Category Archives: Real Estate Investing

How to Submit a Successful Architectural Review Application

Screenshot 2018-09-07 12.36.28Every season brings a new opportunity to express your individuality as a homeowner through colorful expressions of flowers and hardscapes as well as changes to your home’s exterior.

Beautiful landscaping, exterior color refreshes or changes, adding creature comforts such as shade trees or screen porches, or to make necessary repairs or updates to your yard or home can maintain your property’s condition and increase property values, if done correctly. If you live in a neighborhood with a home owner’s association (HOA), you must abide by the bylaws and covenants of the community with any changes to your lot or structure to avoid penalties and fees. The purpose of the HOA approval process isn’t control but protection. To protect all homeowner’s property values, every neighbor must apply for approval of projects that influence the overall appeal and value of the neighborhood. The process of getting approval to make your desired changes is easy!

Although different homeowners associations and community subdivisions have different rules and regulations, they all aspire to maintain and increase the property values of the neighborhood to the benefit of the homeowner, the community, and the local real estate market. Before making a request to your Architectural Review Committee (ARC), be sure that you understand what’s required of your specific community. Most associations require that before you make any changes to your lot or building a request for architectural review must be submitted to the board of directors and/or its appointed ARC.

Screenshot 2018-09-07 12.56.21ARC members are volunteers from your own neighborhood who have a vested interest in maintaining property values. Most ARC’s have the right to automatically deny incomplete forms or requests. And generally your time line for consideration begins only with a complete application. Once a complete application is received, written approval should take fewer than 30 days.

Approval of an application is subject to your association account being up-to-date with no outstanding fees in order to for your application to be considered by the ARC. No work on a project should be started until approval is received in writing from the ARC. Once approved, the homeowner is responsible for the timely completion completion of the project and the prompt removal of any debris. It’s also the homeowner’s responsibility to comply with zoning building codes and laws of all governmental authorities and to be aware of any easements that exist on your property. A land survey will reveal any easements (areas not to be disturbed or built upon) or encroachments (areas where other people’s property such as fence or building extend onto your property).

The architectural review committee has a higher authority than that of any county or city codes.

Most architectural review committees have an online application process but they may also have a street address to send the application to as well.

A completed application consists of the filled Architectural Request Form, a detailed description of your project showing the nature, kind, shape, height, and materials of the project. Color samples and representative photo are also usually required. If you are making any permanent changes such as installing a shed, fans, or pool a certified land survey is required showing the location of your home, property lines, and any easements on the property.

If you are installing an in-ground pool, additional patio area, or other concrete areas, the impervious surface calculations are also required. Be sure that you are staying within the maximum allowable percentages for impervious surfaces allowed by your county and/or city. Realize that this might also impact your water bill as the runoff will be increased.

When installing a fence, your adjoining neighbors signature is required agreeing to the installation.

The best way to avoid any delays to your application and project is to have the required checklist items included and application completed with no open items. The application will require your name, your phone number, your address, your email address. Also required is the name of the person or company performing the work, their contact information, as well as your desired start and completion dates.

Screenshot 2018-09-07 13.07.39Following these guidelines and using the provided checklist for required items will help you submit a successful ARC application. Your neighbors will thank you for beautifying your home and lot and helping to preserve and increase property values.

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CSR headshot 2017

Chrystal Safari Roy

Chrystal Roy is Broker-in-Charge of Real Estate Realty LLC (RER) and Principal and Broker-in-Charge of The Safari Group LLC of RER as well as on the Architectural Review Committee of her neighborhood.

Her favorite things about the neighborhood include its diversity, friendliness, small size, empty pool (usually) and convenience to all the necessities that make life easier. When she isn’t glued to the computer screen or driving around in her mobile office selling real estate, she enjoys spending time with her husband, six sons, her first sweet smelling year old baby granddaughter, fur grands, swimming and water aerobics in the neighborhood pool, writing inspirational and professional help books, streaming her favorite movies and cooking homemade meals. You can reach her at Chrystal@TheSafariGroup.com
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Avoid Foreclosure – AND the Tax Man

stop-foreclosure1Have you ever wondered why some foreclosures sit on the market for what seems like forever and others are foreclosed on right away? The homeowner who has diligently paid their mortgage on time year after year and have built up equity in their home are foreclosed on first! The bank sees the value and plans to make back their money AND get your equity when they auction off your home.

Other homeowners who have little or no equity are allowed to remain in the home without payment sometimes for years!  Banks know they will reduce the incidences of vandalism and have someone who may keep up the home for free if they are allowed to remain.  It also allows the market to appreciate over that time so that a future sale will be more profitable for the bank.

Then, if that’s not enough, the IRS will charge you income tax on the loan amount

tax man in the form of a 1099 Miscellaneous. Your foreclosed loan is taxed as earned income in that single tax year!

Unfortunately sellers lose their home and their equity to banks all the time and then have the double jeopardy of having to pay an additional tax in already distressed situation.

You have options the bank doesn’t want you to know about.  I can help. Call me or go online here and answer a few questions, and I’ll work with you to get what you want for your home and get you moving forward again. I am a REALTOR®, but this is not about listing your home for sale.  I am also an investor and this is about getting you what you want for your house, helping you prevent foreclosure and the taxman. Don’t wait until you’re more than two to three months behind.  Then, it’s much harder to help you get what you want for your house.

cbs isaPlease call me as soon as you know you can’t make your payment.  I’ll ask a few confidential questions by phone to see if my team and I can help, and schedule a visit to see your property.  Call or email me today.  Click this link to see the questions.  My team and I can help you prevent foreclosure, the taxman and get you moving forward.

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Here’s a testimonial from a loyal fan:

‘Chrystal, your experience and professionalism helped me prevail through difficult times in the listing and sale of my long-time family home.

From creating professional marketing materials including onsite brochures, online photo tour, and email blasts, promotion of my listing through TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and YouTube.com, to showing the house 6 of the 24 times it was shown, you were on the job.

After the property was under contract, your previous experience and successful resolution of similar problems discovered during the home inspections helped me work through a difficult transaction that included a breakdown in communications, unexpected property conditions and lender required repairs, and keeping the buyer on track with lending requirements and in love with the house until closing.

I couldn’t have done it without you.  It’s my pleasure to recommend your real estate services to everyone I know.’

Tony Sweatt, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Investment Properties

Experienced and green investors evaluate potential investment properties very differently.  Both should follow a few similar guidelines.

When considering an income property, the first decision is to establish your targeted rental client.  The property you choose may limit the pool of prospective tenants, but not in the way you’d hoped.  If you’re targeting young professionals, location, features, amenities and potential rental rate will be very different than that for a future tenant who is just entering the market as a first-time renter still in school or just entering the workforce who needs to be located near public transportation.

Next is to determine, based on your targeted client, the location, features, amenities and rental rate for your likely renter.  A good rule of thumb is to purchase a property you wouldn’t mind living in yourself, and the closer to home the better.  Long-distance land lording is not advisable. 

Though some landlords feel it’s too close for comfort, a rental in your own neighborhood will allow you to keep an eye on your property, and to know first if anything begins to go wrong.  No matter where you purchase, always introduce yourself to the neighbors and give them your cell number and tell them to call you before they call the police, if the need arises.

Now that you’ve found the right property at what looks like the right price, it’s time to confirm that with a rental rate estimate based on the currently rented homes in the area before you make the purchase.  Your experienced REALTOR® can help with that.

If the rental rate estimate looks promising, consider the condition of the property.  Is it just dated or dilapidated?  Has it been updated in the last 5 years?  Or does it need a major overhaul?  Floor plan issues are best left to the pros.  For a positive return on your investment, kitchen updates shouldn’t cost more than 10% of the home’s value.  That’s true for any renovation. 

Determine your level of ability to make changes that would make your rental number one with interested consumers.  Choose materials and products that require less routine care and maintenance, and factor in the timeframe to complete and cost for each.  Add 20% to your budget for unexpected delays and overages.  Your REALTOR® can provide a list of licensed, preferred vendors to help with any repairs, maintenance, or renovations needed.

If the total cost of the project meets with your overall budget, it’s time to get the property under contract, begin advertising for a renter, and screen and hire your renovation team.

Next up, how to screen for good tenants.

Luxury Homes

Luxury. Elegance. Refinement. Many words come to mind when thinking of luxury. The same is true when thinking of Luxury Homes. Luxury Homes in our market are defined by their presence, spaces, materials, features, and locations.

So, what makes a home a luxury home? If luxury is something enjoyable or comfortable beyond life’s necessities, in many ways, we all live in some level of luxury.

I know Luxury Homes. In our market, luxury homes begin at about $700,000. Of course, at the moment, $1.5 million is the new $700,000.

A true luxury home is not just one of size, but of presence. It must look grand from the curb and include the look of comfort and pleasure from the lawn to the exterior building materials. In our market, most houses over $500,000 include hardcoat stucco as a building material, either as an accent or main feature. Other building materials included are stone, and brick. Special features such as a circular drive, fountain, or guard house add to the persona of the home.

There are large homes with upgrades that may approach $700,000, but in contrast, a Charlotte area luxury home is defined by its spaces. A paneled den or study is a must for true luxury homes in our area. So, too, is a media room. Some of the best I’ve seen rival high end hotel or private club media rooms. Other spaces typical of luxury homes include walk-in pantries, wine rooms, wine cellars and libraries. I personally don’t like to see Jack and Jill baths (two bedrooms joined by a common bathroom) in anything over $1,000,000.

In the good ole days, a true luxury home in the Charlotte market began at $180 per square foot and beyond. In this current climate, few are being built, but those that are still include custom floor plans and are still being up fitted with well-appointed features and materials.

Some unique materials included in luxury homes consist of on-site hand milled paneling, such as would be seen in a paneled den or study, or a custom handcrafted stained glass ceiling feature. Others feature award-winning hand hewn stone fireplaces carved from such exotic places as the Yucatan Peninsula, and fashioned on-site. Media rooms feature the highest resolution projectors available on the market, and some feature whole-house Smart House systems, integrating IT, Surveillance, and Energy Efficiency.

For a complete list of luxury homes available in the Charlotte Metro area, email your request with phone number. I’ll follow up after you’ve had a chance to review the offerings.

Seller Tip: Don’t Try This at Home

Or What a Seller Did to Infuriate Me and cut off his own nose to spite his face.  My investor buyers, who already had a renter lined up, wanted to see a cute house set atop a hill near their home.  The house was newer, had a 2 car garage, large yard, larger bedrooms and walk-in closet in the master and looked like a great potential investment.  We submitted a complete package, made a cash offer to close in 10 days, and hoped for the best. 

We were overjoyed when the listing agent called with a counter offer that was reasonable and my clients accepted.  Before the paperwork could exchange hands, the listing agent called back to say there were now multiple offers on the table and that my clients should come back with their highest and best, after our verbal offer had been accepted!  Well imagine my surprise when the listing agent argued there was no contract to honor!  She had not gotten the counter offer signed by her seller before presenting it, and in fact, it was true – there was no contract to honor. 

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission states a broker can only give Notice of Acceptance; the broker can’t bind a client to a contract that the client hasn’t signed.  A Broker will create a binding contract by notifying the party making the offer/counter-offer, or that party’s Broker, that the Broker has in their possession the offer signed & accepted by their client as written;  A call to the Legal Department that day revealed that although what the agent did was not illegal, it was, however, unethical.  

Much of real estate is transacted in good faith, and it’s common practice and legally binding to communicate acceptance by phone, email, fax, and mail.  In this case, the agent communicated acceptance of the counter offer without having the seller signed docs in hand.  The greedy seller then violated his word, and lured by the smell of money, accepted another offer described by the listing agent as ‘WAY WAY over the list price’ instead of signing what he’d agreed to.  The agent said the offer was so ridiculous that it probably wouldn’t work out, and that she’d call me if and when it went back on the market.  

My clients and I were angry and frustrated.    They went on the get another great property under contract.

Then, you guessed it.  The email arrived.  The buyers, who had their contract accepted on the basis of a cash purchase, couldn’t get a loan.  Poor buyer.  Poor seller.  My offer had gone in with a proof of funds letter; apparently, theirs did not.

My buyers are very happy with their new purchase, and we close Friday. 

There’s no way they’d have gone back to negotiate with the previous seller after what they’d experienced.  There was just too much risk with all the behind the scenes chain of events that must come together smoothly to close that the seller and listing agent couldn’t be trusted to perform. 

And the seller’s property is still on the market… and that smell of cold hard cash has long wafted away.

For an agent who does things the right way, and protects your best interests from contact to close, contact me by phone or text at 704.562.1030 For a property search to get you on your way to building your investor portfolio, visit TheSafariGroup.com and SEARCH Properties.

Choose Your Broker Participation Level to Service Your Rental Portfolio

In North Carolina, if you’re not interested in hiring a large property management company, but don’t have the skill, experience or desire to manage the application and leasing portion of your rental portfolio, your expert, full-service real estate broker can be an asset to you.  An excellent candidate would be a licensed, experienced real estate broker who has him or herself owned and managed rental properties.  Services offered might include any one of several levels of involvement of your choice.  As a landlady of over 12 years with zero evictions, the Leasing Agent Duties and list of services I provide include:

Level One

  1. Provide Rental Rate Estimate based on currently rented units in Mecklenburg county with respect to year built, zip code, and number of bedrooms.
  2. Advertise in-house to rental specialists and other leasing agents
  3. Train you to screen all applicants, including key statements that may lead to a desired ‘hang up’ eliminating time-wasting appointments
  4. Provide application and lease forms, and phone consultation.

Level Two

  1. Provide Rental Rate Estimate
  2. Advertise in-house to rental specialists and other leasing agents
  3. Personally phone screen all applicants (you have final approval)
  4. Arrange appointments for you to show the property
  5. Provide application and lease forms, and phone consultation

Level Three

  1.  Providing Rental Rate Estimate
  2. Advertising in-house to rental specialists and other leasing agents
  3. Agent-screening applicants according to your criteria (you have final approval)
  4. Arranging appointments and showing the property 
  5. Provide application and lease forms, and phone consultation
  6. Listing the rental property in the MLS system
  7. Providing signage
  8. Attending final negotiations and effecting lease documents
  9. Setting up monthly schedule of rental payments to be sent directly to you for deposit

Level Four includes all Level Three activities plus monthly rental management duties including deposit of rent to your trust account, tenants report problems to me, I arrange for estimates for repairs, etc., and submit to you for approval of work to be done and pay vendors from your landlord trust account, and provide itemized monthly statements. The fee is Level Three’s fee, payable at lease signing, plus 10% of monthly rent.

Call me to discuss the level of service you’d like me to provide for you, or to consult on adding to your portfolio.  I’ll teach you the good, the bad, and the ugly of selecting the right property for your investment portfolio.

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Chrystal Safari has over 15 years experience in personal property management and residential real estate sales and is a Luxury Home Specialist and licensed REALTOR® in North and South Carolina.  As a MASTERS Designation holder, she is a specialist in New Construction, Finance, Marketing, Objection Handling, Relocation, Technology, and is a multi-million dollar producer.  Chrystal is a member in good standing of the Charlotte Regional Association of REALTORS®, North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, and National Association of REALTORS®.  As EcoBroker®, she offers guidelines to assist home buyers and sellers in evaluating true green features and their benefits to real property value, home ownership, tax savings and mortgage closing table capital contributions.  Chrystal is backed by certified and insured professionals to assess and protect your investments based upon your personal needs.  She can be reached at 704.562.1030 or Chrystal.Safari@gmail.com

Builder Wade Jurney expands to Charlotte by taking C.P. Morgan lots

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Charlotte Business Journal’s Laura Youngs reports that Triad builder Wade Jurney is expanding to Charlotte by taking C.P. Morgan lots.

Wade Jurney, president of the Greensboro-based company, says he has 351 lots — all from defunct Indiana builder C.P. Morgan Homes Inc. — under contract throughout 30 Charlotte neighborhoods.

The company also has 52 C.P. Morgan lots under contract in the Triad, including five developments in Rural Hall, Burlington, Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

Jurney says he hopes to close by early July on all of the properties. Three model homes in Charlotte were part of the deal and already have opened as sales centers for Jurney Homes.

Jurney declines to give the price of the lots, since the sale is not complete. But he says he is getting a discount on the $33,000 per lot that C.P. Morgan paid. Jurney is putting together an equity group that would finance the majority of the project. An official with C.P. Morgan confirms the deal is pending.

So far, three sales consultants have been hired to run the Charlotte offices, and Jurney has added a construction superintendent here.

By the fourth quarter, the company plans to have up to 13 employees in Charlotte.

Jurney says the company will offer the same starter-home product it builds in the Triad, which often runs between $100,000 and $200,000.

He says he harbors some concerns about expanding into Charlotte, which has been hit hard by losses in the banking sector and foreclosure issues.

However, he says he wanted to move now to take advantage of discounts, as well as a strong available labor pool. The expansion also will mean Charlotte and the Triad will share fixed overhead costs, such as administrative operations.

Jurney hopes his homes will appeal to the sought-after first-time buyer, who is eligible for an $8,000 tax credit before year end.

“We’re going in looking to be the lowest-priced and best-value builder,” he says.

Jurney is one of several Triad builders looking to take advantage of bargains on land in a slow market. With some builders going out of business and their property left behind, development and construction firms that have survived the downturn are increasingly interested in buying.

‘With complimentary elevations and modern floor plans, Wade Jurney looks like a good fit for current homeowners in existing CP Morgan communities,’ adds Chrystal Safari of Peters & Associates, a boutique firm specializing in luxury homes in the Charlotte Metro area.

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A Charlotte area native, and licensed in NC & SC, Chrystal is very experienced with international relocation, home buying and selling and with rental portfolio development and holds MASTERS Designation specializing in New Construction, Finance, Marketing, Objection Handling, Relocation, and Technology and is a member in good standing with Charlotte Regional Association of REALTORS®, North Carolina Association of REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS®