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4 Mistakes First-Time Home Sellers Sometimes Make

9/23/2016

 

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4 Mistakes First-Time Home Sellers Sometimes Make

For some homeowners, selling their first home can be just as emotional and overwhelming as it was buying it. After all, this was the biggest purchase of your life to date and it’s a place where a lot of memories were made.

 

So here are some thoughts and suggestions to aid you in the first-time home selling process.

 

  1. Rely on your real estate agent.

 

Your agent should be a full-time real estate professional with a proven track record in your zip code and price point. Your agent is there to provide a business and marketing plan for selling your home effectively and efficiently. Let him or her do that job with as little interference as possible. One thing that will make your agent appreciate you forever is to declutter your home and keep it clutter-free and tidy throughout the listing process.  You want your home to be ready to show and impress at a moment’s notice—and this is sometimes how quickly a showing can happen.

 

  1. Having an unrealistic asking price.

 

Homeowners sometimes translate emotional attachment to wanting to increase a home’s asking price. Or they go strictly by what they paid for the home. Your local real estate market dictates prices. And there’s a vast list of events, conditions and economic issues that affect your real estate market. Seems unfair, but this was also true when you bought the home.

 

Right now, in metro Atlanta real estate, home values are rising, there’s a shortage of move-in ready listings, job growth is up and housing starts are up. More homebuyers will be flooding the market, between people relocating here for jobs and the fact that, those who previously dealt with short sales or foreclosures during the recession, are now starting to qualify for home mortgages again after a several year period of this affecting their credit ratings.

 

In addition, with regard to what you should list your home for, your agent prepared and presented a competitive market analysis during the listing appointment. This analysis relies on for sale and recently closed homes data in your neighborhood and region. If homes in your neighborhood are routinely selling for around $225,000, expecting to get over $300,000 is very unrealistic.

 

  1. Being present at showings or open houses.

 

If there is any time you need to make yourself scarce, it’s at these times. Let your agent handle this—it’s part of how she earns her real estate commission. Potential buyers may be hesitant to ask questions or look too closely at the property (opening closet doors, cabinets, etc.) out of fear of offending you, the homeowner. They want to be free to look around the house at their leisure—not in a hurry because they think they are interrupting your day or because you hover around them from room to room.

 

  1. Taking low ball offers or other negotiating requests personally.

 

Because it’s now a seller’s market, we are seeing low ball offers come in less and less. However, it can happen and it’s best not to take it personally. It’s not meant to offend you, it’s simply a negotiating tactic. You must always keep in mind that this is a business transaction and such transactions have no room for emotion. If you do let emotion get the best of you, you might walk away from a potential buyer who could be “the one.”

 

Or, if they put in stipulations for certain furnishings or light fixtures, these are usually not things that will make or break the contract. If they asked for your grandfather clock, but that’s something which has been in your family for several generations, you can politely, but firmly refuse. They had no way of knowing this item had such history or was important to you.

 

Again, it’s best to let your listing agent take the lead and negotiate the best deal possible for you. Sometimes, the first potential buyers don’t work out, but let your agent do everything possible to get you the best price and terms.

 

If you have other questions about selling your home and area property values, contact our RE/MAX Greater Atlanta office at 770-973-9700.  We are based in Cobb County, but have agents who regularly work and specialize in several surrounding counties. 

 

7 Ways to Keep Your Home Value Up

9/16/2016

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7 Ways to Keep Your Home’s Value Up

Increasing your home’s value or even the perception of value can be absolutely essential when it’s time to list the home for sale. The metro Atlanta real estate market is currently a very competitive one. With a shortage of listings, this can be an ideal time to sell your home. However, the home still needs to be in the best shape it can be for buyers to give it serious consideration.

1. Home Exterior
A home that has the appearance of being well-cared-for and maintained will more quickly catch the eye of a potential buyer. Go to the foot of your driveway and look at the front of your home as buyers would when they first pull in the driveway. Is the paint peeling or faded? Are the shutters coming loose? Are the gutters overflowing?
If you’re handy, most of this can be taken care of in a weekend. If not, hire someone. It will be money well-spent to have a licensed, general handyman tackle a list of items for you over the course of a half or full day.

2. Front Yard
Are weeds popping up and the shrubs overgrown? Do the driveway and sidewalks need to be pressure-washed to get rid of stains and regain a cleaner, light color? Rent or buy a small pressure washer to tackle these areas. Your home’s exterior might benefit from a pressure wash as well. Buy a few trays of fresh, colorful plants and flowers to put up by the mailbox or the walkway to your front steps. You have to make your home’s exterior inviting enough to make buyers want to get out of the car to see more. The local real estate market may currently be a seller’s market, but you still have to get them interested enough to go inside. And remember: changes don’t have to be drastic or expensive to give your home better curb appeal.

3. Front Entrance
Because you may not use the front door very often, it’s important to closely check that area. If your front steps have a handrail is it secure? Is the welcome mat faded with age? Does the door unlock easily when putting the key in or does it tend to stick? As you enter the front door, are you accosted by loose shoes and jackets strewn everywhere? Or an overflowing front closet area? Buyers who can easily gain access through the front door and who are met with an open uncluttered area are going to gain a great first impression of your home’s interior.

4. Kitchen
The idea that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes may seem far-fetched to some, but we have seen this to be true many times. Laminate flooring and countertops are out, especially in properties not considered to be starter homes. Are all cabinet doors secure? Does the hardware on the doors and drawers appear dated or well-used? A simple fix of changing this out could do a lot to refresh your kitchen’s look. If the cabinets seem outdated, perhaps it’s time to refinish the doors or replace the cabinet fronts (less expensive than all new cabinetry—known as refacing). Does the kitchen seem well-organized and neat? If every cabinet, counter and pantry are overflowing, it will give the appearance that the kitchen does not have enough storage space. Just as with the closets in your home, you may need to thin out. We all have gadgets and kitchen appliances that have not been used in months, if not years. Donate, sell or box up these items for temporary storage.

5. Bathrooms
Sometimes small updates like new faucets or sinks can make a big difference. If the tub is beyond all cleaning help, consider getting it refinished or replaced. The cost will not be that substantial and could really work in the favor of your home’s value and appearance. Even small things like new toilet seats—a $15-30 purchase—can go a long way. White grout must look, well, white. Otherwise, it’s time to replace or use some of specialized grout cleaners on the market. If cleaning is not your thing, pay professionals to come in and do a deep cleaning. It will be much easier to maintain once it’s looking its best and could be well worth the few hundred dollars or so you’ll spend.

6. Interior
A fresh paint job inside, either in most rooms or key rooms like the family room and master bedroom could be worth the investment if the color is looking tired or it’s not a neutral color. Just because you love peach or hunter green, doesn’t mean your buyers will. All they may see is a big, messy job ahead of them and dollar signs to change it. When homebuyers see a list of things which need fixed, changed or replaced, it actually starts to deplete your home’s value in their eyes. Don’t give them a reason to come in at 10 percent below asking price.

7. Flooring
Dirty carpets or streaked tiles demonstrate to buyers that maybe this house has been a little too lived in for their tastes. Buyers want to come in and be able to visualize themselves living there, not you. Pay someone to professionally clean your carpets and you will be amazed at how much newer and fresher they look. Wait as long as possible to do this, say just before you list your home. For hardwood flooring, buffing and waxing can do a lot to restore their look. Worst case scenario, consider replacing highly traveled areas of the home or offering a flooring allowance when the home goes on the market. That way, homebuyers get to select the colors and styles themselves.

To summarize, you want to live in the home without looking like you’re living there. You may have a huge living room, but if a buyer has to squeeze around children’s toys, coffee tables, oversized furniture and lamps to get into the center of the room to look around, that’s a negative for your home. The result could be costly. By thinning out most rooms in your house, you will maximize the square footage you have and possibly even make the home appear larger. Those are the impressions that result in full price offers or even bidding wars on your metro Atlanta home.

Have questions about what you should do to get your home on the market for the highest price possible? Contact RE/MAX Greater Atlanta today at 770-973-9700.

Fourth Quarter is Almost Here -- Still Time to Change Addresses in 2016

9/2/2016

 

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Fourth Quarter is Almost Here -- Still Time to Change Addresses in 2016

 

It may be hard to think about Fall being just weeks away or, indeed, that we will soon be in the final quarter of 2016. The calendar goes by all too quickly.

 

So, if you've been considering a move for an expanding family or to be closer to work, there's still time to make that happen in 2016 and still be settled into your new home by the holidays. Or if you are a first-time homebuyer and have been putting it off because it's so overwhelming, we're here at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta to help make the home-buying process easier for you.

 

We have reputable lenders and home inspectors to refer you to and we know the northern metro Atlanta real estate market very well to show you the best possible matches for your needs.

 

Another advantage to buying a home this year, is that you will still get the tax benefits when it's time to submit your taxes in April. Even though you haven't been in the home the entire year, you can still deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, etc. So, if you've been renting in the past couple years, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much this will help on your taxes. Unfortunately, things like appraisal costs or home inspection fees are not deductible.

 

Be sure to scroll through past articles in our blog archive as well. We have posted many blogs on topics like getting prequalified for a mortgage, prepping your home to list, what to look for in your new home, how to create your home-buying must-have list and many others.

 

As always, you can also call our RE/MAX Greater Atlanta office at 770-973-9700 to get your questions answered by a full-time, experienced real estate professional. Nationwide, RE/MAX agents have an average of more than 15 years experience in real estate. That translates into agents who have been asked just about every question possible and who have been in just about every possible real estate situation. Contact us today!

RE/MAX For Everywhere You Need to Move

8/26/2016

 

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RE/MAX For Everywhere You Need to Move

 

If life's plans require you to relocate outside the metro Atlanta real estate market, you can still have access to some of the most experienced agents in the world. That's because RE/MAX agents, who average more than 15 years experience company wide, are available to you just about anywhere you plan to move.

 

With more than 105,000 real estate professionals in nearly 100 countries, you can rest easy knowing that the most recognized name in real estate is available to help. RE/MAX has more than 3,500 office in the United States and nearly the same number of franchise offices in the rest of the world.

 

At RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, we can assist with the perfect referral to help you during that stressful time of moving. Call us at 770-973-9700 or stop by our office on Roswell Road in East Cobb and we will find the right person to work with you, whether it's across the country or the other side of the world.

 

Collectively, our company had more than 1.5 million transaction sides in the world in 2015. We have been around over 40 years and continue to grow because of our service and expertise.

 

So follow us at www.facebook.com/remaxgreateratlanta or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/remaxgtratl to stay connected in real estate.

Tips and Observations You Will Need to Live in Metro Atlanta

8/19/2016

 

 

  

 

 

Tips and Observations You Will Need to Live in Metro Atlanta

 

 

Metro Atlanta is unlike any other metropolitan area. Up until the last 5-8 years, there was actually very limited housing (condos, apartments, high rises, etc.) in Atlanta proper. That’s been changing a lot in recent years. However, downtown Atlanta is just one of many living options for the metro area.

 

Where our RE/MAX Greater Atlanta office is based, in Cobb County on the eastern side, we have some excellent school districts and award-winning schools like Lassiter High School and Sprayberry High School.  Just north of Cobb, in Cherokee County, you will find an area that is one of the fastest-growing in the entire state. To the east, Gwinnett County continues to compete with other counties with its many amenities, shopping, restaurants and eclectic areas.

 

But what about those you-have-to-live-there-to-know tips? Well, just for our blog readers, here are some of those tips and observations. Feel free to share these with anyone you know who is considering a move to Atlanta or who has recently relocated here.  Some of these are meant to be funny (while still being true).

 

  1. Never use a Waffle House as an anchor landmark for knowing where you are—or how to get back to where you want to be. That’s because, by one count on the internet, there are a whopping 132 Waffle House locations. Two busy metro Atlanta intersections that we know of actually have two Waffle Houses on opposite sides of the street!
  2. Be prepared for streets and highways to change names frequently. For instance, did you know Highway 92 in Woodstock becomes Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell and later becomes Jimmy Carter Blvd. much farther east in the Gwinnett area?
  3. Be prepared for roads to have official names, unofficial names or dual names. Highway 120 that goes west out of downtown Marietta toward Paulding County is a prime example. Its signs refer to Highway 120, but it is also known as Marietta Highway in one direction and Dallas Highway in the other direction.
  4. Interstate 285, also fondly known of as “The Perimeter,” will, more often than not, have directional signs that make no sense to you when getting on the interstate. You may be getting on 285 and thinking to yourself, okay, I need to go south to get to X. As you approach ramps to enter 285, your options will be east and west. You’re in a moving vehicle with traffic behind you and you now have 1.5 seconds to decide which direction you need. (We like to keep you on your toes here in Atlanta!)
  5. If you are in Cobb County and seeking directions from someone, do not be surprised if the words “the Big Chicken” come into the conversation. This is the famed KFC franchise location at the corner of Cobb Parkway and Roswell Road. You will know it when you see it –it towers some 25-30 feet high and looks like a huge, well, chicken!
  6. Even if you come from a bigger city like Chicago, New York or LA, you will be stupefied at how bad rush hour can get in the lesser-sized Atlanta. You will also be unimpressed by the limited transit system.
  7. If the weather forecast even hints at the possibility of ice or snow, you will need to go into full prepper mode ASAP. Otherwise, you will arrive at your local grocery store only to find empty shelves in areas like bread, milk, lunch meat and water. Go by the assumption that your work and the childrens’ schools will be closed, until you hear otherwise…regardless of whether 1 inch or 5 inches accumulates.
  8. If it’s raining at rush hour and your route includes an interstate, you may as well double whatever your typical commute time may be to work/home. Seriously.
  9. There will be a language barrier at times. We have many different Southern dialects within the same region—some are charming and easy to understand, others not so much. The term “y’all” will sneak into your language…and that’s okay.
  10. Complete strangers, if they are Southerners, will say hello to you when you pass them on a trail or just taking a walk in your neighborhood. It is Georgia after all, and we are big on hospitality!
  11. College sports are far bigger here than professional sports. Even if one didn’t attend the University of Georgia, there’s a good chance at being a die-hard UGA Bulldog fan. Perhaps it’s because our professional teams, with the exception of a year or two here or there, generally have just average win-loss records.
  12. Food, especially comfort food, is very important to Southerners. It’s almost considered a separate food group. Oh, and it’s sweet tea, not iced tea, if you don’t want to appear like a tourist.

 

So, there you have it, a few helpful tips to understand the area, the culture and the roadways. It’s by no means an all-inclusive list, but it highlights some important areas. Know someone who could use this take on Atlanta life? Pass it along or share the link on your social media.

The Rio Summer Olympics Are a Reminder to Seize the Day

8/11/2016

The Rio Summer Olympics Are a Reminder to Seize the Day

 

Watch even a small portion of the Rio Summer Olympics and you will find examples of perseverance, overcoming setbacks of all kinds and amazing personal stories. No matter their circumstances, these athletes from around the globe arrived at the games with smiles on their faces and gratitude in their hearts. In some countries, athletes had very limited training facilities. In many countries (including some U.S. athletes), affording the coaching, training, equipment and travel was a definite hardship.

Despite the setbacks, these athletes know this is their time to shine and proudly represent their countries. They are a wonderful example of carpe diem – seize the day. The trick is to take that example and make it a reminder you can apply to other areas of your life—fitness, career, living space, family, etc.

Being hesitant or overwhelmed at the possibility of buying a home is one common area that may require extra motivation. The metro Atlanta real estate market, the improved jobs outlook and extremely good mortgage rates, make this an excellent time to seize the day with buying a home.

Check out some of our other blog entries by paging down on the RE/MAX Greater Atlanta blog page and you’ll find some helpful topics to move your home-buying process along. Things like tips for creating your must-have features list for your next home, details on how to know if you can afford to buy a home, and many other topics.

Don’t see what you need? Need a referral to talk to a professional about a mortgage pre-qualification? Call RE/MAX Greater Atlanta today at 770-973-9700 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions!

 

How to Create the Best Must-Have List Before Beginning a Home Search

8/5/2016

 

How to Create the Best Must-Have List Before Beginning a Home Search

 

The Atlanta real estate market offers a rich variety of home styles, locations and price points. As a home buyer, if you don’t vastly narrow down your search parameters, you will find the process overwhelming and extremely time-consuming.

So here are some tips on how to create an effective must-have list of features. Share this list with your Realtor before you begin your home search and it will not only help the process go more quickly, but you will buy the home that best fits your needs and wishes.

We’ll start with real estate features that are absolute must-haves, as these are often the easiest. This list includes proximity to work, whether you wish to be in certain school districts, and a price point (which is best based on having already completed a mortgage pre-qualification).

Answering these three questions has already weeded out 75 percent of the homes listed in the Atlanta real estate market. Now it’s time to dig deeper…

Take about 10 minutes to jot down everything you want in your dream home. Then assess this list for how much each item is an absolute necessity in your life. Central vacuum is nice, but you can easily live without it. A large backyard, however, for your two active children and two large dogs, is much more important. So why would you want to look at homes on tiny lots that are crammed together in a neighborhood?

Be sure you include the minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms. For most people, a one bathroom house is not going to work and adding a bathroom can be expensive and next to impossible, depending on the home’s floorplan.  With regard to bedrooms, is a guest room really a necessity? It is if you regularly have family or friends from out of town, but it’s not if it will only get used two weekends a year.

It’s also important to realize that some items are really more of a “would be nice to have” feature. These should never be deal breakers, especially when most can be easily changed on your own once you move into a home. This would include things like a fenced yard, hardwood floors throughout, a built-in outdoor kitchen/barbeque area in the backyard, an extra storage shed, ceiling fans or specific paint colors.

Now that you have narrowed down your must-haves list, consider putting them in order of priority. This makes you really assess the list again. If you work from home, a home office would need to be pretty high on that list and more important than something like a swimming pool or living in a golf community. If you or anyone in your family has mobility issues, then a home with several levels and stairs is probably a poor match.

By laser focusing on what your family needs to live comfortably day-to-day, you will be that much clearer on what you want and your Realtor will be given a better picture to work with as well. You will also be more likely to recognize the correct home when you see it. With the shortage of listings in the metro Atlanta real estate market, it’s unlikely you will have the opportunity to go back to a home you saw six weeks ago because you’ve reconsidered. More likely than not, that home is already under contract. A clear list helps you focus on what’s really important and which features are just lovely bonuses. This list could also be the difference between staying in your home for some time and wanting to move again in three years because your home is not functioning for your family’s needs.

Best of luck on your metro Atlanta home search. And, as always, RE/MAX Greater Atlanta is here to answer your questions. Give us a call at 770-973-9700.

Georgia Sales Tax Holiday Set for July 29-31, 2016

7/22/2016

 

The Georgia Sales Tax Holiday is coming up soon.  The more you have to buy, the greater the need to take advantage of these tax-free dates. A long list of school supply items are included, with the restriction that the item be within the $20 per item price limit. It includes expected items such as backpacks, lunch boxes, paper, pens, pencils and markers. You may not know that it also covers blank CDs and DVDs, computer supplies, ink cartridges, organizers and most books found in the children’s section at the bookstore.

While the tax holiday is especially for families getting children ready to go back to school, it can be a benefit to any household. That’s because it includes a tax exemption for personal computers and accessories $1,500 and under, including printers, routers, scanners and hard drives (as long as these items are for noncommercial use).

Feeling a need to refresh or expand your wardrobe? Clothing is tax-exempt up to $100 per item. In addition to the standard fare of pants, shirts, jeans, skirts, etc, the approved list of items includes formal clothing, ties, belts, shoes, coats and sleepwear. It also includes exemptions for the youngest members of your household, as baby clothes are diapers will also be tax-exempt July 29-31, 2016 in Georgia.

So plan ahead and take advantage of this rare chance to avoid paying Georgia sales tax!

 

6 Regional Events and Activities to Close Out Summer 2016

7/15/2016

6 Regional Events and Activities to Close Out Summer 2016

With Cobb and Cherokee County schools going back the first of August as well as Fulton County schools returning August 8, time is running short to squeeze in that last bit of family fun before the back to school routine begins.

At RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, we want to make sure you make the most of these remaining weeks. Here’s a list of some fun activities and events going on between now and early August.

  1. Chattanooga, TN – about an hour and a half north of metro Atlanta, Chattanooga may surprise you with all the activities. The New York Times named it a Top 45 Destination to Travel. Their aquarium is amazing and has been named the top aquarium for visitor satisfaction. Also in the downtown area is a children’s museum, Hunter Art Museum, a 24/7 bike share system, a free electric bus shuttle system, and multiple ways to cruise the Tennessee River, from duck rides to riverboat cruises. Check out www.ChattanoogaFun.com for more details.

 

  1. 61st Annual Water Festival in Beaufort, SC. – This 10-day event is being held July 15-24, 2016. It includes a variety of events like an arts & crafts festival, concerts, shrimp boat tours, an air show, and a parade of boats on the final day. More info at www.bftfestival.com.

 

  1. Macon Music Festival – Save the date for Saturday, July 30th, if you’re a music lover. The event includes daytime family activities and a long list of evening music. Dozens of bands will perform at 12 different venues. Check out www.braggjam.org.

 

  1. Charlotte, NC and the Carowinds Amusement Park – one of the best kept secrets in the Southeast. This large amusement park has been around for decades and now include the Carolina Harbor Waterpark—all for the same admission price! The park offers 13 roller coasters, Planet Snoopy area and a Dinosaurs Alive section. www.carowinds.com

 

  1. Atlanta Ice Cream Festival – you had us at ice cream! This one day event is being held Saturday, July 23rd from 11 am to 6 pm at Piedmont Park. Now in its sixth year, check the site for a complete schedule of a varied list of activities. www.atlantaicecreamfestival.com

 

  1. Marietta International Film Festival – being held the first weekend of August. It features 72 films at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre in downtown Marietta. Visit www.marietta-film-festival.org for a list of films and viewing times.

And there you have it. We have scoured the internet to find these activities and hope you will be able to squeeze a few of these in before the start of the new school year.

Are You Financially Ready to Buy a Home in Metro Atlanta?

7/7/2016

 

Are You Financially Ready to Buy a Home in Metro Atlanta?

 

 The Atlanta housing market is currently making it more financially savvy to buy a home than continuing to rent. In Atlanta proper, a one bedroom apartment has a median rent price of $1,330, while a two bedroom costs a whopping $1,650. Think it’s much cheaper to rent outside Fulton County? Think again! In Alpharetta, median rental prices are $1,220 (only $110 less than Atlanta) and $1,460, respectively, with rents in Alpharetta increasing by 6.4% in the past year alone. Did you get a 6.4 % raise this year? Very unlikely!

 

Marietta fares better and, according to Apartment List, came in sixth in metro Atlanta for rental costs. A two bedroom in Marietta costs $980, while one bedrooms go for $850. While these numbers are much better than Atlanta or Alpharetta, rents in Marietta have jumped nearly 7% in the past year. As people are getting priced out of being closer to downtown, Marietta is a viable next option, with its close proximity to Atlanta. What this means for Marietta renters is  annual rental jumps will continue to be in the high single digits, if not hitting double digits.

 

According to an analysis of U.S. Census data, rents have increased more than THREE times as fast as incomes over the last five decades. With the annual increases we’ve discussed above, we can see how this could be possible.

 

A fixed rate mortgage, however, does not have these surprise increases. You are also paying on something that you could eventually own and that, historically, will go up in value over time. Many a first-time homeowner has walked away with a sizeable check after selling that first home. This money then helps pay down other debt or becomes a substantial down payment on the next home.

 

And with the metro Atlanta real estate market, it is completely possible to have a mortgage payment of less than $1,000 a month. So look at your budget and see if it’s time to stop being part of the 36% of Americans who are renters and consider being a homeowner. Your first steps should be to check your credit report/score and then get with a mortgage professional for a pre-approval. That’s when you will learn how much home you can afford and what interest rate you will receive based on your credit rating.

 

Want to find out if your dream of home-ownership can become a reality? Call RE/MAX Greater Atlanta today at 770-973-9700. We can connect you with our preferred mortgage lender to get you pre-approved and set you up to look at houses within the budget you are comfortable with—remember, you don’t have to buy a home as high as what you qualify for. What is the maximum mortgage payment you are comfortable with?

 

Let us amaze you today with what you can find on the market in your price range. We know if you do, you make the switch from renter to homeowner!

 

 

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