Search This Blog

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bringing Green to The Mainstream

June 28, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC

Homeowners and builders find going green is a balance of cost and concerns for the environment.
In 1970, Kermit the Frog sang "It's not easy bein' green," and today's homeowners are feeling his plight as they try to balance costs and concerns for the environment. While the initial cost of "going green" is still a significant deciding factor, there are several benefits. Homeowners are doing something positive for the environment, their families and the future by saving
energy and resources. There are also sometimes rebates and credits to encourage people to incorporate green building practices. Many lenders now offer energy efficient mortgages. To learn more, visit http:/f.Nww.dsireusa.org/, the Web site for the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. The database is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (lREC) funded by the U.S.
Department of Energy.
What actually is green building or remodeling?
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a home can be considered green when energy efficiency, water and resource conservation, sustainable or recycled products, and indoor air quality considerations are incorporated into the home building process. Key components of a green home include:
Energy- Efficient Features
Many energy-efficient qualities of a green home are easy to spot. Appliances, windows, and water heating systems will likely have ENERGY STAR@ ratings. The home should also include efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs. Renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic electricity and water heating systems, further decrease the overall energy consumption
within the home.

Water-Efficient Features
Fixtures and appliances such as low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets -along with ENERGY
STAR@ dishwashers and washing machines -all conserve water. Programmed, low-volume irrigation systems, rainwater collection systems, wastewater treatment systems, and hot water recirculation systems also save water.
Resource-Efficient Features
These decisions -from home size, to orientation of the lot, to floor plan layout -are made in the design of your home and development of the lot. The house orientation and design should take advantage of natural daylight to reduce lighting needs, and should use strategies to reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter. The home should contain renewable materials (including rapidly-renewable wood species such as bamboo) and recycled-content materials in carpets, tiles, and concrete formulations.
Indoor Air Quality Features
The heating, air conditioning and ventilation system (HVAC) must be appropriately sized for an efficient and properly ventilated home. Fans in the kitchen and bathrooms should cycle fresh air inside, and release stale air. Low-VOC paints and finishes and wall papers should be used as well. NAHB has developed the NAHB National Green Building Program, a comprehensive resource on green building and remodeling at www.nahbgreen.org. .
Source National Association of Home Buiiders (NAHB) www.nahb.org
As a disclaimer: I am not a proponent of bamboo flooring and would personally do more research. Wall papers trap moisture. Light bulbs with mercury are on my watch list and hopefully, another option will appear.
I have included links where you may find other good articles on the National Home Builders site:
www.nahb.org our source for this article on going green.

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC

Friday, June 27, 2008

Chalk Up Another "Best" for Charlotte

June 27, 2008

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte named best place to live
Relocate-America.com ranks top 100 cities in its annual list
By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- Apparently, there's just something about North Carolina. For the second year in a row, America's best city in which to live lies within its borders, according to Relocate-America.com's annual list.
This year, Charlotte, N.C., is in the top spot, the site announced this week. Last year's winner was Asheville, N.C., which slipped to No. 7 on this year's list.
"North Carolina is very active on our radar," said Steve Nickerson, president and CEO of HomeRoute. "It continues to get a flood of interest from all over."
HomeRoute is the real estate firm that operates Relocate-America.com, a source of community information and real-estate resources for those who are relocating. Each year, the site ranks the top 100 places to live in the country.
Areas need to be nominated on the site in order to be eligible for the list; more than 2,000 were nominated this year, Nickerson said. Special efforts are made to prevent spamming campaigns from influencing the results, he added.
But the site's editorial team also takes into account an area's growth, its educational and employment opportunities, crime rates and housing options before granting it a spot in the top 100. Environmental highlights also play a role, with a city gaining points for good air and water quality or the strength of its recycling efforts, Nickerson said.
Home-price appreciation does get some consideration, however it's only one piece of the analysis, Nickerson said -- explaining why some struggling real estate markets in California and Florida, for example, still made the top 100. Areas that offer a comfortable climate and economic opportunity tend to be the most sought-after communities on the site, he said.
Charlotte's diversity of housing options and home affordability were two of the reasons users nominated the city, Nickerson said. The city's strong economy, boosted largely by the banking industry, was another selling point.
Second on this year's list was San Antonio, Texas, which people praised for its cost of living, recreational opportunities and diversity, he said. Chattanooga, Tenn., came in third place, noted for its vibrant downtown and affordable home prices in the nominations.
Below are the top 10 cities in Relocate-America.com's 2008 list:
Charlotte, N.C.
San Antonio, Texas
Chattanooga, Tenn.
Greenville, S.C.
Tulsa, Okla.
Stevens Point, Wis.
Asheville, N.C.
Albuquerque, N.M.
Huntsville, Ala.
Seattle, Wash.
Read the full list at Relocate-America.com.
The firm also plans on releasing a coffee table book on the top 100 in the near future, Nickerson said. Proceeds will benefit American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, he added.
The view from the top
Certainly, being ranked as the top city to live in has its benefits, mainly as a marketing tool for the area to use, said Tony Crumbley, vice president of research for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. An email blast sent news of this list to thousands of residents, and the chamber actively keeps track of where Charlotte falls in many of the lists that are published.
"They are important," Crumbley said of the good rankings the city receives. But he also knows that these rankings come and go and that they're somewhat subjective; the city's appeal can change from one day to the next, depending on who is writing the list.
There weren't any significant changes in Charlotte during the past year that would account for boosting the city to the top of this particular list, he said. But the city definitely gets recognized a lot more today than it did 25 years ago, he added.
Bank of America and Wachovia have their headquarters in Charlotte, and it's also a hub for US Airways -- all of which seem to have increased the visibility of the city outside its boundaries, Crumbley said. The addition of professional sports teams since the 1980s has also helped.
In recent years, Charlotte has been successful in attracting young, educated workers to relocate there, he said. Asheville, on the other hand, has become a popular choice with retirees, he added.
But cities can easily make it to the top of one list and rank poorly on another, he said. Case in point: One recent Forbes.com list ranked Charlotte as one of the country's most miserable cities, a ranking, not surprisingly, that Crumbley and others disagree with. Forbes also ranked it as one of the best places to invest in foreclosures, in part because the real estate market there is relatively stable.
"If they're good, you use them. If they're bad, I won't tell you you should ignore them -- you look at them," he said of the lists on which Charlotte appears. But negative rankings aren't likely to end up getting used as a marketing piece for the city.
Amy Hoak is a MarketWatch reporter based in Chicago. The Best was printed in May 2008

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Coincidence? Maybe so. Maybe not.

June 26, 2008

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC

After all, We are Americans…Coincidence? Maybe so, maybe not.

I spend a lot of time reading and thinking and verifying and being the diplomat or trying to be. I spend a lot of time listening and asking questions and evaluating. It’s really my job. As a real estate broker, I feel that my obligation is to be true to myself, to be honest with others and to consider their options, the buyers and sellers I work with, my clients.
And during my day, I think about what I would like to write about for my podcast or blog. Because of my long history in Charlotte and my two decades in Charlotte as a real estate broker, there is much to write about. I have a friend who says my blog and podcast should be more personal, like a journal. What I do, read, hear, think and write about seem to go hand in hand. If I reprint an article or report statistics, to me, that is personal because I am always looking, evaluating.

And then, when I started these communiqu├ęs, I told myself I would try to refrain from being yet another opinionated voice. Another critic, another Monday Morning Quarterback. After all, we are pretty bright as a people. We are going-forward kinds of folks. We are independent. We tend to be courageous, we Americans.

And I remembered being an American in Russia before the wall came down. I travelled with 90 other Americans to Moscow in the middle of the winter. What stuck with me is how we, the Americans were different from the Russians. The Russian people were square and stockier, pale, sad or without expression, or maybe that was fear. There were soldiers with guns everywhere. Everywhere.We, the Americans, had a sense of humor. Could subsist on cabbage and warm champagne. We couldn’t drink the water. And we knew how to lag behind the tourist groups and go to more places than we should…ask more questions than we should. We were after all, Americans.
And now as we approach this Fourth of July, I wonder what happened to the jovial, thin, courageous Americans. We were then Captains of our own ships and now we seem to be floating, waiting for someone else to throw us the life preserver…when we are capable of rescuing ourselves. We are Americans, we are the Can Do people, we are the pioneers, the inventors, the creators, the American dream…Now we seem to be held captive in a sea of negativity. And this sea carefully masks those who hold tight reins, relish the power and control they have or they covet.
Each of us has the power to be positive, to be helpful, to be pensive, to listen, to give, to receive, to exercise, to say no to the negative forces…each of us can adapt, adjust, focus, put our best foot forward. Try. Try again. Try again and again…until the Americans become Americans again. And claim our own freedoms.

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Charlotte's Underbelly

June 25, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s Underbelly…

By now you know all too well that I love this city. I have lived here for almost 55 years and have driven up and down most of the roads and streets and now loops and Interstates many, many times. I used to motorcycle into uptown on Sunday mornings and go up and down the alleyways and through and around new construction…and then out to Unionville and down to Lancaster, S.C. because it was beautiful farmland. And part of what I want to do with both podcast and blog is give folks an accurate picture of our hometown.
Charlotte is a beautiful city, the people are friendly and welcoming and folks are coming here from all over the world…with or without jobs…with or without families, coming because they hear or know it is really a good place to call home, find a job, raise a family.

But we have our underbelly and I thought I might just mention a few issues. The morning paper helped me decide this. The headlines read “Dozens Held In Gang Sweep” with the caption under the faces of young men reading,” The faces of defendants charged in a scheme that spanned two countries, three states, and several North Carolina cities.” The caption on another front page picture, “ Eastland Mall was once a shining jewel of Charlotte’s eastside, but a quarter of its tenants have left.” An article earlier in the week spoke about the owners of the mall having a 42 million dollar loan coming due and responding that the mall was not valued at that today and they might just walk away.On the other hand the city takes an option on a part of the mall… pushing forward an effort to tear the mall down and replace it with homes and businesses. There is the Ying and the Yang of Charlotte.
Another headline reads Charlotte-Area Home Price Drop is First Since 1991.Our drop was one tenth of one percent and another report showed increase in sales by 4% in our South region. Prices are down, closings are up…incrementally. I tried to figure a way to compare realistically last year with this. I went back and read last years real estate reports, and on line to see if I could find anything to hang my hat on…last year and this year here in Charlotte is like comparing tires with oranges. So the numbers are just some kind of benchmark.

And then there was the report that Charlotte ranks 90th out of a hundred cities for the nation’s worst gas hogs. Followed by an article about how some of our council members are heading to Chicago to study the transit system. Our new lite rail…much fought over between our citizenry…is quite the darling. Ying and Yang.

And of course there is the weekly harangue with and within the school system. The daily journal of what is going on with our banks…the schools are always in the spotlight, they should be, it’s our kids. The banks…they’ll figure it out with us watching daily.
Charlotte is still great…with broken water mains and I-77 traffic…we are growing, sometimes it’s not so pretty…but mostly it is. Ying, Yang.

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Good News While Side Stepping The Meanies

June 23, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC
It would be easy for me to get my feathers ruffled when the media speaks about housing prices falling in Charlotte. We’ll take the one tenth of one percent anyday. And I’ll also walk away from the fighting developer/contractor battling lawsuits and attorney’s lingo at 210 East Trade because it has web like charactertistics…
Let’s see what we are doing in Charlotte to help folks, to rebuild neighborhoods…oh, and here’s my chance, forgive the real estate investors who argued against this proposal. They are in the minority. Here comes the good news:
Peachtree Hills to get help from city
Charlotte will spend $449,000. The goal: Save a neighborhood hit by foreclosures.
By Julia Oliver of The Charlotte Observer
The City Council on Monday took its boldest step yet to address Charlotte's foreclosure problem: It agreed to spend almost half a million dollars to help rehabilitate a subdivision blighted by vacant, boarded-up homes.
The vote was unanimous, but it came after questions about the city's role. A real estate investor argued officials should let the market settle out rather than use tax dollars to intervene. And a council member wondered whether focusing on one neighborhood would shortchange others.
The city will spend $449,000 as part of an $3.4 million effort to encourage homeownership in Peachtree Hills, a northwest neighborhood where a glut of foreclosures has left remaining residents vulnerable to vandalism and other crime.
Self-Help, a Durham-based nonprofit organization, will pay for most of the project. It plans to buy as many as 25 properties in Peachtree Hills and start a lease-purchase program for new homeowners.
The idea is unusual, housing experts say, and seems tailored to Charlotte's specific type of foreclosure problem – relatively new subdivisions where foreclosures have snowballed. Of Peachtree Hills' 147 homes, at least 42 have gone through foreclosure or been owned by a bank since 2003, according to county property records.
The 5-year-old community is one in a swath of northwest Charlotte starter-home neighborhoods that have been hit hard by the mortgage crisis. Self-Help found Peachtree Hills suitable for its program, however, because the neighborhood is not too far gone – it still has enough homeowners to form a strong foundation.
The organization and city officials hope the program will be a model.
“We're looking at this as a pilot program,” said Stanley Watkins, Charlotte's neighborhood development director. “If it works, maybe we can replicate it.”
The city's contribution will include lighting, sidewalks and landscaping – standard public services. But the city also has agreed to spend as much as $10,000 per home rehabilitating the houses purchased by Self-Help.
Kevin Pfannes, a local real estate investor who spoke at the meeting Monday, argued against the city's participation in buying and rehabilitating homes. He said the city would be spending taxpayer money to compete in the private market.
“We've already got a private pool of people that are willing to do that,” he said, urging the city to focus on code enforcement and other more traditional roles. “It takes a little time.”
But Richard Payne, a project manager at Self-Help, said investors didn't seem interested in Peachtree Hills.
City Council member John Lassiter said private investors were not likely to increase homeownership in Peachtree Hills. He said they would only bring more renters, and could make the problems worse.
Watkins said the money that will go to Peachtree Hills is taken from other programs citywide, but wouldn't have a dramatic impact on neighborhood services.
On the other hand, he said, the surge of investment into Peachtree Hills could save it.
“Our intent is to get that neighborhood back to stabilization as quickly as possible,” he said.

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC

Monday, June 23, 2008

Harvard's 2008 Housing Report

June 23, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC
The Sharp Housing Downturn Continues to Pressure the Economy
Harvard Releases the 2008 State of the Nation’s Housing Report

If you are interested in an excellent overview, I have included a link to this report. Harvard also makes it available in a .pdf format. I will quote a snippet...
"Until the number of vacant for-sale units on the market ... falls enough to bring vacancy rates back down, house prices will remain under pressure," the report said. "Working off the oversupply will require some combination of the following: housing starts fall even further, prices decline enough to bring out new bargain-seeking buyers, interest rates drop enough to improve affordability, job growth improves, consumer confidence returns, and mortgage credit again becomes more widely available."
Single-family home prices in the first quarter of 2008 were down 12 percent from their October 2005 peak -- 18 percent in real terms, after adjusting for inflation. A "dispiriting picture" of housing affordability issues nevertheless remains.
The report, "The State of the Nation's Housing 2008," is more optimistic about medium- to long-term prospects, estimating that unless there's a serious, prolonged economic decline or a marked cutback in immigration, the nation will gain 14.4 million new households between 2010 and 2020, compared with 12.6 million between 1995 and 2005.
http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/media/son_release_2008.html

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC