2019 Agent Awards Breakfast – Celebrating A Record Year in Real Estate

Dickens Mitchener recently hosted its Agent Awards Breakfast in celebration of 2019 & 28 years as Charlotte’s best source for residential real estate! Kathy Izard, author, and advocate for the homeless inspired the crowd to listen to the “whisper” in their lives.


Our 2019 Top Producer & Spirit Award winner is Joan Goode. The annual spirit award is given to the team member who best represents Dickens Mitchener’s noteworthy culture, showing “exemplary spirit of positive attitude and sincere caring” as voted by the entire company. Marcy Basrawala was our Rookie of the Year. Congratulations to all our agents on a record-setting 2019!



We look forward to an even more successful 2020! To find your dream home in 2020, contact your preferred real estate expert today.

Can You Afford A Home If You Have Student Loan Debt?

can you buy a home if you have student debt

Is student loan debt holding you back from homeownership?

It doesn’t have to. Recent studies show that student loans are at an all-time high with the average student coming out of college with over $100,000 in debt. But, you can still realize the dream of homeownership by taking the steps below.

What is your credit score?

FICO credit scores range from 350-800. The higher the score the better to obtain credit. Pay your bills on time and keep your balances low to maintain a good score. A credit score under 600 is considered poor, and anything over 750 is considered high. To qualify for a mortgage and a low mortgage rate, you will need a good score. Check your reports frequently and if you see a mistake report it to the credit bureaus.

What is your debt to income(DTI) ratio?

Your debt to income ratio is your monthly debt payments as a ratio to your income. Lenders will use this information to determine if you will be able to afford a mortgage each month. Mortgage companies typically use a 28/36 qualifying ration to determine if you’re eligible for the best rates. This means that you are only spending 28% of your gross monthly income on housing expenses and no more than 36% on total debt.

Some lenders will still give you a loan even if your DTI is high, but be sure to consider if you are comfortable taking on the loan. There are ways to reduce your DTI. Refinance your student loans to lower your payments, take on a second job to pay off existing debt or use an income-based repayment program to repay your student loans.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Before you start looking for your dream home, talk to a mortgage professional first to see how much you can afford. To get approved, lenders will look at your income, assets, credit record and employment. Once you have your approval you will know how much home you can afford.

Look for a down payment assistance program.

There are many types of down payment assistance programs available for homebuyers throughout the country.

  • FHA loans: These are federal loans available through the Federal Housing Authority
  • VA loans: These loans are available to people who have served in the military.
  • USDA loans: These loans offer zero down payment for people who live in rural areas.

Special programs are also available through federal, state and local levels, so be sure to ask about any of those as well.

Is it the right time to buy a home?

After you have taken the steps above, consider these factors before you decide to buy a home while you still have student loan debt. Do you feel comfortable with your income? Are you in a profession where your income will be steady for a long period of time to support two large payments each month? Are you willing to cut back in other areas of your life to afford a mortgage and student loan debt? This can be as simple as not taking an extravagant yearly vacation or cutting back on retirement savings until your debt becomes more manageable.

Owning a home is a great investment even if you have student loan debt.

Homeownership is one of the best types of investments you can make in your lifetime. So, consider taking the leap even if you have student loan debt.

If you have been debating about getting started or are curious about market conditions in your area, we can match you with a Dickens Mitchener agent who can help you decide the best time to buy a home. Contact us here or call  704.661.2402.

Dickens Mitchener Ranked Best Residential Real Estate Firm

Dickens Mitchener Ranked Best Residential Real Estate Firm

Image Via Flickr

The results are in for the best residential real estate firms in the United States in 2018 as ranked by BrokerRate. Dickens Mitchener ranked at #514 out of 1000 brokerage firms on the list.

Each firm was ranked based on sales volume. Dickens Mitchener had 1,056 transactions in 2018 with $620 million in sales. We are so proud of this accomplishment made possible by our 100 real estate agents.

Dickens Mitchener has two offices in the Charlotte, NC area. The main office is in the Eastover neighborhood, minutes from uptown Charlotte. Our second office was opened in 2016 and is located near the Ballantyne area. Our agents serve all of the greater Charlotte, NC areas including portions of South Carolina that sit right over the southern border of North Carolina.

We must also mention our award-winning relocation department which contributes to our sales volume. The team has been recognized for its high achievements in moving people in and out of the Charlotte region and around the world. In 2019, Dickens Mitchener received one of the highest honors for the entire Leading Real Estate Companies of the World network. This network is comprised of 565 real estate firms from more than 70 countries. The department received the coveted 2018 Crown of Excellence award and a historic 7 award nominations in total. We continue to strive for excellent service and making your move as seamless as possible.

The full report can be accessed here.

Interior Design Trends for 2020

As we enter a new year, and a new decade it is time to say goodbye to the old and overdone interior design trends, and hello to new, bright and fresh trends that will lighten up your home. We have compiled a list of trends that lie on the horizon for the new year and new decade.

Goodbye Neutrals, Hello Color

interior design trends high fashion home

Instagram Image Credit: @highfashionhome

Say goodbye to boring neutrals and say hello to bold saturated hues! Dolley Levan Frearson, the co-founder of High Fashion Home, predicts shades of pink, soft peachy corals, terra cotta colors and golden yellow tones. Expect to see tile, cabinetry, and walls come to life with color.


Two-Tone Kitchens

kitchen trends 2020

Image Courtesy of Metropolitan Design Concepts

Can’t say we’re upset about the all-white kitchen trend fading out. While it is beautiful, it’s time to add some color and brighten up your living spaces. “2020 brings in warmer kitchens. Gone are the cold and sterile white kitchens, we are going to see warmer tones and softer colors,” Stacie Salisbury, Metropolitan Design Concepts.

Rattan and Wicker Furniture

wicker & rattan furniture

Instagram Image Credit: @hammock_town

Wicker and Rattan are a great balance of modern and traditional style. Whether it be chairs, tables or lighting it is a great way to add a warm and fresh touch to a room.

Grandmillennial Style

grandmillenial interior design

Instagram Image Credit: @meganevansinteriors

According to House Beautiful, Grandmillenial style is having its moment. Never heard of it? The look is described as a traditional design with a twist: blending elements of classic design like chinoiserie, scallops, natural fiber rugs with a contemporary edge (think: modern art and clean-lined furniture).


There is no better time to update your home than the start of a new decade. Let’s start the 2020’s with a home interior design refresh that will take you through the next interior design trends.

Charlotte, NC Ranks at #20 Best Places to Live in US

Charlotte, NC best places to live in the US

US News and World Report recently released the top 20 places to live in the US, based on the value of homes, have a strong job market and a high quality of life. Five cities in NC made the list with Charlotte, NC landing at #20.

Austin, TX topped the list as the best place to live in the US and also ranked #11 in Best Places to Retire. Raleigh & Durham, NC both came in at #10 on the list. They are known as part of the Research Triangle in NC and are home to several universities. The job market continues to grow in the area and also boasts a high quality of life. The cities landed at #28 on the Best Places to Retire list.

Charlotte, NC landed at #20 on the Best Places to Live list. The Queen City has grown out of the shadow of Atlanta and is now its own destination. Charlotte has been known for the banking industry but is quickly becoming a haven for tech companies as well. The bustling restaurant industry has brought culinary sophistication to the region. The old Southern charm is still here, but more and more people are moving to the area making it a diverse population. You no longer feel like an outsider as most people are transplants in the city. Charlotte was ranked #32 in Best Places to Retire.

Charlotte is also dedicated to adding more green space to the area in the next 4 years. There are currently 49 miles of greenways in the area and the plan is to increase that by 31 miles across the county. The city is also trying to build its own “Central Park” just outside of uptown. Charlotte Agenda has a great overview of this exciting project here.

Are you interested in moving to the Charlotte, NC area? Contact our Relocation Director, Catherine Pappas at (704) 661-2402 to get connected with an experienced agent.

Update: Can You Trust Zillow & Trulia?

can you trust zillow and trulia

Back in 2014, Zillow and Trulia were the 2 sites that people were talking about online when it came time to buy a home. They had an easy search tool to not only see homes for sale in a specific area but also homes that were not for sale. Zillow has the “Zestimate” tool available for homeowners to estimate how much their home is worth based on recent sales in the area you are searching in. We will talk more about that later. We even wrote a blog post about it here. This seems like the perfect time for an update to let you know the state of Zillow and Trulia now.

Should I search on Zillow or Trulia for a new home?

If you’ve ever used these websites to find your newly listed home you may have been surprised when it came up in the wrong neighborhood or may have shown the wrong school information. Why would this happen? It’s helpful to know how these listings are shown by going behind the scenes. Websites like Zillow and Trulia are known as real estate syndicators. The information is pulled from a local Multiple Listing Service or MLS. The MLS is accessed by realtors and contains all the necessary data for any given listing. The MLS is the most trusted source for real estate listings. Agents must subscribe to the service for a fee but it is worth it for the accurate content available.

If 3rd party sites pull information from the MLS, then why is some of their information incorrect?

Unfortunately, sites like Zillow and Trulia are not only using information from the local MLS, but also from other sources. Sometimes the information from the MLS can also be twisted and misrepresented. They often use information pulled from 3rd party sites, meaning they can host information that has been posted by anyone, regardless of the content. The information can be misleading with little accountability.

But, what about the “Zestimate” tool?

Many people will search for their home on Zillow to try to price their home before they are ready to sell by using the Zestimate tool. We always suggest calling a Realtor® to do this for you, as they will have accurate data available to use from the MLS to compare your home with other homes that have recently sold in your area. Zillow’s reported numbers show that 13% of home “Zestimates” are not accurate within 5% of the sale price.

The best places to search online for a new home.

Feeling overwhelmed with where to start your home search or how to sell your home? Zillow and Trulia are still extremely popular among home-seekers {and sellers} but if you are looking for a more reliable alternative, use the search engine on your local real estate broker’s website. Most of all, never hesitate to reach out to your local real estate agent with any questions you may have.

Do you have real estate questions?

Dickens Mitchener is your trusted source for residential real estate in the Charlotte area and beyond. Our affiliations with Leading RE and Luxury Portfolio can put you in touch with other professionals around the world. Contact Catharine Pappas at 704.661.2402 or your trusted neighborhood expert today to get started.

Renting VS Buying in Charlotte, NC

When moving to Charlotte, NC, many people have to decide which is better, renting vs buying. If this sounds like you, look no further— we are here to help! All our agents are experts in the current Charlotte real estate market and have broken down for us why buying makes more financial sense than renting.

1. In Charlotte, According to SmartAsset, a financial company that has crunched the numbers on home markets, it takes about 2.2 years for the cost of renting to surpass the cost of buying a home. That ranks Charlotte as the 23rd best place in the country to buy a home as opposed to renting.

2. Mortgage rates are as low as they have been in several years. They will not stay this low, so now is the best time to buy.

3. Currently, rental rates in Charlotte are higher than mortgage rates. At the end of the day, paying rent is covering someone’s mortgage, it may as well be your own!

4. Build your equity! When you buy a home, it may seem like your money is disappearing- but it isn’t. The payments you make on your home become equity, which is a degree of ownership in your home that can be used as collateral for other loans.

5. Tax deductions – When you buy a home there will be several income tax deductions that are not available to renters.

If you want to talk to a professional about whether or not its the right time to buy, contact a Dickens Mitchener agent today!

2019 Rising Stars in Real Estate Award Winners

Dickens Mitchener is proud to announce that six of our agents have been named The Charlotte Observer Home Design 2019 Rising Stars in Real Estate. They were celebrated last week with a reception in uptown Charlotte. Meet our winners below.

Charlotte Observer 2019 Rising Star

Marcy Basrawala – As a Charlotte native, Marcy offers her clients intimate knowledge about the city she’s proud to call home. In her first year since joining Dickens Mitchener, Marcy has excelled. In 2019 she’s appeared on our monthly top producer list an astounding 4 times. Her clients agree that her client-focused service and profound commitment to their satisfaction make Marcy an absolute joy to work with.

Eve Davis – Eve Davis joined Dickens Mitchener in 2018 from a competitor’s company and never looked back. While she already had an established client list, her business has excelled ever since. She offers her clients a lifetime of community knowledge as a Charlotte native, with first-hand experience in the school systems, and having lived in numerous area neighborhoods, understands which make the best fit for clients searching for their dream home. Eve is a force in the workplace whose youthful energy impacts everyone around her. The team is undoubtedly stronger with her as a member.

Juliette Lane – Juliette’s transition to a full-time broker is nothing short of inspiring. After a rewarding career as a Registered Nurse/Nurse Anesthetist, she & her husband purchased a home with one of Dickens Mitchener’s top producing agents. The experience prompted Juliette to make a career change. She stepped into her new role as a licensed broker with our firm. In her rookie year, she’s consistently appeared on our top producer list. Her professionalism and fine-tuned organizational skills are two qualities that set Juliette apart from the rest.

Eric Madara – Eric Madara is a native Charlottean who provides his clients with in-depth knowledge of Charlotte’s most sought-after neighborhoods. Eric joined Dickens Mitchener in 2019 from an area firm and has flourished with vigor in pursuit of growing his business. He is truly a full-service broker who tends to his clients equally whether they are actively buying or selling. He goes above and beyond in the pursuit of becoming a top producer. With a background in finance, Eric uses data-driven market analysis to help his clients navigate the home buying and selling process.

Jennifer Saarbach – Jennifer has had a remarkable year in sales. She loves helping her clients, both here in the Queen City and around the world via Dickens Mitchener’s global network. As a result of her tireless work, Jennifer achieved a coveted spot at our 2019 Top Agent Retreat in Charleston, SC as a first-time attendee. As a young mother of two, Jennifer is the perfect example of work-life balance and seems to excel at juggling it all, while always providing impeccable service to her clients. Her intellect raises the bar and consistently elevates the performance of all she collaborates with.

Johanna Troutman – Johana Troutman’s energetic and cheerful attitude is a delight to experience. Her impeccable aesthetic is pristine, and reflected in every real estate transaction she’s involved in. She’s devoted to the Dickens Mitchener Way of collaborative and supportive teamwork to ensure each client becomes a client for life. With a degree in Business from Queens University, Johana’s process is meticulously designed to support her clients from start to finish, every step of the way using individualized strategies and clear communication.

Congratulations to real estate’s up-and-comers, the 2019 Real Estate Rising Stars!

Dickens Mitchener Style: Issue 6 is Now Available!

Dickens Mitchener Style: Issue 6  | Inside the winter issue we take you Uptown to see what the pulse of Charlotte is all about. In our client spotlight, we hear from one of our clients who practiced emergency medicine as a physician and took a leap of faith to pursue her dreams as an author of medical fiction. Also inside, we take an intimate look at relocation training for our team of experts on The Light Rail system , we sat down with Mimosa Grill’s executive chef Thomas Marlow who explains their secret to quality and longevity, plus design trends from a local designer, our favorite holiday traditions, insider tips from our team of neighborhood experts, over 150 of our exclusive listings and much more!

The contents of Dickens Mitchener Style, our regionally focused lifestyle magazine, showcases some of Charlotte’s most beautiful homes and gives readers a look at some of the wonderful things that the greater Charlotte area has to offer. Inside we share exclusive insights from our Style team of full-time real estate experts. Contact us to receive your copy of Dickens Mitchener Style: Issue 6 today.


Charlotte’s Top 10 Holiday Events

🎵It’s the most wonderful time of the year🎵

One of our favorite times of the year is here and there are so many events to choose from in the Charlotte area to get in the holiday spirit. Whether your family is the outdoor type or likes to keep toasty indoors, there is something for everyone with our top 10 list of Charlotte holiday events.

OMB’S Annual Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas Market

Do you dream of visiting a town just like a Hallmark movie? This is your chance! Visit Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s annual event which opens the weekend of December 6, 2019, and runs every weekend through Christmas. The kids can enjoy the lights while parents sip on Gluhwein to keep warm. Visit the 40+ vendors to find unique gifts, eat some food and sit on Santa’s lap on Dec 6th from 4:30 pm-8 pm and again on Dec 21st from 2-5 pm. More information here.

USNWC ice skating

Image Courtesy of USNWC

Outdoor Ice Skating

Charlotte has a few places to take your fun outside this holiday season. Ice Skate uptown outside the Nascar Hall of Fame at Holiday on Ice or visit the US National Whitewater Center for the inaugural ice skating season. They have turned the upper pond into a 3 section skating rink with an Airstream in the middle serving up your favorite food and drinks. Tip: Bring the whole family and the daring can ice skate while the other family members can walk through the holiday light trail. Holiday on Ice info here. USNWC info here.

CHRISTMAS TOWN USA McAdenville, North Carolina

Image from Flickr

View Holiday Lights

Drive around Charlotte’s neighborhoods on any given night and you will see some great light displays. But, if you want to see millions of lights in one night, visit world-famous McAdenville just off I-77 or head to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for Speedway Christmas. McAdenville is also known as Christmas Town USA and the whole town has been lighting up for the holidays since 1956. Speedway Christmas will be celebrating their 10th year of drive-through lights around the speedway and you can visit the family-friendly Christmas village or watch a Christmas movie from your car on the weekends. Find more info here.

Enjoy The Nutcracker

Get into the holiday spirit by watching The Nutcracker. The performance combines the music from the Charlotte Symphony and the dancers from the Charlotte Ballet into one magical show. There are plenty of opportunities to see the sugar plum fairy dance her way through the show every weekend in December. More information here.

winterfest_tree at Carowinds

Image courtesy of Carowinds.com

Visit Winterfest at Carowinds

Don’t miss the nightly Wonderland Parade which features floats, performers and a special appearance by Santa Claus. Enjoy the strolling performers, ride your favorite rides and eat your favorite treats. More information can be found here.

Stroll Through Gingerbread Lane

The Ballantyne Hotel is a great destination to get in the holiday spirit! One of our favorite events is Gingerbread Lane. Local residents create a gingerbread house to display and you can then go and vote for your favorite. All donations benefit the Levine Children’s Hospital. The display will be open from December 4th-26th. More holiday events at the Ballantyne Hotel can be found here.

Drive Down Hillside Avenue

If you are a Charlotte native you definitely know about this hidden gem. This beautiful street in Myers Park is decorated every year with hanging light balls in the trees down the entire street. It is truly mesmerizing and will become your new family tradition every year.

charlotte christmas village

Image courtesy of Charlotte Christmas Village Facebook

Visit Charlotte’s Christmas Village

The Charlotte Christmas Village, CHRISTKINDLMARKT is back again this year at the corner of 7th and North Tryon streets. This German-inspired market features your favorite specialty foods and drinks to make you feel right at home. Visit the vendors, take a photo with Santa and enjoy holiday performances. Village hours can be found here.

See The Lights at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Holidays at the Garden is also a family favorite. Walk through the garden and enjoy the beautiful light displays, roast marshmallows by the fire, listen to merry music and look out for Mrs. Claus strolling through the garden on the weekends. Learn more about this special event here.

christmas at biltmore asheville

Image From Flickr

Christmas at Biltmore

This event is not local to Charlotte, but definitely worth the drive to see the more than 55 Christmas trees displayed throughout the home. Visit the Conservatory for beautiful holiday blooms, taste the Christmas wine at the winery and get into the holiday spirit. Bonus: If you love Downton Abbey, the exhibition is there now through April 7, 2020. Find out more here.

Happy Holidays From Dickens Mitchener!

We hope you enjoy the holidays in the Charlotte area and have some time to enjoy the magic and wonder of the season with your family and friends this year. Here’s to an amazing year.