Sunday, January 30, 2005

NAR Teams with Habitat to Help Displaced Tsunami Victims  

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has partnered with Habitat for Humanity® International to build "REALTOR® Villages" to help people who lost their homes during the great tsunami that devastated several South Asian countries last month.

REALTOR® Villages are designed to get the homeless out of temporary shelters in camps as a first step toward permanent housing. The villages comprise "core houses," which are permanent structures that, in some cases, will be built on the foundation of the previous homes. Each unit will feature one room and a porch under a roof, plus sanitary facilities. The homes could be improved and extended later on.

Said NAR President Al Mansell
"The magnitude of personal suffering caused by the tsunami, in number of deaths and injuries to people, and destruction of homes and property, is astounding. NAR feels that since our mission is housing, it would be appropriate to assist tsunami victims by providing them shelter. We have an ongoing relationship with Habitat and we are impressed with how extremely efficient the organization has been in getting the donated dollar to the persons in need." s

NAR and Habitat have set a goal to build 1,000 core units in the hard-hit countries of India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and the Sumatra area of Indonesia.

To cover the full cost, NAR has set a $1 million goal for the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project, established by NAR Jan. 4. All contributions to the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project will be donated to Habitat to construct the REALTOR® Villages.Mansell, CEO of Coldwell Banker® Residential Brokerage in Salt Lake City, urged REALTORS®, as well as members of the public, to contribute to the project to achieve the million dollar goal.

Habitat "core house"(Image courtesy of Habitat for Humanity International)
Habitat has mobilized staff to provide help in the four countries. Habitat plans to build homes for up to 25,000 families in the first phase of transitional housing as it works to provide permanent housing solutions. The organization estimates that the effort will require a commitment of $25 million over two years.

Groundbreaking on the new homes is expected before the end of this month."NAR's effort to help Habitat for Humanity help others exemplifies the good in humankind," said Tom Jones, vice president, Habitat for Humanity International. "We are truly grateful that NAR and HFHI once more will join in partnership to meet needs about which both organizations so deeply care. This will have permanent positive results for families rebuilding their lives."

All of the administrative costs of conducting the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project are being absorbed by NAR; 100 percent of all donations will go directly to Habitat for construction of the REALTOR® Villages.Contributions are tax deductible. In addition, Congress passed and President Bush recently signed Public Law 109-1 that allows tax relief in 2004 taxes for contributions made by Jan. 31, 2005, to victims of the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami. REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project Contribution

TotalsAs of Jan. 25, just three weeks since the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® launched the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project to aid the victims of the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami in Southeast Asia, the project has already surpassed the halfway mark toward its $1 million fund-raising goal.The Association is reporting the receipt of more than 3,630 donations totalling $578,883 as of 9:00 a.m. CDT on Jan. 28.

These contributions will be combined with NAR's initial donation of $50,000 and all incoming gifts to the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project. Read NAR President Al Mansell's letter calling for contributions to the relief project.Contribute to the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project Help NAR and Habitat for Humanity International put displaced victims back into homes.

Contributions can be made online through the following secure site powered by NAR's e-commerce system: REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Donations. To contribute by mail, checks should be made payable to the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project and sent to: REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project, Attn: NAR Finance Division, 430 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,000th house and more than 1 million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build. Visit the Habitat for Humanity Web site.

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.# # # Information about NAR is available at http://www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the Web site's "News Media" section in the NAR Media Center

RETIREMENT/Second Home and HEALTHY, Too! 

Do you know how to make your retirement/second/vacation home environmentally sustainable andhealthy for you?

The newly published 2004-2005 WNC Green Building Directory tells how to heat your home with passive solar energy or run your appliances off hydrogen fuel cells. The directory also lists local contractors and architects who'll build you an energy-efficient, feng-shui-conscious house, office building or church, using recycled materials.

Or, if you'd rather do it yourself, the guide also includes suppliers of everything from triple-glazed windows to solvent-free caulking compound to wood beams salvaged from turn-of-the-century tobacco warehouses.

A score of educational articles on green building methods, as well as case studies of local green-built residences, round out the directory's contents.

The WNC Green Building Directory (printed with soy-based ink) can be ordered from the WNC Green Building Council (P.O Box 8427, Asheville, NC 28814) or downloaded as a .pdf file at www.wncgbc.org.

eco INFO bit~ 


Cornell University's Environmental Risk Analysis

Norman Myers's list of the Earths Top Environmental Problems include:
Population Growth
Global Warming
Overconsumption of Materials
Water Shortages

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Mountains Near Asheville 

CONSIDER North Carolina’s high country.

In the summer, cool breezes and camping out will make you smile. You even might find a waterfall to shelter by for the night. In the winter, ski or snowshoe the welcoming Appalachian slopes within an hour’s drive of the Greater Asheville area. Any season is the perfect time for a family gathering by the fire.

Long before the “young” Rockies were born, an earthshaking event occurred in North Carolina: two continents collided, sending titanic plates of rock surging up into the sky. Millions of years later, after nature’s carving and pruning, a nature-lover's paradise was born. When the glaciers finally receded from the mountains they left behind innumerable varieties of trees and flowers, and verdant valleys, rich farmlands and amazing peaks.

Today all these invite you to invest in this natural richness. Whether you are building a second or vacation home, setting aside 1,000 acres for posterity, restoring an historic property or building your business here, your choices as to the amenities you desire are important..
What Will YOU Choose? When you come home to the Asheville area, what will your home be like—a rustic log home with huge windows and gourmet kitchen?— second or vacation home ? A private retreat where you will develop eco-sensitive homes while setting aside acres of pristine land? An organic farm –a horse farm? Maybe you would like to restore an historic home in the city of Asheville to create a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) business.

Whatever your choices, I happily will take them into serious consideration as we search for the "perfect" property for you.

Go to our

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Do You Qualify? 

Buying a home is involved.

Choosing the style of home you want, choosing a location, making an offer, and perhaps a counter offer are all aspects of the process of home buying. A key element to buying a home is having the financial backing to actually purchase the house.

As a REALTOR® I can help you determine what kind of loan and how much of a loan you may be qualified for before you visit a mortgage company or bank. You will take a look at the sources of your income. What is your salary? Do you have any other forms of income? What does your job stability look like? If you have not had your position long, why not? Do you already have outstanding loans and other debts?

Also, as a REALTOR® I can let you know about the types of loans available.

There are loans insured or guaranteed by a government agency, such as FHA loans and VA loans. FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration for the full amount of the loan. Interest rates with an FHA loan may be fixed or adjustable. An FHA loan does not require large down payments, which is attractive to buyers who do not have sufficient cash for the down payment and closing costs.

A VA loan is guaranteed to a certain limit determined by the Department of Veteran Affairs. A VA mortgage's interest rates can also be fixed or adjustable. Most military personnel and veterans are eligible for this type of mortgage.

A conventional loan is not insured or guaranteed by a government agency.

They can also have fixed or adjustable interest rates. Most loans of this type require a 5% down payment. Conventional loans are available at most lenders and are usually for a larger amount of money than FHA or VA loans.

By reviewing your income, liabilities, and the type of home you wish to purchase, a REALTOR® can help you figure out what type and how much of a loan you may qualify for.

This is only one way I hope to make your home buying experience easier.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

eco INFO bit~ 


With representatives of the selected firm sitting in the room, Council apologized to them and voted unanimously NOT to accept the staff's recommendation to accept the firm's $284,540 bid to do further work on a Management Plan for the Asheville Watershed. As Council representative Jan Davis is quoted in the AC-T article:

"This thing seems to have taken a whole life of its own that I didn't foresee"

Instead Council instructed staff to go back and use existing materials, and possibly a short-term consultant, to come up with a simpler plan. The impression from individual Council members' comments was for staff to focus on road and bridge maintenance, removal of exotic invasive plants, and emergency protocols.

As Council representative Brownie Newman is quoted in the AC-T article:

"If our goal is clean water, the natural processes that have been at work for thousands of years...do a very good job as long as we don't mess it up."

This action by the Asheville City Council is a major victory for the effort to preserve the Asheville Watershed.

The coalition of environmental and citizen's groups that came together to urge a different management focus will, with your help, continue to offer advice and direction to Council and staff. A Management Plan IS needed, but we want to exclude any possibility of commercial logging in the future. We will continue to update our website with developments and let you know if our united action is needed.

We urge you to thank City Council for its decision.

You may do so with one click by using our website's link: http://www.main.nc.us/wncceib/AWccwaaddresses.htm

Your active participation put this issue on the Council's and the pubic's plate and ensured it got the attention it deserved. Thanks to you, this unique treasure in our community has a much better chance of remaining as it is for future generations!!

Tsunami Relief 

As a group, REALTORS® are sensitive and caring. We have to be to do the kind of liaison work that we do! People' s lives and investment capital are on the line.

A letterI received this week confirms not only this sensitivity, but a generosity for which we REALTORS® are also know. As a group, REALTORS® are joining together to help others in the face of the enormous task of reclaiming their lives after the devastating tsunami disaster.
Here is the announcement of the REALTOR Tsunami Relief Project

REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project

In an open letter to the more than 1 million members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, 2005 NAR President Al Mansell announced on Jan. 4 the creation of the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project to aid the victims of the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami that has devastated dozens of countries in Southeast Asia and resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties.

The Association is reporting the receipt of more than 1,625 donations totalling $239,583 as of 9:00 a.m. CDT on Jan. 19. These contributions will be combined with NAR's initial donation of $50,000 and all incoming gifts to the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project. "

Contribute to the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project

You can make a tax-deductible contribution to aid earthquake and tsunami relief efforts through NAR.

You can make contributions online or through the mail (see below).

Checks should be made payable to the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project and mailed to the NAR Finance Division in Chicago:NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF EEALTORS®REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project
Attn: NAR Finance Division
430 N. Michigan Ave.Chicago, IL. 60611-4087

Read the entirety of NAR's official release on the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

~info bit ON HORSES 

Horse Hair: Potentially Dangerous!!! ??

In a press release today, the National Institute of Health has announced
the discovery of a potentially dangerous substance in the hair of horses.

This substance, called "amo-bacter equuii" has been linked with the following symptoms in humans:

Reluctance to cook> >> > > >
Reluctance to perform housework> >> > > >
Reluctance to wear anything but boots> >> > > >
Reluctance to work except in support of a horse> >> > > >
Physical craving for contact with horses (may be an addiction)> >> > > >>

Beware: If you come in contact with a human affected by this substance,
be prepared to talk about horses for hours on end.

This has been a public service announcement!!! (We are smiling)




Tuesday, January 04, 2005

~for Real Estate Investors~ Appreciation, Cluster Housing and Land Use in Asheville 

Recently a client wrote:

"We have been working with a real-estate person here on one project involving some land he has had on the market a long time. He wants to help us build greenways along crucial paths for the animals that migrate and need 1000's of acres in order to survive (I am not sure of his full motivation...time will tell). The wild cat alone needs 10,000 acres to live and yes we still have these big cats in the NW corner of the state.

We would take a look at your town plan of conservation and development and see what the community vision is. Here we want to retain the "rural" character of the town. Yet, depending on the make up of the commissioners on the Planning and Zoning and Inland Wetland Commissions...retaining the rural character can be seen very differently. .. cluster housing...The idea is to not have large tracks of farm land (or forest) covered with zillions of houses. Instead you group the houses on smaller parcels and the people and animals can enjoy the open/wild space. Plus there is far less pollution from pesticides and artificial fertilizers, mowing on the good ol sit upon mowers....surface of roads and drives is reduced...etc.. "



a Planned Unit Development (PUD), which allows for clustered buildings and preservation of commons green space http://westwoodcoho.home.mindspring.com/westwood.html

WESTWOOD, A PUD is on an urban edge softened by a small orchard and grove of trees in urban West Asheville. Nearby are schools, a city park, shops and services of all kinds, and public transportation. Downtown Asheville, the Farmers' Market and Pisgah National Forest are short drives away.Westwood includes 23 energy-efficient dwellings and the original farmhouse clustered around pedestrian commons and central common house. This leaves much of the land free for trees, gardens and play areas.Westwood used Permaculture principles for the site design and early landscaping.

Permaculture applies knowledge of natural ecosystems to design and maintain a harmonious integration of landscape and people. Westwood utilizes passive solar design, tight building envelopes for energy efficiency, centrally supplied hot water and radiant floor heating, landscaping for light and shade and multiple functions. The community is organized as a Planned Unit Development (PUD), which allows for clustered buildings and preservation of commons green space.

~Real Estate Investors' NOTE:

The purchase of the average home in the open-space community, according to research, will yield a higher rate of return on investment than one in the conventional development, despite the nearly 2:1 lot-size differential...

In the Greater Asheville area, home-buyers, speaking in dollar-terms through the marketplace, appear to have demonstrated a greater desire for a home with less land-consumptive attributes than for one located on a bigger lot....and this trend may continue for the next 5 years..

.Real estate transactions have proven that the City of Asheville continues to be one of the best communities in which to live and work. (named # 1 for investing in Second and Vacation homes) Property sales continued to be strong during calendar year 2004...so the likelihood of the trend working in your favor is excellent.

TWO EXAMPLES of appreciation in the Asheville market..

1) http://netscape.homestore.com/Finance/HousePriceIndex/yearly/14.asp#projectioncalc2) http://netscape.homestore.com/Finance/HousePriceIndex/yearly/14.asp#projectioncalc

Hope this helps...be happy to refer you to tax/financial folks...

Let me know what you think.

Contact me at www.janeAnne.com

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Investment Real Estate 

You CAN Use Your IRA to Invest in Real Estate in North Carolina

Your IRA, or individual retirement account, that self-funded retirement plan that allows you to contribute a limited yearly sum toward your retirement; taxes on the interest earned in the account are deferred, might like a vault in which you have put away (and then never again touched) certain bank accounts, stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. In fact, all your IRA money is
In one or more of the above and you would like to diversify.

Did you know that you can invest in real estate? You can invest in raw land, a house or a building -- even your retirement home. Think of your IRA as a dessert tray. You can stack it full of wonderful items. Besides the standard stocks, bonds and mutual funds, you could choose to include condos (used for investment) or eco-sensitive development properties.

Of course, you know there are excellent investment properties here in the Greater Asheville Area Mountains. So if you are one person who has decided to broaden your IRA portfolio, the Greater Asheville area is an excellent place to do it! In fact, EscapeHomes.com reports that ASHEVILLE, N.C. rates #1 for investing in second homes.

You cannot use IRA money to buy your own residence, or any other property in which you live. It has to be investment property. But when you retire, you can direct your IRA to turn it over to you as a distribution, at the then current market value. That’s quite a benefit.

Before discussing more about the pluses, let’s take a look at the challenges involved in investing in real estate with your IRA. First, you will have to create at least a portion of your IRA into a Self-Directed IRA. Second, while some investors feel pretty much on your own investing in a real estate IRA, if you take the time to find a real estate firm that understands the process and will work with you over a period of time, you are half way there.

I am with such a company. We can not only help you find excellent investment property, but can refer you to a team of professionals including a trustee and perhaps a management company if you will be needing to collect rents and maintain the property. After you have met with the trustee you select for your self-directed IRA, we can also refer you to several institutions inclined to open a self-directed IRA. Look next to sign documents to transfer designated portions of your existing IRA to your self-directed IRA.

I can and will help you locate and purchase property, refer you to a number of excellent real estate attorneys who specialize in investment real estate, and will be present throughout the course of the investment transaction, at which time the trustee you have selected will take title at your direction.

Simple Rules and Regulations Governing IRA Real Estate Investment Transactions

Properties must remain in the trust until distribution at retirement as with any other investment. You cannot manage the property. But your trustee can hire a third party to collect rents and maintain or improve the property, and rental profits must be returned to the trustee.

I know of a case where a real estate investor who planned to purchase property learned during his due diligence period that the IRS would allow him to use his land or building investment, but not while it is IN his IRA. Could he take it OUT of his IRA on occasion, and use it? YES, but only for a certain period of time and then with various restrictions.

He could buy a second home, rent it to someone else, put the rental income in his IRA, but not live there. When he retired, he could take the house as a distribution. Then he could move in on a permanent basis. In the meantime, he could NOT rent the house to his spouse, grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, etc., but he COULD rent it to his brother or sister!

REAL Pluses of Investing in Real Estate with Your IRA

Now, on to the benefits of using your self-directed IRA for real estate investment. You KNOW for sure WHERE it is! This may sound obvious, but think about this— you actually can visit your investment properties, see them, walk on them (if they are land) and touch them. One of my clients told me she loved the idea of being able to have a picnic on her investment. She also liked the idea that there is a huge potential for cash stream as market appreciation does come into play with investment properties. Of course, one could also leverage this investment if one chose.

You can use an IRA for real estate investments whether you are a “hands-on” kind of person or an investor who prefers relying on someone else's expertise.

Going back to the dessert tray analogy, I recommend that you take the time to decipher the KIND of goodies you will select. Solid research into self-directed IRAs prior to making selections is part of what makes this type of investment especially intriguing. Be prepared to do your homework on this. A case in point: As mentioned, to buy real estate you must find and select an independent administrator to serve as a trustee or custodian. Homework: Interview several experienced professionals before making your final selection. Usually we suggest to our clients that the IRA is best when used for true investment property. Here is where your accountant or financial consultant can be a big help. S/he can do a good bit of the homework for you in terms of research.

Contact me at invest@janeAnne.com to discuss broadening your IRA investment plan.

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