It's almost a new year, and since we all know reading blogs isn't going to be high on anyone's list of New Year's Resolutions, I thought I would jump the gun and let you in on what's new for me in 2017 - before the champagne starts flowing!
After spending an amazing 3 years with Go Realty, I am very excited to now be joining up with the folks at Urban Durham! Urban Durham's reputation for being top-notch at both real estate and at supporting local businesses caught my eye well before I moved my family to Durham last year, and after meeting with several agents in the office, it became clear to me that this is where I belong.
I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Wait - does this mean you just work in Durham now?" The answer to that is no - we're "not just urban, and not just Durham," so I can still help you buy or sell no matter where you live in the Triangle! For that matter, I can help connect you with an agent anywhere in the country if you are relocating out of the area, so don't hesitate to ask! For my past clients, rest assured that you'll still receive the best in professional customer service - none of that is going to change, I promise.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my past clients for trusting me with their real estate needs, and I would also like to thank my friends and family for referring clients to me - I could not do what I do without your support, and it means the world to me. Thank you!
No, I don't mean the time for pumpkin spice everything and Christmas carols on the radio even though it's still September. For a Realtor like me, I can only be talking about the Triangle Parade of Homes!!! The Parade of Homes is an annual open house of new construction homes built specifically for the Parade, and each home showcases the best a builder has to offer - gorgeous design, cool and cutting edge features, and elements of a home you've never imagined but can't live without once you see them in person. The Parade is my candy store, and I'm the proverbial kid!
This year, the Parade takes place in Durham, Chatham, Orange, and Wake Counties from 12-5pm on October 1-2. 7-9, and 14-16. I'll be touring a lot of homes over the next 3 weekends - who wants to join me?!?
If you are considering buying a new home and you're looking at new construction, chances are you have driven through a new neighborhood and stopped by the model home or sales center to check out the floorplans and interior features that are available . You were likely greeted by a very helpful, very friendly agent who told you all there is to know about the neighborhood and all the options of the various models, and you may have even fallen in love with a home on the spot. The on-site agent who has been working with you asks if you are already working with an agent, and you may have thought to yourself, "Why do I need an agent?" There are a lot of ways to answer that question - here are a few of them.
First, the on-site agent represents the builder, not you, and that agent should explain to you what that means and have you sign a Working With Real Estate Agents Brochure (if you're in NC, at least). It is the job of that agent to sell that home for the highest price and to represent the interests of the builder, period. It's the job of a buyer's agent to get to know you and what your goals are when buying a home, whether that means a short commute time, Pinterest-worthy design features, a yard big enough for a swing set and a dog, convenience to shopping/dining/parks, or whatever else is important to you and to help you keep those things in mind.
You may believe that if you don't use your own agent you will get a better deal because the builder won't have to pay a buyer's agent's commission, but you'd be wrong. The amount of the buyer's agent's commission is virtually always built into the price of the homes, and if you don't have an agent of your own, that money is either paid to the on-site agent or retained as profit. You won't be offered a discount because you don't have an agent. In fact, it will likely cost you more because you won't have the inside scoop on what different builders will "throw in" as far as upgrades and added features are concerned; a buyer's agent familiar with the practices of area builders will.
There are a lot of decisions to be made during the construction process, and a buyer's agent can help you make the smart ones - things like which upgrades are going to bring you the biggest return on your investment when it comes to resale value, or whether or not living next to high-voltage power lines or a busy street will make it harder to sell your home down the road. The builder's agent isn't going to point those things out to you, because that isn't his or her job - again, they represent the builder.
You may think you don't need a home inspection when buying new construction, but you should get one, and a buyer's agent will make sure you know all the reasons why. Builders are human, and mistakes can be made - sometimes they are little things like forgetting to hook up the hot water faucet, but wouldn't it be nice to know that before you are standing in the shower freezing? Finding out about any issues that need to be corrected means they can be fixed before you move in, which is a lot less disruptive than having workmen coming and going while you're living in the home. A home inspection also provides a lot of information about the maintenance of a house over the years, and for first-time homebuyers, that's priceless.
On-site builder's representatives are fantastic people - I work with them and respect them, and some of them are way cooler than I will ever be! But they work for the builder. A buyer's agent works for you.
My husband recently started a band with his buddies named "The Midlife Vices." They're a group of guys in their 40s, and they spend (almost) every waking moment these days rehearsing, texting each other new song ideas, searching Amazon for new and *essential* music gear, and basically living the dream. As far as vices go, this one is pretty cool - the fact that they are all actually talented musicians certainly doesn't hurt!
The band and its name got me thinking about what my personal midlife vices are, so in no particular order, here is my current list - subject to change at any time, of course!
That's about as much confessing as I'm up for in one sitting. Now, it's your turn - what are your vices, midlife or not?
It's been a long time since I've written a blog post. I've had a lot on my plate - the holidays, raising kids, working like a fiend, and co-chairing a fundraising auction at my kids' school are just a handful of the things that have been keeping me occupied, but I resolve to do better!
We're going on seven entire months since I last wrote a blog entry. That's almost how long it takes to build a new custom home...
Did I forget to mention my husband and I are building a new home? Well, we are! Or rather, we have hired a fantastic local custom builder - Upright Builders - to build our new home. (We also just put our current home on the market today, so to all of my seller clients - past, present, and future - I feel your pain! )
I had the best of intentions. I planned to blog about the entire process right from the get-go, but since we began working on the design phase in the middle of last summer, I clearly have fallen behind schedule. But, that's okay - an extended stretch of freezing temperatures followed by several weeks of snow and ice have managed to put the build process behind schedule, too, so now I have the chance to catch up! Here's a glimpse of what my new house looks like as of today:
So clearly, we have a long way to go, but I am so excited about the process and about sharing the experience with all of you. Every builder is different, so my experiences may not be what it is like for everyone who designs and builds a house from scratch (and when I say "designs and builds," I really mean "pays a professional to design and build!"), but if it helps convey the general feel of the process, I'm cool with that.
Wish us luck - and I promise to write again soon!
If you're connected to me at all via social media - and I have to assume you are if you're reading this blog - then you will no doubt have noticed a lot of activity to do with #gogetsbetter and Better Homes and Gardens. That's because Go Realty, my small locally-owned and locally focused real estate firm, has just announced that we are partnering with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate!
I know - you're thinking, "Wow! Fantastic! Looks like you guys know how to have fun and throw a fantastic party! What a cool bike - it matches your dress perfectly!" All of those things are, of course, true - but those aren't the (only) reasons why I'm so stoked by this move.
If you've worked with me or anyone else at Go, you know we're all about our clients - and that isn't ever going to go away. Now, though, we'll have some amazing new resources that will allow us to put all our creativity and energy to even better use. We'll be rolling out all of our new tools over the next few months, so I'd love it if you would let me know what you think of the new stuff as it happens - feedback (and fan mail!) is always appreciated.
At Go Realty, we've always been very proud of our core beliefs. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has a set of core beliefs, too, and it's uncanny how much they align with the ones we've had all along. "We believe in change," and, "We believe in being better," are two of my favorite Go beliefs. By partnering with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, we're doing both - and I can't wait to see what we come up with next!
... what would it be?
For me, it would be location. I love my neighborhood and my neighbors, but as you've heard me say before, it's a long drive to the places where I spend most of my time. There are all kinds of reasons that people decide to pick up and move - for me and my family, we would love to live closer to where my kids go to school, and since our youngest will be there for seven more years, it's a pretty legitimate reason.
Like anyone considering a move, there are all kinds of factors in play. How much can we get for our current house, and how quickly? What is available where we want to live - and for how much? What kinds of expenses are involved with the move itself, and do those outweigh the benefits of moving altogether? What if we can't find a home we like, and instead we need to build one? If we start to build and then sell our home before the new one is ready, where will we live in the meantime?
These are the conversations swirling around my own house right now, so I can definitely relate to what many of my clients go through while wrestling with the pros and cons of putting a home on the market. My family is still in the early stages of weighing all our options, but if we do decide to make a move, I'll be sharing all the gory details with you here! Stay tuned...
It's March 31, 2014, and today, I am officially five years cancer free - Happy Cancer-versary to me!
In March of 2009, I had my first mammogram at the age of 36. I had been feeling something unusual in my right breast - not a lump, but something that felt more like the discomfort I used to feel when I would get a plugged duct back in the days when I was nursing my daughters. Since I had stopped nursing a year before, I decided to have it checked out. I had my biopsy on Friday the 13th - and yes, I was joking with the other women in the waiting room about how that didn't bode well for all of us. Ironically, on a day that's supposed to be all about good luck, St. Patrick's Day, I was diagnosed with breast cancer - specifically, DCIS, or Ductal Carcinoma In Situ.
Because of the size of the growth, lumpectomy wasn't an option for me; since I knew I would need a mastectomy, I opted to go for a matched set and have a bilateral. I certainly didn't take the decision lightly, but in the grand scheme of things, if you have to get cancer, mine was the best type to have. Because mine was confined to the ducts, I never required chemo or radiation; the entire time from diagnosis to end of treatment was a total of 18 days, so I never really had a chance to feel like - or look like - I was ill. My experience with cancer amounted to what's essentially a cosmetic procedure - not one I would have ever chosen all on my own, but compared to the ordeals of many friends of mine, it's a relative cakewalk.
I'd like to claim that having cancer was a huge wake-up call for me that inspired me to change my ways - to exercise like crazy, to become a vegan, to meditate every day, or to use my newfound appreciation for life to change the world for the better on some grand scale, but I can't - and if you know me well, you're already laughing at the thought of me ever giving up pizza and a DVR. I was actually surprised by how much the same I felt after everything - I'm still the same old me, muddling through as best I can. I just look different without clothes on, and I'm cool with that.
It's been five years now, and some years I even forget the anniversary until it's gone by, but this year, I marked it on my calendar. In the cancer world, five years is a big deal. Help me celebrate - check yourself out and schedule a mammogram if you're overdue. You won't regret it.
Today, my daughter has been learning a valuable lesson about the perils of procrastination. She has a big class project due tomorrow that was assigned almost a month ago. Her chosen assignment (there was a list of ideas to choose from) is to rewrite a novel her class has been reading as though it is a picture book for younger children, complete with simplified language and illustrations. There needs to be at least eight different major events from the novel. She finally started to work on it yesterday. To say that there have been a lot of tears at my house over the last two days? Well, that would be a drastic understatement.
Procrastination wasn't something I ever struggled with as a student, but I find myself putting off all kinds of things as an adult. I really need to schedule a colonoscopy, but I somehow keep "forgetting" to do it; I wonder why? I need to organize our family's financial info (account numbers, user names, passwords, etc) so that if something ever happens to me or my husband the other can find it all easily; that's not something I want to think about for obvious reasons. Along those same lines, I need to get all our tax documents together - that deadline seems far away, but it's really not. I'd like to set a better example for my kids by doing all these things I've been avoiding, but can I start tomorrow?
At least we're making progress - a few minutes ago, I needed to write in my blog. And that smiling photo? That's my kid when she finally finished her project. Baby steps...
This is a photo of the Valentine's card I bought my husband, and it can tell you a lot about our relationship.
We are snarky and silly together, and we bicker like crazy. He is my best friend, and I know he always has my back even when he thinks I'm being crazy. He challenges me to be better - sometimes, I hate this (like the time we were on a long bike ride and he jumped off his bike off and ran next to me while laughing at me for being tired and slow), but I know it is because he knows I can take it.
He is a rock star in his own right (literally - he was in a rock band, playing all over NYC when we met); I joke that I fell for him because he was straight and employed and had health insurance (I was in musical theater at the time - most of my dates were gay and/or had no job), but there are so many more reasons. He is a phenomenal dad, he does the dishes without being nagged, and he puts up with me - I am fortunate beyond words that we found each other.
We don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day. We actually met the following week, so we picked that day instead (much easier and cheaper to find a babysitter and get a restaurant reservation!). This year, though, we happen to have theater tickets to Book of Mormon - a show that is snarky, irreverent, yet sentimental and sweet at heart. That sounds just about perfect for us - I love you, babe!