We”ve Moved!

Thanks for visiting this blog site. If you want to keep reading and commenting on what I have to say about the Lake Norman region real estate market, visit my new blog at http://franparkonline.com. A whole new platform, new features on the way, and the same witty reparte you’ve come to love (or hate).

Home Sales Up In The South

A recent article in today’s Charlotte Observer stated that pending home sales in the South were up 13% in December of last year, outperforming the West and the Northeast markets. Pending sales are properties under contract, which generally will close in about 30-45 days.

At the same time, prices continue to fall in every market. It might be that those falling prices, coupled with low mortgage rates, are driving the increase.

While new construction continues to slump, inventory of resales is strong, providing a lot of choices for a buyer looking for a good deal at a good time. While there aren’t many new homes being started, there are a lot of them in builders’ inventories, and they are dealing as well.

Ready to begin a seach?  It can start with a phone call or email, and you can be viewing your dream home on line. Contact me and let’s get started!

Home Owners Associations-Are They For You?

From time to time I get clients who request I search for a property that has no home owners association, or HOA, governing the neighborhood. Reasons range from having had a bad experience with one in the past, to not wanting the added expense, or in some cases, a desire to do something with the property that would be restricted under normal covenants and restrictions. So how do you decide if an HOA is for you?  Start by asking yourself a few key questions:

1) Do I have plans to use the property for something unusual, such as keeping livestock, or storing cars or trailers?
2) Will I have an issue if a neighbor wants to do something like that?
3) What are my expectations for my neighbors and my neighborhood? How can we keep it looking its best?
4) Do I want community amenities? A pool, a playground?

Generally speaking, if you want to escape an HOA, you need to think about a more rural location. Similarly, if you want a larger lot than currently being offered in new subdivisions, you also need to think rural. However, a larger lot in a rural location with no covenants and restrictions also means that unless there are zoning laws in effect (which seem to be rare in rural NC), you might end up with a singlewide mobile home on the lot next to your new all brick two story transitional home with the horse barn and oversize garage for your motor home.

So in some cases an HOA can be your best friend. Square foot requirements, siding restrictions, architectural review boards, all can keep your community looking nice, and protect your investment. What you have to decide is what do you get for your HOA dues, and do you preceive it as a good value?

If you are considering a neighborhood, and have questions about the HOA, ask your agent to find the covenants and restrictions for your review. Most real estate offices try to keep current CCRs on file for that purpose. If you are going to pay for the service an HOA provides, you should know what you’re getting.

Here’s one last thought; if you do move into a neighborhood and don’t like the way the HOA is run, get involved and change it from the inside. Most associations I know are always looking for people to step up and lead.

Economic Stimulus Package-No Help For Housing Sector

According to a February 3rd article in the Charlotte Business Journal, the Charlotte Home Builders Association is petitioning members of the US Congress, upset over the total disregard for the housing market when developing the so-called “stimulus package” of $800+ billion.

The Homebuilders would like to at least see the $7500 tax credit for first-time buyers raised to $10,000, and extended through the end of 2009. I have also heard some folks argue that it should be doubled, and not required to be paid back. But in any event, I would like to at least see the Congress of the United States acknowledge that the housing market needs help. After all, it was the housing market that first felt the effects of the recession.

The Democrat-controlled house didn’t have any problem seeing the value in $300 million for contraceptives, $75 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction, and another $75 million for smoking cessation. They are also ready to pay back Hollywood for its extreme left-wing support during the campaign last year, by allocating $246 million in tax breaks for movie producers to buy motion picture film.

Where’s the help for the housing industry in this package? It seems to have been totally ignored. If you are in the business of building or selling homes, or in any of the supporting trades, like furniture, carpet, appliance sales, etc, this stimulus proposal doesn’t do much to help you out. Write or email your representative or your senator, and let them know that you shouldn’t have to be a chain smoking alcoholic Native American independent filmmaker to get help from the stimulus package.

LKN Chamber 2008 Ambassador of the Year



I’m not really trying to blow my own horn here, but I am pretty excited about being named the 2008 Ambassador of the Year by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. I honestly never gave a thought to the idea that I might be considered for that honor, presented to me at the Annual Awards Gala held last Friday at River Run Country Club.

As an active member of the LKN Chamber, I get to meet with new business owners, attend ribbon cutting ceremonies, greet folks at networking events, and so much more. I also have the privilege of co-hosting the BusinessWorks program, which takes place every second Tuesday of the month in the Chamber Board Room. BusinessWorks is a breakfast networking meeting that includes an opportunity for small business owners to promote what they do, and it also features a guest speaker every month talking about finance, marketing, or business growth.

Receiving a plaque at the Gala was a nice surprise, but for me, the real benefit of my involvement in the chamber is the chance to meet a lot of people and tell them what I do, and to help a lot of folks do the same thing. I am a big fan of Zig Ziglar, whose philosophy is “You can get what you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.” I’m a firm believer in that idea. It’s one of the reasons I like being in real estate. I get to help people accomplish their home ownership goals. I get to see people achieve their version of the American Dream.

Curtis Pond Market Update

Curtis Pond is a large neighborhood in East Mooresville, developed most recently by Scenic Homes. Although Scenic is no longer building in this community, there is still inventory for sale. Most of it is resale homes, but there are a few new construction homes still there. Frankly, you have a better chance of getting a decent lot with a pre-owned home. Most of the level, bigger lots have been taken. None of these homes are real old. This community hasn’t been around all that long. Most of the offerings have four bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.

There are currently 22 available properties listed in the MLS, and at least one FSBO that I know of in Curtis Pond. Only a few of them are brand new. They range in list price from $149,000 to $249,000.

Over the past six months, 24 properties have been sold here, and almost half of them were new construction. Those homes sold from $153,000 to $227,900. Again, mostly four bedrooms.

If you or someone you know is looking for a home in the East Mooresville area, and want to see it with an agent that has a good knowledge of Curtis Pond, call or email me and I can help. There’s no better time than now!

Contingent Sale

I had a question from one of my listing owners the other day about how contingent sales work.  Seems that it might make sense to write a brief post to clear this particular option up for folks. I would imagine there are more of you out there with the same questions.

First, let me say that in a sellers’ market we rarely need to consider such an offer. But in a buyer’s market, with a lot of competition and few offers showing up, sellers might want to consider this approach as a viable one. As with any North Carolina real estate transaction process, the standard forms used have some safeguards built in for both parties. As a seller, here’s some things to understand about a contingent offer:

Once you have accepted a contract that hinges on the buyer selling a home, you may continue to market your property and accept a backup offer. If you do get a backup, you have to notify the contingent buyer and give them a specified time to respond by either waiving their contingency and closing without selling their home, or terminating their contract. If the contingent buyer terminates the contract, they are entitled to their earnest money back. 

One thing to remember is if you get a backup offer for more than the contingent offer, you cannot renegotiate the first agreed-upon price. You can only make them decide to “fish or cut bait,” as it were.

As for the contingent buyer, the important thing to remember is that you will agree in the contract to a date by which you will have your home sold. Miss that date, and the seller may terminate your contract. The operative word here is “may.” The seller does not have to take that action.  Also important for the buyer is to pay close attention to the specified dates in the contract. There are timelines spelled out in this document that you must meet.

In today’s market both parties may want to consider using this option to find or sell a home. It isn’t the best scenario, but it might be better than no scenario at all. We need to be flexible and creative in a tough market such as we now are seeing. If you have other questions about this topic or another real estate subject, contact me and I will be glad to help you get your answers.