail to actually mentioned the actual number of homes in terms of total properties. Finally, the article mentioned that six states, California, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan and Nevada represented 60% of all foreclosures in the nation and California represented more than a quarter of all foreclosures. Is this really a national issue or is it isolated to a few states? The positive news coming out of California according to this article, foreclosure resales accounted for more than half of all sales of existing homes during Sept. 2008. Homes sales jumped 6 5% during the month while prices fell 34% from Sept. 2007 for the state of California.

The next article spoke about the reduction in foreclosures in North Carolina for Jan. 2009 of 7.3%. While North Carolina is the 10th largest state in population, we rank 33rd in the nation in foreclosure rates. This article also mentioned that 1 in every 76 homes in Nevada and 1 in every 173 homes in California were in foreclosure proceedings.

The next article came from the Las Vegas Sun and pointedout that Nevada was again the number one state in foreclosure rates, despite a 4% reduction in Jan. 2009. It also pointed out that foreclosures in Nevada were up 137% from Jan. 2008. California metro cities accounted for 6 of the top 10 metropolitan cities foreclosure rates in the nation.

Finally, I addressed the TARR reports that came out recently. The general Brokerage report mentioned that the U.S. home prices dropped 8.2% during the 4th quarter 2008. The South Atlantic dropped 5.86%, but North Carolina increased 1.2% from the 4th Quarter, 2007.  As a general rule, average re-sale prices in Wake county increased 3.02% during this same period.

According to Stacey P. Anfindsen, Birch Appraisal Group of Cary and author of the TARR report, the Triangle has a few “Ugly” items and a few “Good” ones as well. The Ugly includes 23 consecutive months of lower pending sales and 15 consecutive months of lower showings. 58% of all price points in the Triangle have an oversupply of housing products(Buyer’s market). Additionally, Dec. 2008 expired listings were 194% higher than Dec. 2007 and for the first time since 2001 v. 2000, Dec. 2008 employed workforce was lower than Dec. 2007.

The Good according to the TARR report is that annual closings were the 6th highest in this decade. Current supply of 7 months is much lower than the national current supply of 11 months. Additionally, average house price appreciation in the Triangle Multiple Listing Service (TMLS) has been 4%, where the national rate was -8.9%. Finally, houses priced correctly sell in an average of 65 days and sell for 97.5% of the list price. Other houses sell in an average of 128 days and for 90% of the final list price.

Finally, another great aspect of our market in North Carolina is the business climate. The BizJournaland Portfolio.com have released its annual report of the Top 10 Cities for Small Business and Raleigh topped the rankings with Charlotte coming in second. The top 2 cities are in North Carolina, which will only be positive for migration into the state to continue in the coming years.

Despite the anxiety and stress that I experience when I prepare for these presentations, I am always glad that I did it as it gives me factual material to combat the negativity that is expressed when people talk about the local economy and housing market. Sure, as one gentleman pointed out, his neighbor has lost value on her home as she it attempting to sell it now, but isolated spots will continue to happen in any market. The positive is the overall market is good and it relates to a great time to buy a home, if you qualify and can afford that home.

From my limited knowledge and research, it has become obvious to me that the states that are in the most dire situation today, minus Michigan and Ohio, are in their blight due to price speculating on the housing markets and over-inflated appreciation. Currently, these markets are seeing the market correct itself. If housing appreciates at a greater rate the income levels of a certain market, then you will be pricing a large portion of the buying public from the market. The result is a price correction so these buyers can now, buy that home. As complicated as people are attempting to make it, the situation we are facing in certain markets is the direct result of Supply and Demand. If the Supply is high and the Demand is low, then the price will come down. If the Supply is lower and the Demand is greater, then the price will rise. Now that the prices are coming down in California, the Demand is beginning to rise as more people can now afford to buy a home. As these people buy and the supply starts to decline, then a recovery will take place and home prices will begin to inch up.

For more information about the housing market in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Cary areas, please feel free to contact me as I will be happy to talk about it. There are few subjects that I am passionate about and this is one of them. Of course, be warned that I may talk quite a bit when you call or email.

Press Release from Steven W. Nelson

Steven W. Nelson Named Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) in Raleigh, North Carolina

By Steven W. Nelson

Dated: 1/30/09        


Raleigh, NC-Steven W. Nelson, a broker with Keller Williams Realty-North Raleigh has been granted the coveted Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation (ABR) by the Real Estate Buyer Agent Council (REBAC).


The Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®) designation is the benchmark of excellence in buyer representation. This coveted designation is awarded to real estate practitioners by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (“REBAC”) of the National Association of REALTORS® who meet the specified educational and practical experience criteria. 


“I am honored to earn such a designation as it represents the highest quality of representation a buyer can expect to receive”, replied Steven. “This designation shows that I have put the effort to be the best agent I can for my buyers and have worked hard to meet their needs.”


Home buyers can be assured that ABR designees subscribe to the strict REALTOR Code of Ethics, have access to the latest technology, and are specialists in helping their buyer clients have ful and aggressive representation when buying a home.


There are four major requirements to attain the ABR designation:

·         Completion of a 2-day ABR core course through an accredited course provider,

·         Completion of one approved elective course,

·         Passing a written examination on the legal and practical aspects of agency representation,

·         Practical experience requirement of acting as a buyer’s representative in five documented and verifiable transactions.


“The values that are attributed to the ABR designation show my past and future clients that I am committed to the highest standard with respect to my representation of them. It naturally feeds into my slogan, Honesty, Integrity, RESULTS,” added Nelson.


Steven W. Nelson joins more than 30,000 real estate professional in North America who have earned the ABR designation.


About REBAC and the Accredited Buyer’s Representative Designation


REBAC was founded in 1988 and currently has more than 40,000 members throughout the world. REBAC is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer.


About Steven W. Nelson and Keller Williams Realty


Steven is a licensed broker for Keller Williams with nearly 9 years of experience. He has lived in Raleigh for nearly 12 years and has a tireless knowledge of the Triangle market. Steven is an active member of his community as Chairman of the Young Executives at the Capital City Club, member of the Rotary Club of North Raleigh, Committee member of the Big Bad Ball, a black tie charity event to support Hospice of Wake County, volunteer for Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Tournament and Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure among many other activities. For more information about the Triangle market or Steven, please visit his website at www.StevenWNelsonHomes.com.


Contact Steven W. Nelson of Keller Williams Realty by calling 919-604-6135 or email Steven at StevenWNelson@gmail.com.

Keller Williams Realty-North Raleigh

Phone: 919-604-6135

Fax: 919-256-7547

Email: StevenWNelson@gmail.com                                                             

Stagging for Home and Life!!!

I have had the pleasure of meeting a HSR Certified Home Stager and Redesigner last week and must admit that I was impressed with her knowledge of home staging and design.

Home stagging is the art of using limited funds and practical creativity to professionally bring out the home’s best potential. This makes the home more attractive to buyers and increases profits in two ways: it increases the value of the property and decreases the time on the market, saving mortgage payments, taxes, etc. Staging involves de-personalizing the home in order for the potential buyer to see themselves living there. Staging includes de-cluttering, rearranging furniture, adding accessories, and making additional recommendations to complete the look of the home. 

Statistics show that professionally staged homes sell for 6%-10% more, which can make a difference of $18,000 to $30,000 for the average homeowner! Remember, this is an investment in your home, not an expense. It can increase profits and reduce exenses by staying on the market less time and not having to reduce your price when it does not sell. In today’s real estate market, it is important to stand out from the crowd and to sell your home for its highest potential.

It is extremely difficult for a homeowner to stage their own home since they lack the objectivity required. Pieces of furniture and keepsakes are like “old friends” and your personal taste is throughout the home. A professional home stager can come in with a “buyer’s eyes”, be objective and de-personalize your home, maximizing it’s marketing potential.

Professional realtors simply do not have the time or resources to professionally stage your home. Their time is better spent marketing and showing your home to potential buyers instead of spending hours rearranging furniture and shopping for accessories.

It is difficult for buyer’s to see the potential in a home. Only about 10% of buyers who walk through your home can visualize its potential, which means you loosing 90% of your potential buyers! They immediately notice “this is too crowed”, “this is too dark”, “this is too small”, etc. Even though buyers have logical criteria, their decision to buy is an emotional one. Think about a model home, it is designed to allow anyone to be able to visualize living there.

The internet is full of information about home staging and I encourage you to research it. As an agent, I have yet to use a stager for one of my homes, but after meeting this lady, I plan to use her to see if the result is positive.

Downtown Raleigh Alliance

Downtown Raleigh at Night

Downtown Raleigh at Night

I had a very interesting meeting this morning from the Membership Director of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. She came to my office this morning to give me some membership information about this organization whose sole purpose it to better the downtown area of Raleigh. I actually met the Director last week at a luncheon he spoke and mentioned my interest in the group. So, she scheduled a time to come to my office to speak with me about it.

Some of the things that the Downtown Raleigh Alliance promotes and supports are the First Friday, which is an event that they sponsor on the first Friday of every month to introduce the downtown dining, art gallaries, and other businesses to the community. As part of the First Friday events, they have a live music and of course, art galleries. My wife and I may have to participate in a First Friday event to learn more about it.

Another event they sponsor is the Moore Square Farmer’s Market every Wednesday through August. Wednesday may appear to be a strange day to have a Farmer’s Market, but as many people work in downtown, but do not live there, it should gain much support, especially as more people learn about it. They can stop by during their lunch breaks and buy fresh produce, then take it to their vehicles until the go home from work. I am not usually downtown for lunches unless I have a meeting, but I may have to check it out next year when it picks up again. Again, my wife does most of the shopping for us, but it may be interesting anyway.

One thing that I feel is a great service that they provide is the Downtown Ambassadors. They have both Clean Ambassadors and Safety Ambassadors. The Clean Ambassadors devote much of their time to keeping the downtown area clean by daily litter pickup, sidewalk sweepers, and graffiti removal. The Safety Ambassadors will assist residence and visitors with parking information, directions, dining and shopping attractions, emergency assistance, escorting service, and downtown parking deck security. This is a major cause for the Downtown Alliance and one that all major downtown’s have in place. The service they give is immense.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance also has numerous networking events and an Annual Meeting to help business leaders to both network and conduct business together. Many of the business members offer discounts to other members and work together to better the downtown area. Raleigh is fortunate to have such an organization and the new Director has been an asset in his short time with the Alliance.

I must speak with my wife about it, but I think I would be honored to be a member of such an organization as I am a huge fan of the renaissance that is happening is Downtown Raleigh. I can foresee that the actual downtown area will expand as more people see the benefit of living there and a greater increase in population demands a more urban lifestyle.