News and Events

LEAF SEASON!

10/4/2017

LEAF SEASON!
October is a riot of color as we come into the season of the LEAF! So many things to do and see at this time with all framed by those beautiful vistas of leaves!

The elevation range combined with the rich diversity of tree species allows WNC to have a long and diverse display of color. There are over 130 species of trees in the Southern Appalachians. We get quite a diversity of color. You’ll hear people say New England has the best fall color, but three species comprise most of their color – birch, beech and maple. We have dozens more species here. The fall foliage forecast is looking a lot brighter than last year. Long periods of heat and drought in the spring and summer of 2016 created a spotty color show. This spring and summer have been wetter, providing better conditions for trees. But trees also need a little push to be at their prettiest.
“The trick to getting good fall color is some kind of stress. A frost in the first week or two of October triggers the formation of the leaf division. It cuts off fluid to the leaves, and the chlorophyll is not getting replenished. Then it lets the color in the leaves show,” said Dan Pittillo, a retired biology professor at Western Carolina University who used to provide the “official” forecast each season.

Peak color in WNC has the longest season in the country, about eight weeks. In New England their peak only lasts one to two weeks. Because color starts at high elevation first and moves downhill, if you miss it in one place, you can follow it down the mountains.

This is an awesome interactive map by the day as to the fall colors! I’ll be watching this one! Check it out:
https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/


I’ve listed some websites to events happening in the area!
http://www.woollyworm.com/ Banner Elk So since 1978, the residents of the village nestled between the Carolina’s largest ski resorts have celebrated the coming of the snow season with a Woolly Worm Festival. They set aside the third weekend in October to determine which one worm will have the honor of predicting the severity of the coming winter; and they make that worm earn the honor by winning heat after heat of hard-fought races – up a three-foot length of string. I’ve not been to this event but it sure looks like fun!

https://noc.com/events/Southeastern-Downriver-Championship Rafting at the NOC oldest whitewater race in the Southeast! Following the ACA National Paddlesports Conference, racers of all ages and boat types will race from the put-in at Wayah Road to the Founders Bridge at the NOC. This event is just a 30 min drive away! That water is COLD and much respect to those who compete at this time of year.

This one I made a bit easier for you! Hiking is a family activity! And many of these are not far off the beaten path !
http://www.grahamcountytravel.com/the-great-outdoors/ Both hikes and waterfalls at this website!

Now for something COMPLETELY different! Pumpin Chunkin is a blast—literally! These folks are using all sorts of contraptions to fling pumpkins as far as they can! Slingshots, cannons, and trebuchets to name a few! Folks come from all over to enjoy food, crafts and flying pumpkins! This one is a MUST if you’re in our area!
Clay County and Pumpkin Chunkin.

A few other sites that can help plan a weekend!
http://www.claychambernc.com/punkin-chunkin/

National Forest Service website:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/attmain/nfsnc/specialplaces

More sites to visit!
http://www.nctrailoftears.org/
This is the history of our area. While history sometimes makes us uncomfortable, this is what happened in this area. Understanding our history makes us stronger and destined never to repeat it.
There are many additional sites on this website that are the rich history of this area.

We hope you all can get away and come to the mountains this fall! The local color isn’t JUST in the leaves! Festivals that celebrate the history and the lifestyle of this beautiful and friendly area are all on display during this SEASON OF THE LEAF!

October in Murphy!

9/21/2017

Murphy, North Carolina in October offers many fun festivals and events to attend. You can pick apples, ride any or all of the 3 railroads that are nearby, or attend a craft show at the Campbell Folk School, to name just a few ideas. Of course there are always THE LEAVES! Those glorious, beautiful LEAVES! In every shade of red and yellow with the sun literally sparkling on the vistas to everyone’s delight! Take a drive on any back road or hit the Cherohala Skyway to view Gods beautiful landscapes! This is truly one of the most colorful times of the year. The air is crisp and sweatshirts are required!
Along with the spectacular leaves, western North Carolina offers some awesome special things to do this time of year! I’ve compiled some websites for you to check out.
Tennessee Valley Railroad
This is one of the local railroads along with the Great Smokey Mountain and the Blue Ridge Scenic railroads. This railway, like the others, has a lot of history surrounding it. I’ve not ridden it yet but it’s high on my “to do” list!
http://www.tvrail.com/
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds
Check out the fairgrounds events schedule and you will find a variety of shows to enjoy!
http://www.georgiamountainfairgrounds.com/events
Georgia Apple Festival
http://www.georgiaapplefestival.org/
Dates: October 14th - 15th, October 21st - 22nd, 2017
There are over 300 vendors with handmade, hand-crafted items, as well as many on-site demonstrations of how selected types of crafts are made. The antique car show is held at the Civic Center. The parade is in historic downtown Ellijay.
2017 Gold Rush Days
https://dahlonegajaycees.com/gold-rush-days/
Dates: October 21-22, 2017Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Days Festival has been voted one of the top 20 events in the southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society. Featuring over 300 arts and crafts exhibitors this two day event includes a parade, children’s activities, a fashion show, a gold panning contest and much more.

Mercier Apple Orchards! Its apple picking time!
I love this place! Great food in their restaurant and a fabulous store! You can pick your own apples OR buy them freshly picked! They offer fried apple pies, candy, gifts and jellies and jams too. Oh and they have a WINE STORE! Mercier has their own wine as well has hard ciders for the more mature visitors! And they offer tastings! This should be a “must see” if you’re in the area.
http://www.mercier-orchards.com/events-on-the-farm/2017-apple-upick-is-now-in-full-swing/
John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown NC
This is one of the premier craft shows in the area. Artists come from all over the surrounding states to be a part of this event. The Campbell school showcases many of the crafts they teach and the grounds of the school offer a wonderful setting for this show. Unique art and music are all part of this amazing weekend! This is one NOT to miss!
https://www.folkschool.org/event.php?section=events&event_id=355
Tri County Race Track
This racetrack is a gem! Dirt track racing isn’t for everyone but the locals love it! These cool evenings are a perfect time to go see the boys wrangle in the dirt! Really fun for the whole family!
https://www.tricountyracetrack.com/schedule.html
Copperhead Lodge
Many of the local lodges have great bars and restaurants. This is one of them! They feature live music and organize some awesome motorcycle rides and events. Check them out!
http://www.thelodgeatcopperhead.com/
Brasstown Bald
This Bald is located just outside Blairsville GA. Not only is it a beautiful drive to the bald but the vistas are so breathtaking! It’s never the same twice! In the fall the leaf show brings in hundreds of folks to see the 360 degree views from over 4000ft, the highest point in Georgia! On a really clear day, you can see the city skyline of Atlanta from the bald and it’s 85 miles away! There is a walking trail to the top OR you can take the shuttle van both up and down if you prefer. For me, it’s a must see!
https://cfaia.org/brasstown-bald-recreation-area-visitor-centers-in-georgia/
Just some ideas for your Off The Beaten Path adventures! Hope to see you soon here in Murphy, living Your Mountain Dreams!

Weathering The Storm

9/12/2017


To my clients in Florida, South Georgia, and beyond: I have been concerned for you from the moment the storm formed many days ago. As a transplanted Floridian, I know all too well the prep involved and the long hours of waiting and uncertainty as the storm approaches. The issues after the storm of no power in blazing hot weather and the rain and flooding that can occur. Folks begin the clean up as soon as we know all are safe and we work together with our neighbors to make things right again. We are Florida Strong even in the worst of situations.
Many Floridians and Georgians have second homes here in our beautiful community of Murphy and the surrounding communities as well. Your neighbors here have felt your pain as so many are also permanently transplanted to our lovely mountains. Our hearts break to see the destruction of beautiful communities up and down the state. Many here in Murphy have opened our homes to friends and family seeking shelter from the storm. Our local Face book Page, The Murphy Mouth, was filled with offers of rooms or available cabins even pasture land and barn space for livestock fleeing the storm, many at no cost to folks just trying to keep families safe. This community has always reached out in time of need to help in any way possible. It’s what’s called Southern Hospitality. But it goes much farther than that. Many in our community have also escaped the threat of storms to seek permanent refuge in our mountains and in doing so have found a loving and very caring community here in Murphy.
Be safe, stay safe and when things settle down, take some time to come to the mountains to find renewal and relaxation in your life. Maybe even find that permanent refuge we all long for in our peaceful mountains among a caring community of folks.

Florida Friends!

9/7/2017

Just a quick note to all those in harms way from this monster Hurricane Irma: Be Safe! Evacuate if instructed and go sooner rather than later. Lives are at risk in this storm. Property and things can be replaced or repaired. Life is precious and the rest is just stuff. We, here in Murphy North Carolina and our surrounding communities, would welcome you with open arms, should you choose to come here.
If your hunkering down, heed the warnings and stay in place until the storm passes.
We know Floridians are resilient! This isn't the first go around with a hurricane for many. Find comfort in knowing the state has recovered from these storms in the past and will continue to be a favorite place to live for years to come.

Blessing and safe travels to all!

What Home Thieves Target Most

8/30/2017

Renters are more likely to experience a burglary than homeowners, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Apartment buildings with two to four units are the most at risk of theft.
“This is probably because plenty of people come and go from apartment complexes daily, while homes only have a few family members who enter or leave,” according to ADT, a security firm, which recently analyzed data on burglary risks across the country.

There were nearly 1.6 million burglaries in 2015, amounting to about one every 20 seconds, according to the FBI. About 72 percent were residential.
The cities with the most burglaries, according to ADT’s analysis, are: Lake Charles, La.; Vallejo, Calif.; Pueblo, Colo.; Youngstown, Ohio; Springfield, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Canton, Ohio; Santa Fe, N.M.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Albany, Ga.
On the other hand, ADT reports that the cities with the lowest amounts of crime tend to share similar social and economic characteristics, such as low unemployment rates, high education levels, and small populations. The cities with the fewest burglaries are: Palatine, Ill.; Orland Park, Ill.; Peabody, Mass.; Fishers, Ind.; Leesburg, Va.; Ramapo Town, N.Y.; Novi, Mich.; Carmel, Ind.; Rochester Hills, Mich.; and Johns Creek, Ga.
Of 400 convicted burglars who shared their reasons for committing a theft, their top reasons for break-ins were: drugs (51%); money (37.1%); foolishness (5.4%); thrills (4.4%); or revenge (2.2%). The ADT survey also showed the top items these convicted burglars were hoping to find in a break-in were: cash (90%); jewelry (77.8%); illegal drugs (65.9%); electronics (63.5%); prescription drugs (50.5%); and clothing or shoes (18.4%).

The Aftermath of the Total Eclipse

8/23/2017

I thought I should update you all on the experience I had observing this Total Eclipse here in Murphy, North Carolina. As you know from a past newsletter, we talked about the things to look for during this event. We saw the Baileys Beads and a gorgeous Diamond Ring effect. Seeing the crescent shadows in the shade of the trees was an unexpected treat even though we knew to look for them.

What we didn’t foresee was the inability to accurately put into words what we saw and experienced as we watched the Moon occlude the Sun and day turn to night and back to day. The beauty and wondrous nature of an event like this is just awe inspiring.
We watched for an hour has the Moon slipped in front of the sun but the moment of Totality was beyond what any of us expected. My wife, Deena, has tried to put into words what we all experienced: “I was asked to describe the eclipse that occurred on Monday, August 21st. After giving it thought I realize that it is not possible. There are no words. I have heard the adjectives “amazing, awesome and unbelievable” and indeed it was all of those things, but it was so much more. I thought that an eclipse was going to be something to “view”. What I was not prepared for was the fact that it was going to be a total sensory experience. A celestial miracle that would take me on an unexpected journey.
Standing on the ridge looking out at miles of mountain ranges against a blue horizon, a pristine lake below in the valley and forest surrounding the knoll, I could not imagine anything more beautiful. Then it happened. Before my eyes, day turned to night. The once bright horizon changed to a glowing gold and the pale blue sky was replaced with a deep midnight blue heaven filled with stars. Venus shined brightly. Nature came alive as the creatures of the earth began to experience the phenomenon. Dogs howled in the distance, rooster crowed, crickets chirped and night birds began to sing. The heat of the day was replaced with an instant soothing coolness that enveloped me as I stood in complete awe of the beauty and miracle. Gazing at the moon covered sun I beheld the most dazzling silver ring of light shooting plumes of golden fire. The crystalline beams of light dancing through the sky formed shapes I could never imagine. In that moment of totality I was keenly aware of the vastness of the universe and how humbled and honored I feel to be a part of it.
When I am asked to describe the eclipse, the best thing I can come up with is the statement that for me, it was a spiritual experience and I can’t wait to do it again.”

To sum it up: We all became Eclipse Chasers at that moment of Totality!

Total Eclispe and the weird things that happen

8/9/2017

Weird Things Happen with a Total Solar Eclipse


Everyone talks about how visually stunning it is when the darkened Moon fully covers the face of the Sun in a total solar eclipse. And indeed, it is! But there are other unusual, truly strange happenings that occur when the Moon passes in front of the Sun. If you aren’t prepared to look for them, some of these weird phenomena are so fleeting that you can miss them. Following are descriptions of a number of those novel occurrences to be looked for on August 21st.
Long before totality (when the Moon is only covering part of the Sun’s face), go to a nearby tree and look in the shade of the tree’s shadow. You will see hundreds of crescent images of the partially covered Sun all over the ground! In fact, this is a safe way to view all the partial phases of the eclipse without harming your eyes. Where do all these many images come from? The gaps between the tree’s leaves act like a pinhole camera by projecting the Sun’s image on the ground.

Anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds before totality or just after totality ends, closely look at any flat light-colored or white surfaces around you. You may see a very strange sight. At such times, dark lines called shadow bands may be seen racing back and forth across the surfaces. These shadowy lines are caused by sunlight peeking around mountains and through valleys around the outer rim of the Moon, while turbulence in the air makes them appear to shift position.
In the minutes before totality, all of your surroundings will appear dimly lit in a very strange and different way from what you experience at sunrise or sunset. Everything will seem somewhat similar to what you see when you wear very dark sunglasses, but with a kind of surreal sheen that can’t be described adequately.

As soon as the Moon entirely covers the Sun and causes the sky to completely blacken, the air will instantly chill -- perhaps by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Animals will become confused. Bats may fly around thinking it is night. Birds may go to roost. Crickets or cicadas may begin to chirp.

If the land is flat for miles around your location or you are on a mountain top, you will be able to see the darkest part of the Moon’s shadow (called the umbra) racing across the ground towards you just before totality and away from you afterwards. An instant before the Sun’s disk is completely covered by the Moon, you should experience the visually stunning diamond ring effect. The slight bit of Sun remaining will give the impression of a brilliant diamond with the ring being a faint glow around the darkened Moon.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The brief few minutes of totality is the only time it is safe to look directly at the Sun with no eye protection. If you are wearing special eclipse glasses, take them off when the Moon completely covers the Sun. But be sure to put them back on if you continue looking at the sun as soon as totality is finished.
It will become dark as night during totality. The stars will pop out and you will see two very bright points of light near the Sun. They are really the planets Venus and Mercury. Most people never get to see Mercury because it is usually so close to the Sun that it is blotted out by the Sun’s glare.

Mars and Jupiter will make an appearance. Those two planets will seem to be near the Sun, when in reality they will be much farther away on the far opposite sides of their orbits. In total, 4 of the 5 planets that don’t require a telescope can be seen during the eclipse.
Sirius, the Dog Star, will show itself as the very bright star to the southwest of the Sun. In fact Sirius is the second brightest star in our sky after the Sun.

If we are lucky, there will be eruptions from the Sun that cannot be seen at any other time. These eruptions are called prominences and will glow a bright beautiful ruby red color.

The bluish white glowing corona (outer atmosphere of the Sun) is made of charged hydrogen atoms; AKA plasma. During totality, the corona allows us to see the beautiful structure of the Sun’s powerful magnetic field as the plasma is pulled by magnetism into graceful curving field lines. No photo can capture the almost ethereal fluorescent hue that you will see when looking directly at the corona. I hope this description of strange eclipse phenomena has piqued your interest and raised your excitement level about the upcoming total solar eclipse.

Sustainable Real Estate Will Be the New Normal

7/28/2017

The United States is going through an energy revolution that within 20 years will reshape people’s homes and communities, experts said at the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Sustainability Summit in Washington, D.C., this week. Most people aren’t aware of the revolution right now, but that will change as the cost of alternative sources of energy, such as solar panels, plummets and the use of smart technologies—particularly LED lighting—goes mainstream.

NAR President-elect Elizabeth Mendenhall joins other REALTORS® at NAR’s 2017 Sustainability Summit to discuss how changes in the energy sector will affect consumers’ homebuying needs.
“Smart cities are already here, but they’re unevenly distributed right now,” said Geoffrey Kasselman, executive managing director of commercial real estate advisory firm Newmark Knight Frank. Kasselman and other experts were on hand at the summit to give real estate professionals a better understanding of how sweeping changes in energy use and technology will impact what people want in their homes and communities.
“Consumers are already telling us they want sustainable features in their home,” NAR President-elect Elizabeth Mendenhall said at the meeting. “What consumers don’t know is how to make their home more energy-efficient and what to ask for, and that’s where REALTORS® can help.”
Prepare for Change
The real estate industry will be on the front lines of changing energy needs as they occur. Stay ahead of the curve with NAR’s 2017 sustainability report.
Among the developments speakers talked about at the summit:
Innovation districts. These are already in place in some parts of the country. They use alternative energy sources and digital technologies to manage energy use in homes, commercial properties, and infrastructure to create sustainable live, work, and play clusters.
Micro homes. These are typically between 250 and 450 square feet and help make housing affordable in high-cost urban areas so people in modest-paying jobs can live where they work.
LED street lighting. These are more than lights. They double as digital sensors so cities can manage traffic, parking, and infrastructure needs more efficiently.
“We’re transitioning from a petroleum- to a solar-based global economy,” Kasselman said. “We might never see a barrel of oil over $50 again. A new world order is emerging.”

Purge Your Home

7/27/2017

A new home means a fresh start: new paint, a new bedroom, even a fresh take on arranging your old furniture.
But your new space won't feel so wonderful if it's weighed down with junk you didn't bother ditching during the move. Now's the time to purge your home—and we're not talking about just sifting through stacks of magazines while you binge on Netflix.
"Your possessions should have three purposes: function, aesthetic purpose, or sentimental value," says Christina Giaquinto, a professional organizer in Franklin Lakes, NJ. "Pick up each item in your home, and ask yourself, 'Why do I have this item? What does this item do for me?

From doodads you picked up at the flea market to jewelry you never wear to a pile of untouched cat toys, there are a lot of things you should toss or donate before packing up the truck. But here are nine of the most common offenders.
1. Old towels and linens
When's the last time you bought new towels? If it's the last time you moved, turn those suckers into rags and buy something new. After years of use and hundreds of washings, there's no denying your fluffy bath towels have lost some of their plushness.
Ditch old bed sheets, too. Fitted sheets lose their elasticity over time, and exposure to sweat and oil can cause unpleasant stains.
2. Your juicer

It was a nice thought, but c'mon!
We all have goals. Running three times a week. Cleaning every Sunday. And starting each morning with a glass of cold juice pressed from spinach, kale, ginger, and pineapple.
Don't give up on achieving your dreams—but if you've tried to make a change and found it didn't work with your lifestyle, don't hang on to the dregs of disappointment. Maybe getting up a half-hour early every morning to juice isn't for you. Assess your achievements at moving time, and donate everything that didn't work out. At least you'll have room for your next wild aspiration. Perhaps a set of dumbbells?
3. Unworn clothes
Organizing a closet before a move should be simple. A keep pile, a toss pile, and a donate pile—right? But we all have those jeans we keep around just in case we finally lose 15 pounds. Or a dress tucked deep in your closet in case you ever go clubbing again. (Never mind that the last time you were out of the house after 10 p.m. was the night your first child was born.)
Watch out for clothing you're keeping "just in case," which take up precious room in your closet. And even if you do lose the weight, or get an invitation to a bachelorette party in Vegas, you can always buy (or rent) something new—and we bet you'll love it even more.
4. Duplicates and souvenirs
Clutter accrues in the strangest places—like your mug tree or your dining hutch. You might have started out with two novelty mugs, but now you own a coffee cup from every place you've visited. Ever.
"Try to keep only one from your favorite vacation," Giaquinto says.
Look for duplicates throughout your kitchen. Do you really need three bread pans? Or more than one cake platter?
"You should only hold on to what can fit neatly in your space,"  Giaquinto says.
5. Collections you've outgrown

Let it go, let it go, let it go.
One day, many moons ago, you told your mom you liked elephants. You were 12.
Your next birthday: an elephant necklace. Your graduation gift: a porcelain elephant statuette. Your housewarming gift from your aunt: an Etsy elephant print.
It's too late to convince everyone you're not a loxodonta-phile, but it's not too late to trim down your collection. And when Mom stops by and looks confused, just say, "I had to. I couldn't fit it into our new space."
6. Cosmetics and toiletries
Like most things in life, skin and beauty products don't last forever. So before you move, ditch the pile of half-used products you've amassed under your bathroom sink; that goes for skin creams, sunscreens, shaving cream, beard oils, deodorant, and even soap.
Ladies—make sure to toss the nail polish.That stuff has a shelf life of only two years, meaning you'll likely never finish a bottle before the polish gets gunky and hard to apply.
Same goes for cosmetics: For example, you should replace your favorite mascara every three months. Otherwise, you risk exposing your eye to contaminants and air particles.
7. Space fillers
Sometimes, when moving into a new home, we buy stuff just to fill the emptiness. Ugly side tables, a TV stand three shades darker than the rest of your furniture, or that annoying inspirational wall art that's long past being cool (if it ever was).
Your next home doesn't need to be a blank slate, but do yourself a favor before moving in by ditching furniture and decor you're "meh" on. And next time, buy slowly and ponder exactly what you want before plunking down cash.
8. Cords and cables
You don't know how it happened, but suddenly you have 34 micro-USB cables and seven random charging cables that seemingly belong to nothing and everything at the same time.
Save yourself from future headaches, and get rid of duplicates now—as well as anything that doesn't have a match. And take advantage of the move to sort the remaining cords and cables into an organized system.
9. Paperwork
Go through all your old paperwork, setting aside documents you should keep (tax records, closing documents, recent bank statements) and ditching everything that's no longer necessary—like old insurance policies. Create a filing system you'll stick to, since that paperwork's gonna keep coming, and promise yourself you'll go back through everything once a year.

The Legend of Hanging Dog

7/18/2017

Take a step back in time… to a time when the Cherokee Indians ruled the region and there was no white man to be found. It was the middle of winter, and it was no ordinary winter. It was a long, bleak, and miserably cold. The brutal winter robbed the tribe of food. Much of the food reserves were depleted and the tribe was forced to find food or face starvation.
The brave’s hunting partner was his hunting dog. It was no ordinary dog; his innate skill made him a force in the field. Together, they ventured on an excursion to find a deer that could feed many hungry mouths with fresh venison.
Equipped with mere primitive weaponry of the time, the dog was instrumental in finding and pushing out deer that were well hidden from the naked eye. He pushed out a large buck that could provide the much needed meat for the tribe. He was able to draw his bow and arrow and hit the deer on the mark. The buck, being a large and strong animal, did not give in easily. He raced away from the duo with the dog close on its heels. The deer leaped across the creek and the determined dog would not let the deer escape so easily. He forged the creek only to be swept away in the strong current.
As he rushed down the creek, the dog was caught in a snag of briars and vines in the middle of the creek. Instantly realizing the predicament, the brave knew he, nor the tribe, could afford for his dog to perish. The dog was instrumental in successful hunts, and they could never find prey without the skill of the dog. He jumped into the creek to save his dog from a certain fate. He freed his dog and then the two were able to successfully track the dear and capture it.
Upon returning back to the tribe, the brave told his tribesman the story of the events that transcribed. In celebration of a meal and the survival of their prized dog, the Cherokee named the creek Hanging Dog.
As time drew on and Europeans entered the area, the name was popular. Ultimately, the large area north of Murphy NC became known as Hanging Dog – all thanks to a hunter and his dog.

Long Creek Falls on the Appalachian Trail

7/11/2017


Long Creek Falls on the Appalachian Trail
Hike a scenic stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia to the beautiful Long Creek Falls, and explore the lush, waterfall-filled Three Forks valley.
trail info
1.9 MILES
(ROUND TRIP)
MODERATE
DOG-
FRIENDLY
LOCATION:Appalachian Trail near Ellijay, Georgia (maps & directions)
GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera
OFFICIAL MAP: Appalachian Trail, Trails Illustrated Map
The Appalachian Trail travels through the Three Forks creek valley in the Chattahoochee National Forest, four miles from its Georgia beginning on Springer Mountain. At Three Forks, this two-mile out-and-back hike explores one of the most beautiful stretches of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, exploring a lush valley on the way to Long Creek Falls. The waterfall, one of the few on the southern stretch of the AT, is a beautiful, rushing cascade that flows under a forest canopy of hemlock, tulip poplar, and rhododendron.

Three boulder and waterfall-filled trout streams converge to form Noontootla Creek at Three Forks, lending to the valley’s name. The valley is beautiful, filled with steep cliffs, wildlife, wildflowers and blankets of vibrant green moss – and is one of the most popular North Georgia areas for hiking, backpacking, fishing and camping.

Long Creek Falls: Appalachian Trail from Three Forks
The adventure departs from a trailhead on Forest Road 58 (view maps and driving directions), following the Appalachian Trail northeast. Long Creek flows parallel to the AT on the trail’s left, running clear and broad over a colorfully-graveled creek bed. The hike follows two iconic, long-distance hiking trails: the white rectangle-blazed Appalachian Trail has converged with the white diamond-blazed Benton MacKaye Trail – and both blazes mark the trail to the waterfall.

The hike climbs elevation, rising above the creek’s banks. Side trails depart on the trail’s left, leading to several tumbling waterfalls on Long Creek.

IT'S COMING! The Eclipse of 2017!

7/6/2017

The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse in Georgia and North Carolina
On 2017 August 21, a total eclipse of the Sun is visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses the United States of America. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow begins in northern Pacific and crosses the USA from west to east through parts of the following states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina (a tiny corner of Montana and Iowa are also in the path). A partial eclipse visible from a much larger region covering all of North America (See Map).

Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta are all near misses (eclipse magnitudes 0.997, 0.993 and 0.971) as the eclipse track crosses the Blue Ridge Mountains separating Tennessee from Georgia and North Carolina. However, only the northeast (Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia) and southwest (Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina) corners of these two states lie within the path. The shadow quickly sweeps across them before entering South Carolina, the final state in the eclipse track.

Safe Eclipse Viewing
Every total eclipse of the Sun begins and ends with a partial eclipse. The partial phases require either a projection technique or a special solar filter to be viewed safely. Read more about this at Safe Solar Eclipse Viewing.

Of course during the few brief minutes of Totality when the Sun's disk is completely covered by the Moon, it is then safe to look directly at the Sun with the naked eye or
through a telescope or binoculars.

5 Common Home Buyer Regrets

6/22/2017

Half of recent home buyers say that if they could repeat the homebuying process, they’d do something differently, according to a survey by financial website NerdWallet.com. Respondents indicate that their biggest source of regret when buying a home was not preparing enough financially for homeownership. Here are some of the most common reasons for buyer regret, according to the survey.
Purchasing a home that’s too expensive. Millennials and Generation X members were more likely than baby boomers to say they overspent on their home purchase, according to the NerdWallet survey. A 2015 MacArthur Foundation survey also found that more than half of consumers had to make sacrifices in order to afford their mortgage or rent. About 20 percent said they took an extra job, 17 percent stopped saving for retirement, and 14 percent accumulated credit card debt, according to the MacArthur survey.
Purchasing a home that doesn’t fit their needs. About 5 percent of respondents to the NerdWallet survey say their home didn’t align with their homeownership goals. Housing experts recommend avoiding common homebuying mistakes like forgoing a home inspection, ignoring commute time, or choosing the wrong neighborhood. Also, consumers need to know what amenities they need. That’s not always easy: 7 percent of buyers say the amenities and features they valued most changed after buying a home.
Not putting enough money down. Low-down-payment loans can help buyers without robust savings get into a home, but some may later regret not saving more before taking on the costs of homeownership. Twenty-eight percent of millennials and 27 percent of Gen Xers say they wish they had saved more before buying their house, according to the NerdWallet survey.
Not being organized. Many home shoppers say they wish they had gathered paperwork before the mortgage application process and developed a system for keeping it organized. That includes W-2 or tax return forms, profit-and-loss statements for business owners, brokerage statements, proof of Social Security income, and evidence of child support payments. Home shoppers also need proof of their assets, such as documentation of down-payment gifts and copies of bank statements, as well as information on outstanding debts.
Not shopping around for a loan. Half of borrowers take the first mortgage that’s offered to them, according to a survey by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But shopping around for a mortgage with an interest rate that is even half of a percentage point lower can result in tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the mortgage. Home buyers should compare more than interest fees, including the cost of private mortgage insurance and the loan’s APR (which is the interest rate, points, fees, and other charges all rolled into a yearly rate).

Amicalola Falls

6/22/2017


Amicalola Falls Trail
Hike to the top of Amicalola Falls, the tallest waterfall in Georgia, and catch incredible mountain views on the East Ridge Trail and Appalachian Approach Trail loop.
trail info
2.1 MILES
(ROUND TRIP)
MORE
DIFFICULT
DIFFICULT
FOR DOGS
LOCATION:Amicalola Falls State Park near Ellijay, Georgia (maps & directions)
GEAR: REI Flash 18 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 777 Trails Illustrated Map
The enormous waterfall at Amicalola Falls drops over 730 feet, cascading in multiple tiers of white, misty, falling water from a towering cliff in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest. The Amicalola Falls Trail hikes one mile to the waterfall’s crest, grabbing stunning views from the cliff’s peak before descending alongside the falls via bridges and stairs. (Despite the trail’s average distance, the hike is moderately strenuous for its steep stair descent beside the waterfall.)
Amicalola Falls is one of Georgia’s most popular state parks, so expect some company on the trail, especially on fair-weather weekends. The Amicalola Falls Trail loops through some of the park’s lesser-traveled areas – but hikers often crowd the waterfall’s crest and system of stairs and bridges. Grab the best views of the falls and photos in the early morning before the crowds arrive. And catch Amicalola Falls framed against a vibrant backdrop in the fall, when the surrounding trees explode into vibrant autumn color.

Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail and Appalachian Approach Trail Loop: the hike
The Amicalola Falls Trail begins at the visitor center (view maps and driving directions), passing under a stone arch marking the start of the Appalachian Trail Approach Trail, a 10 mile hike to the Appalachian Trail’s southern start on Springer Mountain.
The Amicalola Falls Trail climbs through a young deciduous forest, the trail switching back as it climbs 400 feet elevation before meeting a gravel road at .6 mile. The hike turns left, following the gravel road north in a continual climb towards the waterfall. Stunning views of the surrounding mountains emerge on the trail’s left side as the hike climbs elevation – especially beautiful in the autumn as colorful leaves dot the landscape. The sounds of the nearby waterfall become audible as the trail rises toward Amicalola Falls’ crest.

The trail reaches a paved parking area at 1 mile, leveling at the crest after having climbed 725 feet elevation from the trailhead. The hike turns left in the parking area, following signs to the waterfall overlook. The trail crosses a bridge spanning the waterfall’s crest, grabbing some incredible views of the southern Appalachian mountains to the south.

The Amicalola Falls Trail turns left at 1.1 miles, descending the western flank of Amicalola Falls via a system of stairs and landings before reaching a paved landing. The trail turns left, following the pavement to cross a bridge spanning the waterfall’s upper third. The waterfall cascades in multiple streams from the sheer rock face, tossing mist and spray in a continual breeze down onto the bridge.

Yonah Hike

6/16/2017

Yonah Mountain Trail: the hike
The hike departs a trailhead off Chambers Mountain Road south of Helen, accessed from a short stretch of gravel road. The trail dives through a grove of young hardwoods and gnarly-branched mountain laurel, immediately beginning its summit-bound climb as it departs the trailhead.
The hike crosses a small bridge over a trickling stream at .3 mile. The trail arcs southbound, carving through the first of several switchbacks at .5 mile and passes a small campsite beside an enormous, fissured boulder at .6 mile. In the springtime, the trail’s boulder-filled landscape fills with wildflowers and vibrant green flora.

The trail continues its seemingly skyward climb, ascending two sets of stone stairs at .8 mile. The hike scrambles through a small, angular boulder field at 1 mile. (A number of side paths, leading to climbing routes, veer off the main trail. The main Yonah Mountain Trail is usually the wider of the trails, and is often well-blazed with bright green trail blazes at tricky intersections.)

The trail reaches a wide, grassy clearing with multiple campsites at 1.2 miles, grabbing some beautiful mid-hike views from a boulder at the clearing’s western edge. Departing the clearing, the hike follows a gravel road northbound, and the climb quickly intensifies. The hike reaches an intersection at 1.5 miles and turns right, following the gravel road eastbound and continuing the climb.

IT WORKS BOTH WAYS!

6/6/2017

In slower housing markets, most sellers understand that attracting buyers becomes more of a challenge. With more homes for sale at ever more competitive prices, buyers tend to have more power to choose and negotiate under these circumstances.

What steps can you take to insure a faster sale at a higher price? First, seek representation. Over the last ten years, the number of homes that sold "by owner" fell by one third, and that statistic includes all markets, both hot and cool. What does that trend mean? Sellers have come to realize that real estate professionals are better equipped to produce top dollar offers, especially in slower conditions.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that the median selling price for homes listed through agents was 16% higher than those homes that were sold "by owner." Beyond putting more money in your pocket, an agent also saves you untold headaches associated with marketing your home, orchestrating showings, and coordinating paperwork.

Last year, a significant number of unrepresented sellers ended up finally turning to a professional. Why wait until your home has already become stale inventory to reach the same conclusion? Remember that what works in a slow market also holds true in very active markets - a professional representative simply brings more knowledge and experience to the table, resulting in higher offers in less time.


Newell M Collins

Appalachian Land Company

5510 U S Hwy 64 W

Murphy N C 28906

828-361-3952 Cell

828-835-4755 Office

newellmcollins@gmail.com

www.yourmountaindreams.com

Tallulah Gorge Hiking at Sliding Rock

6/6/2017


Tallulah Gorge: hiking the Sliding Rock Trail
Score a gorge floor permit at Tallulah Gorge State Park to hike the spectacular, boulder-filled Sliding Rock Trail, and get an up-close view of the Bridal Veil Falls waterfall deep within the gorge.
trail info
3.4 MILES
(ROUND TRIP)
MORE
DIFFICULT
NO DOGS
ALLOWED
LOCATION:Tallulah Gorge State Park in Rabun County, Georgia (maps & directions)
GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 778 Trails Illustrated Map
Two miles long. 1000 feet deep. Stunningly beautiful, rugged terrain, sheer walls and tumbling waterfalls: Tallulah Gorge is one of North Georgia’s can’t-miss hiking destinations. But while most hikers trek this park’s open-access trails to waterfalls and whitewater-filled views from dizzying heights, only a lucky few get to hike deep into Tallulah’s depths to remote sections of the gorge floor. The Sliding Rock Trail visits deep, remote sections of the gorge floor that few get to see. It’s a strenuous hike that requires a permit, but it’s worth the workout – and it’s easily one of our all-time favorite adventures in Georgia’s State Parks.
Above: cross this suspension bridge across Tallulah Gorge before hiking deep into the gorge on the Sliding Rock Trail.
This adventure dives deep into Tallulah Gorge by way of a rocky, boulder-filled trail. This 3.4 mile Tallulah Gorge hike catches stunning views on the Hurricane Falls Loop, descending into the gorge via stairs and an acrophobia-inducing suspension bridge before ascending to the canyon’s south rim. On the south rim, the hike scrambles down the steep, boulder-filled Sliding Rock Trail to the gorge floor, catching an up-close view of the Bridal Veil Falls waterfall.
Scoring a permit to hike the Sliding Rock Trail is rather easy: permits are free but limited to 100 per day, so arrive early on fair-weather weekends. (Apply for a permit in-person at the park’s interpretive center. They’re limited to 100 per day and not available on dam release days; check the park’s schedule for more details. Dogs aren’t allowed on this trail, though, so please leave your four-legged hiking buddies at home.)
Talluah Gorge Sliding Rock Trail: the hike
The hike departs the Tallulah Gorge State Park interpretive center (view maps and driving directions), turning left at the first trail intersection to explore the gorge’s north rim. The hike catches its first views of the steep-walled gorge at overlooks 1A and 1, peering down into the steep-walled depths carved deep by the Tallulah River far below. Departing the toppled Wallenda tower at Overlook 1, the hike treks further eastbound. The trail climbs elevation to Inspiration Point, catching views of the long, whitewater tendrils of Bridal Veil Falls below the overlook.

Interactive Waterfall Map

6/6/2017

https://www.hikewnc.info/besthikes/waterfalls/

DON'T STARE!

6/6/2017

No, We didn't say not to look, We said not to stare. Tell yourself what to notice during different parts of your precious few minutes in the Moon's shadow. Notice how the umbra envelopes you, enjoy the diamond ring, then examine the prominence's (they're bright, so you don't have to be fully dark-adapted). Next, survey the corona – its general shape, and any outstanding features.

Switch away for a few seconds, to check the colors all 360° around the horizon. Since totality is just starting, it'll be darkest in the west, lighter in the east. Now back to the Sun. Your eyes, now partly dark-adapted, are ready for the corona. Which is the very longest streamer, and how far out can you trace it? Where is the innermost dark wedge? Pick out an interesting pattern of filaments and make a mental engraving of it.

OK, back to the horizon. Sweep around again, and notice how much difference a minute or two makes. The west is lightening, foretelling totality's end, and the east is dark, where folks down-path are just now getting theirs.

Finally, back to the Sun. Review the best coronal details. Look again at prominence's, since there's a whole different crop of them on the third-contact side. Watch for the pink fringe of chromosphere that anticipates – yes, here it comes – the second diamond ring.

How quickly the corona fades! – and now, even the last of it is going – and it's incredible how bright even that tiny wedge of Sun's surface can be!

And now this eclipse, too, is over. But this time you've won. From each separate span of attention during totality you can savor your 8 seconds of mental replay. If you moved your attention enough times, you'll recall many times that 8-second limit. Yes, Sperling's 8-Second Law can be beaten!

DON’T WAIT, RENOVATE!

5/31/2017

There are all sorts of loans for all types of homes, and "fixer uppers" are no exception. Lenders can offer attractive terms to buyers who want to renovate their purchase. One well-known lender offers three different types of renovation loans, with the most popular requiring a down payment of only five percent.

So how does it work? Along with their application, borrowers submit architectural drawings of the proposed improvements. Then a completed home value is determined and financing terms are offered, with interest rates usually coming in just slightly higher than those on conventional loans.

Payments are often separated into six parts during the renovation, with disbursements issued at the satisfactory completion of each stage of the project. If you're familiar with construction loans, you'll find that it works in a similar fashion.

What's really attractive about purchase-plus-renovation loans is that some lenders will even roll the first six months of interest into the total loan amount. That can free you from making payments during those first six months while you're heavily involved in your improvement project and may even need to be living elsewhere.

In any case, there is a dizzying array of financing options out there, and it's best to start the discussion with a real estate agent who is well versed in matching homes to buyers and buyers to loans!

Hiking Trails Near Murphy!

5/25/2017


Blood Mountain loop: hiking the Appalachian Trail & Freeman Trail
Hike a six mile loop to Georgia's highest Appalachian Trail summit, climbing the AT and Byron Reece Trails to beautiful views at the Blood Mountain summit before looping back through a fern-filled forest on the Freeman Trail.
trail info
6 MILES
(ROUND TRIP)
MORE
DIFFICULT
DOG-
FRIENDLY
LOCATION:Appalachian Trail near Helen, Georgia (maps & directions)
GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera
OFFICIAL MAP: Appalachian Trail, Trails Illustrated Map
The Blood Mountain summit is one of Georgia’s most popular hiking destinations, and for a good reason: the views from the summit are lofty and stunning. Rising high over the surrounding southern Appalachians, the legendary mountain towers above the surrounding peaks, climbing to 4459 feet. Blood Mountain is the highest point of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, and home to a historic stone AT shelter at its summit.

While the Appalachian Trail out-and-back to Blood Mountain is most popular ascent route to the summit, this hike explores some of the mountain’s quieter stretches on a scenic six-mile loop. From the Neels Gap trailhead, the loop hikes the mountain’s eastern elevations on the Byron Reece Trail, climbing from a mossy, fern-filled stream valley to the Appalachian Trail. The hike climbs to the Blood Mountain summit on the AT, scaling broad rock outcrops and catching near-summit views. From the summit, the hike grabs some solitude on Blood Mountain’s lesser-traveled western slope and then turns to loop through a beautiful, boulder-filled forest on the Freeman Trail.
Blood Mountain loop on the Appalachian Trail: the hike
The hike departs Neels Gap on the Byron Reece Trail (view maps and driving directions), hiking southwest and following blue trail blazes through a cool, mossy stream valley filled with rhododendron and fern. The trail gains elevation steadily under a young forest canopy as it approaches the Appalachian Trail, carving through several sharp switchbacks as it climbs.

Track the space station! Spotthestation.nasa.gov/sightings

5/23/2017

Spot The Station will give you a list of upcoming space station sighting opportunities for your location.
Several times a week, Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, determines sighting opportunities for over 6,700 locations worldwide. If your specific city or town isn’t listed, pick one that is fairly close to you. The space station is visible for a long distance around each of the listed locations.

To look up viewing times for any location on Earth for the ISS and dozens of other satellites, please use NASA’s SkyWatch application.

SHARE THE LOVE!

5/23/2017

Have you ever heard of the “home staging” profession? These individuals assist sellers with presenting their home in a fashion that will increase the likelihood of a full-price offer. While the value added by such professionals is often worth the investment, many sellers can put the basics into action themselves and enjoy the same benefits.

There are several “quick fixes” that stagers commonly recommend. Here are some highlights for your consideration as you prepare to market your home.

First, the dirty work. You’ve got to clean your windows, but don’t forget about washing all the screens to let in as much sparkling sunlight as possible. In tiled bathrooms, clean and re-grout the floors. You know what they say about cleanliness!

Second, create space in two ways. In the kitchen, roll away any movable utility carts and clear clutter off of the countertops and the refrigerator. In the rest of the home, move the furniture one to two feet away from the walls to create the illusion of more space.

Finally, impart a sense of warmth and coziness by making up beds with colorful sheets and comforters with matching window treatments.

All of these preparations should make it that much easier for the buyers to imagine how comfortable they will be in this home. Your pride of ownership will encourage them to feel the same way!

Home Inspections

5/18/2017

Selling a home can be a stressful experience for most homeowners. It’s your job as an agent to keep sellers calm and focused on the big picture; however, when it comes to home inspections, most homeowners aren’t used to having a stranger peer into their attic, open every cupboard and closet or test every appliance. For some, this stress can turn into a major nightmare.

While most sellers look at inspectors as the bearers of only bad news, there are some positive factors, as well. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, a “home inspection can give [sellers] the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.” In addition to this, home inspections can ensure a smooth transaction and assist sellers in receiving the asking price. When the inspector finds major issues, though, some agents may be caught off guard and unsure of how to react. Since maintaining your cool is a must, here are three tips for navigating the home inspection process with your clients.

1. Prepare them for the inevitable.
When the home inspector comes through and begins pointing out flaws, many homeowners take the comments personally. This is why it’s important to make sure that not only is your client’s house ready for inspection, but that your clients are, too. Before the inspection process, it can be helpful to do a walk-through of the home yourself and point out potential issues. However, keep in mind that there’s a way to engage with the seller to talk about repairs without being confrontational. For example, take a walk with your clients through the house, and if you see a stain from a leak or a faulty switch, say, “Huh.” They will likely ask, “Do you think I should fix that?” This is your opportunity to approach the topic of repairs by non-confrontationally stating, “I would.” If your clients are already aware of potential issues, it won’t come as a shock when the inspector points them out, and it will give them the opportunity to fix it preemptively.


2. Be proactive.
Before the inspector arrives, talk with your sellers about whether they plan to be in the house during the inspection. If the buyers will also be attending the inspection, the best thing for both parties is to keep the sellers away and occupied for the duration. If the sellers are concerned that they won’t be able to answer questions or explain an issue with the home, let them know they can leave their contact information at the house and have the buyers or inspector call with any pressing questions. If the buyers will not be attending the inspection, it could be beneficial to have the sellers onsite. As the inspector surveys the house, you can calmly ask your clients about the mysterious stain on the ceiling or why they installed an appliance the way they did. This can help alleviate any tense or awkward moments by keeping your client’s attention focused on your conversation, rather than the inspector recording all the things that are wrong with their home.

3. Keep the peace.
When the time comes for the actual inspection process, take a minute to remind your clients that the home inspector is simply doing his or her job. Emphasizing this fact can help keep sellers grounded, even when the inspector comments on the improper installation of their favorite fixture. If the buyers are present during the inspection and your clients insist on remaining in the home, tell them pointedly that a number of real estate deals fall through when buyers and sellers get tangled in tense situations. Let your clients know that you understand how important their home is to them, but that taking the emotion out of the situation can be beneficial to all parties. If the sellers do start to get worked up about the inspection or a comment made by a potential buyer, try to redirect their attention and remind them about why they’re selling their home in the first place. As much as possible, focus their attention on the bigger picture and their end goal: getting the best return on their investment and finding a new home.

Even if you prepare in every way possible, the best laid plans can go awry. The best thing you can do for yourself and your clients is try to keep everyone calm and focused. However, before you can show off your real estate skills, you need to make sure you’re able to connect with buyers and sellers in your area. Homes.com’s Local Connect brings you property inquiries from active buyers and sellers right when they are ready to engage. If you’re looking for ways to connect with transaction-ready sellers in your local market, Local Connect positions you in front of active sellers in your target markets with branding that showcases your photo or logo, phone number and endorsements. Call us at 888-651-8956 or send an email to productinfo@homes.com to learn more!

BEGIN PACKING YESTERDAY

4/6/2017

Getting ready for a big move? You can't begin preparing too soon, because
the average move takes over 200 hours! Count on your real estate
representative to provide advice and guidance during this seemingly
monumental task.

Your first decision is whether to hire a moving company, or rent a moving
van and ask friends and family for help. If you're using the pros,
solicit quotes from several local companies who can visit your home and
offer an accurate quote.

Next, begin sorting piles of items you'll want to sell in yard sales,
donate to charities, or haul to the landfill. This is a great opportunity
to give back to the community, and make a few bucks on the pieces you'll
sell. Anything you eliminate now will lower moving costs later.

DO create an inventory of your belongings, in case you need to file an
insurance claim for lost or damaged goods. Allow the professionals to do
your packing, because if you don't, those items that you wrap and pack
won't be covered by the mover's insurance policy.

Finally, invest in additional insurance with the movers and storage
facility, if needed. It only costs about $10 for every $1,000 in high
value items, so it's worth it for your peace of mind. Ask your agent for
more details to make your move as stress-free as possible.

LUCK IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD

3/22/2017

A "buyers' market" is just what it implies - a market in which buyers have
the advantage and exploit it. It's not a market that rewards
foot-dragging, hesitation or indecision.

Unfortunately, all the factors that created the buyers' market we have
today have been reported so negatively and rampantly by various media
outlets that buyers are themselves too spooked to even enter the fray.
Strangely, people were buying like crazy during the previous sellers'
market, when the advantage was actually all to the sellers.

That's when buyers didn't fear paying too much, and now that prices are so
low and inventories so high, suddenly buyers DO fear paying too much!
However, it's impossible to purposefully time the market to buy at the
bottom and sell at the top.

Once the market begins to settle and subsequently improve (and it will),
the amazing buying opportunities we've been seeing will begin to
disappear. With decreased buying activity now, pent up demand for homes
will explode when the market recovers, and buyers will once again be
competing for the best homes.

Don't rely on luck in the marketplace - rely on planning. Make a careful
decision with a predictable outcome. Has the market dropped enough, right
now, to make such a purchase? Absolutely! Forget about the top and the
bottom and enter your "safe zone" with confidence.

COMPARISON SHOPPING FOR SCHOOLS

3/14/2017

Real estate professionals are very often faced with a question from buyers
that has nothing to do with houses: "What are the best schools in the area
to which we're moving?" When you relocate, the most important thing
you'll be moving is your child, and you want to be certain you are making
the right choice for education.

One excellent resource for beginning your research is SchoolMatters.com,
an online database of public schools. Begin with statistics that
illustrate students' achievement levels in each school. Compare reports
for all students, including minorities and children in low-income
families. Schools in which all students perform well are providing
balanced educational opportunities.

Also pay attention to extra-curricular activities offered, particularly if
your child is interested in sports and other pursuits outside the
classroom. The School Matters database offers ratings and reviews
directly from the parents, so you can learn from those with experience.

One thing you can't determine online, however, is the actual classroom
environment, so you should absolutely schedule a visit to one or more
schools in the area before making your decision. Meet with the principal
and watch the manner in which teachers and students interact.

Once you have an understanding of the distinctions between schools, your
choice will become clear. You wouldn't buy the first home you see, and
"shopping" for a school is no different!

DO THE MATH

3/8/2017

After all your preparations and marketing efforts, what do you do when you
get that first offer? Don't jump for joy or wallow in disappointment
until you've read all the terms. Price is just the beginning, and other
contingencies will ultimately affect your bottom line.

In reviewing the offer, pay attention to seller concessions, which can
range from asking you to pay closing costs to including an allowance for
roof repairs. Buyers may also request inclusion of certain articles of
personal property not physically attached to the home. This might include
the refrigerator or pieces of furniture. You can decline or accept the
terms, but it's best to establish in your listing those items included and
excluded in the sale.

Mortgage and appraisal contingencies indicate that the buyer will seek
financing at a certain rate and terms, and that the appraisal must satisfy
the lender. Make sure that all of the terms are realistic, and that there
is a reasonable time limit for the buyers to secure their financing.

These and other terms in the offer impact how much you net from your sale,
regardless of what actual buying price is stated. It's possible that a
"full price" offer could result in thousands less than a lower offer with
fewer contingencies, so please consult with a representative before
listing and before accepting or rejecting any offers.

UP ON THE DOWNSIZE

3/3/2017

For any number of reasons, more people than ever are downsizing these
days. Whether it's reduction in income, reduction in family size, or just
a desire for easier living, smaller homes are becoming more attractive.

There are challenges associated with downsizing, but experience has taught
some valuable lessons that you may find useful. Once you've decided to
sell, start the moving process immediately. Your home will even show
better once you've begun packing things away. As you decide what to keep,
consider donating unwanted items or holding a yard sale.

Solicit family members for help, and see how many belongings might be
passed along to family and friends. After all, they say that charity
begins at home, right?

You can also "digitize" paper records with a scanner, saving them on your
computer, or using an online storage service for an added layer of
security. Just be sure electronic versions of certain records are legally
acceptable.

If you're still left with a lot of furniture and accessories, you should
strongly consider including such items in the listing for your home.
First-time buyers may be particularly attracted to such an offering,
saving them time and money on furnishing their home, and expediting the
entire transaction.

These tips may help you downsize, but of course, any move presents its
challenges. Speak with an experienced professional today for more advice.

THE LINGO OF THE LOAN

2/22/2017

Your real estate agent may not write your home loan, but that's who will
probably be there when you begin discussing mortgage options. Knowing
some of the nuts and bolts before you start your home search can help you
find the right loan.

Factors affecting your terms are the amount, the length of the loan, and
the loan-to-value ratio (how much of the home's value you are financing).
Larger loans carry more risk to the lender, so the interest rate may be
higher.

Similarly, a smaller down payment represents more risk, possibly
warranting a higher interest rate. Get the best rate by putting down as
close to 20% as possible.

The difference between a 15- and 30-year loan is also critical. Payments
for a shorter term will be larger, but you'll build equity much faster,
and enjoy a slightly lower interest rate.

Also understand the workings of an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). You
need to be fully prepared for what may happen to your payments after the
first adjustment. However, something like a 5/1 ARM (a fixed rate for
five years and an adjustment each year thereafter), could be a good idea
if you're buying your first home and don't plan to stay longer than five
years.

Discuss your hopes and objectives with an agent, who can help guide you
down the road to homeownership.

Big Down Payment Myth

2/20/2017

Having the spare capital to put 20 percent down on a home purchase is great, but it's certainly not the norm. Still, many people think it is and that belief may be holding some would-be home buyers back, particularly young adults.
Indeed, 39 percent of non-owners say they believe they need more than 20 percent for a down payment on a home purchase. Twenty-six percent believe they need to put down 15 to 20 percent, and 22 percent say they need a down payment of 10 percent to 14 percent to buy, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile report. 
But now for the reality: The average down payment on a purchase mortgage was just 11 percent in 2016. And that's just the average; often times down payments are much lower. For borrowers under the age of 35, the average down payment was just under 8 percent, according to NAR's survey.
As such, “aspiring first-time buyers think it takes twice as much to buy a home than it really does,” writes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist, in his latest column.
How much a person truly needs for a down payment depends on their situation. Their financial circumstances, home location, and the price of the home are important factors.
But there are many mortgage options that offer the opportunity to make low or even no down payments. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer no-money down loans to those who are eligible. In 2016, 16 percent of buyers under the age of 35 put no money down on their home purchase.
Further, the largest share of loans for buyers under age 35 last year were for people putting down less than 5 percent on a home purchase (or about $3,500). The 3 percent down payment programs backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the 3.5 percent FHA mortgage that primarily targets first-time buyers, are both helpful programs to consider. These loan programs don’t require unblemished credit either. The average FICO score was 713, but realtor.com® notes borrowers with a 639 were still getting approved.
As such, Smoke says the millennial dreaming about homeownership needs to get this message: They need a FICO score of at least 639 and enough for a 5 percent down payment (that is, if they don’t qualify for the other programs with lower payment options). In that case, they'll need to save about $3,500 to buy in the typical American town

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SELLING AND DWELLING

2/15/2017

There is a special mindset associated with "staging" your home to sell in
a soft market. Staging refers simply to the act of improving your home's
appearance in order to appeal to the widest segment of potential buyers.
The approach you must adopt is to see your home with an objective eye.

Stop looking at your home as your "home," and start visualizing it as the
"product" it becomes when it enters the market. Both a real estate agent
and a professional home stager can help to market your product
successfully by highlighting positive features and downplaying less
attractive aspects.

Since you may have a strong emotional attachment to your home, you may not
fully appreciate hearing about a better way to show your offering, but try
to recognize that the way you decorate to SELL may be quite different from
the way you decorate to dwell. The appearance of a space often trumps its
functionality when impressing buyers.

Your goal is to sell quickly at a fair price. A survey by a large
national real estate brokerage showed that staged homes sell in half the
time, and another survey of REALTORS® showed that a $500 "staging"
investment recouped 343% of that cost. So be prepared to swallow a little
pride, move some furniture, and field better offers on the road to your
successful sale.

Mortgage Rates Holding Steady

2/13/2017

Rates have mostly stayed flat the past three weeks, offering buyers a pause to what had been steadily rising rates.
"The 30-year fixed mortgage fell two basis points to 4.17 percent this week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Rates are at about the same level at which they started the year and have stayed within a two basis point range over the past three weeks. Mixed economic releases such as Friday's jobs report and uncertainty about the Administration's fiscal policies have contributed to the holding pattern in rates."
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Feb. 9:
30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.17 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 4.19 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.65 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.39 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.41 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.95 percent.
5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.21 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 3.23 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.83 percent

AN OFFER THEY CAN'T REFUSE

2/9/2017

In real estate investment, one person's misfortune is another's
opportunity. Indeed, with so many foreclosed properties on the market,
buyers are poised to take advantage of a literally once-in-a-lifetime
chance at investment or ownership.

Every opportunity presents some challenges, however, and you'll need more
than luck to effectively buy a distressed property. These transactions
are more complex than traditional sales, and you are strongly advised to
seek the advice and representation of a real estate professional well
versed in this new marketplace.

While a bank-owned home may look like a great deal, don't assume that any
offer will be accepted. Most banks list their foreclosed properties
through real estate brokerages, and while they want to sell as quickly as
possible, the listing agents have a fiduciary responsibility to get a good
price for the owner.

An insultingly low offer can table the transaction permanently, so proceed
with common sense and a trusted representative. Keep in mind when
negotiating your offer that you should have an additional 10% of the price
tag set aside for repairs. A foreclosed property, particularly an older
one, will almost certainly require some overhauls.

In addition to your agent, consult with a local real estate attorney who
can advise you about current foreclosure laws, which vary significantly
from state to state. Know exactly who's at the door when your opportunity
knocks!

LAUNCH AN OFFENSIVE

2/3/2017

When buyers become scarce, sellers have to step up and make their offering
stand out to attract attention. Without spending a fortune, sellers can
easily highlight several of their home's features.

First, beat buyers to the punch with a pre-listing home inspection. By
discovering and fixing problems before buyers ever see the home, you can
impress them with a worry-free, move-in-now opportunity. Leave your repair
receipts out during showings, so that buyers can see all the improvements
you've made just for them!

Once the mechanical and structural features of your home have been
addressed, move on to the aesthetic details. First impressions count, so
make sure your home is inviting from the curb. Spiff up landscaping,
paint, entries, and windows.

Inside, pay attention to bath and kitchen details, because those rooms are
often most important when buyers are making a decision. Aside from deep
cleaning, consider updating bath and kitchen features with new and
contemporary drawer pulls, faucets, and even sinks.

Finally, get a jump on your moving by organizing your closets and ditching
or packing all you possibly can. A good guideline is to reduce your
closets to half-full, so that the buyers can easily picture the space for
their own storage needs.

A few "preemptive strikes" should be all you need to attract buyers and
offers, so ask your agent for tips today!

8 Items Buyers Need to Add to Their Budgets

2/1/2017

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2017

Buying a home is much more than just paying a mortgage bill. Once you factor in association fees, property taxes, utility bills, and home maintenance, owners are often facing a much steeper price that is hundreds of dollars more.
Read more: 10 Budget-Friendly Home Improvements This Winter
To help you get an accurate estimate of how much ownership will truly cost you, here are a few of the common expenses you will want to add to your budget, along with estimations of costs (note: costs can vary dramatically from region to region; prices listed are based on national averages):
1. Closing costs: Add in an estimated 2% to 5% of home price.
2. Homeowners insurance: Add $1,100-plus per year.
3. Homeowners association fees: Add $10 to $575 per month.
4. Property taxes: Add $1,000-plus per $100,000 per year.
5. Home maintenance and repairs: Add several hundred to several thousand dollars.
6. Home furnishings: Add several hundred to several thousand dollars.
7. Lawn care and outdoor maintenance: Add $100 to $200 per month.
8. Utility bills: Add $180-plus per month

A PORTFOLIO OF COMMODITIES

1/31/2017


Have you ever thought of a home as a commodity? A commodity can be
defined as a raw material or product that can be bought and sold. A home
is not a raw material, but it is certainly built out of many, like a box
full of wood, steel, cement, glass and copper.

Over the long term, home prices usually rise along with the cost of the
commodities it takes for construction. While high inventories of housing
may be keeping prices lower right now, the cost of the raw materials that
are intrinsically tied to a home's value are rising, and rapidly.

With increasingly higher construction costs on the horizon, buying now is
an ideal investment, and a hedge against the rising cost of commodities.
Every home is a store of value for all the materials, the land and the
labor involved in its construction. So the long-term value of a home is
tightly connected to the cost of its production, making it a very
different type of investment from stocks or bonds.

Investing in commodities has always been a great way to make lemonade from
the economy's lemons. And what better way to buy into the commodities
market than by purchasing a home? Sooner or later, home prices will be
pushed higher by the rising cost of raw materials, so make your move now!

******

There's no better time to buy a home than in this particular season of
real estate. Using wisdom to shop in this market may help you make a
decision that will bring you greater reward and satisfaction than any
"after Christmas" sale that you've ever enjoyed. If you have questions or
would like professional counsel, please give me a call or e mail me.

An Ounce of Prevention

1/27/2017

If you're planning to go bargain hunting, you are likely to come face to
face with a special challenge: the long-vacant home. Many of these
properties have been foreclosed, and now rest in the hands of the bank.
The owners are long gone.

While the greatest percentage of these "distressed properties" are still
in fair to good condition, how can you be sure of possible defects in the
home when the previous owners are not available to disclose such facts?

Since the bank-owners and their real estate agent may not know all the
details about the previous owners, you would be well-served by ordering a
"pre-inspection" if you find an attractive property at a low price. Hire
an inspector for a preliminary look, and do not make an offer until you
know more.

You can pay just a couple hundred dollars for a brief inspection, money
well spent before you submit a bid. Having an idea of the home's true
condition can help you determine your offer, or help you make a decision
to walk away from the deal, without any obligation.

If the utilities are cut off, ask your representative about getting them
turned on during the inspection, which is critical to the inspection's
accuracy. Take a careful look at recent sales in the neighborhood, and
make your offer armed with knowledge and confidence!

******

Shopping for a home or property in today's current market conditions
requires wisdom and strategy. My goal is for every party involved in a
sales transaction to feel that it is a win-win.

Ease Your Buyers Down Payment Woes

1/25/2017


About a quarter of first-time home buyers surveyed by realtor.com® in December said the top delay in buying was a lack of funds for a down payment. However, many first-time buyers don’t necessarily need a 20 percent down payment to move forward on a home purchase.  
Read more: Down-Payment Flubs That Delay Transactions
In fact, the average down payment is 11 percent, according to realtor.com®’s research of loan record data from Optimal Blue. On an average purchased house in 2016 at $290,000, that equates to about a $32,680 down payment.
Certainly, that can vary on circumstance. For example, jumbo loan borrowers tended to put the highest percentage down at an average of 23 percent. On the other hand, conforming mortgage borrowers put down an average of 18 percent in 2016. FHA, VA, and USDA mortgage borrowers put down much less, an average of 4.8 percent, 2.2 percent, and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Further, “where you live or are thinking of living can also dramatically affect what it takes to get a mortgage,” writes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “Higher-cost markets don’t just have higher-priced homes; they also have buyers with higher down payments. Lower-cost markets are just the opposite.”
Why the mismatch? Higher-cost markets tend to have pricier homes that are less likely to be covered by low down payment loans, Smoke explains. As such, first-time home buyers may have a tougher time in high-cost areas. Many of these high-cost areas have low homeownership rates among young buyers.
For example, in pricier markets like the District of Columbia, the average purchase price is slightly more than $630,000. The average down payment is nearly $110,000 -- or more than 17 percent, realtor.com® notes. In other high-cost markets like San Francisco County, buyers put down an average of 29.9 percent on their home purchase and in Manhattan buyers put down a whopping 30.2 percent.
On the other hand in lower cost places, buyers could put down much less. For instance, in Mississippi the average purchase price in 2016 was $165,000 and the average down payment was under $9,000 -- nearing about 5 percent. Also, in rural counties in the South and Midwest average down payments tended to be closer to 3 percent, or $5,000 or less, Smoke notes.
Source: “Think You Need to Save 20% for a Down Payment? Think Again,” realtor.com® (Jan. 18, 2017)

Big Challenges

1/23/2017

What are the top challenges your home buyers face this year? A recent survey from realtor.com® reveals the following:
1. Low inventories: There aren’t enough homes for sale and inventory woes are expected to worsen this year. Active inventory in December 2016 on realtor.com® dropped 11 percent compared to a year ago. “As a result, the year has started with the lowest inventory of homes for sale at least since the recession, and possibly in decades,” realtor.com® notes. “Inventory was a challenge all year but a stronger offseason in the fall depleted the available homes for sale even more than is typical.”
Read more: Higher Prices Prompt Buyers to Slow Search
2. Prices move to record highs: Typically, asking prices decrease in the fall. However, this year, the median list price in December was the same as it was in July -- $250,000. That is a record high for December. It’s also a year-over-year increase of 9 percent.  
3. Rising mortgage rates: For experienced buyers, rising mortgage rates has prompted an urgency for them to buy before any further increases. Average listing views on realtor.com® surged 40 to 80 percent in the last three weeks of December 2016 compared to December 2015. “Rising rates have made demand even more intense,” realtor.com® notes. However, the demand mostly seems to be coming on stronger from repeat buyers. For first-time buyers, rising mortgage rates are having an opposite effect and they’re showing signs of beginning to shy away from the market.
4. First-Timers Are Worried; Repeat Buyers Are in a Rush: The number of first-time buyers planning to purchase this spring has dropped sharply and the rise in mortgage rates over the past few weeks may be to blame for their retreat, according to realtor.com® study. Repeat buyers, on the other hand, want to lock in rates right away.
Forty-four percent of active home buyers who plan to buy a home this spring are first-time home buyers, down from 55 percent last fall who said they were planning to buy in the spring. So what’s spooking them?
The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has gone up to more than 4.2 percent by the end of December 2016, realtor.com® notes. It was averaging 3.4 percent for most of September 2016. Average rates today are about a half percentage point higher than they were in 2016. That means a median-priced home financed with a 20 percent down would cost an extra $720 per year in added interest, realtor.com®’s study notes.
"Last fall, we saw a large jump in the number of first timers planning home purchases, which was very encouraging because their market share is still well below pre-recession levels," says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com®. "But, as evidenced by their decline in share, first-time buyers are really dependent on financing and affordability is one of their largest barriers to home ownership. This number could continue to decline with anticipated increases in interest rates and home prices."
First-time buyers are nearly five times more likely than repeat buyers to say they are facing challenges qualifying for a mortgage. Affordability topped first-time buyer concerns.
In November, first-time buyers made up 32 percent of all buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
"The rise in rates is associated with an anticipation of stronger economic and wage growth, both of which favor buyers," added Smoke. "At the same time, higher rates make qualifying for a mortgage and finding affordable inventory more challenging. The decline in the share of first-time buyers since October suggests that the move up in rates is discouraging new home buyers already."
On the other hand, repeat home buyers realize mortgage rates – while moving higher overall – are still at historical lows. Before rates jump more, these buyers are in a rush to close before rates increase further, according to realtor.com®’s study.
Source: Move.com

Turn Those Red Flags Green

1/18/2017

When selling a home, two situations may occur which are red flag
indicators of a lengthy sale time. Each requires the property owners'
attention in cooperation with their sales agent, and involves either the
price or condition of the home.

The first involves a home that has been on the market for 60-90 days, but
has been shown only once or twice. More buyers are beginning to enter
today's real estate market, and homes for sale should be attracting a
number of prospects.

When buyers choose not to tour a home, the reason is often the price.
Homes that are attractive, but not being shown, are often priced "above"
the market. The key to increased showings, then, is to learn the market
price of the home, then reset the price.

The second "red flag" occurs when a home is being shown often, but neither
sells nor attracts offers. The home's condition is often the culprit in
this situation. Buyers learn the price, then drive by, making a judgment
that it is an attractive home. Once they see the home, however, their
interest evaporates.

The solution can be a critical "walk-through" by the sellers' agent to
identify needed repairs and cosmetic improvements. Until corrected,
traffic is likely to remain high, while the chances of selling remain low.
Remove these red flags and prepare for a sale!

Weekend Hiking

1/16/2017

Hard to believe the weather in the mountains this weekend was mid January and not mid April, it could not have been much better. Deena and I were able to work in two great days of hiking in the Cherokee National Forest near Fort Mountain in short sleeves and were extremely comfortable. We hiked several nice trails in the area, one named the Gahuti Trail is an 8 mile loop around a beautiful campground and passes an old fire tower at the top of the mountain that has been use since the early 1900's. The other trail is Rock Creek and has great views and nice water Falls. Don't miss an opportunity to get out and enjoy all the mountains have to offer and live Your Mountain Dreams whenever you can.

FROM LESS TO YES

1/12/2017


The painful truth: Sellers who do not price their property competitively are the most likely targets of lowball offers. In soft markets, buyers are more prone to make low offers on listings seen to be priced too high. Listings that don't sell usually require price reductions, which in turn often mean ultimately accepting an offer lower than you could have received by pricing aggressively from Day One.

Since selling your home can be such an emotional and subjective experience, it's easy to understand why you'd be reluctant to counter an offer below your asking price. But rather than feel insulted, try to see it as the beginning of a dialogue that could ultimately produce a sale.

If you feel any of the terms or conditions of the offer are unacceptable, ask your agent to present a counter-offer. Sometimes buyers and sellers don't really know beforehand what price they'll accept until they've begun the negotiations. For example, a buyer might agree to a higher price than planned if interest rates suddenly drop.

If you've received a lower than expected offer, but the buyers have proven their qualifications and commitment by securing loan pre-approval, you have grounds for serious consideration. The process of counter-offering can be swiftly settled or carry on ad nauseam. Be prepared to explore all options and act quickly before letting your negotiations fail.

Pricing your home or property in today’s market takes very strategic effort and analysis. My primary goal is to meet your needs in assisting you in both pricing and selling your property and doing it in a professional manner.

Mortgage Rates

1/9/2017

Borrowing costs moved lower this week. But most economists aren’t predicting the trajectory to continue.
This marked the first time in 10 weeks that mortgage rates moved lower, Freddie Mac reports.
"The 30-year mortgage rate fell this week for the first time since the presidential election, dropping 12 basis points to 4.20 percent,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This marks the first time since 2014 that mortgage rates opened the year above 4 percent. Despite this week's breather, the 66-basis point increase in the mortgage rate since November 3 is taking its toll -- the MBA's refinance index plunged 22 percent this week."
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Jan. 5:
30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.20 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 4.32 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.97 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.44 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.55 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.26 percent.
5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.33 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.30 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.09 percent

First Impressions

1/6/2017

How Important Are First Impressions When Selling Your Home?

Buyers form their first impressions of your home as they drive up to it and then as they approach the front door and enter. What they see and smell shape their whole experience. A well-kept yard and inviting front entryway are harbingers of pleasant things to come! A clean, uncluttered, fresh-smelling house makes it easy for a buyer to imagine living in the same space.
So, what can you do to appeal to the majority of buyers? Declutter and impersonalize your home, clear off the kitchen counters and refrigerators, thoroughly clean the house (especially where pets have been), freshen up paint with some neutral colors that have wide ranging appeal, plant some colorful flowers by the front door and make any necessary improvements. By giving the buyers a “clean slate” you are helping them see themselves in your house and encouraging a quick sale!

*****

Selling your home or property in today’s market takes diligent preparation from both the property owner and the real estate professional

New Year

1/5/2017

What a good way to end to 2016 and a great start to 2017. We hiked a nice section of the Appalachian Trail in the Nantahala National Forest. Standing Indian Campground has numerous trails that lead up to the Appalachian Trail and several that make a loop back to the campground.We managed to get in almost 8 miles with almost 5 of those on the AT and had some nice snow showers in the process which made for a beautiful hike. If you like hiking this a a great area to explore as you can hike many different trails with many different levels of difficulty from easy to difficult. Come check out the Standing Indian area and all it has to offer. Happy 2017 to all.

7/30/2014


Remodel Tips

3/26/2014

For mid-range projects, here are projects that retain their value by the highest rates, according to national averages:

1. Entry door replacement (steel)

Estimated job cost: $1,162

Estimated resale value: $1,122

Cost recouped: 96.6%

2. Deck addition (wood)

Estimated job cost: $9,539

Estimated resale value: $8,334

Cost recouped: 87.4%

3. Attic bedroom

Estimated job cost: $49,438

Estimated resale value: $41,656

Cost recouped: 84.3%

4. Garage door replacement

Estimated job cost: $1,534

Estimated resale value: $1,283

Cost recouped: 83.7%

5. Minor kitchen remodel

Estimated job cost: $18,856

Estimated resale value: $15,585

Cost recouped: 82.7%

The New Year

1/25/2014

As I sit in front of the fireplace looking out the window at the clear, crisp winter afternoon, I am reminded of how blessed we are. We are truly blessed to have family and beloved friends to share our lives with and we live our lives in an incredibly beautiful place. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the beauty of the area than to hike right through it, which is exactly what we did for new years. Our first hike was Hanging Dog Trails where we encountered a large flock of wild turkeys feeding on the side of a trail. As we wound our way through the forest we became instantly aware of the sound of nature. The hushed song of the wind in the trees and the bubbling sound of a creek as it flowed to the lake below. The end of a perfect day.
Our second hike was Jack Rabbit Trails. While not a physically challenging hike, it is an absolutely beautiful walk through the woods along the shoreline of Lake Chatuge. Winding our way up the small ridge we came upon a herd of 8 deer feeding. We startled them and off they ran, so graceful and majestic as they made their escape.
For our third hike we decided to brave the cold and snow and strike out for Smokemont for a truly challenging day hike. This area has elk and we were lucky enough to see a herd of 10 feeding in the field just before we hit the trail. Traveling along a very noisy creek, we crossed several log bridges as we headed for the upward climbing trail that would take us to an altitude of 4400 ft. We found ourselves walking through tunnels of rhododendron and popping out on peaks that offered views that spanned for miles with countless layers of mountain ranges. Our decent was just as beautiful as we looked down on lush ravines and bottomland. Needless to say sleep came easy that night!
I am thankful for the opportunity to live the mountain dream. Summer days boating on the lake, year round hiking, rafting and watching wildlife from my porch. My new year’s wish for you is that you will have the opportunity to experience this naturally beautiful area and all it has to offer. I hope that your mountain dreams come true also.

If I can help you, your friends or families Mountain Dreams come true please contact me to show you the Mountains we call home.

Open Up

6/14/2013


There’s been discussion among professionals in the real estate business for years now regarding the value of holding open houses. The National Association of REALTORS® conducted a survey last year that revealed 80 percent of buyers used the Internet for property searches, but only 42 percent visited open houses. What gives and are open houses a waste of everyone’s time?

The answer varies according to whom you ask and there are good arguments on both sides. Some agents feel that truly serious buyers do their searching well in advance and choose to make appointments to see the homes that really excite them.

Other agents have learned that buyers enjoy the freedom of seeing properties without an appointment and without the company of a representative when they visit. Sellers, on the other hand, sometimes expect agents to host open houses to show that they’re working hard for their compensation.

Real estate agents often begin developing relationships with buyers through open houses. By learning the needs of particular buyers at an open house, the agent may be able to direct those buyers to another home that’s better suited to their needs—perhaps yours!

In a nutshell, both sides can be equally argued, but the sale of your home is as unique as you are. Discuss the potential benefits and deterrents of an open house with your agent.

KEEP THE CART BEHIND THE HORSE!

5/23/2013

It’s probably no surprise that nearly all buyers require financing for their home purchase. The real challenge is not so much in getting the loan as it is in finding the loan that’s right for you.

The time to start your loan search is before you begin looking at homes. After you’ve reviewed your loan options, you’ll have a better idea of just how much home you can afford.

Starting early also gives you an edge when you offer to purchase a property, because most contracts will specify that you have to apply for financing within a certain amount of time, usually seven to ten days. Meeting with a lender in advance prevents your having to rush into a loan decision.

You’ll also have an advantage with sellers, because an offer to purchase from a pre-approved buyer is more attractive to sellers who won’t have to worry about whether you’ll qualify for financing. It demonstrates to both you and the sellers that you have the financial strength to complete the purchase on schedule.

Many real estate agents have experience and relationships with local lenders and can suggest one or more lenders who offer a variety of loans with competitive terms and quality service. Your mortgage is as individual as you are, so take the time early on to match a loan to your particular needs.

Hello Fico

5/13/2013

You’d have to be living on another planet if you haven’t heard reports of subprime mortgages and their effect on the real estate industry. If you’re planning to buy a home, it’s apparent that loan qualification these days is more challenging. Sellers also feel the effect from fewer qualified buyers who can make a confident, full price offer.

In preparing a loan application, the most critical factor is usually your FICO score (developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation). You may be aware that your score can range from 300 to 850 points, and that your score affects your terms and interest rate. However, there are some details you may find interesting.

You don’t have simply one score, you have three – one from each credit reporting bureau (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), and each score may differ by as many as 100 points. Your score is formulated from percentages of five different factors: your payment history (35%), you debt (30%), length of your credit history (15%), your credit types (10%), and any newly issued credit (10%).

In order to qualify for a “prime” loan, you’ll need a FICO score of at least 620, but you’ll get the best terms and interest rate if your score is above 720. Your best bet is to check your scores and reported history well in advance of a planned purchase.

Pre-Certify Your Home

4/30/2013


If you’re looking for a competitive edge in the sale of your home, your real estate agent may have an unexpected suggestion. Although many sellers assume that it is the responsibility of the buyers to pay for an inspection, having one performed before you even list your home can go a long way towards attracting a full price offer from confident buyers.

Think about it. If you’re aware of flaws and needed repairs before you begin marketing your home, you can correct potential problems before buyers even have a chance to think about negotiating a lower price for repairs. Sellers can expect an offer that is two dollars less for every dollar in needed improvements, so why would you give away that money when you can save it by simply investing in a pre-listing inspection?

A pre-listing inspection also reduces time and stress before closing because there’s no rushing around trying to get requested repairs done on the buyer’s schedule. You’re also establishing good will right off the bat, creating an atmosphere of trust and honesty up front.

All of these aspects greatly increase the chances that the buyers will offer full price and follow through to closing without any doubts, delays, or picky negotiations. Like a quality used car, giving your home the “Certified Pre-Owned” label will encourage the buyer’s seal of approval!

START ON THE RIGHT FOOT!

4/17/2013


As you consider buying your first home, you’ll get lots of advice, but you shouldn’t do anything without a complete understanding of your financial situation and how much home you can afford. So, where do you begin?
There are two parts to financing – the down payment (generally 20% of the purchase price) and the balance (the remaining 80%). Secure the best interest rate by reviewing your credit reports and correcting errors, which are surprisingly common. Do this at least two months in advance of your home search, as that’s how long it can take to clean up your reports.
You’ll know exactly what you can afford by securing pre-approval from a lender, who will review your income, debt and credit, and suggest the loan best suited to your qualifications and needs. If you can put down more than the usual 20%, you may qualify for a higher loan amount.
With less than 20% down, you might pay a higher interest rate or PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance), because the lender assumes a greater risk. Consult a financial adviser about ways to raise the cash, like withdrawals from an IRA or gifts from your parents. Each has tax implications, so proceed with caution.
With your financial house in order, you’re ready to discuss your desires with a real estate professional and begin your home search in earnest. Congratulations!

Low Offers

4/5/2013

It takes an innovative marketing plan to cause a home to sell, but to attract serious buyers, it must also be priced fairly. What else must be done to successfully sell your home?

Buyers are in search of their dream home. If priced reasonably, they will purchase the home that best reflects their idea of that dream, and it’s the sellers who are in charge of making it happen.

Experience has shown that buyers often reduce their offers by as much as $2 for every $1 in uncompleted repairs. Sellers won't have to face those disappointing offers if attention is given to their home before it is ever shown.

The best method for improving buyer appeal is a "walk-through" by the sellers' real estate agent. The agent plays the part of a prospective buyer, and then suggests upgrades, repairs, and cosmetic improvements.

Then the sellers should complete all the work before the home is placed on the market. Neither a prospective buyer, nor another agent, should ever see the home until it is in 100% marketable condition.

Excuses made at a showing are an open invitation to a reduced price. When a buyer is disappointed, no explanation will suffice to bring the price back up. When selling, ask your agent for advice, and then take action. Buyers will often compete for such a good value.

Renovations

3/28/2013

DON’T WAIT, RENOVATE!

There are all sorts of loans for all types of homes, and "fixer uppers" are no exception. Lenders can offer attractive terms to buyers who want to renovate their purchase. One well-known lender offers three different types of renovation loans, with the most popular requiring a down payment of only five percent.

So how does it work? Along with their application, borrowers submit architectural drawings of the proposed improvements. Then a completed home value is determined and financing terms are offered, with interest rates usually coming in just slightly higher than those on conventional loans.

Payments are often separated into six parts during the renovation, with disbursements issued at the satisfactory completion of each stage of the project. If you're familiar with construction loans, you'll find that it works in a similar fashion.

What's really attractive about purchase-plus-renovation loans is that some lenders will even roll the first six months of interest into the total loan amount. That can free you from making payments during those first six months while you're heavily involved in your improvement project and may even need to be living elsewhere.

In any case, there is a dizzying array of financing options out there, and it's best to start the discussion with a real estate agent who is well versed in matching homes to buyers and buyers to loans!

Home Staging

3/19/2013

Have you ever heard of the “home staging” profession? These individuals assist sellers with presenting their home in a fashion that will increase the likelihood of a full-price offer. While the value added by such professionals is often worth the investment, many sellers can put the basics into action themselves and enjoy the same benefits.

There are several “quick fixes” that stagers commonly recommend. Here are some highlights for your consideration as you prepare to market your home.

First, the dirty work. You’ve got to clean your windows, but don’t forget about washing all the screens to let in as much sparkling sunlight as possible. In tiled bathrooms, clean and re-grout the floors. You know what they say about cleanliness!

Second, create space in two ways. In the kitchen, roll away any movable utility carts and clear clutter off of the countertops and the refrigerator. In the rest of the home, move the furniture one to two feet away from the walls to create the illusion of more space.

Finally, impart a sense of warmth and coziness by making up beds with colorful sheets and comforters with matching window treatments.

All of these preparations should make it that much easier for the buyers to imagine how comfortable they will be in this home. Your pride of ownership will encourage them to feel the same way!