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The American Twist Put to St. Patrick’s Day

3/17/2017

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The American Twist Put to St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all, from everyone at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta! While the history of Saint Patrick himself dates back to 4th century Europe, did you know the first parade honoring St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was held in New York City in 1762? It was held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army.

 

In addition, early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition with them of celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day in America. Many decades later, with the concentrated increase of Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread in the United States.

 

In Chicago, the Chicago River is dyed green for the day. Word is Niagara Falls is going green for the occasion this year. Even Krispy Kreme glazed donuts will be green for the day! Some locations of Atlanta-based Chik-fil-a will have green soft serve vanilla ice cream.

 

Today, across the country, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity by enjoying St. Patrick’s Day parades and other celebratory events and festivities. And millions more happily become Irish for a day!

 

 

Spring Fever in Atlanta Real Estate

3/10/2017

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Spring Fever in Atlanta Real Estate

With the weather in metro Atlanta giving every indication that Spring is already starting, it's not too early for Atlanta home sellers to be thinking about putting their homes on the market.  First, however, it's always good to take a little time to prep the home so it's looking its best for potential buyers.

The best place to start is with curb appeal. Drive up to your home as if you were seeing it for the first time. If anything looks run down, outdated, faded, dirty (such as windows, siding, sidewalks or driveway), or missing (such as a shudder or house numbers on your mailbox or box post), these quick fixes can do wonders. Add some color with potted plants or flower boxes. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint if necessary.

Making the interior more home buyer friendly and ready can be a bit more complicated. Not sure where to begin? Contact a RE/MAX Greater Atlanta agent at 770-973-9700 for an honest assessment of what needs to be done as well as market analysis of your home vs. the properties in the area.

Typically, it's good to stick with neutral colors and thin out furniture, knickknacks and even wall hangings if there are a great number, as much as possible. Closets and cabinets should not be to the point of overflowing. Otherwise, potential buyers will have concerns if their belongings will fit as well.  If possible, store extra furniture and boxes offsite or rent a storage unit.

And, if you're unsure whether to spend the money on a more significant update, such as updating a bathroom or replacing the flooring, ask your Realtor before starting the project. Sometimes it's just as well to offer an allowance for a particular update as to do the actual job. The allowance gives the buyer complete control of the finished look.

Even doing just the basics, like repainting one or two of the most used rooms, re-waxing hardwood floors, having carpets professionally cleaned, or even paying a few hundred dollars or so for a deep cleaning of your home, can make a positive impression when it's time for showings. The better your home looks, the faster it will sell and the higher the price will be when it does sell. Every dollar invested now will benefit you when it's time to close.

When Can You Cancel Private Mortgage Insurance Off Your Home Loan?

3/3/2017

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When Can You Cancel Private Mortgage Insurance Off Your Home Loan?

Private mortgage insurance or PMI as it’s commonly known, is an insurance that is automatically added to your home loan if you put down less than a 20 percent down payment. PMI is basically something that protects mortgage companies, but you get to pay for the premium.  While this premium is not likely to add hundreds of dollars to your payment, it is calculated based on the home’s value and the amount of the loan. It’s not uncommon for PMI to run $75-150/month (or more for higher mortgages).

 

This PMI does not have to remain on your loan indefinitely. Under federal law, lenders must cancel private mortgage on most mortgages made after July 29, 1999. This cancellation should occur automatically when the loan balance reduces to 78 percent of the value of the property at the time of the loan.

 

Another, lesser known part of this law, states that lenders have to terminate PMI at the borrower’s request when the balance hits 80 percent of the original value.  A word of caution: the lender does not have to accept your request if you have taken out a second mortgage, had an excessive number of late payments in the last couple years, or the property has decreased in value.

 

For those of you with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owned mortgages, the PMI cancellation rules apply only to the currently appraised home value, not the value at the time of the loan. This can be great news if you’re living in an area where property values are accelerating quickly.  Otherwise, it’s two years with loan balances with no more than 75 percent or, after 5 years, you owe no more than 80 percent of the loan.

 

No matter what your loan type, it’s good to check if PMI is still on there, what the amount is and how soon you might be able to get it off the note.  At even $100/month, that would mean $1,200 a year in your pocket. This could be the equivalent to an extra mortgage payment!

 

Have other questions about PMI? Contact RE/MAX Greater Atlanta today at 770-973-9700.

 

Do You Love the Place You Call Home?

2/10/2017

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Do You Love the Place You Call Home?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, love is, as they say, “in the air.”  While we hope everyone has a wonderful February 14th, we want to talk to you today about another kind of love. Do you love where you live? Loving your home is extremely important because it’s your haven from the outside world, the stresses of life, workplace pressures, etc. 

 

You easily spend a third to half your life there or more, depending on your life circumstances. Shouldn’t it be a place you enjoy? Does it have plenty of storage? Enough room for everyone in your family? Is the kitchen large enough for your cooking needs? Is the yard the size you prefer? Do you have a garage to keep your car(s) out of the weather and have additional storage space for things like bikes and lawn equipment? Is it in a good school district for your children? Is it fairly close to work or do you feel like you spend your life in the car going back and forth to work?

 

If you have been in your home five or more years, there’s a very good chance it no longer fits at least a few of your family’s current needs. Or, if you’re a college graduate who has been renting for that same amount of time, it may be time to give serious consideration to buying that first starter home or townhome.

 

In metro Atlanta, it is cheaper to be a homeowner than a renter and you will have a real estate investment to sell when it’s time to move. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk away with a check that has the potential to be many times larger than the deposit you would be getting back on your rental?

 

So if you’re no longer in love with your current home or have grown tired of apartment community living, start making that list of must-haves in a permanent residence—number of bedrooms, lot size, location,  garage, etc.  Next, make a list of real estate questions you might have about the current metro Atlanta real estate market.

 

Then contact RE/MAX Greater Atlanta today at 770-973-9700. Our agents our full-time, experienced real estate professionals who know the respective areas in which they serve. We would be happy to pair you with the perfect match for your real estate needs today!

 

 

 

 

The Groundhog is Predicting An Early Spring—We Say an Early Spring Real Estate Market!

2/3/2017

 

 

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The Groundhog is Predicting An Early Spring—We Say an Early Spring Real Estate Market!

 

Yesterday, Georgia’s groundhog Gen. Beauregard Lee predicted an early spring for our state. While it may only be early February, it’s not too early to be giving you a heads up as well as tips for the upcoming spring market. It will be here in a matter of weeks.

 

All signs are indicating a very busy market this spring in metro Atlanta real estate. Metro Atlanta continues to be one of the top 10 places in the United States for people to relocate. As more families clear out of the seven-year credit dip caused by experiencing foreclosures or short sales during the recession, they can now qualify for mortgages and are re-entering the home-buying market. Home starts in metro Atlanta have been ramping up for the last couple years and this trend is expected to continue its upward trend in 2017.

 

Median home prices throughout the metro Atlanta real estate market have been on the rise as have mortgage interest rates.  These two factors are causing many potential homebuyers to get off the sidelines and enter the market. Couple that with the fact that it’s cheaper to be a homeowner than a renter in nearly every area of metro Atlanta and you see why we at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta feel strongly that the entry to mid-level real estate market will be extremely active this year.

 

You can be ready when spring and summer arrives by assessing your finances now, cutting unnecessary expenses and debts, checking your credit report now, and speaking with a qualified mortgage professional to get prequalified. That way, if there are a few things you need to work on or you need a couple months to get a little more money saved for a down payment, you will have time to do that before summer arrives.

 

Have any questions or need a qualified mortgage broker referral? Contact RE/MAX Greater Atlanta today at 770-973-9700. 

 

 

Why 2017 Promises to be an Interesting Year in Atlanta Real Estate

1/13/2017

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Why 2017 Promises to be an Interesting Year in Atlanta Real Estate…   and When & How You Should Take Advantage Of It!

 

The new year is here! Last year was one of many surprises, scandals and crazy sound bites. With the changing of the calendar, however, is always a bit of new optimism, hope and motivation.

With the changing of the presidency later this month, there will also be many other unexpected changes, twists and turns in 2017. Real estate, across the nation, is in an upward trend with new home starts, home values, home sales and home appreciation. Every state, except Connecticut, experienced median home price gains in 2016. On the flip side, mortgage rates are increasing.

The Federal Reserve, or Fed as you may hear it referred to in the news, is in charge of raising, lowering or maintaining rates. The Fed raised the rate in late 2016 for the first time all year (and had only done so once in 2015 and zero times in several of the previous years due to the recession). Economic experts and the Fed, itself, has hinted it may raise the rate as many as three times in 2017. This will have a big effect on interest rates on how much home you can afford.

Those who will be particularly affected are first-time buyers and others with either limited income or high debt-to-income ratios. Your best bet is to not incur any additional debt if at all possible—no new store or bank credit cards, don’t buy or lease a new car, or get sucked into those new furniture ads that say you don’t have to start paying on your purchases until two years from now, etc. Debt is debt, whether or not it’s being paid right now.

If your goal is to go from renting to buying in 2017, you also don’t want to cancel any unused credit lines. It looks better to a lender that other financial institutions believe in you and have extended credit options to you, especially if you have a decent credit limit on that credit card. If you fear you will be too tempted to use the card either cut the card up or turn it into a popsicle in the freezer.

As we have stated numerous times in blog articles and social media posts before, Atlanta is one of those metropolitan areas in which it is cheaper to be a homeowner than a renter. As more people realize this or become stabilized enough in their professional and personal lives to want to settle in a particular area for a number of years, home buying becomes an attractive and viable option.

This year will continue a trend started in the last year or so—more potential homebuyers re-entering the market as people hit the seven-year mark for bankruptcies falling off their credit ratings (a widespread issue during the recession). The housing demand will still be there—at least in the short term, as people keep an eye on interest rates. The Atlanta real estate market should see great activity through the first half of 2017, including the always busy summer months.

After that, we will have to review, evaluate and report again here on the RE/MAX Greater Atlanta blog how the real estate market is doing and where it’s heading. Things can change so much in our world now in just about any area—stocks, real estate, manufacturing, technology, etc.—that it’s nearly impossible to predict an entire year at a time any longer.

That’s why our advice is to seriously consider making a home purchase a goal for the first half of 2017. Start by reviewing your finances. Where can you cut unnecessary expenses and start putting that money into savings instead for a down payment? Are you really using that LinkedIn premium membership billed to your credit card at $29.99/month? Do you need the biggest cable package at your network provider? Are you bad about getting data overage charges on your monthly cell bill? Which small bills can be paid off? Which items are you paying crazy interest rates on that could be done away with?

Next, get prequalified by a reputable lender. Not sure who to use? We have preferred lenders we can recommend. Just contact RE/MAX Greater Atlanta at 770-973-9700. They will run your credit and let you know whether you could qualify for a home loan right now, an estimate of how much your payments would be, as well as the price tag for how much home you can afford.

That way, you’re not prowling the web late at night and finding that “perfect” home for $325,000, only to find out later you qualify in the $240,000 range. It’s ALWAYS better to know, from the beginning, the price range you can afford as it avoids disappointment.

If credit issues come up, you can work to resolve them. Errors happen on credit reports all the time and it can take several steps and a good deal of time to get an item corrected and removed from your report. Or an old, unpaid item could appear on there that you completely forgot about from years ago. Yes, you can get a quick idea of your score by using apps like Credit Karma, but these are not infallible. One loan officer has mentioned finding scores from such places to be off by as much as 50 points.

After the prequalification, it’s all about getting a few key things together—making sure you have some money for a down payment (3-5 percent is more the norm now, vs. 10-20 percent that had been the rumor during the recession), your key must-haves list for your home (number of bedrooms, location, home style, etc.), and a reputable, full-time Realtor to represent you and find your ideal home. Lucky for you, April 15th is coming around soon. Most people get a return (vs. owing money), so don’t delay, file early and file electronically to get that refund back as soon as possible.

We hope you get the opportunity to take advantage of the 2017 Atlanta real estate market, particularly in the first half of the year while mortgage rates are still in the 4 percent range. Check back on our blog weekly (found on our site at www.realestateatlantaga.net) as we keep you informed with market changes and updates. Or contact our office at 770-973-9700 with your real estate concerns or questions. Make it a great year!

Thank You, Atlanta, for A Great Year in Real Estate

12/30/2016

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Thank You, Atlanta, for A Great Year in Real Estate

As 2016 comes to a close, our sales team at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta wanted to thank you metro Atlanta, for allowing us to serve you this year. It was a hallmark year for us, as we entered our 30th year of serving Atlanta, Marietta, Kennesaw, Smyrna, Dunwoody, Roswell, Alpharetta, Woodstock, Acworth, Canton, and the surrounding area.

 

We think most would agree it has certainly been a strange and eventful year that won't soon be forgotten.

As we set our sights on 2017, our goal is to help even more metro Atlanta families change addresses than we did in 2016. With new home construction heavily ramping up in the region, interest rates that will only continue to rise throughout the year, and more people entering the housing market from the rental market, 2017 has all the indications of increased activity.

 

We look forward to continuing to provide real estate news and information here in 2017 and are always happy to take your calls and emails with real estate questions. We wish you a safe, happy and prosperous new year!

 

Happy Holidays, Atlanta!

12/22/2016

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Happy Holidays, Atlanta!


From our entire team of agents, brokers and staff at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, we wanted to wish you a very happy holiday season to end 2016. Hanukah begins December 24th, Christmas is the 25th and of course we will be ringing in the new year on the evening of December 31st.

No matter what you are celebrating or where your holiday plans take you, make it a time of happy memories with friends and family. You have worked hard the entire year and most people getting pretty stressed out in December with the social and holiday demands of the month. As the last hours of work near before the holidays, do your best to take a few breaths, center yourself and refocus yourself to be in the moment with your loved ones.

We look forward to returning here on the blog again in 2017 with informative real estate topics and stats to keep you informed about metro Atlanta real estate. Until then, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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Thank You for Helping Make Our Toys for Tots Drive a Success!

12/16/2016

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Thank You for Helping Make Our Toys for Tots Drive a Success!



On behalf of metro Atlanta's kids in need, RE/MAX Greater Atlanta would like to thank you for your generosity in responding to our Toys for Tots drive. It officially ends today at the end of the business day. However, we've already had to make a run to a main drop-off site this morning because both our collection boxes were filled to overflowing!

We had a nice response from our agents, brokers, staff and building tenants. However, it was thrilling to see non-affiliated people from the East Cobb area stop by and place a toy or two in the boxes. We will make another donation run after today with any additional toys that come in this afternoon. We are already over 100 toys!

Thank you for responding, Marietta residents! With your generosity and giving spirit, we have helped make this Christmas season a little brighter for dozens of area children!

Happy holidays, everyone!

Our Annual Toys for Tots Drive is Under Way!

12/9/2016

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Our Annual Toys for Tots Drive is Under Way!

 

For many years, RE/MAX Greater Atlanta has been a drop-off site each holiday season for the Toys for Tots drive.  And 2016 is no exception. The U.S. Marines National Toys for Tots Christmas toy drive is a cause near and dear to us.

 

From now until Friday, December 16th, at 4 pm, we will be collecting new toys.  If you would like to support the toy drive and donate an item or two, please bring new and unwrapped toys to our office at 2050 Roswell Road in Marietta (East Cobb). We are on a busy road close to several shopping areas. So, while you’re out, won’t you think about picking up an item or two and help make a child in need’s Christmas a little brighter?

 

Toys for Tots donation boxes are located in the front lobby of our office and we are open are Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

 

Your donations will help children in the metro Atlanta community. Thank you, in advance, for your generosity! Happy holidays!

 

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