Yes, that’s right, you can bike or bus to Duke from 710 C Constitution Drive Durham, NC 27705. Offered at $175,000 this 2100 square foot townhouse styled condominium brings a whole host of value added features to the table.  Some of those features are:

  • A wall of glass with wooded views
  • Four bedrooms one on the main level.  This main level space is very flexible.
  • An open and flowing floor plan perfect for entertaining,
  • An amazing amount of closet space
  • Two and a half baths
  • Fresh paint through out
  • New range
  • Newer 15 Seer heat pump
  • Dramatic vaulted ceilings
  • A large community club house which can be used for entertaining. There is a full kitchen
  • A beautiful community in ground pool
  • Tennis courts
  • The location, 5 minutes from Duke and the VA, 15 from RTP, 10 to Downtown Durham
  • Ample deck space
  • A peaceful yet convenient location

Interested in learning more?  Seeing more photos?  Visit our web site at TeamMichaelSullivan.com or call us 919-493-7633

Beware of the HOA

Ok, so I’ll admit it, my relationship with the animal that is the HOA management company is a bit of Jekyll and Hyde or love at times and dislike immensely at other times. I understand that the role of the HOA is to step in where government can’t get the job done, but of late I’ve seen a whole lot of abuse.

Most management companies charge buyers a fee at settlement so that the management company can update their records with the new name, address, telephone number and email of the buyer purchasing the property.  I think all of this is important information to have on hand when managing a community. The fees charged range from $45 to $200.  In my opinion anything over $50 is outrageous and gouging. Especially since many HOA management companies never really get around to actually updating the information. This leaves me questioning; exactly what is it that the HOA management companies are charging for?  I think that if buyer information isn’t being updated that’s tantamount to theft or willful negligence.

There is an association here in Durham that rigorously enforces that trash cans be removed from curbside the day of collection.  That’s fair and right; what isn’t fair and what isn’t right is that this particular HOA management company has Durham Neighborhood Services; a city department funded by taxpayers, come onto private property and drive the neighborhood’s private streets and tag unit owners and tenants who neglect to bring their cans in by sundown on the day of collection. If its private property the city has no business enforcing HOA rules; the duly paid property manager needs to do their job and get out there and can patrol for trash cans.  I did manage to set the city enforcer right on this one with a digital photograph of the “private road” sign after he insisted to me that he would never venture onto private property to enforce city code.

Finally, there is the strong hand weak hand paradigm which I see as pervasive in associations and their management companies. In my neighborhood typically parking infractions bring down an iron fisted strong hand on the transgressor. However, leave your trash cans out at the curb 365 days a year and you are treated with a feather light weak hand. Replace doors with permission but wait a brief time to paint them; hard handed chastisement; yet replace a front door with a non-conforming door, neglect to get permission; stall and delay in finally getting permission; refuse to remove the non-compliant door; weak hand so much so that years later the offending door is still up and no one is doing anything about it.

So what’s the solution for those buying real estate in communities with an HOA and HOA management company? Educate yourself; know that if an association was formed decades ago that the covenants and rules of governance might be weak, outdated and inadequate. Like anything else, time has a way of healing and adapting to deficiencies. Read the neighborhood covenants and rules and review the manager’s contract. If time permits, attend a board meeting or review meeting minutes before buying. Drive the neighborhood at different days and different times; observe lawns, gardens, garbage cans, parking and what you observe happening day to day. Once you buy, send your information to the community manager and insist that they acknowledge that your information has been updated; failing to do so may cost you thousands of dollars. Lastly, once you close on your property, get involved with the board of directors, know your stuff and don’t be afraid to be a squeaky wheel. Many boards and managers are acutely aware that their residents are complacent and operate from that premise.


Some market savvy and very loyal former clients of mine have decided to pursue the notion of investing in real estate. The return on investment can be lucrative. It can also be a harrowing experience depending on what type of property is being purchased.  Such is the case with bank owner properties.

My clients, who I consider friends, and I looked at several homes and they decided on a newer bank owned property.  I phoned the listing agent prior to making an offer and inquired about the banks policies for offering and any additional addenda that the bank might require. Each bank is different and they all make up their own rules and they typically have oodles of addenda. The listing agent informed me that we should just offer on the standard North Carolina offer to purchase and that once we’d come to a meeting of the minds; he’d provide the banks various addenda.  I wasn’t pleased and told him so, I wanted to read the banks addenda prior to offering so that I could be prepared for pitfalls, landmines and expectations. We moved forward as the listing agent had encouraged and offered on the property.

Quickly and without too much pain or delay we came to a verbal meeting of the minds and the banks addenda were forwarded to us. Wow! In a nutshell the bank essentially said; buy the property as is, fine; buy the property and we hold your earnest money, not so fine; buy the property and close on time or we’ll charge you $100 per day for each day you delay, not fine; buy the property and if there are any pending assessments, we prorate them, also way not fine, generally in North Carolina if you own it when it’s assessed then you own the assessment. The bank essentially gutted any rights that a buyer of real estate has in North Carolina under our due diligence offer to purchase and contract. So, the buyers after much discussion and deliberation and numerous phone calls to the listed properties H.O.A. whereby I attempted to discover if there were any assessments; withdrew their offer.  By the way; the H.O.A. manager has yet to respond to my numerous messages and emails, now five days out. This will be the topic of my next posting.

The buyers never went to ratified contract; which is when all parties have signed and initialed any changes made to the offer. Yet the listing agent requested that we sign a termination of contract as a courtesy to his client, the bank. Huh?  The bank and the listing agent didn’t have the courtesy to provide requested information to us prior to offer and we never had a ratified contract so what exactly was being terminated?  We had already withdrawn our offer in writing. I think based on what I’ve seen in Triangle Multiple Listing; the listing agent gets a whole bunch of listings from this particular bank and he doesn’t have the gumption to say to his client; we need to disclose to buyers what our addenda are before we start negotiating. He also operated repeatedly from a position of just do it our way and it will be ok. Um, no, NOT OK!


Here’s a February 2014 vs. February 2015 market breakdown for the Research Triangle Park Region of North Carolina:


1735 closed sales, 81 average days on market, $232,403 average list price, $226,310 average sale price, 8390 active residential listings


1753 closed sales, 78 average days on market, $242,381 average list price, $236,885 average sale price, 8760 active residential listings

The numbers show marked appreciation in value. If you’re interested in learning about the value of your property, please email or phone; we’re always happy to perform a market analysis.

If you know someone who’s thinking about buying, selling or leasing real estate, please refer them to me.

After twenty two years of selling homes you’d think that I’d seen it all.  Maybe? Close?  I don’t know. I am still amazed at what happens.

In spite of the fact that as both a buyer’s agent and listing agent I endeavor to impart clear expectations to buyers, buyer’s agents and home owners; sometimes I’m just plain surprised by what happens or doesn’t happen when a property is shown.  So, I’ll attempt to impart some wisdom here in this forum.

To home buyers here are some common sense do’s when viewing another person’s home. Keep your children under control if they’re looking at homes with you. It is not acceptable for young children to flop on furniture, this includes beds. Please prevent your children from opening cupboards, refrigerators, playing with toys, hiding in closets and under beds or turning on electronic devises.  This would also include “disco lighting” he house by rapidly turning off and on lights.  It is also very bad form to allow anyone in your party to bring food, drinks and snacks into a property being viewed.  This would include you. Please leave pets alone too, many pets bite or scratch when faced with strangers.   Finally, don’t use the bathroom; I know that this is a tough one given the excitement of viewing homes but it is just bad manners to use the loo without permission.

Agents working with buyers and showing them homes should be in tune to what their clients are doing and should know their stuff. Get your chin up out of the MLS data or off your tablet and use memory and top of mind techniques to tell the buyer about the property. Start your showings by removing your shoes, if you model this behavior your buyers will follow suit. Make sure all doors are locked when you’re finished showing and LEAVE THE HOME EXACTLY AS YOU FOUND IT. If lights were on, leave them on, if off then turn them back off. Educate your clients about acceptable behaviors and be aware that many owners use recording devices to review what’s happening in their home whilst they’re away.  Finally a good buyer’s agent should provide brief and impersonal feedback after showings. I find that a simple statement telling whether the buyer is interested or not will suffice. Good listing agents really don’t want to read nitpicky personally motivated mess about what you think and especially what you can’t qualify with data.

Home sellers should ensure that valuables are tucked away and out of site. Horizontal surfaces, closets and cupboards should be clutter free and the home in general should be well organized.  Even the brightest of homes should burn lights like a commercial for Duke Energy. Heating and air conditioning should be set at comfortable levels and the water should be on, just in case someone uses the loo, even though they shouldn’t.  Owners should also freely share any transgressions as outlined previously in this post along with anything else that’s amiss with their listing agent.

Yes, I’ve seen a lot; buyers attempting to change a diaper on a dining room table, children hiding under beds, home owners hiding under beds and in closets, folks showing up to view a home with an open cup of coffee and lots of muddy shoes. I’ve been bitten by a cat, chased by a Doberman pincer, terrified by a snake inside a home on a stair step and walked in on folks behaving intimately even though I had a confirmed appointment. Some good common sense can make the home buying and selling experience a happy one.  Interested in buying or selling a home?  Call or email me.

And we’re off, here’s a look at how January 2015 shaped up in the Triangle.

By the numbers  January 2014 vs. January 2015

January 2014

1747 total sales

77 average days on market

$248,206 average list price and $241,222 average home sale price

January 2015

1647 total sales

74 average days on market

$238,660 average list price and $278,995 average home sale price

( I have NEVER seen this before, a $40,000 differential between list and sale price where the sale price is the higher average.  This tells me one of two things; there is something amiss in the data at Triangle Multiple Listing  or a whole lot of lower priced properties came onto the market and sold and a whole bunch of luxury/executive homes priced at $500,000+ also sold.  My inclination is to go with the second scenario.)

If we don’t have your email and we’d like to keep in touch with you. I promise not to spam your mailbox! Could you email us at Michael@TeamMichaelSullivan.com so that we can update your contact information. Let us know of any life changes too.

If you’ve been waiting for the market to rebound to sell? Now might be the time.  Call me or email me. I’d be delighted to meet, generate a competitive market analysis and help you weigh your options.

Day to day I’m out showing and there isn’t much to show!  Add to that the stress of having to deal with REALTOR/Agents who don’t enter complete data into multiple listing; such as room dimensions or incorrect tax data and boy is it a struggle.

My promise to you…my team and I will take the time to properly represent your home in our marketing.  This includes but is not limited to entering proper tax, home owner association and directions to your home, (we know our right from our left.) We will go above and beyond and enter room sizes (not required) and the floor where rooms reside.  This is VERY important to  buyer clients; some folks need bedrooms, bathrooms and living space on specific floors.  Why not make their life easier and their agent’s life easier and supply complete, correct information?  We promise to do so with each and every listing.

So here’s some current market data….

The real estate market here in the Triangle heated up in 2014…

By the numbers 2014 vs. 2013


30,886 total sales

69 average days on market

$250,051 average list price and $244,892 average home sale price


29,545 total sales

72 average days on market

$242,554 average list price and $236,662 average home sale price

If you’ve been waiting for the market to rebound to sell, now might be the time.  Call me or email me. I’d be delighted to meet, generate a competitive market analysis and help you weigh your options.


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