New attractions will join favorites at Herb Faire

A spring tradition returns to Montmorenci with 2010’s first Herb Faire at Pascalina.

The Herb Faire will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 1, at the historic Montmorenci estate located at 3250 Charleston Highway (U.S. Highway 78). Pascalina’s owner, Jackie Heath, her daughter Linda Oswald and neighbor Ginny Sherman began the tradition of spring and fall Herb Faires about 12 years ago, according to Oswald.

“We’ll have all our old favorites returning, of course, and some new surprises,” Oswald said.

Among the returning favorites are Mennonite baked goods, potter Ann Baker of Montmorenci and area potter Laura Cardello, a cornmeal and grain grinder making stone-ground grits and cornmeal courtesy of Steve Gantt of Leesville, and many more. Meta Whitlock will do sand castings and there will be ironwork, woodwork, garden ornaments, antiques, soaps, cheese and many other handcrafted products from local vendors.

There will be refreshments, including sandwiches on homemade breads from the Mennonite bakers. Plant sales will include herbs, flowers, vegetable plants and more. There will be sign-ups for notification of vegetable harvests available to purchase as the crops come in at Pascalina’s vegetable garden, starting with sweet corn and tomatoes.

“Some years back, my daddy had a produce operation, and this year we want to start that back up again,” Oswald said.

Admission and parking for the Herb Faire is free. For more information or for directions to the Herb Faire, call 646-3774.

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Pets to hit track during annual Paws For Cancer dog walk

The Aiken Relay For Life will get a helping hand from its four-footed friends Saturday at the 11th annual Paws For Cancer dog walk.

Dogs and owners will gather for Paws For Cancer at 8 a.m. Saturday at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center walking track, and the walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. Dogs less than 50 pounds will walk at 8:30 a.m., and dogs more than 50 pounds will walk at 9 a.m. There will be refreshments and snacks for sale, and all proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.

Registration is $25 per dog, which includes a Paws T-shirt and a goodie bag. Forms for advance registration are at local veterinary clinics and PetSmart, according to organizer Kathy Iwert. Iwert is team captain of the GlaxoSmithKline Relay team, which takes over the event management this year from 2010 Relay Co-Chair Holly Woltz.

“It’s a chance to get out with your dog and interact with other dogs and dog owners. I’ve been a walker in Paws For Cancer for probably the past five years, but he’s no longer with us,” Iwert said, referring to her dog.

It’s not all dogs at Paws, either; Iwert said they have one cat among the 45 to 50 animals registered for the walk. All animals, canine or feline, must be on a leash during the walk.

Southern K-9 Solutions will give dog obedience demonstrations at the walk, and Iwert hopes to have the Aiken SPCA and Molly’s Militia on hand with adoptable animals.

For more information about Paws For Cancer or for registration forms, call Iwert at 541-6398, or e-mail

The Aiken Relay For Life will be from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Friday, May 21, at Aiken High School. There is still time to register a team and raise funds for the event. For more information, visit

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Number of Delinquent Mortgages Declines

The number of delinquent mortgages declined 8.6 percent in March, says LPS Applied Analytics, which tracks the performance of loans for investors. Totals also declined in February.

The biggest decline was in loans more than 30 days past due, which are now at about the same level as they were in spring 2008.

“We’re not out of the woods, but this appears to be a turning point,” says LPS Applied Analytics President Ted Jadlos. “This is the first time we’ve seen improvement across all stages of mortgage delinquency.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Ruth Simon (04/19/2010)

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First-Time Home Buyers, Sellers Optimistic

More than 48 percent of first-time buyers expect home prices to increase by this time next year, according to a survey by Century 21 Real Estate.

The survey posed questions to people who had bought or sold a home in the last year.

Sixty percent of first-time home buyers say they didn’t understand the process of buying a home, and more than 85 percent of both first-time buyers and sellers said that using a real estate professional was important.

The top three skills valued in a real estate professional by both buyers and sellers were knowledge of the area, trustworthiness, and responsiveness.

More than 80 percent of buyers believe now is a good time to buy a home. First-time home buyers rated these three factors as the most influential in their decision:

• Current housing prices: 66 percent
• Home Buyer tax credit: 63 percent
• Low loan rates: 60 percent

In choosing a home, 95 percent of first-time home buyers thought price was the most important consideration, but 90 percent were also very concerned about neighborhood safety.

About 54 percent of first-time sellers think home prices are more affordable now than they were this time last year, and 50 percent were selling because they were purchasing a property they saw as more attractive and better suited to their needs.

Source: Century 21 Real Estate LLC (04/21/2010)

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30-Year Rate Just Over 5 Percent

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate stayed flat this week, averaging 5.07 percent to remain near historically low levels, reported Freddie Mac.

Here’s how other rates performed:

• 15-year fixed loans fell to 4.39 percent from 4.4 percent last week.
• Five-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 4.03 percent, down from 4.08 percent.
• One-year ARMs rose to 4.22 percent from 4.13 percent last week.

Source: Wall Street Journal, Nathan Becker (04/23/10)

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Driving Club to lead carriage presentation

The Aiken Driving Club’s carriage presentation offers an opportunity to learn more about what was once the most common mode of transportation in this country while playing a prominent role in shaping the area’s history.

Several members of the Driving Club will share their wide breadth of knowledge about carriages, horses and carriage driving at The Carriage Museum in Hopelands Gardens on May 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the presentation “Carriage Driving in Your Backyard.”

“This is a way for the Aiken Driving Club to promote carriage driving to the general public,” said Diane Mansur of the Aiken Driving Club. “We’ll have a number of members in attendance who will be able to answer questions about the carriages in the museum and about the carriages that will be brought to the presentation by club members.”

The carriages on display at the museum evoke images of a previous era, but those attending the event will have an opportunity to see those carriages used in pleasure driving events and a marathon carriage used in Combined Driving Events.

“There will also be videos of different driving events,” Mansur said.

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Women Find Home Buying More Stressful

Women are more stressed and less confident than men when buying a home, according to a new study by mortgage insurer Genworth Financial Canada. Here are some of the findings:

* 43 percent of the women surveyed, compared with 32 percent of men, find the home-shopping process stressful.
* 75 percent of women and 60 percent of men say it is important to have a simple and easy-to-understand mortgage structure.
* 65 percent of women want the security of low and level monthly mortgage payments, while only 50 percent of men say this is critically important.

Source: The Globe and Mail (Canada), Chaya Cooperburg (04/13/2010)

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Lenders Unload Mortgages to Collection Agencies

Lenders are selling second mortgages and home-equity lines in default to collection agencies that have the right to collect this money potentially for decades.

“It’s a big business, and investors are coming out of the woodwork,” says Sylvia Alayon, a vice president for Consumer Mortgage Audit Center, which analyzes mortgage documents for lenders, advocacy groups, and attorneys.

Real estate professionals will be doing their short-sale clients a big favor if they urge them to get professional advice before they sign agreements, Alayon says.

A new government short-sale program, which takes effect Monday, aims to prevent banks from reselling this debt. Sellers covered under the program will receive notice that secondary lien holders have received part of the proceeds of the sale “in exchange for release and full satisfaction of their liens.”

Source McClatchy/Tribune News, Jim Wasserman (04/19/2010)

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How Delinquencies Impair Credit Scores

Fair Isaac, which developed FICO scores, used a comparison between two people to explain how mortgage delinquencies affect credit scores.

Fair Isaac derived these numbers from a theoretical calculation based on hypothetical borrowers – one with an initial score of 680 and one with an initial score of 780. FICO scores range from 300 to 850.

The hypothetical person behind the 680 score had six credit accounts, while the person with the 780 score had 10. The consumer with the 780 score had no missed payments other than the mortgage; the 680 example had two late payments before they failed to pay the mortgage.

After a mortgage delinquency, the two scores would look like this:

• After 30-day delinquency, 680 score drops to 620 to 640; 780 score declines to 670 to 690.

• After 90-day delinquency, 680 score falls to 595 to 610; 780 score goes to 645 to 665.

• After foreclosure, short sale, or deed-in-lieu, 680 goes to 575 to 595 and 780 drops to 620 to 640.

• After bankruptcy, 680 drops to 530 to 550; 780 declines to 540 to 560.

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Chinese Drywall Removal Recommended

Two federal agencies recommended jointly Friday that home owners affected by Chinese-made drywall replace it.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission investigated the problem and concluded that the rotten egg smells and damaged metal in homes with imported drywall are a danger and the drywall should be removed.

“Our investigations now show a clear path forward,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a press release. “We have shared with affected families that hydrogen sulfide (from the drywall) is causing the corrosion.”

HUD and CPSC said they expected U.S. lawmakers will provide financial relief for affected home owners.

Source: Reuters News, Tom Doggett (04/02/2010)

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