March 2, 2021

6 Big Pay Off Home Improvements

Renovating this year? Here are 6 home improvements that pay off big time when you sell


Thinking about renovating areas of your home soon? Don’t waste your time with projects that won’t yield ROI when it comes time to sell— here are the best and worst home improvement projects in terms of return on your investment.

The best home improvement projects

Each year, Remodeling Magazine puts out a cost versus value report, that helps homeowners understand the average cost per project and how much of their investment can be expected to be recouped when it comes time to sell.

#1 Garage Door Replacement

Coming in at the number 1, replacing an old garage door for a new one yields a 96% return on your investment when it’s time to sell— talk about a good choice! You can expect to spend about $3,600 on a carriage-style 16X7 garage door.

#2 Kitchen remodel

It’s no secret that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, so it comes as no surprise that a kitchen remodel yields a good return when you sell your home. Costing an average of $23,000 for a minor kitchen remodel, you can expect to recover about 78% of your investment.

On the other hand, if you’re planning for a full gut job, a major kitchen renovation can run upwards of $129,000 and you can expect to recoup around 53% of your investment.

Because of the huge cost difference between a major and minor kitchen remodel, experts say to stick with a smaller remodel if you plan to sell in the next few years. On the other hand, if you plan to stay in a home for 7-10 more years, a major remodel might make more sense. 

#3 Siding replacement

Returning an average of 77% of your investment, replacing old siding is a solid investment. Not only can you expect to recoup much of your costs associated with this project, but you’ll delight buyers from the moment they view your home— there’s nothing worse than bad curb appeal.

#4 Adding a deck

Impressive outdoor spaces sell homes almost as much as indoor spaces that wow. If your home desperately needs a deck, consider adding one to increase your overall market value. Wood decks cost an average of $14,000 and recoup around 72% of investment when it comes time to sell. Thinking about putting in a composite deck instead? Data shows wood decks recover slightly more of their investments, showing that composite decks can expect to return 68% of their investment. 

#5 Bathroom renovation

These days, everyone is searching for that updated, sparkling clean bathroom. The average homeowner will spend about $32,000 renovating the owners’ suite bathroom and can expect to recover about 61% of that investment when they sell. Because the investment of renovating a bathroom is on the more expensive end, make sure you choose a style that fits most tastes. Opt for a large, walk-in shower, wood cabinets, wood or stone floors and nice finishes.

Home improvement projects that don’t yield as much ROI 

Backyard patio

While a backyard patio is a wonderful addition to a wooded yard, turns out it doesn’t return as much as some other projects do when it comes time to sell. Expect to spend about $54,000 and recoup only 47.6% of your investment. Consider a backyard patio project if you’re planning to stay in your home between 5-7 years or longer. 

Owner’s suite addition

While more space is always welcome, an owner’s suite can run homeowners a staggering $136,000 and only recovers around 58% when it’s time to sell. If you need more space, consider adding an owner’s suite addition if you plan to stay put for a decent period of time.

Grand entrance

While replacing an existing entry door with a grand entrance door with dual sidelights can improve the overall look of your home, it doesn’t recover too much of your investment. If you complete this project you can expect to recoup about 53% of your investment.

Bathroom addition

Who doesn’t want more bathrooms? While no one can argue that too many bathrooms are a bad thing, adding a bathroom doesn’t bode well for your checkbook, come selling time. Bathroom additions cost an average of $49,000 and recover only 54% when you sell your home. 

March 1, 2021

Historical Drive Around Lake Norman

A Historical Drive Around Lake Norman

Lake Norman has an abundance of historical sites and landmarks one can visit and learn about. Whether you're a long-time resident or planning a trip, we've put together our first historical drive checklist that will guide you to the popular historical sites the area has to offer. So buckle up, and hand the phone over to your copilot and lets hit the road!

(Estimated length of trip: 2 hours)

1. Start at the Lake Norman Visitor Center

The best start and end point is our visitor center located at 19900 West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius. We're open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm so we encourage you to stop in and say hello before you start your mini trip. We'll supply with you brochures of other popular attractions and even menus for local restaurants. 

2. Go East on West Catawba Avenue to head to Smithville Park

Smithville Park is located in Cornelius' oldest historically black community. You'll see the Rosenwald School and Union Bethel AME Zion Church. 

3. Continue East on Catawba Avenue and turn left on Oak Street to Oak Street Mill

Oak Street Mill was originally named the Gen Yarn Mill which opened in 1905 employing 45 people. It was opened by Joseph Benjamin Cornelius who the town later thanked and renamed the town after. In its peak years, it would end up employing more than 150 people, but ultimately ended up closing down in 1962. Today, it serves as the home for Oak Street Mill Antiques and several venues including Brick Row. 

Oak Street MillOak Street Mill

4. Go West on Catawba Avenue, turn right on Church Street, then left on Pine Street

Pine Street has a variety of older homes that were built between the 1900 and 1950s. 

5. Head to the Ada Jenkins center

When the Davidson Colored School burned to the ground, a teacher named Ada Jenkins rallied the community to raise funds for a new brick schoolhouse, which opened in 1937. After Mrs. Jenkins’ death, it was renamed the Ada Jenkins School and served as the educational center for black students in Davidson until integration in 1966. Today, Ada Jenkins is a not-for-profit organization helping those in poverty break the cycle and gain economic independence.

Ada Jenkins CenterAda Jenkins Center

6. Go northeast on Gamble St., turn right on Sloan St., and right on Depot St. towards the Rumor Mill Market and Davidson Village Inn

Rumor Mill Market used to be the Linden Cotton Factory in the early 1890s. According to the Charlotte News, it was a "first class" manufacturing plant. Today it's home to the locally-owned antique and unique furniture shop. The Davidson Village Inn sits on on what used to be the Maxwell Chambers Hotel, where travelers by train would stay overnight in the 1920s. You'll be able to see the Depot building across the street where passenger trains would stop.

Davidson Village InnDavidson Village Inn

7. Head east on Depot St., turn left on Jackson St., and left on Delburg St., to get to Delburg Cotton MIll.

This big red brick building was a cotton mill that opened in 1903 and named after the last syllables of "Mecklenburg" and "Iredell". It now houses the Brickhouse Tavern, so if you're feeling hungry, this is a great place to refuel!

Brickhouse TavernBrickhouse Tavern

8. Go east on Depot St. and turn right on NC-115 to arrive at the Davidson College Presbyterian Church

The original church was founded at the time by Davidson College and town in 1837. Davidson College bought the property where they built the new church which hosts a variety of major college events and concerts.

9. Go south on NC-115 towards downtown Davidson

Downtown Davidson is filled with locally-owned restaurants and shops that stand in the same buildings that served a different purpose in the 20th century. Kindred Restaurant sits in what used to be the local pharmacy and the Village Store used to show silent films. 

10. Continue south on NC-115 and turn right on Concord Rd. towards Beaver Dam House

Beaver Dam was built in 1829 by William Lee Davidson II, son of General Davidson. It has deep ties with other historical sites like the Latta Plantation and Rural Hill, which you can learn about here.

Beaver Dam

11. Head southeast on Davidson-Concord Rd., and stay on NC-73 towards the Bradford Store

The Bradford Store opened in 1912 offering locally sourced food until it closed in 1958. It later reopened in 2006 where people today can purchase organic food and wellness items. 

12. Drive west on NC-73, turn left on Ramah Church Rd., left on NC-115, and left on Huntersville-Concord Rd to arrive at the Old Huntersville Jail

You'll see one of the area's oldest standing jails in Huntersville located near Veterans Park. Veterans Park hosts several town events throughout the year. 

Old town Jail huntersvilleOld Huntersville Jail

13. Head west on Huntersville-Concord Rd. towards Gilead Rd to arrive at the Hugh Torrance House. 

The Hugh Torrance House & Store is the oldest building in Mecklenburg County, which during it's peak years would sit on over 3,000 acres of land. Hugh Torrance 's son James would marry Marry Latta, daughter of James Latta.

14. Head southeast on Gilead Rd, right on McCoy Rd., right on Hambright Rd., left on Beatties Ford Rd., and right on Sample Rd. to see the Latta Plantation

Built in 1800 by James Latta, the Historic Latta Plantation sits on 742 acres of land. You can stop here to do guided house tours or walk around the property to look at the farm animals. 

Historic Latta Plantation

Historic Latta Plantation

15. Go east on Sample Rd., turn left on Beatties Ford Rd., and stay left on Neck Rd., until you get to Rural Hill

This historic homestead was founded by Major John Davidson and his wife Violet in 1765. He signed the infamous Mecklenburg County Declaration of Independence on May 20, 1775. Rural Hill is now home to various popular annual events including the Loch Norman Highland Games.

Rural HillRural Hill

After you've had a chance to walk around the Rural Hill property, you might want to take a moment to sit back and learn more about the history of Lake Norman. We've put together an entire series of blogs to help you gain insights into the history of the area and fun facts that even locals might not know. 

Posted in Community, Fun Times
March 1, 2021

Plants, Wine & Basements Oh My


Using plants as décor is a great way to add a little color and a natural, bright feel to any room. There are endless types of plants to choose from and various ways to display each one, but here are a few of our favorite combinations.

  1. Geometric pots. Find geometric pots or planters of various sizes and plant small succulents of different styles and colors in each one. Then group a few pots together on a window sill or shelf or use them individually to adorn a side table or center of the dining room table.

  2. Long, hanging plants. Purchase a larger, draping plant like eucalyptus, fern, or ivy and hang it from the ceiling using a macramé plant hanger or place it on a high shelf or ladder. These plants are perfect for the corner of your living room or room with a large, plain wall that is in need of a little pop of color.

  3. Plant corner. Have a large corner in the dining or living room and need ideas on how to fill it? Consider turning it into a small plant sanctuary. Select plants of all different sizes, heights, colors, and style and purchase either matching pots or a mix of designs. Consider the use of a stool or small table to create additional levels and strategically place each one in the corner.

  4. Air plants. Air plants are universal and can be included in DIY wall art, hung from the ceiling or on the wall inside geometric metal prisms, or placed inside beautiful glass terrariums alongside other plants and colorful rocks or sand.




If you are a big wine connoisseur or just saving a few bottles to crack open on special occasions, it’s important to understand how best to store them safely until you’re ready to partake. Follow the guidelines below!


To ensure each wine bottle maintains the proper flavor and aroma, storing it at the correct temperature is essential. Regardless if it is red, white, or sparkling, storing your bottles at 53°F to 57°F is most ideal. Keeping your bottles in a room where the temperature is much warmer than that may cause the flavor to become flat. Keep your wine in the dark and away from direct UV rays as much as you can to protect the wine’s flavor.


Controlling the humidity in the room is important if you plan to store bottles more than a couple years. The ideal humidity for storage is between 50 to 75 percent and anything below that could cause the corks to dry out, letting air seep into the bottle.


Generally, it is advised to store wine bottles on their sides. This allows wine to stay up against the cork which should aid in keeping it from drying out. However, if you don’t plan to store the wine for long or if the bottle has a screw top or plastic cork, this is not required for safe storage.


Not all wine is designed to have a long shelf life or be aged. Make sure you know what the winemaker’s intention was for that particular bottle. It is always better to open it a little early and enjoy!




Although currently dimly lit and a little rough on the eyes, your unfinished basement still has a lot of potential. With just a little love and the help of the following ideas, you can spice it up in no time and get some great use out of the space.

  1. Add a pop of color. Give your basement a whole different look without a big renovation by adding some color to the space. Consider painting and sealing the floors, opening up the room by painting the rafters white or a light color, or creating a bold accent wall.

  2. Divide the space. Want to make your basement a multi-use room? Partition out the area by installing an inexpensive curtain system. This can be done either with a curtain track or a simple wire, some hooks, and curtains will suffice.

  3. Add foam mats. Whether you’d like to use the basement as a home gym to get a quick workout in or a place for the kids to play and rough house, adding some foam mats into the mix is a great and easy solution. They come in various colors and can quickly be picked up and tucked away if need be.

  4. Use a large rug. As an alternative to adding mats, find a large, eye-catching rug to be used as a focal point and furnish the area around it.

  5. Add lighting. Basements often offer very little built-in lighting and few outlets around the room. Consider stringing café lighting across the space from the rafters to give a nice ambience and glow without any difficult electrical work.


Jan. 12, 2021

January 2021 Community News


Jan. 4, 2021

How to buy a house in 2021


In 2020 the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the already low housing inventory levels we experienced in 2019, leaving the search for affordable housing difficult for buyers.

Examining the facts– the latest data from shows that the inventory of newly listed properties declined by 8.7% nationally, compared to 2019. Additionally, the typical home spent 58 days on market in November, which is 13 days less than the same time last year.

As we move in to 2021, despite the historically low interest rates, lack of housing inventory will still be a challenge; especially for buyers searching for homes under the $400,000 price point.

Even if you’ve never bought a home before, it’s entirely possible to buy in this economic climate, you just have to be smart– and that’s where we come in. Here’s our complete guide to buying a home in 2021. You can also download a 23 page e-guide here


Step 1: Review your credit score

Unless you’re paying all cash for your new home, mortgage lenders will want to see a copy of your credit report.


Because your credit report is a pretty clear indicator of how responsible you are with money, and since you’ll likely be borrowing a large chuck of money from your lender, they’ll want to make sure you have the means to pay your mortgage each month.

If you’ve never looked at your credit report before, it’s a good idea to view your score before you start on your home search.  Often times your credit report is tied to the terms of your loan agreement, so it stands to reason that borrowers with lower credit scores have less than favorable terms than borrowers with higher scores.

If your credit score leaves something to be desired, don’t panic!

Set up a call to talk with your lender about your score and how it might affect your loan options. You might be surprised at what you can qualify for based on your credit, so don’t dismiss bad credit before talking with your lender.

If your lender advises you to work on repairing your credit for a few months, get to work and start by pulling your free credit report.

After you’ve completed the necessary steps to view your score, take the time to make sure all information is correct. Now is the time to clean up any discrepancies found on your report.

If you aren’t pleased with your score, work on improving the following items that help to positively affect your score:

  • Make payments on time, every time
  • Pay down debt
  • Don’t close any cards
  • Don’t open any unnecessary accounts

 Step 2: Figure out how much can you afford

If pulling your credit report doesn’t give you reason to pause your home search process, the next logical step would be to figure out how much you can afford.

Avid budgeters will likely already know how much they can afford, but if you’ve never designed a budget that works for your financial goals, now’s the time to do so.

Buying a house is a wonderful experience, but it’s also something that needs to be carefully planned out to make sure it fits comfortably within your budget.

Use a mortgage calculator to factor in your monthly mortgage payment, PMI (principal mortgage interest will be required if you are putting less than 20% down), taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. Don’t forget about HOA dues, too.

Lenders typically like to see borrowers keep their monthly mortgage amount (including PMI, taxes and insurance) to about 33% of your gross monthly income (income before taxes).

Likewise, it’s a good idea to keep your total debts— including your monthly mortgage payments and all applicable taxes and insurance— at or around 45% of your gross monthly income.

Debts are anything you’re obligated to on a monthly basis. Student loans, credit card payments, car loans, tax debt, etc. all need to be considered.

Step 3: Understand what a mortgage  pre-approval is and why it matters

In 2021, the housing shortage will still impact demand, meaning buyers will need to get pre-approved for a mortgage to let sellers know they’re serious.

Quite different from a pre-qualification, which is merely an estimate of how much  you can borrow, a pre-approval is a full mortgage loan commitment from your lender, indicating exactly how much you can borrow, and subject to a fully executed purchase contract and the completion of an appraisal.

In essence, a pre-qualification is a maybe, and a pre-approval is an absolute yes.

In today’s market, you want to be absolutely certain the home you’re shopping for is within your budget, and that’s why talking with your mortgage lender and going through the pre-approval process is so important.

Step 4: Decide how much should you put down

For many first time home buyers, coming up with a down payment can be quite an undertaking.  Down payment options range from 0 to 20% with a myriad of loan options available for every borrower.

Putting down 20% ensures you don’t have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), but if that’s not in the cards, not to worry— there’s likely a loan program that works for your desired down payment.

Step 5: Research first time home buyer programs for 2021

Good news for first time buyers— there’s a ton of programs and grants designed to help you afford your first home. Here’s a look at some of the more popular first time home buyer programs.

FHA loans

Borrowers with credit scores of 580 or higher should look into FHA loans. With as little as 3.5% down, FHA loans enable many first time buyers to afford their first home.

USDA loans

Buyers desiring to purchase in eligible rural and suburban areas of the country could be entitled to receive 100% financing through a USDA loan.

 VA loans

Active duty military members, veterans and surviving spouses can buy their homes with zero down payment and no private mortgage insurance with the help of a VA Loan.

Conventional loans

Backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, qualified borrowers can purchase a home with as little as 3% down.

Find out more information on First time home buyer programs in North Carolina.

Step 6: Find a real estate agent that’s right for you

The home search process has no shortage of highs and lows and you’ll want a professional to to help you navigate the process with ease.

Besides being able to show you properties as soon as they hit the market, a Realtor works to be your advocate during the entire process— negotiating on your behalf and getting you to the closing table without any hiccups.

Plus, working with a buyer’s agent to help you buy your home is free! In the vast majority of cases, the seller pays the buyer’s agent commissions.

 Step 7: Shop for homes

The fun part, finally! When you work with a Realtor, they’ll likely set you up with alerts so that you can be the first to know the moment a home that matches your criteria hits the market.

Beyond filtering out homes in your desired area and price, it’s a good idea to make a wish list of items you’re looking for in your new home. Making a list beforehand empowers you not to get too enamored with a home that doesn’t quite work for you, functionally speaking.

Step 8: When you find the one, submit an offer

Here’s where it gets real.

When you find the one that meets most of your wish list items, that’s priced right for your budget and located within your desired area, make an offer!

Work with your Realtor to submit a competitive offer by reviewing the comparative home sales for the area. You don’t want to offer too little, and you’ll be kicking yourself for offering too much, so lean on the data and knowledge your Realtor brings to the table when submitting an offer.

Beyond the price you’re willing to pay for the home, your offer includes important details like:

  • Closing date
  • Lender info and down payment amount
  • Earnest money
  • Details about any personal property you might want from the sellers
  • Contingencies

The bottom line here is to work to submit your highest and best offer, free of too many contingencies, which will work in your favor–especially in next year’s competitive market.

Step 9: Line up an appraisal and home inspection

Unless you’re paying cash for your new home, obtaining a home appraisal is the next step. Borrowers in need of financing will need to obtain an appraisal, however.

An appraiser uses comps, or comparative market data to evaluate your property against similar homes that have sold in the last three to six months to determine the market value of the property. Essentially, an appraisal protects you, the buyer, from overpaying for your home.

On the other hand, a home inspection is a pretty detailed assessment of your home’s condition. Everything from your home’s structural, electrical, safety, and mechanical issues will be evaluated. The inspector will also note your roof’s condition and call out any plumbing issues, as well.

It’s a good idea to hire your own inspector that you or your Realtor trust— you’ll want a highly skilled professional there to point out any big issues that could be costly down the road before you sign on the dotted line.

Step 10: Close on your home

If the appraisal comes back on target and the home inspector doesn’t identify any major red flags that make you second guess your offer, you’re in the clear to prepare for closing.

You’ll need to stay in close connection with your Realtor and Mortgage Consultant during this time as there will be many items that need your attention.

Prior to closing, your Realtor will provide you with your closing costs documents. Review these thoroughly to make sure everything is correct, and all finances are in order before you arrive at the closing table. On closing day you’ll most likely be responsible for the following costs:

  • Closing costs
  • Down payment
  • HOA dues (if applicable)
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Property taxes

Once all money has been exchanged and the last paper has been signed, congratulations— you’re now a homeowner!




Posted in Buying
Jan. 4, 2021

How Much Is My Home Worth


Regardless of whether or not you plan to sell anytime soon, it’s a good idea to keep a pulse on how much your home is worth relative to the market around it.

 How do I determine what my home’s worth?

For your most accurate assessment of your home, it’s best to contact a Realtor that will conduct a comparative market analysis based on the local real estate market, as well as trends specific to your area and neighborhood.

For an estimate of your home value, use our easy-to-use home valuation tool.

What factors affect my home’s value?

In typical market conditions, home values tend to appreciate, granted you maintain it well. Here are some factors that can affect your home’s value one way or another:

  • Market conditions, i.e., how much inventory is on the market at any given time
  • Neighborhood condition and amenities
  • Age and condition of your home
  • How much your home sold for in the past
  • Square footage of your home
  • Your home’s proximity to good schools, shopping, city center, etc.

Which renovation projects help my home’s worth the most?

Before you swing the sledgehammer, it’s important to know the facts–because not all renovation projects are created equal. Read below to learn which home improvement projects yield the best return.

Outdoor enhancements

Curb appeal is like a first impression—there are no do-overs. And when it comes to maximizing your potential return on investment, enhancing your front door and garage door prove to be two of the best investments.

A new front door can refresh the overall look and feel of your house and won’t set you back too much.  With costs typically hovering around $1,200, studies show you can expect to recoup about 98 percent of your investment when you sell. Update your front door for even cheaper than that by simply adding a fresh coat of paint or stain.

Likewise, replacing an outdated garage door can dramatically increase your home’s presentation and marketability. Considering garage doors are usually a fairly prominent feature on our homes, investing a little money goes a long way with this reno, and experts report you can expect to get back an average of 88 percent of your investment here.


Dubbed the best room of the house, it’s no surprise an updated, flowing kitchen with room for family to gather is at the top of buyers’ wish lists these days. Spending money revitalizing your kitchen can certainly pay off, if you do it wisely.

Experts say that a smart renovation budget for a kitchen should not exceed more than 10 – 15 percent of your home’s overall value, and you can expect to recover about 83 percent of your total cost when you sell. Keep future buyers in mind when picking out new color, surfaces, fixtures and cabinets to ensure your kitchen remodel will look up-to-date for many years to come.


Outdoor living spaces are quickly catching on– and with construction costs only a fraction of what it takes to add square feet indoors, this investment proves to be financially rewarding when it comes time to sell.

With a myriad of decking options to select from, you can quickly transform the outdoors into an inviting space for family or friends to gather.  Expect to gain back about 80 percent of your overall investment when you sell.


Remodeling an outdated bathroom pays off big time, and homeowners can expect to recover about 80 percent when the house sells. Spend your money investing in updated flooring, bathroom counters and cabinets, a fresh coat of paint and shower upgrades.

Most older homes have tubs that typically take up a lot of square footage; rather than upgrade the tub, put that money in a new shower. Walk-in and steam showers are popular wish list items in today’s market.

It’s important to note that if your home just has one bathroom, rather than remodel that, put your money into adding a second bathroom. Studies show adding a second bathroom to houses typically increases the value of your home by at least 8 percent.

Do the research before you start the work to get the biggest return on investment for your renovation. While it’s certainly nice to enjoy the fruits of your labor while you still have some time in your house, make sure you have the potential home buyer in mind as you pick out colors, materials and themes, as you’ll want to capitalize on your investments when you sell.

And if you hope to regain a good portion of your investment back, make sure the investments you’re making won’t cause your home to be over-priced for your neighborhood.

How can I keep an eye on my home’s value even if I’m not ready to list it?

Keep an eye on your home’s value relative to the market around it with Market Report— a free monthly report, jam-packed with important data that enables you to easily keep a pulse on your home’s worth. With Market Report you’ll have access to:

Monthly report: A snapshot of average days on the market for current and sold properties in your neighborhood and how quickly inventory is selling.

Sold properties graph: A look at the average home sale prices over the last 12-24 months in your area.

For sale data: Exact high and low listing prices over the last month, averaged for your convenience.

Sold data: What was the highest price? What was the lowest? You’ll be able to quickly know your neighborhood market average.

Property details: Color thumbnail photos, and home details including address, year built, number of bedrooms and baths, and list and sold prices allow you to do a quick comparison of your own home.

Ready to list your home? See how much your home is worth now! 



Dec. 20, 2020

15 home features buyers want most


If you’ve watched even five minutes of HGTV you know most buyers are all looking for the same few elements in a home. 

 Curious to see if what buyers like on reality TV aligns with actual reality?

Here’s our list of top home features buyers want most. 

Hardwood floors throughout

Whether you prefer oak, cherry, maple, mahogany, or pine floors, most home buyers agree that hardwood floors are more appealing than carpeted spaces.

They are easy to clean and maintain, and pair nicely with an area rug. Their timelessness is sleek, polished, and help spaces flow seamlessly from one to another. Additionally, they are easier on allergies.

Open floor plan

This feature has been on the top of almost every home buyer’s wish list for well over the past decade. Spaces that flow freely from the kitchen to the living room to the dining room are sure to make buyer’s swoon the minute they walk inside.

This open concept makes for great entertainment spaces. People can mingle and talk to each other easily and see everything that is going on in each space. Plus, it brings people together, which is great at all times of the year.

See more   beautiful listings here.

A backyard patio or deck

Perfect for social gatherings, patios and decks are an entertainer’s dream when looking for a house. Patios and decks are great for the warmer months to spend time outside and soak up the sun.

Plus, they are great spaces for kids and dogs to run as well as light up the grill for a barbecue. With a little landscaping, these spaces will have buyers oohing and ahhing for days.

Related: 9 reasons to list your home this winter

Large kitchen

We’ve heard it all before: on almost every House Hunters episode on HGTV, the homebuyers will have a big kitchen with a large granite or quartz island on their wishlist 9 out of 10 times. And for good reason too.

This highly desirable feature allows enough space for social gatherings and plenty of space to cook. Many buyers also look for places with an eat in kitchen or breakfast nook, so they don’t have to use a formal dining room for every meal.


Walk-in kitchen pantry

Similar to walk-in closets, walk-in pantries are magical and a feature that is becoming more and more common in homes nowadays. Homebuyers look for walk-in pantries and ample storage when house hunting.

These nooks can store meal prepping ingredients and after school snacks for weeks on end. While cupboards are still popular, having a walk-in pantry makes homebuyers feel like a professional chef in a commercial kitchen.

Separate space for a laundry room

Nothing screams being an adult more than wishing for a standalone laundry room. Having one designated space to wash and fold dirty clothes, function as a mud room, and occasionally act as pet supply storage, a laundry room does it all.

A main floor laundry room is icing on the cake. Overall, laundry rooms are not only practical, but one of the features buyers want most.

See more of this listing here.

First floor master suite

While it may be a surprise, having a first floor master suite is a bonus feature that many homebuyers search for if they are looking at two-story homes. Long gone are walks up and down the stairs all day just to change clothes or take a shower.

Plus, it gives children more privacy and allows them to make an upstairs space their own. And as an added bonus, first floor masters are closer to the kitchen which is perfect for late night snacks. 

Related: House plants you couldn’t kill even if you tried


Attached garages are a favorite among home buyers nationwide. Garages are the perfect place to protect your car from the elements.

Sporting and outdoor equipment, as well as long term storage (like holiday decorations), can find the perfect home in a garage. While carports and parking pads are great places for designated parking, they do not provide shelter or storage like an attached garage. 


Just because this feature is lower on the list, does not mean it is not desirable. Homebuyers look for a basement space for a variety of purposes.

Some like to create a playroom for children and their friends. Others make a mancave and deck the space out with sports memorabilia. And even some layout their basement like an apartment for friends and family that may stay long term.

Homebuyers will get even more excited about a basement if it’s already finished because that means less work for them once they move in.

Walk-in bedroom closets

Walk-in closets have been a dream for many people since a young age. There is nothing more magical and dreamy than having your own mini mall to shop from each morning.

Having a walk-in closet adds to the luxury of a master suite while also creating a clean and organized space for your clothes.

Smart home technology

Smart home technology is becoming a more and more wanted feature as technology keeps advancing. From upgrades in safety–like security cameras–to comfort–thermostats–these features are not only trendy, but practical. Be on the look out for this feature to make its way up buyers’ wish lists.

Exterior lighting

Exterior lighting is very important for both security and curb appeal for potential homebuyers. The warm glow will welcome people no matter what season, whether it be spring, summer, fall, or winter.

Some home buyers opt for dusk to dawn lights which have automatic timers to turn themselves on and off. Others prefer path lights to guide the way up to the front door. Either way, this feature will not be going away from buyers’ wish lists any time soon.


Perfect for colder months, fireplaces–whether gas or wood–are a feature many home buyers look for in their living spaces. They brighten the room, warm up the house, and bring people together.

While they can be a hazard for young children, a baby gate can protect little ones from injuring themselves.

Separate bathtub and shower

Out with the shower and tub combos, and in with separate spaces to bathe and shower. Spacious showers create a spa-like ambiance while stand alone tubs create a perfect getaway after a long day.

This layout is not only a symbol of luxury, but it gives people options. If one person prefers baths and the other prefers showers, this feature allows both people to get what they want.


Energy-efficient appliances

This home feature is more popular now than it has ever been. Energy-efficient appliances will not only help the environment, but help you save on energy bills each month. Washers, dryers, dishwashers, and more will attract buyers to look more into your property and see what you have to offer.

Whether your home has all of these features or none, make sure you meet with a realtor to come up with a strategy to showcase your home in the best light possible.



Courtesy Allen Tate Marketing


Dec. 18, 2020

These 3 home elements have a major impact on home value

When you’re trying to decide which home improvement project will have the biggest impact on your home value, it pays to look at the roof, windows and HVAC.

While there are a few factors that play into how much value you get from replacing or repairing any of these “big three” elements, it’s a good idea to take a look at each option and determine whether it makes sense for your situation.


They have an immediate impact on curb appeal and can either help or hurt your utility bills. There’s no denying windows play a major role in how attractive your home is to potential buyers.

The National Association of Realtors 2019 Remodeling Impact Report ranks new vinyl windows second in home improvement projects with the biggest impact. But is it worth the notable expense to get all-new windows? That depends on where you live, how old your windows are, and what type of improvement you’re looking at.

The age of the windows is one of the most important factors to consider. High-quality, well-maintained windows can last 20-plus years. Even if you know your windows are younger than 20 years, or if you have no idea how old your windows are, it’s important to look for signs of aging like moisture between the panes, stickiness, warping, visible rot, and draftiness (if the curtains blow out when the windows are closed, you have a draft).

Areas with extreme weather conditions on either end of the spectrum can really beat up on windows, which means they may need to be replaced sooner than the average windows. Well-maintained windows and certain materials, such as vinyl, tend to have longer life spans.

These issues in windows that are less than 15 years old may be remedied with a repair job rather than a full replacement. Repairing a single-pane glass window costs $75-80 on average, compared to anywhere between $200 to $1,800 for full replacement.

Regardless of the factors that affect whether windows need to be repaired or replaced, there are some undeniable perks to taking on this project. First, nice windows can do wonders for curb appeal. If your windows are in disrepair, or if they’re making your house look dated, an upgrade can make all the difference. Even in the back, a fresh bay window can show off a great backyard and let in more natural light.

Another huge perk of new windows is energy efficiency. (Did you hear that “cha-ching?”) The Environmental Protection Agency reports that switching from single-pane to Energy Star windows saves on average $126 to $465 each year. Ideally, homeowners would replace their windows a few years before putting their home on the market so they can benefit from shrinking utility bills and possibly even enjoy a discount on their homeowners insurance.

If you decide new windows are worth it, it’s important to use materials that are the same or higher in quality than what you currently have. If you skimp too much on materials, your replacement job could actually hurt your curb appeal and make your home less attractive to potential buyers.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

Just because HVAC is known as the “invisible upgrade” doesn’t mean it’s not an essential factor in the value of your home. Like windows, the amount of impact that your HVAC system has on your home value, and whether it’s worth it to spend a considerable chunk of change on replacing it, depends on a few factors.

First, the age of the HVAC system matters, as Realtors, and in turn their clients, will most likely know where your system stands once they see its age in your disclosure statements. Even if you’ve worked hard to maintain your HVAC system and it’s working well, an aging system (ten years and up) could be a turn off to potential buyers who know they’re going to be stuck with replacing it.

Another factor that affects how much an HVAC system affects home value is location. The U.S. Energy Information Association reports that 94% of households in the south use air conditioning, compared to just 50% in the Pacific Northwest. The local climate makes a difference in the role the HVAC system plays in buyers’ priorities and wish lists.

The third factor that determines how much the HVAC system impacts home value is energy efficiency. Buyers want to know they’re saving as much as possible on their utility bills, as this is an ongoing expense and annual savings add up over time. If your home has an energy efficient HVAC system, that is a selling feature worth promoting, and it could edge your house above comparable properties in your market.

The bottom line: if your HVAC system is ten years or older and you live in a warmer climate, it could be worth it to get a new system. Get recommendations and input from your Realtor and HVAC professionals before making a decision, and make sure you get an energy-efficient system to maximize the impact on your home value. Check out this list of the most energy-efficient central air conditioners and heat pumps for 2020 from Energy Star.

If your HVAC system is less than ten years old and in good condition, make sure you keep it well maintained and hold on to all service records so you can share them with buyers. When they see that you’ve taken the time and effort to maintain your HVAC system, they’re more likely to trust that you’ve taken good care of the entire house.


Does a new roof impact home values? Yes. Does that mean you should definitely replace your roof before you list your house? That depends.

While potential buyers may have many different opinions on what they want in a master bath or a kitchen, they tend to be less opinionated about the roof. As long as it is in good condition and not nearing the end of its lifespan, buyers will likely accept the roof as-is.

On the other hand, an aging or leaking roof needs to be replaced if you want your house to be attractive to buyers. Marketing your home with a new roof will give buyers the peace of mind of knowing they don’t have to take on a big, expensive project right after they move in.

Some areas require roofing disclosures for real estate transactions, and some federal programs, like Veterans Affairs loans and Federal Housing Administration Loans, require certifications stating that the roof will be in good condition for at least the next two years.

For these reasons, not to mention how a roof in poor condition impacts curb appeal, you can expect a good return on your investment when you replace an aging or leaking roof.

If you’re on the fence (so to speak) about whether your roof requires a full replacement or you can get by with a repair, talk to your real estate agent and get quotes from several roofing professionals. Your agent knows the local market and can give you input on how the roof will impact your chances at getting competitive offers. Getting quotes from several roofing professionals will give you an idea of the investment required for repair or replacement.

If you do decide to get a new roof, you’ll get the best return on investment if you choose materials that match other homes in your neighborhood. You know that old adage that it’s not good to have the most expensive house on the block? The same goes for your roof. If you put high-end materials on the roof of a starter home, you’re limiting how much your roof will increase the home value, because the value is not likely to rise much higher than the houses surrounding you.

Find out Now:  How much is my home worth?


Courtesy of Allen Tate NOVEMBER 17, 2020 - BY MARKETING@ALLENTATE.COM


Dec. 16, 2020

Skiing In North Carolina

Most people think of Colorado, Utah and even Wyoming as great places to ski completely overlooking North Carolina. Contrary to popular thought, NC is actually home to the highest elevations in the South.  Ready to explore the ski slopes in the south? Here’s your ultimate guide to skiing in North Carolina.  

When can you ski in North Carolina?

Don’t let the milder winter temps in North Carolina fool you into thinking that it’s too warm to ski— on average it’s about 15 to 20 degrees colder on the slopes than the lower elevations.

Boasting an average snowfall of about 70,” the ski season in North Carolina typically opens around Thanksgiving and closes in mid-March. For exact closing dates for the 5 biggest ski destinations in North Carolina, see below:

According to On the Snow, the projected closing dates are as follows:

  • Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is projected to close on February 28
  • Appalachian Ski Mountain is projected to close on March 22
  • Beech Mountain Resort is projected to close on March 24
  • Cataloochee Ski Area is projected to close on March 31
  • Sugar Mountain Resort is projected to close on April 1

The best skiing in North Carolina

Appalachian Ski Mountain

The story of Appalachian Ski Mountain began on December 4, 1968 where it opened as the first ski area in Northwestern North Carolina and the second oldest ski area in the State. Now home to 10 slopes, 3 terrain parks and a panoramic outdoor ice arena, there is something for every member of the family to enjoy. Enjoy a long season starting mid-November and going through late March and take advantage of their night skiing seven nights a week.

Appalachian Ski Mountain offers many events throughout the cold months. Some seasonal favorites are: Skiing with Santa (1-4pm on Christmas Eve), New Year’s Eve Extravaganza, Appalachian Cup Race Series, President’s Day Family Weekend Meltdown Games, and more! See their event schedule for specific dates and times. Guests can also participate in snowboarding, ice skating, ski lessons, and enjoy a meal at the lodge restaurant. Appalachian Ski Mountain has a limited number of slopeside cabins available starting at $230 per night.

Located off of US 321 between Blowing Rock and Boone. 

Weekend Full Day Pass: $66

Weekend Ski Rentals: $33

Season Passes: $525

Beech Mountain

Home to 17 slopes with 98 skiable acres, Beech Mountain is coined Eastern America’s Highest Town, and easily one of the best places to ski in North Carolina. The resort features a vertical drop of over 830 feet and receives an average of 84 inches of snow each year. Home to only 350 permanent residents, Beech Mountain sees crowds of over 10,000 during the winter months. But the fun doesn’t stop when the temperatures go up. Beech attracts many avid mountain bikers with their 12 trails that span 18 miles throughout the town of Beech Mountain and Emerald Outback. Home to the 2013 and 2014 US Cycling Collegiate National Championship, Emerald Outback is a great spot for mountain biking, hiking and running. 

Beech Mountain offers an assortment of comfortable and unique lodging options for guests ranging from budget to luxury with standard lodge rooms, spacious vacation homes, chalets, inns, and cottages.

Beech Mountain is located in both Avery and Watauga Counties and is within 35 minutes of many popular destinations like Grandfather Mountain, Tweetsie Railroad, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Weekend Full Day Pass: $70

Weekend Ski Rentals: $34

Season Passes: $550

 Sugar Mountain


Sugar Mountain is a small village located at the eastern end of Avery County and surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains. With a total area of 2.4 square miles, Sugar Mountain Ski is one of the most popular ski resorts in the High Country. Construction of the resort began in early 1969 and the ski slopes officially opened for the first time on December 19, 1969. In 2019, they celebrate 50 years of operation.

Choose from full day, half day, twilight or night skiing sessions. Both seasoned veterans and beginners are welcome. Bring your own gear or visit the on-site sports shop for equipment rentals. Newcomers can also participate in skiing & snowboarding lessons at the Ski & Snowboard Schools. When lodging in the Sugar Mountain Resort area you can choose from many hotel and motel rooms, condos and homes located slope-side or throughout the Village of Sugar Mountain. The Village of Sugar Mountain provides complimentary shuttle services from many points throughout the Village to the Resort’s base lodge during weekends and holidays.

Sugar Mountain is located in in Avery County and the village is located on Sugar Mountain’s north slope.

Weekend Full Day Pass: $46- $77

Weekend Ski Rentals: $23- $36

Season Passes: $618-$790

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort 

This charming ski resort is nestled in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, about 30 minutes outside of Asheville. Although it is one of the smaller resorts in North Carolina, the Wolf Ridge offers some of the most challenging terrain in the Southeast! With 54 acres of skiable terrain, 100% snowmaking capability, 2 black diamond runs and a total vertical drop of 700 feet, there are plenty of ways to experience North Carolina winter to it’s fullest. If you’re a first timer, Wolf Ridge is known for their amazing Snow Sports School instructors and will make sure you feel prepared and confident taking on your new adventure. Take part in this instruction as a group or as a one-on-one private session.

If you’d rather stay cozy and bundled up inside, the Wolf Ridge Ski Resort welcomes you inside to relax in a rocking chair by a fire with a cup of hot cocoa. Their charming lodge features three large stone fireplaces and huge windows on two levels that face the slopes.

In addition to their winter sports: skiing, snowboarding, tubing, this resort offers year round adventure and invites their guests to enjoy mountain biking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, caving, and hiking in addition to all their winter offerings. Townhome rentals are also available year round and can and can accommodate groups of all sizes. Come see for yourself and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Weekend Full Day Pass: $33-$42

Weekend Ski Rentals: $24-$34

Season Passes: $375-$650

Cataloochee Ski Area

Having opened just one year prior to Appalachian Ski Mountain, Cataloochee is the oldest Ski Resort in North Carolina and the first on the East Coast. Located high in the Great Smoky Mountains in Maggie Valley, their peaks rise to 5,400 feet in elevation.   They also have one of the most advanced snowmaking systems in the Southeast that covers 18 slopes and trails. This allows them to offer a long season full of winter sports for their thrill-seeking guests.

Cataloochee is another great mountain for learning. As proud members of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, Cataloochee Snowsports School teaches a wide range of skills, from the foundational basics to the newest techniques and tricks for seasoned experts.

Visit this mountain for plenty of special events throughout the winter season including Ski & Snowboard Swap Shops, Can-U-Ski Food and Coat Drive, Maggie’s First Night 2020 (Dec 31st), and Law Enforcement, Military, and Fire and Rescue Appreciation Days.

Weekend Full Day Pass: $54-$72

Weekend Ski Rentals: $28-$33

Season Passes: $700

Sapphire Valley Ski Resort

A perfect destination for residents of Georgia and South Carolina, Sapphire Valley Ski Resort is located in the southernmost part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and offers 5,700 acres of beautiful landscape at an elevation of 3,100 feet. You can expect a jam-packed winter full of live music, arts and crafts classes, breakfast buffets, bingo, and plenty of other social gatherings.

Sapphire Valley is also home to Frozen Falls Tube Park, 500 foot run with a vertical drop of 60 feet for the entire family to enjoy. With their “moving carpet” lift and multiple tubing lanes, Sapphire Valley is a great choice for tubing with shorter lines allowing for more tube time!

Plenty of townhomes, villas and private homes on and around the property are available to rent throughout the year. Guests to lodge on-site receive the full amenity privileges including access to the Recreation Center’s pools, hot tubs, sauna, fitness center, workout room, mini-golf, massage therapies, movie rentals, free wi-fi and arcade, and 25% off the public ski rate. There are also three on-site lounges and restaurants that offer a delicious menu.

Weekend Full Day Pass: $33-$45

Weekend Ski Rentals: $18+

FAQ on skiing in North Carolina

What’s the biggest ski resort in North Carolina?

Tied for first with Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain is the largest ski resort in North Carolina–boasting a total slope length of 14 km.

Where can I snow tube in North Carolina?

If skiing isn’t your forte, consider snow tubing! Hawksnest snow tubing is the largest tubing destination and was actually converted from on old ski slope. Beech Mountain has recently opened a snow tubing area, and you can also snow tube at Sugar Mountain, Sapphire Valley Ski Resort and Jonas Ridge.



Courtesy Allen Tate Realtors - DECEMBER 19, 2019 - BY MARKETING@ALLENTATE.COM


Dec. 16, 2020

9 Reason to list your house during winter

Thanks to the mild weather we’re fortunate to receive during the Carolina winters, selling your home in the winter is actually a good idea.

Not convinced? We’ve got 9 reasons to change your mind.

Low inventory 

This summer housing inventory was lower than the levels we experienced last year, and experts are seeing this trend continue into fall and winter. According to a recent report, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord market is experiencing an average days on market of 42 days and new listings are down 17.1%, year over year.

Low inventory coupled with in migration throughout the Carolinas continue to drive up the demand for housing, making this the perfect time to sell a home, regardless of the season.

 Not as much competition

With little or no competition, your winter listing may look much more attractive to buyers who have very few houses on the market to compare it to.

The spring real estate market can be particularly hard for sellers with less than perfect homes.

Sure, spring brings out the buyers, but it also brings out the sellers, too. This means you’ll have more competition, and buyers have more homes to compare yours against– if your house isn’t in perfect condition, buyers are more apt to notice and get picky.

Low interest rates

Buyers were delighted with last year’s ultra low interest rates, and this year, as rates are even lower, buyers are absolutely ecstatic! There’s never been a better time to buy, and buyers will use this financial break to buy now– even in the winter.

 Less focus on your landscaping

Typically, in our area, keeping your house in show shape in the winter pretty much just means getting and keeping the leaves up.

There are the rare snow days, and if you have a showing, you’ll need to shovel or melt a path to your door so that prospective buyers don’t come skating in at their own peril.

Gloomy and gray days do mean your house’s street view should be warm and inviting. Pops of color at the front door, such as a seasonal wreath and evergreen potted plants add interest and welcome prospective buyers.

Plus, giving the entryway a little winter lift makes your listing photos stand out from other houses online.

But no one expects an immaculate lawn of even green grass, beds of blooming annuals or ready-for-entertaining outdoor spaces. So, if you hate yard work, a winter listing may prove advantageous for you.

If you do have a yard to show off when it’s not the off-season, include in your sales kit pictures that show what the property looks like when the temperature is warmer, like the garden in full bloom or a relaxing the backyard in the summertime.

Your small home becomes “cozy and inviting”

Winter could be a great time to welcome buyers to show off how your house feels, instead of the space it may or may not have.

Create a sense of warmth throughout the home, no matter what your square footage, starting with the living room, where staging can have the greatest impact, according to a National Association of Realtors report. Items like a luxurious blanket can set the tone since people are in snuggle-on-the-sofa-mode.

If there is a showing, have your gas fireplace going (if you can do so safely), homey smells wafting through the rooms, and the warm glow of lamps, even in the daytime.

Turn the heat up before you leave for showings, and put your utility bill out of your mind. Sticking to 68 to 70 degrees F will generally keep everyone not too hot and not too cold.

A house that feels nice and warm the minute a prospective buyer walks in will make the house feel homier and more welcoming. It also shows that the house is energy-efficient and well-insulated.

And, don’t forget to light up your house inside and out during the shorter, darker days, to make it look like the haven it is.

 Real estate professionals are usually not as busy

Winter closings could be easier than say, if you were trying to close at the highest closing times of the year. During the spring, you may be on a wait list for inspectors, title searchers, attorneys, and all the other service professionals you need for a successful closing.

Homes may sell more quickly and for more during winter

Understand our local climate—both the weather and the market—and enlist a Realtor to help you check the number of days on the market for current and recently sold listings in your particular area.

If properties are selling quickly, use that information to help you make the decision to list during the winter or not.

Ask a Realtor to also check closing prices of comparable properties sold in the past 30 days, then compare with current list prices to make sure you can get top dollar for your listing this winter.

Buyers are often more serious

Sure there may be less buyers compared to spring, but winter buyers tend to be serious. And while it may be inconvenient, it’s crucial not to deny showings, as that could be a missed opportunity.

If you want to sell your home in the off-season, the buyer has to come first. You’ll need to work with your Realtor to devise a strategy for showings, even during snow days, when buyers might take advantage of being off work for a few hours.

 Professionals are on the move

Many people relocate for work this time of year, so they can be on the job by end of first quarter. That means they are looking for somewhere to live, and that somewhere could be your house.

Bottom line? People move here every month of the year, not just March, April and May.

Understand your own motives for selling

If you need to sell because of a new job, a different school, a change in family dynamic, or because your commute is slowly stealing your soul, then sell now. The winter season should not be a deal killer, especially here in the Carolinas.

With the right Realtor guiding you through, you could be sold and closed before the first dogwoods bloom.

So why waste the lovely days of spring keeping your house clean for the parade of spring buyers, when you could be relaxing in the sunshine at your new home?


Courtesy Allen Tate Realtors - DECEMBER 10, 2020 - BY MARKETING@ALLENTATE.COM

Posted in Selling