Urban Durham Realty Invites You to Thirst4Architecture Happy Hour

Interested in Modernist homes, great architecture, and good beer?

Then, c'mon out! This Thursday, 10/27 from 6-8 pm, Urban Durham Realty is partnering with Triangle Modernist Houses and Preservation Durham to host the final Thirst4Architecture happy hour at Fullsteam Brewery.

There are no presentations - Thirst4Architecture is an informal happy hour with the purpose of generating passion about good design & making connections. Come and join us for a chance to meet and mingle with like-minded architecture lovers! The event is free & open to the public, cash bar.

Hope to see you there!

Bull City Chickens

By: Mariana Byrd

Bull City Chickens is a website solely dedicated guessed it...chickens in Durham! I thought this topic very appropriate to blog about since the chicken is the unofficial mascot of Urban Durham Realty (just take a look at the “chicken chase” we have in our houses for sale).

This month alone, Bull City Chickens is involved in three different, yet related, events:

1. Eggalicious “local chickens, local eggs, local restaurants”. Through October 22, 2011 participating local restaurants will feature a dish using local eggs. Yum!

2. Bull City Coop Tour - First annual self guided tour through some wonderful residential chicken coops takes place on Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 9:30-3:30pm. Maps available at the Durham Farmer’s Market and Bull City Burgers & Brewery. 

3. Chickenstock - Free festival that brings the community together to learn about urban chicken raising and sustainable living. Festival takes place right after the Bull City Coop Tour this Saturday, October 22nd from 4-7pm at Bull City Burgers & Brew. Live music!

What a great way to support the local economy, eat some delicious food, and get some great ideas from your neighbors. This is what Durham is all about!

While you’re at it, you can take Jessica’s advice from last week’s blog and have some fresh local eggs for potential buyers next time you sell your home!


It's the little touches

By Jessica Slice-Sadler

It may be the economy or advice from HGTV, but for whatever reason I've been noticing that sellers are presenting their homes in a more welcoming fashion. From coffee to cookies to little notes, sellers seem to be welcoming potential buyers and the new owners into their homes.

Examples include a fresh fruit, scone and coffee spread at an inspection. Sweet notes on chalkboards, letters to the buyers in the home. One home I showed during a cold time of year always had fresh-brewed coffee and cookies waiting for us. While I don't know that a bad house will sell because of chocolate chip cookies, I know they can help buyers have a positive association with a house that is already a possibility.

Showing your house is hard and the pressure to entertain for every showing is overwhelming but there are a few ideas that may make the difference in a sale. Or, at the very least, help foster a positive interaction between buyers and sellers.

1. Leave shoe covers or slippers if asking buyers to remove shoes.
2. Turn thermostat to a comfortable temperature for showings.
3. Leave some sort of treat such as cookies, granola bars, or chocolate.
4. Bottled water is a great touch.
5. Leave some sort of note welcoming buyers to your home.

If you don't have the time to take the above suggestions, Urban Durham will help you make your home a more welcoming place. For every listing we hide a ceramic chicken somewhere in the house. If found, the buyers receive a gift certificate to a local restaurant. We also leave little snack packs in the house with popcorn, granola bars, or chocolate. We hope these little touches make viewing our listings a positive experience.

Whatever you do try to make your message: Welcome Home.

Reliable Cheese, Reliably Good

By Courtney James

I consider it a very important part of my job to experience all the new establishments that Durham has to offer (especially the eating establishments). I am often in the position of being in front of people new to the area, and it’s important that I give them good advice on where to eat. Okay. Did that convince you? While this is all very true, I have a feeling that my habits would not change if I weren’t in this position. In any case, to reinforce this practice at work, we have implemented a monthly team building event where we, as a group, attend a local restaurant or other venue to enlighten ourselves on what Durham has to offer. In the past we have taken a walk on the Tobacco Trail after hitting Scratch, eaten sandwiches from Old Havana Sandwich Shop while playing boardgames at Fullsteam, and eaten lunch at Geer Street Garden. And this was all for the sake of our education.

This past month, we visited Reliable Cheese Co.. I have been very excited about this cheese shop opening in downtown Durham, but sadly had never made it there until last month. If this is any indication how much I enjoyed it, I’ve been there twice since our class. The owner, Patrick Coleff, taught us more about cheese than I think any of us thought we would learn. We had a phenomenal tasting as part of the class, which helped to power us through the intense instruction. If you have not had a chance to make it to this fabulous store, don’t wait any longer.

The Pinhook: one of my favorite Durham hangouts

by Mary Hartzell

The Pinhook is one of my favorite spots in Durham. Located at 117 Main Street in downtown Durham, it’s a great venue to see live music, play trivia, sing karaoke and dance. Opened by a couple of local musicians who wanted a place to perform with their friends, it has turned in to the best place to go for fun on any given night. The bartenders are friendly and generous and the back patio has a great view of downtown. Plus there’s a pool table and elegantly trashy chairs and sofas for socializing if you don’t want to dance or watch the show. The Pinhook also has its own variety of original artwork, mostly incorporated into the décor. It hosts a rowdy square dance with caller about once a month and frequently has impromptu dance parties after a live show. Karaoke on Friday nights is facilitated by emcees that are actually fun and will leave you hoarse from singing along.
The Pinhook plans parties around local events and this past Friday night was the dance party for NC Pride 2011. We had a blast. We didn’t leave the dance floor for 3 ½ hours; we danced together, alone and with myriad strangers. The DJ was fantastic and all of the people we dragged up onto the stage seemed to be having a good time. The place was just crowded enough to get sweaty and sweated on but did not feel so packed that you wanted to leave.
The Pinhook has established itself as the place to go for an interesting night out. Next time you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to do, check it out. It’s not your average bar and it’s not just for drinking. All types of people go there and that’s a good thing- leave your expectations at the door and I bet you’ll have a great time.

What's in a blog?

Today is my day to write the blog for Urban Durham Realty. What should I write about? What is really in a blog? These are the thoughts running through my head as I try to meet my deadline. A blog tries to put out there those things we feel would be useful to share with the world and those that find us interesting. Over the past few months, the agents have written many useful entries to help you navigate the real estate world as well as communicate events happening in Durham. In case you weren't paying attention over the past year, take a look at our archives for many interesting reads. Pick a month and take a peek on the right hand side of the page!

by Page Page

9/11 In Durham, North Carolina

By: Mary Rae Hunter
For most of us, we remember where we were not only on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, but over the following days as we watched video footage or news broadcasts, read blogs and wrote emails, and otherwise tried to wrap our minds around the horrible events. On Sunday's anniversary of the 9/11 Twin World Trade Center Towers collapse, I watched and listened to the stories of surviving family members. On the one hand, I was deeply saddened by the havoc the terrorism caused for surviving family members; on the other, I was simultaneously amazed at how it touched the best impulses in Americans to come to the aid of fellow citizens. One such example came from the then president-elect of the National Association of Realtors ("NAR"), Martin Edwards.

Edwards, then living in Memphis, Tennessee, had a daughter living in New York. A speech he was about to deliver in Alabama was interrupted with the news of the 9/11 attacks. He Immediately called his daughter to make certain of her safety (she was fine). He then got on the phone with the departing NAR president, Richard Mendenhall, and the two of them put together The Realtors Housing Relief Fund with an immediate donation of $1 Million within 24 hours of the 9/11 horror. Within 3 brief months of 9/11, the fund had paid out $8.5 Million in assistance to 1,333 surviving 9/11 families.

Following 9/11, the Realtors Housing Relief Fund became an ongoing project. It changed its name to the Realtors Relief Foundation and has contributed $22 Million in assistance to families suffering losses to natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina, or from wildfires, floods, tsuamis or other events.

9/11 was a significantly large and unforgettable event for everyone. For many, it has been a defining event simply because of its scope. For me, I believe that it is a sense of humanity and community, one which translates at the local level where a multitude of good works occurs everyday. One of the reasons I decided to work at Urban Durham Realty is this sincere appreciation for those with a mission to help others. For instance, a founding principle at Urban Durham Realty is to give a percentage of every real estate transaction to a local, community charity, one that is selected and favored by our clients. Although we are not dealing with national tragedies on the scale of 9/11, we too have made it our mission to assist with troubles or difficulties that exist in and are experienced by our own community members.

On a local basis, 9/11 serves to remind me of the importance of the local problems that our community--our colleagues, neighbors, friends and family--is committed to improving. I am humbled on a daily basis at those who dedicate their time and resources to local projects that go to improve Durham lives and community. I am likewise proud to be associated with an ever expanding list of charities introduced to me by my clients. I welcome you to stop in to see the posting of local charities that Urban Durham Realty has gotten to know and support the next time you visit the Farmer's Market or eat at a favorite restaurant. Perhaps you can offer the name of a local charity whose work and mission you support. There is room for many more special causes.


by Ashley St. Clair

Been dreaming of raising backyard chickens and fryin' up their eggs for breakfast? Or starting an urban farm revolution? Then head out on Sept. 17 & 18 to this year's Eastern Triangle Farm Tour and learn how to make it happen. With 25 farms on the map (including 5 new ones), the 6th annual tour is slated to be the biggest and best yet.

The tour is self-guided and runs from 1-5 pm both days. Help support Carolina Farm Stewardship Association - you can get your farm on & buy fresh goodies for sale along the way.

Check out The Eastern Triangle Farm Tour site to buy tix, sign up to volunteer, and learn more about participating farms and tour tips. Make the most of your weekend by supporting and expanding local ag!

Welcome Back to School

by Lou Perron

Traditional schedule public schools in North Carolina started back up on August 25, as mandated by the NC legislature. This shift is always challenging for both students and their families.
With the state budget being slashed, public schools are in a budget crisis. More than ever, help from parents, guardians, grandparents, etc. is important. You don’t even have to have a child in the school to help.
Several of my neighbors coordinate the backpack program at E. K. Powe. This program sends needy kids home on weekends with a backpack of nutritious food. Other neighbors donate food.  Retired members of the community volunteer in many schools reading to younger kids.

Your money can help too. You can help fund a classroom project through Teachers often spend their own money to provide supplies for classroom projects or to purchase items that the school can’t afford to buy. DonorsChoose matches donors with teachers who have posted a request for a particular item. My own kids’ teachers have been fortunate to have donors purchase a picnic table, an LCD projector, and musical instruments, to name a few. Donors Choose is a great way for members of the community who don’t have kids in school to find worthy projects to fund. Through this nonprofit organization you can make a donation and help fund a specific project at your school or a school throughout the U.S. Check out the website at:

Crayons2Calculators was started by local college students to support public school teachers by providing supplies for the classroom. They gather school supplies and periodically select schools/teachers to come to their site to choose items that they need for their classes. Teachers are invited to come and shop in the warehouse for free. They feel like they’ve won the lottery. Thousands of dollars of goods are given away in needed supplies. This is an organization that makes teachers really feel appreciated. You can support them through

Affinity cards: A simple way you can give to your neighborhood school is by linking your shopper's cards to your school. A number of stores offer them, especially the supermarkets. Every time you shop, points or money will be added to your school fund. The points can be redeemed for needed supplies or a check will be issued to the school. Harris Teeter, Kroger, Food Lion and Target all offer this type of program. You just go online or into the store to link your card to your school. You don’t have to be a parent or connected with the school to have your purchases contribute.

Many restaurants offer a portion of proceeds on a particular day to a designated school. Sometimes you have to let the restaurant know you’re supporting the school. Others give a percentage of all sales. You just need to show up and eat. Elmo’s on 9th Street provides an easy way to support local schools. On the first Tuesday of each month, they donate 10 percent of the day’s receipts to a different school.

Support your local school by joining the PTA. They are always in need of your help. Even just aiding in setting up or cleaning up after an event means that the work is shared outside of a small group of committed officers. They provide a conduit for communication between parents and the school as well as a source of money through the fundraisers they organize.

And last but not least,
Tell a teacher you appreciate him or her. In a world where teacher’s get plenty of criticism, this will be gratefully received!

US Debt & Interest Rates

by Mariana Byrd

Before the United States government came to an agreement on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, there was speculation that if the government defaulted on their loans that mortgage interest rates would rise. Last week the government agreed on a US debt deal compromise in which the debt ceiling was raised and thus the government did not default on their loans.

A few days after the debt deal compromise the US Debt rating was downgraded from a AAA rating to a AA+ rating on Friday. This downgrade wreaked havoc on Wall Street for the past few days with steep drops in the Dow Jones industrial average (this Monday alone it lost 635 points). As of this morning, the selloff of stocks that took place has seemed to ease off as indexes gained about 1% in the United States.

Due to the past events of the last week, there has been quite a bit of speculation on the US economy as whole and it’s recovery. The federal reserve, at this point, may not be able to do much more but it can keep interest rates low.

One of the bright spots this past week was that mortgage interest rates actually declined further which is great for home buyers and sellers. An “A+” buyer could get a conventional 30 year fixed rate of 4.0%. In some cases, much lower for an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). All in all, a huge boost for current buyers as well as buyers that were just thinking about buying a home. Of course, also very helpful for sellers as this may bring more buyers to the market and to their home.


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