Enjoy the Queen’s Feast starting this weekend

This January, you can once again be a part of the Queen’s Feast in Charlotte. This annual event includes over 130 restaurants in 9 counties around the Charlotte Metro area. Each restaurant offers a price fixe menu for dinner with 3 courses for $30 or $35 not including tax and tip. The event begins Friday January 20th and runs through January 29th.

This year, there are many new restaurants making their debut at the Queen’s Feast. Among the newcomers are:

     O-Ku – Japanese and sushi in Atherton Mill

     The Pump House – Southern influenced modern cuisine in Rock Hill

     Sea Level – locally sourced seafood in Hearst Tower in Uptown Charlotte

     Essex Bar & Bistro – a gastropub and craft cocktail restaurant in Uptown Charlotte

     Babalu Tapas & Tacos – small plates and tacos in Dilworth

     204 North Kitchen & Cocktails – fresh farm-to-table cuisine in Uptown Charlotte

     Burtons Grill & Bar – chef inspired food in Park Road Shopping Center in South Charlotte

     Comida  – Mexican inspired cuisine in Plaza Midwood

There are also some well established restaurants joining the Queen’s Feast for the first time this year. Most notable of the newcomers is Reid’s Fine Foods in SouthPark. Many long-time favorites are featured on the line-up as well. 300 East in Dilworth, The Cajun Queen in Elizabeth, Sullivan’s Steakhouse in SouthEnd, and Ruth’s Chris in SouthPark are just a few of our favorite picks.

Heading to the Queen’s Feast is a great way to sample cuisine from all of these amazing eateries, but it is also a chance to check out a new neighborhood. Many of these restaurants have rooftop terraces or patios from which to observe the people and pace of a neighborhood. You can take a drive around before your reservation to see how the area looks around dinnertime. This is a great way to see how vibrant and area is in terms of fitness, walkability, traffic, and more. You can drive past local schools, parks, shopping and more to really get a feel for an area you haven’t spent much time in before.

If you plan to visit a restaurant for Queen’s feast, reservations are recommended. You can click the link below to see the participating restaurants. Most will allow you to make reservations online, but some only take reservations over the phone. No passes or tickets are required.

To find a full list of restaurants participating in the Queen’s Feast, click here.

If you are driving around before your dinner and find a home you want to tour, call us at (704) 525-4045 or visit our website with comprehensive search capabilities here.

December Market Analysis

This week the Carolina Regional Realtor Association released their monthly report of housing data in the Charlotte area. These figures are based on Carolina Multiple Listing Services data which includes Charlotte and surrounding areas including two counties in South Carolina. This area also includes 10 counties in North Carolina ranging from Statesville to Fort Mill, and from Gastonia to Salisbury.

Numbers on the report were not surprising. They continued the trend of low inventory and strong sales which has been going on for the entire year. In December, the total MLS area was up 4.5% over last December for total closed sales. If you look at the entire year, 44,386 homes were sold, up 8.4% over 2015.

Sales activity wasn’t the only number on the rise. Both the median and average sales price rose for both the month and the year. This December, median sales price rose 10% to $209,000 and average sales price rose 8.2% to $258,108. For the entire year, median sales price was up 7.5% at $207,000 while the average sales price rose 6.5% to $257,701.

Inventory numbers continued to fall throughout the year. December’s inventory number was down 25.7% from last year at this time. This leaves the Charlotte region with just 2.3 months of inventory which is well below the six months of inventory needed to have a balanced market between buyers and sellers. This leaves sellers with the upper hand in transactions for now.

The rise in prices and lack of options could leave some buyers out of the market entirely. Mortgage rates are expected to rise as well which could be a problem for first time buyers in particular. However, the market is strong, and expected to remain steady for the coming year.

If you are looking to buy or sell in the Charlotte area, call us at (704) 525-4045. You can also see listings on our website here.

Get away from it all in Springfield

Picture yourself living in a carefully planned community, close to Charlotte, but far enough away to live at a more relaxed pace. Imagine yourself and your family creating lasting memories in a place that cares about families and caters to your every need. Springfield in Fort Mill is that community.

Just minutes away from the historic village of Fort Mill, S.C. is where this master-planned community resides. Amenities abound here and homes are well appointed and generously sized. Lots are large here too with sweeping yards and well manicured landscaping.

This beautiful home sold earlier this year.

Built around the Springfield Golf Club, residents can join the club to play world class golf on a 6,906-yard, par 72 course. The course was built to take advantage of spectacular views of Sugar Creek. Many homes in Springfield back to the golf course and enjoy these views as well.

Residents of Springfield enjoy membership to the Anne Springs Close greenway. The Greenway features 40 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Watersports can also be enjoyed on Sugar Creek. The natural setting so close to home helps keep a more relaxed pace of life.

Springfield encompasses 640 acres which include Orchard Park, a five-acre amenity park managed by a full time activity director. Amenities include:

  1. Springfield clubhouse with one of the pools

    Community pool complex with 3 pools, including a junior Olympic size lap pool for aerobics courses and swimming. Also at the complex are a baby pool, play fountain, water slide, and many seating and lounging areas. The Green Waves swim team practices and competes here.

  2. Six competition grade tennis courts. These host regular lessons, clinics, and social events.
  3. A modern fitness center with yoga room, aerobics room, and workout machines
  4. Springfield Acres, a kid’s area with arts and crafts table, kids activities, and a gallery wall of local art.
  5. Full-time activities directors for all Springfield events and recreational needs. This includes many events throughout the year for families, kids, and adults.

There are many phases to Springfield, built by a variety of builders. They offer many architectural styles to fit your aesthetic. Most are traditional or European in design, with Golf villas also available. Many sections of Springfield have been completed, but there are still sites available so you can create a custom home to fit your needs.

Rendering of a recently completed and sold home in Springfield

Homes in Springfield often include outdoor living spaces with kitchens, fireplaces, and backyard pools. Many feature extensive millwork, trey ceilings, hardwood flooring, owner’s suites, open floor plans, and custom cabinetry.

Homes in Springfield range in size from 2,500 to over 7,000 square feet. Most homes have between 3 and 7 bedrooms and at least 3 bathrooms. Expect prices to range between $300,000 to $2 million or more for fully custom homes.

For anyone who likes to fish, boat, swim, horseback ride, or just enjoy nature, Springfield is right for you. You’ll be close enough to the city to take advantage of all it has to offer, but far enough away that you can live at a more relaxed pace.

If you are looking for a home in Springfield, call us at (704) 525-4045 or check out listings on our website here.

Year End Wrap-Up

As we ring out 2016 and prepare to welcome 2017, it seems like everyone wants to discuss what went right and wrong. We also long for certainty about what is to come. Here are some thoughts and predictions and reflections about the Charlotte real estate market.

North Carolina in general had a great year when it comes to population. The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported an increase in population of 111,602 people over the year. This brings the total state population to more than 10.1 million. This increase was felt in the Charlotte area with much new growth and new housing projects. It has also driven a seller’s market as higher population leaves less inventory.

Home prices in the Charlotte metro area climbed year over year. In fact, the entire region is showing strong home prices. Higher home prices are great for sellers, but they can leave buyers in a bind as they deal with affordability. Many first time homebuyers have to wait longer to purchase a home or can be priced out of the market entirely.

It remains to be seen what if any impacts HB2 has on the real estate market. Many sporting events and businesses have reacted. Reactions have ranged from mild censure, to pulling out of the state entirely. There have already been financial impacts, but we don’t yet know if there will be other long term repercussions.

Basically, the future looks mostly rosy for the Charlotte area. As the region grows, we attract more talent, retail, restaurants, businesses, and tourism. We truly have the best weather, we are close to everything, and people want to be here. This makes it look like we will be a strong real estate market for years to come.

If you are looking to buy or sell in Charlotte or surrounding areas, call us at (704) 525-4045 or search on our website here. Happy New Year everyone!

Inexpensive ways to go green in your home

If you’re like me, you start the year off thinking of all of the projects you can do at your home to make it more comfortable, have less environmental impact, and save money. Well, I’m here to provide you with a list of simple things you can do to make that a reality. Resolutions, and going green doesn’t have to be hard or expensive.

One of the easiest ways to go green in your home is to get a programmable thermostat. There are many on the market now, including some models that you can activate remotely from your phone. These help keep costs low as you can program them to be off when you are away from home or sleeping. It is also a good idea to get regular check-ups for your heating and cooling system to make sure it is running properly.

You can also put on a sweater or blanket before you reach for the thermostat. In the summer, you can add a fan to a room instead of turning down the air conditioning. These small changes in behavior could have big impacts during the hottest and coldest months of the year.

Another easy way to save on energy costs in your home is to change out to compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs. You may not think you will save much by doing this, but over time there can be significant savings as these bulbs draw much less power and last years instead of months.

If you’re in the market for new appliances, consider energy star appliances. These are manufactured to use less energy but still get the same job done. While you are at it, clean any old appliances so they are running properly. You would be amazed how much better your refrigerator will work when you vacuum the coils in back. Also, cleaning out a dryer vent will help efficiency and can help prevent a fire.

Turning off appliances you aren’t using can also save you a bundle. Your computer is a constant draw of power even if it is asleep. Turning it off and any other appliances like your smart toaster, phone chargers and more can lessen your energy drain.

Saving water is another way to go green in your home. Repair leaky faucets. Install water-saving toilets and shower heads. If you have a pool, cover it during times you aren’t using it to prevent evaporation. Additionally try and run the clothes washer and dishwasher with full loads.

If you still feel like you aren’t doing enough, you can start composting. You can recycle, you can repaint your home with low or no VOC paint. You can even purchase green power from your power company or buy vouchers. If you have it in your budget, you can install solar panels on your roof or put in geothermal heating or a solar hot water heater.

There are so many ways to go green in your home, many of them really affordable. No only will you be helping the planet, you will be helping you wallet and potentially making your home more attractive to a future buyer.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in the Charlotte area, call us at (704) 525-4045. Our agents can help you decide what green upgrades can sell your home faster. You can also browse our listings on our website here.

Repeal of HB2 could bring more millennials to Charlotte

With the repeal of HB2 looking more likely, Charlotte may gain back sporting and entertainment events that pulled out of the state. Various estimates put the financial losses from HB2 between $500 and $750 million. As many as 2,000 jobs have been lost due to the bill. In addition, a few companies that were looking to expand or relocate to the area have decided on alternate locations.

While this news may not be welcome to some people due to their beliefs, it is really welcome from a financial perspective. A repeal of HB2 may even be the last step needed to help secure an expansion team for MLS soccer. This, combined with a return of the NCAA tournament, NBA All-Star game, and ACC Football Championship, would be a boon to the local economy.

Charlotte is becoming one of the most popular destinations for millennials. To stay competitive with other mid-sized cities, Charlotte really needs to have events and destinations catering to millennial desires. Millennials overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage and alternate lifestyles so the repeal of HB2 should continue to attract more millennials to the area. This might even help overcome the slow market analysts are expecting in 2017.

Charlotte is poised for more growth which is a great thing for the Real Estate market. Sellers in the area have consistently gotten higher prices for their homes than in years past. Low inventory has helped drive prices higher as well. Builders have many projects in the works and on the horizon. All in all, it adds up to a healthy sellers market.

Buyers may have a trickier time of it though. Low inventory combined with higher prices mean extra competition. Many buyers are priced out of the market at present. President Elect Trump has vowed to overhaul and re-privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with unknown consequences to the market.

If you are interested in buying or selling a home in the Charlotte area, give us a call at (704) 525-4045 or visit our website here.

Spotlight: Lake Ridge at Tega Cay

The master planned community of Lake Ridge is located in Tega Cay, SC. Just off Lake Wylie, Lake Ridge has the best of everything. You have the lake with outdoor watersports, hiking trails and leisure activities all with low SC taxes, great schools, abundant shopping (Baxter Town Center), and a quick 20 mile commute to Uptown Charlotte. 

Lake Ridge takes advantage of the beauty of Tega Cay. Developers , dedicated over 150 of its 435 acres to parks, walking trails, and recreation. An additional 10 acres was donated to be used as part of the new 88-acre scenic park on the Catawba River. Residents also enjoy public access for boating and fishing to both Lake Wylie and the Catawba River via the Nivens Creek Boat Landing.

A great recently sold home in Lake Ridge

Nearby amenities include the Tega Cay Golf Club with a 27-hole championship golf course and night lighted tennis complex. A 60,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art YMCA in nearby Baxter Town Center, along with a York County Public Library branch. And Carowinds, the largest theme park in the Carolinas, is just minutes away.

Builders Tribute Homes, True Homes, D.R.Horton, Meritage Homes account for 729 homes in eight distinct villages. Each village has its own distinct style and price point. Two villages totaling 82 homesites are still available with no committed builder. 75% of homes are adjacent to a wooded conservation area. Pocket parks dotted along the eight-foot wide walking trails connect all of the villages and green-spaces including the future Catawba River Park.

Lake Ridge residents enjoy a wealth of community amenities, including: a large clubhouse, competition pool, kiddie pool with water slide, tennis courts, sports court, and playground. The clubhouse has a fireplace, party kitchen, state-of-the-art fitness center and Wi-fi.

Aerial view of neighborhood amenities

The community’s is zoned for the highly rated Fort Mill school district. Students attend Gold Hill Elementary School, Gold Hill Middle School and Fort Mill High School. Gold Hill Elementary and Middle schools are within walking distance of Lake Ridge.

This is true neighborhood living, with all the amenities and modern conveniences and a great location. If you are interested in a home in Lake Ridge at Tega Cay, call us at (704) 525-4045 or check out current listings at our website here.

November Market Statistics

November numbers have been released from the Carolina Regional Realtor Association. We are again looking at a deepening of the trend where inventory continues to be low and prices continue to get higher. This trend has been continuing for the entire year with no end in sight.  

2016 started off in January with 10,350 homes on the market. November has 9,770 homes listed for sale. By themselves, these numbers don’t mean much, but when you compare them year over year, you begin to see the larger picture. In January of 2015 there were 13,607 homes on the market. November of 2015 had 13,004. This is a reduction year over year of 31.8% for January and 31.6% in November.

When you look at home prices, they have continued to go up every month for the entire year as well. In January 2016 the average price for a home sale was $229,766. By November average price for a home sale was $259,205. Last year in January the average sale price was $214,166 and in November it was $239,680.

These trends of inventory going down and prices going up illustrate the main principle of supply and demand. There have been some signs that supply and demand will remain out of balance going forward. New announcements of corporate headquarters in the Charlotte region, and Millennials moving to the area in greater numbers are just two of these signs.

There are predictions saying that things may be changing in 2017. Redfin data scientists are predicting that the housing market will continue to grow, but at a slower pace due to affordability pressures. Affordability will be an issue in part because of a slight rise in interest rates coupled with rising home prices. They also believe new-construction growth will slow. This may be enough to slow the trend, but it will take quite a bit longer if the market is going to even out or become a buyers market again.

If you are interested in buying or selling a home in the Charlotte area, call us at (704) 525-4045 or check out our website with robust search capabilities here.

2017 Market Predictions

Predictions are starting to come in for the Real Estate Market for 2017. They all seem to point to good news for the Charlotte area. The Queen City is poised for growth yet again, but maybe not quite as much as 2016.

Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home price index report showed a 6.2% rise in prices in September over last year. This exceeds the national average of 5.5%. It puts Charlotte in 7th place among the top 20 metro areas in the US. Seattle leads this group with 11% growth.

Realtor.com is projecting a strong year for Charlotte next year. They forecast a 4.3% rise in home prices and a rise of 6.3% in sales activity. Realtor.com ranks Charlotte #21 out of the top 100 metro areas in the US. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale sits atop their list.

It looks like the growth will be moderate and a little bit slower than last year per Realtor.com. There are a few reasons for this prediction.

The first is that interest rates are unsure at this time. There was a 40 basis point increase in rates after the election. An increase in interest rates would disproportionately affect first time homebuyers and can price some of them out of the market entirely. 95% of first time homebuyers rely on mortgages to finance the purchase of a home.

Second, there is a lack of inventory in the Charlotte area. In October there was a 23.1% decrease in the annual rate. This drives prices higher which can also price many homebuyers out of the market.

Realtor.com is predicting a few additional trends. 1. Millennials and baby-boomers will dominate the market in 2017. 2. A slowing of price appreciation. 3. Lower inventory. 4. Quick turnaround on sales. They also foresee price and sales increases in western states and millennials relocating to midwestern cities.

If you are thinking of buying or selling in the Charlotte area, call us at (704) 525-4045. Or check out our listings in and around the Charlotte community here.

Keep up on Maintenance for a Hassle Free Sale

With the wildfires burning in Western North Carolina, smoke has inundated the Charlotte area. This is a great time to change out your filters on your heating and cooling system. This is just one of the small maintenance items you can take care of while living in your home that can make all the difference when it comes time to sell. Here are some of the handyman issues you should keep up with each month or year. Many items are easy and you can take care of yourself. Many are harder and you should get a licensed professional to help you.

Monthly Checklist:

  1. Clean the furnace filter to remove dust build-up. This is especially important as the wildfires have caused excess build up right now.
  2. If you have one, check the water softener and replenish salt if necessary.
  3. Clean faucet aerators and showerheads to remove mineral deposits.
  4. Inspect tub and sink drains for debris; unclog.

Fall Seasonal Checklist:

  1. Rake leaves and aerate the lawn.
  2. Have forced-air heating system inspected by a professional. Tip: schedule an inspection in late summer or early fall before the heating season begins.
  3. Check fireplace for damage or hazards.
  4. Seal cracks and gaps in windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping; replace if necessary.
  5. Swap old, drafty windows for more energy-efficient models.
  6. Touch up exterior siding and trim with paint.
  7. Inspect roofing for missing, loose, or damaged shingles and leaks.
  8. Power-wash windows and siding.
  9. Remove leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts.
  10. Mend cracks and gaps in the driveway and walkway.
  11. Drain and winterize exterior plumbing.
  12. Have fireplace professionally inspected.
  13. Tune up major home appliances before the holidays.
  14. Repair or replace siding.
  15. Replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  16. Clean the carpets.
  17. Clean window and door screens.
  18. Vacuum lint from dryer vent.
  19. Inspect exterior door hardware; fix squeaky handles and loose locks.
  20. Check for frayed cords and wires.

Spring Seasonal Checklist:

  1. Inspect roofing for missing, loose, or damaged shingles and leaks.
  2. Change the air-conditioner filter.
  3. Clean window and door screens.
  4. Polish wood furniture, and dust light fixtures.
  5. Refinish the deck and/or wooden fence.
  6. Power-wash windows and siding.
  7. Remove leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts.
  8. Replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  9. If you have one, have a professional inspect and pump the septic tank.
  10. Inspect sink, shower, and bath caulking for deterioration.
  11. Vacuum lint from dryer vent.

If you take care of these seasonal items, you have a much better chance of avoiding large maintenance issues coming up during a home sale. You will also have a much better experience living in your home as you are less likely to have surprise costs mess up your budget.

Checklist courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.