Homeowner’s Insurance

Insurance CoverageHello current and potential homeowners! First of all let me start by apologizing for the amount of time between blog posts. My family and I were displaced by a house fire back in May. Thankfully, everyone was okay. It was a very difficult time, but we are back at home now. Between communicating with the contractors and dealing with the insurance company, I was very busy. My main focus was getting my family home, so I did not have a lot of time. On that note, I wanted to give you a few tips when dealing with a homeowner’s insurance company. After all, it is a big part of purchasing a home.

  1. Make sure you have replacement cost coverage on your personal contents. Otherwise, you will only get depreciated value and have to make up the difference in cost if you ever did have a disaster. Also keep in mind that in our area, only your stove may be covered under the structural damage. The refrigerator,  dishwasher, washer, & dryer will come from your contents coverage.
  2. There are codes on your policy that provide additional monies if your cost exceeds your coverage. I only know this because I hired a public adjuster. The insurance company adjuster did not volunteer this information.
  3. And lastly, I believe a public adjuster is invaluable when dealing with an insurance company. A good one will know all of the ins and outs of of the insurance business.

These are just a few tidbits of knowledge that I picked up during the past 6 months. I hope you find it useful but I hope you never need to use it.

Here is a great article I found by a former insurance agent. He wants everyone to know their dirty little secrets.

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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Homeowner Tips


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Greater Wilmington NC Area Real Estate Statistics

Wilmington NC RealtyHi everyone! Here are the greater Wilmington NC area real estate statistics for New Hanover, Brunswick, & Pender counties.

Although in January 2012 our market was down 27% compared to 2010 & 2011, we saw a surge in sales for February that put us back on track with the previous 2 years. The good news is that any declines in sales or sales price are not drastic at all. This could indicate a normal and stable market fluctuation.

The average sales price for 2012 is $238,303. When compared to previous years, the market value of single family homes in our area has not bounced back yet, but they seem to be stable enough to safely say that the bleeding has stopped. Where we go from here is up to law makers and the market (consumers).

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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


For Sale By Owner Blues

For Sale By OwnerWould you work on the foundation of your home yourself? Of course not! It takes special skills and know-how to make sure you are not destroying the largest investment you’ve made… your home. Not to mention there are codes and regulations that need to be followed as well.

I once made the mistake of attempting to make t-shirts at home to sell. I mean, how hard could it be? Needless to say I found out the answer to that question the hard way. Certain adhesives only work on certain materials. You have to make sure the temperature is set properly. There were a number of things I just was not prepared to handle. Most of all, the quality was not good enough for me to take money from people for them. In fact, I don’t think I would have given them away. So I ended up hiring a print company after wasting time and money. We all have felt that we could save a little money doing certain things ourselves. But let’s face it, there is a reason professionals get training to do their jobs.

Many home owners attempt to sell their homes on their own in hopes of saving commissions paid out to a REALTOR® only to find out they have bought into a lawsuit. Conversely, the buyers believe the seller is giving them a better price because there are no REALTORS® involved. But buyers need to understand that the seller is “selling” a product and wants the best deal for themselves and the seller needs to understand that buyers will seek to return a product if something is found to be wrong with it. At that time, a lawsuit may be forthcoming…. unless the seller has protected themselves with the proper disclosures showing that the buyer had every opportunity to discover any defects in the house.

Long story short, the job of an agent is not to just help find a buyer or a house, but to make sure the transaction is done legally, goes smoothly, and that all parties are treated fairly. A REALTOR® starts to really earn their commission after the buyer and seller agree on a price. Yes, proper contracts and disclosures are just that serious.

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


Has the Housing Market Bottomed Out?

Wilmington, NC RealtyAfter the President’s “State of the Union” Address last night, many experts feel that consumer confidence is being restored. This is also due, in part, to an end of year census taken by real estate experts that shows prices have stabilized and the market is showing signs of a slow increase in sales prices. The President also mentioned a strategy to allow “responsible home owners” the opportunity to refinance their homes and avoid foreclosure. Add this information to research that shows that new foreclosure filings are down significantly, and there you have your recipe for consumer confidence.

How this all will play out is still up in the air. After all, there has not been a market like this since the great depression. But, statistically, although numbers are still down from last year this time, some experts say that the rate of decline is at it’s best in over 3 years. And something to get excited about.

I must also add that every market is different, so you should always ask your real estate professional about your area.

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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


2010 Through 2011 Homes Sales Statistics

Happy New Year everyone! I certainly hope we improve our market conditions this year. Although we did not see a drastic spiral as some were predicting, it was a decline none the less.

Here are the stats for single family, stick built homes in New Hanover, Brunswick, & Pender counties in 2010 through 2011:

  1. The average number of homes sold in 2011 was down 11%. (2010 = 333 & 2011 = 298 homes sold per month) (3996 total for 2010 & 3576 total for 2011)
  2. The average number of days these properties stayed on the market before they were sold was up 16% (2010 = 129 days & 2011 = 150 days)
  3. And the most important stat: The average sales price of homes sold in 2011 was down only 3%. (2010 = $245,059 & 2011 = $237,750)

What does all of this mean? This means that (of course) fewer people were able to buy homes last year, so a lot of homes stayed on the market longer. These are the areas where you will see the most price reductions and value loss. However, some of these numbers can be misleading. For example: The average sales price was only down by about $8000 this year, but IF mostly $550,000 homes were sold last year and this year we have a mix of $1,000,000 and $70,000 homes sold, the average would be around $535,000. This makes it look like the market hasn’t changed much, but in fact, it means higher income families can afford more expensive homes (eg. $1,000,000) and lower income families have to sell their homes for much less (eg. $70,000).

In other words, there is a large difference between the rich and not so rich. That being said, there are signs of people going back to work and legislation being considered to help investors buy more homes. This COULD stabilize home prices and result in a sales price increase in 2012. Let us hope this is the case.

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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


January 2011 – November 2011 Wilmington, NC Market Stats

I REALLY tried to be optimistic about where our Wilmington, NC Real Estate market was headed. But I can’t control the facts. And the fact is that we have been consistently down in ALMOST EVERY category that I track since August. (single family stick built home sales, average days on market, & average sales price in New Hanover, Brunswick, & Pender Counties)

Currently the average sales price is $226,085 and the total number of homes sold (based on my above criteria) is 221 in November. The average days on market is 148 days which is actually at it’s lowest since February this year. So homes are selling faster but only at lower prices. Now, this does not mean if you are currently on the market or thinking about selling your house, that you should give your house away. It just means that property values are set lower and your house needs to be priced right in order to sell.

Who sets the market value? The answer is the people who purchase the homes in your area. When the public (this includes you) buys a home, what they paid for it helps set the value of the homes that are similar to it in that area. Think of it this way, when one gas station lowers the prices of their products, the gas station across the street has to also lower their prices in order to compete.

I hope this information was helpful to you. Contact me if you have questions.

I will have more information on things that affect your area real estate market in future blog posts.

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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Uncategorized


Winterize Your Home To Save Money

Did you know that there is only one state in the US where temperatures have never fallen below zero? If you guessed Texas or Florida, you would be wrong. The answer would be the tropical paradise called Hawaii. They recorded a record low of 17 degrees Fahrenheit at the observatory on Mauna Kea, located 13,770 feet above sea level. Snow falls there occasionally.

But since all of us don’t live in a tropical paradise, we have a few fall time chores to do that can save us some real cash when we crank up those thermostats.

Here are a few tips to help you successfully accomplish your money saving goals and maybe save you some time and heartache too.

1) Furnace Inspection

– Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts.
– Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly.
– Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat.
– If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them.
– Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

2) Get the Fireplace Ready

– Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds.
– If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
– Buy firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
– Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
– Check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint, if necessary.

3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows

– Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them.
– Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.
– Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood.
– If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
– Switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage. If you have storm windows, install them.

4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

– If your weather temperature will fall below 32 degrees in the winter, adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams.
– Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home.
– Replace worn roof shingles or tiles.
– Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris.
– Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.

5) Service Weather-Specific Equipment

– Drain gas from lawnmowers.
– Service or tune-up snow blowers.
– Replace worn rakes and snow shovels.
– Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment.
– Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand.

6) Check Foundations

– Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation.
– Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house.
– Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime.
– Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.
– Secure crawlspace entrances.

7) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

– Some cities require a smoke detector in every room.
– Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends.
– Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater.
– Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work.
Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.

8 ) Prevent Plumbing Freezes

– Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
– Drain all garden hoses.
– Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
– Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.
– If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.

9) Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces

– Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.
– Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury.
– Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes.
– Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.
– Don’t automatically remove dead vegetation from gardens as some provide attractive scenery in an otherwise dreary, snow-drenched yard.
– Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.

10) Prepare an Emergency Kit

– Buy indoor candles and matches / lighter for use during a power shortage.
– Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside the phone book.
– Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment.
– Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location.
– Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.

Some of these tips seem a little extreme, but better safe than sorry. Some geographical areas need a little more preparation.

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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Uncategorized




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