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.

Tour Hendersonville's Historic CourthouseIf you love history and you love architecture, you may want to consider taking a tour of Hendersonville‘s historic courthouse.  The tours of the renovated courthouse are provided absolutely free of charge to the public.  The next available tour will be held on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 2pm.  Beginning in April, tours will be conducted every Wednesday at 2pm until October, at which time, they will be held on the first Wednesday of the month for November and December.  For more information, please call 828-694-5003.

When you decide to purchase a Hendersonville home or wish to sell your Asheville property, please contact me.  I promise you won’t get a lemon when I help you with any of your Henderson County real estate transactions!

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate specialist

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

Simple Tips for Living Green in 2011You’ve probably heard about “going green” at some point in your life.  That can mean everything from recycling to where you purchase your food.  However, you don’t have to shower every other day or install solar panels that cost a hefty sum up front (although, they do save money over the long run).  Here are five simple tips for living green in 2011:

1. Recycle – Many cities provide recycling programs, including the City of Hendersonville.  Contact them via pone at 828-697-3084 or email at recycle@cityofhendersonville.org to find out how you can get your own recycling bin.  Articles that can be recycled are metal cans, plastic, glass, newspaper, cardboard and mixed paper (paper grocery bags, catalogs, cereal boxes, junk mail, magazines, etc.).

In Hendersonville, yard clippings can be placed in residents’ regular trash bins.  Just make sure they are not bagged, but placed loosely in the bin.  Dried paint and tires that are not on rims can also be put out with the regular weekly trash collection.  Used motor oil and antifreeze as well as used car batteries must be turned in at appointed facilities, such as the Henderson County Transfer Facility (802 Stoney Mtn Rd) for motor oil, antifreeze, used batteries and electronics (fax machines, VCRs, steros, telephones, computers, TVs, etc).  Anywhere you buy a new car battery will also recycle the old one for you, usually for a small fee.

2. Check Your Home for Air Leaks – Check that the insulation in your home, window and door frames and window seals are all up to standard.  Any cracks around doors and windows will increase your energy consumption.

3. Change to “Green” Cleaning Supplies – “Green cleaners” use much less harsh chemicals to do the same job.  Clorox has a line of great “green” products for windows, bathrooms and toilets.  If you want to save money AND the environment, you can even make your own chemicals to clean using everyday household items, such as baking soda, cornstarch, vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and more.  To find out how, click here.

4. Share a Ride – Using mass transit or even carpooling with other workers in your office or area can help reduce the amount of emissions and save you money.  If you live close enough, consider walking or biking to work.  It’s great exercise and reduces your carbon footprint.

5. Set the Thermostat – By lowering the thermostat by 1 degree, you will not only lower your energy costs, but you will hardly notice a difference in the household temperature.  Lowering it by 3 degrees can save approximately $74 every winter.  If you get cold, put a sweater on.  Consider lowering it even more at night.  Your body regulates its temperature during sleep, so you won’t even notice it.  Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to help regulate when you want it higher (when you’re at home) and when you want it lower (when you’re asleep or at work/school).

Reducing your carbon footprint here in Hendersonville doesn’t necessarily mean drastically changing your life.  These five simple tips for living green in 2011 are easy enough to do and can make a huge difference in the amount of energy you consume.

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate specialist

Our fair city has jumped onto the social networking train. The City of Hendersonville has now joined Facebook to keep residents up-to-date with local news, events and other information about the City. If you have a Facebook account, all you need to do is login to your Facebook account and then go to the City of Hendersonville Facebook page. Once you click the “like” button on the city’s page, any updates made to the page can be viewed in your Facebook account’s live news feed. The city plans to use its Facebook page to release local announcements, press releases and official photos. This is just the next step in Hendersonville’s goal to become more available to its citizens in this every-increasing technological age.

The City of Hendersonville joins Facebook.  Click here to become a fan.

The City of Hendersonville also recently launched its revamped website, where website visitors can view City Council agendas and minutes from their meetings, job opportunities, access information on the different City departments, learn about the city and more.

The City of Hendersonville has joined Facebook in an effort to keep up with the same technology its citizens utilize. This is just the beginning of the “new” City of Hendersonville. Come back often to see what’s next for our fair city.

Don't get a lemon.  Use Rich Cooke for 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.

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.