Creative Design Concepts

We will be opening doors soon at our new Brevard location and the slinky reception desk (click here for a video preview) has sparked some fun conversation in the office. The counter has a concrete base with glass and pigment poured on top. The top has been sanded to a beautiful glass-like finish and sealed. It is less penetrable than granite and changes color over time. It also sparkles like jewels when the light hits it. The curved front of the reception desk will be brushed aluminum.

Our mantra in building out the office space is #notyourboringrealeststeoffice, and needless to say this desk fits with our vision.

So here’s our question for you, what creative design concepts have you built out at home or in the office? We would love to feature some real world examples of homes and offices in our area that have turned four corner spaces into creative places that people like to gather. Complete the form below to share your projects and ideas!

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Love Your Home $50,000 Sweepstakes

The 2017 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Love Your Home $50,000 Sweepstakes has started! The sweepstakes, held in conjunction with HGTV’s new hit series Good Bones, runs through June 16.

Enter for a chance to win the $50,000 grand prize to renovate the good bones of your home.

AND we’re giving away 12 weekly prizes of $2,500.

The first winner will be announced early this month followed by weekly announcements through June 16. The grand prize winner will be named in early July. Click below to learn more and enter to WIN!

www.loveyourhomesweeps.com

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BHHS Great Smokys Realty sponsor of the Assault on the Carolinas fundraiser

Assault on the Carolinas

Every year approximately 1,100 cyclists swarm the area to participate in the Assault on the Carolinas. This event is the annual fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Pisgah Forest and all proceeds are donated to charity. The event consists of a 40K, 60K and 100K bike ride through beautiful terrain, grueling inclines, amazing descents and miles of curves traversing through the river valleys of Scenic Transylvania Country. The 100K (65.8 miles) travels through South Carolina as well with elevations reaching 3,157 ft. The climb is 1.1 miles with grades reaching 15%. On the return trip, riders reach the bottom of Caesars Head, then begin a challenging 6 mile climb to the top. Once over Ceasars head, it’s 15 miles back to Brevard with more descents, flats and a ride back through the river valley.

Realtors® Jan Newsome and D.J. Golden work at our BHHS Great Smokys Realty table.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Great Smokys Realty was one of the sponsors. It was a beautiful day, though only 35 degrees in the morning by mid afternoon it felt like 80 degrees as the sun was strong. (We think it only topped out at 65 degrees.)

Our table was very colorful with our Easter theme, bubble blowing and promotional give-aways. Our carrot jump rope contests was a big hit with the kids.  The boys weren’t too coordinated, but this little cutie won the basket with the white fluffy bunny & big ears!

Carrot Jump Roping Contest

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Six Easy Low-Cost Energy Savers

According to Energystar.gov, the average American household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of that amount spent on heating and cooling. Here are six easy, low-cost ideas to cut those bills down.

  1. Change your air filters. It’s a chore that’s easily forgotten, so put it on your calendar every one month to three months. Dirty filters slow air flow causing your heat and air units to work harder and break down faster.
    Wash clothes in cold water. This one’s a surprise, but energystar.gov claims cold water is just as effective as hot and will get your clothes clean without damaging fabrics.
  2. Seal and insulate your heating and cooling ducts. Air ducts can waste energy, so sealing and insulation can save as much as 20 percent on our energy bill or more.
  3. Seal windows and outside doors. All it takes is a little caulk and you can stop small leaks that add up to big money. Test for leaks on a windy day by lighting a candle and holding it near window seals. If the flame moves, you’ve got a leak.
  4. Upgrade to a programmable thermostat. If you’re gone at the same time every day, a programmable thermostat can lower or raise the temperature which saves energy… and saves, you nearly $200 a year.
  5. Have your HVAC serviced regularly. A service check once in the spring and once in the fall can improve efficiency and possibly prevent equipment breakdowns. The technician will test air flow and parts that may need replacement.
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Clutter-free Countertops

Today’s kitchens are filled with all kinds of gastronomical gadgets, but if you want to show your kitchen to its fullest advantage, here are five ways to keep clutter down:

  1. Store unused equipment. Which appliances do you use the most? Chances are they’re not vegetable curlers or pasta makers. Store those appliances somewhere else, such as a butler’s pantry, food pantry or the garage.
  2. Build an appliance garage. Many cabinetmakers offer an appliance garage that can be closed when not in use. You can also customize an appliance garage to extend the length of the counter.
  3. Update appliances. If you need a microwave, get one that’s also a convection oven. Commercial-grade mixers have attachments that can make pasta and knead bread. The newest coffee machines can make tea, hot chocolate and all kinds of coffee shop specialty brews.
  4. Mount what you can. Under cabinet mounting is easy to install. Paper towel racks, electric can openers, and task lighting can all be mounted under the cabinets to free up counter space. Throw out smelly dishrags and sponges, and store fresh cleaning aids in caddies under the sink.
  5. Invest in organizers. Corner cabinets can be better utilized with swing out organizers. Drawers on rollers allow better access to all your storage. One charging station should serve multiple devices. Try installing one in the hall or utility room.

Once your kitchen is better organized, you’ll find it easier to prepare for showings and buyers will have an easier time seeing the kitchen’s best features.

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Don’t Let Higher Interest Rates Deter Your Home Buying Plans

When mortgage interest rates rise, you may be tempted to put your home buying plans on hold, but there are three reasons you shouldn’t let higher interest rates deter your home buying plans.

Solution? When you shop for rates, shop at least three lenders using the same type of loan – 30-year fixed rate, adjustable, hybrid and so on. Do so at the same time because rates can change as much as several times daily.

Solution? Talk with your lender about ways to improve your credit profile. If you’re stretching to buy a home, expect to pay higher interest rates.

The solution? Have some perspective. Home buying conditions change constantly. Focus on building equity with the lifestyle you want instead.

  1. Interest rates fluctuate. Mortgage interest rates rise and fall based on the lender’s viewpoint toward the economic outlook. News that suggests a slowing economy tends to bring rates down, while a rosy manufacturing or jobs report can send them back up.
  2. You have some control over rates. The rates you see advertised aren’t what you’ll necessarily pay. They’re available only to those with the best credit histories, those who are able to put at least 20 percent down, and those borrowing well within their means.
  3. Rates are currently a bargain. Between 1972 and 2008, mortgage interest rates averaged about nine percent annually. Today, they’re around four percent. A 1/8th point translates to about $25 or less a month in monthly payments on a conforming loan, or $9,000 over 30 years in tax deductible costs.

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Three New Year’s Homebuyer Resolutions

This is the year you become a homeowner! To make the most of this most important step in your life, make these three New Year’s home buying resolutions now.

I will check and repair my credit. Before you start shopping for homes, make sure you have no errors or unresolved credit issues that could prevent you from getting a good loan.
The three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Transunion and Equifax, don’t share data, nor do they correct errors without evidence. Order a full credit report from all three bureaus here. If you find an error, contact the appropriate bureau and mail copies of your payment, release of lien or other proof.

I will get preapproved for a mortgage loan. Take two to four months of bank statements, pay stubs, and an account of your monthly debts and expenses to your lender. The lender calculates how much money you can safely borrow and at what interest rate.
Preapproval also means a lot to sellers. It show’s that you’re serious about buying a home and that the closing process will be quicker and smoother because you already have a lender.

I will buy within my means. It’s sensible to buy the most home you can afford, and your lender will help you get there, but it’s not wise to get a risky adjustable rate mortgage so you can buy more house. Being “house poor” means having no money available for other things in life, so stick to conforming loan guidelines to be safer financially.

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Winter Showing Tips

BHHS-0129-WinterShowingTipsYou may think that wintertime isn’t the best time to show your home, but you’d be surprised. Yes, winter days offer fewer hours of daylight for buyers to see your home. Sleet and snow make it harder for buyers to house-hunt. Even warm regions have challenges – the weather may be gray or rainy.

But winter has a unique appeal – gathering with friends and loved ones by a crackling fire, winter sports played in the backyard, walks on the beach without all the summertime tourists. So play up what’s great about your home.

Make sure the drive-up appeal is strong. Keep driveways and walkways clear of snow and slush. Put a nice, new welcome mat out for buyers and their agents to wipe their feet.

Leave all the lights on for showings and open the drapes to let in more light. Closed homes tend to hold odors, so open the windows for an occasional airing, and run the fans after cooking meals. Bake some cookies or bread. Boil some cinnamon and spices for a natural, wintry fragrance.

If you have a fireplace, turn it on, but low. Stage the scene with a comfy, holiday-themed throw blanket. Put some big fluffy pillows on the floor.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more winter-selling tips!

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Homeowner Sentiment Survey Results

Interest Rates Are on the Minds of Consumers in
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Latest Homeowner Sentiment Survey

#GoodToKnow

Overall favorability toward residential real estate holds steady ahead of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting; Millennials, the most optimistic group surveyed, look beyond starter houses to dream homes.

Current and prospective homeowners – particularly Millennials — remain optimistic about the state of the U.S. real estate market yet they expressed concern over the prospects of rising interest rates in Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ latest Homeowner Sentiment Survey released today by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Great Smokys Realty.

Overall, 66% of current homeowners and 63% of prospective homeowners view the U.S. real estate market favorably – a sentiment that has remained steady throughout 2016. Notably, Millennials (defined in the survey as people ages 18-34) were the most optimistic generation, with 74% reporting a favorable view, representing a 15-percentage point jump since the same time last year[1]. Two-thirds of Gen-Xers (ages 35-50) also expressed a favorable view – an 8-percentage point increase from last year.

While respondents showed overall confidence in the market, compared with last year, they expressed greater concern about how an increase in the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate may affect their ability to buy a home. In fact, 76% of current homeowners and 79% of prospective homeowners cite increasing interest rates as a challenge impacting the real estate market today. These figures represent 16- and 8-percentage point jumps, respectively, from the same time last year – just before the Fed raised its benchmark rate for the first time in nearly a decade. Similarly, 44% of current homeowners and 70% of prospective buyers said they would feel anxious if mortgage rates were to go up, representing 11- and 8-percentage point jumps from last year, respectively.

“People feel good about real estate because housing is doing well in many markets across America,” said Gino Blefari, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “Although the idea of a rate hike can grab headlines and initially create some unease, it’s important to remember rate increases are often the mark of an improving, healthy U.S. economy. That is the case today.”

A majority of respondents acknowledged that higher mortgage rates would make it more difficult for them to buy a home. Yet, when it comes to perception of current mortgage rates, less than half of current homeowners and only 17% of prospective homeowners described them as “low.”

“Mortgage rates remain near historic lows, although it may not seem that way to recent, first-time buyers and those considering a home purchase,” said Stephen Phillips, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “Mortgage rates ticked up following the presidential election, and we may see rates rise a little more in response to anticipated Fed action. Still, I expect mortgage rates to remain low for the foreseeable future.”

A conforming, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage carried a rate of 4.125% in early December, up from 3.75% during the same period a year ago. Phillips believes conforming rates will remain below 5% for the next 2-3 years. “I anticipate moderate, steady growth for the U.S. over the next few years as Baby Boomers (ages 50-65) move into new phases of their lives and Millennials come into their own as consumers. All things considered, this is a formula for continued lower mortgage rates.” 

Millennials Look Past ‘Starter’ Homes

In the survey, Millennial enthusiasm was expressed in an openness to enter the real estate market. Six in 10 showed interest in purchasing a starter home. When asked about the advantages of starter homes – ones requiring TLC to be fixed over time — Millennials recognize affordability and the opportunity to build credit and become a homeowner sooner.

The top reason keeping Millennial renters on the fence — they are saving to buy their dream home. Of those who said they’re waiting for their dream home, half cited the desire to go through the home-buying process only once and 37% said they don’t want the hassles of renovating an older home.

“Starter homes can provide first-time buyers with independence and an attainable investment,” said Blefari. “The process of buying one – while never easy – may not be as difficult as it’s perceived it to be. Of course, a trusted real estate agent will be an ally to help any new buyer get a foot in the door on their way toward accomplishing longer-term real estate goals.”

Homeowner Sentiment on Real Estate Technology

When it comes to emerging technologies in real estate, 50% of current homeowners and 49% of prospective homeowners said they were most excited about virtual reality tours as a home-buying tool. About one-quarter of prospective homeowners labeled mortgage rate calculators as “confusing,” suggesting that agents can provide value in helping clients understand the mortgage process.

Despite technology’s growing role, nearly all current and prospective homeowners (85% and 83%, respectively) agree real estate professionals remain essential to the home-buying process for their negotiation skills, property assessments and home tours, among other services. Respondents indicated an eagerness to participate directly in the process, as six in 10 said they prefer to harness the power of a real estate agent along with respondents’ own online searches and use of other available real estate tools and resources.

The full survey details are available upon request.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homeowner Sentiment Survey Methodology

Interviews with 2,509 respondents were conducted online by Edelman Intelligence in October and November 2016. Respondents captured were either current homeowners (individuals who currently own a home as a primary residence) or prospective homeowners (individuals who do not currently own a home and are likely to buy a home as their primary residence in the next six months). The margin of error is +/-2.19% for current homeowners and +/- 4.38% for prospective homeowners.

[1] Statistics from last year refer to data included in the third wave of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Homeowner Sentiment Survey, released in December 2015

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2017 is proclaimed Year of Fitness; Physical, Mental, Emotional, Financial, Spiritual

january-yearoffitnessBerkshire Hathaway HomeServices Great Smokys Realty has proclaimed 2017 as its year of fitness. As proof Santa gave each agent an Amazon Echo Dot, a Garmin Vivofit, and each lady also received a copy of Christina Northrup’s book Goddesses Never Age.

We wish everyone in our REALTOR® community a healthy and prosperous New Year!

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