Nov. 22, 2019

14 Weekend Getaways

14 weekend getaways within 3 hours of Charlotte, North Carolina

Even though we love living in Charlotte, a charming town between the coast and the mountains, it’s nice to get out of town and explore every now and then. Fortunately, we have access to so many incredible destinations within a three hour drive! From bustling cities to natural hot springs and picturesque small towns to national parks, there are plenty of opportunities for travel.

Make it your goal this summer to visit one or two of these spectacular road trip destinations close to Charlotte and experience our area’s natural beauty, historic architecture and cultural attractions. Adventure awaits!

Lake Lure, North Carolina
Lake Lure

Photo courtesy of Liza Goodlett via The Lodge on Lake Lure

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours

Why we love it: This famous Lake was the setting for the classic film Dirty Dancing, but is even more gorgeous in person. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the quiet getaway features lush greenery, a flowering bridge, a beach and nearby attractions, including Asheville and Chimney Rock. We’re sure you’ll have the time of your life!

Where to stay: The Lodge on Lake Lure makes it easy to experience life on the lake with complimentary paddle boards, canoes and kayaks. Plus, you can enjoy luxurious features like an on-site restaurant with locally sourced fare, plush bathrobes, and a wine and cheese hour.

Wilmington, North Carolina

Driving time from Charlotte: 3.5 hours 

Why we love it: With an abundance of seafood, historic sights and landmarks, mini golf, and outdoor activities there is something for everyone to enjoy in this coastal city in south eastern North Carolina. Take in the sunshine and relax on the white sandy beaches, or put your adventure cap on and go kayaking or fishing in local inlets. No matter your preference, you are guaranteed a great time!

Where to stay: Book a stay at the Hotel Ballast to perfectly compliment your trip to Wilmington, NC. Boasting beautiful historic and river views, on site dining, and a close proximity to downtown, this hotel has it all. 

Boone, North Carolina 

Boone, North Carolina
Photo courtesy of Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours

Why we love it: Outdoor adventurers, take note. Boone is a lesser-known outdoor haven in the Blue Mountains! Here, you’ll find bouldering, zip lines, tubing opportunities, hiking, kayaking, mountain bike trails and so much more. Once you’re done tackling your adventure of choice, there are plenty of opportunities for top-notch relaxation as well. Pamper yourself at a world-class spa, go wine tasting at the local vineyards and shop along King Street. It’s an incredible place to visit at any time of year!

Where to stay: Set in a Greek Revival-style mansion, the Westglow Resort & Spa is a romantic getaway with impeccable service, delicious food and a full-service spa. It sits on a secluded 42-acre estate in one of the state’s most beautiful locations! And we’re not the only ones who have recognized it as one of the bests — it has earned accolades from Condé Nast TravelerTravel & Leisure MagazineOpen Table and more.

Ready to make one of these beautiful places home? Let us help!

Greenville, South Carolina

GreenvillePhoto courtesy of Mary Beth Thomas via VisitGreenvilleSC

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours

Why we love it: There is so much to love about Greenville, South Carolina. The town is famous for the park in the town’s center, Falls Park on the Reedy, which features spectacular riverfront gardens and waterfall views. But it’s also famous for the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which attracts more than 1,000 visitors each day to traverse the 22 miles to nearby Travelers Rest by bike. While you’re in the area, make sure to check out some of the town’s best restaurants (The Lazy Goat features top-notch Mediterranean dishes and views of the river), or try one of these fun and romantic date ideas.

Where to stay: There are several awesome Bed and Breakfast options in Greenville, but we recommend the Swamp Rabbit Inn. This charming and quirky hotel is a haven for families, cyclists and couples alike — offering private cottages, an on-site bike shed and super friendly staff to help provide local recommendations.

Related: Top things to do in Greenville, SC 

Davidson, North Carolina

Driving time from Charlotte: 30 minutes

Why we love it: If you love small towns, this city is calling your name for a weekend getaway. Just a short drive from Lake Norman and downtown Charlotte, experience it all in this picturesque small town. From the Main Street Bookstore to the well manicured grounds of Davidson College to boating out on the Lake, this trip will make for a relaxing and fun getaway 365 days of the year.

Where to stay: The Davidson Village Inn is in the heart of Davidson. The central location of the Bed and Breakfast allows visitors to be within walking distance of the local shops and restaurants. Plus, enjoy local delicacies for breakfast each morning.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North CarolinaPhoto courtesy of Explore Asheville

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Why we love it: Asheville is a little slice of paradise tucked into North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Known as Beer City, USA, Asheville features the most breweries per capita in the country, but is also famous for its vibrant art scene, incredible restaurants and historic architecture. You could spend the entire weekend hopping from restaurant to restaurant (think: tapas at Curate or tacos at the White Duck Taco Shop), but make sure to stop into some of the shops and museums along the way. Or, step outside of town for a wildflower-rich hike at Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail!

Where to stay: The Omni Grove Park Inn features a $50 million spa underground that has been ranked as one of the top 20 in the country by Condé Nast Traveler. That’s reason enough to visit, but the inn also offers easy access to nearby breweries, gorgeous scenery and an on-site piano bar.


Brevard, North Carolina

Brevard, North CarolinaPhoto courtesy of

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Why we love it: Situated 130 miles west of Charlotte, Brevard, North Carolina is known as the land of the waterfalls. And trust us, it’s just as picturesque as it sounds. Visit during the summer for the ultimate waterfall experience — hiking and swimming opportunities abound! After exploring the outdoors, you’ll be able to enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the charming small town, which features delicious restaurants, shops, and festivals or concerts almost every weekend.

Bonus: While you’re here, make sure to check out Sliding Rock, a popular swimming hole with a natural rock waterslide. It is sure to be a hit for adventurers of all ages!

Where to stay: Book a cabin through Deer Ridge! These charming cottages feature mountain views, fireplaces and other upscale amenities, and most of them are dog-friendly!

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours

Why we love it: Nestled near Boone, NC, Blowing Rock has scenic mountain views around every corner and a breath of fresh air that can sometimes be hard to find in the city. Take it easy in this small town on your weekend getaway. Go hiking at The Blowing Rock–it’s dog friendly!–or walk around Main Street and grab a bite to eat at Storie Street Grill. Overall, this trip will be perfect for hanging out with your honey or exploring with your family.

Where to stay: Coined as “one of the best stays in the Blue Ridge” by Southern Living, Chetola Resort, this place offers everything from afternoon tea, a full service spa for everything hair, nail, and face care related, fly fishing, archery and much, much more. The Chetola Resorts is the perfect place to stay to take in all Blowing Rock has to offer.

The Research Triangle, North Carolina

Washington Duke InnPhoto courtesy of the Washington Duke Inn

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 30 minutes (to Durham)

Why we love it: A large chunk of Charlotte’s population is made up of graduates of UNC Chapel Hill or Duke University, so if you’re a Tar Heel or Blue Devil reading this, you already know the lowdown on the Research Triangle. This area, linked by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, is ripe with opportunities for exploring — including top-notch nightlife and culinary scenes.

There are also plenty of cultural experiences, art and history museums, and historic architecture! While you’re here, taste moonshine at Topo Distillery, experience the exclusive atmosphere at the Crunkleton ($5 buys a membership), enjoy farm-to-table fare at the area’s restaurants, explore Durham’s American Tobacco Campus, and visit the Peanut Roaster in Henderson. There is also easy access the outdoors at the nearby Eno River State Park!

Where to stay: The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club allows for an exclusive, resort feel without the astronomical price tag. Golf enthusiasts will love the proximity to the on-site course, but everyone will enjoy exploring the 300 acres of tall pines and hardwoods in Duke Forest! The Inn is conveniently located on the Campus of Duke University, and offers easy access to everything the Research Triangle has to offer.

Winston Salem, North Carolina

Driving time from Charlotte: 1 hour, 19 minutes

Why we love it: You name it, Winston Salem has it. Good eats, outdoor excursions, art, and history, this city has it all. Check out Old Salem and learn about the history of the village. Or, explore the arts district downtown where you can windowshop and dine at the local restaurants.

Where to stay: Close to dining, history, entertainment, and more, Hotel Indigo is our top choice for a place to stay in Winston Salem. This modern hotel offers both one and two bed rooms great for both couples and families. Check out the specially crafted drink menu at the on site restaurant to compliment your stay.

Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 50 minutes

Why we love it: Welcome to one of the most picturesque places in the country. Grayson Highlands State Park is located within Jefferson National Forest near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, and is a haven for photographers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Hiking trails lead to waterfalls and spectacular overlooks, and the camping throughout the area is top notch.

Where to stay: Pitch a tent or stay at one of the local cabins! You can find all of the information you need for that on the park’s website.


Hot Springs, North Carolina

Hot Springs North Carolina

Photo courtesy of the Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Driving time from Charlotte: 3 hours

Why we love it: Imagine soaking in an all-natural pool of hot, crystal clear mineral waters with healing properties. Now, imagine doing that with incredible views of the mountains! Hot Springs, North Carolina is a small town that surrounds a 100-acre resort and spa with modern jacuzzi-style hot tubs positioned along the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River. The tubs are supplied with the world famous hot mineral water that put this little town on the map, and there are also massage therapists on site to complete the spa-like experience.

Where to stay: The Hot Springs Resort & Spa offers several different lodging options for your relaxing getaway, including luxury suites, a deluxe cabin with a private outdoor tub, primitive camping sports and more.

Lake Jocassee, South Carolina

Driving time from Charlotte: 3 hours

Why we love it: Lake Jocassee is a magnificent, 9,000-acre, spring-fed lake located in northwest South Carolina. In the morning, the glassy surface of the water reflects the pristine shoreline and the surrounding rock formations, and at any point on the lake, you can enjoy staggering mountain vistas. It’s certainly one of the area’s most gorgeous natural attractions! There are three boat ramps offering public access to the lake, 20 lakeside villas, an abundance of campsites, several hiking trails, and wildlife viewing opportunities — all you need for a memorable weekend adventure.

Where to stay: Either pitch a tent at one of the campgrounds or book one of the spectacular lakeside villas for a more luxurious experience. Either way, you will be graced with excellent views and easy access to the lake!

Charleston, South Carolina


Driving time from Charlotte: 3 hours

Why we love it: Charleston’s historic district is second to none. Showcasing colorful historic homes, ornate balconies, charming churches and horse-drawn carriages to take in the views, it feels like you’ve stepped into the past! Of course, that’s not all that Charleston has to offer. Perched on the coast of the Atlantic ocean, the city offers an abundance of fresh seafood and stunning beaches for soaking in the sunshine. In fact, the city was voted the #1 city in the US and Canada by Condé Nast Traveler in 2017! You might need more than a weekend to see everything.

Where to stay: If you’re going to Charleston, you might as well go all out! The Wentworth Mansion is one of the city’s most historic, unique and luxurious hotels — and the only one in town with a five-star rating. The Wentworth offers a true dose of Southern hospitality and easy access to the area’s best attractions.

Durham, North Carolina

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 12 minutes

Why we love it: As one of the cities that make up the Research Triangle, this city will not disappoint. Snap some photos on Duke’s scenic campus and take a look inside the Duke University Chapel. Watch a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center or explore the hidden historic and artsy Tobacco District. No matter what you choose to do, this city has something new to explore around every corner.Where to stay: The Durham Hotel is a stunning mid century modern hotel with a vast offering of rooms and suites. Take in the views of Durham from their rooftop: enjoy small plates and drinks at the bar or participate in one of their rooftop yoga classes.

Ready to make one of these beautiful places home? Let us help!

Enjoy your weekend getaway!

Blog courtesy of Allen Tate Realtors 9/2019
Posted in Buying, Community, Fun Times
Nov. 15, 2019

6 reasons why you should attend an open house

Attending a handful of open houses might be one of the smartest decisions you’ll make during the entire home buying process.

Besides the fact that you’ll get to check out tons of homes in various price points, walking through open houses before you start your home search allows you to pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for— so when you’re ready to buy, you’ll be able to make an offer quickly. 

Not convinced checking out some open houses before you buy is worth your time? We’ve got 6 reasons it is. 

Reason #1: You’ll know exactly how much you can afford

Perhaps you’ve got your heart set on a specific neighborhood or certain location. Attending a couple open homes in your desired area will give you a good idea about how much you’ll need to spend to be in that location.

Reason #2: Learn exactly what you want

You know the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know?” Nothing could be more true when it comes to buying your first home.

Before you look at homes you might think a certain square footage is adequate or think you only need 3 bedrooms. Additionally, you might have opinions about things like floor plans, garage size and whether or not the home has a fireplace.  

It’s likely that during the home search process, as you step into more and more homes your wish list evolves. Walking through a good amount of open houses before you get really serious about home buying allows you to continuously retool your desires when it comes to your new home.

Reason #3: You won’t rush into a home purchase

Currently, we’re in a seller’s market— which happens when inventory is low and demand for housing is high. And many times, when a house comes on the market in a desirable area and price point, it’s likely to get snatched up quick.

And sometimes, buying a home in haste can lead to buyers’ remorse— a recent study found that almost half of all homebuyers, and a whopping 66% percent of millennial homebuyers have buyers’ remorse when it comes to the purchase of their home. 

But guess what?  

If you do your homework ahead of time by attending open houses and continuously refining your wish list, you won’t have buyers’ remorse because you’ll know exactly what you need and want. You’ll be able to make an offer quickly and confidently when the time comes.  

Related reading: Three things you must do before you buy a home

Reason #4: Take your virtual search offline

Modern technology is great, there’s no argument there, but there really isn’t a replacement for seeing something with your own eyes. 

Arguably, one of the most helpful reasons to view multiple homes in person is to get a good idea about what different home sizes, and more specifically, square footage, actually looks and feels like.

And after viewing some homes, you may find you can live with less space or you may need to bump up your square footage requirements. 

Reason #5: Get a good feel for the neighborhood/surrounding area

If you have small children and you’re seeking a neighborhood filled with kids, don’t wait until moving day to realize you’ve moved into an older community.

There’s no better way to check out a neighborhood than to attend an open house in one. While you’re there, ask the realtor to give you insight on the area. Are you looking for a neighborhood with a lot of amenities?

Perhaps you’re seeking a more peaceful environment, or are looking for a community filled with young families. Whatever you desire, talk to the realtor at the open house about your preferences and even take some time to walk through the neighborhood to get a better feel for the area. 

Reason #6 You might find the perfect real estate agent

Even if you’re just in the beginning stages of the home buying process, it’s never too early to enlist the help of an Realtor. If you don’t have one, attending an open house is a great way to find one.

By dropping in at an agent’s open house you’ll have the opportunity to meet them, so be sure to  strike up a conversation. Be sure to exchange information if you have a good connection. 

Items to think about as you attend open houses


  • Square footage preference
  • How many bedrooms/bathrooms do you need
  • Do you need a bonus/flex space?
  • Do you need a home office?
  • What type of layout do you prefer? Open? Separate spaces? Etc.
  • Lawn preferences… do you want a low maintenance yard or are you okay with maintaining your yard?
  • Do you want to buy in a neighborhood that has an HOA?
  • What type of neighborhood amenities are you looking for?
  • What closet space is preferential?
  • How updated do you want the home to be?
  • How close do you want to be to work/nearby conveniences?
  • Average age of major appliances and systems


Nov. 15, 2019

Home Inspirations

From a local designer - look at these great projects for you to consider. 


Lauren Nicole Interior Design | Luxe Firethorne Home

Charlotte, North Carolina

Lauren Nicole Interior Design is rooted in the belief that your home is a reflection of your personality, so Lauren makes sure to meet with her clients and get a full picture of what they’re looking for before starting to plan. She strives towards making her clients as delighted as possible, whether it’s for a simple kitchen redesign or a full remodel.

If we were the owners of this home that she worked on, we would definitely be delighted! We love the contrast of light and dark that Lauren brought into every room, and the beamed ceilings in the living room are nothing short of stunning.

Lauren Nicole Interior Design

The master bedroom feels like an upscale retreat with a mirrored headboard, elegant chandelier and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to sip your coffee while cozied up on one of those blue chairs?

Lauren Nicole Interior Design

And finally, the kitchen is in a league of its own. Featuring a white and slate color palette with gleaming hardwoods and marble countertops, it offers plenty of storage and upscale appliances for the home chef.

Lauren Nicole Interior Design

All photos courtesy of Lauren Nicole Interior Design. See the rest of the project here.


Which design caught your eye?

Post courtesy of Allen Tate Realtors.

Oct. 9, 2019




Posted in Fun Times
Oct. 8, 2019

Patches and Mazes

I couldn't help but laugh one of Aw Shucks pictures on their site is this:

Aw Shucks is new for me this year and I had to include it in the Top 6 Patches and Mazes for 2018. Get out and go to a new one. You never know what you'll find that works for your family. 


Hodges Family Farm - Address3900 Rocky River Rd E, Charlotte, NC 28215

ANNUAL PUMPKIN PATCH – Thru October 31st
Hours: 9:00am – 6:30pm (Closed October 10th and 11th due to rainy weather)
MORE INFO  All time favorite on this one.

Red Wolf Farm - Address1900 H W Farm Rd, Maiden, NC 28650

MAIZE & PUMPKIN PATCH – Thru October 28th
Hours: 11:00am – 6:00pm (Sat/Sun Only)
MORE INFO Love Love this is new for me and I went this year!

Country Days Corn Maze - Address416 Joe Lee Helms Rd, Indian Trail, NC 28079

MAIZE  – Thru November 4th
Hours: Fri: 5-10pm, Sat: 10am-10pm, Sun: 2pm-8pm  
MORE INFO Corn Maze is super fun!

Triple Diamond Farm  - Address2260 London Rd, Mooresville, NC 28115

Pumpkin Patch  – Thru October 28th
Hours: Sat and Sundays 10am-4pm 
MORE INFO Good for younger kids and very "horsey" so if you have a horse lover!

Aw Shucks Farm - Address3718 Plyler Mill Rd, Monroe, NC 28112

Pumpkin Patch  – Thru Novmember 11th

Hours: Fri: 6-11pm, Sat: 11am-11pm, Sun: 1pm-6pm
MORE INFO Waaaay too much to do at this one. I've been twice this year.

Lewis Farm - Address330 Lewis Rd, Gastonia, NC 28054

Pumpkin Patch  – Thru November 3rd
Hours: Sat 9am-4pm and Sundays 1pm-6pm 
MORE INFO Don't miss the Hay Bale and Slide...LOL


History of The Jack o' Lantern



Tell us your experience with any of these on our blog page so we can share with everyone. Thanks and enjoy!




Posted in Community, Fun Times, Kiddos
Oct. 4, 2019



As a parent, it’s hard to watch your kids struggle with anything, but watching them struggle to buy a house can be especially tough. We all want the best for our offspring, and owning a home is one of the best ways to build wealth — so if kids are having trouble taking that step, it’s normal to worry about how they’ll manage when you’re gone.

The good news is this: There’s a lot you can do as a parent to help your kids get their feet on the property ladder. Follow this advice and you’ll be able to both assist your children and ensure that your own financial future is secure.


“Because I want to help my child” is a great reason to do just about anything — but a house is a huge financial investment and responsibility, so you need to dig a little bit deeper.

Ask yourself these questions about your child and their life circumstances, as well as your own financial circumstances:

· How does my kid handle finances?

· Is my kid in debt? If so, how much is that debt?

· Does my kid know how to save money?

· Is my kid living in a real estate market where prices are steadily increasing — and if they don’t get in the door now, they might be locked out for years?

· Do I want to transfer my wealth to my kid now, when they arguably need it most, or would I rather wait? How would that decision affect my estate taxes and other financial considerations?

· Is my kid attending a college where they’ll stay for several years? (And would it make sense to buy a house there instead of help them pay rent?)

· Can my kid already qualify for a mortgage? If so, would it make sense to help them qualify for a bigger one?

After you’ve taken time to answer these questions, you should have a better idea of exactly why you want to help your child buy a house. Whether you want to encourage financial responsibility or help your kid buy a bigger house than they could on their own, knowing why will help guide your decision-making during the process.


It’s admirable to want to help your kids — but not at the expense of your own financial well-being. So before you make any tangible offers to help, make a full assessment of your income and expenditures, your savings and assets, and decide how much you can afford to give. Put a dollar amount on it, and don’t be tempted to exceed what you’ve decided you can spend.

There are a lot of options for helping your adult kids buy that will directly involve your credit, too. For that reason, all of the advice that applies to buyers also applies to parents who want to help their kids buy — whether you’re buying a home to rent to your kid, or co-signing or co-borrowing the loan, you’ll want to make sure your credit is in great condition. Don’t open a lot of new lines of credit or make any big purchases on credit, and follow all the standard best practices, too, like paying your own bills on time.

And maybe after all this assessment you’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t have a lot of financial help to give. That’s OK! You should know by now that parenting is about much more than spending money, so think about other ways you might be able to help, from offering advice, to connecting your kid with a mortgage broker or real estate agent, to cleaning and repairing the home when it’s time to move in.


A credit score is really important when it comes to a mortgage loan — it helps the lender figure out how reliable (or not) each borrower is, and it directly influences the interest rate on the loan, which adds up to tens of thousands of dollars over decades.

If your child doesn’t know what their credit score, then help them find it, and then work with them to improve it. Maybe your kid has trouble paying all their bills on time, so help them make a budget or set up automatic payments. Settling debts like student loans or car loans can have a significant positive impact on credit score, so if you’re in a financial position to clear a large debt for your kid, this might be a good time to do it.

Mortgage lenders are also going to look at your child’s bank account statements, seeking red flags like frequent overdrafts. If your kid frequently overdraws accounts, then think about how you might help them balance their finances.


There are essentially two reasons why you might want to encourage your child to save as much as possible right now. One is obvious: Down payments on houses are expensive, especially if you want to avoid mortgage insurance and put down 20% or more on the home purchase. That 20% of a home’s sales price adds up pretty quickly, and most kids probably don’t have tens of thousands of dollars handy in their bank account.

Another reason to facilitate savings for your kids is, again, the fact that mortgage lenders are going to want to see bank statements, and it will help your kid’s mortgage rate if the lender sees a decent savings account that grows over time instead of being wrung dry every month.

As a parent, there are tons of ways you can help your kids save money, including inviting them to come live at home with you again for a spell, which can decrease their rent payment significantly. If you go this route, then make sure that any agreements you make with your kids about rent and contribution to utilities or household chores are documented and signed.

But you don’t have to invite your kids to live at home again; you also have the option of taking over some of their bills (cell phone, car insurance, utilities or others), dropping off groceries or meals, handing down a gently used appliance or car and buying yourself a new one — there are tons of ways that parents can help subsidize a child’s savings account.


Once your kid’s credit is in decent order and he or she has a down payment secured, you might not feel like your work is done. Some parents like to chip in with the actual purchase of the home — and if that’s you, fantastic! Just make sure you know what all your options are before you decide on any given path.

An incredibly common way to help your adult kid buy a house is to give them money for a down payment. This is a significant upfront expense for buyers, who may need tens of thousands of dollars to avoid mortgage insurance, and oftentimes parents make that possible.

But backing up your kid’s home purchase with a down payment is far from the only option open to parents. Some choose to buy the house themselves, either as an investment rental where the kid can stay for a few years before selling, or as a rent-to-own deal where the kid pays the parents back for the house over time. If you have the ability to pay cash for a house, this can be an especially good deal for both the child and the parent: You can set an interest rate that’s lower than what the market’s currently dictating (a win for your kid) and make all your money back plus a profit over time (a win for you).

Other parents might prefer co-borrowing or co-signing a mortgage loan. These can be good options for a kid who can already qualify for a mortgage — often, they can increase their price range with a co-borrower or co-signer. Think about both; a co-signer doesn’t accrue any equity in the home and is responsible for the balance of the loan of the borrower defaults, and a co-borrower does accrue equity in the home, but co-borrowing might have a bigger immediate impact on your credit.


One thing never to forget about adult kids: They are adults, and adults are going to make their own decisions. And some of those decisions might have an impact on your real estate deal.

Decisions that impact your real estate deal go well beyond paint or landscaping preferences. If your child has a common-law relationship or decides to get married while they’re living in a house that they’re renting from you — or a house that lists you as a co-borrower — and things go sour, that partner could have a claim on your real estate, especially if the partner was paying rent or helping with the mortgage.

Make sure that whatever agreements you’re making with your kids are thought through in their entirety, and do your best to consider any changes or contingencies that might change the agreement. Document them and incorporate them into any legal verbiage for your own protection — and to protect your kids, too. 

Oct. 4, 2019

Safer Communities


In a society where we refer to our homes as our castles, it makes sense that we also want to feel safe and secure in our residences. But as we spend more time inside looking at screens and less time outside making connections with neighbors, it also makes sense that many homeowners today feel less safe and secure than they did a few decades ago.

The irony is that violent crime rates have decreased even as our feelings of danger lurking around every corner have increased. So what can you do to help assuage your fears — and actually make your community safer in the bargain?

Plenty! Establishing yourself as a community and working together with your neighbors is one of the best ways to increase feelings of safety while actually reducing crime in your area. Here’s how to get started.

Form a Facebook group

Let’s face it: We are all on Facebook a lot more than is probably healthy for us. But this can be turned to your advantage if you leverage it as an asset.

Form a community safety Facebook group that is geared toward your specific community. There is more than likely already a general community Facebook group; join that one, too, and ask the moderators if it’s okay to advertise your safety-focused group there.

It’s up to you if you want to create standards for joining the group. If you decide to do that, it might make sense to recruit a moderator or three to help you manage join requests and to maintain the standards of the group.

You can use this Facebook group to talk about safety issues, advertise safety meetings, make safety-related announcements, and much more.

Leverage Nextdoor

The great thing about Nextdoor — the neighborhood-focused social network — is that Nextdoor does the hard work of verifying that the people in your neighborhood group actually do live in your neighborhood (no lurkers!).

Using Nextdoor can be another excellent way to figure out which of your neighbors are interested in helping you increase community safety, and to warn your neighbors of any thefts or other safety risks in the area. If you do use Nextdoor as a warning method, make sure you’re providing only factual information and not conjecture or speculation. You want your neighbors to pay attention and act accordingly, not for the conversation to devolve into an argument over whose houseguest might have been trespassing on whose property, or whose kids are inviting unsavory characters into the neighborhood.

To that end, talk to your neighbors online about standards for identifying scofflaws and their behavior (especially underage ones). For example, if there’s a teenager who drives erratically and over the speed limit down a road with small children every day, most parents are going to be fine with identifying the vehicle make, model, and color, the sex and general appearance (clothing, hair color, and so on) of the driver, the time of day they usually drive down the road, and other details specific to this situation. Sharing a license plate number or taking a picture of the driver on social media, however, might be considered a violation of privacy by some parents.

Create clean-up groups

Some safety issues emerge because city and county departments might be strapped for cash or short several employees, and things that ought to get done as a result just … aren’t. Maybe a tree fell across a popular trail and hasn’t yet been cleared, or maybe there are local public-access staircases that are covered with slippery leaves or other debris.

If there’s a safety issue that you can easily and professionally tackle with a group of people, organize one! Use your social media groups or fliers in the local cafe or post office to advertise a clean-up day at the local park or along a busy street. Ask the local dump or trash company if they’d be willing to donate a dumpster or supplies and trash pickup. Sometimes all it takes to make an area safer for everyone is a little coordination and elbow-grease, and the coordination is the hardest part, so try to tackle it and see where it gets you.

Start a neighborhood watch

Do you know all your neighbors? Are you familiar with the cars they drive, their regular visitors, and any special guests who pop in from time to time?

For most people, the answer is “definitely not.” But having a sense of who’s who in your neighborhood can help prevent a lot of crime, from illegally dumping trash to burglary or robbery.

If your block or neighborhood doesn’t already have a neighborhood watch program, consider starting one. The first step is to find neighbors who are interested in participating. Once you have a group of people willing to put in the time, call up your local law enforcement bureau and tell them what you’re doing. Many local law enforcement offices will be willing to send a police officer or two to your neighborhood watch meetings, which can be an invaluable resource for helping you learn how to spot and safely report any suspicious activity.

Coordinate meeting times for your neighborhood watch, which can be held in a community space or even online. Talk about the safety issues that concern you the most, and ask your law enforcement liaisons what you can do to help.

Secure your own space

There’s only so much that neighbors can do to help you keep your home safe. Ultimately, the responsibility to secure your property lies with you — so make sure you spend some time looking at your own home’s vulnerabilities and decide how to fix them.

For example, routinely leaving your door unlocked when you leave the house is a good way to invite burglary. Some smart locks allow you to remotely lock your door if you forget, so it might be a good idea to upgrade your door lock. New camera technologies allow you to see who’s on your front porch when the doorbell rings, and replacing broken or damaged windows is also a good safety move.

You can’t be responsible for everyone’s house on the block, but if you’re responsible for your own, the odds that you’ll experience a safety violation go down. It’s worth it!

Problem-solve using SARA (scan, analyze, respond, assess)

Many police departments use the SARA method to solve problems, and it’s a method that community safety advocates can also use with a lot of success.

The SARA method involves four steps: scan, analyze, respond, assess. First, scan the situation. Take it all in. Try to absorb everything you possibly can about what’s happening. In this step, you are identifying and describing the problem.

Next, analyze the situation. Think about who is involved, what they are doing, what social and economic realities exist that feed into the situation, and try to determine what has caused this situation or problem.

Then, respond to the problem. The response usually works best in a collaborative environment. Ask different people involved in the situation what they think. Involve the community in brainstorming possible solutions and arriving at an option that seems to work well for most people. Form an action plan for what you’re going to do — and do it.

Finally, assess the results. Spend some time looking at how your response has changed the situation (or not). Did it solve the problem? Did new problems emerge as a result of your response? How well did the response work in terms of both process and the impact it had? Who is happy with the results, and who is not, and why?

By using the SARA method for community problem-solving, you’ll help maintain the collaborative philosophy that’s central to any successful community safety program.

Host regular meetings or touch-base sessions

Meetings and touch-base sessions are the glue that holds any community group together, and this rings true for safety advocates, too. The people involved in your community safety efforts will want opportunities to talk to each other, share ideas, brainstorm ideas, or even just to get to know each other. 

Take the time to organize regular opportunities for the people in your community to get together and talk about safety. How often you do this really depends on your community; once a month is usually a good rule of thumb for setting up meetings, but some communities might prefer to meet every two weeks, while others don’t see a need for meeting more often than bimonthly. Supplement your meetings with social media Q&A sessions and other ways to involve your community, and consider taking notes at your meetings and making them available in your social media groups, too.

Warn people of suspicious activity

Your law enforcement liaisons will be the best resource for exactly how to do this. Maybe your contribution involves disseminating the police department’s announcements about crime more widely to your community group, or perhaps you can have regular discussions about what’s been happening in the newspaper’s crime blotter.

Talk to your law enforcement partners about which types of suspicious activity they think should include a community warning. It probably will also be helpful to them if you ask about false reports and whether there are any common themes. The last thing you want is for your police department to get tied up investigating something trivial and nonrisky, so make sure anybody warning others of suspicious activity in your community groups understands what types of activity are suspicious and doesn’t raise alarm bells unnecessarily.

Host a self-defense course

Although playground fights may have been a rite of passage for some of us, many of us don’t have any experience with self-defense and wouldn’t know what to do if (heaven forbid) we were actually attacked. A free, local self-defense course with a qualified instructor can give everybody who’s interested a little bit of training and supplement their confidence in being able to take care of themselves under adverse situations.

Ask your local law enforcement liaison if there are any self-defense instructors they recommend or use themselves, then talk to that instructor about whether it’s possible to set up a free class. You can give the instructor the opportunity to plug more extensive training before and after the session. Invite everyone who might be interested, and ask questions of both the attendees and people who expressed interest but didn’t attend. It’s possible, for example, that some women in your community would prefer a women-focused class and decided not to attend for that reason — if that happens, then you’ve got a great case for asking the instructor to come back and teach gender-specific mini-courses.

Share tips for safer landscaping

You might not think of your landscaping as a safety hazard, but think again: Dead or dying trees or carpets of dry pine needles can be a real fire hazard, and if your landscaping allows someone to creep up to your front door unseen by anyone else, that can be a problem, too. And that’s not all. There could be an insect or vermin infestation that presents a safety hazard (wasps’ nests, anybody?).

Landscaping safety might not be at the top of your list of things to address, and that’s okay, but it’s a good topic to consider once the low-hanging fruit has been plucked. Again, your local law enforcement liaison may have ideas and thoughts about which hazards are most critical for your area, so talk to them about the landscaping safety tips they wish everybody knew, then do your best to spread the word.

Coordinate community events to reclaim spaces

Vacant lots or abandoned parks are nobody’s problem and everybody’s problem all at once. There might not be a lot you can do about private property, but if there are any public areas that have fallen into disuse or disrepair, then maybe those would be a good project for your community safety group to tackle.

Just cleaning up the trash and removing dead plants and shrubs from an area can eliminate or reduce new refuse and discourage people from dumping hazardous materials there. If you can take additional steps to repair and revitalize public spaces, so much the better. Your local law enforcement liaison can help you identify spots that could use a little bit of attention and contact the appropriate people in the city and county offices to make sure you’re moving forward with everyone’s blessing.

Document your strategy and analyze your results

There’s nothing wrong with approaching your neighborhood watch with the philosophy of throwing things at the wall to see if they stick — but if you can be methodical about how you document what you’re doing and the results, you may find a whole world of opportunity opens up. Public funds might become available once your local administrators see what a great job you’re doing. Other people might become inspired to join in and help out if you can articulate how you’ve improved the neighborhood.

Talk to the different members of your neighborhood watch and ask if there are any analysts or analytically minded members who might want to take on this task. Ask them to keep notes and track metrics around your activities, and encourage them to report back to the group about what they discover. Your ability to cite cold, hard numbers when you’re having conversations about community safety will benefit you everywhere.

Teach social media safety

Even though billions of people are on social media, it’s still a new world for many of us. As a result, people often post updates or photos on social media that are an actual safety risk.

One obvious example is announcing your vacation plans on social media, or posting photos of your trip while you’re still away. It might not lead to anything harmful, but if someone happens to be waiting for an opportunity to break into your house … well, you just provided them with a good one.

Share safety tips and best practices on social media with your community group, and encourage them to spread the word. The more people know about the risks of posting random life updates on social media, the better — after all, you can always upload those photos of your toes in the sand after you’re back at home, giving yourself a little vacation extension at the same time.

Give neighborhood tours for kids

We don’t let kids run around outside as much as we used to, but it’s nonetheless a really good idea to make sure the children in your neighborhood know how to navigate it. One way to encourage kids to learn more about their neighborhood is to host a kid-friendly tour that parents can join, too.

What should be on the tour? Kids might want to know where the schools, playgrounds, parks, police stations, and fire stations are in their neighborhoods, so include those for sure. It might also be worth your time to talk to retail store owners or other stakeholders in the neighborhood and ask them if they have any information they want you to pass along during the tour. Where can kids go to skateboard without breaking any rules? Does the owner of the ice-cream shop have a bike rack where they can lock up their bikes?

Depending on how many children are in your neighborhood, this might be a one-time activity, or it could be something you repeat several times a year. Talk to the parents in your community safety group to ask them what’s best for them — maybe one of them can help coordinate the tours moving forward.

Set boundaries for where your children may go

If you have kids yourself, make sure that they not only know their neighborhood, but are also very aware of their own boundaries. If you don’t want them venturing onto undeveloped property or beyond certain roads, tell them! Show them exactly where their cutoff points lie and talk to them about what to do if they’re tempted to travel beyond them — maybe after a lost ball. Help them make a plan for how to handle those situations so they won’t be hurt and you won’t be angry.

Making the neighborhood safer isn’t just one person’s job — it’s everybody’s. By joining forces with your neighbors and working with local law enforcement, you’ll be improving safety in your area by leaps and bounds.

April 16, 2019

Staging Ideas


A common question Realtors® often get asked is, “Do I need to stage my house before it goes on the market?” The short answer is yes. The long answer is absolutely yes.

Home staging is the process of decluttering and decorating your home so that it’s most impressive assets are highlighted. Custom pendant lighting above the kitchen island? Fabulous! Reclaimed wood mantel? Show it off!

Staging helps buyers visualize themselves at home – in your home, which is important now more than ever. 

According to the NAR Profile of Home Staging, eighty-three percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for buyers to visualize the property as a future home, and one-quarter of buyers’ agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between one and five percent, compared to other similar homes on the market that were not staged. 

If your home is crammed with clutter, has too much furniture or features loud paint colors, you can kiss the chance of buyers falling in love with your home goodbye. 

Here are six simple staging tips to get your home show-ready and distinguish it from the competition.

  1. Declutter

We get it, clutter happens. But since clutter can distract buyers from the home features you really want them to notice, keep unnecessary messes at bay while your home is on the market. 

A great place to start is with the basics. Remove personal items such as family photos, children’s artwork and sentimental chachkies to enhance your home visually and make the space look bigger. 

Before you throw your personal items in a closet, remember that you’ll want to show off your storage spaces, too. Consider renting an off-site storage unit to house your personal belongings when selling your home.

Bottom line: clutter takes up space and space sells, so show it off!

2. Give every room a purpose

What started with a junk drawer, morphed into a junk closet and now a junk room. When selling your home, this room has to go, as buyers will be distracted by a room that appears to have no function other than to collect junk. 

Remember when we said it’s all about visualization?  Buyers need to see that every room is functional and has a purpose. With a little imagination, you can transform a junk room into any of these trendy flex rooms:

  • Home office
  • Play room
  • Home gym / meditation room  
  • Craft room
  • Entertainment / movie room

3. Deep clean

The biggest bang for your buck when it comes to staging your home is to do a deep clean. Nothing makes a space look better, faster than tackling everything from the baseboards and tile grout to fan blades and drapery. 

Leave no surface untouched during this phase of staging. If you have pets, ask your most honest friend over to tell you if and where you need to deodorize pet smells. 

4. Create inviting living spaces

Many homeowners are inclined to push furniture up against the wall in an effort to create more living space. Contrary to popular belief, this actually makes your space look smaller. Gasp!

Pull furniture away from the wall to outline clear traffic patterns and create inviting conversation spaces.

5. Accessorize modestly

In the world of home accessorizing, less is more. And less is even more when you’re staging your home to sell. 

When you want to clump accessories together, use an odd number of objects. Three is a great number. Vary accessories by shape and size and make sure each grouping has a unifying theme such a color or texture. 

6. Curb appeal

Last but certainly not least is less about what’s inside your house and more about what buyers see when they drive up. First impressions are everything, right? If the exterior of your home doesn’t reflect the interior, some buyers may not bother going inside. 

Simple tweaks like weeding flower beds, mowing the grass, pressure washing walkways and siding, adding seasonal potted flowers and colorful outdoor furniture cushions can make the biggest difference,



Posted in House Upkeep, Selling
April 12, 2019

Outside Cleaning Tips

Spring Cleaning Tips

Most people have a plan of attack when it comes to spring cleaning their home’s interior, but what about their exterior spaces? With warmer months just around the corner, give some TLC to your outdoor spaces and be ready when the urge to get outside takes over. Below find an easy to use checklist that details what needs to be done within your outdoor living spaces and yard.

Check the Deck

  • Sweep or pressure wash unsightly cobwebs and other debris from porch ceilings, walls and floors.
  • Wash all patio furniture with a cleaning solution specially formulated for outdoor furniture.
  • Pay attention to the areas where you and your company will be sitting: wash or replace outdoor rugs, pillows and cushions, drapery and umbrellas as needed.

How Is Your Garden?

  • Clear away any dead weeds or leaves from planter boxes and gardening areas.
  • Trim and prune trees and shrubs to encourage growth and eliminate an untidy appearance.  If tree trimming is new territory for you, seek the help of your neighborhood gardening enthusiast; they will be glad to offer advice.
  • Add fresh soil and amendments to garden and landscaped areas.
  • Take inventory of existing plants and determine what you would like to add this season.

Give Everything a Once Over

  • Give the grill a thorough scrubbing and refill or replace propane tanks if required.
  • Clear out debris from gutters. Plan on spending extra time here, especially if nearby tree leaves tend to collect there.
  • Hose down or power wash your home’s exterior and doors; touch up paint where needed as well.
  • Wash window and door tracks. Don’t forget the windows!
  • Wash decorative flags and fabric decorations while checking for any tears that might need repair.
  • Clean outside light fixtures and replace light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.
  • Check hoses for cracks and leaks; store on a decorative hose holder to prevent damage while adding a nice accent to your outdoor space.
  • Give a critical eye to retaining walls, driveways, sidewalks and outdoor furniture for damage. The winter months adds considerable wear and tear to your home’s exterior.

Bottom Line List of Spring Clean

Outside To-Do List

  • sweep deck
  • power wash deck
  • stain deck
  • power spray siding
  • touch up paint trim, wood, doors, and shutters
  • power wash garage door
  • clean outside door frames
  • wipe away cobwebs
  • shake out entry mat
  • clean grill
  • clean and repair gutters
  • replace broken bricks, wood, or stone
  • clean outdoor light fixtures
  • wash outside windows
  • clean outside patio furniture
  • trim trees, bushes and shrubbery
  • check and repair sprinklers
  • inspect roof shingles
  • wipe away cobwebs
  • plant flowers
  • plant garden
  • add mulch
  • clean outdoor trash cans
  • clean out garage
  • wash and wax vehicles


Ideas from IDreamofCleanBlog

And CountryDoorBlog

Posted in House Upkeep
April 12, 2019

Events April 13-16

Saturday April 13th

1) Hop Into Spring -  2pm – 4pm

At my favorite park, Robbin’s Park in Cornelius - free, family event designed for ages 3-12. Participants can enjoy an afternoon filled with fun, including egg-themed activities, egg hunt, arts & crafts, music, face painting, inflatables and concessions.

2) Greystar University Wine Festival -  2pm– 6pm

Greystar Apartments @8708 JW Clay Blvd, Charlotte - 3rd Annual sure to be a great time with many sponsors- this is a huge event around the lake at Greystar. And they said even with the rain tomorrow, they are still pouring :-)

3) 2nd Annual CupCake Wars - 12pm-3pm

At Devaste Vineyards one of my favorites! Benefiting Make-A-Wish Foundation $20 for wine and tastings of contestants cupcakes. Stop...nothing better than this!

4) Cold Blooded and Bizarre - 11am - 8pm

Celebrating the opening of Charlotte's only reptile specialty pet store and oddities shop! Join us in an extraordinary day of fun for the whole family. Get up close and personal with some of nature's most beautiful and bizarre animals and see our large selection of oddities and curiosities. 3000 Central Ave., Charlotte

Sunday April 14th

5) LKN Clothing Shop Pop Up 1pm-4pm

ut with the old in with the new! Ready for some new clothes? Clean out all your unworn or non-fitting clothes and trade for new to you clothes. Who doesn't like to shop for free? This event will be open to everyone of all shapes, sizes, genders, and walks of life! So bring good condition, stain free clothing and accessories that you no longer wear and let’s  swap!

6) Edison Square Vendor Pop Up 1pm – 4pm


Enjoy a day with your friends and family supporting local vendors & businesses while

enjoying music, mimosas & craft beer at Hop & Vine, Abbott’s Custard, Chop & Chisel & Rice ‘n Spice! Hosted by: Hop & Vine - 10070 Edison Square Drive NW, Concord


7) NC Food Rodeo  - 12pm – 4pm


At Elon's Grove Winery & Vineyards Free parking & admission. Family friendly. Wine, beer & dining areas available. Music by GypsySoul.


8) Earth Fest  - 11am


At Daniel Stowe Botanical - Celebrate an early Earth Day with family crafts and educational activities that encourage guests to follow a path to a more sustainable and earth-friendly lifestyle. Live music, lawn games, the DSBG Beer Garden and a spring nature hike are all part of the fun.

Tuesday April 16th


9) Week of the Young Child  - 11:15am


At Discovery Place kids in Huntersville - Join them as we host the following activities to put a spotlight on early learners:


10) Mickey&Minnie Visit for Springbreak  - 6pm– 8pm


If you can’t make it to Disney, don’t worry!! Mickey and Minnie Mouse will be here from 6pm-8pm so bring the kiddos and the rest of the family out for some great food and great fun!!

***Dine-In Guests Only***


🍔🍔$5.99 Cheeseburger with fries (1/2 pound hand-pattied burger topped with your choice of cheese served with hand-cut fries)🍔🍔

🍻🍻3.25 all pints (32 to choose from!)🍻🍻

🍷🍷1/2 Price Vista Point wine🍷🍷

Posted in Community, Foodie, Fun Times