January 2012

Urban Durham Realty Hearts Local Charities


by Ashley St.Clair


We are equally invested in the Durham community and in our clients - as a company and as individuals, we are dedicated to the vibrancy and success of the Bull City. As a reflection of this core tenet, each agent at Urban Durham Realty donates a portion of their commission from every transaction to a local charity of their client’s choice. In this way, we are able to support charitable causes that are both local and meaningful to our remarkable clients. But how much does Urban Durham Realty donate, you ask?


I am excited to announce that, since opening in 2009, Urban Durham Realty’s charitable donations have exceeded $23,600 to more than 40 causes...and the sky’s the limit!


We are committed to Durham stewardship on so many levels, and we believe that by operating this way, we help to strengthen the fabric of our community. Thanks to our fans for your continued support and for helping us contribute to so many worthy causes.




by Mary Hunter
This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of spending my evening with friends eating at Dos Perros and then heading over to the DPAC to join a sell-out crowd attending Bill Cosby's show. I found myself driving around in search of street parking. It did not take me long before I remembered Durham has large public lots, very conveniently located, so that events such as Bill Cosby's can be quickly and safely accessed. In a word, I could find a place to park and walk without a lot of stress or wasted time, allowing me (and everyone else) the pleasure of relishing the energy of Durham's downtown evening life. What a wonderful transition from 30 years ago, to see how Durham has become a bright, lively destination that boast innumerable cultural activities. 
Besides playing host to Bill Cosby over the weekend, Durham is participating in culinary arts. This week running from January 23-29 will be Triangle Restaurant Week.  Durham is fortunate to have 21 restaurants participating in showing their culinary excellence by featuring a three course delicious meal at a fixed price that will provide food enthusiasts an opportunity to eat out at several participating local restaurants.  See a complete list at:  http://www.blvd.tv/trw/
I also learned that another opportunity to enjoy the downtown scene is being hosted by the Carolina Theatre.  They will be featuring two Full Frame Documentary Films that are free to everyone.  The dates for these films will be January 25 and February 1, with showings at 7:00 p.m. For information, you can go to http://www.fullframefest.org/events.php
Between the Carolina Theatre, DPAC and the restaurants downtown there are many opportunities to enjoy Vibrant Downtown.  What are you waiting for? 

Durham - Most Tolerant City in America!


DURHAM Voted Most Tolerant City in America by The Daily Beast!  

Read about other great cities on the list!

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 | REALTOR.com® 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 http://DurhamNC.gov/ich/op/swmd/Pages/wr_transfer.aspx.)  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.com.  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.