Sunday, March 30, 2008

Buy Now! Why the Housing Crisis is Good for You.

Dear Rich,

My wife and I have been living in Charlotte or the last 3 years, and have a few more months left on our lease. We have a great apartment, but we are expecting our first baby in September and would like to move into a house. Neither of us have ever owned a house, but our credit is good and at least until our baby is born, we have 2 incomes, (although we aren't sure what the plan is yet after that!)

With the current housing crisis, and everything that is going on with mortgages, do you think that the market is good in Charlotte, and can my wife and I find a good starter home with a decent rate? Or do you think we should wait a while until things shake out a little?


Joe E. -- Charlotte, NC.

Dear Joe,

Here in Charlotte, we are fortunate that the housing market is still very strong, which is great! But the even better news for you, is that this is a super time for first time home-owners with good credit, to buy a home. Home prices are lower than they have been and interest rates are really good. I would say that this is definitely a good time for you to find a new home!

There are some great neighborhoods in the city of Charlotte as well as the suburbs, including some new construction in family-friendly neighborhoods. My best advice is to shop around for a good mortgage rate, and make sure to buy a house that you can afford--on one income. If your wife and you decide one of you will stay home with the baby for a year, or more, then you will have to be able to make the payments with less money than you may be able to qualify for right now. It is important to be conservative now, and upgrade later if you choose, and your incomes can support it.

Also, there are several foreclosed properties available if you are looking for a "deal." Although I certainly recommend carefully considering this route. Foreclosures are sold "as-is" which usually means that you will have several projects to do right off the bat. With a new baby coming, you might not want this added factor. But if you have some extra cash, are particularly handy, or like a challenge, or even if you buy the right property, there are some real bargains out there for the right buyer.

If you are interested in talking to me more about the available homes in the Charlotte area, please call me at 704-564-0807, or check out my site for my featured listings. Also, I would be happy to recommend a mortgage broker. Just let me know, and congratulations on the new baby!

Rich Ferretti
Buyer's Agent -- Charlotte

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Buyer's Testimonial

To Whom It May Concern:

Rich Ferretti, of Southern Winds Realty, has asked to write a letter of recommendation on his behalf, and I am very happy to do so.

I met Rich last March when I first began looking at properties. I was immediately impressed when he graciously introduced himself with a warm and friendly smile and a firm handshake. I know that may seem old fashioned these days, but it's the little courtesies that tell you about the character of the person.

I knew instantly that Rich was a professional who took his work seriously, and I felt that I would be in good hands. Rich also took the time to learn about me and what I was was looking for in a home. He put me on his e-mail list, and every day I received listings of properties that met my criteria. Rich and I quickly established a comfortable rapport where I could call him when I saw properties that interested me. He was very prompt in returning phone calls and e-mail messages and answered my (many) questions honestly and thoroughly.

Rich and I visited a couple of homes several times, but I never felt pressured to buy or that I was wasting his time if I didn't put in an offer. He'd always say, "You're the one who has to live there!"

When I did find a home, Rich was invaluable in making the process easy. From contract to closing, Rich was on the ball organizing and coordinating and making sure everything was done right and on time. He also kept in contact with me each step of the way so that I always knew what was going on.

And Rich's services don't end with closing. He's also an excellent resource for contractors, handymen, painters, etc, and has offered advice on improvements that may increase the value of my home. I don't plan to sell my home any time soon, but when that day comes, my first call will be to Rich Ferretti. I enjoyed working with Rich.....and I think you will, too!

Judith Porter
New Home Owner - Charlotte, NC

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Friday, March 28, 2008

What Upgrades Should I Do on a New Home?

Dear Rich,

We are buying a new home in Charlotte, NC and we are not sure what upgrades we should do in terms of what will hold the most value for the house in the future. Or is it better to just add square footage to the home – adding something like another bedroom or a sunroom. Your advice is appreciated!
Sonny – Charlotte

Dear Sonny – the right answer is that there is no right answer! It depends a lot on what you do, how well you do it, and where you are in terms of location. Also, are you buying this home to live in, or is it instead an investment property? Generally upgrades to a home are more for the comfort and happiness of the residents. They rarely give the home significant additional value. That said, an updated/upgraded home may be more attractive to buyers later on when you go to sell.

If you are looking at this home as an investment, then do minimal updates to keep the house current, but don’t go wild with trendy things and extras. Think basic, clean and “blank slate.” However, if the house is going to be your home, think about what will make you happiest—Bathrooms and kitchens often add the most value, and make a house more attractive to you and later buyers and increase your quality of living—but they are also the most expensive!

I almost always recommend upgrading the carpet and the carpet padding. The builder’s grade carpeting generally wears very quickly and is of low quality. It shows stains and looks old fast. If the house was previously owned, then it is always nice to start fresh with something brand new and free of the previous owner’s dog hair, stains, dust, etc. New carpet just always makes a house look better and cleaner, and it is an easy and relatively inexpensive update. (For the record, as a real estate agent trying to sell a new home, I will often recommend that the seller put in new carpet before the house is shown!)

Other great updates are things like landscaping, a new front door, or windows—especially on older homes.

As for your question on square footage, it is always nice to have more, but be careful when you add onto a home to get all appropriate permits and hire a professional contractor. This is one of those things you want to do right—so don’t skimp. However, also don’t expect to necessarily get your money back when you resell. Depending on what you do, the other homes in your neighborhood, and your location, this may be one of those things you do because it will make YOU happier living in your home, not because you will make money off of it.

Bottom line, if you have a limited budget think about the things that will make the biggest impact for the least amount of money: carpeting, paint, moldings, windows, landscaping, closets. Then think about those bigger upgrades: the deck, sunroom, kitchen remodel, bathrooms, etc. Remember if this is your home, you have to be happy here!

Enjoy Charlotte! And please let me know if you would like my recommendations on specific trusted home improvement vendors in the Charlotte area.

Rich Ferretti

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mortgage Scams

U.S. Officials Warn of ScamsTargeting Homeowners
By Evan Perez From The Wall Street Journal Online

Federal officials say a wave of opportunistic scams are targeting homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure in the current housing downturn.
Monday, prosecutors in California unsealed twin cases against 19 people who, according to agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, skimmed nearly $13 million in equity from 115 homeowners coast to coast under the guise of a mortgage rescue.

Real-estate scammers "took advantage of the elevated market that peaked in 2005, and here now the vultures are waiting as the market goes down," said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott of Sacramento.

The indictments come as officials debate how to soften the blow of the housing and credit-markets turmoil on the U.S. economy. Some in Congress suggest that following the federally backed rescue of Bear Stearns Cos., similar efforts should be made to bail out homeowners, many of whom took on loans with payments that have risen to levels now beyond their means.
Federal investigators say they expect the number of people ensnared in fraudulent foreclosure schemes to grow given such financial straits. The Mortgage Bankers Association said a record 2% of the nation's 46 million mortgage loans were in the foreclosure process at the end of the fourth quarter. The number of defaults on first mortgages is forecast to rise to 1.9 million this year from 1.4 million in 2007, according to a report by using FDIC and other data.

Prosecutors said the cases involved a fraud ring led by Charles Head, 33 years old, of La Habra, Calif., and operated through companies called Head Financial Services Inc., Creative Loans LLC and Loan Foreclosure Help Inc. Ann Hwong, who represented Mr. Head at a federal detention hearing in Orange County Friday, didn't respond to a call requesting comment. Mr. Head is scheduled to make his first appearance in a federal court in Sacramento later this week.

Typically, prosecutors said, the scam worked this way: Sales agents for the ring contacted homeowners through mailings, offering rescue plans to those who appeared on lists used by banks and credit agencies to show owners near foreclosure. When the homeowners sought help, sales agents would steer them into a plan that called for owners to put an "investor" on the home's title.

In exchange, the homeowner would pay rent to the investor, typically a sum smaller than the original mortgage payment. In reality, the investor was usually an associate or family member of the ringleaders or someone recruited via the Internet. The convoluted paperwork often gave the investor the right to replace the homeowner on the title.

Within months, prosecutors said, the ring would take out a new mortgage on the property, to take out the equity. Homeowners either were evicted or ended up in foreclosure when the investor stopped making payments on the new loan.

In one instance described in indictments unsealed Monday, prosecutors said members of the ring transferred the title of a home in Sacramento to an "investor," who is among those indicted. The transfer occurred Oct. 4, 2004. One month later, the alleged fraudsters filed a new mortgage-loan application. By Nov. 11, 2004, they had netted $89,142 in proceeds from the equity of the home, which they wired to accounts they owned, prosecutors said.

Justice Department officials in Washington said they haven't decided whether the cases being brought around the nation are similar enough to justify a centrally run "task force" akin to that created to coordinate the white-collar crime investigations. The FBI is investigating 17 companies involved in various parts of the business of packaging and selling loans to investors. One such investigation is targeting Countrywide Financial Corp., a top seller of subprime loans, according to people familiar with the situation. A Countrywide spokeswoman declined to comment.

Sharon Ormsby, FBI financial-fraud section chief in Washington, said foreclosure scams are on the rise because tightening of the housing market essentially eradicated past swindles such as use of straw buyers.
-- March 26, 2008

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Old House New Home?

Dear Rich:
My wife and I have to make a choice between an beautifully updated home in an older neighborhood in Charlotte or a brand new home in a more modern neighborhood, with a ton of amenties just outside the city. The first house in the older neighborhood has almost everything I want and is much larger, but I want to make the best investment. We may have to move again in about 5 years (my job has me travelling a lot) and I want to make sure we do the right thing.

I appreciate your advice!
Shane -- Charlotte Newcomer

Hello Shane -- and welcome to Charlotte. I hope that I can help you narrow down your property choice.

If your goal is to buy a home for its later resale value and the one you are leaning towards buying in the older neighborhood, you will want to find out if is at the upper end of home values for that neighborhood--especially if it has been updated and others have not. If this is the case then it may not be the best choice.

If the older home in Charlotte is similar or lower in price to the others in the neighborhood, then there should be no problem, because pricing should be considered in relation, (generally) to the local neighborhood and not compared to homes in other parts of town.

Is the neighborhood on the decline or is it a neighborhood that is improving? And are other homeowners doing updates, keeping their properties landscaped etc. It could turn out to be a very good investment as long as you don't pay too much because of the recent improvements, when you could find another home in the same neighborhood less expensively--one that you could update yourself.

But remember that you also buy a house for its value to you as a "home." If you feel comfortable, happy, and excited about the older home, and you like the neighborhood, this is a factor of equal or greater value than its ultimate resale price. This is an investment, but it is also where you and your family will live!

If you would like more information about the Charlotte area, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have -- just comment below.

Happy House Hunting
Rich Ferretti

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What is a Buyer's Agent?

Dear Rich -

I am thinking about moving -- I live in Charlotte now, and I want to downsize into a smaller home or condo -- but I am confused by some terminology...What is a "buyer's agent?"

Gene S -- Uptown Charlotte

Dear Gene:

Great question - the term "buyer's agent" is a little misunderstood, but let me try to clear it up a little bit for you, and explain the benefits of working with a buyer's agent.

Real Estate brokers assist sellers in marketing their property, bringing in potential buyers and selling it for the highest possible price under the best terms. The difference between a traditional broker arrangement and the use of a "buyer's agent" is that the Buyer's agent has signed a legal contract with a buyer to become the buyer's representative in searching and negotiating for property at the best possible terms for the buyer.

In addition to working with the buyer to negotiate the best price, they will also ensure the property is inspected, and make sure you have the representation you need. Things you tell a buyer's agent remain confidential. Using a buyer's agent also means that you will be shown homes that are For Sale By Owner (FSBO).

As a real estate buyer's representative in the Charlotte area, I work for, and owe fiduciary responsibilities to, the real estate buyer and have home buyer's best interests in mind throughout the entire real estate process.

It is my job to:
1. Evaluate the specific needs and wants of the buyer and locate properties that fit those specifications.
2. Assist the buyer in determining the amount that they can afford (pre-qualify), and show properties in that price range and locale.
3. Assist in viewing properties -- accompany the buyer on the showings, or preview the properties on behalf of the buyer to insure that the identified specifications are met.
4. Research the selected properties to identify any problems or issues to help the buyer make an informed decision prior to making an offer to purchase the property.
5. Advise the buyer on structuring an appropriate offer to purchase the selected property.
6. Present the offer to the seller's agent and the seller on the buyer's behalf.
7. Negotiate on behalf of the buyer to help obtain the identified property -- keeping the buyer's best interests in mind.
8. Assist in securing appropriate financing for the selected property.
9. Provide a list of potential qualified vendors (e.g. title companies, inspectors, carpenters, etc.) if these services are needed.

I have also taken extra courses and met additional requirements to be able to use the coveted title ABR (Accredited Buyers Representative).

I hope this answered your question, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you as YOUR buyers agent!

Rich Ferretti

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Should We Move to Charlotte?

Dear Rich -

My family and I are thinking about moving to the Charlotte area from Rochester, NY. My husband can get a transfer for his job to the Charlotte area and my kids are in school until June. We would like to move over the summer before the following school year. We have just begun to research the area, but we have friends in the Fort Mill area of South Carolina. Can you give us any advice on where to start as we consider the relocation?

Mindy - in Rochester, NY

Dear Mindy,

I am excited for you as you consider relocating to Charlotte. The real estate market in Charlotte is very positive right now and I know that we can find you and your family an amazing new home. My first bit of advice is get your house in NY ready to sell. You may need to throw a new coat of paint on the walls, do some minor improvements, or declutter. Your real estate agent in New York will be able to assist you in that. The market in most places in the country are going through a difficult time, and anything that you can do to make your house more should do. Then, get that house on the market ASAP. It may very likely take many months to sell, so any head start you can get will be beneficial.

Next, take the time over the next couple months to research the different areas around Charlotte. Even come visit during the Spring and Summer to get the feel for our beautiful seasons. The town of Fort Mill, where your friends live, is very up-and-coming and popular. It is actually in South Carolina, although Fort Mill is an easy 30 minute commute to Charlotte, NC. Fort Mill schools are some of the best in the state in SC, and the area is affluent and growing. In addition to Fort Mill, there are areas including Tega Cay, SC and Indian Land SC, But then in North Carolina there is Matthews, Mint Hill, Uptown, the South Park area. Each neighborhood and town has a different personality and it is important to figure out what you are looking for in terms of neighbors, amenities, shopping, schools, etc.

I would be honored to show you some great properties here in Charlotte once you have some interest in your house in NY, and when you have pinned down what you are looking for. Charlotte is a fantastic place to live, work and raise a family. I look forward to meeting you very soon. Good luck selling your house in New York!

Rich Ferretti

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Now's the time to buy a home.

So you've been sitting on the side line waiting for the real estate market to change. Well, get ready to jump. It's a buyers market in Charlotte North Carolina. Builders are offering huge incentives on inventory homes. The resale home market is healthy and the mortgage rates are looking very good. Many of the mortgage lenders I work with are offering some really good programs.

Not sure where to move or relocate. It's easy, call, email or text me to get the ball rolling. My web site has all kinds of info and links to everything you need.

Still not sure???? Charlotte, North Carolina homes for sale is rated number 1 in the country.

Call me today so we can start a wonderful adventure.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Charlotte North Carolina Real Estate and Southern Winds Realty

Good Afternoon,

As a valued client, I wanted to take the time and update you on Southern Wind's strategy on selling your home.

Everyone is aware today what is taking place with our economy and frankly we're heading into uncharted territory with the market. We have a good working relationship with our peers and we're already hearing about cutbacks and attrition starting to take place within Real Estate firms and builders. Builders are marking down their existing inventories 15 to 20% to entice buyers and supply is greatly exceeding demand.

Our own Realtor board estimates over 700 Brokers will be out of the business this year and that is a conservative number.

While most companies have decided to cut costs and ride this out... we have decided to be a little more aggressive. Bottom line is... the buyer pool has shrunk and we have to compete much harder for those buyers to sell our inventory. In the past 45 days, we have done the following:1) Signed a long term contract with a search engine optimization to give us more exposure on Google and Yahoo. We are already starting to see some results. Example: If you typed Charlotte Relocation Services into Google, we currently are number one after the pay for click and sponsored links. According to Google the phrase above averages over 5,000 searches per month and will continue to increase as the economy improves.2) We also bought the URL which maps over and currently are on page two of Google with the goal to be number one. This averages over 6,000 searches per month. (source Google) We have also added several other names to try and capture the search engine traffic and will implement them as part of our on-line strategy. Example:,, etc.3)

We continue to identify Real Estate portals with high traffic to place your properties on for added exposure.It's important for you to know that we're not sitting around blaming the market... we're trying to be very proactive to sell your home. Some industry leaders in Charlotte feel the same way and have built a site to educate Real Estate consumers about our market.

If you missed today's paper, check out
We will continue to provide all our clients the Free Home Warranty and we will continue to provide a virtual tour of your home. Buyers are looking for more and more photos on line and we have found this product helps them with their buying decision.

Warm regards

PS: Please pass this along to your friends and family.

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