All posts by Teresa Bowen, Real Estate Broker

About Teresa Bowen, Real Estate Broker

Welcome to my blog. I hope my money saving tips are useful to you!

Is your Wake County Home worth the Tax Value?

The tax values for homes in Wake County NC are set by the County tax office every 8 years and were last set in 2008.  Notice that 2008 was during the housing bubble when home values were higher. Then the plunge….luckily Wake County homes did not endure an extreme downturn like some cities in the United States; however, prices did come down considerably.  We have bounced back a great deal.  Take a look at what  2013 sales prices were as compared to their tax values:Wake County NC tax values to Sales Prices

Wake County NC tax values to Sales Prices

If you want to see the current market value of your Wake County or Johnson County home, I can help you with that…it’s what I do!


Don’t Let Social Media Sabotage Your Credit Score

You’ve found your dream house – GREAT! Now the fun begins working with your lender to get the best interest rate and terms possible for your new mortgage.  Your credit score is  the main factor in determining the interest rate that you are offered.

More and more, lenders (as well as employers) are looking at your social media posts to determine the level of risk you may be for the loan.   Here are some things that they find on Facebook/ Linkedin/ Twitter that can affect an applicant’s rates:

  • Posting that you just quit your job/ hate your job
  • Sharing that you and your boss do not get along or that layoffs are looming
  • Job post or length of time on a job does not match application
  • Posting a picture of a new car/ boat/ appliances that the lender does not know about
  • Sharing about current or past financial problems
  • The caliber of your FRIENDS and their posts may affect you!
  • Posting marital problems

Credit for mortgage

It is important to be proactive and protect your credit score. You can check your credit reports from the three credit bureaus  for free at  (they try to sell you a bunch of add-ons, so do not get suckered into paying  a dime!).   It is best to do this about 6 months before you start house hunting to give yourself time to handle any issues or mistakes that you may find on the reports.




Crucial insurance for home purchases and refis

Lenders ensure that they are covered in case there is  title dispute after buyers purchase a home.  However, it is equally important for buyers to pay just a little more money at closing and have their attorney buy title insurance for THEM.  This way , in the future, if there is a dispute regarding who owns the property…they are OK!


Top 5 Homebuyer Mistakes

1. Spilling  the Beans – All real estate agents work for the seller.  Their job is to try to obtain for the seller the best possible price and terms for the seller’s property. They are REQUIRED to give the seller any information about the buyer (personal, financial or confidential) that would help the seller in the sale of his or her property.   The remedy is to work with a Buyer’s Agent, who owes all allegiance to their buyers!  They guide buyers through the entire process and work for their best interest at all times (by law!). Best yet, buyers do not pay a penny to their buyer’s agent…seller’s agents agree to compensate buyer’s agents and the amount is already documented in the Multiple Listing.  If a buyer does come unrepresented, the lucky seller’s agent pockets the profit. Don’t talk to any agent but YOURS!

2. Sabotaging the Mortgage –  Before starting the home search, buyers should  obtain their credit reports and correct any mistakes.  (It is free at Mortgage applicants’ credit score affects the interest rate they will receive (The FTC reports one in five Americans has an error on his or her credit report). Once completing the loan application, do not make any changes to your financial situation.

  • Do not buy large ticket items: appliances, furniture for your new house, electronics, cars
  • Don’t change your job situation
  • Do not open new credit cards or bank accounts
  • Make no big money moves or get large amounts of money from other people.

3. New construction pitfalls –  Who do those nice agents in the Model Home work for? The builder, NOT you in any way.  Don’t sign in, don’t open your mouth…go get your Buyer’s Agent!  Builders have Buyer’s agent’s commissions already built into their marketing budget; you do not get credit for being unrepresented.   What you see in the model is often not what the house is that you buy. They are full of upgrades which are used as after- market profit machines for the builders.  White ceilings? Extra, electric garage door opener? Extra.  Experienced Buyers Agents know what upgrades to ask about before you sign the contract, what upgrades the builder has given away to past clients, and know about special deals to ask for. For example, at the end of our price negotiations with a builder, I asked him about his parent company’s earlier promotion for $2000  off for police and public service workers.  Both of my clients qualified for the promotion they received an additional $4000 off the price!

 Search Raleigh  Area New ConstructionRaleigh and Wake County New Homes for Sale 

4. Buying too much house – Don’t get enamored by a house that is above your price range. Home buyers should create a budget before even beginning their home search to determine just how much house they can really afford. A good rule of thumb is to devote no more than a third of your monthly household income to housing costs, which include mortgage principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

5. Picking a Bad Lender –  54% of loans in 2013 did not have lender “pull-through”.  Meaning the lender was not able to get the buyer to the closing table on their loan.  Can you imagine being days away from closing to learn the underwriters of your loan backed out??  The worst culprits are the large Mega Banks that many people trust. Instead, ask your Buyer’s Agent for lender names.

English: The new MLSpulse™ Home Search Directo...
Search for Wake County Homes

Home Selling Secrets: Getting the most for your home

Are you thinking of putting your Wake County home on the market soon? There are a number of proven strategies to get your home sold quickly and for as much money as possible.

The most important strategy  is setting your price correctly from the very beginning.  Some sellers are tempted to “try out” the market at a higher price than their Real Estate broker recommends.  The reason this is a bad idea is that when your property goes “live” in the  Wake County Multiple Listing  system(MLS), all of the pent-up demand, or people who have seen what is already out there and have set up alerts for new properties will rush out to see your property.   If they go view it, and the price is too high, you have lost them and you will rarely get a second chance even if you lower the price.  It is statistically proven out that you will get the most showings and interest in the first few weeks of your home going on the market….after that,  the seller typically starts dropping the price but to a much smaller buyer base.  Ultimately, they will sell for less money over a longer period of time (making house payments all the while!).  That is why it is important to find a great Raleigh area Real Estate Broker who can help you price your property correctly at the get -go!


Where are Home Prices Headed in Wake County?

In Wake County, residential Real Estate sales are showing a positive trend for resale home prices.  Factors which affect the greater Raleigh housing prices include:

  • Showings are up 18% *
  • Resale Inventory is down 23%
  • Average List Prices are up 12% to $345,500
  • Days On Market are down to 104 from 120.
  • Average sales price increased by 4%
  • Pending Sales (homes under Contract) are up 28%

(* All figures are based on the change from this time last year 2012)

These metrics indicate that home prices are on the rise, at a steady rate. Factors which can affect this projection include how the new state budget affects the local economy, and our ability to still attract business to the area.

home prices over 30 years

Why not a Career in Real Estate?

The National Association of Realtors recently published its annual survey of the real estate profession and notable numbers.  It offers an upbeat snapshot about being a Real Estate professional. (Here in North Carolina, we are not “Real Estate Agents”, instead we take a much more rigorous course of study to become full Brokers straight away.) Below are some numbers of interest:

  • $54,900.  Average Broker’s Income
  • 40 Hours  per week  worked
  • $1.5 Million in sales volume per typical agent
  • 57% of agents are  Female
  • $4,520. Average annual business expense ( $1,770 of that is car expenses)
  • 4 of 5 agents are “very certain” they  will remain real estate professionals during the next two years.

I thought long and hard before deciding to become a  Real Estate broker, I select Keller Williams  in Cary NC to partner with because they are consistently rated as one of the best companies to work for in the United States, are known for offering the best educational programs in the industry, and have a huge referral network. Most importantly, our office ranks number one in customer satisfaction with both buyers and sellers…quality shows.

If you are thinking of a career in Real Estate, feel free to contact me for any questions

My first yard sign for Keller Williams Cary
My first yard sign for Keller Williams Cary

How to Haggle Like a Pro

When I first got out of college, I read the books, “You can Negotiate Anything” by Herb Cohn and “The Millionaire Next-door” by William D Danko.  Those books along with a penny pincer mentor/boss at IBM turned me into a lifelong haggler. My husband was not thrilled with my tight-wad ways when we were young…the hardest rule was NO NEW CARS. Buy used and drive them into the ground.  Now,  years later, with a recession, health costs, and twins heading to college, he recently told me how glad he is that we were so frugal over the years.

Negotiating guidelines:

  1. Master negotiators agree that negotiations should feel win-win. It is not a contact sport.  Be polite, friendly, and smile. Starting out as a hard-ass puts the other side on the defensive.
  2. Let sellers know you like them/their products/ philosophy or whatever creates a connection. For example, let them know you prefer to buy from local businesses or that you are a loyal customer.
  3. Point out flaws in the item you want. Look for the model with a scratch or dent.
  4. Use an app which scans barcodes and shows competitor’s prices and show the results to the seller or tell the sales person you checked competitor’s prices, such as RedLaser or Price Check by Amazon.
  5. Seek a discount for paying in cash.

Make it a part of your lifestyle to try to negotiate most things you buy.  Big hitters I have been successful with are: Cable rates (Tell them you want to speak to the retention specialist, NOT the first line call center people, tell them competitor’s prices and that you are ready to leave them), appliances, Medical or Dental fees, Cell phone plans, clothing, and the Farmer’s Market.   If I have people with me who want the same thing, like my kids, I will ask for a 3 for the price of 2 discount… “all I have is this $5 bill,”and smile smile smile. It works!

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Heart of Cary NC Home for Sale

Housing in Cary North Carolina experiencing very low inventory – great for our home prices, bad for buyers! This property is a great deal and is located  near great  Cary Schools,  the historic downtown district and more!

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Fashion Forward Kitchen Design Trends

If  you are thinking of remodeling or updating  your kitchen, remember  that  color  and material trends typically follow 5 year cycles; therefore, it  pays to be “fashion forward”  with your up-dates  if  you plan to stay in your home for over 5 years. What is trending? Overall, think clean, simple, and contemporary. (Say good-bye “Old World” and hello Scandinavia).

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the following items are trending for 2013:

  • White painted cabinets. Resurfacing your current cabinets would be a great way to save money.  If you purchase new cabinets, select non-fussy lines. I am also seeing two-toned cabinetry (white above and a color below the counter).
  • Quartz countertops. Quartz is starting to trend over Granite. Some of the reasoning is the uniform color and pattern, it is more stain and scratch resistant, and does not have to be resealed every year.   If you live in the Raleigh and Cary NC area, granite is still more popular according to the sales associates at Cary’s Absolute Stone .  (I advise clients who are thinking of selling their home soon and want to update their kitchen to install Granite because the price point is a little lower than quartz and my current buyers still want granite.)
  • Glass back splash. Subway tile is still popular.
  • A white and gray color scheme. This is a nice neutral palate that lets the homeowner easily update their décor by simply changing their towels and accessories.  I am also seeing designers add elements of wood to the kitchen to create visual texture and interest – for example, a wood elevated section on the island to act as a bar, wood ceilings etc. Make sure it is cool!
  • Satin and nickel finishes for faucets and lighting trim.  Stainless steel under mount sinks still can’t be beat.
  • LED lighting.