Monday, March 30, 2009

Be a Smart Buyer- Hints for MOVERS and Shakers!

You've heard everybody saying that it's a great time to buy, right?
It is certainly a buyer's market currently, but you can still make some costly mistakes, if you don't know what you're doing.
Here are a few buyer basics to keep in mind while you're out looking for your dream home.

1) Don't move money around when you're in the process of buying a home. Banks want to see a very stable financial picture, and they need to track where your money has been the past few months. Don't take money out of your 401K and put it into your savings account. It's like fooling yourself into thinking you have more available funds than you really do.

2) Get a pre-approval letter from your lender, not just a pre-qualification. When you have been pre-approved for a certain amount of money, it's like shopping with cash. It puts you in the best possible negotiating position, especially if you are in a bidding war. Sellers want buyers who are ready to close.

3) Keep your credit impeccable. This seems like a no-brainer, but don't charge anything more on your credit card. Lenders will be checking your credit score right up to closing day, and in the long term, you just don't want to start off with too much debt!

4) Watch out for arbitrary fees in your mortgage documents, such as document processing, courier fees, postage, etc. Don't be afraid to check with your realtor and lender about anything you don't understand.

5) Avoid boundary disputes- get a survey. I always advise my clients to buy that extra piece of mind that a survey provides. Just because someone said the property line is "just behind those trees", doesn't make it so. A survey is very good preventive medicine!

6) Don't try to time the market. Nobody knows when the market is at its lowest point. We can only determine the bottom after things start moving upward, and then we're not at the bottom anymore! The best time for you to buy is when you find your perfect home at a price you can afford. Sometimes we make money going IN to a house, and sometimes we make money going OUT. Rarely are we lucky enough to catch both sides of that equation.

I could go on and on with things to keep in mind when you're buying a home, but here is a really good tip.....When you are about to move into a new area, spend some time stalking the neighborhood! No, not illegal stalking, but rather, walking around, checking things out at different times of the day and evening, so you can get a better feel for things.

Can you think of any other good tips? Something that helped you during the buying process?
Please comment! We'd love to hear from you!

Rates are great, so don't be late!


Friday, March 27, 2009

First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

Video: Tax Credit for First-Time Home Buyers from
National Association of Home Builders

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's Easy Being GREEN

Yesterday, St Patrick's Day, I had the opportunity to tour a "Green Home", and I was very inspired to bring more "green" into my daily life. The home that we toured featured many energy-saving systems and has been built with local materials, minimizing the footprint of the building process. Listing agent, Mia Hannah, told us that the annual energy bill for this home is $150.00! When you are in the Roswell area, take time to go over and tour Weatherford Place, the community of EcoCraft Homes near Historic Roswell.

The home is open to tour on Wednesdays from 1-5, Sundays, 1-4 or by appointment.

Here are a few simple changes we can make in our daily lives to promote our healthy planet.

1. Lower your thermostat. Buy a programmable thermostat.
2. Reuse your water bottle. Avoid buying bottled water. In fact, reuse everything at least once, especially plastics.
3. Check out your bathroom. Use low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets.
4. Start a compost in your back yard or on your rooftop.
5. Buy foods locally. Check out Eat Local Challenge and FoodRoutes to get started. Buy locally made products and locally produced services.
6. Buy in season.
7. Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs. You'll find more on energy-efficient products and practices at Energy Star.
8. Turn off lights and electronics when you leave the room. Unplug your cell phone charger from the wall when not using it. Turn off energy strips and surge protectors when not in use (especially overnight).
9. Recycle your newspapers.
10. Car pool. Connect with other commuters at eRideShare.

My father worked for a utility company, and I can still remember him always reminding his four daughters to turn off lights, television sets, curling irons, etc., etc.

I tell people my family was energy conscious long before everybody else caught on!

I would love to hear from any of you who are making green changes in your home.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Short Sales- A Short Course

Over the past few months it seems those of us in the Real Estate world have developed a whole new vocabulary full of unfamiliar- and somewhat scary terms. Foreclosure, REO, Short Sale, Loan Modification to name just a few.

Let's start with "Short Sale". Only a couple of years ago, hardly any of us had ever heard this term, and today, unfortunately, it is an all-too-common situation. Nationally, about 11.18% of all mortgages are falling somewhere in the ballpark of "at least 1 past-due payment, all the way up the process to foreclosure. That is a staggering number!

As a Realtor, I wanted to become proficient in handling Short Sales, because I could see that this was the best way to help distressed sellers avoid the devastation of foreclosure and salvage some of their credit rating. Short Sales also help the community by keeping home values up.

So, what is a Short Sale? A Short Sale means that the lender agrees to take less on the sale of a home than is owed in order to avoid the expense of foreclosing on the property. The seller must demonstrate that there has been a hardship, e.g., job loss, medical expense, etc, that is making it impossible for him to keep up the mortgage payments. Sellers must provide documentation of income, expenses, etc., to the lender, and the lender ultimately approves the sale of the home at the lesser price. The seller does not receive any of the proceeds of the sale.

Recently, President Obama has proposed legislation that would help some distressed homeowners to stay in their homes. Some people will be allowed to refinance their mortgages and some will qualify for loan modifications. The specifics of these new laws are not totally clear just yet.

If you are a homeowner who has suffered job loss or other conditions making it very difficult or impossible for you to make your mortgage payment, don't hesitate to contact a knowledgable Realtor or Lender who can help you navigate through the process. Don't avoid the issue. If you are having trouble, talk to someone who can help you.

Enjoy the weekend and the beautiful sunshine!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Linda's Best Buys: He Who Hesitates has Lost a Super Deal!

Our Buyer's Market continues.......... Atlanta home prices have declined to 2002 levels. Yes, it is a challenging time for sellers, but I still believe that if you price correctly right from the start, (Chasing the market doesn’t work) and make sure your home is in tip-top condition, you can be successful.
Have you thought about “moving up”, but think you can’t sell your present home? This is really a great opportunity! Think about it. If you give up 10% on the sale of your present home valued at $300,000 and then win a 10% concession on the purchase of your $500,000 dream home, you are a winner, since 10% of 500,000 is a lot more than 10% of 300,000!

On the left, a super value at only $149,900 is this contemporary home in an ultra-convenient location. Close to Woodstock, Alpharetta and Roswell with very convenient access to major highways, this home is undergoing a kitchen remodel! If you are a first-time buyer (take advantage of the new $8,000 tax credit) or if you are an investor, no renovations needed!

The home below is a fantastic deal in Wexford. Lakefront, 4-bedroom, 2-bath, hardcoat stucco, master on main, 3-car garage, granite counter tops, ¾ acre lot in a swim/tennis neighborhood. This home has been reduced from $399,000 to $289,900!

I don’t think this one will be around long at this price.

Call me on either one of these great homes, and let’s go take a look. We just might find your dream house- at a DREAM PRICE!!
Home prices are low, Interest rates are low, and inventory is high.
If I was a betting person, I'd say those are pretty good odds!
Think about it and give me a call.
Here's to your "Sweet Home Alpharetta",