Congress Approves Homebuyer Tax Credit ExtensionIn a late vote last night (June 30, 2010), Congress approved an extension of the homebuyer tax credit.  Previously, homebuyers with a signed contract by April 30th had to have their loans closed (through escrow) by the end of business day on June 30th to take advantage of the $8000 first time homebuyers tax credit and $6500 homebuyer tax credit.  Because so many people rushed to get their loans in under the April 30th deadline, there was a huge backlog of loans that needed to be approved.  Usually, two months is plenty of time to close out a loan.  However, the backlog pushed about 180,000 people to the edge of missing out on the tax credit, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The tax credit deadline only extends to those people who had a signed, binding contract for their home loan by the end of business on April 30, 2010.  If you bought a home after that, you are not eligible for either tax credit.  For those homebuyers who had their contracts under way by April 30th, you now have until September 30, 2010 to close escrow to still be eligible for the $8000 or $6500 homebuyer tax credits. 

Now that congress has approved the homebuyer tax credit extension, many homebuyers can breathe a sigh of relief.  Even if you missed out on your chance to take advantage of the tax credits, it’s still a great time to purchase your dream Hendersonville home.  Home prices are very affordable, a variety of different types of homes are available and interest rates remain at historical lows.  Just contact me today!

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

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Henderson County is building a new CNG refueling station that will be open to the public.

Thanks to a stimulus grant, Henderson County has broken ground on its own CNG station.  CNG (compressed natural gas) is a cleaner alternative to propane, gas or diesel and can save the county around $1.50 per gallon once the CNG conversion is completed.  Another positive reason to use CNG is that it decreases our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, the base for our petroleum use.  Construction of the CNG filling station is expected to be completed by this October.

While Henderson County vehicles will be converted to CNG (two CNG-run buses have already been purchased for the Apple Transit System), the goal of the new filling station is also to get Henderson County residents to consider using CNG in their personal vehicles instead of other, harsher fossil-based fuels, such as petroleum-based gasoline or diesel.  There are already CNG fueling stations in Arden and Asheville.  They are going to make the new CNG filling station a public fueling station instead of just for private County use.

If you’re interested in converting your own vehicle into a cleaner CNG-run vehicle, there are several things to consider first, such as the cost of conversion, seeing if your car can handle the weight of the canisters that hold the CNG, EPA standards, availability of refueling stations and more.  To find out more about how to convert your vehicle to natural gas, click here.

With Henderson County building a CNG station, it’s nice to know that they take the environment seriously as well as using our tax dollars wisely.

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

The Full Moon Follies is an ECO fundraiser in Hendersonville on June 26, 2010.  Reserve your tickets today!Most people are today understand that we need to help out the burden placed on our planet by “going green”.  This means reducing your carbon footprint wherever possible by reducing the amount of waste you create, reducing the amount of energy you consume and reusing and recycling items whenever possible.  ECO’s Marvelous Malarkey group has put together a fun Full Moon Follies fundraiser in downtown Hendersonville on Saturday, June 26, 2010.

ECO has kept the idea of “thinking locally” firmly in mind when developing this event.  Local businesses and restaurants have donated food and beverages.  Local printer Hendersonville Printing Co. was hired by ECO to create the invitations.  And local talent will be performing, including Hendersonville’s very own all female a cappella group The Atomic Sisterhood.  In addition to The Atomic Sisterhood, singer/guitarist Tania Battista, rocking duo Carol Deurmit & Steve Whiteside, singers Pam and Don McMahon and storyteller Chuck Breckheimer will be performing.

There will be a raffle for great, fun prizes, including a garden scarecrow, local Christmas tree, custom hula hoops, a clothesline that will be installed for free and even a truckload of goat manure from the Carl Sandburg house as well as tons of other great prizes.

ECO plans on making this a low waste event, just like last year’s Marvelous Malarkey.  At that event, the leftover food and other waste only generated a total of two bags of trash for all 110 attendees, thanks to the use of vegetable-based plastic cups, paper napkins and paper cups.  The plates were provided by Camp Glen Arden and were washed and returned afterwards.

Tickets are $50 each or $90 per couple.  All proceeds help fund ECO’s ongoing efforts to promote recycling, renewable energy and clean water as well as keep local people working.  All attendees must make reservations in advance of the event.  If you’re interested, please call 692-0385 or visit Eco-WNC.org.  Let’s help keep Hendersonville on the “green” path.  Think locally and help globally.

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate specialist

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.

Not yet sure what to do this Sunday, May 9th to honor the mom in your life?  Here are a few suggestions on how to celebrate Mother’s Day in Asheville:

25th Anniversary Festival of Flowers – Biltmore House, 9am.  Visit the beautiful Biltmore gardens and see the colors of Spring in all their glory.  Tickets are $60 for adults and $28 for children.

Sunset Terrace Mother’s Day Brunch – The Grove Park Inn & Spa, 10am-3pm.  The brunch includes an appetizer, entree and dessert.  Cost is only $30 plus tax and service charge.  To make a reservation, please call 800-438-5800.

Mother’s Day Grand Buffet – The Grove Park Inn & Spa’s Grand Ballroom and Blue Ridge Dining Room, Grand Ballroom 11am-2:30pm, Blue Ridge Dining Room 11:30am-2:30pm.  Cost is only $36.95 plus tax and service charge.  Please call 800-438-5800 to make your reservation today.

Mother’s Day Buffet – The Grove Park Inn & Spa’s Horizons Dining Room, 11am-3pm.  Cost is $39 per person.  To make your reservation, please call 80-438-5800.

Asheville Community Theatre’s Readers Theater – University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Reuter Center-Manheimer Room, 2:30pm.  The Autumn Players perform readings of great literature that simply cannot be missed.  Tickets are only $5 at the door.  For more info, please call 828-251-6140.

These are just a few suggestions of how to celebrate Mother’s Day in Asheville.  No matter how you do it, make sure that you let that special mother in your life know how great she is this Sunday, May 8th.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate specialist

A new government program helps ease the short sale process.  The Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program has set new rules that make the long, arduous process of a short sale much more streamlined and effective.  How is this possible?  For one thing, HAFA offers mortgage companies incentives to participate in their program.  If you are in danger of foreclosure, have tried a loan modification through the HAMP program but have not been successful and need to sell your home for less than you owe before the bank takes it back, the HAFA program may be able to help.

Previously, homeowners didn’t know the minimum amount a bank would accept.  So, they would put their home on the market at a price they thought was OK and had to wait for the mortgage company to approve or reject the offer.  This process could take several months.  But through the HAFA program, homeowners are allowed to get a preapproved agreement from the bank on the terms they are willing to accept.  Another great outcome through the HAFA program is that the lender also must accept the proceeds from the short sale as payment in full for the seller’s loan.  They cannot try to collect the remaining balance after the sale is completed.

For homeowners to qualify under the HAFA rules, the property must be their primary residence, they have tried to do a HAMP loan modification, the mortgage was originated before January 1, 2009, the homeowner is either delinquent on payments or is in danger of foreclosure, the monthly mortgage payment is more than 31% of the homeowner’s gross income, the balance of the loan is under $729,750 and the homeowner can prove hardship.  Only mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will be considered.

Take advantage of the HAFA government program to ease the short sale process.  If you are looking at purchasing or selling a home in a short sale in the Hendersonville real estate market, please contact me today.  I can help you!

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

Henderson County’s very own Jan King is named North Carolina’s Principal of the Year.  Jan King is principal of Mills River’s Glenn Marlow Elementary School.  Already named Henderson County Principal of the Year, Ms. King went on to win the regional title as well.  That put her in the running with seven other regional winners to ultimately win the Principal of the Year honor for the entire state.  As the 2010 winner, Ms. King will serve on the State Superintendent’s Principal’s Advisory Committee, serves as a State Board of Education advisor for one year, serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Public School Forum for one year and will head up the selection committee for the 2011 Wachovia Principal of the Year.

Please join me in congratulating Henderson County Principal Jan King for being named North Carolina’s Principal of the Year.  It’s an honor richly deserved and shows the hard work and dedication of our Henderson County Schools to the education of our children.  Way to go, Principal King!