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12/16/2014 10 New Year's Resolutions for Buyers-Part 1

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Atlanta Home Buyers – Part 1

With a new year nearly upon us, our thoughts almost naturally turn to what we would like to accomplish in 2015. If buying a home is on that list of possibilities, our team at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta want to give you some helpful tips for accomplishing this major goal.

1. Know your credit score. This gives you a good starting point to predict any issues with getting approved for a mortgage. As a general rule, your credit score should be above 580 (recently lowered from a previous minimum of 640). The closer it is to the perfect FICO score of 850, the better. Higher credit scores usually equate to better interest rates.

2. Check your credit report for inaccuracies. It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 credit reports contain errors. Far better to dispute or correct these issues now than when you are in the middle of buying a home. Tensions will be high enough at that point!

3. Get pre-approved for a loan—sellers will take you more seriously and you will know the maximum you can afford and what payments will be. If the monthly payment for your maximum amount seems overwhelming to you, you can adjust your max accordingly. There’s also nothing more frustrating than finding the absolute perfect home, only to realize it is out of your price range.

4. Do Not, I repeat, Do NOT open any new credit accounts (e.g. bank or store credit cards, furniture payment plans, etc.) while in the process of buying a home. This is especially true after your credit report has been run initially. It will be run again before the final closing and we have seen this come back to sting Atlanta home buyers to the point of no longer qualifying for the loan.

5. Pay off or pay down credit cards and any other debts possible before you start the home-buying process. This will improve your debt to income ratio. It will also ease the financial strain you may feel those first months in a new home when expenses such as moving, painting, flooring and furniture have a way of adding up quickly.

Stay tuned next time when we finish out the list. Until then, feel free to call us at 770-973-9700 or email us with any questions about the above tips or the Atlanta home-buying process.

11/21/2014 Atlanta Real Estate

Atlanta Real Estate vs. the Rest of the Nation

As 2014 is quickly winding down, we wanted to provide an update on the metro Atlanta real estate market.

One extremely promising statistic involves the year-over-year median home sales price. Nationally, the average was up 7.4 percent over October 2013. However, Atlanta ranked in the top three cities in the nation, with an increase of 11.9 percent. That's about 50 percent better than the national average!

Nationally, the average months of for sale inventory dropped to 4.9 months. Six months is considered an equal balance of buyers and sellers in the marketplace. We are seeing a similar trend in Atlanta, with a slight shortage of move-in ready homes in most price points.

RE/MAX, LLC, CEO Margaret Kelly summed up the state of the real estate market in the October issue of the RE/MAX National Housing Report newsletter, “Home sales in 2014 started the year slowly and then rose to equal the strong sales in 2013. They’ve now surpassed last year’s levels for two months in a row. Following usual seasonal trends and with prices rising at a reasonable rate, the market appears to be settling into a more sustainable growth pattern.”

It gives much optimism as we move into 2015. Should a new place to call home be among your new year's resolutions? Sustained stats in the Atlanta real estate market and continued low interest rates point to yes!

11/12/2014 The Clock is Ticking!

The Clock is Ticking on a 2014 Home Sale or Purchase

With just over seven weeks remaining in 2014, time is growing short on any real estate sales or purchases you would like to accomplish by the end of 2014. Contract negotiations, loan approvals, home inspections and closings all take time. In addition, at this time of year, those who are buying or selling are usually pretty serious about doing so. Focused buyers can mean increased competition for purchasing a home and it may mean having to put in offers on homes beyond your first choice.

That's why, at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, we are encouraging those interested in metro Atlanta real estate to focus on their real estate needs now to accomplish their goal of being in a new home by year's end. Better to clear some time over the next couple of weeks to find that next ideal home than be resigned to the fact that "maybe next year" it will happen. Property values are increasing in Atlanta and waiting even another six months could cost homebuyers thousands more to live in the same zip code or neighborhood.

Talk to a qualified, full-time, experienced real estate agent today to learn more about your options in 2014. He or she can let you know what's available in your area, what price points homes start at in your preferred region, show you properties that match your wish list and set you up with a skilled mortgage professional.

With less than 60 days remaining in 2014, the time is now to list or sell your home!

 

 

10/27/2014 Winterize Your Home Now

Tips to Winterize Your Home

 

Preventive maintenance isn’t just for your vehicles. Although the Atlanta winter months are less extreme than other parts of the U.S., fall is a good time to make sure your home is operating efficiently.

 

Preventive measures to keep your home at its best this winter include:

 

  • Have your heating system serviced and inspected—especially if it’s two or more years since the date of the last check. You should also clean or replace the furnace air filter each month throughout the heating season. A clean filter will help the unit operate more efficiently, saving you money in the long run.
  • Monitor your home for excessive moisture in areas such as windows. Excessive condensation there can cause damage over time and may indicate you are losing warm air to the outside because of an improperly installed or sealed window.
  • Be sure the flue is open before building a fire in any fireplace. Once the fire is completely out, be sure to re-close the flue for energy savings.
  • Speaking of fireplaces, how long has it been since you’ve had the chimney inspected or cleaned?
  • Check the pressure and expiration date on all fire extinguishers. You should have at least one for each level of the house and another for the garage. Make sure others in your family are aware of all extinguisher locations.
  • With the time change in the upcoming weeks, be sure to replace batteries in all smoke detectors.
  • Check clothes dryer vents and hoses for lint build-up (which can cause a fire). Clean as needed with a brush and rod tool that’s available at your local hardware store.
  • If you do a lot of holiday decorating, inside or out, be careful not to over-tap a single outlet or circuit within your home. Use heavy duty extension cords and spread your electrical needs to a few different outlets.
  • In addition, the electrical cords for these infrequently used holiday items should be inspected for any wear, fraying, or loose/exposed wiring. If you see this or the cord feels warm to the touch, replace or discontinue using immediately.
  • Check for drafts throughout the house. As the weather first turns cool, this can be the best time to monitor if a door or other area is letting in colder, outside air.

 

To a warm, happy home this fall and winter season!

 


10/13/2014 Happy Fall Ya'll!

Happy Fall, Metro Atlanta!


My fellow metro Atlanta residents and homeowners, fall is finally here. No more extremely warm or humid days...at least for the next several months!  There's so much to do in Atlanta, Georgia, during these next several weeks--Apple Festivals, corn mazes, craft shows, pumpkin-picking, college and high school football games, community events, and much, much more!

So take advantage of this wonderful time and weather in metro Atlanta. Before you know it, we will be turning our thoughts to the holidays, staying warm, etc. Stay tuned here in the next couple weeks when we'll provide a list of some winterizing tips to keep you safe, your home more energy-efficient and prepared for whatever comes our way this winter.

9/12/2014 New Home for the Holidays!

Still Time to be in a New Home for the Holidays

Although we are still basking in decent, end of summer temperatures, it is only roughly two and a half months until the end of the year. If your goal in 2014 was to be in a new place or in your first home, time is running out. If you are determined to celebrate the holidays living at a new address, time is of the essence to begin your buying process. There's still time to close and move by the end of the year, but only if you act very soon.

Check out the real estate search feature on our site, get pre-approved by a reputable mortgage lender (we are happy to suggest our mortgage partner, Shelter Lending Services, see the link and contact information under our Services section), and make sure you have a full-time, experienced Realtor who knows the area, the market and how to negotiate on your behalf.

Getting started can be the hardest part about the home search process, but with the Atlanta real estate market quickly recovering and move-in ready homes going under contract so fast, you will be glad you did it this year, rather than waiting until next year.

To your new home search success!

 

8/25/2014 Happy Labor Day Weekend

Have a Safe and Happy Labor Day Weekend in Metro Atlanta

The last three-day weekend of the summer is almost here. We hope you take advantage of these end days of summer and have a wonderful time with friends and family. As always, metro Atlanta will have many activities and the Lake Lanier area will be quite crowded.

From everyone here at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, we want to wish you a fun-filled weekend. If a home search is not in your plans for this weekend, we hope you will enjoy the laser light show at Stone Mountain, a picnic with your family, or an Atlanta Braves game. Stay cool and hydrated everyone, as it is expected to be a warm weekend.



8/11/2014 Home Energy Conservation!

Home Energy Conservation is Possible, Even in the Summer

We are in the heart of summer and everyone's air conditioning is getting a strong workout. Do you cringe when the power bill comes in the mail? Here are a few tips that might help reduce the electric bill a bit in Hotlanta.

1. Programmable thermostat -- If you don't already have one of these or have one, but haven't learned to program it, this single tip can add up to real savings. Set it for a higher temperature during the day (3-5 degrees), then gradually have the temperature taper down to your preferred ideal in the hour or so before you normally arrive home. If you go away on vacation, program it again so it comes on much less.

2. Water heater temperature -- Reduce your water heater temperature setting from 140 to 120 degrees. Water will still be hot enough for showers, dishwashers, etc. They also sell timers for water heaters that can net additional savings.

3. Block sunlight -- Especially helpful when you're not at home, be sure to use those blinds and drapes to block out bright sunlight that can heat up a room.

4. Air vents -- Close those air vents in rooms that don't get used. If, for instance, you have a guest bedroom or rarely use the formal dining room, close those vents so you're not cooling rooms you don't need.

5. Take advantage of cool nights -- We sometimes have cool nights in metro Atlanta. Turn the A/C off and open all the windows. By morning, you may be pleasantly surprised when you check your thermostat. It may have dropped 5-10 degrees in your home. Just be sure to close all the windows and doors before you head out for the day (and before the temperature starts heating up outside).

6. Check the settings for both your refrigerator and freezer. These should not be on the highest number setting. Most manufacturers usually place a mark on the middle number to indicate that's the normal setting. However, if you're finding even the ice cream is a block when you get it out of the freezer, experiment by turning the settings down a half to a full number. It's possible you won't even see a difference...except in your power bill of course! Refrigerators and freezers are the most expensive appliance to run in your home so even a slight redo on the coldness setting will make a difference.

Here's to saving on energy bills, not just this summer, but year round!

7/22/2014 Getting It Sold With Summer Curb Appeal!

Getting it Sold with Summer Curb Appeal


Summer is one of the most active times in the Atlanta real estate market. You can make your home stand out amongst the others listed in your price point by making sure your home has summer curb appeal.

Let's face it, you need your home to make a good impression so those potential buyers will want to get out of the car and take a look inside. Doing a handful of tasks and low cost additions to improve your home's appeal can make a huge difference.

1. Go down to the street and take a critical look at your property from the perspective of a passer by. Does anything look dated, faded, cluttered, or out of place?
2. Your mailbox area is a great place to plant a few containers of budding annuals like petunias, and the cost is $15 or less.  Also, is your mailbox in good shape? Are the street numbers easy to read? Does the box need to be replaced (which is less than $10) or painted?
3. Power wash the walkway areas and front porch. If there are spots in the driveway, these may need to be addressed as well. It's inexpensive to rent a power washer for the day, or see if you can borrow one from a friend.
4. Remove clutter. Don't leave yard tools, the lawnmower, bikes, or kids toys strewn about.
5. Mow and weed regularly for a fresh and cared-for look.
6. Add color with flowers in other areas, like flower boxes or container gardens that you can put on the steps or near the front door. Make sure your front door area is easy to access and welcoming. A fresh paint job and a new colorful welcome mat can help tremendously.
7. Keep the yard and plants watered. You want everything to look green and fresh, not wilted, tired, or turning brown.
8. Add mulch to flower beds and shrub areas. At just a few dollars a bag, the investment will be well worth it.

If you're getting ready to list your house and you're not sure if your home has enough summer curb appeal, ask your Realtor for insight.

6/16/2014 June is National Homeownership Month!

June is National Homeownership Month!

In celebration of this being National Homeownership Month, take a moment to reflect on your current living arrangement. If you are a homeowner, congratulate yourself on attaining what many feel is one of the American dreams. It's easy, in our busy lives, to start taking such an achievement for granted, but you have made an investment in your future and should be proud of yourself.

If you are hoping to buy your first home or a different home this year, June is an excellent time to be assessing the Atlanta real estate market and conducting research about neighborhood price ranges and where you desire to live. Summer is a very active time to buy or sell real estate. Thanks to the Internet, there are now so many ways to begin your home search from the comfort of your home. We even offer a home search feature on our site here. Think about and research other factors as well--how does the school district compare to others in the area, what is the crime rate, how long would your morning commute be to your job, are property values going up, down or remaining steady in that neighborhood.

The Internet can be a great source for gathering information beyond just homes currently listed for sale. Or you can enlist the help of a qualified real estate agent to find a home containing your wish list--all while meeting those often important requirements of school ratings, crime rates, property values, etc. A Realtor will know this information or have ways to quickly access this information.

To your home-hunting success this summer!

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