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Spring is Here--Time to Begin Landscaping!

4/28/2017

 

 

 

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Spring is Here--Time to Begin Landscaping!

 

Spring is here and metro Atlanta temperatures are making it easy want to get out and spruce up those flower beds that have looked so sad all winter. This time of year, it’s time to make a whole list of priorities about landscaping and maintaining your yard.

 

Clean up and pruning are the first order of the day. Rake up all leaves, twigs and other debris. Prune back all shrubs and bushes, but let spring flowering shrubs complete their bloom first. Since roses are nonspring-blooming plants, you can prune these bushes as well. Pruning will rejuvenate the plants and allow light into the plant’s interior. 

 

Most people know they should fertilize their lawns with the onset of warmer weather, but you should also apply a slow-release shrub fertilizer to all shrubs. Now is a good time to check the health of the trees in your yard to see how they fared this winter.

 

Early spring is a great time to prepare your annual or perennial flower beds. Late April and early May are the ideal time to plant these, after you have tilled the bed and added rich compost or topsoil.

 

Spring is a critical time to get ahead of weed control in your flower garden area. Apply an herbicide or add landscape fabric to prevent later weed outbreak. To avoid crabgrass sprouting up in your lawn, apply a pre-emergent fertilizer (unless you are planting grass seed and then these areas should not have fertilizer applied). Crabgrass doesn’t usually appear until summer, but it starts the germination process in mid-spring so this is the time of year when it’s most vulnerable.

 

Check with your local nursery or garden center for the best bulbs and plants to be planting this early in the year. Planting a bulb, plant, bush or tree at the wrong time of year is often the difference between failure and success.

 

Springtime is also an excellent time to check your lawn equipment and tune up mowers, trimmers and tillers. Get the blade sharpened or replaced in your lawn mower. Change the oil in your equipment. Check hand tools for cracked or dry handles and either treat with linseed oil or paint to protect the wood handles and extend their life.

 

Even if you’re thinking of selling your home this summer, these spring landscaping tips should be followed now to avoid weed or other problems while your home is listed for sale. Did you know a home with a well-maintained and designed landscape can increase a home’s value as much as 15 percent?

 

If playing in the dirt is not all that appealing to you, there’s no time to waste contacting landscape companies to find a fit for your needs and budget before they are all completely booked for the season.

 

Either way, the end result will be a thriving green lawn and colorful flower bed and plant area to take pride in every time you pull in the driveway. It will be something you and your family can enjoy daily now that nice weather is here.

2017 Earth Day Events in Atlanta

4/22/2017

 

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2017 Earth Day Events in Atlanta

Earth Day, celebrating each year on April 22nd, is in its 47th year of raising awareness about environmental protection. It also marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

In 2017, we have the added advantage of Earth Day falling on a Saturday, which increases the number of activities happening in the metro Atlanta region. Here’s a quick rundown of a variety of activities and events taking place around metro Atlanta this weekend.

Earth Day Recycling Event 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 22. If you need to unload old TV sets, paint cans, paper or metal scrap, take them over to Pope High School on Saturday for their Earth Day Recycling Event. For a $10 donation, reduce your clutter while helping keep the planet clean. Pope High School, 3001 Hembree Road NE, Marietta. popebandrecycling@gmail.com    www.popeband.com

Earth Day Celebration at the Dunwoody Nature Center 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 22. Dunwoody Nature Center. 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody.  www.dunwoodynature.org

Join the Dunwoody Nature Center in celebrating Earth Day with paint recycling, yoga with Sweet Escape Yoga and stargazing with the Atlanta Astronomy Club.

13th Annual Alive! Expo Atlanta. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 22 and 23. $10 per day per person. Cobb Galleria Centre. 2 Galleria Pkwy SE, Atlanta. 770-806-7492www.aliveexpo.com

Have a health-conscious weekend by visiting the expo. Not only will you get a chance to visit with naturopaths, chiropractors and alternative practitioners, but you'll also see exciting demonstrations, try samples and learn about living a clean, green lifestyle.

Tillman Honor Run. 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday, April 22. Free to watch, $40 for adult racers, $10 for child racers. North Point Mall. 1000 North Point Circle, Alpharetta. 678-274-7743www.awesomealpharetta.com

Get your running shoes on, because the Tillman Honor Run will take place at North Point Mall on Saturday. In honor of Pat Tillman, this race will raise money for the Tillman Scholar program.

Bike Roswell! Saturday Morning Ride 8 a.m. Saturday, April 22. Free. Roswell Area Park. 10517 Woodstock Road, Roswell. 770-640-3253www.roswellcyclingfestival.com

To celebrate the start of the 2017 Roswell Cycling Festival, Bike Roswell! will host the Saturday Morning Ride at the Roswell Area Park. Bring your bike at 8 a.m. This event is not for beginners, as the planned route is to travel around 25 miles through Roswell!

Atlanta Night Market

Gwinnett Place Mall, 2100 Pleasant Hill Rd, Duluth;  $10 weekend pass;  $5 per day pass with children under 12 free.

The open-air, night market will feature more than 200 art, food and drink vendors, as well as musicians and cultural performances. The three-day event will also feature a juried art festival, kid zone, specialty drinks and desserts, a vegan festival, an international beer village, and several international food villages that represent sustainable living. The Atlanta Night Market will run 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.  

March for Science Atlanta

Inspired by the Women’s March earlier this year, Atlanta’s version of the March For Science is a nonpartisan event hoping to send a strong message regarding the “current administration’s writing off of climate change as a hoax.” 

The program will begin at noon with a series of speeches from “science enthusiasts and activist.” The march will begin at 1 p.m., beginning in Candler Park and taking a 2.2-mile route around the Little Five Points area before returning to the park. Atlanta-based scientists will stick around after the march to answer questions.  

Noon. April 22. Candler Park Drive, Atlanta. Marchforsienceatlanta.org

Georgia Aquarium’s “Superhero Day” 

Georgia Aquarium’s Earth Day is dedicated to helping children and adults become “superhero(s) of the sea.” The day-long celebration will feature interactive activities from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.,  geared towards educating families on what they can do to help protect marine life.  

Bring a child who is 12 or younger dressed in his/her favorite superhero costume and receive a free child’s admission with a paying adult ticket.  9 a.m.-4 p.m. April 22.

 

 

Income Taxes Due April 17th This Year – Pitfalls to Avoid

4/7/2017

 

 

 

 

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Income Taxes Due April 17th This Year – Pitfalls to Avoid

 

You read that right. In 2017, you have a couple extra days to complete your taxes. The weekend immediately before includes Easter and, for many families, this is a time of celebration and family activities. So…this weekend of April 8th and 9th is probably a better time to close yourself off from the world and attempt the daunting task of understanding the intentionally vague tax form language.

 

For those filing extensions to turn in completed tax forms later, your deadline to do so is April 18th. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re certain you are going to owe money, this may not be a recommended way of putting off the inevitable. The IRS still expects payment by April 17 (or you will be paying a penalty for each month you have not filed and paid).

 

Other Pitfalls to Avoid…

 

  1. Transposing numbers. An easy mistake to make the longer you work with all these forms and numbers!
  2. Simple math errors. This would be eliminated if you’re using one of the online filing programs, of course, as it does the additions and subtractions for you.
  3. Failing to add life events of the last year. Because you may have never included such events on your tax returns before, it can be easy to forget to add them now. This includes such events as marriage, having a baby or buying a house.
  4. Forgetting to sign all required areas of the tax forms. Again, if you’re filing with one of the electronic systems, they each seem to do a pretty thorough job of making sure every required box is filled in, included signature areas, before the forms are transmitted electronically.

 

The most commonly used tax forms can be found here along with a brief description of when they are most commonly used.

 

The following apps might help make tax information-gathering easier next year:

 

Charitable Deductions – try downloading the free app ItsDeductible Charity Donation Tracker. Created by Intuit in the hopes you’ll use their tax software (everything saved in the app “conveniently” imports into their TurboTax software), it’s still a great place to have all your donations in one place. It’s good for adding those small, spur of the moment donations. You can also make a list of donated items and it will help accurately value these donated items for your tax return—this is often a difficult area to correctly handle when it’s time to sit down and crunch numbers.

 

Gas Mileage for Work – as real estate professionals, we can relate to this issue in a big way! Realtors have a huge amount of mileage to deduct annually. With technology, it’s now much easier than having to painstakingly jot down starting and ending mileage in a mileage book. Dozens of paid and free apps exist that track the mileage for you! Try Everlance Free Mileage Log Expense Tracker or MileIQ Free Mileage Tracker & Log for Business.

 

Tips and Alternatives While I-85 is Shut Down in Atlanta

3/31/2017

Tips and Alternatives While I-85 is Shut Down in Atlanta

 

The collapse of a portion of Interstate 85 yesterday has certainly taken over the local and national news.  Now that the reality is setting in and we wait to hear exactly how long it’s going to take to fix this major expressway going through the heart of Atlanta, what are your options? It’s time to come up with several alternative plans to get you through the coming months.

 

First, here’s the latest from the Georgia DOT. A 700-foot section of 85 northbound will need to be completely replaced and is shut down. The southbound section of 85 also sustained fire damage, will need to be replaced, and a smaller section of it has also been closed.

 

For those who relied on I-85 to get to and from downtown Atlanta or the airport area, life just got much more complicated.

 

Going To or From Downtown

If you have never used or been a fan of public transportation, now would be a great time to bone up on it and give it a try. Bus, train, whatever will get you closest to your destination. It would not be a great surprise if additional busses or train cars were added to meet the demand over the coming months.

 

Take this weekend to really familiarize yourself with some of the much smaller, lesser known surface streets. While we have provided you with some helpful links below to alternative routes due to street closures and exit ramp closures, these will be the routes everyone will be following. Perhaps there is another way simply by going just a few extra miles out of your way.

 

Consider creating a temporary carpool with friends, coworkers or neighbors. The fewer cars on the road right now the better. If you and a coworker only live a few miles apart, why not take advantage of that? Having another person or two in the car may also decrease the frustration levels, as well, if you do get stuck in traffic and make the time pass more quickly.

 

Mondays and Fridays are notoriously the worst traffic days during rush hour. If you have a ton of vacation time built up, now might be the time to start taking some long weekends. Some businesses may need to go back to flex times or offer more work at home flexibility.

Going To or From the Airport

Consider taking MARTA. Now more than ever, that may be your best option. If driving is still a must, take I-285. Sure it will take longer, but your blood pressure will probably thank you. Consider hiring a driving service. Let them figure it all out while you relax in comfort in the back seat. These services, unless you go the way of a stretch limo coming to get you, are actually pretty affordable.

 

If your flight is early in the morning or during the heart of rush hour, consider going down the night before and staying at a nearby hotel. Most of these offer a complimentary service to get you to the airport and either a free or reduced rate to leave your vehicle at the hotel while you’re away.

 

And finally, if you haven’t booked your flight yet, be more conscious of the flight time now to take advantage of one of the above game plans. Or consider flying out of Chattanooga. The drive up is quite easy—a straight shot up I-75 north and the airport is much smaller and easier to navigate. From Marietta, the drive should take you roughly 75 minutes. The airport is located in the southern part of the Chattanooga region so you won’t even have to drive through downtown Chattanooga. Just keep in mind there will be far fewer daily flight options.

 

Other Necessities:

  1. The Waze app. It’s fantastic! Gives you up-to-the-minute updates on accidents, materials in the road, speed traps and more. It can do this partially because of user participation. You will be amazed by how accurate it is as well. It’s bad enough that you will have to go an alternate route, but what if that route now has an accident blocking an intersection? You will have that information to come up with plan B or C in seconds.
  2. Good music or audio books. Your ride is very likely going to be longer so why not make it more pleasant? Audio books will definitely take your mind off how much longer it’s taking.
  3. Snacks and extra liquids. As temps are getting warmer, it’s not a bad idea to keep some extra bottled water or flavored water in your car as well as some nonperishable snacks, especially for that afternoon commute. While surface streets will give you more options for stopping for something, why extend the drive any longer than necessary? Keep things like granola bars, nuts, chips and protein bars (without chocolate coating) within easy reach so that plummeting blood sugar isn’t a contributing factor to a case of road rage!
  4. P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E. Remember, we are all in this together. It’s not you against the other drivers. We all want to get to our destinations safely and as quickly as possible. Everyone is being inconvenienced by this so patience, understanding and cooperation will go a long way.
  5. Evening Activities. If you find you have had an incredibly bad day at work and your entire body is tensed up at the thought of your commute home, take a little time before joining the follow the leader madness to get yourself in a better place. Keep sneakers in the car to take a walk or make plans to go to the gym after work so that you avoid rush hour altogether. Run errands. Meet a friend for dinner.

 

Below, we’ve provided some links to area maps and details about alternate routes and road closures to help inform you about how to get around, without using I-85 near where it comes into I-75 close to Georgia Tech.

 

If you’ve found this blog post from RE/MAX Greater Atlanta helpful, we urge you to pass the direct link along to someone you know who could use the information. Or just repost it on Facebook or other social media. We want it to help as many people as possible!

 

Helpful Map and MARTA Links to Alternative Routes:

 

http://www.cbs46.com/story/35038346/alternate-routes-after-collapse-of-i-85-in-atlanta#ixzz4cvQxjOgp


http://www.11alive.com/traffic/alternate-traffic-routes-for-i-85-collapse-/427152080


http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/245176761-story


http://www.cbs46.com/story/35040257/how-to-use-marta-around-the-mess

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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