How Tight Is Today’s Rental Market?

Today’s rental market is very tight; local employers continue to attract new employees to our area although new construction has not resumed its pre-recession pace.  As shown below by an actual prospect and chain of events, a week does not pass when we do not have multiple applications for the same vacancy although this was almost unheard of for the last 10 years.A0C78CMC00

On Thursday February 27, Mr. & Mrs. Jones  (not their actual names) applied to rent a 3 bedroom house in the Yorkmont Park area of SW Charlotte which had been shown at least 10 times in the last 72 hours.  The following Monday, the owner reviewed 3 applications and accepted someone else.  We immediately offered to refund their binder or assist the Jones in finding another unit.

The next day, Mr. & Mrs. Jones transferred their application to a 3 bedroom house in the Plaza/Midwood area of Midtown which had been shown at least 5 times in the last 48 hours.  The following Monday, this owner reviewed 3 applications and accepted someone else.  Again, we offered to refund the binder or search for another unit.

The same day, the Jones transferred their application to a 2 bedroom duplex in theCotswold area of S Charlotte which had been shown at least 6 times in the last 24 hours. The same day, this owner declined the Jones’ application because of their low credit scores (range: 480 – 540) and an account “placed for collection” of more than $2,000 last summer by a local apartment complex.  Again, we offered to refund their binder or search for another unit.

The same afternoon, the Jones transferred their application to a 3 bedroom house in Eastway Park in SE Charlotte which had been shown at least 3 times in the last 24 hours.  Yesterday, this owner declined the Jones’ application because of their poor credit and rental history just as had occurred a few days earlier.   

At this point, the Jones ended their search with our firm.  After 3 weeks, they had been unable to secure suitable rental housing even after applying for 4 nice properties because they were competing with more than 20 other & better qualified parties.

The Jones’ situation reminds all of us that if you view a vacancy which you like, apply immediately!  Do not hesitate; do not dawdle and do not procrastinate as this is a very tight rental market.

Property Manager Dottie Ciarrocchi Receives The NAR e-PRO® Certification

Congratulations to Property Manager Dottie Ciarrocchi on attaining the e-PRO® Certification!

As technology advances and today’s business community grows, the need for individual businesses to be the most up-to-date and technologically sophisticated in their respected fields has increased.  In response to this need, ten years ago, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) developed a program to teach Realtors® how to use the latest in real estate tech to expand their business by applying these innovations and social media strategies.

Dottie joins six out of nine of her Property Management colleagues to receive this certification, which means that she has not only expanded her capabilities in technological training, but her customer reach and trust as well.  

Congratulations, Dottie!  Well Done!

T. R. Lawing Realty Offers Lincoln County Real Estate in Charlotte NC

If you are looking to buy or rent a home in Charlotte, North Carolina, T. R. Lawing Realty offers nearby Lincoln County real estate.  At T. R. Lawing Realty, we offer the largest variety of rental homes, duplexes, condos, and apartments in the Charlotte region.  Use our easy search button to customize our search and find your perfect future home!  You can specify the number of bedrooms and baths, how much you want to pay for rent, if the unit is pet-friendly, and even the type of unit you are looking for.  If you know exactly which street in Lincoln County you would like to live on, you can even search by street!  Find your perfect Lincoln County real estate at T. R. Lawing Realty.

Property Management

T. R. Lawing Realty also offers property management services.  For individual owners, groups purchases and Orlando home cash buyers who qualify, we can manage all the details of renting or buying your home.  With over 50 years of experience with property management, you can count on T. R. Lawing to treat your home like our own.  We handle everything – the background screening, the marketing, collecting rent, and handling the maintenance of the property.  If you have real estate in Lincoln County and do not want the hassle of maintaining an renting it – call T. R. Lawing Realty today for our professional property management services!

Lincoln County

Lincoln County is part of the Lincoln County School System.  It is also home to Gaston College.  With plenty of educational opportunities, as well as plenty of parks and recreation centers, Lincoln County is a great place to live and raise a family.  Lincoln County has it’s own public library with plenty of events for families with young children.  To learn more about Lincoln County, use our tool to read about the demographics, schools, climate, and houses of worship within this county.

T. R. Lawing Realty

When looking for Lincoln County real estate, T. R. Lawing will help you find a place to call home, or help rent your current property.  For home rentals in Charlotte, NC and property management services, you can rely on T. R. Lawing Realty.  Contact us today!

 

Mecklenburg County Real Estate: T. R. Lawing Realty is Your Source For Property Management & Homes for Rent

T. R. Lawing Realty is one of the oldest and largest property management firms in North Carolina,  We have proudly served the Charlotte region, with all the surrounding counties, including Mecklenburg for over 50 years.  We are a family-owned company, and take pride in our customer service.  You can expect to get the best service when you work with us.  Read below to learn about our services.

Property Management

As property managers, we take the responsibility of maintaining your Mecklenburg County real estate out of your hands.  We will handle all the day-to-day operations and make your life a little bit easier.  If you do not want to handle maintenance, repairs, or complaints, we will do that for you.  From setting the rent to finding and screening tenants and everything in between, T. R. Lawing Realty is an experienced local manager with the knowledge and expertise of the industry that you can trust.

Rental Homes

If you are looking for a home to rent in Mecklenburg County, T. R. Lawing Realty has plenty of available properties.  Whether you are looking for a house, apartment, duplex, or condo, T. R. Lawing Realty has properties of all sizes throughout Mecklenburg County.  Search our properties to find the perfect fit for you and your family.

Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg is a great county to be a part of.  There are plenty of parks, recreation centers, places of worship, and historical sites, like the U. S Army’s temporary headquarters during World War I.  Check out one of our museums, like the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art or the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Davidson College, home to the Wildcats, are a part of Mecklenburg County.  You can watch the Wildcats play basketball or volleyball at the John M. Belk Arena, or football at Richardson Stadium.  Mecklenburg County is part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, and a great place to raise a family!  Learn more about the area, here!

To find out more about what T. R. Lawing Realty and Mecklenburg County have to offer, give us a call today at 704-414-2000.  We look forward to figuring out how best we can fit your needs.

 

Union County Real Estate: Search for Properties at T. R. Lawing Realty

T. R. Lawing Realty, in Charlotte, NC, has plenty of Union County real estate ready for rent.  If you are looking for property in this area, read below to learn about our process, and a little bit more about Union County and everything it has to offer.

Our Process

If you find a piece of Union County real estate you are interested in, the next step is checking out a key to see the rental.  Before you submit a rental application, you must get a key from our office and see the specific unit.  Keys are available weekdays from the T.R. Lawing Realty office (1445 E. Seventh St.).

If, after you see the property, you are still interested, you can submit a rental application.  You must pay a binder fee and application fee.  Security deposits will be taken at the time of approval, the cost on which vary.  We will then notify you if your application is accepted, and your lease must be signed within 48 hours of that time period.

Union County

If you are thinking of taking residence in Union County near the Charlotte, NC Metro area, T. R. Lawing Realty has plenty of properties to choose from.  Part of the Union County Public School System, Union County real estate is a great place to raise a family.  There are also several Community Colleges and Universities nearby, including Wingate University and Central Piedmont Community College.

There is also a lot of community culture in Union County.  Stop by the Union County Farmer’s Market year-round on Tuesday through Saturday from 7AM until 4 PM.  If you are into history, the Union County Heritage Rooms, containing books and files on local history and families, are on display in the Historic Union County Courthouse in downtown Monroe.  There are also plenty of parks, athletic fields and camping areas in Union County.

T. R. Lawing Realty wants to help you find your next piece of Union County real estate.  To learn more about the Union County area, and other areas that we service, click here.  Today can be the day you find your new home.

 

2012 Year in Review

Every December, local property managers are asked to submit the number of units under their care to The Business Journal.   The results are published in early February. This year we are proud to say :

 

  • The number of rental houses under our care has increased by a net of 100-150 per year for the last 3 years.
  • This year’s increase (+ 157) is the largest in many years and is a direct result of acquiring the Genesis Realty portfolio (159 units).
  • The number of rental condos under our care increased more in 2012 than in any of the previous 5 years.
  • Over the last 7 years (2005-2012), our portfolio has grown by 499 units or +22% over 7 years    (average:  + 3.14%/year)
  • Over the last 12 months, our portfolio has grown by 189 units or + 7.0% for 2012.

2012 was a very good year for T. R. Lawing Realty in regards to the number of units under our care, occupancy levels and gross rent collections as well as maintaining a strong & respected position in the marketplace because of a very skilled, professional & dedicated staff.

Looking forward to a prosperous New Year in 2013!

Stealing Diapers

Would you steal diapers from Wal-Mart for your newborn?  Or go back to punching a clock at the first job you ever had?  Would you clean motel rooms for a safe place to sleep?   Or use your grandmother’s credit card to put 5 gallons of gas in your car?  Ponder for a moment before you answer because the human impact of widespread unemployment is not in large numbers but in individual lives and sobering stories. 

Since the beginning of the Great Recession, 7.5 million Americans have lost their jobs.  Virtually all of them were proud, productive citizens before the pink slips arrived and all of them were brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, neighbors and friends.   How many of them do you and I know?

Last week, I interviewed applicants for real estate licenses who had convictions or disciplinary actions in their backgrounds.   A 32 year old mother explained why she left an abusive husband some 11 years ago with their newborn but without any money or a job.   Her husband was ultimately convicted of child abuse but she was penniless, homeless and unemployed.   She tried to smuggle diapers and baby formula from Wal-Mart but was apprehended and convicted of larceny.  

Three months ago, I interviewed another applicant who was cleaning motel rooms about 6 years ago in exchange for free lodging for her 2 children and herself when she knowingly charged less than $20 of gasoline on a credit card she had taken from her grandmother’s dresser a day earlier.   Grandmother was disgusted with her unemployed granddaughter and a conviction and suspended sentence was the result.

For more than a few minutes, I pondered what I would have done in their situations.

At best, being out of work is demoralizing and economically ruinous but it is also humiliating.  I recently realized a player on last year’s church softball team was missing this year.   People who have lost their jobs keep a low profile.   Instead of going to backyard cookouts, local festivals and Sunday school outings, they send out resumes and go to job interviews and wait for the phone to ring.   They feel ashamed but cannot quite explain why.

As Joe Queenan recently mentioned in The Rotarian, the unemployed do not wear signs announcing their status.   But young people do hang out at the gym … in the middle of the day … while others wait tables or substitute teach or park cars.   Former middle-aged salesmen report to work for the graveyard shift at UPS or Kinko’s or a local factory.   Still others just quietly list their homes with a local Realtor because at least one of the breadwinners was recently laid off and the mortgage payments are already delinquent.   What would you do if you were handed a pink slip this afternoon?

As the New York Times recently reported, July’s job-growth figure brings the monthly average tally for 2012 to 151,000, compared to a monthly average last year of 153,000.  At today’s tepid pace, it will take roughly 10 years to regain the jobs lost as a result of the Great Recession.   Tomorrow’s job market does not look good for my unemployed or underemployed friends.

The job market is stuck in neutral with no improvements in sight which, more importantly, means sluggish job growth, lackluster pay and weak demand truly may be America’s “new norm.”   If so, our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends will face even more stressful, humiliating choices for their foreseeable futures and, for many of us, for the rest of our lives.

As new licenses were granted to both applicants, I was reminded that our fate is not always in our own hands.  Random, unintended and unpredictable events are everywhere.  And our missing ballplayer never committed the crime which he feels guilty of.   Simply put, all 3 of them were hard-working Americans who were loyal to companies which foundered during hard times.   It was not their fault the company closed its doors but it was life-changing and ever-lasting.

You and I have a job today.   Say a little prayer of thanks this evening and always treat others with kindness.

Shared Geography

At first blush, the Tarheel State and the Golden State have little in common.  California has nearly four times the population of North Carolina and almost three times the square miles.  But each state shares almost the same number of border miles with neighboring states.  As Speaker Pro Tempore Dale Folwell (R-Winston Salem) recently mentioned, California shares 1,022 miles with Oregon, Nevada and Arizona while North Carolina shares 925 miles with South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. 

 

This is much more than just a curious geographical fact; it directly affects the marketplace. Virtually all of California’s major cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego) are situated along the Pacific coast, hundreds of miles from the nearest state.   Sacramento is the nearest major city and it is 100 miles from Nevada.   Without competition, many governments eventually run amuck.

 

Even if CEOs at Boeing, Kaiser Permanente, Disney, Wells Fargo or Bank of America wanted to relocate their west coast operations to less expensive alternative sites, the distance to a nearby, more favorable state is simply too great.

 

The same is not true in North Carolina.  Charlotte is only 12 miles from South Carolina; Asheville is 53 miles from Tennessee; Wilmington is 48 miles from South Carolina and Winston-Salem is only 61 miles from Virginia. 

 

This difference means that politicians in California rarely worry about a major employer relocating. Just consider that California has a top marginal personal income tax rate of 10.3% while Nevada has no income tax at all.  The average property owner in California pays $2,839 in property taxes while the average owner in Nevada only pays $1,749 per year.   California’s maximum marginal corporate income tax rate is the 10th highest in the U.S.  Yet even with those disparities, a move from California to Nevada is a major one, for both businesses and their employees.

 

In contrast, North Carolina collects personal income tax at a maximum marginal rate of 7.75% compared to  7.0% in South Carolina and 5.75% in Virginia.   North Carolina’s flat corporate income tax rate of 6.9% compares to 5.0% and 6.0% flat taxes in South Carolina and Virginia, respectively. Property owners pay a median property tax of $1,209 in North Carolina compared to $689 and $1,862 in South Carolina and Virginia, respectively.

 

Do employers really care about the income, sales and property taxes when they look at sites?  Of course they do but, in all fairness, Husqvarna, Electrolux, Chiquita, MSC Industrial, Peak 10 and hundreds of other employers chose the Queen City because our positives outweigh our negatives.    We are a Can-Do, business-friendly, livable community with an educated workforce, world-class airport and four unique seasons.

 

Still, alternative sites fewer than 50 miles from their current headquarters exist for the CEOs at Belk, Duke Energy, Family Dollar, Goodrich, Nucor, Reynolds American, Wells Fargo and Bank of America any day they decide to strategically lower their tax bills.   The same is also true for hundreds of heads of households who decide where to relocate their families every year.    Rock Hill, Ft Mill, Myrtle Beach and Danville are nice places to live and work too.

 

Every time the North Carolina Legislature, City Council and County Commission debate public schools, street repaving, animal control, public safety, street cars, bridges, social services and, in particular, their tax revenues,  they must also look over their shoulders and see what the competing neighboring state is doing.   Unlike Californians, North Carolinians have a choice about where we live and work.

Student Debt: Real Estate’s Silent Threat

One of the favorite quotes of my grandfather was “Be careful.   They’ll always loan you more money than you can repay.”   Algie Lawing only had an 8th grade education but he spoke prophetic words which I have never forgotten.

The reports by Fast Loans UK show that, exactly twelve months ago, student loan debt surpassed credit card debt in America.  Cheap money and willingness to loan to almost anyone have resulted in student loan debt which now exceeds $1 trillion.  This month, two-thirds of the graduating college seniors will have some amount of debt and it is estimated to average $25,250.   If they’re lucky, their student loan debt will be roughly equal to their starting salary which is estimated to be $27,000, down from $30,000 only four years ago.  But for many others the situation will be much worse.

For the last 25 years, college tuition has increased at more than four times the rate of inflation.     Unable to keep up with rising costs, students have increasingly turned to loans which, in turn, have created a debt bubble with striking similarities to the dot-com bubble, the housing bubble and the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

The conventional wisdom that all college degrees translate into higher income is no longer true, especially in certain fields but, as early Facebook investor Peter Thiel recently discovered, questioning education in America is “really dangerous.   It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”   Nevertheless, high school counselors, college admission officers and parents have not been honest about the job opportunities and earning potentials of degrees in art or sociology compared to science or technology.   There are real differences in today’s workplace associated with what you studied and learned.

Equally significant is the fact that legislators and college administrators have become conditioned to closing any funding gap with student loans.   Thus, when legislators struggle with tight budgets, it is much easier to reduce support for colleges than for prisons.    Nationwide, state support for colleges is at a 25-year low or $5,833 per student compared to $7,121 in 2001.   An abundance of easy student credit has filled this shortfall but at what long-term price?

Will student debt derail the housing recovery?    I believe it will.    It is the silent threat to a housing recovery which few in the Kingsford Waterbay condo real estate niche have even acknowledged.

As Trends magazine recently mentioned, debt often delays life-cycle events such as buying a car, getting married, purchasing a home and having children.   Twentysomething, Inc estimates 85 percent of college graduates now move back in with their parents, up from 67 percent in 2006.   In many cases, these are the same Boomer and Xer parents who took out additional debt to help their children with college costs and now will be further constrained by supporting their children after graduation.

Can today’s recently-minted college graduate repay his or her debt?   Maybe a better question would be why did 17 million students go to college at all?   As reported by the Mises Institute, in 1992 5.1 million college graduates were under-employed.   By 2008, the number was 17 million or roughly 50% of all college graduates which included 80,000 bartenders, 317,000 waiters and waitresses and about 25 percent of all retail salespersons.

A healthy real estate market is founded on the “domino effect.”   Young newlyweds buy a starter home; the sellers move to a larger home to accommodate their  growing family; the sellers of that home, having grown accustomed to a nicer lifestyle, move up; etcetera.    Without a pool of qualified buyers for the developer’s starter home, the  real estate dominos do not fall which is exactly the serious threat posed by today’s student loan bubble.

Rest assured this month’s college graduate does not want to move back in with his folks; he simply cannot afford any other options.   Rest equally assured, as long as recently-minted college graduates cannot qualify to rent their first apartment, real estate sales market conditions will remain depressingly unchanged.

Too Good To Be True

Everyone wants to get rich quickly.  I certainly do.  And, if you can keep a secret, I know a short cut to a life of leisure.   Are you interested?    Do you trust me?

Do I have your confidence?   Will I have your wallet next?

Every day, thousands of folks just like you and me are scammed out of their hard-earned money.  Who will be next?

I have often wondered how wealthy, educated investors could lose their multi-million dollar fortunes to Bernard Madoff,  Kenneth Lay or Charles Ponzi.    Were the victims simply negligent or lazy or careless?    No, they were just like you and me.    Most of them worked a lifetime to accumulate their nest eggs and they rarely made frivolous, childish, embarrassing financial mistakes.   Were they any different from you and me?   I doubt it.

As a nation of adults, I’m afraid we have not learned much.

As the National Association of Realtors® recently reminded its members, “Americans continue to fall prey to a growing number of real estate scams” and, in many cases, the internet, Craigslist and online public records are simply making the job of the scammer easier.

Rental scams are becoming more prevalent every day.   A very common version in our area involves posting an almost-identical copy of a legitimate ad with only cheaper rental rate and e-mail contact info.   When an excited prospect notices the great price on a great house and sends an email through the reposted ad, he receives a response from someone claiming to be the owner who, generally, is “overseas doing mission work.”   If the victim is interested in renting the “missionary’s” house, he is asked to send money to the owner in the foreign country.   Of course, the “missionary” will pocket the money long before his lack of ownership is realized.

Another rental scam involves a bogus rental prospect who contacts the legitimate owner or property manager through email.   The terms and conditions are agreed to and the scammer gladly forwards a check for the security deposit, often drawn on a bank in another country which may or may be questioned by the owner or his agent.  The check may or may not be written in excess of the amount required but, without fail, the “prospect” will soon ask for part or all of his money back and certainly before signing a lease.    Believing the prospect’s check has cleared; a refund is overnighted and cashed well in advance of the prospect’s counterfeit check being returned by the bank.

In some cases, a would-be renter can actually view a property escorted by the “landlord” and still get burnt.    In these scams, unoccupied foreclosed homes are the bait.   Knowing the trustee’s sale date is still several weeks away, the criminal breaks into the house, changes the locks and starts advertising the home on free online classified sites, generally at a very favorable price.   The unknowing victim pays the security deposit and first month’s rent and, sadly, may actually moves his family into the house before a bank representative knocks on the door during a routine inspection.   The tenant has no legal claim and very few ways to recover his money.

Finally, real estate commissions, attorney generals and Better Business Bureaus are reporting a significant jump in loan modification and foreclosure “rescue” scams.  Delinquent home owners are almost always worried, scared and stressed out which are always ideal conditions for modern con artists.    If the deal sounds too good to be true; if new loan documents are involved; or if upfront fees are requested to stop a foreclosure, be very skeptical.   Call the local Better Business Bureau or search for the same vacant home elsewhere on the internet or independently verify the trustworthiness of whomever you are talking with or do all three.

The hard-earned nest egg you save may be your own.