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G.I. Lawrie Lawrence-(704) 994-8641

By G.I. LAWRIE LAWRENCE, Realtor | Broker in Mooresville, NC
  • 5 Best Ways to Research Your Property History

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Mooresville, Home Selling in Mooresville, Property Q&A in Mooresville  |  August 18, 2014 10:00 AM  |  19 views  |  No comments

    Property history research gives you a picture of how the history of your property developed through the years. The history may purely serve to staunch your curiosity.

    But you may also learn why some things were built as they were and—potentially—learn more information to help you fix or update your home.

    If you’re embarking on a remodel, for example, you’ll need to understand the genesis of your home, how it was built and possibly added on to, and what might lie behind the walls or under the carpeting.

    Plus, sometimes it’s just fun to know the provenance of your abode.

    Property History Research Methods

    Ask your inspector: If you’re buying an older home, check with the expert you’re paying to look at all the nooks and crannies—and about the history of those nooks and crannies. For example, an inspector might note a beautiful hardwood floor beneath modern carpeting or know where to look for a historic foundation stone in the basement.

    Talk to your neighbors: Maybe also talk to the previous owner and others who used to live in the area—and their relatives. Many will be happy to share memories. Once land records are accessed, your property history search will yield valuable historical information about the house and its original owners, including when it was sold and to whom.

    Visit the library: Old newspapers or local history publications may offer insight into events at your address or give you a sense of the neighborhood and town at the time the home was built. Try to go during a slower time of day—not, say, a raining weekend afternoon—and a librarian may have more time to assist you with this research.

    Check the deed: You need to know the legal description of the property, the official address and the subdivision lot number. The legal description also includes the section number, portion of the section, township and range of the property.

    Deed transactions are also recorded at local county courthouses in the Register of Deeds. These records may be on microfilm, computerized records or other physical publications. Most staff who work with deeds can help you find what you’re looking for off the address.

    When you start your search, begin with the most recent deed transactions and work backward to earlier records.

    Scour Porch.com: The online clearance center for home projects, design ideas and contractors also encourages owners and others to note a home’s history. You can check out past work permits, local stats, and who’s done what work on the house.

    Other resources: The patent records of the Bureau of Land Management’s General Land office will show you when the federal government first sold the land parcel to a private owner and who that owner was.

    You can find other documents online or in local archives or libraries. They include census data records, marriage and death records and insurance maps which show how a property changed over time.

    There are commercial sites to help you locate and search online databases to get this information. Genealogical research databases can also give you valuable information to help you uncover your property history.

    Happy digging!

    Updated from an earlier version by Wendy Dickstein.

    By:  Anne Miller

  • Property-Tax Collections Rising at Fastest Pace Since U.S. Crash

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Mooresville, Property Q&A in Mooresville  |  April 21, 2014 7:50 AM  |  231 views  |  No comments

    Property-tax collections are rising at the fastest pace since the U.S. housing market crash sent government revenue plunging, helping end an era of local budget cuts.

    In cities including San Jose, California, Nashville, Tennessee, Houston and Washington, revenue from real-estate levies has set records, or is poised to.

    Local governments are using the money to hire police, increase salaries and pave roads after the decline in property values and 18-month recession that ended in 2009 forced them to eliminate about 600,000 workers and pushed Detroit, Central Falls, Rhode Island, and three California cities into bankruptcy.

    “‘The money is flowing back, but it’s not like an open spigot,” said Rob Hernandez, deputy administrator of Broward County, Florida, where property-tax revenue is set to rise 7 percent this fiscal year, though it remains below earlier peaks. “It’s trickling in.”

    Some localities that were hit hardest in the real-estate collapse, such as Clark County, Nevada, haven’t yet rebounded but forecast improvement in the next fiscal year.

    Property-tax collections nationally rose to $182.8 billion during the last three months of 2013, when much of the money is due, according to a U.S. Census estimate last month. That topped the previous peak four years earlier, before the decline in housing values reduced revenue.

    Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

    A building under construction stands in Nashville, Tennessee. In Nashville and Davidson... Read More

    That increase helped boost collections for the year by 3 percent over 2012. That was the biggest gain since 2009, when revenue climbed 9 percent.

    Bond Improvement

    “With cities having increased real-estate tax collections, it will really improve their bottom lines,” said Brooks Rainwater, a director of research for the National League of Cities in Washington.

    The financial recovery is easing the risk of credit-rating cuts for local governments, which could increase prices by pushing down yields as a result of less risk.

    Bonds from local government issuers have gained 5.34 percent this year through April 16, outpacing the broad market’s 4.86 percent advance, Bank of America Merrill Lynch data show. It would be the first time since 2008 that debt from cities, counties and townships have outpaced all securities in the $3.7 trillion market.

    Property taxes have taken longer to rebound than other types of levies, prolonging the effects of the 18-month recession that ended in 2009. It can take more than a year for tax bills to catch up with changes in home values. Some state laws limit annual property-tax increases.

    Library Money

    In Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, property tax revenue rose 13 percent in the 2013 budget year compared with 2012. With revenue hitting $891 million, the government rebuilt fire stations and started work on a police station.

    In Houston, where property tax collections are up more than $100 million from the 2011 low, the city is putting more into its libraries and parks and has begun adding to its workforce.

    “We’re clearly headed in the right direction,” said Houston Controller Ronald Green.

    In Washington, property-tax collections in the year that ended in September rose about 5 percent from the year before to $1.9 billion. The city is spending more on schools and affordable housing.

    Health Costs

    San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is using the extra cash mostly to cover rising costs for employee health care and pensions. Property-tax collections are set to rise 8.1 percent for the year ending in June to about $222 million, above the previous peak of $210 million in 2009.

    “We were able to stop the bleeding,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “The real-estate market will help us not have to cut services, but it is not strong enough to give us enough revenues to overcome these increasing costs.”

    Local governments remain hesitant to hire after cutting jobs from mid-2008 through March 2013, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Since then, local governments, which employ about 14 million people, have added 57,000 workers.

    “Property values are rebounding to a degree and fairly robustly in some locations, but the effect of that on the fiscal circumstances in many cities is not as salutary as we would like,” said Steven Kreisberg, the director of collective bargaining for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents more than 1.6 million government workers and retirees.

    Since March 2013, property values have risen by more than 10 percent each month from a year before, according the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 U.S. cities.

    Nevada’s Clark County has a backlog of projects awaiting funding, said Commissioner Steve Sisolak. The county’s property-tax collections during the year beginning in July are forecast to rise for the first time since 2009, though gains will be limited by state caps on how much they can increase.

    “The county’s turning a corner,” Sisolak said. “You fall off a cliff fairly quickly, and it takes you a while to climb back out.”

    By:  William Selway 

  • NAR Addresses Possible Lead Rule

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Mooresville, Remodel & Renovate in Mooresville, Property Q&A in Mooresville  |  February 26, 2014 1:45 PM  |  336 views  |  No comments

    On Feb. 4, the broad-based “Commercial Properties Coalition,” which includes NAR and many other real estate and development groups, sent the latest in a series of comment letters to EPA regarding lead paint issues.  This letter addresses a nationwide questionnaire in which the agency proposes to survey building owners, tenants and contractors regarding renovation and remodeling practices in commercial buildings.

    The Feb. 4 letter “commended EPA for recognizing that it has significant data gaps to fill before it can determine whether to regulate [renovation and remodeling activities in public and commercial buildings] and, if so, what type of regulation may be warranted.” The coalition went on to caution that EPA’s proposed survey process appears to assume that lead paint hazards exist in commercial buildings. The coalition has also brought the agency to task for failing to gather relevant data from the nation’s largest commercial building owner and tenant – namely, the federal government.

    In framing its proposed information collection request, the coalition asserted, “EPA is asking the wrong questions at this juncture. . . As a threshold matter, EPA must determine whether a lead hazard exists in [public and commercial buildings]. Routine maintenance and repair, painting, and other renovations are conducted on a regular basis in the public and commercial building stock. The critical question is not whether these activities are performed, but whether they create lead hazards.”

    EPA will now consider these comments and may refine its survey process and instruments as a result. Through the coalition, NAR will continue to monitor developments to ensure that any federal rules on building retrofits and renovations are based on sound science, and fairly parse regulatory burdens and data obligations on building owners and managers in both the public and private sectors.


  • Survey: Most People Open to Buying a Haunted House

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Mooresville, Home Selling in Mooresville, Property Q&A in Mooresville  |  October 22, 2013 6:07 AM  |  231 views  |  No comments

    More than half of home buyers are open to buying a haunted house, according to realtor.com’s 2013 Haunted Housing Report. Also, 35 percent of the nearly 1,400 people who took the survey say they have lived in a haunted home.

    Today realtor.com released the results of its Haunted Housing Report, which ran on realtor.com from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1 and explored consumer sentiments around haunted real estate. Survey results reveal consumer thresholds for purchasing haunted houses for sale, past experiences with spooky homes, popular “warning signs” of a haunted home, expected discounts when buying haunted houses for sale and intolerable scary occurrences.

    “When purchasing a home, buyers want to know what they are getting into and that includes anything potentially spooky,” said Alison Schwartz, vice president of corporate communications for Move Inc., which operates realtor.com. “Our data reveals that while the majority of consumers are open to purchasing a haunted home, many buyers conduct research on a home’s history to be aware of any weird incidences. Additionally, realtor.com data finds that while some respondents are willing to purchase a haunted home at a discounted price, many say levitating objects, ghost sightings and objects moving from one place to another would deter them from purchasing a home.”

    Sentiment regarding a haunted home purchase:
    • 26 percent indicated they would consider purchasing a haunted house for sale;
    • 36 percent might consider a haunted home purchase;
    • 38 percent would not consider a haunted home purchase.

    Consumer experiences with haunted real estate:
    • 51 percent heard about someone else’s haunted home experience;
    • 35 percent lived in a home they suspected to be haunted;
    • 25 percent have researched a home’s history to find out any eerie past incidents.

    Most popular warning signs a home could be haunted:
    • 61 percent thought a cemetery on the property could be an indication;
    • 50 percent thought homes over 100 years old could be haunted;
    • 45 percent considered quick transitions in owners could be a sign;
    • 45 percent believe that an unexplainable low price on the home is alarming;
    • 43 percent suspected homes in close proximity to a battlefield could be haunted.

    Of the respondents who would consider purchasing a haunted home, many indicated that they would expect  discounts on a property:
    • 12 percent would pay full market value or more for a haunted house for sale;
    • 34 percent would purchase a haunted home if it were discounted 1 to 30 percent;
    • 22 percent would purchase a haunted home if it were discounted 31 to 50 percent;
    • 19 percent would purchase a haunted home if it were discounted 51 percent or more.

    Among the respondents who would contemplate purchasing a haunted home, the following spooky occurrences would scare them away:
    • 75 percent, levitating objects;
    • 63 percent, objects being moved from where they were placed;
    • 63 percent, ghost sightings;
    • 61 percent, supernatural sensations;
    • 61 percent, flickering lights/appliances;
    • 60 percent, strange noises (footsteps, doors slamming);
    • 34 percent, warm or cold spots.

  • Risks of Reverse Mortgages

    Posted Under: Financing in Mooresville, Property Q&A in Mooresville  |  July 25, 2013 5:38 AM  |  355 views  |  No comments

    Losing a home can happen to anyone. Charles Wheeler, the revered former Kansas City mayor, lost his home of more than 40 years when financial trouble hit. Medical bills, back taxes and insurance payments on the house became too big to handle.

    Seeking a source of cash, Wheeler took out a reverse mortgage on his home. But as it often ends up with reverse mortgages, the result was the loss of his home.

    Reverse mortgages are touted as a way for seniors to improve their quality of life by converting the equity in their homes into cash. Reverse mortgages provide loans in the form of a lump sum, monthly payments or a credit line. These loans do not have to be repaid until the homeowner sells the home, moves or passes away. But if the homeowner fails to pay insurance or property taxes on the home, the lender can foreclose on the home.

    There are several other negative features of reverse mortgages:

    • Loan payments can result in loss of Medicaid and Social Security Insurance benefits.
    • Interest rates are generally higher than traditional mortgages or home equity loans.
    • Closing costs of a reverse mortgage can top $6,000.
    • Lenders often charge service fees throughout the term of the loan.
    • The reserve mortgage can tap most or all of the equity in your home, leaving your heirs with a depleted asset — or nothing at all.
    RT @legalrealestate: Real Estate: Risks Of A Reverse Mortgage http://t.co/xJvzypo6Bm | by @ShepleyLaw 
  • Fakes Worth a Second Look

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Mooresville, Property Q&A in Mooresville, Home Ownership in Mooresville  |  May 15, 2013 11:08 AM  |  449 views  |  No comments

    Every homeowner wants an upscale look for less. But saving money comes at a price; sometimes you sacrifice quality and lifespan.

    What’s a value-conscious homeowner to do?

    We’ve selected four faux products that look like their upscale counterparts, but have lower price tags and, in some cases, identical lifetimes.

    Synthetic Slate Roofing

    Real slate tiles are an elegant roofing material and can last several lifetimes — sometimes more than 150 years. But real stone is heavy, expensive, and becoming so rare that it’s hard to find a craftsman to install it. 

    That’s why synthetic stone tiles are good substitutes for the real thing. Synthetic slate, made from rubber, plastic, or a combination of both, won’t have the all the color and shape variations of the real stuff. But because it’s way up on a roof, synthetic will fool all but the most discriminating eye. 

    Plus, faux slate is:

    ·        About a third cheaper than real stone.

    ·        Lots lighter (so you don’t have to install extra structural support).

    ·        Is typically guaranteed for 50 years.

    ·        Often contains recycled materials.


    ·        Real slate installed: $7.82-$10.52/ sq. ft.

    ·        Synthetic slate installed: $4.33-$6.31/ sq. ft.


    ·        Real slate: 100 years to forever.

    ·        Synthetic slate: 50 years.


    Artificial Lawn

    A perfect lawn is hard to grow, even harder to maintain. Unless it’s fake.

    Today’s artificial grass looks like fescue or zoysia, but it’s not prey to weeds, drought, and root-eating grubs. Install it and you’ll have a lawn that neighbors will believe is real — from a distance. It’s essentially maintenance-free — no watering, weeding, and mowing.

    Of course, artificial grass doesn’t feel, smell, or totally look like real lawn. Fake grass heats up in summer and can’t absorb and break down pest waste like real grass can. 

    Some HOAs ban fake grass; but some water-starving towns ban new lawns — so it’s a draw on that point.

    Price (for a 500-sq.-ft. yard):

    ·        Real turf: 37 cents per sq. ft. to install: $840 per year to maintain.

    ·        Artificial turf: $12.50 per sq. ft. to install: $0 to maintain. You’ll recoup install costs in about 7 years.


    ·        Real turf: Forever if you water, weed, fertilize, aerate, and dethatch.

    ·        Artificial turf: 15-25 years.

    Faux Crown Moulding

    Crown moulding gives any room an elegant, finished look. But wood crown moulding is expensive and heavy, usually requiring a two-person, hold-and-nail team, jacking up the price to $8 to $35/ft. installed. Ouch!

    Synthetic crown moulding is made from polystyrene or polyurethane high-density foam. It is:

    ·        Lightweight and easy to work with — cutting down on installation time.

    ·        Good for DIY projects.

    Best of all, synthetic crown is typically 15-30% cheaper than wood. The more elaborate the detail, the more you’ll save over a comparable all-wood counterpart. 

    However, synthetic crown moulding has some drawbacks:

    ·        It’s relatively fragile; long pieces can break if not supported. 

    ·        It dents easily.

    Price (3½-inch-wide simple crown):

    ·        Poplar: $1.37/linear ft.

    ·        Faux: $1.08/linear ft.


    ·        Wood: As long as the room stands.

    ·        Faux: Ditto.

    Laminate Countertops

    Laminate countertops come in hundreds of styles and colors that give your kitchen the high-end look of marble or granite for about one-third the price.

    Until recently, the ugly, black, telltale edges of laminate sheets were giveaways that your stone countertop was a fake. But today’s manufacturers have created seamless-edge technology that looks like the bullnosed or ogee edge treatments found on stone. 

    Of course, laminates don’t have the durability of stone. They can scorch and scratch, and repairs are cumbersome. However, laminates are stain-resistant and will shrug off wine spills that porous marble and some granites suck up. 


    ·        Stone installed (marble, granite): $60-$100/sq. ft.

    ·        Laminate installed: $7-$30/sq. ft.


    ·        Stone: Forever, although it can chip, and you should seal it periodically.

    ·        Laminate: Decades if you’re careful not to scratch or burn countertops.

    Read more:

  • HST: Issues for New Home Builders

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Mooresville, Property Q&A in Mooresville  |  May 8, 2013 11:20 AM  |  426 views  |  No comments

    If you are a new home builder or if you “substantially renovate” client’s homes, you should be aware of the GST/HST New Housing Rebate which may be available to the home owner. This program provides a rebate on part of the GST or the federal part of the HST paid on the construction or purchase of most newly constructed or substantially renovated houses used as their primary place of residence.

    In order to qualify, the homeowner must be:

    • Building a home or contracting someone to build one;
    • Buying a newly constructed or substantially renovated home from a builder;
    • Buying a newly constructed house from a builder where they lease the land from the builder under the same agreement to buy the house;
    • Rebuilding a home destroyed by fire; or
    • Buying a share of the capital stock in a newly constructed cooperative housing project.

    Generally, applications must be received within two years from the date of possession.

    Home builders may be able to apply on their client’s behalf, and then pay the rebate directly to the client or credit them for it in the purchase price. This benefits your client, as they do not have to directly apply themselves and wait to receive their rebate. Home builders are not able to apply for their clients where it is an “owner-built” home. This scenario applies where you build a home for someone on the land they own.

    If you apply for the credit on your clients’ behalf, the application must be filed with your GST/HST return. Ensure you receive from them a fully completed and signed Form GST190 and any applicable provincial rebate schedule and worksheet. If you file your GST/HST returns electronically, the rebate application must be mailed immediately after you file. If you are a home builder with taxable revenues of 1.5 million or more, special rules apply. You must use GST/HST Netfile or GST/HST Telefile to file your returns to file your return for the reporting periods where you have paid or credited the amount of the rebate to the buyer.

    In addition, your client may be eligible for a rebate on the provincial part of the HST paid for a newly constructed or substantially renovated home. The home must be used as the primary place of residence of the individual purchasing, or a relation of that individual.

    RT @legalrealestate: Real Estate: HST: Issues for New Home Builders http://t.co/NGpTGRmsqy 

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