Lenoir, North Carolina

Lenoir, NCThe town of Lenoir is probably best known for its small town charm. Although small town living isn’t for everyone, its ideal location could convince one to try. Nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain range, the town is surrounded by breathtaking views and enjoys an enviable climate. Residents like the fact that Lenoir experiences all four seasons, with relatively mild winters and pleasant summer temperatures.

Those who love the outdoors will find the endless outdoor opportunities irresistible. Just 20 minutes north of Lenoir, the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway snakes around mountain curves leading adventure-seekers to an array of recreational activities such as camping, canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, picnicking and more. Hunting, fishing, equestrian and golf are also among the popular activities pursued by residents. Numerous recreational parks offer more than 20 walkways and trails. For those who want to dip their toes into the warm coastal sand, Carolina beaches can be found only five hours away.

“Lenoir’s location puts it in close proximity to the state capital, Raleigh, and other exciting cities such as Charlotte, Asheville and Winston-Salem.”

Visitors will enjoy shopping in Lenoir’s historic downtown district where a diverse collection of shops offers antiques, collectibles, hand-crafted gifts and more. A variety of dining options are available to refresh tired shoppers.

Lenoir offers numerous living options for residents such as on a lakeside, in a valley, on or near one of the excellent golf courses or on the sides of the mountains. But even more important than location, the people of Lenoir take great pride in their town and its history and are proud to boast of receiving a 2008 All-American City Award. Other important factors that make Lenoir a great place to live include strong support of education and excellent health care.

Lenoir’s location puts it in close proximity to the state capital, Raleigh, and other exciting cities such as Charlotte, Asheville and Winston-Salem.

Maggie Valley, North Carolina

Maggie Valley, NCGet to know Maggie and you may never want to leave the lush valley situated in the North Carolina mountains.

During the latter part of the 19th century, this Smoky Mountain settlement had grown large enough to require its own post office. The gentleman who had handled the mail submitted several likely names for the town, including those of his three daughters. The U.S. Postmaster chose Maggie and the blond, blue-eyed 14-year-old was forever immortalized. Maggie, it is told, was quite embarrassed and moved away shortly after marrying at the age of 17 but came back to her namesake town often.

“During milder weather, hiking the local mountain trails will take you to breathtaking views but when the snow starts falling, the skiers take to the downhill runs at the Cataloochee Ranch Area… Warmer weather invites whitewater rafting and foursomes on the local golf courses”

And visiting Maggie Valley is much like returning to the home of a good friend. The town prides itself on Southern hospitality and it is evident at every turn. Rustic motels and condos abound but to truly experience the magic of Maggie, a mountain cabin - preferably next to a babbling brook - is the order the day. Cool breezes encourage a hearty breakfast and you’ll need it to fuel yourself for a fun-packed day.

During milder weather, hiking the local mountain trails will take you to breathtaking views but when the snow starts falling, the skiers take to the downhill runs at the Cataloochee Ranch Area. Both young and young-at-heart will enjoy the newly re-opened western-themed Ghost Town in the Sky, reachable by a chair lift offering panoramic scenery. Warmer weather invites whitewater rafting and foursomes on the local golf courses.

Pilot Mountain, North Carolina

Pilot MountainViewers of the 60s sitcom Mayberry RFD often heard references to nearby Mount Pilot. This fictional place was based on the town of Pilot Mountain, which is near Mount Airy in the North Carolina mountains.

Both a town and a state park, Pilot Mountain, known familiarly as “Pilot,” has been settled for more than 200 years. The first residents arrived about 1761 and some of the earlier town names are quite descriptive. They include Hollows, Hog Wallow, Tom’s Creek and Pilotville.

Prosperity arrived in Pilot Mountain in 1880, along with the railroad. Depot Street was not only the main street, it also served as the center for activity. The first school was established shortly followed by Trinity Academy, a branch of Duke University, which enticed newcomers to town. Many of them stayed and opened new businesses as the town continued to grow.

Life was not always idyllic, however. Two fires, in 1899 and 1919, destroyed more than a few of the homes and businesses, but the plucky citizens rebuilt each time.

Perhaps the most imposing place is Pilot Mountain itself, which became a part of the North Carolina Park System in 1968. An exceptional combination of geological and botanical attributes makes the mountain particularly interesting. A quartzite monadnock, the mountain formed a billion years ago at a time when this area was a beach.

Early Indians referred to the mountain as Jomeokee, a word that means pilot. Through the years, many have used this landmark as a guide. Today, the mountain and state park draw hikers and others who enjoy the mountain breezes and the great outdoors. Main Street is still the place to hang out and enjoy life in a small Carolina town. And when you need a bit more excitement, why, Mount Airy is just down the road.

Realtor Designation: What Does “SRES” Mean?

read about the SRES designation and what it means to SeniorsThe National Association of Realtors (NAR) added the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) to its curriculum in March 2007, a decade after the program was established by the Senior Advantage Real Estate Council.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) added the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) to its curriculum in March 2007, a decade after the program was established by the Senior Advantage Real Estate Council.

According to SeniorsRealEstate.com, Seniors Real Estate Specialists have completed the following courses designed to help them help their clients navigate the precarious and ever-changing senior real estate market: distinguishing characteristics and trends related to the 55+ population; housing, finance and retirement income considerations of these consumers; outreach methods for building 55 and older clientele; and counseling strategies to help clients and customers plan ahead for life transitions.

Candace McGranahan, a consultant who serves the SRES Council and former manager of Program Development for SRES, says realtors who complete the course learn to transition from being a salesperson to becoming an advisor.

“SRES realtors are aware that most older consumers have needs other than the biggest decision of buying and selling,” she says. “An SRES realtor is not the final word, but they can provide many options for their clients.”

In choosing the options that fit them best, seniors must consider the type of housing they require, as well as financing, moving and possibly renovating. In addition to the traditional options, housing choices range from age-restricted communities to age-in-place developments for those who want to remain independent and in familiar surroundings to assisted living.

“Black points out that an SRES agent is trained to work with clients or adult children who are acting on their parents’ behalf.”

Financing also is a vitally important consideration for seniors. Many baby boomers have pensions, 401(k) accounts and IRAs they can use to buy real estate, but they also must take into consideration how their real estate decisions will affect their Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits. McGranahan explains that an SRES realtor is trained to help clients based on their individual financial situation. They also are able to recognize and protect their clients from shady mortgage and loan schemes that target older buyers.

“Those who fall victim to these scams are usually your nearest and dearest,” says McGranahan, who has come across many examples in her real estate career.

She believes the personal approach used by SRES designees makes them an important asset to older buyers. Empathy is a crucial element for Kathy Slade, a realtor with RE/MAX Great Atlanta in Georgia.

“There are a lot of challenges with the age group,” she explains. “I always think about my parents. My father is 90 and my mother is 84. I can’t help but wonder if my parents will be treated like I treat my clients.”

“Anyone who has the SRES designation got it because they understand, not because they want more business,” she is quick to point out.

Moving, especially to an unfamiliar place, can be overwhelming for senior citizens. Bill Black of RE/MAX Realty Team in Cape Coral, Florida, explains that an SRES designee is trained to handle the slower pace.

“Seniors often take months to make the smallest decision,” Black says. “We have a network in place to help list a home and deal with the possible neglect their current home has suffered.”

Black points out that an SRES agent is trained to work with clients or adult children who are acting on their parents’ behalf.

“An SRES designee is not always out to buy or sell but to help the individual the best he can,” Black says. Realtors who have earned the SRES designation serve a wide range of clients.

“The senior market does not always mean wheelchairs and nursing homes,” says Rosemary Maguire of Keller Williams Realty in Kernersville, North Carolina, in the Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point area. “People between the ages of 55 to 75 are active, creative and taking on second jobs. It is an exciting time in life where people are doing what they’ve always wanted to do.”

Allen LaCoe of the LaCoe Team and Dunes Marketing Group on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, concurs, pointing out that SRES designees are trained not to rush the process of moving.

“An SRES realtor is someone you entrust with the care of your family,” he says, pointing out that the children or guardian are not always available for the entire real estate transaction process.

“I enjoy helping families make these difficult decisions,” LaCoe adds, explaining that he and his fellow SRES agents “are specialists and our training has provided us with the necessary tools and access to the information needed to assist families with any questions or concerns.”

Possibly most important, SRES agents recognize that no two senior citizens are exactly alike, that someone who wants a retirement home in a golfing community has different needs than someone moving to an assisted-living location.

“Real estate has changed,” Maguire says. “We used to be generalists, but now we all have become specialists.”

Of the 90 million Americans over the age of 50, more than half are potential real estate consumers. Those who are seeking a knowledgeable, educated and experienced advisor can visit the Senior Real Estate Council Web site to find an SRES agent in their area.