Hendersonville Named Tree City USA CommunityFor the 20th year in a row, the Arbor Day Foundation has named Hendersonville a Tree City USA Community in honor of its continued commitment to urban forestry.  In order to be honored as a Tree City USA Community, Hendersonville has to maintain a tree board or department (which is legally responsible to care for and manage the city’s trees), a community forestry program (with a budget of at least $2 per capita for tree care funding), a tree care ordinance (to put policies in place for caring for community trees) and an official proclamation and observance of Arbor Day.  The love and care of trees is a normal way of life for a community that sits in the natural beauty of Western North Carolina’s mountainous region.

How does Hendersonville benefit from being a Tree City USA Community?  Energy consumption can be cut by up to 25% by planting just three trees around every building in the community.  This could translate to $2 billion in energy consumption reduction across the country if it were implemented everywhere.  Trees also reduce costs for erosion control, storm water management and energy by an average of $273 per tree.  Property values increase by approximately 7-21% in neighborhoods that encourage tree planting.  Research also shows that properties in wooded areas rent quicker and the tenants of these property stay longer. 

Hendersonville isn’t the only local Western North Carolina city that has been honored as a Tree City USA Community.  Nearby Asheville has been a Tree City USA Community for more than 30 years now.  This shows how important we believe nature is to the health and well-being of our residents.  Just one more reason why I love living in the Hendersonville area.

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate specialist

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This Asheville NC text scam is a reminder to make sure that you protect yourself from identity theft.  Learn how here.Identity theft remains a huge concern for Americans.  With consumers using credit and debit cards more than cash and turning to the internet to pay their bills, thieves have had to adapt.  The Asheville Police Department recently issued a warning about a text scam that has come to their attention.

Several Asheville residents have reported receiving a text from someone saying that their Telco credit union account has been suspended.  This was a red flag from the text recipients because they do not currently nor have they ever in the past had an account with Telco.  These scams aren’t just isolated to text messaging, though.  Here are a few ways to spot an email/text message scam:

  1. Provides a link to click on in the email.  Never click on a link provided in an email.  Hover over the link provided with your mouse (again, do not click on it).  While hovering, look at the lower left hand side of your screen.  A website address will show up (http:// ).  If the address is not the web address of the website it says it is, this is a scam.  If the email provides a link using a link shortener (such as Bit.ly or TinyURL.com), it is a scam.  It is best to open your internet in a new window, type in the web address you know for sure is correct and log in to your account from there.
  2. Requires you to provide personal information.  Banks and credit card companies will not require that you provide an account number, social security number or any other personal information via email or text.  If you want to make sure there isn’t an issue with your account, call your bank or credit card company directly using the customer service number provided on your statements.  Don’t contact the company using the phone number provided in the email or text message because this most likely is a scam to get your personal information.
  3. “From” email address is fishy.  Customer service accounts for most companies, especially banks and credit card companies, use the company’s website address as part of their email.  For example, if you receive a legitimate email from Wells Fargo, their email address ends with some form of @wellsfargo.com.  However, scammers are aware of this and may put the company they are pretending to be somewhere in the email address to throw you off.  Be careful.
  4. “To” email address is not you.  If the email address in the “To” line is to “undisclosed recipients” or lists a long line of email addresses, this should throw up a red flag as a possible scammer.
  5. Text message comes from a bank.  Banks will NEVER contact their patrons via text message to let them know about an issue with their account.  If someone says they are your bank and wants you to call them back at a specific phone number, do not do it. 

The police department’s Asheville text scam warning is a great reminder to be careful with your personal information.  Avoid identity theft by being proactive.  Since identity theft ruins your credit and can sometimes take years to clear up, your chances of owning an Asheville home can be seriously affected.  Protect your personal information as closely as you would protect your physical property.

Rich Cooke, your Asheville real estate specialist

You'll never get a lemon in Hendersonville real estate if you use Rich Cooke.

Memorial Day Weekend Events in HendersonvilleMonday, May 31st, is Memorial Day, a day we honor those who have served our country and lost their lives.  Some Memorial Day weekend events in the Hendersonville area include:

Music on the Rocks Concert Series Presents Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Greatest Hits – May 30-June 1, Flat Rock Playhouse (2661 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock, NC), Second Stage, 8pm.  Tickets are only $19 each.  For more info, please visit the Flat Rock Playhouse website or call 828-693-0731 or 866-732-8008.

1st Annual BBQ Expo – May 29, Hendersonville High School Field.  Gates open at 10am.  In addition to great BBQ, there will be live music and entertainment.  Proceeds from the BBQ benefit the Henderson County Education Foundation.  For more info, please call 828-693-3461.

Bua, Traditional Irish Music – May 29, Diana Wortham Theatre (2 South Pack Square, Asheville, NC).  For more info, visit the Diana Wortham Theatre website or call 828-257-4530.

17th Annual Garden Jubilee Festival – May 29 & 30, Historic Downtown Hendersonville, 10am-6pm.  There will be over 200 vendors on-site both days.  Some of the things available for purchase and classes available include: plants, arts and crafts, experts give talks on gardening, lawn and garden accessories and more.  For more information, please call 828-693-9708 or 800-828-4244 or visit the Hendersonville Visitors Information Center website.

Sandburg Folk Music Festival – May 31, Carl Sandburg Home (81 Carl Sandburg Lane, Flat Rock, NC), 10am-4pm.  Some of the live music will include instrumentals, spiritual music and folk songs.  For more info, please call 828-693-4178 or visit the Carl Sandburg website.

Memorial Day Services at Forest Lawn Cemetary – May 31, Hendersonville, NC, 9:30am.  The Hendersonville Antique Car Club and other local car clubs will gather at the intersection of Hwy 64 & Main St to escort Veterans to the Forest Lawn Memorial Services.  For more info, please call 828-696-4168 or visit the Hendersonville Antique Car Club website.

No matter which Memorial Day weekend event you go to in Hendersonville this weekend, make sure to stop and honor those brave men and women who gave their lives in service of our country.  Without them, we wouldn’t be US.

You'll never get a lemon in Hendersonville real estate if you use Rich Cooke.

If you’re like alot of people nowadays, you may not be able to sell your Hendersonville home right now.  Instead, you are looking at updating your home’s look for the possibility of making a larger profit later.  Here are a few tips on how to get the most bang for your buck in remodeling projects:

Adding crown molding or a chair rail to a room like the dining room makes a dramatic difference in the room's appearance.1. Crown Molding – Easy to install, adding crown molding to the ceiling or a chair rail along the wall can instantly transfer a drab room into a fab room.  You can even dress up a light fixture with a simple medallion.

2. Wood Floors – Are your wood floors looking a little worse for wear?  Refinish them for a fresher look.  If they are completely worn out, opt for replacing them.

3. Light Fixtures – Are you still using fluorescent lights in the kitchen or bathroom?  Recessed lighting or updated light fixtures can increase the warmth and feel of any room for a reasonable price.

4. Entryway/Foyer – If your entryway/foyer area is stuck in a bygone era, you may want to freshen it up with a fresh coat of paint, newer wallpaper, refinished stairway and/or new flooring.

Adding a kitchen island increases your surface area and storage space.5. Kitchen Island – Storage is one of the toughest things to accommodate in a kitchen.  Adding a kitchen island with shelves or cabinets included in the design not only increase your storage capacity, but also your surface area.   Try using butcher block or concrete for the kitchen island’s work surface as an alternative to expensive granite or marble.

6. Pantry – Adding a simple pantry to your kitchen can increase your food storage in a small area quickly and easily.

7. Shower – Simply changing the showerheads in your bathrooms can make a dramatic difference.  One of the more popular fixtures is a large pan showerhead that simulates a rainfall.  Also, you may want to consider adding a multi-head or second showerhead in your master bath.

8. Fixtures – Updating the fixtures for your kitchen or bathroom sinks increase the room’s appeal.  In the kitchen, consider adding a pull-out sprayer with a retractable hose to help clean the sink and reach those pots or pans that are too big to sit in the sink under a traditional faucet.  While you’re at it, update the cabinets and drawers with new handles, knobs or pulls.  If your cabinets don’t include any fixtures, the look can be dramatically altered quickly.

9. Porch – Adding a porch creates a more welcome appearance and brings your living space to the outdoors.  You’ll need to make sure to check the building codes in your area first for setback requirements and obtain a building permit, if necessary.

10. Siding – Check your home’s siding for any damage.  If your siding is in good condition, you can find products at your local home supply store to restore the finish to its original condition.  If it’s time to replace, vinyl siding is the most affordable in a variety of colors and styles.  It’s not your parents’ ugly siding anymore.

These are just a few of the simpler ways to get the most bang for your buck in remodeling projects.  I’d love to hear what projects you have done to increase the value of your Hendersonville home.  What you do now will help you when you decide to sell your Western North Carolina home later.

Don't get a lemon.  Contact Rich Cooke for all your Hendersonville real estate needs.

The National Weather Service’s issuance of snow before 2pm today, rains and further snow after 2pm and winds up to 9 mph, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to prepare for cold weather here in Hendersonville.

  1. Make sure your fireplace flue is open and clear.  You want the smoke from the fire to go straight up instead of filling the room and causing a breathing problem.
  2. Keep all combustible materials away from any heat source, such as the fireplace, portable heaters and ovens/stoves.  This includes paper, matches, lighters, etc.
  3. Don’t use the oven/stove to heat up the room.  They are not meant to be used for long periods of time.  Also, an unattended, open oven/stove runs a high risk of catching your house on fire.
  4. Keep an eye on children and paper products near a heating source.  Paper is highly combustible, children can get burned if they get too close and children with blankets can accidentally get too close to an oven/stove, etc. and catch their blanket on fire.
  5. Check on your elderly relatives or neighbors.  Make sure they have enough food, water, supplies, etc. and that their heating source works properly.  If they don’t have a reliable source for heat, you may want to check with local government agencies to find out what programs they offer to help.

With the temperatures dropping in Henderson County, it is important to make sure you are prepared for cold weather here in Hendersonville.

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate expert

$8000 Tax Credit Extended

November 12, 2009

The $8000 tax credit has been extended and includes a $6500 tax credit for existing homeowners.The $8000 First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit has been extended both in time and to include a $6500 tax credit for existing homeowners.  Previously, only first time home buyers (those buyers who have not owned a home for at least the three previous years) were eligible for an up to $8000 tax credit based on the purchase price of the home.  This was set to stop December 1, 2009.  However, President Obama has just signed an extension to the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit that applies to all homes purchased by April 30, 2010.  If you have a signed binding sales contract in effect by April 30, 2010, you have until July 2, 2010 to close escrow.

In addition to the $8000 First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit, President Obama made available a $6500 tax credit for current homeowners looking to purchase a new home.  Existing homeowners must have used their home as their primary residence for at least five consecutive of the last 8 years to qualify for this new tax credit.

Income Limits:

If you are a single home buyer or married filing head of household, you cannot make more than $125,000.  If you are married and file jointly, you cannot make more than $225,000 to receive the total tax credit you are eligible for.  You are eligible for a partial credit if you are single or a head of household filer and make between $125,000 and $145,000 or married filing jointly with an income between $225,000 and $245,000.

Homes That Qualify:

Only a home that is purchased and used as a primary residence is eligible for the appropriate tax credit.  That means that vacation homes, rental properties and commercial properties do not qualify.  Also, the purchase price cannot exceed $800,000

These tax credits do not have to be paid back provided you use your house for your primary residence for at least three years.  However, if you sell your home before the three year time period is up, you will be required to pay back all the tax credit you received.  For more information on the tax credit extensions and how they effect you with your Western North Carolina home, please contact me.

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate expert

According to the North Carolina Association of Realtors®, home sales may be down overall across the state, but Hendersonville experienced a 2% increase in home sales from the same time last year.  The 110 Hendersonville homes sold in June 2009 was a 2% increase from June 2008 figures and was a 31% increase from sales figures in May 2009.  The average cost for a Hendersonville home was $219,362 (down 17% from June 2008’s average cost of $264,559).

In comparison, Asheville home sales were down 7% from the previous year (June 2009 showed 217 units sold, June 2008 showed 233 units sold).  However, June 2009 sales were up 45% from May 2009 figures.  The average cost for an Asheville home was 6% less than the same time last year ($266,883 in June 2008, $253,852 in June 2009).

What do these figures mean for you buyers out there?  These low prices aren’t going to last long.  Asheville real estate already seems to be experiencing what may be a bottoming out of the market, with home sales only slightly down from the previous year and the average price being only slightly less as well.  Hendersonville real estate is not too far behind, with its home sales almost exactly the same as the previous year and up significantly from the previous month.  You don’t want to miss out on owning your piece of the American dream.  With the expiration of the $8,000 tax credit coming quickly upon us, now is definitely the time to buy.  Contact me today to let me know how I can make your Hendersonville or Asheville homeownership dreams come true!

Feeling fenced in?  Contact Rich Cooke for all your Hendersonville real estate needs.