Raleigh-Durham Real Estate Blog

New Mortgage Lending Rules in effect this week


New mortgage lending rules affecting residential purchase mortgages went into effect on October 3rd of this year.  The Good Faith Estimate, Truth in Lending Disclosure, and HUD1 Settlement Statement will be replaced by new disclosure forms, the “”Loan Estimate” and the “Closing Disclosure”.  The most noticeable change is that the Closing Disclosure must be presented to the borrower a full 3 days prior to closing.  Even more importantly, if certain changes are made to the Closing Disclosure within the 72-hour period, the closing may be delayed. 

The days of last-minute changes on the HUD1 may be long gone (especially changes made immediately before closing).

Loans are also expected to take longer to close.  Keep this timeframe in mind if you have pending loan lock expirations.  Buyers should consider longer (minimum 45 day) loan locks when going under contract.  Also, additional due diligence time may be needed to secure your loan commitment.  Taking shorter loan lock might cost less, but missing your closing date will more than likely cost you much more.   Rate shopping and waiting to submit your application to your lender may cost you more in the long-run.  Likewise, buyers of shortsale properties that have firm payoff dates will need to schedule their closing well in advance, to be on the safe side.  Same-day closings (i.e. selling your home and closing on the purchase of another home on the same day), will be even more challenging.    Also be aware that attorney fees are expected to increase due to the additional work required by the closing agent. 

I had the pleasure of sitting through my 3rd course on this topic today (I know….3 non-required classes on a single topic seems like overkill…BUT I love to learn, and it’s even more important to me that our team is ahead of the competition when it comes to representing our buyers and sellers, and providing them with the information they need to WIN in the local real estate market.)

More to come on this topic, but consider this a quick update so that you’re not caught off guard by the new loan documents, and settlement statement that are presented to you on your next purchase!

Are we in a Buyer’s Market or Sellers Market?

The Raleigh-Durham area is in the media as one of the hottest markets in the US.; And for good reason.  Inventory is quite low in many areas.  Prices and  multiple offer situations have increased. So this means it’s a seller’s market right?  Well…MAYBE...It depends on the type of property  and the location.  For example, in a particular Triangle location with properties under 300k , it is currently a strong seller’s market, as there is only approx. 1 month of inventory available for this type of property, and demand is very high.  Another particular submarket in Raleigh that  has properties priced at over 800k, however, has approx. a year of inventory available, which makes it a buyer’s market. So take the media reports with a grain of salt, and make sure that you understand the specific local submarket that you are buying in before placing your offer.  Given recent competition for properties, having this knowledge in hand can make a world of difference in the success of your purchase or sale!

More reasons why NOW is the time to buy Raleigh-Durham Real Estate…

Local Market Update


Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on October 7th, 2015 9:33 PM

This has been a heck of a summer season in the Raleigh-Durham market.  Properties in sought-after areas, and others with strong cashflow, or locations in the path of revitalization are going under contract at lightening speed.  If you’re interested in Raleigh-Durham investment property, be sure to have your financing in line, as the early bird gets the worm!

Triangle Market Update Reports (provided by www.trianglemls.com)

All 3 of the following articles point to a solid (and growing) economy, population, and real estate market in the Triangle area.  Hint:  BUY NOW in locations that are projected for future growth.  But don’t buy at a loss unless you have very good reason to do so (I've only seen 1 or 2 cases in 10+ years in real estate where buying at loss made sense).   Make sure that your numbers work TODAY, and  also have potential for growth down the line.  Part of our in-house property review process looks at current cashflow, and other factors in the area that may create additional benefits for long-term holds. Given that the Triangle has multiple educational and employment centers, there’s something to suit everyone’s preferences for investment property.  Call our office for assistance with your search!

Articles of Interest

And for a little fun, here’s a short film that illustrates how homes have changed over the past few decades (and a fun refresher on fashion and automobile changes over the years!)

Happy Investing!
And remember...

“Don’t wait to buy real estate, buy real estate and wait!”


Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on July 29th, 2015 6:47 PM
Is a repeat of the 2006 real estate market on the horizon? 

I haven't seen activity like this in the Raleigh-Durham market since 2006! Granted, the Triangle has remained a formidable market, even in rough times.  Our office has witnessed a notable uptick in multiple-offer situations in desirable locations, homes selling at or above asking price, and  a decrease in the amount of time that homes are sitting on the market. 

Earlier today, I thought back to a lunch meeting that I attended with a few colleagues back in 2007. During the prior year (2006), the market was moving at full speed; new construction was still active; and homebuyers, sellers and investors were winning.  Along with our typical real estate market chat, part of the conversation centered around how busy the real estate markets had been in 2006, and how things seemed to be leveling off in 2007.  Fortunately the Triangle has historically been a relatively stable market, so the slow-down was’t tragic.  But the comment was made “I wish we could have another year like last year…2006 was one for the record-books.”   Given that real estate tends to move in cycles, we knew that it would be a while until we saw a market like that again. Well, the wait is over…"2006 the sequel” has definitely arrived!

At present, year-over-year changes across the Triangle region are as follows
  • Inventory is down almost 20% (approximately 4.5 months inventory, and less than this in some areas)
  • Days on the market has decreased (i.e. homes are selling faster).
  • Sales volume has increased
  • Both average and median sales prices have increased
  • Homes are selling closer to list price

All of these point to a strengthening Raleigh-Durham market that is on a definite upswing. Our buyers have been scoring some really good properties.  And our sellers have been walking away with smiles based on favorable selling prices and terms.

If you have an interest in buying or selling property in the Raleigh-Durham market, be sure to give us a call!

Market Updates and Trend Reports

How to work with contractors

I met with a homeowner last week who was in the middle of an extensive historic restoration.  She’d fired her general contractor, and wanted assistance in getting the project back on track, despite having lost quite a bit of money and time on incomplete and/or shoddy repairs.  As a Realtor and licensed general contractor, I realize that there are many items that property owners might not be aware of when walking into a agreement with a contractor or repairman.  Following are a few important points to consider when initiating a rehab or construction project:

  • Deposits: Certain items should not require ample funds upfront.  For example, if you are providing materials for a job, and the contractor is only providing labor, then a small deposit (and sometimes no deposit, depending on certain factors) is acceptable, especially if you will be making prompt payments.  Be careful not to pay out too much in advance, as you risk falling short if the contractor doesn’t complete work as specified, or walks off the job before completing the work that he was paid in advance for.  If the job requires larger ticket items that have to be ordered in advance (i.e. cabinets, countertops, windows, large framing packages, etc…) then expect to pay a reasonable deposit to the contract prior to work starting.
  • Scope of Work:  If is very important to have all agreements with your contractor in writing.  This  includes any changes made to the scope of the project after work starts.  DO NOT RELY ON VERBAL AGREEMENTS as there are countless moving parts on a construction site, and the only protection that you may have are the written agreements between you and your contractor.
  • Design Decisions: Try to make all of your design decisions upfront, so as to minimize delays.   Consider that an items that creates a 1 day delay on your end, may not translate into a 1 day delay with your contractor.  Downstream items may need to be rescheduled based on your changes, and his can amplify delays to your timeline. 
  • Payments/ Lien Releases: For larger projects, request a partial lien release with each payment to your contractor.  This is your confirmation that everyone involved with the work leading up to the time of payment has been paid for their work, and can’t make a claim against your property.
  • Permits: CONFIRM THAT PERMITS ARE PULLED PRIOR TO WORK STARTING.  An owner can typically contact their municipality to confirm that permits are in place, if these are not posted onsite.  Be wary of comments like “…this project doesn’t require a permit.” The owner is often the only one who suffers down the line,  if un-permitted work is installed in the home. The municipality can require the owner to open up walls and have work re-done under a permit if questions arise down the line. 
  • References:  Ask to see a portfolio of the contractor’s prior work.  Drive by the properties if they included exterior edits, so that you can view the quality of work. (Note: Don’t bother the owners without notice, as they might not welcome your unscheduled visit!). Ask to speak with their references if you have a large project.  A reputable contractor should be able to provide these items.  A small amount of extra legwork upfront that help you to avoid a lot of lost time and money down the line.

 I hope this helps with your next project!

Quote of the Week

"Find out where the people are going and buy the land before they get there."
- William Penn Adair

FYI...Looks like “the people" are coming to Raleigh Durham! Why?  See below to find out so that you can “buy the land” before they arrive!

As always…Happy Investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on June 9th, 2015 5:22 PM


I realized last week that I’ve been a lazy landlord.  I yap about lazy landlords all the time and now I’m one of them!?  That’s a hard pill to swallow.  But not in the way you might think.  I’m lazy because I recently realized that I haven’t raised rents for some of my tenants in over 7 years!  Mind you, I’ve been blessed with long-term tenants who love living in my properties, and who want to stay in place.  7+ years for tenant longevity ain’t bad!  This consistency has lowered, and in some cases negated the turnover and re-leasing expenses in my portfolio on an annual basis, so it has been well worth the tradeoff.  The tenants take great care of the properties, and in return, I haven’t increased rents, in part, because I bought desirable properties, at formidable prices, in solid areas.  They generated a tremendous amount of cashflow to begin with, so short-term rent increases weren’t needed, which created a win-win for everyone.  No need to be greedy…especially since happy tenants make for a happy owner!  

Well, I recently noticed that other rentals were currently going for 20% more per month, so it might be time to make adjustments.  It’s good to know that the local rental market is on an upswing.  That means it’s time for investors to buy!  Call our office if you have an interest in acquiring local income property.  We'd love to help you sort through the myriad of options available to find the perfect next addition to your portfolio.

Lessons learned
  • Providing attractive housing in sought-after areas, and at competitive rents can dramatically increase tenant retention and lower turnover and vacancy expenses in your portfolio. 
  • Location should play a strong role in your decision to buy.
  • Investors  should take extra time before buying to be sure their properties will perform well long-term.   
  • Don’t buy if today’s rental rates don’t support your required cashflow.
  • As an add-on to the prior point, don’t bank on what rates “can” be unless your reserves can cover the property operating in the red short-term. 
  • Keep in mind that rents should increase over time, but so will expenses.  
  • Gradually increase rents over time to maximize your cashflow.  Try to remain competitively priced.  
  • Pricing at a premium may be warranted if your property includes amenities/benefits not offered by others in the area. 
Of course these are pretty obvious assumptions, but seeing them in action has made them crystal clear.  So…being lazy isn’t such a bad thing after all.  But, given the improving Raleigh-Durham rental market, it’s time for me to play catch-up with rental rates! 

Market Update Reports
Things are looking good for Raleigh-Durham Real Estate!  Sales volume is up…Prices are up…and in some areas, days on the market has dropped!  We've seen more multiple-offer situations recently as well, so buyers are competing for desirable homes that fit their buying criteria.  In addition, sellers are closing at prices that are closer to their asking prices. All of these point to a solid (and improving) local market.  Market updates report, as provided by Triangle MLS, can be viewed at the links below:

Articles of Note

The following are a few articles that point to the favorability of the NC housing market, especially in the Triangle Region:

Happy Investing!
Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on May 9th, 2015 4:36 PM

Hello Fellow Investor!


This installment of the Raleigh-Durham Real Estate update will focus of upcoming changes that will affect your real estate purchases, sales, holdings and/or renovation/construction projects. If you are currently in real estate anywhere in the US, or plan to be in the future,  you need to read this update. These changes are HUGE and will affect millions of property owners.  


Note: There are more changes forthcoming than can reasonably fit in a single update.  For this reason, the next few updates will cover these changes, so that you can be prepare in advance, and adjust your investing activities accordingly.


New settlement statement and closing process will affect ALL purchases and sales as of August 1, 2015.

Good Faith Estimates and Truth -In-Lending disclosures will soon disappear.  These will be replaced with a “Loan Estimate” document that must be provided by borrowers soon-after their documents are collected by the lender.


We all know the frequency at which last minute changes are made on the HUD1 settlement statement prior to closing.  Those last-minute changes will be a thing of the past after the new law takes effect.  The HUD1 Settlement Statement will be retired as well, in favor of a new “Closing Disclosure”.  This disclosure will need to be provided to the buyer 3 days prior to settlement, and if it is delayed, closing will have to be rescheduled.  This will affect investors who are buying or selling a property and are held to a firm closing date (due to a short-sale or other deadlines).  So plan accordingly, and be sure to leave ample time for closing and avoid settling closing dates at your hard deadlines.


More info here.


New SEER requirements of water heaters AND HVAC units

New water heater rules will take affect tomorrow, 4/16/15.  Newly manufactured water heaters will be required to meet new energy standards.  These standards may increase the size of the units so if you’re short on space (or have a water heater located in a tight closet space), consider swapping now to buy yourself more time.  Once the existing new units gone, they’re gone!


Likewise, new efficiency requirements have already taken effect for HVAC units.  The prior 13 SEER ratings have increased to 14 SEER on all newly manufactured units.  If your unit breaks down, Again, if you are short on space, now is the time to consider repairs and/or replacement while 13 SEER parts and units are still in stock.


More info here and here.


Shortsale opportunity in sought-after Audubon Park!  

This 3 bedroom, 2/5 bath, approx 1716 sq ft home with 2 car garage awaits your offer.  Convenient to I-40, Southpointe Mall, Research Triangle Park, and a myriad of other amenities. Seller asking $189,900 but says make an offer, and is open to investors.  Similarly-sized homes in the neighborhood have sold for 220k+  Needs cosmetics.   Ideal location for family or rental purposes. Contact our office for additional information.


Happy Investing!


Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on April 15th, 2015 4:48 PM
Happy New Year!

I hope your 2015 is off to an amazing start!  I heard a quote recently that came to mind as I sat down to write this update.  "You are not born a winner or a looser.  You are born a chooser.”  It resonated with me because it's pretty true.  Each of us is faced with countless choices every day. Each of these choices weighs in to our successes and/or  failures (i.e. whether we win or lose in life).  So, in keeping with the theme of "choice", I challenge you to CHOOSE to make 2015 your best year yet!  If  acquiring property during the upcoming year is one of your goals, feel free to touch base with us to help you along the way.  Also, the following are a couple items that can help you to get started.


There are thousands of properties on the market at any given time.  Narrowing down your home preferences can be a daunting task, but starting on this early can help to move you closer to owning the home of your dreams. Size, location, nearby amenities and in-house amenities/features are just a few items to consider.  Do you have to have a certain number of beds and baths?  Is a fireplace or dining room a must have?  Make a list of “must haves” and “would likes” to sort through your wish list. You might find that some items aren’t as important as you thought, and others might rise to the top of your preference list.  Location is very important, and it is important to know the area in which you’ll own a home.  Start this weekend by driving a few neighborhoods of interest to get to know them a little better.  Drive at different times of day as well, as this will give you insight into the residents, and activity in the neighborhood.  This will help you to decide if you can see yourself  as a resident in the neighborhood.  Investors can take heed of this advice too, in addition to the following…

Join your local Real Estate Investors Association (REIA for short).  These organizations provide an opportunity to surround yourself with others interested in investing.  This can lead to useful networking with potential investors, contractors, lenders, attorneys and other key people you’ll need on your team.  Members often cover a wide range of experience, so you’ll probably fit right in. REIAs often bring in speakers on different real estate topics, which can help you to determine where to focus your energies. If you are in the Raleigh-Durham area, www.treia.com is a good resource.  You can find REIAs in other areas at www.nationalareia.com.   There are also apartment associations and other organizations that cater to specific property types.  I’m biased on this front given that I closed my first couple deals with individuals I met at my local REIA, and I’ve made countless meaningful connections with others from that group.  Many of these contacts came about because of my volunteer service on the REIA board and as president of the REIA coalition, which lobbied for favorable laws affecting the real estate investment community.  So keep in mind that your output will only be proportional to the effort you put in.  If you plan to attend a REIA meeting, be sure to introduce yourself to the individuals facilitating the meeting, shake a few hands, and ask them how you can become more involved.

The Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Done As A Rental Property Owner:
I have been an active real estate investor/landlord/rehabber/etc…for the past decade, and have yet to evict a tenant (knock on wood).  Upon meeting a tenant to hand over keys, (which I try to do whenever possible), I have a quick chat with them, which helps to set the tone for the landlord-tenant relationship and creates an environment of cooperation that has helped  me to avoid many of the land lording headaches I often hear about.  That conversation goes something like this:   

“I’m glad you're moving in, and I think you’ll enjoy living here.  I really love this place and have put a lot of effort into repairs and updates.  Be sure to let me know ASAP if any maintenance items pop up, so that I can take care of them before they become larger repair items.  I’ll also stop by every once in a while to change air filters etc…  Rent is due on the 1st, but isn’t late until after the 5th, so be sure to keep this in mind, and touch base with me in advance of your due-date if you have any questions/concerns.  

I end it by letting them know the best way to reach me, or my office manager in case of emergency. This conversation accomplishes several things that I believe are key to successful income-property ownership:

  1. It sets an expectation. The tenant knows that I care about the property.  They understand that I have put effort into the condition of the property, and I expect it to remain that way.
  2. It reinforces the rental payment schedule.  They are already aware of this from signing the lease, but something happens in a tenant’s mind when they hear it spoken to them from the property owner,  and they verbally confirm it.
  3. It advises them up-front that I’ll be visiting the property occasionally, and will likely have an eye on condition and other items. (So they know not to tear it up, get any unauthorized pets, move someone in who isn’t on the lease, etc!)
  4. Last, but probably most importantly, it lets the tenant know that I appreciate him/her.  I’m not a 100% hands-off owner who only wants to gather their monthly rent and have no other interaction.  Although I’ve provided my contact information to almost every one of my tenants over the years, I rarely get a call/email/text from them.  But I’m sure they appreciate knowing that I welcome their call if they chose to do so.
This conversation brings a human element into the traditionally stark landlord-tenant relationship. Even if you don’t manage your own properties, you might want to consider attending the key handoff meeting and having this brief chat in the presence of your tenant and property manager.  It’ll help to keep everyone on their toes to know that you will be watching!

Other Raleigh-Durham Info You Don’t Want to Miss!  (links to articles are below)

As always...Happy Investing!
Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on January 9th, 2015 6:22 PM
Now that everyone has returned from their Thanksgiving holiday festivities, it’s time to get back to business.  This market update is a WHOPPER!

A Great time to Buy
Both my team and my clients have picked up some amazing deals recently on investment property. Plus, it’s nearing year-end, and banks may be willing to stretch a bit more to get non-performing assets off their books at a lower price for a solid buyer. The Triangle market is still on an upswing (see market stats below). Lending has loosed up (but not a lot).  These 3 items point to it being a great time for you to pick up Raleigh-Durham real estate.  Contact our office for assistance with your next purchase or sale.

What Makes the Triangle So Awesome?
For real estate investors, the Triangle has a wealth of solid deals.  Whether you are a buy-and-hold investor, a rehabber, or a private lender, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (“The Triangle”) has plenty of options to suit your needs. The Raleigh-Durham area benefits from a diverse mix of residents and industries, and multiple industry hubs, including Research Triangle Park (one of the world's largest Research Parks).

In addition, the Triangle area is:
This year, there are already more than 20 additional top rankings. They include:
  • #3 Best city for young entrepreneurs (Credit Donkey)
  • #5 fastest-growing retirement place, Raleigh-Cary (Nerdwallet)
  • #5 Emerging Tech Hub in the World (TransferWise)
  • #7 Best Regional Airport (Skytrax)
  • #3 fastest-growing city (CNN) 

For all of you pet fans out there, Raleigh was even a top dog in dogs last year: #1 top dog friendly city in America (PetCareRx).

Read more here

And to top it all off, the Triangle area still ranks well in affordability (at least for now!).  So, if you’re on the fence regarding purchasing a home or investment property, now’s the time to act!  Call us today!

3rd quarter market update video
The 2014 Q3 market update video, provided by Triangle MLS, can be viewed here.

Landlord tips for self-managing your rental properties
I’ve received quite a few requests recently for a follow-up to a class I offered on rehab-and-hold opportunities. The class focused North Carolina's robust historic preservation tax credits on income-producing properties.  When paired with the benefits of rental property ownership, you end up with a powerful income-producing tax shelter for qualifying projects.

The rental aspect of this combination is important, and tenant screening a major factor in the success of the project.  Some landlords have found themselves drowning in expenses for repairs and mortgage payments, when their tenants turn out to be deadbeats. It is very important to harness your eagerness in filling a vacant space with the first interested prospect.  Thinking long-term is important, and ideally, you want tenants who will take care of the property, pay on time, and stay in place for a while.  Below are 5 tips for your tenant screening process:

  1. Set your rental criteria upfront.  This will help you to avoid Fair Housing violations by treating prospective tenants differently.  Will you allow pets? Smokers?  What credit criteria must be met?  Are past evictions ok?  What is the minimum income requirement?  Be prepared to provide this information to interested applicants when providing an application. They will appreciate your being upfront, and this may save you time in running a non-qualified application, as well as saving the applicant their hard-earned application fee.
  2. Call employers to be sure the applicant is still employed!  Collecting paychecks is a practice followed by some landlords, but these can be doctored, or even worse, might be a final paycheck for a now-unemployed applicant.  Be sure to call the employer to confirm the employment status before handing over keys!
  3. Spot false landlord references.  One of the many tricks that I share with my clients is meant to help weed out sneaky applicants who list a friend or relative as the landlord.  If the tenant has been evicted or left their prior place of residence without notice, they might not want to list their landlord for a rental reference.  To work around this, try this trick:  When you call to verify the prior rental status, quote an incorrect lease amount and see if the landlord corrects you.  For example, if your applicant stated on their application that they paid $1000 for rent at their last place of residence, when you call the prior landlord, be sure mention that you are calling to get a rental reference and confirm their prior rental rate of $1600.  If the landlord doesn’t blink an eye at the incorrect figure, they probably aren’t the actual landlord!  Also be sure your application includes appropriate wording that allows for you to call the employer, etc... to confirm the information they provided.
  4. Please, please, PLEASE take the time to use move-in/move-out checklists.  Provide one at move-in and collect it several days later.  This is your agreement with the tenant on the condition of the home at move-in.  It saves a lot of wasted time at move-out if there is damage, or repairs (beyond regular maintenance) are needed
  5. Use a quarterly HVAC filter replacement as a chance to see how the tenant is caring for your property.   There are 2 benefits to this practice.  First, it ensures the filters actually get changed (Tenants will forget, even if it is noted in the lease as their responsibility.  Then, when the unit dies, you are the one who will have to shell out 4-figures to fix or replace it). Second, it is an opportunity to view the interior of the unit/home and note any concerns about condition with the tenant.  
There are countless other items that a rental property owner should be aware of, so we’ll cover some of these over upcoming months.  I’m confident the items mentioned above will be of immediate benefit to your investing endeavors!

Happy Investing!
Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on December 2nd, 2014 5:36 PM

Workshop to Help Landlords Effectively Manage Properties and Halt Illegal Activity; Pre-Registration Deadline August 18

What:     August 2014 Landlord Training Workshop

Who:      City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services Department, Durham Police Department, Solid Waste Management Department, Public Works Department Stormwater & GIS Services Division, Water Management Department, and the Durham City/County Planning Department. Other sponsors include Durham Housing Authority and Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc.
When:    Thursday, August 21, 2014, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where:   City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement 
              Services Department
              Main Conference Room
              807 E. Main St., Suite 2-300
              Durham, N.C. 27701
Fast Facts:
•  The Landlord Training Workshop is specifically designed to assist landlords, property managers, resident managers, and any others who are actively involved in managing rental housing. The Landlord Training Workshop is conducted on the third Thursday of every month as part of the Proactive Rental Inspection Program to provide regular training opportunities to help landlords become more effective property managers.
•  This monthly workshop will demonstrate effective property management practices to significantly contribute to safe and decent housing as well as provide successful techniques on how to halt illegal activity on rental properties. Workshop topics will include how to build landlord, renter, homeowner, and business relationships; applicant screening techniques; rental agreements and fair housing issues; management techniques; the eviction process; how to achieve a stable, satisfied tenant base; how to maintain property to habitable standards; City code enforcement; Proactive Rental Inspection Ordinance (PRIP); and the Property Management Entrepreneurs Program Plan (PMEP).
•  The cost to attend is $10 per person and includes workshop materials. Seating is limited. Attendees may pay by check or money order by Tuesday, August 18. To download the workshop brochure and registration form, visit this link

•  Interested participants may also contact Community Engagement Manager Lynwood Best with the City’s Neighborhood Improvement Services Department, at (919) 560-1647, ext. 34254 or by email at Lynwood.Best@DurhamNC.gov.
About the Neighborhood Improvement Services Department
The Neighborhood Improvement Services Department works to preserve and improve quality of life conditions for Durham residents, and to encourage active participation in neighborhood redevelopment and public policy and decision making dialogue. The department is responsible for enforcement of quality of life ordinances and state statutes including the City’s Minimum Housing Code; Nonresidential Code; Weedy Lot, Abandoned & Junk Vehicle ordinances; and the State of North Carolina’s Unsafe Building Statute. The department’s rapid responders, known as the Impact Team, remediate non-compliant housing properties; abate public nuisances, such as litter, graffiti, illegal dumping, and abandoned shopping carts; and conduct neighborhood service projects. The department’s Community Engagement staff provides outreach and education to Durham residents and community organizations. Guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, the department helps ensure that Durham has thriving, livable neighborhoods by providing the highest quality of services to engage and educate the community, eradicating blight, ensuring safer neighborhoods and enhancing neighborhood revitalization. For information, visit this link.

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on August 18th, 2014 10:57 AM
View Comments (1)
Hello fellow (and aspiring) Property Owners!

Indicators are showing a steady uptick in the Triangle housing markets. If you're on the bench regarding a home or investment purchase, visit the links below to load up on local area info, and call our office to get in the game!  If you already have a portfolio of properties, there's no better time than the present to expand it. Our office has noticed an increased number of multiple-offer situations on homes in desirable areas. Our home inspectors and attorneys are noticing more activity as well.  This speaks volumes to the amount of real estate activity in the Triangle.   A number of target areas in the city are noticing upswings as well, based on the city's investment in improving infrastructure, and both the city's, homeowners' and private investors' investment in formerly-blighted communities.  Risk-tolerant investors can realize a potential benefit from buying while prices are still low in these areas.  

The articles below will get you up to date on some of the benefits of the Triangle area (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill), and the housing markets therein:

2nd Quarter 2014 Market Update Video (provided by Triangle MLS)
Triangle Home Sales up 3.4% In 2014 (Prices too!)
Forbes: Raleigh Leads the Best Places for Business and Careers 2014
Top 5 States for Technology Jobs (NC ranks 3rd)
Construction Jobs Nudge Up Across Raleigh
Foreclosures Down in NC  

Durham Alarm Registration Program  
If your home or rental property is equipped with an alarm system, be sure to review the City of Durham's Alarm Registration Program (877) 665-2982 to determine if you need to register.  Due to the waste of valuable city resources created by responding to these false alarms, the city has decided to collect false alarm fees from residents/owners. This may be an item to discuss with your tenants, to determine who will be responsible for these fees, when and if they are incurred.

BEFORE YOU CLOSE: Don't Forget to Check with NIS for violations and open permits
The City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services Department is your resource for all things housing-related.  I'll let you visit their website to review their list of services.  An important one that I'll mention here is the housing violations database/list.  Prior to purchasing a home that is in need of repair, be sure to call NIS to determine if there are open housing violations against the home.  Also ask if there are any open permits pending in their office.  This information is important to know poor to taking ownership of a property, as the violations and open permits travel with the property, and are not extinguished upon transfer of ownership.

Landlords...Change Your Air filters (And Don't count on you tenant to do it for you)
I know this seems like such a simple item; But is an often-overlooked, and potentially expensive oversight items for landlords.  Many of you have a maintenance clause in your lease that requires the tenant to maintain lightbulbs, air filters, etc... in your rental units.  I recommend keeping the air-filter swap-out as a to-do on your list for 2 reasons:

1.  This is an inexpensive (<$10) must-do item that, if overlooked, can burn out your HVAC unit, and create a 4-figure expense at your property if repair or replacement s required.  Tenants will forget to change the filter, and, since they are not responsible for the expense of HVAC repair, have little incentive to remember.  Buy a good filter (not the cheap ones that you can easily see through, and change it yourself. If you can see through the fibers in the filter, dust can easily get through so spend a couple extra bucks today and save yourself thousands in the long-run.

2.  Changing filters regularly is your excuse to do a quick walkthrough at your property, and talk to the tenant (if they are at home).  The return is usually in a central location, so upon entering the home/unit you'll be able to gauge cleanliness and visible repair needs, note unapproved pets/pet odors, and observe the overall condition in which the tenant is maintaining the home. These are good things to know when repair issues arise and/or lease renewal dates come around.

Remember to only enter the rental for filter swaps per the access timelines outlined in your lease (or per state law).

I've received a slew of questions from investors interested in self-managing their rentals.  Look for some of my tips in my next blog installment.  If you have a specific question that you'd like for me to include, feel free to submit it via our Contact page.

Until then...

Happy Investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on August 13th, 2014 3:13 PM
Happy Independence Day!  

I hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend.  Given the holiday theme of “independence” I thought it appropriate to touch base with you to share some local market insights, with the goal of moving you forward in your real estate investing activities and your path to “financial independence” through real estate!  

Triangle Market update
The Triangle MLS Triangle Market Update Video can be viewed here 

Out of Area Buyers and Sellers
Do you live outside of the Triangle but want to benefit from the residential and commercial investment property opportunities in the Raleigh-Durham area? No worries we have you covered! We work frequently with out of state, and overseas/international clients   To be sure that you have a solid idea of the properties you are working with, we facilitate photo and video walkthroughs, and our lenders and attorneys are well-versed at facilitating document closings for individuals who can’t attend a local closing. In addition, our relationships with repairmen, inspectors, and all of the other key people needed to make the transaction move forward, are already in place to benefit you.  So don’t stand on the sidelines and watch the real estate fun in the Triangle.  Give our office a call and own a piece of Raleigh-Durham!

Interesting Articles About the Triangle
Here are a few interesting articles to keep you on top of things taking place in Raleigh-Durham!

Flip Tips 
I've assisted countless homebuyers and investors with their purchases and sales over the years. Over time, I’ve found that many real estate investors have the same questions and concerns as others, especially when it comes to quick-sales (“flips”).  The following is a short compilation of items taken from conversations that I've shared with clients over the years.  There’s nowhere near enough space here to include the full list of items to consider when flipping a property. I hope the few items mentioned below will spark some ideas and aid you in your investing activities.  If you want to learn more, or become one of my investor-clients so that we can cover the slew of other items to be aware of when investing, feel free to give me a call.

1) Insurance - Always purchase the type of insurance that applies to your transaction.  If you are purchasing a home to live in, a homeowner’s policy should suffice.  For landlords, a landlord/rental policy is needed.  For flipping, and when renovations will be completed, a builder’s risk policy may be needed.  in all cases, if you suspect that you’ll have extended vacancy timeframes at your property, a vacancy policy, or extended vacancy rider is something to consider speaking with your insurance agent about.  Some investors opt for a cheaper policy-type when buying a property, but keep in mind that, regardless of the price you pay for the premium; If the wrong policy is in place, the insurer might not pay out when a loss occurs.  Insurance is nothing to skimp on, so have a sound conversation about this with your insurance professional prior to closing on a property.  Ask about additional endorsements/riders that might benefit you down the line (extended vacancy, lost rent coverage, theft/vandalism, etc…)

2) FHA buyers- Some investors like to purchase properties to flip to 1st time homebuyers.  Many of these buyers may have FHA loans, and there are some items to be aware of if this is the case.  FHA loans are popular with 1st time buyers because of the low downpayment requirements, but soon after the housing bust, these government-backed loans didn’t allow buyers to purchase a property that had been purchased recently and then placed back on the market at an inflated price.  Part of the reason for this is that many FHA loans were foreclosed on during this time, and some of the appraised values were questionable when it was found that cosmetic “band-aid” fixes were done and the property resold to an unsuspecting buyer at a high price, without the seller/investor fixing the larger structural/mechanical problems in the home that might not have been visible at the initial appraisal. They have since changed their requirements for buyers purchasing homes that were recently bought by and investor, fixed up and put back on the market quickly.  Nevertheless, this is an item that you should be aware of if you plan to flip investment property. 
The following link may offer some potential insight into this matter: http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2012/12/05/fha-suspends-anti-flip-2014/

3) Durham Toilet Rebate Program  - The city of Durham has a really cool program to encourage property owners to change their old, toilets for new water-efficient models.  They offer a $100 rebate to owners for each qualified swap.  Landlords who include water with the rent should take notice, as this can add to your monthly cash-flow by lowering your tenants' water bills.  There are other low-cost edits you can make to save on water expenditures as well, including sink aerators, and low-flow shower heads.  More about the Toilet Rebate program can be found here.

4) Think Like A Buyer - I wish I had more space (and time) for this one.  Somewhere down the line, I think I’ll write an article on how NOT to rehab a property!  To keep it short, the best advice that I can give current and fit ire flippers is to “Think Like A Buyer” when rehabbing/renovating a home that you intend to resell.  This goes for everything that you put into the home (finishes, landscaping, and all other amenities).  This is not the home that you will reside in, so it is important to determine the probable demographic of your potential buyer pool(s) and create a property that will appeal to them. A small, 1 bedroom condo in a busy metro area will have a very different buyer, with different needs, than a 4-bedroom home on a sprawling lot will have.  So create the amenities, and conveniences in each respective property to lock in a buyer when they walk through the door. For instance, that 1 bedroom urban condo owner will want cool space-saving options for storage and modern finishes, whereas the sprawling 4-bedroom owner, will likely be a family, and will be looking for indoor and outdoor entertainment spaces, and open floor plans that can lend to creating memories with family and friends.

5) Inspections and Repairs - Another important item to note: Understand that most buyers will get an inspection and an inspector knows that buyers will give a side-eye to the inspection report that they paid several hundred dollars for, if the inspector doesn’t find anything wrong with the property. In 10 years in this business, I have NEVER seen a buyer's inspection come back squeaky clean (even on brand-new construction that has never been lived in).  So save space in your budget for repairs needed prior to closing per the buyer’s inspection report and repair request.  There will be something noted therein, and the buyer and/or their agent may want it corrected as a requirement for closing the purchase.

6) Location...Location...Location- This mantra is repeated so often in real estate that I think some folks are starting to mute it out and overlook it when it comes to their property purchases.  But this is still, the most important factor in your real estate transactions. If you intend to buy a property for investment purposes, then you should buy where others want to rent or live.  I've met many investors over the years who bought investment property (often based solely on price) in areas that were not appealing to buyers or tenants (hence the low-ball price they were able to get it for).  Rarely are these good options for flips, as buyers may be deterred by the undesirable characteristics of the location, despite it being a lovely home.  For landlords, unless you have a great property manager who is versed at succeeding in challenging areas, these areas aren't ideal for rentals either. You may have to deal with more turnover or tenant headaches over time, which can eat into your cash-flow. On the flip side, an event this week reminded me of the importance of location.   Upon realizing that I had 2 tenant vacancies coming up in my personal portfolio, I made sure that marketing was put out to draw potential tenant interest.  Within 4 days of posting ads for these properties, I had 7 very eager, and very qualified potential tenants clamoring to get into these properties, and a slew of other emails/phone calls from tenants seeking more information.  This was due to the desirability of the areas where these properties are located.   So once again, location, Location, LOCATION!!! Never overlook it, because it makes all the difference in real estate.

There's so much more I'd like to share with you, but we'll save that for down the line. 
In the meantime....Happy (Financial) Independence Day, and Happy Investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on July 3rd, 2014 9:15 PM

Upcoming Landlord Training Workshop 

Register Today for only $10!
Sponsored by the City of Durham
Workshop to Help Landlords Effectively Manage Properties and Halt Illegal Activity

Fast Facts:

The Landlord Training Workshop is specifically designed to assist landlords, property managers, resident managers, and any others who are actively involved in managing rental housing. The Landlord Training Workshop is conducted on the third Thursday of every month as part of the Proactive Rental Inspection Program to provide regular training opportunities to help landlords become more effective property managers.

This workshop will demonstrate effective property management practices to significantly contribute to safe and decent housing as well as provide successful techniques on how to halt illegal activity on rental properties. Workshop topics will include how to build landlord, renter, homeowner, and business relationships; applicant screening techniques; rental agreements and fair housing issues; management techniques; the eviction process; how to achieve a stable, satisfied tenant base; how to maintain property to habitable standards; City code enforcement; Proactive Rental Inspection Ordinance (PRIP); and the Property Management Entrepreneurs Program Plan (PMEP).

 The cost to attend is $10 per person and includes workshop materials. Seating is limited. Attendees may pay by check or money order before Tuesday, May 13. To download the workshop brochure and registration form, visit http://bit.ly/1jE8V4u

Interested participants may also contact Lynwood Best, community engagement manager with the City’s Neighborhood Improvement Services Department, at (919) 560-1647, ext. 34254 or by email at Lynwood.Best@DurhamNC.gov.

Triangle Market Update
Provided by Triangle MLS
Updates are for the period ending in March 2014.

Fair Housing Overview

This topic includes more nuances than I can tackle in this brief update, but I’ll try my best to cover some of the basics. Remember that state and federal housing laws apply to ALL individuals, not just Realtors or large firms.  These laws list 7 protected classes that landlords and home-sellers need to be aware of when advertising, showing, leasing and selling their properties.  Those found violating these laws are subject to disciplinary action and heavy financial penalties.  Visit the HUD Fair Housing website for additional information 

Protected classes:
  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex/Gender 
  • Handicap/Disability
  • Familial Status

Be aware that certain practices that might project an slight internal preference can be blatant Fair Housing Violations.  Let’s look at 2 examples:

  1. Stating that a unit is already rented based on the race of the inquirer.
  2. Showing multiple units in a multi-family building to prospects of 1 national origin, but showing limited units, to other groups.

Also be aware that certain terms in your advertising can violate fair housing.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has compiled advertising guidelines to ensure the public understands their requirements.  The following is a list of terms that are unacceptable due to a discriminatory inference or connotation.  These terms should be avoided in advertising property for lease or sale:
  • able-bodied
  • active
  • adult-only
  • no alcoholics
  • no blind/impaired
  • no children
  • couples only
  • male only/female only
  • restricted
  • exclusive

To further illustrate, the following is an advertising example compiled from examples from the NC Real Estate Commission that includes numerous questionable fair housing-related items. Explanations for other questionable items are also noted.:

Perfect retirement nest, or ideal for Christian SWF, over 30.  Quaint 2BR, 2BA stone bungalow, 1640 Sqft, New HVAC; Kitchen remodeled, fenced private yard.  Quiet neighborhood.  $235,000.  Call Mary Jones, 929-783-2694

The ad seems simple enough, but when we take a close look it includes several questionable items:
  1. “retirement nest” - leans to a preferred buyer-type that can violate fair housing due to discrimination based on familial status
  2. “Ideal for Christian SWF over 30”.  This one should be self-explanatory as it includes violations based on religion and sex/gender. Age is protected under some state guidelines, so it’s probably best to avoid this altogether.
  3. “New” HVAC.  This is not a Fair housing violation, but be careful.  Unless it was just installed, and unused, be careful with describing an item as “new”.  You’d be surprised how broadly this term is used in advertisements, and in some cases can lead buyers/tenants and lead to disagreements. 
  4. Kitchen “remodeled”.  Similar to #2 above, it is not a Fair housing issue, but be descriptive with this items if space allows to alleviate disagreements with prospective tenants or buyers. 
  5. “Quiet” is also a subjective term and should be avoided. 
  6. “1/2 block from synagogue”.  This one is tricky, as it seems to be a material fact based on the existence of a nearby synagogue. However, it is better to use “place of worship” to avoid the appearance of perforce for a specific religious group.

Congratulations to our clients!
The market is picking up for the spring/summer season, and properties are turning over quickly in desirable areas.  We've even noticed an upswing in multiple-offer situations, and low inventory in some areas.  We'd like to congratulate our clients, Ricky, Rebecca and Nicole on their recent property acquisitions.  Equity and cash-flow are the cornerstones of real estate.We are excited to be a part of your team, so be sure to keep up updated on your progress!

Quick Renovation Tip
Wallpaper has come up quite a bit with our clients recently.  In most cases, wallpaper does not help you sell a home, as in many cases it is considered "cheap" or "dated", or might be too personalized for the viewing public.  Remember, this item can be resolved relatively easily if it is on the walls in a home that you are considering for purchase.  When selecting a property, pay closer attention to those items that are more expensive to resolve (i.e. an obsolete floor plans, systems needing replacement, etc...).  but, in case wallpaper has been a part of your conversations recently, the following is a solution. Wallpaper Wonder: Get extremely-stuck wallpaper off the wall fast with a mixture of fabric softener, vinegar, and hot water. Then, paint that wall! 

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on May 15th, 2014 9:13 PM
View Comments (1)


This update focuses on 2 important topics that will help you to remain profitable in your real estate endeavors. First, always stay on top of local market trends.  You’ll find market update links below.  Second, make sure that the professionals on your team have integrity, and maintain your best interests throughout the working relationship.  See “How to Make Sure Your Property Manager Isn’t a Crook”.

Local Market Update Data 

(Info provided by Triangle MLS through February 2014)

Wake County

Orange County

Durham County

Entire Triangle Region

How To Make Sure Your Property Manager Isn’t a CROOK!

This topic came to mind after witnessing the devastation caused by an unscrupulous property manager who conned some of our investor clients out of thousands of dollars.

Property management can make or break your landlording experience.  A good property manager is a valuable partner to have on your team.  This person can lower your cost of ownership by minimizing vacancy times and repair costs.  A bad or unscrupulous property manager, however, can squash any chance of profitability.  Keep in mind that cheaper is not always better when it comes to property management.  To illustrate this,  let’s start with a story:

Darlene has owned a few rental properties for several years.  The properties have been relatively profitable, but she realizes she doesn’t have time to manage her tenants, so she decides to try out a new property manager. The property manager she finds quotes a 6% management fee (which is much lower than other local managers in her area).  She states that the fee is low so that she can “prove” herself to the owner as a good manager, but that the fee will increase over the next year to a max of 7%. Likewise, the manager negotiates a 1/2 month rent as her fee for getting a new tenant into a vacant unit on a 12 month lease. She also negotiates that she will keep the late rent fees, as compensation for having to follow-up with the tenants.  She also sets fees for handling evictions and for screening tenants (running credit checks, verifying employment, etc…).  Darlene feels the fees are fair, and signs off on the management agreement.

Everything starts out well.  The property manger is responsive and seems to be on the ball.  Over time, however Darlene notices that her phone calls aren’t returned in a timely fashion.  She is also noticing that her rents aren’t coming in on schedule.  She receives notice that she has a vacancy in one of her units and repairs are needed.  She pays for the repairs, but when she visits the property, she doesn’t see evidence that work was done.  She calls the property manager for clarification on repairs and receives an email that the manager will call her the following day.  But she doesn’t receive the call.  She receives notice that a new tenant has occupied another vacant unit, but she won’t receive the full rent for that month since the property manager’s 1/2 month fee is paid from this amount.  She is relieved at the new tenancy, but disturbed when the following month’s rent from this unit doesn’t come in on time.  More and more items start to pile up, and she finally decides to fire the property manager.  The manager doesn’t want to let her out of the agreement, however, and states that a lot of front-end legwork has gone into setting up management for her units.  So Darlene decides to leave the manager in place for a bit longer to see if things improve.  

Things however, don’t improve, and one day Darlene receives a letter in the mail stating that the real estate commission has revoked the property manager’s license and she will be closing her doors. The manager  refers her to another management firm, but Darlene decides she’d rather go back to managing herself.  Just over a year has passed and she has new tenants that she needs to get to know; especially the ones who aren’t paying on time.  So she visits the property and speaks with tenant #1, who tells her that she has an agreement with the property manager to pay rent on the 21st of each month,  rather than the 1st, since that is when her paycheck arrives.  The manager had never relayed this to Darlene, but kept the late fee every month and made it look like the tenant was just slow-paying.  Likewise Darlene meets tenant #2 in another unit.  She finds out that his credit is insufficient, he is a sex offender, and his monthly income is less than the monthly rent.  Never-the-less the property manager took her 1/2 month fee up front to occupy the unit with this under-qualified tenant.  Finally, upon visiting the county courthouse to follow-up on eviction proceedings for another non-paying tenant, she learns the eviction was never filed; despite the property manager taking the eviction fee out of her proceeds and stating it was pending. 

To make matters worse; Despite the property manager’s license being revoked by the state, the manager continued to manage properties through yet another company, not knowing that both past clients/tenants, and the real estate commission were watching.  So to avoid falling victim to an unscrupulous manager such as this, consider the following: 

  1. Make sure incentives are such that you don’t get nickel-and-dimed out of your cash-flow.  Negotiate with your property manager so that you keep the late-pay fee.  Or arrange to keep it if multiple late payments come in within certain period of time. Remove the manager’s incentive to occupy your units with unqualified tenants.
  2. Check with the local real estate commission to be sure your property manager is licensed.  Do this every time you are presented with a property management renewal agreement. Some states allow you to do this with a quick online name search. 
  3. If your property manager’s firm changes name often, it might be because they are fighting too many court battles under their current company name, so they set up new companies to start with a clean slate and try to limit their financial liability.  Be aware of this.  In Darlene’s case, she found that her property manager had 4 companies linked to her name in the past 4 years.  All of the companies had judgments or lawsuits pending.
  4. Ask that you are able to review and approve tenant applications prior to final signing of the lease.  This will add an extra step to an already-busy property manager's work, but can be a quick process via fax or email.  Be flexible in working with your manager to find a process that works for both of you.
  5. You should receive a copy of all invoices/receipts related to repair work before any funds are paid.  The manager has to have these on hand to pay the repairman, so there shouldn't be any delay in getting a copy of these to you.  Also, be sure to keep serial numbers for your large appliances, etc… as some managers just swap these between units rather than buying replacement units.
  6. Get to know your tenants and don’t hesitate to drive-by or walk-through your properties to keep a handle on condition and tenancies (just be sure to follow the lease terms regarding visiting hours, etc…)
  7. If an eviction seems to be taking too long, check with your city/county to be sure paperwork was filed.

We hope these pointers will help to ensure profitability for your rentals when using the services of a property manager. Above all else, don't assume all property managers are bad, as there are outstanding property managers out there who work very hard to create a positive experience for their landlord clients.  BUT, when you see signs of mismanagement, don't overlook them!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on March 19th, 2014 5:06 PM

Fellow and Aspiring Investors:


It's been a while.


Between completing some exciting construction projects, working with our investor and homebuyer clients on their purchases and sales, and travelling quite a bit (Israel, Ghana, and Brazil within the past year or so), I realize that I haven't reached out to my blog subscribers in a long while.  Hopefully this update will provide you just the right amount of information+inspiration to keep you on track in your real estate endeavors! Let’s dive right in…



The Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) market is picking up.  It felt like a slight tweak at first, but competing bids and shrinking inventory are proof that the local market is heating up. As of August 2013, Triangle closings were up over 19% as compared to 2012, and the median sales price was up by almost 8%!  Local market updates are at the links below:

Entire Triangle Region

Durham County

Wake County

Orange County


Given the uptick in the market, investors are coming out in droves to snag solid properties.  But, as we all know, all of the good deals aren't on the open market.  Wholesalers, my clients need good properties!!! If you are a property wholesaler in the Triangle market and have properties currently available, shoot me an email at tiffany@tiffanyelder.com with the details.  I'm specifically looking for small multifamily (2-4 unit) properties in solid areas, single family rental properties, and and historic district properties in need of repair.


You’ve likely noticed an increase in home remodeling articles and television shows over the past few years.  That’s because homeowners, who were unable to sell in a down market, decided to improve their home and wait the market out.  This increase in remodeling/improvements was met with an increase in unpermitted work.  How does this affect you as a homebuyer and/or investor you might ask?  It can have devastating effects on your property value and increase your liability many times over.  Let’s look at the following example:

You find a gem of a home in a great neighborhood and consider buying it as a rental property in your portfolio.  It doesn’t have a garage, as do the other homes on the block, but it has an amazing 4th bedroom suite (other homes on the block have 3 bedrooms).  The price is right, the potential cashflow is great, so you move forward with the purchase. You have a home inspection completed and it comes back with flying colors.  The home is in great shape. Unbeknownst to you, that 4th bedroom suite used to be an unheated garage and was converted to a bedroom by the prior owner in anticipation of a sale.  There were no permits pulled for the remodel, but you aren’t aware of this because your home inspection showed that the home is in solid condition So, you put the home on the market for rent and snag a great tenant right out the gate.  Not long after your tenant moves in s/he starts to complain about a dank odor in the 4th bedroom suite bathroom.  You investigate and nothing seems to be out of place, so you make a mental note to keep an eye on the problem.  A few months later, you learn that your tenant’s child is at the hospital from an electrocution.  It turns out that electrical and plumbing were installed improperly in the walls and created an unsafe zone in the bath.  The renter complains to the city housing department, and they come out to see the home, and impose hefty fines on you (the owner) until the remodel is either reversed or properly permitted.  To correct it, the city/county/municipality requires all drywall in the bath and bedroom suite to be cut open/removed so that they can view the wiring/plumbing/etc behind the walls prior to signing off on the work retroactively.  Remember, the city’s records have this entire space listed as unheated square footage, so in order for it to count as heated living space, it will need to be inspected.   In addition, all incorrect work has to be reinstalled by a licensed tradesman.  This will be costly.  Not only that, but your tenant pursues you for hospital bills, and you find out that your insurer might not cover the losses since the portion of the home where the incident occurred was unpermitted construction. Not only have you incurred tremendous headache and expense, but you have jeopardized the other properties in your portfolio due to increased liability. 

Your takeaway:  If a home has been remodeled and has extensive new systems and/or added heated square footage, be sure to check with the municipality to see if permits were pulled for the work.  You can do this in most cases by contacting your city Planning/Inspections Department.  Or, if you notice that the square footage listed in your appraisal far surpasses the square footage listed in the property tax records, you might want to give the city a call before closing, as the additional heated space might have been completed without permits

Our upcoming blog will cover several example of when permits are required. That way you can be sure that, when buying a renovated home to hold in your portfolio, or when buying a property with the intention to fix it up yourself, you are covered.



To be honest, I am speaking on this topic from a theoretical standpoint, as in my 10 years as a real estate investor, I’ve never had to evict a tenant.  I believe this has to do with proper tenant screening, and being flexible with tenants as life-events occur that might create setbacks for them. We’ll discuss both of these topics in a future blog post, as property management and evictions seem to be topics that come up often in the investor community.  For now, I just want to point out a few items to consider when you’re faced with the decision to evict a tenant. Hopefully these will help to minimize your losses.

·          Speak with your CPA or tax advisor about filing a form 1099-C if you don’t pursue a money judgment from the tenant.  This will report rents not paid by the tenant, which is then counted as income to them and they pay the taxes.

·         There are tenant collection agencies out there that will handle the collection headache for you.

·         There are also companies springing up that claim to “insure” your leases.  For an annual fee (that is often dependent on the monthly rental amount), the company will pay out your lease if the tenant defaults.  We don’t have experience in working with any of these companies, but it is a novel idea.  Sort of like a home warranty but for your tenant’s lease.  If you have experience with this type of company, and want to share your experience (good or bad), contact our office.

·         If you are managing your own properties, save time by outsourcing your notifications and evictions.  There are a number of attorneys in NC that specialize in evictions.  For a nominal fee, they can expedite the process and get possession of your rental unit more quickly than an inexperienced investor who is just learning the process.  Remember, time is money, and each vacancy day is money out of your pocket!




HVAC theft is still a reality.  According to WRAL, more than 200 copper wire thefts were reported in Raleigh last year and in 2013 copper theft is on the rise.  It still confounds me that a thief would destroy a $5000 HVAC system just to get $100 or so of metal out of a unit.  Another annoying fact is that some insurance policies insure theft but not vandalism (or vice-versa), so if the unit is vandalized, but still onsite, the loss might not be covered (go figure?!).  Check with your insurer to be sure your personal residence and portfolio properties are properly covered.  In addition, consider installing a metal cage around the unit.  For a cost of a few hundred dollars (more, if the unit is large), you can sleep well knowing that you have an effective theft deterrent in place to stave off vandalism at your properties.  Keep in mind that a determined thief will find a way to work around the additional safety measures, but given that a majority of these crimes are those of opportunity, having a cage in place, will likely send a rushed thief away from your property and down the street to another property/unit that is unprotected.  Also consider installing exterior floodlights to illuminate the unit/cage at night. Our office works with multiple metalworkers, so feel free to contact us for a referral if you are considering this option for your properties.  If you don’t like the idea of a cage, consider an audible alarm (or silent alarm) that notifies the police when the power to the unit is cut by a thief.  We don’t currently work with an alarm provider, but a quick online search may provide some options for you.



Let me know!  These updates are for your benefit, and I can only accomplish that goal if I know what topics will make the greatest impact in your investing activities.  Feel free to post here on the blog, any topics that are of interest, and they will be considered for future updates.  Thanks in advance!



On another note: I had a "eureka moment” recently, as I presented on real estate investing at a business conference.  Despite presenting at countless events/classes/seminars over the years, I found myself a bit choked up on stage, because it hit me in that moment that real estate (and, more specifically, passive income/cashflow) has created tremendous freedom in my life.  In that moment, I determined to switch gears a bit to allow myself to share as much of my lessons/experiences with others, in hopes that it will lead them to leverage real estate to create similar freedoms.  So be on the lookout for more info soon!   Also, I’m currently embarking on a land development project that has been quite a while in the making.  So, for those of you interested in land development topics, these are on the horizon for future blog updates.


In closing, I just want to share my excitement about the changing market and what it means for homeowners and investors alike...Think about it; real estate is supposed to create opportunities to do the things you enjoy, right? For me, that's travel and a general sense of freedom.  What is it for you?  Is it more time for hobbies, time with family, travel, an escape from the 9 to 5 job, volunteer opportunities, lavish “toys”.   Whatever it is, DECIDE TODAY to take it off the backburner, and make it a priority.  A few small, CONSISTENT steps in the right direction can create tremendous change in your life over time!  And you’re worth it!


Happy investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on October 1st, 2013 10:41 PM

August 2012 Market Update Video with Stacey Anfindsen.

View the Triangle Market Update here to find out the trends in the local real estate market for August 2012.

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on September 25th, 2012 12:45 PM

Ok, so there's no real rhyme or reason to this update.  I've included a few snippets of information that should serve beneficial for your homebuying and investing activities.  be sure to read all the way through, as the last post outlines a potential deal on 22 units and 3 lots for 175k!

PRIP- The Durham Proactive Rental Inspection Program went active on 7/2/12.

The Durham PRIP has passed city council and is now in effect. The new regulations support safe and healthy housing and designates a rental inspection program. If you own properties in the target areas, you will be notified prior to any planned inspection of your property. The notification might come directly to you or through your property manager, so be on the lookout. You can also self-certify your property with the city through its Neighborhood Improvement Services department. The city is held several information sessions about the PRIP. If you have any questions about the program, or how it affects your rental property, contact Neighborhood Improvement Services at (919) 560-1647. Their office is located at 807 E Main Street, Durham NC (2nd floor).

For program guidelines, a map of the target areas, and other important information, visit this page and use the links on the right to navigate through program information.


Copper Theft Bill is Law! (from NCAR)

The NC state legislature gave its final approval, and Gov. Perdue has signed HV 199. Metal Theft Prevention Act of 2013, that addresses the theft of nonferrous metals (mainly copper).
Theft of nonferrous metals has become an increasing problem in North Carolina. Criminals have discovered that these metals can be sold quickly and easily for a large profit. No one is immune to this theft and it is causing a great deal of property damage and can create serious safety hazards.
The NCAR government affairs team worked with a large business coalition to support this legislation, which is aimed stopping or greatly diminishing the number of thefts of nonferrous metals. This legislation helps deter criminals from stealing nonferrous metals as it will cut down on the ease of getting fast money by:

  • Requires metals recyclers to be permitted;
  • Adds a penalty for purchasing metals without a permit to go after rogue buyers;
  • Requires only check payment for copper so there is no "fast money";
  • Requires the metals recycler to take a photo of the seller and the metals being sold; and
  • Protects the innocent property owners by releasing the owner from any reasonable civil liability and requires restitution to property owners for the damage done by the thief.

State of Durham’s Economy Breakfast Recap

I had the pleasure of attending the annual “State of Durham’s Economy” breakfast recently. The event is always well-attended by city leaders, city staff, influential decision-makers and inquisitive residents. The presentation focuses on local employment, tax base growth and real estate trends. This year’s meeting weighed heavily on the topics of entrepreneurship and small business as the Triangle is emerging as one of the nation’s newest meccas for start-ups and entrepreneurial endeavors (especially in the tech sector). Apparently, a lot of angel investors have their eye on start-ups in this area and there have been murmurs of Durham being the next Silicon Valley. I look forward to seeing how that notion pans out.

One of the notable takeaways from the presentation was a look at area population growth and projections. Given the relatively compact size in the city-centers, property owners and rental owners in key locations should fare well as the area continues to attract a diverse population of business leaders and support staff in these growing business sectors.

A short list of Durham’s recent accolades include the following:

1. 17th most walkable city (www.walkscore.com)

2. #2 metro area with less than 2million population

3. 12th best place for business and careers (Forbes 2011)

4. Highest Paying in the South (Triangle Business Journal 2011)

5. #37 on Businessweek’s list of American’s 50 best cities (2011)

6. #1 Best Place to Retire

7. #4 Most Educated City

8. #9 Hospital in America (Duke University Hospital)

9. #3 Housing Market

10. #5 America’s Geekiest Cities

In addition, construction permits increased over 50% from 2010-2011 which illustrates a promising turn for the construction sector. The overall tone of the presentation was very upbeat. Keep your eyes and ears open for more down the line.

Rental prices are heading higher – Ownership is becoming more attractive

Apparently the perceived savings from renting is wearing thin. Recent trends show that renting is, on average, 15% more expensive than owning a comparable home. This is due to a lack of inventory of available rentals and the lower cost of homeownership due to price drops and low interest rates. Check out this Wall Street Journal article for more info on this trend here.

100% financing and matching funds are available for homebuyers if you know where to look. Don’t miss out!

Not only are mortgage interest rates dropping even lower, but a few local lenders are offering additional incentives to homebuyers. For example, Harrington Bank has 100% financing for qualified primary residence buyers. They also offer matching grant programs for 1st time homebuyer purchases and will provide up to $5000 toward the purchase of a 1st home. Their energy efficiency and weatherization program provides up to $15,000 for improvements to an existing owner-occupied home. Be sure to contact Harrington Bank for additional information on qualifying for these programs @ (919) 945-7800 (ask for Stephanie Cox @ extension 875). Rehabbers, be sure to keep these in mind for your potential buyers as well. It might be just want you need to close out your next potential buyer!

Score 22 rental units and 3 lots for 175k at upcoming auction!

No, that isn't a typo.  A 16 unit building, 3 duplexes and 3 lots will be auctioned off in 2 weeks.  Minimum bid is 175k. The lucky high-bidder will walk away with this portfolio of properties.  Note that the duplexes are 100% occupied at $545/month each.  Interested buyers can contact our office.  Serious inquiries from qualified buyers onlyThere is a 20k non-refundable deposit due with all bids and 10 days for closing after the winning bid is announced.  If interested, contact your lender before contacting our office to determine if this closing timeline will work for you.

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on August 28th, 2012 5:39 PM

New City Ordinance to Affect Durham Landlords

City Council has approved a Proactive Residential Inspection Program (PRIP) with the goal of decreasing the number of “undesirable” homes in Durham. The city’s office of Neighborhood Improvement Services stated that a city map showing areas of higher crime rates coincided with a map of areas with higher numbers of blighted/boarded and below-standard housing. The Durham PRIP will inspect properties based on the City’s Minimum Housing Code. Note that Section 8 homes, which have been inspected and approved for that program, may be required to also pass a PRIP Inspection, and in some cases, the City’s Minimum Housing code may be more strict that Section 8 inspection requirements. Do not assume that passing a Section 8 inspection will clear you for PRIP Inspections.

This program is quite different than Raleigh’s PROP Ordinance. In both cities, owners need to contact the city to find out if a particular property is on the violations list before purchasing. Violations don’t disappear upon a sale to a new owner, so be sure not to adopt someone else’s problem. Owners in Durham can elect to self-certify their properties, which will leave them open to random inspections, but will relieve them from the area-specific home inspections to be scheduled by the city over the upcoming months. For more information, to receive an updated version of the new ordinance, or for any other questions contact Rick Hester at the City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services office rick.hester@durhamnc.gov or (919) 560-1647

Also be sure to notify your property manager of the new ordinance. There were initial concerns that certain groups were not adequately notified prior to the ordinance passing. Your property manager might not be aware. The ordinance can be viewed hereA link to the Self-Certification Checklist can be found here.

Tips for Buying Property

  • Review the NC Residential Property Disclosure (this is a state mandated form that is required for ALL sales, even if a Realtor is not involved.
  • Check with the HOA to understand what your HOA fees cover. If the property will be a rental, be sure this isn’t a violation of HOA guidelines.
  • Check the GIS map to see if you are in a floodplain or other easement.
  • Walk the property to identify drainage issues, soil erosion or other hazards.
  • Check with the municipality to see if you are in a historic district, as this may affect what you can change on the exterior of the property. If your home has landmark status, you may be limited on the interior as well.
  • Get a home inspection! It is always good to have another set of eyes to look at the property. An additional pest inspection can confirm whether wood-destroying insects are present. This is something you need to know before closing on a home.
  • Line up title insurance (even if you are buying a home to resell immediately). If there is a title issue down the line and you’re the only owner in the chain of ownership without title insurance, you might have to come up with a hefty sum to resolve title defects/issues down the line. In the current climate of foreclosures and quick title changes, the additional cost (typically a few hundred dollars in a one-time fee at closing for a modest purchase) is well worth it.
  • If you're out of state, vsit Google Maps to see what the neighboring homes look like
  • Drive the proeprty at night/on weekends to get a better feel for the area.  This is when your potential neighbors are at home. 
  • Visit the police station crime statistics website (if available)

Durham Accepting Applications for Energy Savings Program

Durham’s Home Energy Savings Program (HESP) subsidizes professional home improvement. To qualify, homes must be single-story, or 2-story with both floors having the same shape. Homes must be 2300 square feet or less. Visit www.greenerdurham.net or call Tobin Freid at (919) 560-7999 for more information.

Updated Market Statistics can be viewed here

Happy Investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on March 12th, 2012 5:05 PM

Well hello!

I know it’s been a while since my last blog entry. We’ve been very busy over here at the office.  But, given that we're at the start of a new year, I thought it a good time to touch base with you to share a few bits of useful info to help kick-start your 2012. 

Real Estate Tax Credits still exist

Gone are the wonderful days of the 1st time homebuyer's credit. But, there are other, lesser-known, tax benefits that investors and homeowners can leverage to their benefit.  In many cases, these tax benefits far exceed the former homebuyer tax credit's $7500-$8000 limit.

What would you say if I told you that we recently completed a project that netted approximately $50,000 in dollar-for-dollar tax credits, $1000/month in cashflow (after expenses) and over $100,000 in equity for one of our investors (on a single-family home). All with the use of historic tax credits! Historic tax credits are a powerful resource for investors interested in buy-and-hold investing, rehabbing, wholesaling, or “flipping”. Historic tax credits can benefit all 4 of these investing avenues. They can also be very useful for investors whose income/tax bracket negates some of the other tax benefits of real estate investing. BUT, it is VERY important to understand the ins and outs when using them. I’ve taught multiple live classes on this topic locally and have decided to open this up to our Investor Network (i.e. YOU). So, stay on the lookout for our upcoming teleseminar/webinar series on historic tax credits (for both homeowners and investors).

On a smiliar note, who says you can’t mix historic+green+affordable?   We've heard countless times that historic homes and energy efficiency don't mix.  Also that solid historic restorations can't be done affordably.  Visit our partner construction firm's site http://www.coralbuilt.com/#!press and select the “green+historic+affordable” article to see how we were able to combine all 3 of three goals into a successful project that is affordable, historically correct, and certified by the National Association of Homebuilders as an Emerald green-rated renovation (their highest award).  We hope that this will motivate other owners to keep energy efficiency in mind while renovating their historic properties.  The real surprise in this project is that the future owner will not only have a beautiful home, but will receive approximately 30k in historic tax credits to boot.

New Year insurance check-up

Call your insurance agent today to increase/decrease coverage limits on your properties. You might consider adding a provision that automatically adjusts your coverage each year to follow inflation/appreciation, or call annually to be sure your current property value (and the cost to rebuild in the event of a fire, etc…) is covered. We spoke with a client recently who suffered a fire, and, unfortunately, the replacement cost coverage on his policy wasn’t enough to rebuild the property, SO he had to get a loan on top of his insurance payout in order to rebuild. Don’t get caught in this situation. Call your insurance agent today to be sure you are covered. Or, visit our Service Professionals page for a few names of local insurance providers that can help. Tell "em Tiffany sent you!

New Residential Property Disclosure for 2012

As investors, as with all other home-sellers, there are a few forms that are REQUIRED upon receiving an offer from a potential buyer. One of these is the state-mandated NC Residential Property Disclosure. Keep in mind this form is a state requirement, per the NC General Statutes, for ALL residential dwellings up to 4-units. This IS NOT just a Realtor requirement. It is therefore required that you, as a seller, present this to potential buyers even if you are not leveraging the assistance of a Realtor. The form has changed for 2012 and includes some additional disclosures that you should be aware of. Visit http://www.ncrec.gov/forms/rec422.pdf for a copy of the new 2012 form (now titled the “Residential and Owners Association Disclosure Statement”). Keep this and all other state-mandated forms in your files to be sure your files are in order and in compliance with state law.

Featured Property

9 Sargent Place, Durham, NC

Solid cashflow in Durham for only $110,000!

4-unit (quad) rental. 2 stories (2 units on each floor). $1580 gross rents. 2011 tax value of $128,578 and property tax bill of $1676. Built in 1973. Each unit is approx. 750 sq ft, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. Brick and vinyl exterior. All units occupied at $395/month. Property manager is in place and can take over management for the new owner, if needed. Viewings of 1 unit for interested buyers can be arranged with a minimum of 24-hour notice. (Your offer can include a provision, of course, to view and inspect remaining units. The owner doesn’t want to disturb tenants unnecessarily.) Per a conversation with one of our lenders yesterday, financing at 25% down and 4.5% is available to qualified buyers (based on 1/10/12 rates), so, with the right financing, this one is CASH FLOW STRONG! Contact Heather Sirgany with Harrington Bank @ (919) 945-7873 or Stephen Livesay with Prime Lending @ (919) 656-4516 for details on financing and/or preapprovals. Crunch your numbers and give us a call on this one!

Ok, I think I’m done now. To close, I want to extend my wish for you that 2012 is an amazing year (both personally, professionally and financially).  Our team plans to provide as much information as we can to help you meet your goals, because we realize that when our clients win, we win.  Let me know if there’s any way in which we can help.

Happy Investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on January 11th, 2012 3:50 PM

It's been a while since my last blog posting, but that's a testament to the heating up of the local real estate market here in the Triangle. We've been pretty busy in the office, and this posting includes information that I hope will be of use in your investing endeavors.

Paradigm Properties is your One-Stop-Shop for Real Estate Success

A large percentage of our firm's business is focused on facilitating homebuyer and investment real estate purchases and sales. We appreciate the opportunity to help our clients reach their financial goals through real estate. Given the number of REO and other vacant properties on the market, we’ve found that residential and commercial property restoration and repair is a key component to our clients’ success. So is property management. For this reason, we’ve partnered with 2 licensed general contracting firms to assist our clients with their acquisitions, and to streamline the repair process. In addition, our property manager partners are prepped to assist with your landlording needs. We look forward to providing these and other vital services to our clients in the effort to provide a 1-stop-shop for your real estate success.

New offer form for NC buyers

Effective Janualr 2011, the state of North Carolina has implemented a new Offer to Purchase and Contract form. The new form streamlines the due diligence process and minimizes the number of dates in the prior Offer To Purchase form. One of the highlights of the new form is the new “due diligence” period, which defines the timeline allowed for buyers to cover ALL due diligence, including inspection, survey, loan approval, and a myriad of other items. Homeowners should be aware of this new requirement. Investors should make an effort to understand the changes as it will affect their pursuit of investment property portfolios as well as the offers they may receive on rehab and/or rental property. If you are in the Triangle area and want to learn more, feel free to attend an investor subgroup meeting on 2/28/2011 hosted by yours truly and the Triangle Real Estate Investor Association. We will review the new form and discuss its impact on real estate transactions. For more information, visit www.treia.com Click on the “Calendar” link and select the TREIAWest Subgroup meeting on 2/28/2011

Calling all Real Estate Wholesalers and Investors – I need your help

WHOLESALERS: Activity in our office shows that the Raleigh-Durham real estate market is picking up. In addition, the investment property market is on the rise. We need to hear from you because our clients are looking for GREAT DEALS and WE NEED WHOLESALE PROPERTIES FOR THEM. Now let me back up for a second. Please do not call me with a 200k home that you’re looking to sell for 190k. I can find those with my eyes closed. But, if you have a solid deal with solid numbers and are looking for a buyer, send it my way. We probably have a buyer for it. For example, a recent deal purchased by one of clients came in at 68k. After-repair value was 170k. and a majority of the repairs were cosmetic (albeit extensive), and totaled in excess of 60k. Another property currently under contract has an ARV of approx 160k. Purchase price is 98k. and the buyer expects to undergo cosmetic updates of approx 15k. Tenant-occupied properties are welcomed too as many of our clients are landlords. If you have a wholesale deal, send it over. If it looks like a good deal, we’ll be happy to share it with our investor network.

INVESTORS: If you are looking for specific criteria on a wholesale property, let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll be sure to contact you if anything fitting your interests crosses my desk.

To Your Success in 2011

We want to hear about your successes and lessons in real estate. If you do a deal, send me the details, purchase price, rehab, sales price, rents, profits, challenges, whatever you consider to be a learning point for others. It’s ok to brag a little bit! If you made a mistake and recovered, tell me how so that others can learn from your experience. By sending it to me, you give me the right to post the info on my blog. The name of the game is motivation, so share your successes and lessons and motivate others to accomplish the same!

A quick example: Our recent client requested our assistance with the purchase of a 16-unit property. Purchase price of approx 550k. We structured a loan assumption and private money deal that will net the owner in excess of 4k/month after expenses once full occupancy is reached. The numbers get even better a few years down the line. Not bad for 1 property acquisition. Although this is a multifamily, we want to hear your single-family, commercial and multifamily stories, so be sure to send ‘em over.

Raleigh to be a Top Hot Spot in 2011
More people are moving, according to Atlas Van Lines’ annual Migration Patterns study and that’s good news for one North Carolina city. The Migration Pattern study indicated Raleigh to be among the top three cities projected to have some of the strongest household growth rates in 2011, along with Phoenix (Arizona) and Austin (Texas).http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2011012003?OpenDocument

Now is the time to swap out those toilets!

The City of Durham Department of Water Management has expanded the WaterSense High Efficiency Toilet (HET) Rebate Program to increase program participation. Now homeowners, and landlords can benefit from the rebate. I’ve recently bought HET toilets recently for approximately $100 and the rebate is currently $100, so this can effectively negate the cost of the toilet (but not installation). The rebate is credited to your water bill, so be sure to have this handy when you apply. Additional info is available at : http://www.ci.durham.nc.us/departments/wm/toilet_rebates.cfm

Triangle Market Update Reports

Your Opinion Counts

If there is a topic of interest that you feel would be of benefit to the home-buying and/or investing community, let us know. If a recurring theme surfaces, we’ll do the research and include the info in an upcoming blog.Thanks in advance for your feedback. We look forward to working with you in 2011.


Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on February 20th, 2011 12:03 AM

Live For Free!

Thank you to those of you who have played a role in reviewing a short e-book that I wrote last year. For the rest of you, this will hopefully be a timely read, especially if you are thinking of buying a home or investment property in the near future. This quick read can show you how to LIVE FOR FREE. I actually learned this ‘secret’ from my parents, who used it to jumpstart their real estate investing career decades ago. Visit www.tiffanyelder.com/LiveForFree and use the code “liveforfreenow” for your free copy. Please note: I have a few edits to make to the final copy, but I’m looking forward to your comments to round these out. The free code will expire this Friday, 12/3/2010 at 11:59 pm, so be sure to download your free copy before then!

Investing in International Rental property (article provided by NuWire Investor)

Many of our overseas neighbors are are picking up US property to leverage the benefit of favorable exchange rates. Our office has worked with a number of international investors over the years and given the current lower property values available in numerous countries, US investors should strongly consider overseas acquisitions if the numbers work and a good team is working on your behalf. The article “8 Things To Consider When Investing In International Rental Properties” is provided by NuWire investor and covers a few additional considerations for international rental property acquisition.

North Carolina Ranks Fourth in CNBC Survey
CNBC ranks North Carolina as most improved among the top five states for doing businessaccording to this Charlotte Business Journal article. The ranking elevated the state to fourth from ninth in the annual America’s Top States for Business survey. Quite a few organizations are eyeing the state for corporate relocation and satellite offices. Facebook is the most recent company to join the NC bandwagon and will be building a reported 450 million dollar data center in nearby Rutherford county (source, Triangle Business Journal 11/19/10).

Check your Insurance Coverage

Many real estate investors overlook the importance of good insurance coverage. Or, they skimp on insurance coverage because doing so lowers their upfront closing costs when buying a property. This mistake can cost you big time in the long run. Don’t cost yourself dollars because you’re too focused on pennies. Items such as extended vacancy riders, escalation increases, lost rent coverage, replacement cost, theft and vandalism riders, etc… might seem insignificant now, but become HUGE when something happens at your property that causes the need to file a claim. At a minimum, be sure to review your policy in full when you initiate coverage and again annually with your insurer to be sure your coverage is adequate. Our previous cartoon video on “Setting realistic Expectations” seemed to be well-taken by our blog readers, so we’ve decided to continue the series with a light-hearted focus on insurance. We hope you enjoy it and...Happy Investing!


Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on November 30th, 2010 1:25 AM
View Comments (1)

N.C. Ranks No. 3 for Hospitality Job Growth

While much of North Carolina’s economy is still struggling, the state’s leisure and hospitality sector is on the rebound. Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show N.C. has added 26,600 jobs in that sector during the past five years. Only New York and Texas have done better.  investors may fare well by securing property in tourist areas within the state.   Click here for full article provided by the Charlotte business Journal

Property Alert: 816 Ridgeway, Durham, NC

Adorable 3 bedroom home is ready to rent. Wood and ceramic flooring, recently updated kitchen and bath. Recently rented for $600/month. Only $42,500. Loads of cashflow for the buy-and-hold investor. Call our office for more details!

Setting Realistic Expectations

Setting realistic goals/expectations is the first step toward a successful career in real estate investing. You’d never guess, however, the types of conversations the brokers in our office have with potential investors. Although some investors are realistic with regard to their real estate expectations (and the associated risks and rewards involved in investing), some investors miss the mark by a longshot! Hopefully the following short film will provide a bit of comic relief on the topic in the midst of a very busy week.


Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on November 2nd, 2010 3:57 PM
View Comments (1)


Keep your eyes open as bedbug infestations are on the rise. What were previously thought of as imaginary critters meant to scare children at bedtime are now relentless "squatters" wreaking havoc for property owners. One of my landlord-clients called several weeks ago regarding an infestation in one of his units here in the Triangle. And the property was only 2 years old! Apparently these infestations were commonplace in other geographic areas, but they now are rearing their ugly heads here in Raleigh-Durham. The problem is that ridding your home of these critters is not as easy as it seems. Read more on MSN.

More Rankings

Durham, and North Carolina as a whole are ranking high in just about everything, huh?!

Durham is the #1 best place to retire (per CNN.com)

Durham is the #1 Best Market for Conservative Real Estate Investors (per CNN Money)

CNBC ranks North Carolina #4 as most improved among the top five states for doing business. The ranking elevated the state to fourth from ninth in the annual America’s Top States for Business survey.

PROPERTY ALERT! Tax Credit Rehabbers Take note – Historic Oakwood property available for sale. Only $80,000

Pocket listing. Amazing price on a bungalow in Historic Oakwood. Only $80,000 (less than land value). 206 Linden Avenue is ready for you to transform it into a gem. Outstanding potential for a solid rental property minutes from downtown Raleigh.  This one can also provide historic restoration tax credits if the property is renovated according to the NPS standards. Similarly-sized renovated homes within 2 blocks of 206 Linden have sold between 220k-300k within the past year. Call today for details. This one won’t be around for long. Cash buyers or rehab-financing only. Not recommended for new rehabbers as this one will require structural and systems work, as well as cosmetic updates. Given my penchant for historic restorations and tax credit projects, I would buy this one myself if I wasn't already up to my neck in construction projects, but I'd be more than happy to advise you on your first tax-credit rehab project if this fits your portfolio interests.

A FREE training you can't afford to miss

One of my all-time favorite real estate educators, Greg Pinneo is hosting a FREE 2-day training in Greenville NC on October 16-17.  More info can be found at his website.  While you're at the site, but sure to visit the "Library" for articles from his webinar series. For those of you who are not yet familiar with Greg, he is a truly inspirational speaker and is 100% committed to helping investors understand real estate beyond the "typical" topics that your inboxes are flooded with everyday. If you are committed to leveraging real estate to create an extraordinary life, you need to be in Greenville on October 16th and 17th.  I hope to see you there!

Q&A with a new real estate investor.

(The following is a brief Q&A stemming from a question posed via email by a new real estate investor with a bit of cash and little direction.  Keep in mind that there are many ways to get started in real estate investing.  Hopefully this Q&A will spark a few ideas for those of you looking for a place to start.)

Q: Hi Tiffany, what is the best way for me to invest and grow my money? I have 50k in capital. What do you recommend?

A: Thanks for your note. Your best option depends on your goals and risk tolerance.

1. You can serve as a private lender and get an 8% to18% return on funds (possibly more), depending on the investor and project/property. This is a good passive way to grow your money for other types of investing. In this case, you would be in a relatively safe position as long as you make sure you are in first position with a low LTV on the property. Also try to have yourself added to the property’s hazard insurance policy, which will protect your investment in the event of a fire or other loss at the property.

2. You can purchase a foreclosure, wholesale or other property to resell for a profit. You may have to tidy it up to prep for resale, but this is another option that can net you a quick return if you buy in a good location.

3. You can start to build a portfolio for passive income. Your 50k can likely serve as a downpayment for 1-2 properties, depending on the locations and property types you prefer. This is the most desirable option for the long-term because you will start to grow your long-term equity position and passive income (i.e."sleeping money").

4. If you have funds in retirement accounts that are losing value, you might consider opening or rolling over to a self-directed IRA through Equity Trust, Entrust, or one of many other self-directed custodians. These allow you to put your funds into a tangible investment(real estate) that you may be able to have more control over as compared with stocks. Then you can partner your available cash with your IRA funds for larger investments. Keep in mind that the proportion of profits stemming from your IRA’s participation in the investment have to go directly back into your IRA without you touching them, so these need to be funds/profits that you will not need to live off of in the short-term. Otherwise you'll violate IRS rules and will be heavily taxed/penalized.

These are just a few options for you to consider as a starting point. I hope this helps!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on September 15th, 2010 1:33 AM
View Comments (1)

10 year anniversary…I’m now officially “Unemployable”!

This summer marks my 10 year anniversary for putting the wheels in motion to leave “Corporate America” (I actually left in 2001). Many of you know of my former life as a software engineer and web developer. Although it was a great career start after college, I soon learned that life behind a desk wasn’t a fit for me. Fortunately, business school and real estate (brokerage, investing and construction) have created new opportunities. I’ll admit, it was scary, to say the least, but I can honestly say that I’ve never looked back. I remember reading Les Brown’s Live your Dreams in 2000, and a line from that book sparked my courage to make a change. I know I’m going to butcher his words but it went something like, “In order to be truly happy in life, consider what you would do with your time if money wasn’t an issue. Whatever that activity is, seek to make it your career.” For me,creating a break from routine, helping people, and mentoring were the items that caught my attention at the time. What are the activities that would fill your days if money wasn’t an issue?

To celebrate, I think I’ll get a shirt made that reads “Unemployable”. The idea of returning to my prior corporate routine isn’t attractive, so that seems to be the best term to describe my current mindset! Entrepreneurship (especially in real estate) definitely has its benefits, but I will admit that you often work twice as long and many times harder than you would for someone else. It is definitely a goal worth working toward for those with the desire to break free from traditional expectations and create their own life path. The current real estate market has created an unprecedented opportunity for individuals seeking change in their lives. If you have a similar goal of creating change in your life and want to see if real estate can assist with getting you there, feel free to give me a call. I’d be happy to share more of my lessons with you and assist in your investing endeavors in whatever way that I can.

NC Legislative Update (Thanks Liz Wiederhold for the update!)

For those of you who have been following SB 1015 (Homebuyer and Homeowner Pretection Act), the bill passed the Senate this week with concurrence. While several porposed amendments were presented, it did not dissuade Senator Stein from presenting the bill on the floor for vote. It passed with very little dissent.

The articles of this bill will go into effect in October. For the full text of the bill, visit the NC General Assembly website

Thanks you to all of the investors who called, emailed, faxed or otherwise communicated with our NC legislators. Lest you feel discouraged that we did not win this final battle, remember that we had several major wins as we had many items removed from this legislation prior to passing. Most importantly, we rescued the lease/option from almost total elimination by removing the entire section on title requirements. We also had the definition of foreclosure rescue changed from 82% to 50% - a huge accomplishment. Several other significant changes were made due to everyone's hard, hard work.

Local Market update reports

The Raleigh-Durham area is holding up well in the real estate markets, despitea still-troubled economy.  Year-over-year prices and sales volume are up in some areas, and there are still great buys out there in others. Interest rates have dropped as well, so initiating or expanding your rental portfolio is a great option.

Happy Investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on July 10th, 2010 7:43 PM

Home Size Continues to Decline; Buyers Increasingly Opt for Single-Story Homes

Current housing stats may surprise you. In years past, “ bigger is better” was the mantra of many homebuyers. Quantity outweighed quality. These trends have turned a corner and the average home size is decreasing. So are the preferences homes buyers are looking at, including # floors, interior amenities and siding preferences (who would have thought vinyl would replace wood and hardiplank as siding preferences?). Buyers looking for a low-maintenance lifestyle are looking to low-maintenance building techniques and materials. The numbers don’t lie. Read more here.


There is a new Fannie Mae requirement that will require borrowers to have a new credit report pulled 1 day prior to closing. This is going to be a HUGE change for buyers that marginally qualify. If any new inquiries or account appear on the credit report, the buyer might not qualify for the loan. So, it is very important that you advise your buyers not obtain any more new debt between application and closing. It is also imperative that your lender advises your buyer on things to do to keep their scores up. If a score drops the day before closing, it could mean that your buyer has a higher interest rate or may be disqualified for the loan. These new rules can make or break your deal If you’re proactive and educate your buyers up front, you shouldn’t have any issues with this change.


Residential rental property:

44 Redbud Court, Durham 27713. Not yet on the market! Wholesale deal with approved shortsale. Neighboring homes on the market for over 20k more! recently sold comps range from 97k to 120k. Equity + cashflow for ready investors.. Long term tenant in place at $895/mo with year left on lease. Only $80,000 in desirable Parkwood location. Potential for $325+ cashflow, 27% cash-on-cash return and 9%+ caprate. Minutes to Southpointe Mall and Research Triangle Park. Those of you who are familiar with Parkwood know that this one won’t last long enough to hit the open market. Call today for details

Commercial property:

945 E. Main. 1900+ sq ft (960 main level heated sq ft and 960 unfinished in basement and ready for expansion). Only $100,500. Located next to Goldenbelt, just east of Downtown Durham. Ideal for retail or office. On busline. New roof in 2010! An ideal space for a starting business or for a current businessowner looking for space to expand. Seller will finance for qualified buyer and sufficient downpayment, which makes it much more affordable than renting a comparable space.

Housing shortage forthcoming?

Yesterday, I attended a meeting that focused on the sharp decrease over the past 3 yers in new construction in many metro areas. This decrease is in distinct opposition to the increase in family size and number of households in many areas. Based on these factors, some economists are predicting a housing shortage in the next 3 years. What does that mean to you? Investors and buyers who leverage today’s great pricing and low mortgage rates will be in a better position when and if the market turns in for the better. My advice: take these predictions with a grain of salt and be sure that any purchase that you make today is solid based on TODAY’S numbers. If you do, you’ll be in a better position for whatever the market has in store.

Strategies for Getting Shortsales Approved


Senate votes to extend home tax credit deadline


Also, be on the lookout for information on our upcoming webinar series. Topics will include “Rehabbing Basics”, “New Construction for Investors”, “Analyzing the Numbers”, “Where Do I Start?” (for new investors), “Historic Restoration Tax Credits”, “Skyrocket Your Retirement Accounts with Real Estate Investing”, “Advanced Topics”, and many more. We look forward to providing even more ammunition for your investing endeavors in 2010!

Happy Investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on June 18th, 2010 10:36 PM

There are several interesting articles of note in this week's update. Some point to a slow but steady turnaround in the US housing markets. Others speak to areas that are well-positioned for solid investing opportunities (Raleigh-Durham area included).  One of the most interesting is the article outlining mistakes made by new investors.  If you are just starting out, be sure to take a few minutes to read this one.

Happy Investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on May 24th, 2010 3:03 AM

I know I haven’t written in a while, so this week’s update will be a long one. Things have been pretty busy over here with the pending expiration of the homebuyer tax credit (this Friday), but there’s a lot on the horizon that warrants an update, so here goes:

N.C. in the News
It’s been a good week for N.C. cities this month. Raleigh was named the eighth best value destination in the United States (http://tinyurl.com/ydmyujl) and Fayetteville was listed among the top 10 cities for real estate “steals” (http://tinyurl.com/yd5c67v).

N.C. Cities Named Among Best Places for Business
Four N.C. cities – Raleigh (No. 3), Charlotte (No. 17), Asheville (No. 21), and Durham (No. 23) – were recently named among the top 25 best places in the country for business and careers, according to a new report released by Forbes.com. Click here to view the ranking

$8000 first-time homebuyer tax credit expires this Friday.

If you haven’t yet taken advantage of the homebuyer tax-credit, you still have time. To qualify, buyers must be under contract by this Friday, April, 30, 2010 and must close their purchase by June 30, 2010. Current homeowners, keep in mind that you haven’t been left out. If you have owned your home for at least 5 years, you may qualify for a $6500 tax credit as well. So if you’ve been on the fence about buying, be sure to call us ASAP. Our lenders tell us that they are ready to get loans in line for last minute buyers!

Durham Hosts Landlord Training on May 20, 2010

If you will be in the area on May 20th, this training is well worth your time. I attended a few years ago and the information shared is invaluable. In addition, several city offices are present, so it’s a great chance to meet the decision-makers who will affect your rental activities.

Fast Facts:

  • The Landlord Training Workshop is specifically designed to assist landlords, property managers, resident managers, and any others who are actively involved in managing rental housing.
  • The workshop will demonstrate effective property management practices to significantly contribute to safe and decent housing as well as provide successful techniques on how to halt illegal activity on rental properties.
  • Workshop topics include how to build landlord, renter, homeowner, and business relationships; applicant screening techniques; rental agreements and fair housing issues; management techniques; the eviction process; how to achieve a stable, satisfied tenant base; how to maintain property to habitable standards; and City code enforcement.
  • Seating is limited, so interested participants must register by Friday, May 7, 2010. The cost to attend this one-day workshop is $30 per person and includes workshop materials and a landlord training manual as well as a light breakfast, lunch and refreshments for registered participants.
  • To register, download the workshop brochure and registration form here. Interested participants may also contact Lynwood Best, community engagement manager with the City’s Department of Neighborhood Improvement Services, at (919) 560-1647, extension 34254 or via e-mail at Lynwood.Best@durhamnc.gov.

Capitol Hill Hosts Real Estate Investors

This week, I was honored to accompany a group of business-owners, investors and other real estate professionals from across the US on a lobbying trip to our nation’s capitol. The visit was led by National REIA, which is the nonprofit organization that oversees TREIA and countless other Real Estate Investor Associations across the US (a total of over 40,000 small businesses). Our goal: To encourage our nation’s Senators and Representatives to remember the positive impact that real estate investors have on the real estate markets, and to share our concerns regarding pending legislation affecting our industry.

There are a number of bills currently in process that were intended to strengthen consumer protection. Unfortunately, deep within the countless pages of these bills are a few lines here and that that may threaten private property rights and/or unnecessarily restrict investing activities. Overall, our visit was well-received, and we made quite a bit of headway in opening up the lines of communication with these decision-makers. Although several topics were covered in our meetings, the following are a few pending bills of note:

HR4173 (Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection) S3217 (Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010) and the SAFE Mortgage Act. If these bills become law as currently written, a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency will be created. Among other things, it will incorporate new mortgage reform and anti-predatory lending regulations. Many of these are good ideas and are necessary. But, what is not obvious in the title of these bills is that they will prohibit property owners from selling their own properties on terms (i.e. seller-financing and partial seller-financing) if the owner doesn’t hold a mortgage license. Seller financing has many benefits in our real estate markets. Often, selling a property in exchange for payments is one of the only options available to owners facing foreclosure. In the current climate of tighter lending standards, seller-financed notes are often the only option for self-employed buyers or buyers who are just beyond being able to qualify for traditional financing. There are also a number of property types that are difficult, if not impossible to finance in the current mortgage climate (mobile homes, raw land, properties in flood-plains, property needing extensive repair, etc…) Finally, many individuals who are facing retirement, leverage seller-financing on their properties to create a predictable income stream. This law will disallow this option for retirement income.

Seller-financing is a age-old tradition based on private property rights. It is not a traditional loan given that the principal amount of the loan never changes hands and there is no 3rd party lender involved; It is an agreement for payments between a seller and a buyer. Think about it this way; You don't HAVE to use a Realtor to sell your home if you want sell as a FSBO (for sale by owner). Similarly, if no new loan is needed to sell your home and you want to offer seller financing to a buyer, why should a licensed mortgage originator be required?  Even the current $8000 first-time homebuyer tax credit allows purchasers using seller-financing to receive the credit, so the validity of these transactions is proven. If these pending bills concern you, take a few minutes to read through them, and fax or email your legislators to let them know how they will affect you. Be polite, but ask them to exclude seller financing from the bills.

You can also visit www.nationalreia.com to find a local REIA (Real Estate Investor Association) in your area. Your local group can help you to stay on top of local and national law affecting your real estate business.  They are also a great resource for education and networking.  If you are in the Raleigh-Durham area and have any degree of interest in legislative activities,or want to ind out about TREIA (Triangle Real Estate Investors Association), shoot me a note, or visit the TREIA website for additional information.

In addition, President Obama is reaching out to all US citizens for feedback on housing finance reform. Click here to find out more, and be sure to participate in the open sessions. You never know; your idea could be just what this country needs to get our housing finance system back on track

Recession Ends in 2010, UNC Charlotte Economist Says
The N.C. economy should grow 3.5 percent in 2010, the first year of growth following two years of decline, according to the quarterly forecast of UNC Charlotte economist John Connaughton.

Happy Investing!


Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on April 25th, 2010 12:47 AM

Following are 4 tools to benefit your property pursuits.  Some put money directly in your pocket and others provide other information and benefits that will make your homebuying and investing easier.  In either case, I hope you put these to good use right away!

Only 50 days left to lock in on $8000

First-time buyers…the clock is ticking. Only 50 days remain for you to qualify for the $8000 first time homebuyer’s tax credit. The deadline for going under contract on your home is April 30th.and your closing must take place by June 30th. If you are considering a purchase, now is the time to get your mortgage loan lined up and start the home search. Current homeowners: If you have owned your home for 5 years or more, you may qualify for a $6500 tax credit if you are considering a move into another home. Call today for details, and for assistance with your purchase and/or sale.

Live For Free

Over the past year, my team has been working on a program that we’ve dubbed the “Live for Free” program. The program encourages smart property ownership with the goal of eliminating the homeowner’s mortgage expense (i.e. “Living for Free”) from day 1 of ownership. Yes, you heard it right, eliminating the homeowner’s mortgage expense from day one. By removing this expense, which is often the family’s largest monthly expense, new homeowners are launched on the fast-track to financial success.

It’s not my brainchild; I actually “borrowed” the idea from my parents, who got their start in real estate decades ago by using this method. Our team is currently looking for 2 future homeowners to walk step-by-step through the program. (We wish it could be more, but we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew just yet). No smoke and mirrors. And no costs are involved other than those involved in buying your first home. So, if you are already working toward a home purchase, why not take a few minutes to learn how to “Live For Free”.

If you are currently considering a first home purchase in the Raleigh-Durham area, call or email our office today to find out more. We’re working on a version for current homeowners as well, but we’re not quite there yet. Thanks in advance. We look forward to sharing your success story and encouraging others to “Live for Free” in the very near future.

Even if you don't fit the parameters above, I'm sure this has sparked your curiosity.  Don't worry, we will be sending this out to everyone on the mailing list soon.  For now, we ask that you hold your curiosity so that we can focus on our first 2 Live for Free-ers.  More to come soon.

For the New Year... A Look Back at the Housing Market Over the Last Decade
In an effort to track the U.S. housing market's rise, fall and rebound over the last 10 years, Moody's Economy.com supplied data for five charts showing the housing industry's boom and bust this decade and the possible course of its recovery over the next three years, as reflected in home sales,prices, housing starts, the supply of homes available for sale and mortgage defaults.  It's a clever tool with a sliding bar at the bottomto track trends over time.   Click here for more information and to view the article/tool.

Investor’s Toolkit: Google Maps (maps.google.com)

Knowing the area in which you plan to invest is key to ensuring your peace of mind as well as your success as an investor. Some of you invest in areas that are not your home cities and rely on the advice of your colleagues to understand the areas in which you are investing. Google Maps makes this process much easier. Visit maps.google.com and enter a full mailing address at the top of the page. You might want to start with your own address to get a feel for the system. When the map of the area appears, click on the address you just typed in (it will appear on the left side of the page). This will bring up a pop-up on the map with a picture o f the home. Click “streetview” to view the home as seen from the street. This is where the fun begins. If you put your pointer on the map, the program will show arrows on the street. Click on these to “drive” up and down the street to view neighboring properties. Use the up, down, left and right arrows in the circle to turn around and view properties across the street. Although the photos may not be as recent as yesterday, they will paint a pretty accurate picture of the area. Be sure to check Google Maps before your next purchase!


Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on March 13th, 2010 12:06 AM

Attention all Homebuyers: Act now before the market for mortgage financing changes. 

3 upcoming changes that are scheduled to take effect within the next 2 months may affect your future mortgage financing options. Get in now while the “gitting is good”.

  • The Fed has indicated an intention to stop the purchase of mortgage-backed securities at the end of March, which could push mortgage interest rates higher for all buyers.
  • FHA has committed to increasing its upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) from 1.75%-2.25% starting for all loans originated on or after 4/5/10. This will increase your closing costs by $500 for every $100,000 borrowed on an FHA loan.
  • The first time homebuyer $8000 tax credit and current homeowner $6500 repurchase tax credit will expire for buyers who are not under contract by 4/30/10 and who close by 6/30/10. Remember, you have to have your purchase in process by 4/30/10 to qualify for the tax credit. So, if you’ve been sitting on the fence, now is the time to act. Our lenders can close your FHA loan in 3 weeks or less, so call today. In addition, you may want to accelerate your timeline to find a property before the end of March if you want to avoid all 3 of these potential changes that can add to your cost of buying a home.

Attention all Investors... CASH IS KING – Consider buying your next property with cash and refi to get a better price.

Below is an interesting article on REO/asset manager preferences when selling REO property. Lenders are fickle nowadays, and a deal can fall apart with the wrong lender or wrong appraiser.  REO managers know this and are leaning toward cash offers in some cases, even if it means a slightly lower sales price.  In what could already be the ideal buyer’s market, many would-be homebuyers, armed only with financing, are coming across stiff competition -- real estate investors with the means to pay for a home in cash. Keep in mind that most banks still seek to net as much as possible on the sales of their non-performing assets, so this won't work in all cases.  If you really want the property, make sure to put in your best offer, BUT a cash offer may be a way to seal the deal.  http://www.ncrealtors.org/news_display.cfm?nid=1216

Bad Things Happen To Good People

Call us today if you are underwater or behind in payments on your home, commercial property, or rental property. We are the shortsale experts. Our team has been resolving foreclosures in the Triangle since 2003, well before the current market correction. Options are most plentiful the earlier you engage professional assistance. Visit our testimonials page for feedback from recent foreclosure and shortsale clients our team has assisted.

New EPA rules for renovations
Lead based paint poisoning has been a rising concern in the US. On April 22, 2010, the EPA and the state of North Carolina will require contractors, painters and maintenance workers to be trained and certified as renovators if they disturb paint in homes and child-occupied facilities that were built before 1978. Contractors will also be required to train their workers to follow lead-safe work practices to reduce potential lead exposure to protect children. If you are fixing up a pre-1978 property and hire a contractor  or subs for renovations, be sure to confirm that they are certified by the state to complete your project. I recently sat through the certification class and although “lead paint” initially wasn’t a topic I would have had in mind as a preference for an 8-hour class, the information gathered was eye-opening. Take a guess, for instance on how much lead it takes to poison a child. The amount is incredibly small: only 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood.

If you're metrically challenged (as am I), here's a way to visualize what that means.

    • A deciliter is approximately 1/2 of a cup.
    • A packet of sweetener (either the pink or blue stuff) is one gram.
    • There are one million micrograms in a gram.
    • So, divide the stuff from one packet into one million piles. (Pretend!)
    • Now, discard 999,990 of those "piles."
    • Take the remaining 10 piles and mix them into half a cup of liquid.

Voila! You now have a representation of how much lead it takes to poison a child.

Now consider how much potential lead dust and debris is airborne in your home during a typical renovation project, or even small routine maintenance, like changing out a window. Protect your family by making sure your renovations and maintenance work are completed with the EPA precautions in place. Require that your contractor is certified. Visit the EPA site for more information on the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Program

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on February 18th, 2010 12:21 AM

Landlords and Property Managers: Be sure to update your leases to comply with new NC state regulations.

Some of the changes affect security deposits, penalties and fees paid during evictions, and repair charges. Scroll down to view my previous post from August 19, 2009 entitled “NEW LAWS That Will Affect Your NC Rentals and Investment Property” for details and instructions on where to find a copy of the full law.

Durham considers Landlord Registration and Rental Occupancy Permits

With the goal of improving rental housing and lowering the number of calls to the local housing board concerning unsafe housing conditions, the City of Durham is considering implementation of a Landlord Registration process. If implemented, landlords will be required to register all of their properties annually along with an update of current contact information, so that the city can more easily contact owners requiring repairs to their property. A nominal fee, per property, has been proposed to facilitate this process. In addition, the city is reviewing rental permitting and inspection processes currently in effect in Greensboro and other cities in the state. If implemented, ALL Landlords (not just Section 8 landlords) may be required to pay for periodic inspections of their rental properties and to make necessary repairs in order to receive a Rental Occupancy Permit. Without this permit, renting the unit to a tenant will be illegal. The city is seeking feedback on the best way to implement these changes, and all interested landlords/residents are invited to participate in the discussion. Interested parties can find out more by contacting Lorisa Seibel @ the Durham Affordable Housing Coalition at (919) 683-1185 ext. 25 or Lorisa@dahc.org. Click here to access the website for the Durham Affordable Housing Coalition. The next meeting on this topic will be led by the Campaign for Decent Housing and is scheduled for Tuesday, February 16, 5:00-6:30pm at Neighborhood Improvement Services, Golden Belt, Building 2, 3rd floor, 807 E Main St (off Morning Glory Ave), 27701. Come out and be heard!

Increase in Upfront Premiums for FHA Mortgage Insurance (01/21/10)

Effective for FHA loans originated on or after April 5, 2010, FHA will collect an upfront mortgage insurance premium of 2.25% (an increase from the current 1.75% upfront premium). This policy change will increase premiums for purchase and refinance transactions. Rehabbers keep this in mind as it may result in an increase in closing costs that your buyers will ask for. Homebuyers, keep in mind that this will increase your closing costs by $500 for every $100,000 you borrow on an FHA loan. But, if you buy before the April 5 change, you will not only save on the addition fee, but you may be eligible for the $8,000 homebuyer tax credit. Remember, the early bird gets the worm!

Big Banks Accused of Short Sale Fraud

If you are asked to make a side-payment in a shortsale transaction (i.e. a payment not noted on the HUD1 settlement statement and/or a payment not approved by the primary lienholder). BEWARE…this is an ILLEGAL practice. Some banks, in an effort to recoup their losses in a shortsale will ask the buyer to pay them outside of closing or sign a promissory note if the payoff amount dictated by the 1st mortgage lender or lienholder doesn’t allow enough funds to go to the 2nd mortgageholder or other junior lienholder. Again BEWARE as you may end up facing mortgage fraud charges if your lender finds out about it after closing. The full CNBC article can be read here.

Buyers: Get off the fence and get your mortgage loans locked before rates go up!

If the fed stops buying mortgage backed securities at the end of March, mortgage loan rates might go up. If you have been considering a purchase or refi, now is the time. The full Wall Street Journal article can be read here.


Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on January 31st, 2010 9:45 PM

New Year Resolutions (a thought for the weekend)

Happy New Year! Whether you are who likes to start the new year with resolutions, or you prefer to set occasional goals for yourself despite holiday influences, don’t forget to include real estate investing as part of your financial goals for the new year. A few ideas to get your real estate goal-setting started:

1. Set a goal to let 2010 be the year that you benefit from low property prices, low interest rates, and property ownership tax benefits by purchasing an investment property. Recent reports show the real estate market is taking a turn for the better. Don’t miss out on the low-price deals and low mortgage rates currently available. They won’t last forever!

2. Create both short and mid-term investment goals to augment your (early) retirement goals. Example:

Short-term: Give yourself an instant $6000 raise. How? Buy 2 cashflow properties that each net a minimum of $250 per month in cashflow after expenses. ($250 per month cashflow on 2 properties = $6000 per year in your pocket). Also leverage these 2 properties to provide interest expense write-offs, depreciation and other tax shelters for the upcoming year. Your CPA can fill you in on all of the benefits of rental property ownership.

Mid-Term: Buy 2 properties each year for the next 5 years. (10 properties in total). In 5-7 years, if the market allows modest appreciation, sell 5 of the properties and use the proceeds to pay off/ pay down the debt on as many of the remaining 5 as possible (hopefully at least 2). This will allow you to pocket the full rents received on the paid-off properties and the additional cashflow from the other 3 properties with mortgages remaining.

3. Set a goal to solidify your investing team. A team of reliable professional can make or break your investing experience. Key professionals you will need on your team include a property manager, repairman, inspector, lender, and of course the world’s best Realtor (but you can call me for that). Visit www.tiffanyelder.com/serviceprofessionals for a few names to start with.

4. If you haven’t yet purchased a primary residence, you’re leaving money on the table. $1000 per month in rent totals $12,000 per year down the toilet. However, a $1000 mortgage for a qualified buyer at today’s rates can potentially buy a home worth $140,000. But, the homeowner will have a net housing payment of only $835 after the tax write-offs associated with homeownership (assuming a 25% tax bracket). So not only can homeownership be less expensive than renting,  homeownership provides the potential for appreciation and equity growth. Finally, for first-time buyers under contract by 4/30/10, you can have an additional $8000 in your pocket this year from the first-time homebuyer tax credit. Existing homeowners who want to sell their homes and purchase another home can get $6500 if they have owned their existing home for at least 5 years. Call today to get on the road to homeownership. Also, be sure to check out the “Rent vs. Buy” calculator at http://www.tiffanyelder.com/MortgageCalculators to see how homeownership can change your financial outlook in 2010.

In a Sign of Confidence, Downpayment Standards Eased (article c/o the Wall Street Journal)
In what’s sure to be good news for many potential homebuyers, some mortgage insurers and lenders are beginning to relax their downpayment requirements. The changes, which are being done on a market-by-market basis, mean buyers in some parts of the country can now borrow 95 percent instead of 90 percent of a property's value. http://www.ncrealtors.org/news_display.cfm?nid=1158

Tiffany Elder noted in Businessweek Magazine

Many of you know that I am a real estate broker, general contractor and investor, and that I strive to consult my clients from the standpoint of one who faces the same opportunities and challenges that they do with regard to investment real estate. Many of my personal investing activities center around new construction and historic restoration tax credit projects, with a focus on sustainable (i.e. “green”) building methods. In 2009, I was fortunate to participate in the BASE Program at UNC’s Kenan Center for Sustainable Enterprise, which was featured in Businessweek Magazine’s “Incubator Options” article. Yours truly was interviewed for the article @ www.tinyurl.com/bizweektiffanyelder  It's just a brief mention, but exciting for our team nevertheless. To learn more about our team’s construction/development activities, visit www.legacygreen.com  Don't hesitate to call the office if you want to learn how "greener" renovations and eneregy-efficient new construction investing can benefit your wallet.

Durham Crime Mapper

In the office, we are often asked about the prevalence of crime in different areas of the Triangle, especially from investors considering the purchase of an investment property. The following links are for the Durham and Raleigh Online Crime Mappers. At each site, you can enter an address and see crime statistics in the surrounding area. I typically tell clients to put in their home address and use that as a baseline since it is an area they are already familiar with. Look at the crime stats in your home area and compare it with your personal experience in that area. Then go back in and pull up other areas and see how they compare. I hope this helps with better understanding the communities in which you will be investing.

Durham Crime Mapper:


Raleigh Crime Mapper:


Happy Investing!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on January 7th, 2010 11:07 PM

Welcome to the 2nd decade of the new millennium! I hope you enjoyed your holidays and are ready to make 2010 a great year. Market trends are looking positive, with an upswing in property sales prices over the last 2 quarters in some areas. Also included in this week’s blog:

  • Introducing Paradigm Properties: A new vision for real estate
  • More competition leaves landlords with difficult decisions to make
  • Triangle MLS Market Trends Report (Durham, Wake, Johnston & Orange counties)

We hope you enjoyed the holidays and we look forward to working with you in 2010. Happy investing and Happy New Year!


Introducing Paradigm Properties: A new vision for real estate

A few of you have noticed the company name change in my email footer from Realty Executives to Paradigm Properties. Since the cat is out of the bag, I’ll spill the beans…After 5 wonderful years with Realty Executives, the time has come to branch out. I am excited to announce that I am now Broker-Owner of Paradigm Properties. Our tagline: “A new vision for real estate”. Many of you know that my style of brokerage differs from most brokers and that I enjoy, above all else, helping my clients learn the ins and outs of property ownership and real estate investing. Paradigm Properties will build on this reputation with a webinar series on home-buying and investing, a continued focus on investment property brokerage and a learning series on a broad range of non-traditional real estate techniques that will support our client’s endeavors (we’ll tell you about these later). The past few months have been extremely busy given all of the activities surrounding the launch of our firm. We are excited for what is to come and we look forward to working with you again in the new year. Be on the lookout for our client survey and for info on our company launch celebration in early 2010. We look forward to reconnecting with all of you there. In the meantime, you can reach me, as always, at tiffany@tiffanyelder.com or at the Highgate office location.

More competition leaves landlords with difficult decisions to make

A recent conversation with one of my favorite property managers prompted this next note. She shared with me the dilemma in which many of her landlord clients are finding themselves; this being the decision to not only forego cashflow on their rentals, but to have to put money toward the debt coverage on their property in order to avoid vacancy. The cause for this? Simple supply and demand. There are too many rentals on the market and not enough tenants.

Where did all the unexpected rentals come from? Quite a few of them are from unexpected sources, foreclosures and builders. Foreclosures seem to be tapering off in the Triangle, but there is still quite a bit of inventory sitting on the market. Vacant new construction and condo projects are sitting on the market as well. In recent months, I’ve seen both banks and developers renting out their vacant properties to help with carrying costs on these properties. What does this mean for landlords? COMPETITION. Potential tenants now have many more options, and with so many properties available for rent, lease prices are being forced down in some areas.

What this means for existing landlords: If a ready, willing and able tenant puts forth an offer to rent that is a bit shy of your asking price, you may want to consider biting the bullet in the short term as it may take longer to get your unit rented out, and there is the possibility that you might not get your price. Take a small hit in the short term to win in the long term. Not too many things are worse than having to cover full carrying costs out of pocket for months at a time. In addition, the current market of low prices and low interest rates provides an opportunity for you to purchase another rental with sufficient positive cashflow to balance out your negative cashflow and bring your overall portfolio back into the black.

What this means for investors looking to buy rental property: Run your numbers based on conservative rental income projections and look for properties in areas that tend not to suffer from higher vacancy rates in difficult markets. These include neighborhoods near universities and solid employment centers. It’s fine to expect the best, but prepare for the worst. It’s still a great time to buy given that prices and mortgage rates are still very low. Many of my colleagues who have been in the business for decades mention that both prices and mortgage rates have not been low at the same time before. So definitely take advantage of the market because we probably won’t see this again for a long time. Be reasonable in your expectations, however, as the national media has painted a more desperate picture of the overall real estate market than we are facing here in the Triangle. As those of you who have been forced to sit with me in the office already know, one of my favorite sayings is: “A game is more likely won with a series of base hits, not by waiting for the homeruns alone.” A steady stream of smart “base hit” investments will propel you forward in 2010 and beyond. Waiting around for the “homeruns” may lead you to miss out on a lot of opportunities (and cashflow) in the meantime.

Triangle MLS Market Trends Report

The following market reports summarizing activity through November 2009 are available online at the Triangle MLS website. Following these reports is a great way to stay on top of real estate trends in our area.

Entire Triangle: http://www.durhamrealtors.org/pdf/mreports-1109/entire-triangle-region.pdf

Durham County: http://www.durhamrealtors.org/pdf/mreports-1109/durham-county.pdf

Johnston County: http://www.durhamrealtors.org/pdf/mreports-1109/johnston-county.pdf

Orange County: http://www.durhamrealtors.org/pdf/mreports-1109/orange-county.pdf

Wake County: http://www.durhamrealtors.org/pdf/mreports-1109/wake-county.pdf

Happy investing, and here’s to a wonderful 2010!

Posted in:General
Posted by Tiffany Elder on January 1st, 2010 4:42 PM



My Favorite Blogs:

Sites That Link to This Blog:

Tiffany Elder - Broker, Realtor

6409 Fayetteville Rd. Suite 120-367
Durham, NC 27713