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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Stucco, Water and HOA...

July 5, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC

Stucco, Water, and HOA…
I own a condominium that I have been trying to sell as I have been relocated for a new job. I have lowered the price on the condo incrementally over time and finally received an offer to purchase.
I received, however, a letter from our homeowners association stating that severe water penetration issues have been discovered in several of the condominiums in our complex, but not in our unit, and the exterior stucco had to be removed and the outer structure in these Units needed to be rebuilt. The letter also speculates that the
water issues may be much worse than expected and further investigations have begun.
In signing the purchase agreement, I had to disclose this information by forwarding this letter to the buyers, and the buyers obviously backed out of the purchase agreement. I offered the buyers a $10,000 escrow account that they could use toward future special
assessments levied within the next year. The buyers signed the purchase agreement again and everyone is following through with the sale process.
My question is do I have any legal recourse against the association, or anyone else? The association has essentially made our property value worthless and unsalable in this market. We lost our purchase agreement because of their actions -or inaction. ,
The complex was built in 1984, so action against the builder is outside the 10-year window. The condo association has claimed they have been inspecting the stucco every two years for the last decade or so. The only confirmed time I know about was in 2006, and they didn't report any problems then. They have apparently been inspecting using a moisture probe.
Right now, I'm stuck with this property. I can't turn it over to the bank; they obviously
won't take it. I can't even short-sell it, because no one else will buy it. I just have to continue making double housing payments and hope another buyer comes along who doesn't notice the problems if the buyer I have fails to get to closing.
You do not have any legal claims against your homeowner's association. The homeowner’s association is simply disclosing a potential problem. I could not tell from your letter when the homeowner's association will act to correct the stucco and moisture problem. You should contact the homeowner's association and the property manager to determine when they will obtain bids to make the repairs and how much each unit will be assessed. This information will possibly help in selling the unit or entering into a short sale with the lender. The events have placed you in a difficult position with no clear or immediate solutions.
In Charlotte, a condo complex was not maintained, the siding rotted, a vinyl siding was installed on top of the rotting wood and the vinyl siding was not done properly and worse, the wooden windows also rotted out…both wood and vinyl had to removed down to the studs and a new siding, new windows and new decks were installed. But guess what, Condo CanDo asked the contractor if anyone checked for mold. Do you think they did conduct a mold assessment?
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC

Friday, July 4, 2008

Home Is Where The Heart Is...

July 4, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC
Sometimes Homes Come With History…
In my role as a real estate broker, my days are spent on the phone, in front of a computer, driving in and around our market place looking at new construction, visiting different sites around the county…and like yesterday, previewing over a dozen properties for buyers I worked with this holiday. Last last night I culled the ones we wouldn’t see and made appointments for those I thought fit the bill.
Today we met and set about to look at various homes. The first had been a rental in a nice complex and the owners had spent some money painting, putting in a new heating and air unit…the place was vacant…even of voices or smells or signs of anyone who had lived there.
The second condo in the same complex was occupied and we were met at the door. There was history of a remodeled kitchen, a closet door off the track, boxes in the closets making preparation for the next move…to an even smaller space…as we all begin to know the value and the necessity of scaling down.
The townhouse we next visited was also vacant only had been “staged”, the newest jargon in our business…someone had planted red flowers around the patio many years ago and left the cast iron angel hanging on the brick wall…I could only hear whispers here.

The next was an historic building…feeling very much like a edifice out of Gramercy Park in New York. The homes were each different but carried a similar air…that of fine design and d├ęcor and an appreciation of art…and a keen eye for space. The personalities carried through the hallways for decades…musicians, artists, architects, doctors, conductors, actors…still there…vibrant.

Next we visited a new condominium unit in Dilworth. There was good light and arched windows…but for my ears silence. I thought about how we shop for a nest and what we bring to it and what we leave. In the new, we will add our own colors, our own flowers, our own footprint. Surely in the older units, we also make changes, tearing out or building in…someone has been there before. Someone has lived there, been happy or sad there, celebrated or wept…I can feel much of that energy even though I try to just pass through.And what I come away with much of the time is that home, home is indeed where the heart is.

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

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Being in the trenches is pretty heady stuff...

July 3, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC

Being in the trenches is pretty heady stuff…
Time was we would search through big, thick books that held all the listings in our Multiple Listing Service looking for the perfect fit for a client or researching the market for what was active or sold to get a handle on the market. Then along came Texas Instrument Terminal that could be leased and line by line on thermal paper, a search was printed out…it was fabulous!Technology went foot loose after that and now…it is all very quick…in seconds. Now it is all complete with many pictures, maps, disclosures in .pdf format, access to tax bills and deeds and pictures of the front lawn. Quick.And when I start working with a client, I go through all those steps and then I hit the streets. Like today. I completed research for property for an out-of-town buyer who has very specific wants/needs…and sent this couple my final data sheets late last night. I made all my appointments to preview property, planned my route and timing and set off…electronic key, camera, recorder, cell…you know, the regular cadre of tools.Previewing property is one of my most favorite segments…Researching the property is fun because we do get most if not all of the information we need…and can send off an email to the listing agent if more is needed…making the selections is interesting because comparing all the property in a complex is enlightening, the options, the views, the amenities, the dues…and actually going in and out of every property…Today I was looking for charm and light. Charm is sometimes in the construction, most often in the floor plan…and light is in both elements as well. A superbly built condominium that has a dark interior is quickly crossed off the list for these folks. And the glistening, sparkling new concrete and steel structures are as well. Especially when I heard the words “Synthetic stucco”…And out in the trenches, I meet other agents. Sometimes see old friends and engage in a little shop-talk. Out on the streets, I can see up close, the construction efforts especially in Uptown Charlotte…and out there, walking through the city, I can see how the older condominiums blend with the new and newer ones…it is charming. It is evolution. I like seeing the progression from converted hospital, and converted apartments and converted churches to towers that shoot straight up like steel arrows.My ears perk up as I listen to building materials and run my fingers across the finishes and open cabinet doors and inspect the bathroom showers.Sometimes I pick up the Public Offering Statement and the hard copy of the marketing piece. Actually I try to get them for every condo I visit. It is amazing what some people like to look at before sleep.And maybe even more amazing…after twenty two years of being The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo, I love being in the trenches!

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Green Rooftops in Charlotte, too!

July 2, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC

Suddenly, green roofs are sprouting across North America. Designed to curb air pollution, decrease energy expenses and reduce storm runoff, the environmentally friendly assemblies are adding a decidedly earthy element to urban skylines — a sign that the green roof industry is rapidly coming into its own.
Particularly in cities, the rise of roof-topping grasses, succulents and other vegetation is fueling a boom for landscape architects, growers, builders and consultants in the know. As the roofs bloom in size and number, cities are weighing new incentives to developers and owners to install the admittedly costly growing medium and plant life as a long-term investment that could benefit both businesses and surrounding communities. And with a strengthening infrastructure to support them, designers are branching out in new directions.
Steven Peck, founder and president of the Toronto-based industry association Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, said the industry’s “mother ship” hails from Europe, particularly Germany. Research there in the 1970s on lightweight, low-maintenance green roof systems dominated by hardy sedum grasses, he said, “opened up thousands of miles of roofscapes that had been unavailable to any sort of greenery.”
German policymakers quickly took notice of the advantages, including the potential to reduce both stormwater runoff and the urban heat island effect associated with asphalt, concrete and metal surfaces. In response, they created dozens of incentives and regulations encouraging more green roof construction. In the mid-‘90s, a European industry mostly dominated by French and German firms began expanding into North America and introducing the basic concepts to a new generation of specialists.
Peck, himself introduced to the idea in 1997, was tasked with leading a federal study on its benefits and barriers in Canada, only to find that there was little scientific information available for North America. “There was no proof, it was all in German academic studies,” he said.
One of his committee member spent hours translating many of the studies into English. And even those reports sidestepped analysis of big-picture benefits that had been largely taken for granted.

A decade later, the industry has been buttressed by research and case studies detailing both individual benefits like savings on cooling costs and enhanced commercial values, and bigger-picture pluses like reduced air pollution and storm water overflows.
Another essential element has been building expertise across a talent pool that remains unevenly distributed. Peck’s group has been working for five years on an accreditation program modeled in part on LEED certification (Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design). The new Green Roof Professional, or GRP system, should roll out sometime next year, he said. In the meantime, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities has grown to include more than 80 corporate members and has trained more than 4,500 individuals. “You can’t have an industry unless you can have people who can design and deliver,” he said.

And here in Charlotte, the new roof for the Federal Reserve? Going to Green!!!

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

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Signs Suggest Regional Influx Slowing

July 1, 2008

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

Signs suggest regional influx slowing
Wavering real estate sales, power hookups and CMS enrollment growth are among the indicators cited.
By Christopher D. Kirkpatrickand Amy Baldwin/Charlotte Observer
The Charlotte region's march of newcomers appears to be slowing.
Some indicators, including school enrollment, new electrical service hookups and reports from businesses that cater to new residents, point to a migratory slip.
Economists and others say the change, though just a hiccup and no threat to long-term prosperity, illustrates how Charlotte's economy is feeling pressure from a flagging national economy.
It could also ease traffic, pollution and a classroom space crunch, among other growing pains, said Douglas Shoemaker, a research analyst with UNC Charlotte's Center for Applied Geographic Information Science.
“A lot of towns have been overwhelmed by quality of life issues and providing services such as water and sewer,” Shoemaker said. “A lull would allow planners to get the upper hand again.”
The latest Census Bureau population data on newcomers isn't available until the fall. But institutions such as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Duke Energy have noticed a recent decline.
CMS officials expected to add 5,200 students this school year, but only about 2,900 new enrollees turned up. It marked the first time in four years that CMS forecasts overestimated enrollment.
Duke says new electric power hookups in the Carolinas fell to 38,391 for 2007 after increasing to a high 40,828 in 2006.
Gentle Giant, a Boston-area-based mover with a Charlotte office, has seen its once-strong flow of New Englanders into the region pull back, said Jon Vogel, regional branch manager. It started about six months ago, he said.
The company also specializes in out-of-state corporate moves. “We've had a lot of really big jobs get canceled. There isn't the drive to invest as much.”
Vogel said real estate prices have fallen so far in the Northeast that homeowners can't afford to sell at a loss: “So they're putting off moves.” Side business from relocations is also affected – fewer newcomers move their parents down after them, for example, he said. “All that stuff used to trickle down.”
The region has benefited this decade from transplants who spend money, buy houses and work available jobs, said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wachovia.
About 88,000 newcomers moved to Charlotte in 2006-2007, and about 14,000 moved away, for a net population increase of 74,000. That's up from 80,000 newcomers in 2005-2006, with 30,000 moving away for a net 50,000 increase, according to an annual Observer analysis of census data released each fall.
Federal Reserve economist Matt Martin said he expects this fall's census data that counts newcomers to confirm a decline. He said he's been hearing a collective buzz since the fall about the slowdown of newcomers.
He said a tightening local job market is adding to the falloff. “There are not as many opportunities at the moment,” said Martin, who works at the Federal Reserve branch in Charlotte.
Jobless rates for the Charlotte area and the Carolinas have been higher than the U.S. rate, which was up to 5.5 percent in May from 5 percent in April. The region's jobless rate was 5.1 percent in April. The latest Carolinas unemployment figures are due later this month.
Vitner said he's expecting the newcomer slowdown to extend into next year, sapping tax revenues and local economic sectors that offer services “directly tied to population growth.”
Savvy + Co., a residential real estate company in Charlotte, is seeing out-of-state clients take a lot longer to relocate. A year ago, it took only a month or two for them to sell their homes and be ready to buy here, said owner Lexie Longstreet. Now it's more like seven or eight months or longer, she said.
“Sometimes they just say, ‘We can't sell our house, so we are going to stay here,'” she said.
Suzanne Meyer, owner of The Welcome Service, which dispatches welcome baskets in the Lake Norman area, also blames slower housing markets in other regions
Business “has slowed down a bit for us,” she said. Meyer's company targets affluent homeowners, those who buy homes with price tags upwards of $300,000.
Gina DeCarlo recently decided to leave Las Vegas for Charlotte. But it wasn't meant to be.
After more than 30 years in Nevada, she and husband Bill wanted a change. She visited Charlotte in late April and loved the area as much as her sister in Matthews predicted she would.
But DeCarlo, 50, doesn't want to sell her home in Las Vegas' sinking real estate market, one of the nation's hardest hit.
“I can't get what I want for my house,” she said. “The house has taken probably a $50,000 dump.”
She'd like to get $300,000 for the house she bought in 1982 for $100,000.
Martin and Vitner predict the slowdown of transplants won't create lasting economic woes.
“It's nothing to panic about,” Vitner said, noting that housing prices in hard-hit states should bottom out by the end of next year and those markets should loosen up. The flow of newcomers should pick up as those homes start to move, he said.
And Charlotte is already faring much better than most large regions, Martin said.
“I think this is all short-term,” he said. “I don't think the conditions that have driven Charlotte's growth over the last decade are all of a sudden gone.”THE MORE THE MERRIER
Population for nine-county Charlotte region. This is the same region the Observer uses to calculate its newcomer statistics every fall when the American Community Survey data is released by the Census Bureau.
2007: 2,143,946
2006: 2,065,520
2005: 1,991,060
2004: 1,934,195
2003: 1,893,429
2002: 1,858,327
2001: 1,820,030
2000: 1,775,860
Note: For this story, the Observer defined the region as the retail trade zone counties of Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan, Union counties and York County, S.C.

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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Green Building Booms in Western North Carolina

June 30, 2008

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

Green building booms in WNC
by Paul Clark of the Citizen Times, Asheville, NC
The N.C. HealthyBuilt Homes program is a voluntary, statewide green building certification program. The number of certified and finished HealthyBuilt homes in Western North Carolina more than doubled between June 2007 and January 2008 — from 51 to 125, according to the Western North Carolina Green Building Council.
Green homes in progress increased nearly fivefold — from 100 to 482. Currently, there are 668 in development, the council reports.
The number of HealthyBuilt homes for sale in the county jumped from 11 in the year preceding June 19, 2007, to 113 in the year preceding June 19, 2008, according to the WNC Regional Multiple Listing Service, a tool that real estate professionals use to list and sell homes.
“This is not a fad. This is the future,” said Pat “Tree” Spaulding, a certified environmental consultant for Keller Williams Professionals real estate company in Asheville. She provided the MLS numbers above. “These homes are more durable, healthier and far more energy-efficient. Why would anyone want to buy anything else in the world as we are now experiencing it?”
“Everything (green) is going through the roof and shows no sign of stopping,” said Stephens Farrell of Stephens Smith Farrell Architecture in Asheville. “The thought of owning a 4,500-square-foot, poorly conceived and insulated house 45 minutes from work send shivers down people’s spines when they think about $4.50 gas.”
Farrell is the architect on a house on Cantrell Mountain south of Brevard that should be ready for its owners this month. They wanted a house that produces more electricity than it consumes. Farrell suggested a photovoltaic system — a typical residential system costs about $40,000 — that feeds excess energy into the electrical grid. Every three months, the owners should get a check from Duke Energy, Farrell said.
Their super-insulated house reduces its energy needs by using a geothermal heat pump, which uses the consistency of the earth’s temperature — about 55 degrees five feet below the surface — to heat and cool. The house, with solar hot water, stays cool in summer and warm in winter because of its living roof — a mat of live sedum that needs watering the first year but none later, barring a searing drought.
Bigger than it was
In its Enka Hills subdivision, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity built 16 HealthyBuilt homes in 2007 and plans to build the same number this year, communications manager Ariane Kjellquist said. All have non-toxic water-based paints and high-efficiency appliances. Its largest four-bedroom house won’t cost more than $34 a month to heat or cool, Kjellquist said.
There are more than a dozen LEED-registered buildings in WNC, said Matt Siegel, director of Western North Carolina Green Building Council. LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Siegel is working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on the largest LEED-certified project in WNC — a 470,000-square-foot, three-building school complex under construction.
“For years, we have been having Realtors saying, ‘We have a customer (for green housing), but there’s nothing out there,’ ” Seigel said. “They didn’t have 50 different options as far as size and price.”
“I’ve got clients who moved to Seattle just to buy a green-certified home,” real estate agent Michael Figura said. “And they came here, and (green homes) are all over the place.”
Energy prices are one reason green building is so popular, Seigel said. As a result “a lot of our green builders haven’t seen the downturn in real estate that others have,” he said. Developers of large communities are coming to the council for its advice on how to build green. In two and half years, the council’s membership has grown from 150 to 520.
Eco Concepts Realty completed Hudson Street Cottages, a green development off State Street in West Asheville. Now it’s working on Gaia, another green development of clustered homes on Shelbourne Road. Gaia has solar heating and hot water, water-saving toilets, bamboo and stained concrete floors.
Ed and Kate Daigle are moving into a condo at Gaia this fall. They live in a 1930s house in Brevard that other than the grass, isn’t green at all, Ed Daigle said. The move is philosophically based — he believes that global warming is the world’s most pressing matter.
Michael Figura owns Eco Concepts Realty. He’s also a planner at GreenPlan, an Asheville company that promotes sustainable development. And he’s chairman of the Eco Consultants Association, a division of Asheville Board of Realtors.
“It’s the best way we can impact the sustainability of our culture,” Figura said. “We only have one earth. We’ve got kids and want to try to leave it a better place than we found it.”
Green with envy
Got a green home you’re dying to show off? ECO (the Environmental and Conservation Organization) is organizing its first green home tour in August in conjunction with the Southern Energy and Environment Expo on Aug. 23. It is looking for homes in Transylvania, Henderson or south Buncombe counties. Call 692-0385 or visit
Eco-friendly home features
The N.C. HealthyBuilt Homes program has an extensive checklist that calculates eco-friendly aspects of a dwelling before designating it as a HealthyBuilt home. Green features at Stan and Colette Corwin’s Chunns Cove home include:
• Recycled gray water system.
• Salvaged building materials.
• Sealed crawlspace.
• Locally milled/fabricated cabinets with FSC-certified zero-formaldehyde hardwood plywood.
• Decking and hardwood floors made of sunken river wood.
• Natural cork bathroom floors.
• Zero-VOC Earthpaint in interior and on decking.
• Icynene insulation throughout.
• Rain harvesting.
• Wood-burning stove.
• Tankless water heaters.
• Looped on-demand hot-water delivery system.
More green in the Carolinas from the mountains to the coast!
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC