Friday, December 28, 2007

Support For Homeschooled Students in Cherokee County

Canton is getting enrichment classes for homeschooled students!

The Cherokee County Arts Center is hosting a new series of enrichment classes for homeschooled students who live in the northern part of the county and beyond. Tisha Gotte, the director, expects to attract students from Dahlonega, Jasper and Ellijay.

There will be 3 sessions this school year. Session 1 runs from Jan. 7 to Feb. 16. Session 2 will run from Feb. 25 to April 5 and the third session will run from April 14 to May 24. You can get more info about these classes by clicking HERE or by calling the Cherokee County Arts Center at 770-704-6244.

Classes include:
1. Creative Movement/Dance
2. Art in Nature
3. Concoctions & Contraptions
4. Drawing
5. Piano
6. Multimedia Art
7. Public Speaking/Debate
8. Pastels
9. Drama/Theatre
10. Creative Writing
11. Anime/Cartooning
12. Rock-n-Roll Chorus
13. Sculpting with Sculpey
14. Simple Machines
15. Robotics I

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Exit Strategies for Real Estate Investments


Although I think now is not a good time for investors to reduce their inventory in the Atlanta housing market, (in fact just the opposite, you should buy more houses) some of them must do so. I have a few ideas of just how to do that without losing their equity.
The first is obviously to sell the property. To get the most for the property, you should sell it as quickly as possible. You can do that by making sure it is in very good condition, has a fresh coat of neutral paint, new or clean carpet and is priced right. You should also be sure that it has a clean yard and working appliances. If you want to go the extra mile, you should consider staging the house. When it's ready to sell, you should give me a call at 770-862-8002 and set up a listing appointment. I will use my Internet marketing plan to get your home maximum the exposure possible. My "Featured Homes" (click here for an example) listings on REALTOR.com are getting over 100 property views a day!

If the house is a "fixer-upper" and you don't have any cash to put into selling it at a retail price, I can help you with that, too. Because I am associated with a group of local investors, I can get you a cash offer, close in 7 days and you can walk away from your problem with at least some money in your pocket.

Another option for getting out of that property is to rent it. Being a landlord isn't for the faint of heart and you should know what you are doing when you begin to screen your tenants. When you have the right ones, it can be a win-win for everyone. You will have someone else paying for your mortgage and they will have a house to live in for a period of time.

Lease purchase options have become very popular now because of the fall-out from the sub prime mortgage problems. You get the benefits of a tenant who will take care of the property as if it were his own (because someday it probably will), a non-refundable option payment up front and also the sales price you need. Because they are not buying the property today, your sales price can be based on tomorrow's price, not today's. I have a lot of experience in the area and would be happy to help you.

If your payments have gone haywire, you can also call your lender to see about refinancing the property. Sometimes, the lenders are willing to work with you to help avoid going into foreclosure when you are having trouble making the payments. It will not hurt you to call and talk to them about a "rate and terms" refinance option.

If you are not sure what a good strategy would be that fits your situation... give me a call and I can help you think about what would work for you.

Michael Bradford 770-862-8002

Southern Prime Realty

Your Cherokee County Georgia Real estate Specialist



HGTV's "Green Home" Giveaway

In the spirit of environmental consciousness, HGTV has gone “green” with their newest dream home giveaway. The contest, which will run from March until May of 2008, will feature a house in Hilton Head, SC that was designed to provide people with “examples of affordable, accessible and eco-friendly approaches to living."

HGTV has registered the home with the LEED For Homes certification. LEED is a voluntary rating system created by the U.S. Green Building Council, which plans to launch a nationwide residential LEED certification program later this year. It will be a baseline program to set uniform standards for “green” homes.

The HGTV house will be open for public tours beginning in the spring. It will be decorated with eco-friendly products and materials by designer Linda Woodrum. HGTV will offer viewers a 360 degree online tour of the home beginning Monday, March 3, 2008. Viewers who are interested in earth friendly ideas for their homes can tune into HGTV's show Red, Hot & Green. it airs next on Jan. 1 at 7am.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Local Charities Need Last Minute Help


Friday, December 21, 2007

Buy Investment Property Now



Home prices nationwide are now at their lowest prices in over 25 years. Interest rates are low and expected to go down a little more. If you have ever thought about buying an investment property to add to your portfolio, I have several in mind right now that would generate a healthy monthly cash flow and increase in value over the years.
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If you would like to learn more about investing in real estate, I can teach you how to buy them (where you make the money), how to rent them out to reliable tenants and how to generate a monthly cash flow. I can also share tips with you about how to turn your property into a tax advantage. Give me a call today at 770-862-8002 and let's talk.


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Michael Bradford

Southern Prime Realty

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Woodstock Youth Wins Grant










The Del Monte Foods "Do Something" program has honored 6 year old Lizzie Marie of Woodstock with a $2,500 grant for her creation of healthy cooking/nutrition shows to be shown in hospitals. Lizze was the youngest winner (by far) of the 10 recipients of this award. You can read more about this contest by clicking HERE or you can visit the Do Something website by clicking HERE. Woodstock is proud of Lizzie Marie!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Feds: Home Mortgage Proposal

The Feds have decided that people taking out new mortgages need more protection from predatory lenders. This article describes their plans to place new restrictions and limitations on lenders who make loans to higer risk borrowers.
The new proposal "would restrict lenders from penalizing risky borrowers who pay loans off early, require lenders to make sure these borrowers set aside money to pay for taxes and insurance and bar lenders from making loans without proof of a borrower's income. It also would prohibit lenders from engaging in a pattern or practice of lending without considering a borrower's ability to repay a home loan from sources other than the home's value."
Whenever government gets into the realm of making more laws and restrictions, there are always saavy people looking for loopholes to turn them into an advantage. I would like to see less regulations on what lenders can or cannot do but more disclosure to the borrowers about what type of loans they have and how they work.
If the idea of loan packages makes your head spin, give me a call at 770-862-8002. I can help you decide which product is right for you. I can also help you to decide what you can really afford to pay for a mortgage, NOT what the mortgage company tells you that you can afford. There are many affordable homes in Cherokee County right now. Woodstock, Acworth, Canton, Ball Ground and Waleska are all full of beautiful, affordable homes. Call today and let's find a place that's right for you.
Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Monday, December 17, 2007

Get Your Home Ready To Sell

In today’s real estate home buyers market, how can sellers make their home stand out among the others? Price is what will sell your house above any other single factor. But where is the threshold between pricing it to sell today and giving it away? Only someone who is on top of the market can really know that. There is a certain amount of subjectivity to pricing some properties but for the most part, it all boils down to comparable properties.

Someone once used this as an analogy, if you could buy a dollar bill for 90 cents on one side of the street and across the street they were selling them for 85 cents, which dollar would you buy? Now we all know it’s not that simple but the concept is the same.

REALTOR® Magazine Online has a great article giving 7 tips for selling your house today. They report the number one tip as “Don't overprice your property”. I wholeheartly agree! An over priced house will only help your competition. Overpriced houses are used by most real estate agents to sell the features or price of another property. I am as guilty as the next guy when I have said something like “remember the house on Elm Street? It had­­­ ______­­ and was $10,000 less than this house”. If you are serious about selling your house today, you need to be that house on “Elm” street, not the one being used to sell it.

The number 2 item was”Set your price to show up in Web searches”. This is such a key strategy that I am always trying to accomplish. Because over 80% of home buyers start their search online, you want your house to fall within as large a search criteria as possible. Location and price are the main search criteria that people key into and price is the only one you can control. Let me help you determine the best price that you can get today for you home. I will make sure that as large an audience as possible will see it in the best possible light.

Michael Bradford
770-862-8002
Cherokee County Georgia Real Estate Specialist

Friday, December 14, 2007

Increase the Resale Value of Your Home

One of the hardest questions sellers have to ask is “what do I need to do to my house to get it ready to sell that won’t cost me more to do than I will receive back when I sell?” In other words, what is the return on my investment (ROI) in the upgrades?

My first reaction is to look around the home and make sure it is clean, uncluttered and freshly painted. These things are non-negotiable these days. But after those have been addressed, which remodeling projects will give us the biggest bang for the buck, i.e. the highest ROI?

According to this article from REALTOR.org, three of the top four projects are exterior projects with upscale siding replacement being number 1 at an 88% ROI. So for every dollar you spend, you will increase the value of your home by .88 cents. The only interior project listed was a minor kitchen remodeling project which was 83% ROI.

Now most of us think that these kinds of projects should increase the value by more than we spent but in reality that rarely happens. If you have a working functioning kitchen, replacing it with a newer kitchen will increase the value, but ussually not as much as it cost. What it will do is get your house sold faster and for more money than if you had not done the project.

The best thing you can do to get your home sold fast for the most money is clean, clean, and clean some more. That doesn't cost a thing. When you clean, pack away the clutter and personal pictures and items and clean some more. Paint and some elbow grease will more than pay for themselves over any remodeling project.

If you would like help getting your house ready to sell, please click HERE to see my “Ready To Sell” plan. I have been doing this for years and would consider it a privilege to put my experience to work for you. Give me a call and let’s get started.

Michael Bradford
770-862-8002
Your Cherokee County GA Real Estate Specialist

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Foreclosures: It Doesn't Have to Be This Way


I said it yesterday and I'll say it today: you can avoid foreclosure!
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Today's AJC has an article (Click Here) about how Atlanta has a record number of foreclusres. They are up 29% from last year.
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What does this mean?
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First, it means that there are a lot of very inexpensive homes out there ready for purchase. Many people lost their homes to foreclosure. These houses are empty and available to move in. You can buy a LOT of house for very little money right now. You can also enjoy low interest rates. Atlanta has a healthy economy and good jobs. There is no reason for you not to take advantage of the fantastic deals out there right now.
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It also means that there are people out there who do not know how to get the help that they need to stay in their homes. If you are struggling to pay your mortgage or about to default on your loan, please call me today so I can help you stay right where you are. I have a number of tips and helps that I can give you to try and see if you can save your home from being sold on the courthouse steps. Call me today - time is of the essence.
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Michael Bradford
770.862.8002
Southern Prime Realty

Monday, December 10, 2007

Avoid Foreclosure!

Over the past year, Georgia (as well as many other states) have seen a record number of foreclosures. The reasons vary, but are mostly due to the cheap money that was available when the market was peaking. A lot of people got loans for homes that they could not afford at a low introductory (but adjustable) rate. When the rates were raised after the first year or two, they skyrocketed and most buyers could no longer afford the payments.

I saw this interesting article in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution about how owners can avoid foreclosure. Georgia, along with Texas, are the states with the shortest window from the time of default until the time of sale at the courthouse steps. That window is 37 days. It is not much time at all for owners to find help.

Help is available but time is of the essence!

Because I buy investment properties, I often encounter owners who are behind on their payments and facing foreclosure. One thing that never fails to shock me is how few of them have a plan or are even open to finding a solution. They just bury their heads in the sand and wait until the day before auction to remove their belongings from the property.

If you are facing this problem, there are several things you can do to try to stop foreclosure. I can help you make a plan to either get yourself back on track with your mortgage company or find a buyer to take the house off of your hands so that you can have a fresh start.

If you need some help, please give me a call today. Together, we'll explore all of your options to find a solution that works for you. 770-862-8002.

Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realthy

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Humane Society Needs Volunteers



The Cherokee County Humane Society is looking for some volunteers. They need adults to help at their cat adoption centers in Marietta, Woodstock, and Acworth. Responsibilities include cleaning cages, washing bedding and assisting with adoptions. For more info, please contact the cat adoption manager at:




Friday, December 7, 2007

Retirement with Real Estate

CNNMoney.com had an interesting article on Monday about buying real estate inside of your IRA. It made me think of all the reasons why baby-boomers need to consider (if they haven't already) why they should own real estate as they enter into retirement. Here are a few that I can think of:

1. Buying real estate now, at rock bottom prices, you will have the opportunity to see your money grow as your equity grows. The huge amount of people facing foreclosure will keep them out of the house-buying market for about 7 years. That will be 7 years of a booming rental market where you should have few problems finding qualified tenants to make your mortgage payments for you.

2. You can always sell it if you need cash. When you buy real estate low enough, you have the comfort of knowing that you can always sell it quickly if you need to.

3. Tax deductions! There are a lot of ways to deduct taxes from investment properties. Did you know that you can write off DEPRECIATION from a rental property that produces an income?

4. Snag that smaller place just incase. You may be living in that big house and the kids are leaving for college. You want to downsize but now just isn't the time for you to move out. Take advantage of todays low prices and lock in that dream cottage! Go ahead and buy it, enjoy the tax breaks and the positive cash flow from a renter while you wait. When the time is right and you're ready to move, you already have plenty of equity in the house. You can either enjoy that in the form of a home equity loan, keep it where it is or even use it to refinance so that your monthly payments are much, much lower.

If you would like to discuss real estate investment strategies, whether you are just getting started or about to retire, give me a call today. As an investor myself, I can help you find the deals! 770-862-8002

Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty



Thursday, December 6, 2007

Brad Pitt: Importance of Green Housing

If nobody listened to me before yesterday about the need for more environmentally friendly construction, maybe they'll listen to Brad Pitt. (Ladies, do I have your attention?)



Brad, an avid student of architecture, has put his skills (and $5 million of his cash) towards rebuilding homes in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. And not just any homes, but homes that were constructed with sustainable materials, have effiecient use of energy/water, are safe and finally, affordable.



Brad's organization, Make it Right, is collecting donations to help witht he construction and supply costs to get this project off the ground. Their goal is a minimum of 150 new houses to be completed by the end of next summer.



If you are interested in eco-freindly, green housing -you are not alone. I am a conservationalist and have taken a keen interest in seeing more housing like this come to Cherokee County. I also want to help homeowners to modify their housing to use less raw materials and become more effiecient. If you would like to get some help in this area, thus adding value to your home, please call me today at 770.862.8002 and we'll talk about easy things that you can do to help us all.



Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Earth, Paint & Fire

By: Shannon Bradford

Lisa DeLosh grew up in the Tallahassee area of Florida where she and her friends used to go to ceramic/pottery workshops. When she relocated to Woodstock, she was teaching Home Economics at Woodstock High School while trying to decide if she wanted to continue teaching or run her own business. After spending a year researching and developing a business plan, she and her husband, Kevin, opened Earth, Paint & Fire. That was 3 years ago.



What is Earth, Paint & Fire? It's a lot of family fun! You can do an assortment of projects ranging from painting ceramics to be glazed/fired in the kiln to beautiful mosaics. When I visited Lisa yesterday, there were several mothers with young children making Christmas gifts for family members that all included adding their tiny handprints.


Shown below is Sheri Sands with her daughter Samantha.


This is Avery Rylander with her mom, Sara.


Tara Hooks came in for a follow up to a project that she had yet to finish. Tara, from Canton, was having both of her children's handprints on travel mugs for their father and their aunt. Tara told me that she loves to go to Earth, Paint & Fire because she loves making sentimental gifts. She was there this past Saturday and said that there were a lot of fathers making gifts with their children. Here she is with her son, Nole:


Like any business, Earth, Paint & Fire gets very busy this time of year. Normal turn around time for having the pieces ready to pick up (they must be glazed after they're painted, fired in a kiln for a half a day and then cooled for another day and a half) is 5-7 days. Now, it's more like 7-10 days. Customers are urged to come in and get their holiday art done before the middle of the month to ensure they'll be ready in time for the holidays.


What if you need to walk away with a gift? Lisa recommends a mosaic project where you glue tiles on one of many forms she has for sale. She'll give you an easy grout kit to take home with you so that you can finish it the next day wherever you want. She also has plates that you can write on with special ceramic markers that are food-safe. You can do the artwork there, then take the item home and bake it on in your own oven. Here are some examples:Lisa not only has a huge selection of dishes and containers, but also switchplate covers, figurines and decorative tiles/trivets. I also saw Pottery to Go Kits & melted wine bottles for sale.


What if you are like me - creatively challenged? Lisa not only has a table full of books with ideas, but she also has tools such as stencils, stamps, tape & sponges. You'll also never feel alone as Lisa has "Paint Hostesses" who help you with your project - providing paint, tools and guidance.


Lisa pointed out what I was noticing while observing the parents working with their children: this is a fun entertainment alternative. Forget the germy ball pits and mindless entertainment of the movies where you have nothing to show for your time or money. Bring your kids to Earth, Paint & Fire. You'll share a table, talk, & laughter while you all work on a skill together. At the end, you'll have a unique item that will be a cherished memento of the time spent together. Lisa also informed me that Earth, Paint & Fire offers week-long camps to coincide with Cherokee County School System's breaks in February, the summer and September. Kids ages 6+ will paint, bead, work with pottery, make mosaics and more. They walk away with between 5 to 10 projects and a few new friends as well.
Earth, Paint & Fire has a private room that they use for birthday parties (FREE downloadable invitations on her site), Bunko groups, bridal and baby showers, Red Hats meetings, sports teams, homeschool groups and just about any other kind of group.



Lisa also has special days set aside for certain groups such as Teen Night (free pizza), Grandparents Day (free add-on), Ladies Night (discount for groups), and even a Wine/Paint Night where local wine merchants bring samples to taste.


If you would like to be added to Lisa's events e-mail, you can click HERE and request to be added. You can also click HERE to see her December events.


Earth, Paint & Fire is a wonderful, locally owned business that provides an excellent entertainment and artful outlet for Cherokee County & Woodstock residents. You can find them at 1432 Towne Lake Parkway (Suite 130) just off I-575's Towne lake Parkway exit in the shopping center behind Longhorn Steakhouse. (around the corner from Publix). For directions or more information, call them at 770-592-4114 or visit them online at www.earthpaintandfire.com.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Geothermal Heat Pumps

By: Todd Fratzel, P.E.
Guest Blogger
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One of the hottest topics today in energy conservation is the use of geothermal heat pump systems. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 40,000 geothermal heat pumps are installed each year. These systems have been in use since the 1940's but have only become popular due to the soaring price of fossil fuels. A typical geothermal heat pump can save an verage of between 25% and 50% on yearly heating and cooling costs according to the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium.
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Most geothermal heat pumps rely on a closed system of vertical or horizontal pipes buried in the ground below the frost line filled with water or a water/antifreeze mixture. These geothermal heat pumps rely on the constant temperature of the earth below the frost line. These systems can generate heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. The picture below is and example of a closed horizontal loop system.



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The system works by pumping the water through a heat pump and exchanging the thermal energy into your home. The geothermal heat pumps can even supply hot water for homes. Energy Star program even offers incentives for new construction utilizing geothermal heat pumps. Some states and even electric utility companies are also offering sizable rebates and discounts for installing the geothermal heat pumps.
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To read more from Todd Fratzel, you may visit his blog, Helpful Advice For Home Construction Improvement by clicking HERE.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When the weather starts to get cold, we see deaths and injuries due to things such as fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. I was at CARBONMONOXIDEKILLS.COM reading up on the things you can do to prevent this from happening in your home. Click HERE for 10 easy things you can do right now to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter.

If you would like to find a house that has been inspected and given a clean bill of health, I can help you locate one within your budget and in the area you would like to reside. Give me a call today and we'll get started on finding the safe, perfect home of your dreams.

Michael Bradford 770.862.8002
Southern Prime Realty

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Clutter Cutter


Tis the season to gather clutter fa la la la la lalalala!

Christmas time is upon us and that means giving and receiving gifts. The problem is, given the theory of space and time (given enough time you will fill every space), we can quickly become overwhelmed with “stuff”. What can we do? Do we pack our closets so tight that opening the door is only done at the risk of bodily harm? Or pack hundreds of dollars of stuff in our garages while our automobiles, which are worth thousands of dollars, sit in the rain?

Several companies offer solutions to the symptoms of the problem such as PODS or self storage units but those are temporary in nature. We have companies that specialize in helping keep our closets and garages organized by selling us more “stuff” to help us store more “stuff”. What are some ways we can get at the root of the problem?

I will give you three techniques that we have used in our home to help manage the “piles of trials with smiles”.

#1. When something new comes in, something old goes out. When we get new clothes, it is time to re-evaluate our existing clothes to see which ones we can give to charity. I have a hard time parting with my favorite t-shirts and shorts, but to maintain the same level of inventory, something must go. Same with books, toys, household gadgets and furniture.

#2. My wife has adapted this sentiment and I have come to accept it too. “I have to absolutely love it or use it regularly to keep it”. What is regularly? If you don’t use or unpack something at least once a year, you don’t need it and won’t miss it when it is gone. What is love it? You will have to decide on that for yourself.

#3 If you can’t find a good place to keep something or it regularly gets in your way, you may have too much stuff. When our children were small, we had a system for keeping the house picked up. They had the freedom to play with any toys or books they wanted as long as it was put away by the end of the day.
What would happen is I would call home when I was on the way and Nick and Lindsey were given a 30 minute warning. They would put everything away that they could and when I got home, my job was to go around the house and collect anything that was out of place. These confiscated items were place in a garage sale/charity box and available for redeeming the next day. If I came home and everything was as it should be, they could go to the box and re-claim one item. It would become clear what they really cared about and what they could live without. Once a year we would have a garage sale and they got to keep the money from the items that they sold.

As I wrote about in this blog before, clutter is your enemy when you are trying to sell your home.
REALTOR.com® has a
great article about PODS and how they are becoming more and more popular even to the point that cities are trying to legislate how long you can keep them in your driveway. As for using them to de-clutter your home before selling it, they are great as long as you don’t leave them in your driveway to remind potential buyers that your house lacks storage space.

As always, if you are thinking about or getting ready to sell your home, I would consider it a privilege to help you determine how to make your house look it’s best to buyers. I will even prepare a customized report called “Ready To Sell” (
click here for more info) that can help you get your home ready.

Michael Bradford, 770-862-8002
Cherokee County Georgia Real Estate Specialist

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Decorating


My wife and I are absolutely decorating impaired. We have never owned drapes/curtains, our carpets are always brown, our walls antique white and trim/doors glossy bright white. We don't own many knick-knacks and we can fit our holiday decorations into one or two boxes. We need today's post as much as some of you might. Here are some links to help you with your holiday decorating:

1. Amazing Christmas Ideas

2. Holiday Ideas

3. Holiday Decorating Planner

4. 10 Great Holiday Decorating Ideas on a Budget

If you'd like to share an idea or decorating tip, please send an e-mail to me at MichaelBradford@comcast.net and I'll be glad to post it. Happy Decorating!

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Cyber" Monday

Today has been officially dubbed “Cyber Monday” according to the National Retail Federation. Yahoo reports that today marks the start of the online shopping season. Internet research company comScore estimates that consumers will spend over $700 million online TODAY!

The internet has change so much about how we live our lives everyday. I only know a handful of people who are not online. The vast majority of people in the U.S. are plugged in and using the internet regularly. According to REALTOR.com®, over 80% of people looking for their next home start looking online. Even the way we shop for Christmas is changing as evidenced by today being named “Cyber Monday”. Retail buying has not been as dramatic a change as buying a new home but I believe that more and more of our shopping will be done online.


So how did the retail “brick and mortar” stores do over this past weekend? According to the article, ShopperTrak RCT Corp. reported late Sunday that sales on Friday and Saturday combined rose 7.2 percent to $16.4 billion from the same two-day period a year ago. "This was a really good start," said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. "There seemed to be a lot of pent-up demand."

I thought the sky was supposed to be falling and we were heading for economic chaos, fascism and looting in the streets. That seems to be the news we hear lately.

I agree with Mr. Martin and believe there is a pent up demand and it flows into every area of our spending. We are only being prudent with what we have. The main stream media has us convinced that our future is in doubt and we have responded by not spending as much money. But at some point, when we all realize that “I’m doing pretty good”, we will start to spend our money and live our lives the way we can and want to. We will spend money on Christmas and also eventually buy the house or car we want or need. The problem with a pent-up demand is you never know when it will be released.

Currently within the real estate market, it is a buyers market. Interest rates are excellent and we have a diverse, reasonably priced inventory of homes available. When it will change back to a sellers market is unknown but, rest assured, it will. We live in a great area with lots of jobs and low inflation.

If you are one of those people who have a “pent-up demand” for housing, I would encourage you to at least look around and see what is available. I would consider it a privilege to help you find the home of your dreams.

Michael Bradford, 770-862-8002
Cherokee County Georgia Real Estate Specialist

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ready, Set, SHOP!


I know that today is the biggest single day of the year for shopping but I just can't bring myself to go. It's not because of the economy or the price of gas, I just don't like traffic. I can even handle the crowds of people once I get there, but not the traffic. Something happens to people when you put them behind the wheel of a car along with thousands of other’s all trying to go the same way at the same time.

When I use to commute to Smyrna for work everyday, the only way I got through it with my sanity intact (my wife and family may argue this point:) was the radio and cassette player (this was before iPods). I have listened to almost every kind of music and talk radio there is. I would go through phases of what I listened to. For instance, 1996-97 was my "country years". I can't tell you who most singers are now, but play me a country song from 96-97 and I can sing along with the best of them. For a while I gave up music all together and listened to only talk radio or tape series from my church’s library. I even listened to alternative stations and (this is hard to admit) National Public Radio for a while.

I guess my point to all of this is that we have much to be thankful for and one of the biggest is that we live in a country which will let us be who we are. If we don't like who we are, we have the freedom and for most of us, the opportunity to change. Commuting was one of the biggest reasons I left my job to start my own business. Oprah said it well when she said "We set our life up like we want it". If you don't like the way your life is now, change it. And of course, (you all knew it was coming) if you don't like the house you live in, let me help you sell it and find the one of your dreams. Don't settle for something that you don't want, have out grown it, or it has out grown you. Set your life up today the way you want it. You will thank yourself and everyone around you will also thank you.

Michael Bradford, 770-862-8002
Cherokee County Georgia Real Estate Specialist

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Atlanta: Forbes' Most Undervalued Cities


Forbes magazine recenly published this article by Matt Woolsey about the cities in this country with the most undervalued property. Atlanta was in the top 3 along with Charlotte, NC and Detroit, MI.
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Matt wrote: "Market slumps often result in good buys, and solid investments get tagged with bargain prices due to the volatile market. One place to look for these deals is the housing sector, where worries about a continuing dip in home prices are keeping many buyers on the sidelines, and keeping a lid on prices."
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That is exactly what I tell people everyday when they ask about the market, fearful that they should stay out of it. No! NOW is the time to buy. I firmly believe that the spring will bring a rise in prices and people will not be able to find the deals that are out there today.
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If you are in need of a home, NOW is the time to buy. Call me today so we can get to work. We may even have you in your new dream house by Christmas! 770-862-8002.
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Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NAHB To Launch Green Building Program


The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) plans on launching a new program for it's members at at the 2008 International Builders’ Show in Orlando on February 14th. This program will "link dozens of successful state and local voluntary green building programs with a national online scoring tool for builders and verifiers. It also will provide a registry of green homes and green builders as well as extensive educational resources."
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NAMB surveyed it's members earlier this year and found that 90% were interested in a voluntary green building certification program. NAHB President Brian Catalde stated that more than 100,000 homes have already been built and certified by voluntary, builder-supported programs across the country.
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Read more about this program by clicking HERE. You can also find out more about the 2008 International Builder's Show by clicking HERE.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Caption Contest

We can't quite decide what happened here. We thought this would be a golden opportunity to have a caption contest. So here's the deal:

1. The winner will receive a $10 Home Depot Gift Card.
2. The winner will be decided by my our panel of judges: my wife, son, daughter and I.
3. All entries should be left in the comment box before Saturday, November 24th.
4. Winner will be announced on Monday, November 26th.

Questions? Call me at 770-862-8002

Friday, November 16, 2007

FHA steps up to the plate!

After years of losing market share to private lenders, the FHA is poised to make a major comeback in the low to moderate income borrower market. The Federal Housing Authority’s insured loan program has grown significantly since the “sub prime” market problems that we have seen for the last several months. According to Brian Montgomery, FHA commissioner and assistant secretary for housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” FHA has doubled its loan volume and is on track to reach some 240,000 borrowers in 2007”. To read this article from REALTOR®Magazine-Daily click here.

This is good news for borrowers everywhere. A reformed and streamline FHA program that can compete with a “sub prime” private lender is in everyone’s (except maybe the sub prime lender) best interest. FHA programs not only can help keep the market stable and moving, but they are also very good at educating borrowers about what is expected from them regarding home ownership. Most “sub prime” lenders only care about getting the loan to closing and getting paid for the origination of that loan. Lot’s of people got loans they had no business getting in the first place and we are seeing the results of that now with record foreclosure rates.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for the free market and I believe there is a place for “sub prime” lenders. But I also know that a lot of people were taken advantage of and not really educated in what they were signing up for with some of these loan products. A reformed and streamlined FHA will help educate people to the realities of home ownership and also what mortgage choices people have and what those choices mean.

If you though that you could not buy a home because of credit or income reasons, were smart enough to reject a “sub prime” loan, or did not have enough cash for the down payment, now is the time to take a look at the new FHA. There is even a program for buying a HUD home for $100 down and getting a loan for any fix-up cost.


This may be the perfect time to enter the exciting American dream of home ownership. Call me today and let’s get started!


Michael Bradford
770-862-8002

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yellow River Game Ranch Wants Your Leaves

HERE, LEAFIE, LEAFIE !!

The Yellow River Game Ranch asks that Georgia residents, currently trapped behind their front doors by fall leaves, bag their foliage and bring stuffed bags to the 24-acre animal preserve in Lilburn. The leaves provide Game Ranch animals with necessary ground cover for winter bedding and nesting. Embedded acorns provide a source of "low-carb energy" for over 100 white-tailed deer and eager groups of chipmunks and squirrels.

Art Rilling, CEO of the Game Ranch stated, "We encourage natural recycling – it’s an ideal opportunity to help our wildlife with those beautiful, but pesky leaves!"

A wooden trailer has been set up in front of the Game Ranch for convenient deposit.

ABOUT THE GAME RANCH

The Yellow River Game Ranch, Georgia’s oldest animal preserve, is now celebrating its 44th year of providing children and adults a 'nose to nose' experience with wildlife. The preserve has over six hundred animals and birds. The Game Ranch is open seven days a week except for certain holidays, 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, with the last ticket sold at 5 pm. The Game Ranch is also home to Georgia's Official Weather Prognosticator, General Beau Lee. The history of Groundhog Day and Beau’s Official Bio are posted on the Game Ranch web site.

The Yellow River Game Ranch is located at 4525 Highway 78, Lilburn Georgia. For further information, call 770-972-6643 or visit our web site!

http://www.yellowrivergameranch.com

You know it's your last day at work when...

  • You hand a bank teller an envelope, and when she asks, "What's this?" you realize you just dropped the company's deposit in a mailbox.
  • A woman comes into the store, you turn to the other salesman and say, "I waited on the last fat ugly old lady. This one's yours." Your boss is standing behind you. It's his wife.
  • While your boss is at lunch, you sneak in and look at some confidential information on his computer. You spill coffee on the keyboard. It shorts out.
  • You return from a week's vacation to find that you had scheduled *this* week as vacation, not last week. (Just means you get to take two weeks vacation, right?)
  • You take a "sick" day. The next morning the boss asks you, "So, how was the fishing on Rock Creek yesterday?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving Help Needed

I was reading this article in the Cherokee Tribune about local organizations that need help preparing to feed hungry people this Thanksgiving. Here are ways that you can help:


1. MUST Cherokee needs sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese & pies. Call them at 770-479-5397 for more information.


2. Cherokee Thanksgiving needs financial donations to help cover the cost of their meal delivery program. You can make a check out to: Cherokee Thanksgiving and mail to: Canton First UMC, 930 Lower Scott Mill Rd., Canton, GA 30115.


3. Papa's Pantry needs donations of Cream of Mushroom soup, packaged stuffing, french-fried onions (for green bean casserole), canned fruit, paper goods, aluminum foil & holiday spices. You can call them at 770-591-4730 for more information.


I also found this fun website to visit. You can improve your vocabulary while earning rice for hungry people around the world. Click HERE and let the rice accumulate!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Newest Listings

1.


2.


If you would like to see either of these homes, or any others that you've seen for sale, please call me at 770-862-8002 to schedule your private tour.

Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cherokee/Cobb Servants

According to this article in REALTOR Magazine-Daily.com, Atlanta has again made the list of most afordable cities in the US. And where is the best place in Atlanta to call home, why it's Cobb and Cherokee county of course!

This article made me think of the many reasons why I love this area. All of those reasons boiled down to one thing: the people! They are so generous in giving back to their communities with their time, talents and treasures. I would like to share with my blog readers all that I can about various civic charities and services that highlight the work and giving being done in our great area.

If you would like to tell me about your charity, non-profit or service related group, please give me a call at 770-862-8002. You can also send an e-mail to me at michaelbradford@comcast.net. I would like to do some features in the near future and want to hear from all of you in Cobb & Cherokee counties.

Michael Bradford

Monday, November 5, 2007

FoxTale Book Shoppe

I love independent book stores! I love the fact that they carry really good books that nobody else does. I love the fact that the people who own them care about their customers and read what they sell. I love that they can ask you a few questions about what you like and make an accurate, good recommendation. And I love the feeling of community when I shop in one. All of those reasons are why I am a customer at FoxTale Book Shoppe in downtown Woodstock.
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I had the very good pleasure of meeting with one of FoxTale Book Shoppe's owners, Ellen Ward to talk to her about my favorite independent bookstore. My son and I sat at the checkout counter and had a terrific visit with her while she shared with us all about FoxTale.
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Upon arrival, one of the first things a visitor will notice is that the place is decorated like nobody's business! It's like visiting a cool, literary friends' place. Of course there are books on gorgeous shelves, but there is so much more to see. Each time I've gone to FoxTale, there has been a new window display. This time, there was a waterfall, colorful leaves, autumn touches and big, stuffed dogs that every customer under the age of four wanted to ride on.
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Ellen gives the credit for the shop's amazing decor to her partner, Karen Schwettman. Karen has a background in interior design so she really came through for them by giving the store the unique look, the cozy feel and the interesting touches such as the stunning chandelier, reading nooks and the fun bicycle dangling from the ceiling in the children's room. A favorite of almost all of the customers is the door that doubles as the checkout counter.
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Ellen says that there is a reason there are 2 barstool chairs at the checkout. "All of us (owners) are writers and we like to hear stories. When people come up here to check out, they'll have a seat and we just talk. We love to hear their stories. It helps us get to know our customers on a much more personal level."
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When I asked Ellen how FoxTale came to be, she relayed a story about how she, Jackie & Karen all attended a writing class at KSU and became friends. When Karen & Ellen went to Denver for their 50th birthday, they visited The Tattered Cover book store and were inspired by it. After that, everything started really coming together. Ellen thinks it's quite a trifecta that they all have backgrounds that compliment each other. Besides Karen's interior decorating background, Ellen worked in advertising for 18 years. Jackie was a paralegal. Together, they have all been able to take on various responsibilities to help the store run smoothly.
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When asked about their vision for the store, Ellen said it's the same vision of most independent book stores: to be an integral part of the community, to carry good books that larger chains don't have and to cooperate with other businesses nearby to create a stronger sense of community. They want to be able to point serious readers like me to really good books that I may not know about. One of my observations that Ellen confirmed is that unusual people gravitate to independent bookstores. And this book store is a necessary element to a part of downtown Woodstock in it's new growth phase where more communities are being established within walking distance of the main street area. This is creating a more diverse group of people coming downtown to shop, dine and enjoy the park.
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Besides the fun activities that the book store hosts, they also stay open after hours for book clubs to meet. They host authors, have birthday parties for children in their big children's room, and even have a story time each Monday and Saturday at 11am. With all of the events and book clubs at FoxTale, Ellen suggests that people either come by the store or send an e-mail to her at Ellen@foxtalebookshoppe.com to request being added to their e-mail announcement list. This will keep you "in the know" about their activities and events. OR, you can just check out the EVENTS on the sidebar of this site and we'll be sure to have FoxTales's updated regularly.
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When asked what types of things are on the horizon for FoxTale Book Shoppe, Ellen says they are about to start an online ordering service from their website (CLICK HERE), offer writing classes, add more book clubs and possibly start serving coffee, tea and snacks.
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As we talked about living in Cherokee County, I asked Ellen what some of her favorite places are (both in Cherokee and in north Georgia). Since she lives in Waleska, she enjoys activities at Reinhardt College (especially the music events) and shopping in Canton. She also loves visiting
Amicalola Falls, the High Museum of Art, the Georgia Aquarium and the fabulous Fox Theatre.
As I browsed the store, I couldn't help but remember that Christmas is just around the corner! Not only did I see books for sale, but also candles, calendars, journals, stuffed animals and loads of quality educational toys and really unique gifts that you don't see for sale everywhere else.
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Ellen reminded me that if they don't have a book that I'm looking for, they can order it and in most cases, the book will be delivered to them the NEXT DAY!
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While I was there, a man came in to pick up a gift bag. Ellen tells me that many people call them with a budget and tell them what the receiver likes. FoxTales will put together a collection of items that fit your budget. The one I saw was very nice and the goodies were in a nice FoxTales canvas tote bag.
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And in case you are reading this, Santa, here are a few things I would like to add to my personal Christmas wish list:


1. Savannah Bee Sugared Honey Body Scrub



2. This very cool FoxTale Book Shoppe fitted T-shirt3. Rock-n-Roll Quiz & Trivia page-a-day calendar
Be sure to visit FoxTale Book Shoppe located 105 East main Street, #138 next to the Woodstock City Park. (Map:Map of 105 E Main St Woodstock, GA 30188-5013, US ) Take your Christmas list with you!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Georgia Ranked #2 Business Climate



According to THIS article in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Georgia moved up 2 spaces from last year to end up in the number 2 position for the nation's best business environment. This ranking was made by Site Selection Magazine.
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According to the magazine editor, Mark Arend, the trend seems to be that businesses are moving into southern areas that are less dominated by unions - the "right to work" states.
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Wonder how they all shook out? Here is the final list:
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THE TOP 20
1. North Carolina
2. Georgia
3. Texas
4. Virginia
5. Alabama
6. Tennessee
7. Ohio
8. Kentucky
9. Florida
10. South Carolina
11. Indiana
12. Michigan
13. Illinois
14. Pennsylvania
15. Oklahoma
16. Iowa
17. Mississippi
18. Missouri
19. Nevada (tie)
19. New York (tie)
• Source: Site Selection Magazine's 2007 Top 20 Business Climate Rankings

Friday, November 2, 2007

Feds Cut Interest Rate

As everyone thought, The Federal Reserve Bank cut it's interest rate that it charges banks by a quarter point to 4.5%. REALTOR.com® gave a report on the rate cut today. I think the most significate remarks made yesterday as reported in the AJC article was "the risks to the economy from inflation "roughly balance," or are equal to, the risks of a serious downturn in economic growth. Previously, the risks of a recession were seen as more of a threat to the country's economic health."

What does that mean? It means we probably won't see another reduction this year. For those who are waiting for the interest rates to bottom out before buying or refinancing a house, this may be it. It may take a couple of days or a week before this rate cut drives down mortgage rates, but I believe in the next few days we will see excellent rates for mortagages and loans.

If you call me today, you could be in your new home by the holidays. Let's find your new home and I will even buy your first Christmas tree! Call me at 770-862-8002.

Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

To Fear Or Not To Fear...


With all of the news out there about the real estate market, one thing is clear to me. We have a significant pent up demand for housing. If you look at the statistics and trends for the last 5 years and compare them with the overall economy, you will realize that alot of people should be moving who are not. Why?
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A buyer's worst fear is that they overpaid for the home they bought and could be "upside down" in their home (owe more than it is worth). The dominant media in this country is in need of headlines that will cause people to read, watch or listen to the reports. It's like the accident on the highway; we can't help but drive by and look. The same is true with a story of doom and catstrophy. We tend to believe bad news before we believe the good. The problem is that often these reports become self fullfilling prophicies.
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There is no hard evidence that now is not the time to buy real estate. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Price reductions are stablizing and interest rates are low. In fact, the Federal Reserve is schedualed to meet today and are expected to cut key rates by at least another quarter point!
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Loans are excellent, the market is a buyer's dream and our local economy is looking fantastic! There is absolutely no reason to fear buying or selling in this market. Let me show you how to even make money during this dip. Call me today at 770.862.8002 and let me tell you how to succeed either as a buyer or a seller.
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Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Landlording 101

So I have convinced you that today is a great time to buy real estate. Prices are low, interest rates are low and people will always need a place to live. All are great reasons for investing in real estate. But still you wait....why?

I have asked myself and others "What is the biggest deterrent for the average person when it comes to owning rental properties?" Most people tell me the thought of clogged toilets and midnight calls from the sheriff's office or annoyed neighbors about one of their houses tops the list. I am not saying that those kind of things don't happen (once a neighbor called about someone standing naked in the front door of one of my houses!) but they can be managed very easily with a little for-thought and planning.

I call it "front end loading" because I work really hard at the beginning so I can take it easy the rest of the time. I make a plan and stick to it. I have a great lease, great application and a unbiased person to review the applications and pick the best one according to the application. The times that I have gotten in trouble is when I felt sorry for someone and wanted to help them or wanted to get someone in the property quick and did not pay attention to my own plan.

I have made it my "company policy" to accept only good credit scores and people with good references. I do my benevolent activities outside of my rental business using the resources generated by that business to help others. I don't like to rent to relatives or friends and if one of them needs a place to stay, they are welcome at my home and I won't even charge them rent while they get back on their feet.

REALTOR.com® has a great piece about "Sanity-Saving Rules for New Landlords". These are very good tips and anyone thinking about becoming a landlord should read them. I can also recommend a couple of good, easy to read books about the subject.

Give me a call today and let's get you started on your very own inflation proof, excellent cash flow for retirement, great tax benifits and easy to start and run landlord business.

Michael Bradford
770-862-8002

Friday, October 26, 2007

How to Save Water at Home


Gov. Sonny Purdue has requested that everybody reduce their water use by 10% over last year. Will this be enough of a conservation effort to make a difference now? Only time will tell but it is good that we are talking about and taking actions to conserve one of North Georgia's most precious resources. What are some practical steps we can all take to conserve water? Here are a few of my favorites:

*Don't wash the car. This has to be my all time favorite. But even I have a hard time with a dirty car after a couple of weeks. Here is a tip to help between washes. First thing in the morning if you park outside, when the dew is still on the cars, take an old towel and wipe down the top, hood, trunk and doors. hang the towel out to dry . Use it two or three times before washing it. If you park inside, a duster could also help.

*No outdoor watering. I still have a empty flowerbed that we decided not to plant the new flowers in right now. I know this has hurt the nursery business but I promise to make it up by buying more drought resitant plants. I also try to use more hardscaping in my yard.

*Not turning on the faucet all the way when rinsing dishes. This took some getting use to but I think we can turn the corner on this. We are also keeping the stopper in the sink so water collects and we can rinse the dishes off while reusing it for other dishes. I never really though of how much water was going down the drain by rinsing dishes with the faucet on high and the sink stopper open.

*Use your bath towel several of times. Hopefully you did a good job in the shower and your towel can be hung to dry and reused. Less loads of laundry is definitely a good way to save water, electricity, and time as well.

These are just a few ways we can all help use water more efficiently. I would like to hear from you about ways you are conserving water (showering with a friend aside:). For the most creative and effective suggestion I get, you will receive a $20 gift certificate to Lowe's or The Home Depot and also your idea posted here. Please e-mail your ideas to me at: michaelbradford@comcast.net. The decision of the judges (me, my wife, my 16 year old son and my almost 14 year old daughter) is final and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, Oct. 31 . Thank you for taking the time to participate.

Michael Bradford
770-862-8002

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Homemade Cleaners

Make-It-Yourself Household Cleaning Products

  • Baking soda will help control odors in your garbage disposal. Pour 2 tablespoons in garbage disposal every week.

  • Baking soda will remove the coffee and tea stains from yourfavorite mugs.

  • Microwaves can be cleaned by nuking a ½ C. vingar for 2 minutes and letting sit for an additional minute. Wipe the interior with a rag. For tough spots, dip it int the vinegar and wipe.

  • If you have a problem with sugar ants, a mixture of half vinegar half water sprayed on the ants will kill them instantly.

  • Instead of buying expensive antibacterial sprays for the kitchen, just put about 1 tablespoon of household bleach in a spray bottle filled with water and use it to disinfect around the sink and counters, especially when you've been handling or packaging meat.

  • For quick cleaning, keep a spray bottle equal parts water and ammonia handy.

  • To unclog a plugged drain, try pouring 1/2 cup baking soda 1/2 cup vinegar into the clogged drain and cover tightly. After a minute or so, rinse the drain out with two quarts of boiling water. Cleaning the drain in this manner from time to time will help keep debris from building up.

  • When your drain is clogged with grease, try pouring a cup of salt and a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a generous amount of boiling water. This will usually dissolve the grease and clear the drain.

  • To clean your oven, use a mixture of ammonia and water. The solution may be stored in a spray bottle. For tough stains, apply a mixture of baking soda and water directly to the stains, and let the mixture stand for several minutes before wiping the oven surface clean.

  • To rid your cutting board from that smell of onions and garlic it tends to accumulate, rub it with half a lemon or lime.

  • Use a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol, club soda, or white vinegar to give your stainless steel a brilliant shine.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

DON’T WAIT UNTIL SPRING TO SELL YOUR HOUSE!

As an active agent in Cherokee County, I talk to people everyday whose house did not sell the first or even the second time they listed it. Almost everyone I talk to that had not re-listed their house after a couple of weeks of it expiring tell me they are going to wait until spring before they try again. I know the market is soft now, but will it be that much better in the spring? I wish I had a crystal ball but I don’t. What I can tell you is when spring comes in Georgia, not only will the Dogwoods and Tulips start popping out but there will probably be hundreds more houses for sale signs popping up as well. Many economists say that it will be 2009 before we see a substantial turn around in the housing market. My point is you should take your chances in today’s market instead of speculating on what the market could do in the future.

Here is a case in point: A homeowner wants to move to a bigger house. They have been in their house for awhile now and want to take the equity they have built up and put it into a new, bigger house. The problem is they couldn’t sell it for what it was worth last year in today’s market so the listing expired. Let’s say as an example that the house was worth $200,000 last year but in today’s market they have been or would be selling for $180,000. They don’t want to “lose” $20K so the house sits on the market until the listing expires and they are trapped in a house that is too small.

What are they to do? My advice would be to price the house to sell today, take the perceived “loss” and move on. Why would I call it a “perceived” loss? Because the opportunity to buy the bigger house now, while prices are flat, will more than offset any loss they may have in selling their current home.

Let’s say they are able to buy that new, bigger house last year for $450,000. Today that same house could be bought for $410,000, a savings of $40K! They are already starting $20K ahead. If you also consider the appreciation which may start to climb late next year or early into 2009, getting the appreciation on a $410,000 house would be more than the appreciation on the $180,000 house. Plus you get to enjoy your new, bigger house now! Next year or even 2009 when your $180,000 house will be worth $200,000 again, the $410,000 house will be worth $450,000. Do you want to "save" $20K only to "lose" $40K when you buy the next house?

If this makes sense to you, please call me and let’s talk about your specific situation. If you still want to wait until spring, please keep my contact information and when spring comes, let me show you my internet marketing system that will have sold houses all winter long. I will do my best to make your house stand out against the hundreds of others available then and we can take our chances.

I do hope you will reconsider waiting until spring and call me today. Let’s face it, the market has slowed down but it has not stopped. Everyday people have to move for one reason or another. Let me put your house in front of hundreds of people a week online, holding a “virtual open house” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Let’s sell your house now so you can move on with your life!

Michael Bradford

770-862-8002