Assessment 2012

Posted by TonyHawkins | General Knowledge,Real Estate | Sunday 24 June 2012 4:12 pm

The topic of assessment has come into conversation with two of my clients.

When the municipality (county, city) renders an assessment of real property, the purpose is to calculate how much tax is levied upon the real estate for the benefit of the public good.  The benefit may be new curbs, a new sewer system, sidewalks, etc.  When the municipality renders an assessment inconsistent with best practices, you as the Owner of the property have not only the right, but dare I say an obligation, to pinpoint the inaccuracy and have it corrected.

Contact me for further information or statistical data to support your opposition.


Assessment: an official valuation of real property for tax purposes performed by the local municipality.

Appraisal: an opinion of value used to determine a property’s worth.  This estimate of value is usually good for 24 hrs. contingent on various issues.

NC Winter Tips

Posted by TonyHawkins | Real Estate | Wednesday 1 December 2010 10:30 am

Living in North Carolina I never expected to be experiencing, let alone writing about winter preparation of property. However, I’ve seen North Carolina experience some severe winter weather in the course of the years I’ve lived here. Here are a few reminders to protect yourself:

  • Turn off water to exterior hose bibs.
  • Remove water hoses from bibs and release pressure.
  • Let faucets drip where there might be sinks on exterior walls.
  • Open up cabinet doors so that heat can circulate to these sink areas.
  • Be prepared to contact your insurance agent in case of water damage.
  • Keep interior temperatures between 68 & 72 degrees F. Your property and personal preference determine the exact temp.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Schedule a fall ‘winter maintenance’ appointment now. Beat the last minute rush and price increase.

Property Maintenance

Posted by TonyHawkins | Real Estate | Wednesday 1 December 2010 10:29 am

From The Hawk’s Cry – November 2002
The Holiday meal is usually enjoyed by family and friends. Don’t get caught without enough firewood. Preventive maintenance is important. Call the HVAC personnel now and schedule that appointment. If you wait to long, the cold weather may be here and you’ll be in a long line of late appointment setters. Repair visits and costs have a tendency to go up during cold spells.

From The Hawk’s Cry – March 2001
Maintenance can be viewed from various standpoints. Webster’s definition of maintenance includes, ‘the work of keeping a building in a state of good repair’.
In owning real estate, maintenance is a very important aspect of home-ownership. Although it can be the market that determines the value of your house, it is to your benefit to maintain the interior & exterior integrity of your home. In other words, make the repairs now before it gets too serious. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…if it’s broken, fix that sucker NOW.
Maintaining your house’s exterior structure, gutters, windows, yard, shrubbery, (even the vehicle) is integral to your present enjoyment and future re-sale value. The interior to include walls, floors, ceilings, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, window coverings, screens, cabinets, appliances, air conditioner(s), all contribute to enjoying your home in a safe, enjoyable, maintained environment that you (and your family) reside in.
If you don’t know what to do with your residence, there are many resources to assist you. The Fix-it yourself series of books, magazines, on-line resources, and other publications are available to you. Use them. Use the resources, if for nothing else than to get ideas of what you want done and then call a pro to get it done. For some of us, that’s the most economical route. Take advantage of resources and use them. You will be glad you did and so will your family and neighbors. If you still have the Home Inspection from when you moved in, review it and call me if necessary to consult on issues.
For those who are thinking of selling soon, the maintenance work done sooner rather than later, will be rewarded.
Speaking of maintenance, you may have noticed that the HAWK’S CRY has been tardy the last few issues. I have moved my business platform technologically, from Apple/Mac to PC based. I’ve moved offices from Cary to North Raleigh. It’s not been easy and has involved some time and readjusting. Lori, my wife, is my IT officer, which accounts for the ease of some the transition. Without her it would have been more difficult. However, the maintenance, the keeping and transitioning of records had to be orderly, and getting use to a new office environment has taken time. I am still here for you and maintain copies of your records. I trust you are enjoying your real & personal property. The better we nurture our real & personal property, the greater the investment will be returned to us. God Bless.

Lessons in Living

Posted by TonyHawkins | Buyers,Real Estate | Monday 9 August 2010 5:55 pm

Having had the pleasure of working with a number of mature citizens, it has been inspiring to observe how generations differ in approaches to real estate buying and selling. Psychologists theorize that we are products of our environment. Those who have lived through ‘war’ manage fiscal obligations quite differently than those who have not. Since the HAWK’S CRY reaches a diverse audience, I would like to give reverence to those who have traveled a ‘war economy’ route previously. I have summarized their wisdom.

  • Save consistently.
  • Add 20% to the housing budget.
  • Clear credit report errors.
  • Maintain one credit card, while refinancing and paying off others.
  • Budget carefully and adhere to the plan.

There is only one issue that I differ with my elders; pay the agreed upon mortgage debt payment. Paying off a mortgage early in current economic conditions is less advantageous than ‘paying as agreed’. The financial system has changed, contemporary practice yields contemporary strategy.


Posted by TonyHawkins | General Knowledge,Real Estate | Monday 12 July 2010 11:41 am

Moving is the Great Equalizer. When Lori and I decided to move to North Carolina, I had the characteristic yard sale.   Advertised start time was 7 a.m. Probing buyers were at the door by 6 a.m. At six I was still fixing breakfast for my helpers. Moving from Raleigh to Chapel Hill-heck-that was to be a breeze. The NY to NC move reduced our square footage. This second move, in as many years, decreased our square footage again. As the title of the book states, the best laid plans of mice and men.
I miscalculated the stuff we had to move. I knew it was a lot, but the number of boxes and the stuff in storage threw me. It took not only a moving van, but two rented van trips, and more car trips than I want to remember. However, the lessons learned are invaluable. The most important lesson was a reminder. Purge your belongings at least twice a year.
The move to Chapel Hill and the subsequent settling in has proven that hording is not beneficial to one’s being or fiscal health. Sharing or giving articles away that have not been used in a two year frame are best contributed to another’s enjoyment. Purging is a difficult lesson to learn. Especially for this pack-rat, but the end-results are beneficial.
Another lesson learned from this move – Don’t do anything half-way. If you are going to hire movers, let them do the moving. Don’t share the workload. Heck, if you are going to do it yourself, then do it yourself-all the way. I’ve had clients facilitate their moves in both manners. The ones, like me, who try to reduce cost, shoulder the burden of cost, in both time and money, usually paying out more in the long-term!
Owning a home is great. As an owner, you get to purchase stuff to decorate, enhance and beautify the home. So many individuals have stuff in their possession that Feng Shui has become a very popular method of decorating. The real decoration in the home is the love, caring and relationship-building that exists with the people who live there. Or the person who lives there, and the friends who visit helping to create an environment that is conducive to being called home.
Moving from point A to point B can be a healthy and eye-opening experience. Just make sure you plan your move. Include all the various aspects of the same.
For more information on moving, call or e-mail me.

Managing Personal Assets

Posted by TonyHawkins | General Knowledge,Real Estate | Thursday 10 June 2010 3:44 pm

Real estate, to include personal and real estate property holdings, is an integral part of an individual’s personal assets portfolio. It should be managed, at a minimum, on a quarterly basis. I would suggest every three months setting aside a particular time to review, organize, and address your personal holdings.
Include looking at and reading your current bank statements, mortgage payments, credit card bills, auto loans, student loans, and whatever else is important to your financial health. Make a decision to stay the course, refinance, or make that call to your banker, accountant, or me, your Realtor, to ask questions or make changes in your tasks. Being aware and keeping abreast of your personal business is worth the time and effort that you extend in managing your affairs.
At the beginning of the year, may I suggest your management begins with reviewing and or writing your will. Not to be morbid, but death is a part of Life and we don’t know when the LORD is going to call us home. Therefore let’s make sure that our personal belongings are placed in the living hands of those who will care for the material things we have generated over the years.
A few years ago a relative of mine expired intestate (without a will). It is not an easy task to manage the affairs of another, even a family member, without the knowledge of where documents exist, or where bank statements are, let alone what bank was used, etc. As Paul writes, “let us be prepared in season and out.”
As the year carries on you will be pleased that your affairs, your real and personal property, are managed as you deem fit.

Know Your Home as a Business

Posted by TonyHawkins | General Knowledge,Real Estate | Thursday 3 June 2010 3:43 pm

It’s becoming more apparent that owning a home, renting an apartment, using credit cards, driving a car-which is leased or owned, having stocks, contributing to a retirement plan-whatever, it all comes down to management of personal funds.  Scheduling a weekly review of debt payments, changes, account balances, will help you determine what preventive maintenance is required for the personal & family business.  Consumers must be aggressive in their managing of their personal budget.  Once under control-in other words, you know what you have, where it is and how it’s working for you, you may want to devote every other week to the budget meeting.  The CRA’s (credit reporting agencies) make it their business to know your business; as do your financial institution, your credit card companies, your creditors, and any other entity that has a stake in your financial behavior.  Please make sure you know your own business.

Power of Attorney

Posted by TonyHawkins | Real Estate | Thursday 27 May 2010 4:36 pm

Just as back when I was on active duty; all military personnel are required to complete a Power of Attorney. This instrument permits a person(s), identified as the principal(s) to appoint another as their agent. The agent is allowed to execute specific or certain kinds of acts on behalf of and for the benefit of the principal(s). All of us should grant Power of Attorney to an honorable person to act as our agent. Spouses should consider appointing each other. Parents should appoint their (adult) children, and friends should identify that principled individual to represent their interest. This instrument will make legal and business matter tasks less complicated to accomplish. Please consider executing this instrument as soon as possible, and use a reputable attorney. Negotiate the fee, but use an attorney. If you need a referral to a good attorney, email me or call at 919-951-1807.
POA may sometimes be needed when selling or buying property.  If you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell, please contact The JAHLAH Group.

Mowing Tips

Posted by TonyHawkins | Real Estate | Wednesday 19 May 2010 1:31 pm

Okay, that time of year is here.  So from me, the Urbanite, to those of  you who own yard space, a few… MOWING TIPS

  • Don’t cut your grass too short, particular for cool season grasses. Higher grass heights usually provide for a deeper root system, look better, and are less likely to have weeds invading, particularly crabgrass.
  • Don’t remove any more than one third of the grass leaf at any one cutting. If circumstances arise that a lawn gets too tall and you just have to lop off a bunch to get caught up, bite the bullet and break it down into several mowings to get caught up with 3 or more days between cuttings.
  • Try to avoid mowing when the grass is wet.
  • When mowing only a third with each cutting, you can safely leave clippings that will quickly decompose and add nutrients back into the soil. Contrary to popular opinion, grass clippings do not add to thatch buildup. Grass blades are made up of about 75% water.
  • Mow your lawn in a different direction with each mowing, especially with lawns of shorter grass types. Altering the direction ensures a more even cut since grass blades will grow more erect and less likely to develop into a set pattern.
  • Keep your mower’s blade sharp, which means having it sharpened several times during the mowing season.  Keep several blades around so you’ll always have a sharp one on hand.
  • Don’t forget to change your mower’s oil at least once during the mowing season.  If you didn’t drain the gas tank in the fall, or use a fuel stabilizer, don’t use that old gas, it can cause a number of problems.  Better to use fresh gasoline in the new mowing season.

Avoiding Weather Related Insurance Claims

Posted by | General Knowledge,Real Estate | Saturday 8 May 2010 8:49 pm

In the Fall, while watching the birds and squirrels prepare for the coming winter one can assume from their activity if we may be in for some serious weather.  If that’s the case, we need to prep also.  During autumn we have a chance to clear dead limbs, clean up yard debris, and generally get our shelters ready for the coming winter months.  Although the Carolina Hurricanes pro hockey team have a home in Cary, their ‘icing’ problems are a lot different than the ones we can face during adverse weather conditions.
If icing occurs on our trees, and limbs break and fall; or the wind moves powerfully through our neighborhood causing trees to fall on either their property or ours creates an issue.  Avoiding the issue before it happens is best.  Complicating the situation is the unfortunate matter that insurance companies have recently adopted outrageously bad attitudes toward their customers of “You file a legitimate claim; we raise your rate or cancel your policy.”   If you have a large claim, unless you can pay it yourself, you really have no alternative but to file a claim and hope your insurance company is ethical and won’t raise your rate or cancel you.  An insurance company might “subrogate” and sue the neighbor if there is evidence of the neighbor’s negligence, such as failure to remove a diseased tree, which was leaning toward your property before a storm or adverse weather event.  In either case, being prepared can help eliminate potential problems.

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