Leonard H. Craver

Leonard H. Craver
Leonard H. "Tony" Craver

Friday, June 22, 2018


       Please bear with me while I brag and celebrate two of my favorite people. See, I remember the days they were born. Now they are graduating from high school and off to prepare themselves for the rest of their lives. Emily Evans, one of my 4 granddaughters, will be graduating from Lumberton High School in Lumberton, Texas. She is an accomplished student, singer, tennis player and actress who stars in plays with the Beaumont Texas summer theater group. She is off to Baylor this fall to become a Baylor Bear. Justin Mofield, one of my 6 grandsons, is graduating from Riverside High School in Durham  where he played number one on the high school tennis team (three times all conference), was drum major for two years, is an accomplished student and plays French horn in the school orchestra. He is off to Clemson to become a Clemson Tiger and  an engineer.  I could not be more proud of these two fine young adults


         Did you know that 20 people per day are moving to Durham? Where are we putting them, you ask? Last year Durham added 4,316 new housing units. That sounds impressive until you do the math. Durham added 7,000 new residents. On a per capita basis, only three cities in the U S are gaining  people faster than Durham.  Durham spends a lot of time and money on trying to create affordable housing, a noble goal. However, Durham is not keeping up with supplying enough housing for all of those people who want to live here. It can be a vicious cycle when the demand for housing causes rapid upgrading of the housing units in the inner city to take care of the new folks in an area where living used to be cheap. The result is that there  are no places for the less fortunate to go.


             While waiting to have my right hip replaced  this spring (I had the left one done 3 years ago) I got my left  thumb caught in a table saw. The orthopedic surgeon that gathered the pieces and sewed them back together was doubtful the thumb could be saved, but it was.  Even though that ordeal actually turned out to be longer and more painful than the hip surgery, I told Cathy that I was glad I do not have three hips   This leads me to give a huge “Thank You” to Duke Orthopedics for the hip and the thumb. How lucky we are to live here with the best medical care in the world.  The good news is I am doing great and I am back to work.  P.S. That is my excuse for being late with  this newsletter.


*****We are living in an era when we wonder who is listening to our conversations or spying on us through our new  home devices which turn on our lights  and turn on our burglar alarms as well as record our conversations. The news is obsessed with who spied on whom in the recent elections. The more we hear about this the more we realize that political gain is far more important to both sides than the truth.
          That brings us to China. For a couple of decades the Chinese government has made an effort to move millions of rural Chinese citizens to urban areas, creating vast new cities all over that country. The pretense
to have more manufacturing workers where they were needed. China has its own extreme version of the public/private partnership when it comes to manufacturing. Their government supplements all of their manufacturing. Their version of this public/private partnership is why it is so difficult to negotiate trade imbalances. In short, they don’t play fair according to our economic culture.
     Now that China has all of these people in urban areas, they have announced their “Sharp Eyes” policy. They have just completed installing 40,000 surveillance cameras in over 14,000 cities and villages throughout the land with the stated goal of having a nationwide facial recognition and surveillance network. They are also using cell phones and televisions to keep track of their citizen’s every thought in their homes. As part of the Sharp Eyes the Chinese are  creating a negative social credit system and using this network to spy on its citizens. In the Chinese system if you collect too many social credits you are banned from traveling, etc. So far over 6 million have already made their new “no fly” list.  I hope this makes you feel a little less threatened at home but don’t let it make you any less vigilant in protecting our freedom.
*****  There are all kinds of scams floating around the real estate business these days. I personally ran into one this past week. I received a referral from one of my sources to show a house in Durham. After I met the lady at the house and explained all of the necessary agency disclosures,  I showed her around the property. Then she said that she had to confess that she just wanted to see inside the property since she had rented it. Well, this house was not for rent and was clearly listed just for sale. I seems the previous owner had sold the property earlier in the spring and the new owners had listed it for sale. The lady I met at the house had seen it listed for rent on rent.com and contacted who she thought was the owner. Unfortunately she sent them a full deposit and had not heard from them since.  This is wrong on so many levels. While I am trying to get some help for this lady I just want to warn you only to deal with reputable people and facts that you know. If you list your house you need to understand that scammers could be high-jacking your information and posting rental ads to deceive people.
*****Interest rates are going up. That indeed is a scary thought. However, they are still at historic lows. You don’t believe that, do you. Over my entire career the average home mortgage rate has been approximately 8%. My first mortgage was  6%, a rate that stood for many years. It was not until the 90’s that our government realized they could artificially tinker with our interest rates at home, keeping them separate from the world market.  I understand why the under 40 crowd thinks 6% rates are horrible. They simply have not seen them before. They also have not seen really strong economic times where  a home in the Triangle is gaining  value at around 5% a year and there is a market for it
when you want to sell. The other good thing about a little higher interest rates is that grandma and granddad will finally start earning a little on their retirement accounts. Who knows, they might even loan it to you.


* Did you realize that the average price of a home sold in Durham in the last year was $274,832. It seemed like that figure stayed below $200K forever. The inventory of homes for sale in Durham fell almost 32 % last year and the days on market is down to 21 days, a number that is historically over 100 days. The average sales price in the Triangle last year was $302,566. It makes you want to sell, doesn’t it. The only problem is that buying a downsizer may cost you every thing you gained from selling the house you are in.
* We have mentioned a number of times that a few years ago the powers that be in DC decided to divide the Triangle into two economic reporting areas. I am not sure why other than maybe we were getting too big and therefore getting too big a piece of the government pie. Wake County now has over one million people all by itself. When you combine the Raleigh economic area with the Durham/Chapel Hill area, there are 2.1 million people. Think traffic.
* Raleigh’s population is now 451,066, making it the 42nd largest city in the country. Durham rings in at 257, 636, making it the 79th largest city in the land. Charlotte now provides homes for 827,097 folks making it ranked number 17.


        For the first time ever,  Forbes Magazine has named North Carolina as the Best State for Business in the nation. North Carolina was also the only state to rank in the top 20 in all six of their categories. The annual ratings by Forbes examine states’ business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects, and quality of life to produce their list of top achievers.
      Site Selection Magazine has named North Carolina the second best state for doing business for the third year in a row. They need to read Forbes. In the last year alone North Carolina brought in nearly 16,000 new jobs and nearly $4 billion  in new investment. Hopefully all of this information will mean something when we discuss Amazon’s new project later in this newsletter. 


       Have you ridden into Durham recently on the Durham Freeway from east to west? If you haven’t, you will not recognize the place. There are new buildings and cranes everywhere. The explosion of new business in downtown Durham is a result of the urbanization desires of its citizens. Or the urbanizations desires of the citizens may be a result of the investments in downtown Durham. Either way, revitalization of the downtown area has greatly expanded into the surrounding formerly low income housing areas. All of this new construction growth creates concern about where former residents of these areas go and how they can afford to live.