Real Estate News
Happy Father’s Day to All Metro Atlanta Fathers!
This Sunday is Father’s Day, so RE/MAX Greater Atlanta wanted to take a moment to wish all fathers in metro Atlanta a wonderful weekend with your families. There are plenty of amazing events being held throughout metro Atlanta this weekend to make it a fun day.
For instance, the Georgia Aquarium on Sunday, June 19, is offering Dads half off their general admission ticket with purchase of one full price adult, child or senior admission. Be sure to check out their traveling art exhibit, Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea, which will only be on display a limited time. There’s also a Father’s Day vintage car show being held at Stone Mountain Park this weekend.
On Sunday only, fathers can get into Zoo Atlanta free with the purchase of any full-price child’s or adult’s general admission ticket. The same is true at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta.
Numerous concerts, farmers markets and other events are going on this weekend throughout metro Atlanta. So make it a fun Father’s Day weekend, everyone!
Preparing Your Home for Your Vacation Absence
Summer is a prime time for family vacations and travel for events such as weddings and family reunions. While you’re taking care of all those last minute trip details, don’t forget about your home. It needs to be prepped for your absence as well.
If you and your family plan to be gone more than a few days, it’s a good idea to let a trusted neighbor know your out-of-town plans. Give this person your exact dates as well as any necessary contact information—cell number, destination, email, etc. Leave a key to your front door with a neighbor in case entry is needed for things like a water leak, foul odor, plant watering, etc. Have this person check the exterior of your home regularly for any signs of forced entry through a window or a door.
Purchase a few inexpensive timers for various lights inside and outside your home. Setting one for a television or a radio is also a good idea. If electricity goes out in your area during your absence, you may need a friend, family member or neighbor to reset these as they will no longer come on at the appropriate times.
Lock your garage door, all windows and all doors. Unplug automatic garage door openers. If your neighborhood does not have a restriction on vehicles parked in the driveway, leave a car parked outside. Barring that, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway on occasion to give the home the appearance of being lived in.
Place valuables in your home in a locked safe or safety deposit box. If you plan to be on vacation or out of town a week or more, purge your refrigerator of all perishables to avoid an unpleasant science experiment after you return.
Back up computers of essential data, turn off and unplug. Make a quick run through the house and double-check that everything is turned off—faucets, irons, ceiling fans, stoves, etc. Unplug non-essential appliances like televisions, alarm clocks and other electronics. Set your thermostat so the air conditioning only comes on a few times a day. During your final walk-through, be sure to give all plants a healthy dose of water.
If you plan to be gone for an extended period of time in the summer, say more than 10 days, arrange to have someone cut the grass. This often gets overlooked by people going out of town, but you want your home to appear well-kept, even during your absence. You’ll have the added bonus of a nice-looking lawn upon your return.
Arrange for the proper pet care, whether it’s boarding the animals, having a pet or house sitter or ultimately taking them with you. Make your neighbor aware of these plans so he or she doesn’t panic that the family dog is missing.
Temporarily stop mail delivery (and newspapers, if you’re a subscriber). This can conveniently be done online now, if necessary.
And finally, don’t forget to go over any security system issues with the neighbor who has a key to your home. Otherwise, an unpleasant situation could arise with your alarm going off nonstop or, worse, your neighbor getting arrested by the local authorities.
Take these quick and easy steps above to help with a worry-free vacation!
9 Lesser Known Metro Atlanta Activities To Do This Summer
Looking for something off the beaten track to do this summer? Whether you’re just looking for something different to do or would like to go somewhere a bit less crowded, check out these ideas to experience something new in metro Atlanta.
- Historic Trolley Tour in Marietta (toursaroundatlanta.com) – Features a one-hour, fully-narrated tour to experience Marietta’s rich heritage, from the vibrant Downtown Square, past historic Antebellum homes, to the battlefields at Kennesaw Mountain. The web site also has information on an Atlanta trolley tour and a Ghosts of Marietta tour.
- Tellus Museum (tellusmuseum.org) – This 120,000 square-foot museum is filled with exhibits that strive to ignite a passion for science. Kids can perform hands-on experiments with light, sound, magnets and more. The museum includes four main galleries and a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory with a state-of-the-art, 20-inch telescope. It’s located just off Exit 293 on I-75 in Cartersville and is open daily from 10 to 5.
- Gibbs Gardens (gibbsgardens.com) – Located in Cherokee County/Ball Ground, this 220 acres of natural beauty changes with the season. This summer, view more than 500 varieties of daylilies, 150 varieties of hydrangea plants and dozens of types of tropical waterlilies. In the fall, Gibbs Gardens has a Waterlily Festival as well as a Japanese Arts & Culture Festival.
- Pettite Creek Farms (http://pettitcreekfarm.com/) – Located at 337 Cassville Road in Cartersville/Bartow County, this 80-acre farm offers a picnic area, pony rides, a walking tour to feed the animals, Farmland Petting Zoo and hay rides.
- World’s Largest Inflatable Water Slide in Acworth (acworthslide.com) – open daily through July 31st and weekends in August through Labor Day. The 175' long waterslide is located at Dallas Landing Park on the beach in Acworth. The 36-foot high slide can be seen from across the lake. Options to ride once, for an hour or for the day.
- Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park (skyzone.com/Kennesaw) – Opened in 2013, Skyzone offers open jump, a SkySlam court, SkyRobics fitness classes, Ultimate Dodgeball (when available) and Foam Zone. The Kennesaw location is at 1650 Airport Road NW.
- Aviation Wing of the Marietta Museum of History (mariettahistory.org) – This 15-acre campus features a growing collection of aircraft. Located 4.5 miles west of I-75, this museum highlights the impact the aviation industry has had on local culture. Visitors can see how aviation catapulted this fairly typical, small, Southern agricultural community into the industrial age and how Cobb County impacted global events.
- Yellow River Game Ranch (yellowrivergameranch.com) – This is a great destination to encounter, feed and pet animals. It features a mile-long trail on 24 wooded acres where visitors will see buffalo, deer, black bears, sheep, goats and other wildlife. It’s located on Highway 78, 2 1/2 miles east of Stone Mountain.
- Southern Railway Museum (srmduluth.org) – Ride in restored cabooses and learn about the famous trains that made history! Museum features about 90 different cars, including Pullman cars, classic steam locomotives and antique diesel-electric trains. Learn about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad through arts and crafts, special exhibits and scavenger hunts. SRM is located at 3595 Buford Highway in Duluth.
Free Things to Do in Metro Atlanta
Whether you need to plan a staycation or just want to do something with your family without spending a lot of money,
this extensive list of freebies should give you some fun ideas.
- Take a stroll. There are dozens of parks in metro Atlanta. Master-planned communities like Towne Lake have also done a great job of having sidewalks throughout.
- Enjoy a free outdoor concert. Cities like Woodstock, Duluth and Marietta have such events in the summer.
- Visit Piedmont Park.
- Catch a flick at one of the free movie in the park events. Woodstock, Cumming, Dawsonville and Canton are just a handful of the cities hosting free movie events.
- Go for a hike. Many locations in North Georgia, Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area or Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (this one features 17 miles of trails as well as a great deal of information on the Civil War).
- Visit the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center in Johns Creek. This 46-acre nature center has two acres of walking trails, scenic creeks, native plants, animal life and farmstead buildings from the 1800s. Provides ongoing heritage and scout programs. Park grounds and trails are open daily 8 am until dusk. Free admission.
- Hang out at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. This site also hosts free events throughout the year.
- Take your dog to a dog park. What a fun change of pace for the dog as well as a good way to get exercise.
- Go to a farmer’s market. The biggest one is located south of Atlanta proper, but is the largest in the region –Atlanta State Farmers Market just off I-75 in Forest Park. You can also check out the one held on Saturdays near Marietta Square in downtown Marietta. Roswell has one Saturdays from 8 am to noon. Just Google Roswell Farmers and Artisans Market. The Woodstock Farmers Market is also held on Saturdays. Other, smaller farmers’ markets pop up regularly.
- Many of the metro Atlanta festivals are also free. Things like Art in the Park at Piedmont Park, a handful of festivals that are held every summer in downtown Kennesaw and craft and art festivals held year-round in Marietta on Marietta Square.
- Ride, bike or skate the Silver Comet Trail. It has numerous entry points on its 61-mile path.
- Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. See the Civil Rights Hall of Fame, tour the Visitor Center, visit Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King preached, see Dr. King’s tomb, the Eternal Flame and tour Dr. King’s boyhood home.
- Take a free tour of the CNN Center. Advance reservations required.
- Tour the Marietta Fire Museum. The museum celebrates the work that Marietta firefighters ta have done for almost 200 years. It features fire trucks (including an original 1874 Silsby Steamer – one of only three in the whole world), “Wall of Flame” photos, helmets and uniforms from around the world and other unique firefighting displays.
- Visit the Dunwoody Nature Center.
- Check out the Atlanta Beltline, a revitalized former railway corridor that’s now a multi-use trail. Ride bikes, walk, enjoy multiple art installations, and stop at parks along the way.
- Summer reading programs, crafts and other events may be closer than you think…at your local library. Some libraries do a better job than others so check around a few in your area,
- Go to a…cemetery? That’s right, but not just any cemetery. Historic Oakland Cemetery is one of the most famous in Georgia. Such Georgia notables as Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones are buried there. The gorgeous mausoleums are something to see as are the amazing views of the city of Atlanta, set against landscaping that rivals a botanical garden.
A Mother’s Day Message…
With Mother’s Day coming this Sunday, May 8th, we wanted to pause from bringing you regular Atlanta real estate updates and tips to wish everyone happy Mother’s Day. While mothers should be celebrated every day, be sure to remember them this Sunday, whether they live near or far.
Here in Atlanta, there are many special meals and brunches happening at metro Atlanta restaurants. Check out http://www.opentable.com/promo.aspx?pid=77&m=16 for a pretty thorough list of restaurants (133!) with Mother’s Day celebrations.
Other places, like the Georgia Aquarium, are offering half price admission to mothers (as long as there’s also a full, paid admission) on Mother’s Day. Or you could take your mother to the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell between noon and 5 p.m. Mother’s Day, where she will get in free. It’s a great place to walk nature trails or have a picnic.
For other free places or admissions on Mother’s Day check out http://www.accessatlanta.com/news/events/free-places-for-mom-to-go-on-mothers-day-in-atlant/nrG5T/.
Whatever you plan to do this Mother’s Day weekend, have wonderful family time and create memories. From all of us here at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, Happy Mother’s Day!!!
Time for a Summer Checkup on Your Home
Temperatures in metro Atlanta have already started hitting the upper 80s in April. Now is a great time to have your air conditioning unit check and serviced. It’s important that the coils are clean and that your HVAC is operating at maximum efficiency when even hotter temperatures hit Atlanta.
Many local HVAC specialists run spring checkup specials. Before these service businesses get slammed with summer emergency calls—and to prevent you from becoming one of those calls—get everything checked out now.
It’s also a good time to check all the window screens in your home. Screens don’t last forever and sometimes need replaced.
Your outdoor lawn equipment could also use a checkup. Did any of the garden hoses form cracks over the winter? When was the last time your lawn mower was serviced?
Does your home exterior need any refreshing or fixing? Better to be repainting trim or cleaning out gutters now than in the heart of the summer heat.
With all metro Atlanta schools letting out in a matter of weeks, spend a little time now on repairs and checkups will give you more time for family fun this summer.
It’s National Lawn Care Month—a Great Time for Yardwork in Atlanta
Did you know April is National Lawn Care Month? Coincidentally, that’s usually the perfect time to begin prepping the yard for summer in metro Atlanta. We have recently had mild temperatures and warm, sunny afternoons—the perfect time to get a head-start on lawns, flower boxes and planting gardens.
Whether you have a green thumb and have been biding your time to get started or you have vowed that this will finally be the year to have that picturesque front yard, it’s time to get started!
Have a next door neighbor who seems to be landscape-challenged? Perhaps it’s time to share these helpful websites below! Or get creative and have a Best Lawn Contest on your street or in your neighborhood. In the process of friendly competition, your neighborhood will develop an amazing streetscape!
The National Association of Lawn Professionals has an informative consumer website, LoveYourLandscape.org. There’s also a web page dedicated to National Lawn Care Month: https://www.landscapeprofessionals.org/nalp/nalp/national-lawn-care-month.aspx. It share facts, statistics and a number of helpful lawn care tips for homeowners. You may be surprised at the answers to the best time to water your lawn and the best height to cut your grass.
2 Rate Hikes are Better than 4
By Andrew King
With all eyes on the Federal Reserve, real estate brokers around the nation are holding their breaths in anticipation of a strong spring market this year.
The year began with some pessimism marked by the double-whammy of the first rate increase since the Great Recession in December followed by a January stock market plunge on the first trading day of 2016. Even though the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) does not directly control mortgage interest rates – those are derived by individual lenders based on a variety of factors including yields in the bond market – and the price of stocks can have a mixed impact on the economics of the housing market, those in the industry had little to feel bullish about going into March.
Then the darndest thing happened: the stock market rebounded; the spring housing market opened with great weather in the Northeast; and Fed Chair Janet Yellen appears determined to raise rates at a slower pace than most imagined going into the year.
“As we know, the Fed’s move doesn’t directly impact home mortgage rates, but it is an indicator and influencer,” says broker Ryan E. Gable, CEO of Chicago-based StartingPoint Realty, Inc.
During a luncheon at the Economic Club of New York on March 29, Yellen addressed the recent rise in inflation and said it was too soon to know if it would last. Therefore, she would be careful not to rush into additional increases, especially given the global impact of monetary risks. The prevailing sentiment out of the luncheon was that the Fed would move on rates no more than twice this year – half the amount that brokers previously feared.
“I think part of the reason they will leave the rates where they are is that the economy is not as great as people thought it would be,” said mortgage banker John Walsh, president of Total Mortgage, which operates in 36 states. “The economy is still getting its sea legs.”
Still, he said, much of the country has re-entered the housing market and the low interest rates have had a lot to do with it.
“All places that got hit hard by the housing crash are coming back at strong purchase prices,” Walsh says, adding that buying activity in the Northeast might be comparatively slow because the region around New York City never crashed to the same extent as the rest of the nation.
While many have taken advantage of affordable mortgages, the past few years has seen a large influx of institutional investors buying properties with cash. With a sizeable amount of these short-term owners “trading out” of their real estate positions with quick profits, a continued environment of low rates means a lot of these flippers will be able to sell nice properties to borrowers.
“The bottom line is that people who make less money will be able to now qualify for a higher value home. The borrowing threshold of the buyer does not substantially change, but the value of the home is increased. It will allow lower-income individuals to qualify for homeownership,” says Scott De La Bruere, broker associate at Berkshire Hathaway Starck Real Estate in St. Charles, Ill. “This is particularity critical for individuals who have been 'on the cusp' for the last several months or years.”
He urges brokers to tap this segment of the buying community. This can be achieved by finding and approaching seniors who might be ready to downsize, or young families that are starting to outgrow their first house.
“Now is the time to open up your avenues of marketing to lower-income individuals and bring them into the market,” De La Bruere says. “In order to keep inventory high (within this bracket) brokers also need to be courting individuals who may want to upgrade their current starter home or retirees ready to make the move from their single family home into perhaps a town-home, condo or even assisted living facility.”
Gable said that first-time homebuyers are ideal customers in a low-rate environment – not because the rates, themselves, are triggering the decision to purchase, but because they’ll be able to borrow more and, consequently, afford more expensive properties.
“First-time buyers decide to buy due to lifestyle changes – newlyweds, pregnancy, job promotion. Obviously, this group relies on financing as we rarely see a first-time homebuyer pay cash – and most put down less than 20 percent – but when they decide they’re buying a home, it’s going to happen soon,” Gable says. “However, their interest rate impacts their purchase power. If rates go up, they will buy, but less house.”
He added that the correlation between rates and prices has not always been that direct in recent years. The market slowdown, while paired with greater economic uncertainty produced both lower rates and lower prices. It’s been a scary combination that brokers are happy to see fade away, but Gable notes that the cost-conscious behavior practiced during the past decade could help a lot of people moving forward.
“This is a positive attitude among today’s young buyers. But when the bond yields do start rising, thus raising the mortgage rates, we’ll remind our clients to stay committed to their affordability,” says Gable. “This is their first home, and they’ll probably be in the home for less than seven years. It’s not always an easy conversation, but the silver lining in an interest rate-increase scenario should be that if there’s a flight from bonds to stocks and the global economy starts to pick up, we’re hoping wages will increase as well. Strong employment drives the first-time buyer transaction, the interest rate determines their purchase price.”
Andrew King is an award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience with the Gannett newspaper company, appearing in The Journal News (Westchester, NY), Asbury Park Press and USA Today. He also contributes to The Real Deal, TheLadders.com and TechPageOne.com.
Spring Spruce Up Tips Before Listing Your Home
With the various Atlanta school systems getting out earlier each year, it feels like summer gets here earlier as well. Summer is the No. 1 time of year for families to buy and sell homes. So with the mild temperatures we’re experiencing this spring, RE/MAX Greater Atlanta wants to provide you with some quick tips for preparing your home for sale.
- Exteriors count. Buyers may not even want to get out of the car if there are toys and other items all over the front yard and entry porch, paint is peeling, a shutter is hanging loose, weeds are taking over, etc. From your mail box, look up at your property. This is what potential buyers see when they drive by. Spend a few dollars to plant some colorful flowers by the mail box or the planters on the porch. Decide whether grass seed on all or parts of the lawn will help increase your curb appeal.
Touch up paint on shutters, windows, etc. where it’s peeling or faded. Consider borrowing or renting a pressure washer for the sidewalks and driveway. Depending on the material on your home, this could also be used to clean/freshen up aluminum siding, brick, stone, etc.
- Assess your entryway. Don’t have 15 pairs of shoes and book bags piled at the front door. Make it easy for visitors to step inside and take a first look around. Is the first thing they see a stained carpet or a dull-looking hardwood floor? Pay the relative low cost to have carpets professionally cleaned. Either wax and buff the hardwoods yourself or pay to have it done.
- Clutter kills the deal. If you have so much furniture, knick knacks, books, toys, clothes and other belongings that you’re busting at the seams in your current home, potential buyers will quickly pick up on this. It will make them wonder if their belongings will fit as well. Have a yard sale, donate items to worthy area causes or box up some of the noncritical items. If possible, store these boxes at someone’s house or rent a small storage unit.
- Kitchens count. Kitchens are usually one of the most important areas that homebuyers consider. What can you do to freshen the look in here? Clear off counters as much as possible. Make sure every cabinet is not full to overflowing. Make the appliances shine with a hard cleaning (including the oven interior). Is one appliance way out of date or even not matching the others? Depending on the expense and what you can currently afford, consider buying a replacement. Or at the very least, offer an appliance allowance when you list the home.
- Walls and windows. This is often another area that potential buyers look with a critical eye. If you’ve done some unique colors or paint treatments, this is often a turn-off to buyers. While painting a single wall or an entire room is really not the difficult a job, most people dread having to do it. Neutral is the name of the game when trying to sell. If a room has wallpaper or a wallpaper border, this will also seem out-of-date to buyers.
With windows, you want to clean all windows (inside and out if possible), to make them shine and allow in as much natural light as possible. Even something as simple as thick drapes in the family room which block out so much light that it appears cave-like, should be changed.
Not sure what you might need to work on? Contact a full-time Realtor today to both assess your property’s value and make suggestions on what could be changed or improved. Be direct and ask if there’s anything you can do to make the home more inviting. Once asked, most Realtors will give you a good assessment. After all, the more prepped the house looks, the faster it will go under contract. That’s a win-win for both parties.
Contact RE/MAX Greater Atlanta today at 770-973-9700 with your real estate questions!
Fireplace Safety Tips
With the recently below freezing overnight temperatures in metro Atlanta, a fireplace is a nice feature to have and use. However, like most things in your home, certain safety and preventative tips need to be used with a fireplace.
When using your fireplace this winter, you should:
1. Burn only seasoned hardwood that has been dried for at least six months. Green, unseasoned or soft woods such as pine emit more creosote when burned— that’s the flammable stuff that can build up in your chimney. While Georgia is known for having so many pine trees, never burn pine wood in your indoor fireplace.
2. Defend against sparks or flying embers. Look into getting a spark guard--the mesh screen that can be placed in front of your fire--to help prevent this. Have a fireplace rug or mat that is specially designed for use in front of fireplaces. Such a flame-retardant rug can prevent burn spots in your carpet or hardwood flooring.
3. Have the proper equipment nearby--a fully charged fire extinguisher and a functioning smoke alarm.
4. Do not leave the fire unattended for extended periods of time.
5. Be sure the fire has been completely put out before you retire for the night.
6. When not using your fireplace, close the damper to prevent warm air from being lost straight up your chimney. Forgetting to close the damper can be a costly mistake on your energy bill. Just remember to open the damper when you get ready to build your next fire. Otherwise, without someplace for the smoke to escape, your home will quickly fill with smoke!
7. Be sure the top of your chimney has a wire mesh cap to prevent small animals like birds and squirrels from coming down your chimney and into your home.
And finally, if your fireplace get's regular use each fall and winter, you should plan an annual visit from a certified chimney cleaner to inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney. This will help prevent dangerous build-up or clogs.
So grab a stick and some marshmallows or perhaps just a good book and curl up next to that warm, cozy fire. And if your home doesn't have a fireplace, but it's on your list of must-haves for your next home, contact us at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta today to begin your next home search!