Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Home prices continue to climb

Home prices posted the largest annual gain since housing bubble days in August, although the month-over-month gain slowed for the fourth straight month.

The closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller home price index increased 12.8% from a year earlier, the biggest 12-month gain since February 2006.
But with mortgage rates significantly higher in recent months, the pace of increases is slowing. The 1.3% rise compared to July is only half the monthly increase posted in April when mortgage rates were near arecord low.
Still, the recovery in the housing market continues to be strong, helped by a drop in foreclosures that were weighing on overall prices. A drop in theunemployment rate is also helping to support the housing recovery.
Experts said the slowing of the monthly increase is not necessarily a bad thing, as it will reduce the chance of another bubble in home prices.
"It's good to see the pace of home value appreciation moderate, allowing the market to get back into a more sustainable balance and not topple over," said Stan Humphries, chief economist of home price tracker "Home value appreciation is better when it's boring, and we expect to see continued moderation."
Despite the rebound in prices, overall prices remain about 20% below the July 2006 peak. But prices in Dallas and Denver once again hit record highs. And markets, including Boston and Charlotte, are now less than 10% below their peak prices.
The markets that rose fastest during the bubble -- Las Vegas, Miami, Tampa and Phoenix -- remain more than 35% below their peak valuations. But those markets are also among those with the most rapid price increases compared to a year ago. The fastest growth has been in Las Vegas, where prices are up 29%.
Article from CNN

Ken Keegan Real Estate Broker
(910) 523-0903 mobileEmail Click here for more information on Brunswick, County Real Estate St. James Plantation

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New initiative sees folks flocking to Southport for eco-tourism sightseeing

From grackles to kingfishers, bluejays to vultures and cowbirds to herons, Southport is home to about as many species of birds as one can imagine. A special tour last week gave enthusiasts an opportunity to learn about feathered friends, with the hope of spotting some in a tree or over the river.
The Wednesday morning event was organized as a joint effort between the city’s parks and recreation and tourism and economic development departments, along with Coastal Water Watch, an area non-profit organization that specializes in protecting wildlife and promoting coastal environmental issues.
The tour visited optimal bird-watching areas in the city, including Old Smithville Burying Ground and Taylor Field, the city pier and Salt Marsh Boardwalk, and Kingsley, Waterfront and Keziah parks. 
Participants traveled the tour route by bicycle, on foot, or on one of two golf carts operated by Southport Tours and Southport Fun Tours.  
“We are trying to increase our eco-tourism offerings in Southport, so that visitors can have a chance to experience the natural beauty we have here,” city tourism and economic development director Cindy Brochure said.
The group of 30 was lead by Mike Campbell, a coastal outreach educator with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
The tour was also held to raise awareness of the in-progress Caswell Avenue Community Garden project. There, Carolyn Pryor of Coastal Water Watch gave the group tips on ecologically sound gardening.
Campbell, who is based in New Bern, teaches birding and bird-calling to groups across the state. In Southport in the fall, Campbell said he would be searching for and pointing out resident birds and winter visitors. 
But birds flying south for the winter were also spotted, with several flocks of double-crested cormorants spotted in “Flying V” formations, catching the eye of the tour.
“Live oaks and cedar trees are great habitats for birds, but many do not make a lot of sound this time of year,” Campbell said. “If you were to come out in the spring, you would hear all types of songs and tweets.”
At Taylor Field, at the end of East Nash Street, one of the early stops on the three-hour trek, a pair of bluejays flew overhead. 
“Bluejays are very intelligent, but a lot of people don’t like them because they are aggressive and because they are nest invaders,” Campbell told the gathering.
A member of the party also queried Campbell about the types of owls found in this part of the country. 
“The four most common are the Screech Owl, Barn Owl, Barred Owl and Great Horned Owl, also known as a “Hoot Owl,” Campbell said. “They each have their own distinct sound.”
From Waterfront Park and the Salt Marsh Boardwalk, the group viewed gulls, blackbirds and vultures hovering in the distance. 
“Identifying species of gulls can be very confusing, as some can take two or three years to reach plumage,” Campbell said. 
At Kingsley Park, others learned an interesting fact about protected Battery Island, located across the river.
“That island is home to the nests of the American white ibis, and it is the highest concentration of that species in one area in the state,” Campbell said.
Following the guided tour the group enjoyed a picnic lunch at Caviness Park, and learned more about bird and plant conservation from Pryor. 
“We hope to be able to offer more events like this in the future,” Brochure said. 

Ken Keegan Real Estate Broker
(910) 523-0903 mobileEmail Click here for more information on Brunswick, County Real Estate St. James Plantation