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Survey says homeownership still important to Americans


By Nick Kotecki

Americans continue to place a high value on homeownership, but qualifying for a mortgage and saving up for a down payment in an economy that won’t produce jobs keeps many uncertain.

The results of the Hanley Wood’s Housing 360 Survey say 89 percent of owners and 59 percent of renters feel that homeownership is important to the American family while 87 percent of owners and 73 percent of renters feel homeownership is an economic cornerstone.

Indeed, housing, household operations, insurance, fuels and utilities, water, sewage and trash services and furnishings, among other expenditures, account for about 40 percent of the Consumer Price Index, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Approximately one in three renters and about one in five existing homeowners believe now is a good time to buy a home or to plan on buying in the next two years, according to the survey.

The survey was administered to homeowners and renters electronically from a country-wide sample of adults 20 years of age and older in June to early July 2011 resulting in 3,005 completed surveys, including 1,954 homeowners and 1,051 renters.

“We thought people would be soured after watching home values fall but instead we found the typical American still places high value on homeownership,” said Frank Anton, CEO of Hanley Wood a media company and data research outfit serving the housing and construction industries.

“We found this holds across all demographic groups and across the country, even in hard-hit places like Nevada and Arizona where there have been 50 percent or more declines in value. The increase in the rise of rental rates in many markets is one factor driving people to consider buying,” Anton added.

Survey findings indicate as many as two million potential home buying consumers are waiting for the right time to jump into the market.

Respondents said there is no great urgency to buy, due to soft economic conditions. Many are figuring out how to overcome the challenges of stiff underwriting. Despite some home prices being half what they were five years ago, it’s remains a difficult to fork over enough cash for a down payment and still have enough left over to show lenders they are viable home loan candidates.

“There are obstacles in the way of home buying. The over-correction in the mortgage market is a drag on the process. We’ve gone from one extreme to the other and it’s stalling the housing market and therefore the economy,” said Kent W. Colton, president of The Colton Housing Group and senior fellow at Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Read more: Americans Still Hold Home Ownership King |® Blogs 


Environmentally and Socially Responsible Recycling

by Mariana Byrd


The black screen of death - it happens to most electronics.  Recently my iPhone 3G started to fail.  It was slow for months and right before the release of the iPhone 4S it would only work when plugged in (coincidence?).  Needless to say, I needed the phone to work when it wasn’t plugged in to the wall (who knew?!).   I had phone envy from all those other people who had faster phones so my phone failing was the perfect opportunity to upgrade.  


But what do I do with my old phone?  Throw it in the trash?  No.  Sell it on e-bay? Nope, it doesn’t really work.  Put it in the recycling?  No, it’s not accepted.  I could take it to Durham’s Waste Disposal and Recycling Center on Club Blvd or wait for one of their shredding and e-waste events.  (FYI: There is a shredding, e-waste, and christmas tree recycling event this Saturday 1/14/12 from 8am-2pm in the Sears parking lot at Northgate Mall.  For more information about items accepted at this event or the City’s recycling facilities, contact Durham One Call at (919) 560-1200 or visit the City’s website at  But, I had also heard of companies that will pay you for your old phone.  I decided to investigate.


Two of the most recognized companies that stood out were Apple’s Recycling Program (it’s part of the process when purchasing your phone from their website) and Gazelle.  Both options pay you depending on the condition of your phone.  That’s where the problem arose - overall my phone was in good condition (no cracked screen, it had never been submerged in water, minimal scratches) and it did power-on (one of the main questions) but it only powered on when it was plugged in.  Unfortunately there wasn’t anywhere that I could account for that piece of information.  Basically, my phone was either worth about $35 if it turned on or $0 if it didn’t.  I decided to continue searching.


That’s when I found other websites that offered much more for my phone but they didn’t seem legit.  Most had complaints from previous customers who had sent in their phone only to be informed that it wasn’t worth what they were initially quoted.  I stayed clear from these sites.  


Then I ran across  e-Cycle’s main target audience seems to be corporations with a large inventory of outdated wireless technology.  Their mission is to empower businesses and organizations to take a more responsible, secure and cost-effective approach to wireless recycling.  The best part is that they have a set price list for what each wireless technology is worth that month - condition does not matter.  In my case, my iPhone 3G was worth $70 - twice as much as the highest possible offer from Apple and Gazelle.  


I was unconvinced that this was actually true so I decided to contact e-Cycle (fully expecting that they may never contact me).  Within an hour an employee of e-Cycle called me, adequately answered all of my questions, and sent a follow up e-mail.  I was blown away by the level of customer service and attention I received - especially since I was not a corporation and only had one phone.  I packaged and sent them my phone (free shipping!).  


Throughout the whole process I was kept up to date with emails stating that they received my phone, the data on my phone was successfully deleted (I had done that on my end as well), the check was written, and finally an email asking if I was fully satisfied.  Wow.  


Not only did e-Cycle offer the best deal but had the best customer service, is environmentally responsible (recycling obsolete equipment, disposing toxic materials in an EPA-registered facility, and salvaging valuable materials), and, if you choose, can directly donate your proceeds to the charity of your choice.  Truly a great way for individuals and companies to be environmentally responsible in addition to adding money to your telecom budget or making a tax deductible donation to the charity of your choice.  


I always find it encouraging to find other companies, big and small, that share some of the same social and environmental views as Urban Durham Realty.  As always, I try to do my best in supporting their efforts.  The next time you have a phone that needs to be recycled, I encourage you to try e-Cycle.  


Celebrating the Holidays Urban Durham Realty Style!


By Jessica Slice-Sadler
The Urban Durham Christmas party is one of the highlights of my year. There really is no better time to reflect on how far we've come as a company and how thankful I am for my smart, funny, creative and interesting co-workers. Our office is just a fun and supportive place to be and I hope our clients feel that when they walk through our doors. 
This year we had delicious food catered by Molly Devine. We enjoyed appetizers and wine as we socialized in the beautifully decorated office (Thanks, Susan and Ashley!), Dinner was comforting and delicious and followed by a decadent chocolate sea salt tart with rosemary shortbread. The highlight of the evening was, as usual, the white elephant exchange. We saw a few repeats from years past in a mini-car-fridge (yes, that exists) and a illustrated guide to Christmas. Joel and I left with some moustaches (a real need for us) and I think everyone left smiling. 
We hope you enjoyed your holidays wherever you are and we enter 2012 thankful for such a warm and inviting office and the best clients in the world. 

Destined for Success: The Cookery


By Courtney James
Have you ever met one of those couples that stand out to you as a “destined to succeed” couple?  That is the feeling that I have about Rochelle and Nick Johnson. In the typical and beautiful Durham way, I am tied to this amazing husband and wife team through multiple connections (my sister and brother-in-law have each worked with Nick and Rochelle in various and independent projects).  I met Rochelle more than 3 years ago when I came to her with the vision for Urban Durham Realty.  At the time, I fed her with a lot of fuzzy notions about what I envisioned and she was somehow able to transform those hazy thoughts into a logo and website of which I am very proud.  Over the course of the last few years, Rochelle and Nick have become like family to me.  When I heard that they were starting the Cookery, I was immediately intrigued.  With the emerging mobile food revolution, this struck me as a vacuum that desperately needed to be filled.  
The Cookery, a culinary incubator that opened it's doors on West Chapel Hill Street, is a multifaceted business that benefits not only food entrepreneurs, but also food lovers!  The Cookery's commercial kitchen for rent by the hour supports caterers, bakers, food trucks, and a myriad of food producers, but it also offers Culinary Workshops to the general public (see schedule below), and will soon offer an event space in 2012.
I have found one of the most useful services that Nick and Rochelle offer is their ability to link local business with a vetted caterer or baker that suits your occasion.  Urban Durham Realty will be celebrating our holiday party this evening with one of my favorite Cookery vendors, Molly Devine ( Molly's Kitchen ).  If you are looking for an easy and delicious way to support Durham local business, call The Cookery and utilize their wonderful caterers and bakers.  If you are planning a holiday event, an office party, a wedding reception, or you're just looking for unique sweets or goodies for corporate gifts or celebrations, fill out The Cookery's catering form at  
To learn more about The Cookery, visit
Follow the latest Triangle food news on Twitter: @cookery
Culinary Workshops
The Cookery's Culinary Workshops are intimate, hand-on classes that are designed to let you take what you learn home and put it to work in your own kitchen.  These classes are a perfect gift for the holidays - what a better way to give to your loved ones with the gift of a culinary experience!  Upcoming workshops include:
Thursday, January 19th, 6:30PM
"The Wonderful World of Chocolate" with Vanessa Mazuz, owner of The Parlour ice cream truck
Monday, January 23rd, 6:30PM
"Fresh Pasta & Beyond" with Aaron Benjamin, Chef de Cuisine of Rue Cler
Saturday, January 14th, 11:30AM
"Sausage Making: The Basics of Grinding, Casing and Cooking" with Nathan McCamic, The Cookery's Certified Instructor
Tuesday, January 17th, 6:30PM
"A Taste of Spain: Making Authentic Paella"with Adam Cobb, Executive Chef of Glasshalfull

The Best Things in life are free!

by Kelly Garcia

With family coming into town this holiday season it may be useful to have activities planned in Durham that won’t break the bank.  All of these activities are free to the general public. I hope to see you there! 

December 13th . 12-2pm . Duke Chapel by Candlelight Open House    

Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Chapel by candlelight -- poinsettias, greenery, garland, wreaths, creche, Advent wreaths, carillon and organ music of the season.. Duke University Chapel, Science Dr.


December 16th . 6-11pm . Third Friday

Gallery crawl with live music and other performances. Maps are available at each participating location including Durham Arts Council, Bull City Arts Collaborative, Through This Lens and more.


December 18th . 2-4pm . "Winter Preparations" Walk

Learn how animals and plants prepare for the cold winter months. West Point on the Eno City Park, 5101 N. Roxboro Rd.


December 20th . 5-6:30pm . Free Wine Tasting

Winegrowers Toni and Imma Garriga will be pouring their Mas Codina wines. Wine Authorities, 2501 University Dr.


December 24th . 1-2:30pm .  Triangle Brewing Company Tour

Tour and taste! Triangle Brewing Company, 918 Pearl St.


Happy Holidays!




3 Reasons I love Sunday Brunch at Guglhupf


By Mary Hartzell


We have gotten into an occasional ritual of eating brunch at Guglhupf on Sunday mornings.  My partner and I get up early and play street hockey in south Durham then head over to Guglhupf for some delicious replenishments.  They have everything we need after a good workout:  carbs, coffee and a casual dress code.  This past Sunday, I opted for the pancakes with real maple syrup and Brooke got Eggs Arnold which is spinach, artichoke, tomato and hollandaise over poached eggs on freshly baked brioche.  Both are excellent choices to feed those aching muscles.  My pancakes were fluffy and not too sweet and the syrup was outstanding- definitely grade A (not that high fructose corn goop you get at a diner).  Brooke’s eggs were poached perfectly and there were just enough toppings to saturate the brioche.  A fresh fruit cup rounded her dish out nicely.  


Then there’s the coffee.  We each had our Honduras blend black and the flavor was amazing.  Strong, delicious and piping hot.  We ran out of milk at our house last week so our reintroduction to black coffee was serendipitous and we’ve been drinking it that way ever since.   


Lastly, is the dress code.  We go in our sweaty workout clothes and never get a sideways glance.  This past Sunday was a little too cool to sit out on their sizeable patio but inside suited us just fine.  Guglhupf uses the order-at-the-register-then-find-a-table-and-the-food-is-brought-to-you method at Sunday brunch.  Regulars know to get there early as it can get very busy and fill up fast but tables usually turn over quickly.  It’s a great place to take family in from out of town or to meet friends.  Guglhupf is a favorite brunch spot of mine, and I didn’t even talk about their fantastic pastries!  Go taste for yourself. 


Foreclosure help for those in need


By Mary Hunter
There are times, sometimes very unexpectedly, when a homeowner may be faced with the problem of not being able to make their house payment.  This may cause them to head towards a financially and emotionally devastating foreclosure. If you are a homeowner that is contemplating foreclosure, it would be wise to first check out some excellent resources that are available in this state.  Joseph A. Smith, Jr.,  the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks, has set up a valuable website to help the homeowner with foreclosure assistance.  This website is:  Please visit this website and see what help the state has to offer the homeowner. 
North Carolina has also set up a Foreclosure Prevention Fund intended to help NC homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments.  These struggles may be caused by loss of jobs or other temporary financial hardships.  If you are a qualified homeowner, the fund can provide an interest-free loan of up to $36,000 to pay your mortgage and other related expenses for up to 36 months while you search for new employment.  The website for this program is:  The outreach consultant is Mr Everett Stiles.
If you do find yourself in a foreclosure situation, it is important that you seek the help of a CPA to explain the tax consequences, an attorney to negotiate with your lender and an experienced lender that can explain the credit score ramifications of foreclosure.  There are attorneys that will not charge upfront fees to handle a foreclosure, since the bank will pay the attorney fees.  One such attorney that I am aware of is Mr. Steve Wilde of Wilde Law Firm in Asheville, NC.  
If you are in a situation of desperation, know that there are valuable resources available to help you.

Durham's Art Walk Kicks Off the Holiday Season

posted by Ashley St. Clair

It's time again for the annual Durham Art Walk Holiday Market, so head downtown this weekend (Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm and Sunday, 1 pm - 5 pm) and immerse yourself in the Bull City art scene. Urban Durham Realty is one of 47 participating sites, and we're open during all Art Walk hours. This year in our gallery space, we are showing the works of Greg Pattison, Loretta Bryan, Lori Flanders, and Marjorie Pierson. There will be live music and food (Pie Pushers and Sweet and Savory) nearby as well. For maps and more info on artists, sites, tours, and other special event features, visit

See you this weekend!

Local business spotlight: The Mad Popper

You may be aware that as part of distinguishing our listings, we leave snacks for potential buyers.   We recently made the decision to use a local company, The Mad Popper to provide the bounty.  The Mad Popper specializes in gourmet popcorn with a ever-changing list of flavored goodness - from classic to sweet tea!   It just so happens that caramel, green apple, and orange coordinate quite nicely with our firm's colors.

If you haven't tried The Mad Popper, visit them online at to check out their offerings, or head down to South Durham (find them in the same area as Shiki Sushi, at 54/Fayetteville) to try some of their fabulous corn in person.   They have a large selection of sizes and flavors available, as well as gift baskets.

One should also consider their bulk offerings which can compliment a long list of events - weddings, parties, and birthdays to name of few (my wife and I had MP as favors at our wedding earlier this year and everyone loved it.)

hours and info:

Tuesday - Friday   11:30 - 6:30

Saturday  11:00 - 6:00

Sunday & Monday  Closed

p: 919.484.POPS (7677)

a: 105 W. HWY 54 Ste 259

Give them a try and let me know what you think --Brandon


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