Monday, February 19, 2007

Governors Lake... From the $420's

The homes in Governors Lake feature gourmet kitchens with solid surface countertops and GE appliances, and tile and hardwood floors. Just minutes from Governors Club Golf Course, Jordan Lake and Chapel Hill, Governors Lake keeps you close to everything you need. And with amenities including a swimming pool, playground, park, tennis courts, walking trails and a lake, Governors Lake is the ideal location for your new home. With a variety of home designs, including ranches and two-story homes with first- or second-floor master bedrooms, you'll find the perfect home in this premier community.

School District Information:

Chatham County

The Gabels at Greystone... From the $390's

NOW SELLING single family homes from 2950 square feet to over 3700 square feet. Town homes COMING SOON! Enjoy the community pool, clubhouse, playground and walking trails. Great West Cary location in close proximity to Research Triangle Park, area universities and Thomas Brooks Park.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

These Boys need a Home, owner has terminal Cancer and is heart-broken. If interested, please contact the author of the Blog.

Thanks to you Dog Lovers Out there!

The Sprufera family - clockwise from top, father John, mother Lynn, Anthony, 11, Jessica, 9, and John, 17 - chat during dinner in their North Raleigh home. The Spruferas moved to the Triangle from Long Island.

John and Lynn Sprufera and their three children moved to North Raleigh from New York's Long Island last summer, embarking on a journey that just about all their friends have considered making at some point. On Long Island, Lynn Sprufera says, the word is out about North Carolina.
"Everyone talks about it," she said. "It's like a buzzword."

The Spruferas came to Raleigh after spending their entire lives in Suffolk County, which between 2001 and 2005 lost 1,875 of its residents to five Triangle counties, according to a nationwide study of Internal Revenue Service tax filings conducted by The Charlotte Observer.

Along with Fairfax County, Va., outside Washington (2,397), Los Angeles County (2,089) and Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago (2,034), Suffolk sent more people to the Triangle during that period than any other counties outside North Carolina.

If there is a thread linking the Spruferas and other transplants from these areas, it is a feeling that many of America's most populous counties are no longer places where getting ahead seems possible. In the Triangle, many people see the chance to enjoy a quality of life that has been slipping out of reach.

"It's like Suffolk County 30 years ago," John Sprufera said.

Between 2000 and 2005, the Raleigh-Cary region, which includes much of the Triangle, grew by 19 percent to almost 950,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The area was ranked the 18th fastest-growing region in the country.

Although the Triangle is experiencing its share of growing pains -- most notably, on roads and in schools -- economists say the area remains attractive because it has high job growth, a relatively low cost of living and a moderate climate.

"If you look at this area from 5,000 feet up, we still have a lot of room to grow," said Michael Walden, an economics professor at N.C. State University. "We'll probably have those factors making us more attractive for the foreseeable future."

A place of one's own

Of all the Triangle's attributes, few are more alluring than affordable housing. Over the past several years, real estate markets in the metropolitan areas around Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and New York have priced out many of the people who have moved to the Triangle.

In 2005, the median monthly housing costs for homeowners in Fairfax County, including utilities, was $2,133, compared with an average of $1,383 for Durham, Orange and Wake counties, according to the census.

Eric and Cristina Middleton house-hunted in the Washington area for a year before finally giving up and moving to Cary in June. The family of four was living in a 1,700-square-foot townhouse in Springfield, Va., which was keeping them from having a third child.

Cristina Middleton said she and her husband realized they would have to spend $600,000 just to purchase a fixer-upper in suburban Virginia.

"We wouldn't have any money to fix it up," she said.

In Cary, which ranked fifth on last year's Money Magazine list of the best places to live, the Middletons bought a 3,800-square-foot home for $460,000. Eric Middleton, who works for Cisco Systems, transferred to the company's offices in Research Triangle Park.

The move means Cristina Middleton no longer lives in the same neighborhood as her mother and brother, but she had a simple answer when family members asked how she could leave: "I want a house and a yard."

For many transplants, leaving a white-hot real estate market has given them seed money to start a new life in North Carolina.

Perspective: Buyers, sellers deserve chance to shop for settlement services

One of the most dysfunctional aspects of the typical real estate transaction is the near inability of home buyers and sellers to comparison shop for settlement services. A new business model that creates some sort of transparency has been introduced and is welcome, though whether this particular model is exactly the right tool for this important job remains to be seen.

Comparison shopping is severely limited today because buyers and sellers have little or no easy and reasonable access to information about settlement-related products and services. This dearth of information encompasses the nature of these products and services, the differences (if any) among similar products and services offered by various companies, the level of customer satisfaction with these products and services, and lastly, but not insignificantly, the prices of these products and services.

In lieu of comparison shopping, buyers and sellers typically select settlement services without much thought and typically on the recommendation or as a result of the outright decision-making power of real estate brokers and agents, and lenders and mortgage brokers. This system of choice is inherently dysfunctional because those recommendations are strongly influenced by affiliated business arrangements, which are essentially corporate-level kickbacks disguised by cloaks woven of disclosure forms. In the most egregious instances, these recommendations are based not on such legal arrangements, but rather illegal and undisclosed rebates and other perks, pecuniary or otherwise.

New Homes RalegihCary NC
U.S. home buyers and sellers spend $100 billion a year on transaction costs, and buyers' closing costs have risen eightfold in the last 40 years, according to an October Money magazine report. Whether those sums are accurate, reasonable and appropriate is difficult to assess, yet the widespread perception still exists that settlement services come at inflated prices. That perception comes from lack of transparency in the system such that buyers and sellers have little opportunity to choose. Regardless of whether costs are in fact inflated or whether transparency would result in lower costs, more information would at least address the perception. And if costs are indeed reasonable, there should be no objection to transparency of price information.

While Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, PropertyShark and others have focused on property data, another new entrant has tackled the issue of settlement costs with an intriguing business model. allows companies to advertise fees and provides estimates based on fee quotes submitted by those companies. Buyers and sellers enter their own data into the Web site, which then generates a quote for the services.

Judging by the current state of the Web site, the company's execution has thus far not fully met the promise of the concept: The data fields in the vendor profiles are underpopulated, and in at least a few instances, only first names are used for some vendors. The customer satisfaction statistics, blogs and other resources exist more in concept than fact and other areas of the Web site are also still under construction.

Yet despite those weaknesses, appears to have identified a need in the marketplace and created a model that could meet that need once the Web site is fully developed. The fact that others have tried unsuccessfully to introduce variations on this model doesn't mean the idea isn't worthwhile.

However, where seems to have missed the mark is in its obsession with "lower fees," rather than meaningful information about settlement products and services, and what differentiates providers and their products from one another. Commodities are sold on the basis of price, and are subject to intense price competition because there is by definition no other basis of differentiation -- commodities are identical by nature.

But real estate settlement services shouldn't be commodities. Instead, providers should offer buyers and sellers meaningful choices among differentiated products and services at various price points. Differentiation would empower vendors to compete for business without the threat of a price war.

The opportunity still exists for -- or another competitor -- to make differentiation as well as price a selling point for not only buyers and sellers, but vendors as well. That sort of marketplace would give real meaning to transparency.

Now Selling Final Phase

Cedar Grove Fairways in Wakefield Plantation is country club living in a family atmosphere. Wakefield Plantation offers excellent Wake County schools and unmatched amenities.

The family orientated TPC Sports Club facility includes 8 tennis courts, a Jr. Olympic competition pool, a water park pool with 100 foot waterslide, and a kiddie pool. The facilty features a grille, locker rooms, a golf/tennis shop and a fitness center. Additionally, Wakefield has an 18-hole TPC golf course and a 9-hole executive course.

In Cedar Grove Fairways you'll have your choice of 3 spacious open floor plans with basements and golf course lots available.

Eight Ways To Transform a House

"Two story brick traditional with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, island kitchen, and large deck!" Sound familiar? We often talk about houses in terms of room count, along with a list of finishes, such as tile floors, granite counters, or faux paint. While this vocabulary conveys certain facts, it does not provide the tools to think about how to re-design a house in a fabulous way.

It is valuable to be able to make the decisions that transform a poor design into a house that is memorable, enduring, and widely appealing. To do this we need to go deeper than simply updating finishes or increasing square footage. We must think about how the structure shapes the feelings and experience of its inhabitants. In the words of Winston Churchill, "We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us." When a house has design flaws, we know intuitively that it does not feel right. On the other hand, a well designed house can make us feel inspired, enriched, and touched by a sense of order.

We often see houses that have some elements in the structure and site that appeal to us, but cannot be lived in without remodeling. Often our clients say that they want to find a house with good bones (meaning good basic design), that they can update. The truth is that most houses have some good design and some bad design. Painting walls and updating fixtures will not cover bad design. You will need to think about the house in a deeper way. Use these design processes to help you make the difficult decisions that will result in a house that many people would love to live in.

1. Relate the house to the site.

Think about how the house integrates and interacts with the land around it. This awareness is a basic, but often ignored, beginning. The connection and interplay between interior and exterior spaces enhances both in a powerful way.

Manage the views from each window. Is there an undesirable view into a neighbor's home or yard? Is there a nice view that is blocked by a wall or fireplace?

Notice how the walkway leads to the street, where privacy is needed, where noise buffering is needed, how drainage will work.

A side area could be a private garden, accessible from the main bedroom. A front porch overlooking the street could bring the house into a relationship with the neighborhood.

2. Bring in natural light.

Houses can be transformed by adding windows and other light sources. Generous light feels safe and uplifting, and attracts people toward it.

Natural light raises the level of importance and the beauty of rooms. Light all main rooms from two sides, if possible, to reduce glare and balance the light. Use glass doors, windows, skylights, transoms, or light tunnels.

Keep passive solar techniques in mind as you add windows and shading devices. The control of solar energy for light and heat is fundamental for an efficient and comfortable home.

3. Break down hard barriers between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Glass doors, screens, and walls that slide open can create semi-transparent walls, forming indoor/outdoor spaces that have enormous appeal.

Breezeways, garden rooms, bay windows, and screened porches are spaces that people love. These bring people into contact with the outdoors, yet may be furnished in a comfortable way.

4. Think of outdoor spaces as large rooms.

When all areas of the site are thought of as living spaces, new ideas open up. These outdoor spaces expand the house by creating a sense of semi-enclosure in various ways.

Their edges can be defined by trees, fences, wings of the house or other buildings. For example, an outdoor room may be a shady natural space on the site enclosed by a line of trees and shrubs.

Outdoor living spaces can be courtyards, walled gardens, trellis covered breezeways, stone patios, or outdoor showers. Think about their use and connectedness to the house.

Often, we see an exterior space that is built as an isolated destination place - a second floor deck, for example. If you have to make an effort to go there, the space will not be used. Outdoor spaces are most used when they are on paths used by people coming and going. This is why a front porch is a very appealing design element. People naturally meet here, and the porch connects with neighbors walking by.

A popular outdoor living area is the backyard deck. This is often seems to be an afterthought, tacked onto the house. Can it be covered and screened?

5. Consider widening roof overhangs or adding propped shutters over windows.

This is a green building technique in warm climates, blocking solar penetration.

The view of the outside roof structure seen from inside the house evokes a sense of shelter and protection.

If possible, extend the roof in some areas to create covered porches or breezeways. Rooms that are simultaneously open and protected are very appealing.

Inside the house, exposed rafters, rustic beams, or wood surfaces on the ceiling create feelings of strength and character in the home.

6. Review traffic flow - a crucial, but often ignored, design element.

Walk down the paths that bring you inside the front door, then lead you to various rooms through the house, and again to the outdoors. Do they cut through the middle of living areas? When this happens the living area will never feel complete and comfortable.

Circulation paths should lead along the edges of main rooms, and efficiently to private rooms. A maze like floorplan creates a sense of wasted energy and confusion. Few exterior doors may result in a subtle feeling of being trapped.

Bring multiple uses to hallways and connecting spaces with bookshelves, windows or window seats.

Set apart the main entrance with details such as a covered place to stand, special doors, benches, or potted plants.

7. Compare the sizes of rooms in proportion to each other.

People have an intuitive sense of the correct hierarchy of spaces. Small living spaces will seem wrong when combined with large bedrooms.

Homes with awkward design can often be improved by removing walls to make one large space from several smaller ones.

Consider the use and function of each room. Is the room to be used privately, such as a bedroom, study, or library? Or, will the family gather here to cook and eat informally? Some houses include formal areas, others do not. Some have many rooms, others are very open. There is no right or wrong decision here. Houses that have a true and intuitive appeal have a clarity as to the function of each room.

8. Choose materials as an integral part of the design - not as decorator selections made at the end.

For example, structural materials can be exposed, or flooring can be used to connect and unify spaces.

Bring in the beauty and texture of natural materials. Use materials that offset each other - warm and cool colors, rough and smooth textures, solid and delicate walls.

Use materials to connect the house to the site - for example, a wood clad house surrounded by woods, or a stone house next to outcroppings of stone. Or, connect the house to the neighborhood with historic colors and siding. Repeat materials and colors to unify the interior and exterior.


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