Stu Barnes Talks Real Estate

Welcome to my blog page.  Here I write about hot topics in the Real Estate market for Holly Springs, NC and surrounding areas.  I encourage comments and suggestions on what topics need to be discussed.  My client's and future client's opinions are very important and welcome.  

Jan. 5, 2018

Keeping Your Pipes From Freezing

Cold Weather Schmold Weather

When Mother Nature or Old Man Winter gets a ruffle in their feathers and decides to make it really cold....and I mean REALLY COLD, you have to take precautions.  The biggest one is getting your hind part inside the house...stay out of the elements...preferably with a beverage by the fire.  Even if you are not by the fire...with a beverage, you should be sure of another thing...make sure your heat works......but those are obvious right?  Your pipes from faucets are exposed to the elements even though they go down under your house.  When cold air hits them, if the air is cold enough, it could possibly freeze them....worst case they could bust.  So take a few minutes and read these five precautions to take so you don't get stuck being Harry the Homeowner and writing checks all Winter.


Drip Your Faucets

Go to your faucets and drip them just enough to where there is a drop of water every 10 seconds or doesn't have to be running on full speed or even very low speed...just enough to see drops moving out.  This slows the freezing process by have the water moving through the pipes.

Open Cabinet Doors

By opening your cabinet doors you are letting the conditioned (warm) air enter into the cabinets and warming the pipes.  This may not help the pipes in the walls, but it will keep water moving limit damage if they freeze.

Wrap Pipes

If you can tell the water is moving very slowly when you turn on the tap you can bet the water is well on the way of being frozen...kind of like your favorite slushy at the 7/ 2am.  By wrapping the pipes you can slow down the freezing process and possibly stop it cold in it's tracks:)). Warm wet towels should do the trick.


Go and borrow your Mom or sister's hairdryer if yours is in the shop.  If a pipe is frozen and you can somewhat get an idea of the frozen area of the pipe...turn old faithful on and start warming the will loosen the ice and lessen the chance of busting them.

Water Main Shut Off

Are your pipes already frozen?  Go ahead and shut off the water at the main water shut should be in a closet on the lowest floor of your castle...if you have a dungeon or a basement...that is your lowest should find it there.  Righty tighty lefty loosy....choose righty tighty.  This way no more water is entering the home to freeze if you have a melt and refreeze and you are not going to be home.



Feb. 23, 2017

7 Things to Know About Your House

Owning a home is a great investment.  Protecting your investment entails regular upkeep; similar to your right, exercise, and get enough sleep.  Taking care of your home not only means getting the HVAC serviced yearly or repairing normal wear and tear of items such as a roof or leaky toilets.  In order to property care for your home you must know the basics and where certain things are located.


In North Carolina most HVAC Systems (heating, ventilation and air condition) have air returns within the house where a pleated filter 'filters' the air moving within the home.  The air is pulled 'in' to the return and passes through the filter.  Typically you can find one on each floor, but sometimes there is more than one on each floor, depending on the size of the home.  It is recommended to change your filters once a month or no more than every 6 weeks.  Filters remove dust mites, hair, pollen, and many other particles floating through the air in your home that you would have never thought existed.

Electrical Panel

Every home that has electricity has an electrical panel or 'circuit box'.  Most of the time it is located in the garage, but sometimes you can find it on the outside of the home or possibly in the basement.  It is important that you know where it is in case you lose power and have to 'reset' a fuse or if you are replacing a switch or lighting fixture.  If you are like me, hire an electrician for electrical work....electricity is tricky and very dangerous if you are unaware of how it works.

Water Main

Know where your water main shut off valve is located.  This is very important because if you ever have an overflowing toilet or any other active leaks you can completely shut off the water just by turning a valve.  Most of the time this valve is located in a closet on the lowest level in the home...typically the first floor of most homes in the pantry or coat closet.  It is recommended to turn the main 'off' if you are going on vacation or leaving the home for several days.  If the water line breaks behind the washing will be a mess.

Type of Heat

Do you have a heat pump or a furnace?  In general, in most metro areas you will have natural gas which means you will have a furnace.  If you live outside of the city limits and there is no natural gas available you will have electric heat, which a heat pump is utilized.  This is important to know if you are looking to replace a unit or from a safety perspective if you have buried gas lines in your yard.

Sump Pump

Do you have a sump pump?  If you have a basement where there is a history of water entering the home or if your crawl space has an area where water accumulates; it is recommended to have a sump pump installed.  A sump pump is simply a bucket and is buried a few feet under ground level where water is accumulating.  When the bucket fills up, the pumps push the water out of the home through a water line directed away from the dwelling.  It sounds complicated, but sump pumps are not that expensive, but depending on the location of where it is installed, the labor could add up.

Irrigation Lines

If you have an irrigation system then you obviously have sprinkler heads located in your yard as well as water lines.  It is important to know the location of the sprinkler heads and water lines if you are going to be digging in the yard for any reason.  If you aerate your yard in the spring, you would want to mark the sprinkler heads so the aerator does not run over them.

Call Before You Dig!

I have mentioned irrigation lines, gas lines and water lines.  There are also electrical lines and other cables/internet lines buried in your yard.  If you are going to be digging in any part of your yard it is prudent to call the underground utility authority in your area to make sure you do not dig into any active lines.  It is typically free to have someone come out and locate the phone/electric lines.  In North Carolina you can call '811' to have this service performed.  Here is a link to their site as well.


I hope this helps.  Please contact me if you or anyone you know needs any Real Estate advice.  




Jan. 23, 2017

Housing Statistics in the Raleigh, NC Market

As many of you know, the real estate market has been on fire for the past few years.  This is obviously well received by most REALTORS®, but there are also many challenges that come along on the ride.  The biggest is inventory.  When inventory is low it turns the market into a seller's market, typically meaning there is less than 4 months of inventory currently on the market.  This results in multiple offers, offers over asking price and a very stressful time for all involved.  My biggest challenge of 2016 was having first time buyers in the $180K-$250K range getting in bidding wars.  My average client wrote about 3 offers until we finally won a bid.  This wasn't always the case though.  Different towns, different price ranges and condition of properties all had a say in the numbers.

The MLS is the service agents use to access the "Brain" of the housing market.  Not only are we able to get the true numbers from past sales and concessions, we also have the ability to access other statistics such as days on the market, average home price, median home name it.  There are other sites you can go to in order to access, but they all feed from the MLS; true data.  (Zillow pulls most of it's information from tax records). CSS (centralized showing service) is the company the Triangle MLS uses to schedule appointments.  The statistics provided by CSS helps us understand the number of showings a property has had, though confidential, it does provide zip codes and price ranges to break down the numbers.  In other words, you cannot see how many showings a listing has had unless you are the agent or the owner, but overall it tracks all the data and packs it into areas, age or zip codes so you can see the trends.

The video below is provided by our local REALTOR® association.  It is an informational video giving the market outlook for the year 2016 for the Raleigh area real estate market.  As you know real estate is local, so a lot of the numbers you will see are across the board and could be different if you just broke it down to Holly Springs.  A good example is in the video it is stated that the "sweet spot", the majority of demand, is for houses in the $150K-$200K range.  In Holly Springs there are very few houses in that price range so the stats are skewed.  But in general, it is a very informative video.  Some of the talking points are *closed sales in 2016 were up 5% over 2015, even with a lack of inventory; *the market actually peaks in March, not June/July like many think; 66% of resales sold within 30 days on the market.  These are just a few, but the video itself includes many numbers in which will likely be interesting to you.  


One very interesting piece of information for my fellow Holly Springs residents is the appreciation rate for the zip code 27540.  According to Zillow, home values have gone up 6.1% in 2016 and are projected to appreciate an additional 3.7% in 2017.  Here is the link to view the information.  

As always, please let me know if I can help you, a friend, family member or coworker.  

Sept. 23, 2016

Why You Should Sign Up With a Local Real Estate Website

If you have ever bought or sold a home you more than likely started the process online, whether is was looking for a local REALTOR® or searching in a particular part of town for a particular house with the criteria that meets your needs.  There are a lot of choices out there as far as Real Estate Search Sites go, but most people have heard of the big ones which will remain nameless on this post.

What a lot of people don't know is these big sites take the feed from an individual agent's MLS to show up on their site, then in return, they sell advertising space beside that agent's listing "to other agents".  What happens when the consumer wants information about that particular listing?  The big sites give them "your" information and before you know it you have 3 or more agents calling you trying to get your business.  I wouldn't think there is anything illegal about this, but at minimum it is misleading to the public; not to mention a lot of these sites have houses on there that "look" like they are for sale, but they actually sold months, if not years before.

My recommendation is to find a local REALTOR® that you like and trust and stick with them, have them set up searches for you on their own site which is coming straight from their local MLS.  This is true information and not just taken from tax records.  My site, just like many agent's sites out there, now require you to sign in to be able to view homes. Some people may find this annoying, but truth be told, it benefits you more than you would think.  If you are a serious buyer or seller you should not mind giving your name and contact information in order to access a reliable site.  Here are a few reasons you should not hesitate signing up and creating an account.

  • You have your own search site with total control over the criteria you choose.
  • You can decide how often you receive alerts.
  • You have one REALTOR® with your contact information, not multiple agents calling you.
  • You now have someone in your corner looking out for your best interests.
  • You can access a website that not only has accurate information, but is updated daily and has multiple search tools and state of the art technology making it easy to use on a desktop, laptop or device.

Notice there are a lot of "You(s)" in the reasons above.  That is because it is about "you", not the big real estate sites advertising profits.  

Please take a few minutes to look over my website and feel free to contact me at your convenience.