11 Thoughts for Buying and Selling in 2011

2011-1-Checklist imageConsider following these ideas to make the buying and selling process run a bit smoother. Having a plan, and following it through with it, will help you stay focused on your goal to buying or selling.

Think about fixing up the house—now. Start a list of home improvement projects to lessen the time it will take to prepare your home for the market. Remember that we see don’t always see the wear and tear but prospective buyers are looking through your house with a fine tooth comb.

Clean out the house now. Save time now, get some boxes and start to organize some of the clutter. Give yourself time to reminisce before belongings move into the trash pile!

Price my house as though we’re living in 2011 and not 2007. Hire a real estate professional to research and see what comparable houses are going for in your neighborhood and price accordingly. Your property needs to be competitively priced or else it’s not going to sell.

Seek pre-approval for mortgage before looking to buy. Interview several lenders and get pre-approved for a mortgage. By doing this you can eliminate property that’s out of your price range.

Clean up credit score before looking to buy. Increase the odds of getting pre-approved. If you won’t buy your house until the last half of 2011 or maybe even 2012, then at least look into cleaning up your credit history.

Number crunch and buy a house I can afford. Pull out the calculator and figure out what you can afford in a mortgage, points, bills etc.

Think long term. Look at the community around your prospective home. Ask yourself whether you can imagine living here in ten years. You want a neighborhood that you can grow into.

Interview more than one real estate agent. Find the agent that you would like to work with and who will tell you want you need to hear. Realize that not every agent and client are a perfect match so interviewing more than one is a good idea.

Make this a business transaction and not an emotional decision. Sometimes this is much easier said than done! Remember that this is a financial transaction– if you can keep that in mind, you’ll likely come through the process in better shape.

Get a pre-inspection for my own house, before selling it. This is something worth considering if you’ve been living in your house for awhile and know it needs some work. Getting a handle on items needing repair before selling puts you above the competition. Knowledge is power!

Think about moving and other logistics now. Getting moving rates and insurance quotes will help make your decisions at the move much smoother. Although it’s hard to think of everything start a running list to keep on track.

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

2010-10-GhostsSince we are nearing the spooky time of year we thought it would be a fun time to share the scariest houses around. Zillow.com recently shared an article, “America’s Most Haunted Homes” that showcased the 10 scariest homes in the US and an estimate on what each house is worth. But what can a haunting do to the value of a home? According to Stan Humphries, Chief Economist at Zillow.com, it’s a toss up. “Whether it helps or hurts a home’s appeal is largely a function of the nature of the haunting,” he says, noting that there is very little empirical data on this question. “Of course,” he says, “for a particularly macabre buyer, a house that is haunted might fetch a higher price. In real estate as in all things, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.”

Our area has been known for its own haunted spaces as well. Wilmington is an old port city, incorporated centuries ago, with a rich paranormal history. Tourists and locals alike keep the downtown Ghost Walk Tours busy year round. A guided tour of downtown Wilmington exposes several buildings and graveyards where sightings, tapping on the walls, phantom footsteps, and ghastly screams are all very common. If you aren’t scared investigate these haunted tales from the Cape Fear!! Or better yet, take a tour and see these ghosts for yourself……..

Ghost at Thalian Hall – Dead actors haunt the stage

Ghosts of the Prairie- Haunted Wilmington

Haunted Wilmington

The Haunting of Battleship North Carolina

The Maco Light

Happy 80th Birthday to Warren Buffett

2010-8-warrenbuffettWarren Buffett turns 80 today so it seems fitting to share some of his real estate investing knowledge. What an amazing man he is- doesn’t look like he is slowing down yet!


    1. “Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.”Translation: Today’s market fluctuations are your friend because they’ve scared off your competition…other investors. They’re also your friend because the fluctuations have caused there to be a flood of motivated sellers. And as any savvy investor knows, buying from motivated sellers is the only way to make it in this business.
    2. “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”Translation: Keep plenty of tools (investing techniques) in your tool belt so that you can adapt to a changing market. What worked best in 2005 doesn’t work best in 2008. Today, we’re seeing first hand that those with only one investing strategy are taking a beating.
    3. “Our favorite holding period is forever.”Translation: To build true long-term wealth, you must buy and hold properties.
    4. “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”Translation: Those who don’t know how to properly analyze, enter, and exit real estate transactions think today’s market is risky. Those who fully understand the intricacies of creative real estate investing continue to participate and profit.
    5. “I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.”Translation: Now’s the time to buy. In real estate and in life, it’s almost always best to act opposite to the crowd.
    6. “Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.”Translation: Naive real estate investors are putting their money into stocks, bonds, and savings accounts right now. Smart investors continue to invest in real estate, and they’re picking up more bargains than ever.
    7. “Never count on making a good sale. Have the purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results.”Translation: If you’re concerned that you cannot sell for full value, then buy lower – at about 60% of value – and sell lower – at about 90% of value.
    8. “We will reject interesting opportunities rather than over-leverage our balance sheet.”Translation: Sometimes the best real estate deals are the ones you don’t make.
    9. “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”Translation: If you’re going to hold a property long term, it’s far better to buy a wonderful house at a fair price than a dump at a bargain.
    10. “A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.”Translation: Most Americans think that now is a risky time to get into real estate investing. Do they know more than you? Most likely not. Only a handful of Americans know the specific techniques for profiting in today’s market. Most Americans get their “investing tips” from the daily paper, not the best real estate source.
    11. “The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect… You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd.”Translation: Don’t worry what the masses are doing. Follow the advice of successful real estate investors, and use their techniques to profit in today’s market.
    12. “You ought to be able to explain why you’re taking the job you’re taking, why you’re making the investment you’re making, or whatever it may be. And if it can’t stand applying pencil to paper, you’d better think it through some more. And if you can’t write an intelligent answer to those questions, don’t do it.”Translation: Every deal must work on paper before it will ever work in real life.
    13. “I really like my life. I’ve arranged my life so that I can do what I want.”Translation: Remember, that’s what real estate investing is all about. Arranging your life so that you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.

Thanks to Doug Smith for this great list of quotes and translations.

Local Market: the Farmer’s Market

2010-5-fmFor a change of pace, today’s blog is about our local markets….but not real estate markets! It’s the season of fresh and tasty goods at Farmer’s Markets.  This is a great way to suppport local farmers, producers and artists. And if fruits and veggies aren’t your thing- try delicious baked items, cheeses, seafood, crafts and more!

There are several local farmer’s markets to take advantage of no matter what area of town you live in:

Riverfront Farmer’s Market- Open Saturdays from 8-1 in downtown Wilmington. Open until December 18th.

Wrightsville Beach Farmer’s MarketOpen on Mondays from 8-1 across from the post office. Open until October 27th.  

Waterfront Market in SouthportOpen on Wednesdays from 8-1 at Fort Johnson Garrison Lawn Bay Street. Open until November 10th.

Carolina Beach Farmer’s Market- Open on Saturdays from 8-1 at Carolina Beach Lake Park. Open until October 9th.

Poplar Grove Farmer’s Market– Open on Wednesdays from 8-1. Open until December 15th.  


Historic property convenient to art and antique district

108 Castle Street, Wilmington, NC 28401       MLS #447985          Offered at $318,000

Our Featured Home for this week is a historic property in downtown Wilmington! The yard in this newly renovated historic bungalow was featured on the Secret Garden Tour with rave reviews. It’s in a fantastic location convenient to art and antique district and only 2 blocks from the boat ramp. The bright, airy and open feeling welcomes you in. The home includes a basement for extra storage and off street parking!  


Stay tuned…each week we will feature properties that showcase a listing in either the Best Opportunities program or a waterfront or Historic home, or one of our luxury properties throughout the area.