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4/7/2015 Simple Ways to Go Green at Home

When it comes to electricity, the savings in energy are enormous. Anything that has an LED light that glows even after you turn it off continues to draw power (that you pay for). Your TV, cell phone charger, and printer are likely culprits. Unplug these electronics from wall sockets and plug them into power strips instead. When you leave a room, flip the strip switch to cut the flow of electricity. By unplugging your electronics, you could save up to $200* each year.

It is easier to save energy when you know exactly how much and where you are using it. Investing in a home audit will pay off enormously. After your energy audit, you will receive a list of things you can do to limit consumption. On average, this will show how to save up to 30 percent* on utility bills. You can find an auditor through your utility company at low or no cost or click here.

When it is time to replace a household appliance, consider a product with an Energy Star label. Sponsored by the EPA and the Department of Energy, the Energy Star program rates products from light bulbs to kitchen appliances. This label guarantees that products are energy-efficient. Energy Star products use about 30 percent* less energy than the average comparable product -- an annual savings of about $570*. Purchasing Energy Star products may qualify you for a tax credit. For more information click here.

*These numbers are projected savings each year. Numbers are not guaranteed.

4/7/2015 Does The Condo Life Suit You?

Buying a condo instead of a single-family home offers first-time buyers, urbanites and empty nesters many advantages, including less maintenance, access to more amenities and sometimes a lower price tag. Not all condo associations or boards are created equal, so you should definitely research the property. Here are a few things you should consider when buying a condo or a townhome.

Find out how the homeowners association makes decisions about finances, use of common property and enforcement of bylaws. It's also a good idea to learn whether the property is managed by the homeowners or by a third-party management company. Be sure to review what is included in the homeowners association fees, and ask if there have been any special assessments, which could signal construction issues or poor financial management.

Determine if there are any rules that may be difficult to comply with. Common bylaws include pets, noise, parking, use of amenities and maximum occupants of the unit space. Just like a house, you should have the unit inspected before purchasing and assess the overall building.

The property management company should be able to provide a technical audit that details current conditions and anticipated repairs.

4/7/2015 RE/MAX Greater Atlanta and its Agents Recently Honored

While we seldom do this in our blog space, we felt it was important to let you know about some exciting honors RE/MAX Greater Atlanta and some of its agents have recently received.

First, long-time owners Ben Christopher and Denny Jones were each honored by RE/MAX of Georgia with a Legacy Award. This prestigious award is given at the discretion of RE/MAX for at least 25 years’ service within the company. Ben and Denny have owned this RE/MAX franchise in the East Cobb area of metro Atlanta since 1986.

Our 2014 top team, led by Matt Hester, was honored by the Cobb Association of Realtors as the #2 team in the Cobb metro area for sales production. Last week, Matt was also honored by RE/MAX of Georgia when his team made the top 10 RE/MAX teams in all of Georgia, placing eighth.

Kudos must also go to Scott Tufford, who was our 2014 top individual agent in our office.

In addition, today starts our new affiliate partnership with BrandMortgage. We are excited to have this company on board to help with our clients’ mortgage questions and needs.

As always, you can reach our RE/MAX Greater Atlanta office during normal business hours with your real estate questions, by calling 770-973-9700. Also, be sure to follow us on our Facebook Page for additional metro Atlanta real estate market updates at www.facebook.com/RemaxGreaterAtlanta.

 

 

3/16/2015 Tips for Selling in the Spring

Tips for Selling Your Home in the Spring Atlanta Real Estate Market

With Spring fast approaching in Atlanta, many begin to think about changing addresses by summertime. So, if listing your home in the Atlanta real estate market is on the horizon for you, here are a few tips to make sure your home sells quickly.

1. Keep your home clean--from listing appointment to accepted contract.This means decluttering, reducing amount of furniture if necessary, thinning out closets and possibly even cabinets, having the garage is tidy and not overflowing with extra belongings, and making sure the place looks fresh and clean. This may mean getting the carpets cleaned, the hardwoods shined up or even a fresh coat of paint in frequently trafficked areas. If necessary, rent a small storage unit to keep the overflow.

2. Do repairs you know about now. There's an extremely good chance these will be noticed by the buyer or the buyer's home inspector anyway, so why not take care of that leaky faucet, drafty bay window area, pressure-washing the sidewalk, driveway and siding, fixing doors or windows that stick, etc.

3. Don't forget about the exterior. As temperatures warm, so does the Atlanta real estate market. That's the perfect time to plant some colorful flowers by the mailbox, use flower planters by the front door, trim overgrown hedges, clean any clutter, lay down new mulch, etc. If the outside doesn't look warm and inviting, there's a very good chance potential buyers won't even get out of the car. No matter how amazing or updated the interior may be, you first have to get buyers in the door, so spend that small amount of time and money to make the outside looks like something that buyer would want to call home.

4. Price your home competitively. This can often mean interviewing more than one Realtor. It also means not necessarily accepting the highest listing price if comps in the area don't support that price. Make sure your Realtor comes to the appointment with a Comparative Market Analysis for your area. If homes similar in size and features to yours are selling for $300,000, it would be a mistake to try selling yours for $399,000. Grossly overpricing often leads to a very long period of time on the market, price reductions and can even lead to issues with the appraisal when your purchaser attempts to get a loan. Lending institutions will not issue loans beyond the value of the property. Otherwise, they would lose money should they have to take ownership of the house.

Make use of the tips above to make your home-selling experience go more smoothly. Questions about this or what home values are going for in your neighborhood? Call our RE/MAX Greater Atlanta office today at 770-973-9700. And be sure to follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RemaxGreaterAtlanta or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/RemaxGtrAtl for the latest news, articles and stats on the metro Atlanta real estate market.

2/21/2015 Quick Home Tips for Cold Weather

A Few Quick Home Tips for Cold Weather

With the extreme temperatures going on in metro Atlanta this week and into next week, a few quick reminders may be helpful to keep your home running well.

First, leave a couple faucets dripping, especially during overnight hours. If possible, leave a cabinet door open to help warmer area get to the faucet's pipes as well. The best faucets for this would be those nearest exterior walls. If you have a bathroom in a basement, do this there as well.

Second, don't make your furnace work too hard all at once. It's understandable to turn the heat down during daytime hours when everyone is away from home. However, upon returning home, it's best not to change the thermostat by more than a couple degrees at a time. This way you can gradually raise the temperature in your home without having your furnace work nonstop for a long stretch of time.

Third, check your furnace filter. HVAC professionals often recommend these be changed monthly during winter months.

Fourth, make sure all vents are unobstructed in your home. If you have an area such as a guest bedroom that's not being used, consider closing that vent so more warm air can flow to other areas of the house. If your basement is not getting a lot of use, these vents should still remain open as that area has closest access to the pipes for your plumbing.

Fifth, don't leave space heaters unattended. Be sure such heaters also have a wide area of clearance.

And finally, while this does not directly affect your home, it could affect being able to leave your home. With such sustained temperatures below freezing level, the oil and other fluids in your car tend to thicken up. Allow a little extra time to warm up your car for a couple minutes before leaving home. Your car will thank you and be less likely to strand you somewhere due to unnecessary wear and tear on your engine.

2/9/2015 Atlanta Real Estate Market Forecast for 2015

Atlanta Real Estate Market Forecast for 2015

We were fortunate to see mortgage rates remain low and even dip a few times in 2014. That trend should, for the most part, continue in 2015, with some economic experts predicting about a half percent rate increase during this year. If the Federal Reserve were to decide to raise that rate higher, it would stunt the new home sales price growth that has already started in the real estate market.

And in metro Atlanta, new home construction is sharply on the rise. When construction is on the increase, that’s a big boost for the local economy—more jobs, more money flowing into the economy for building supplies and from those added workers, etc. The University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business is projecting new home starts to increase nationally by a hefty 30 percent. In addition, existing home values were predicted to appreciate by 4 percent.

RE/MAX Greater Atlanta co-owner Denny Jones believes lower gas prices will have a very positive impact on the spring Atlanta real estate market and possibly beyond. He warned that conflicts in the Middle East, depending upon how much they escalate, could dampen the growth of the American economy, including the real estate market. It’s a gray area worth watching.

Jones also pointed out an important point that most media outlets are not covering. Those who completed short sales of their homes three years ago can now re-enter the real estate market as long as they have kept their credit up in the few years since the short sale. We will start seeing a surge of these people looking to become homeowners again. Nationally, for 2015 alone, this is at least a half million people. Realistically, this would mean several hundred if not thousands of metro Atlanta residents would fall into this category.

Overall, there will be an increase in metro Atlanta housing demand. For those who have been debating about selling or waiting for their homes to appreciate back to a better level, 2015 might be your year to change addresses. Get a market analysis done on your home today by a qualified, full-time real estate professional.

For those potential buyers who moved back in with parents after college or who never thought they could save up a hefty down payment, this may be your year as well, with down payment requirements easing. Pay down your debts such as credit cards as much as possible, check with a mortgage professional to see what you can qualify for and decide from there.

As always our RE/MAX Greater Atlanta real estate team is here to guide you and answer any questions you may have. Call us today at 770-973-9700.

 

12/30/2014 10 New Year's Resolutions for Buyers-Part 2

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Atlanta Home Buyers – Part 2

In part one of this blog topic, we focused primarily on credit ratings and mortgage roadblocks. Here, we will conclude with tips about the home search itself.

 

  1. Create two lists to help pinpoint your home search for both you and your real estate agent. List 1 should be the must have features for your home—number of bedrooms, whether you need a home office, number of bathrooms, garage, etc. List 2 should be more of a wish list for your future home—things not required, like a swimming pool, fenced yard or huge kitchen, but which would be great amenities to have at your new address.

 

  1. Narrow your search area before you begin. This will make it less overwhelming if you’re not criss-crossing over a multi-county area in metro Atlanta. Many home buyers use criteria such as a particular school district, a specific county, or a maximum driving distance from work.

 

  1. Employ the use of an experienced, full-time Realtor who knows the area in which you want to live. It’s great that your cousin’s neighbor sells real estate, but if they live 60 miles from your target area, it’s unlikely that person will have a good familiarity with a specific neighborhood near you.

 

  1. Have patience. Depending on the time of year, you may have fewer available homes on the market. Or your criteria may be so specific or extensive that it limits available inventory. Do not settle just because you are tired of looking for homes or your lease is ending in a couple months. This is perhaps the largest purchase of your life. Make sure your selection ticks off the boxes on your must-haves list.

 

  1. While this may seem contrary to what was just written, you need to develop the ability to decide quickly, especially in areas where it’s a seller’s market. A seller’s market means conditions favor the seller—high demand with low market inventory. If you are purchasing during a seller’s market, this typically means far more home buyers than homes on the market. Taking weeks to decide on a home could easily result in the home going under contract while you’re in limbo. It’s certainly okay to request to see a home a second time before deciding, but in price points, neighborhoods or school districts that are in demand, waiting too long could mean an extended home search because viable options keep getting snapped up.

 

Other questions about the Atlanta home-buying process? Call RE/MAX Greater Atlanta today at 770-973-9700. We have been serving the metro Atlanta real estate market for nearly 30 years.

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!

 

 

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