Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Real Estate Tip #8

This is a real photo of a homemade attic fan. It's funny because it seems so obvious that this type of ventilation is a problem, but inspectors can find things that are not quite so obvious. The National Association of Home Inspectors provides certification, training and guidelines for it's members to follow and they can help you choose a qualified inspector near you. They can save home buyers big buck$ and allow for better negotiation when it's time to close a deal.

I've been in this business for over 20 years and am always surprised at how many things inspectors find that I didn't see. If you'd like a recommendation for an inspector either to inspect your home before you sell to let you know the repairs that need to be made, or to hire one to inspect a home before you buy, give me a call today at 770-862-8002 and I'll give you some help and tips regarding home inspections.

-Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Friday, July 27, 2007

"Pet Friendly"

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, almost 65% of households in America have pets. Wow! I am glad to know that I am not alone! I love my new dog. His name is "Jack" (after Captain Jack Sparrow, arrg!) and he is a mix between a Poodle and a Schnauzer, more commonly know as a "Schnoodle". Click here for more information about Schnoodle's. We chose our new home in part because it was "pet friendly".

The National Association of Realtors, reports " Spacious yards and condominiums that allow pets are moving closer to the top of buyers' lists of priorities. According to Chicago-based agent Mario Greco, clients often refuse to consider buildings that do not accept animal companions. " Read the whole article here.

I know for me, I wouldn't want to live where Jack was not as at home as the rest of my family. Let me help you and your "family" find the home of you dreams.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Got Cars?

Sometimes, people have a hobby of working on cars. This hobby can take up a lot of space and the front yard is usually the one to suffer. (along with the neighbors).

If you are trying to sell your house, you may want to think about finishing those repair projects and getting the cars off of the property before putting the "For Sale" sign in the yard. For most buyers, first impressions are everything. If they can't see the house for all of the junk cars on the property, they won't even want to go inside for a look.

For more tips on preparing your house to be market ready, please call me today at 770-862-8002.

-Michael Bradford
Associate Broker, Southern Prime Realty

Lowering Energy Bills

One of the big drains on the cash flow of a home owner is the cost of energy to the home. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)has suggestions for helping you to not only save energy/resources, but also money. Sometimes, it just takes a small amount of cash to stave off the larger amount you might have to pay in the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter. Here is their home energy checklist:

To Do Today
  • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands.
  • Start using energy-saving settings on refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes dryers.
  • Survey your incandescent lights for opportunities to replace them with compact fluorescents (CFLs). These lamps can save three-quarters of the electricity used by incandescents. The best targets are 60-100W bulbs used several hours a day. New CFLs come in many sizes and styles to fit in most standard fixtures.
  • Check the age and condition of your major appliances, especially the refrigerator. You may want to replace it with a more energy-efficient model before it dies.
  • Clean or replace furnace, air-conditioner, and heat-pump filters.
  • If you have one of those silent guzzlers, a waterbed, make your bed today. The covers will insulate it, and save up to one-third of the energy it uses.

    This Week
  • Visit the hardware store. Buy low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, and compact fluorescent light bulbs, as needed. These can be purchased from any hardware or home improvement store. CFLs are now sold at some drug stores and grocery stores.
  • If your water heater is old enough that its insulation is fiberglass instead of foam, it clearly will benefit from a water heater blanket from the local hardware or home supplies store. (To tell the difference, check at the pilot light access (gas). For electric water heaters, the best access is probably at the thermostat, but be sure to turn off the power before checking.)
  • Rope caulk very leaky windows.
  • Assess your heating and cooling systems. Determine if replacements are justified, or whether you should retrofit them to make them work more efficiently to provide the same comfort (or better) for less energy.

    This Month
  • Collect your utility bills. Separate electricity and fuel bills. Target the biggest bill for energy conservation remedies.
  • Crawl into your attic or crawlspace and inspect for insulation. Is there any? How much?
  • Insulate hot water pipes and ducts wherever they run through unheated areas.
  • Seal up the largest air leaks in your house—the ones that whistle on windy days, or feel drafty. The worst culprits are usually not windows and doors, but utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Better yet, hire an energy auditor with a blower door to point out where the worst cracks are. All the little, invisible cracks and holes may add up to as much as an open window or door, without you ever knowing it!
  • Set your thermostat back (forward) when you can accept cooler (warmer) conditions. This generally includes night time and whenever you leave your home for several hours. Many people find it easier to use an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the thermostat based on your time-of-day instructions.
  • Schedule an energy audit for more expert advice on your home as a whole, or learn how to conduct your own by visiting the Home Energy Saver Web site. A directory of available energy audit services by state is available at RESNET.

    This Year
  • Insulate. If your walls aren't insulated have an insulation contractor blow cellulose into the walls. Bring your attic insulation level up to snuff.
  • Replace aging, inefficient appliances. Even if the appliance has a few useful years left, replacing it with a top-efficiency model is generally a good investment.
  • Upgrade leaky windows. It may be time to replace them with energy-efficient models or to boost their efficiency with weatherstripping and storm windows.
  • Have your heating and cooling systems tuned up in the fall and spring, respectively. Duct sealing can also improve the energy efficiency and overall performance of your system (warm-air furnace and central air conditioners).
  • Know that you are making a difference!
I have experience in energy auditing (especially in the area of lighting) and can help you decide what energy saving projects you may need to tackle. If you can use my help, please call me today at 770-862-8002. Thanks!

-Michael Bradford
Associate Broker, Southern Prime Realty

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Woodstock, GA: Forbes Pick Among Fastest Growing Suburbs

In a recent FORBES MAGAZINE ARTICLE, Woodstock, GA is listed as the 10th fastest growing suburbs in the nation.

Woodstock is in a moderate climate, has a beautiful old main street with restuants and shopping, many affordable neighborhoods, excellent schools, several golf courses and recreation areas, plenty of parks with events continually scheduled in them, a major interstate situated conveniently nearby, a huge mall one exit south, and plenty for families to do! As you can see by this graph, Woodstock is a city full of children -

Would you like to be among the numbers who call Woodstock home? If so, why not give me a call today and I will get to work on finding just the right house to fit your needs. 770-862-8002.

Michael Bradford

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ready for your first home?

Most of us have heard that the "sub-prime" mortgage market is in trouble. According to Realtor.org, over 25 major lenders have quit or severely limited this area of lending. On Wednesday, July 18th, The national Association of Realtors testified before Congress regarding a reformed FHA (Federal Housing Authority).

"REALTORS® support efforts to give consumers affordable alternatives to subprime mortgages. We believe that a modernized FHA could offer a safe alternative, especially for borrowers with less than perfect credit,” said John Anderson, broker-owner of Twin Oaks Realty in Crystal, Minn., testifying on behalf of NAR. See the rest of this article here. FHA loans have come back in vogue. Not that they ever left us, but the market produced products that made FHA loans less attractive. That is changing because of the sub prime markets colapse.

Research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the cost of home ownership is going down while the cost of renting is on the rise. With the large inventory of entry level homes available, now may be the best time for renters to own their first home. For those of us who can remember buying our first home, it brings back memories of fear and cold sweats! I personally thought that the $52,000 we paid for our first house was all the money in the world and that I would never pay it off. Looking back, even though I was scared to death, it was the best financial move I ever made.

If the thought of buying your first house has you curled up in the corner, give me a call @ 770-862-8002. I can help you decide if this really is the best time for you to buy your first home.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Do Pools Help or Hurt Resale Value? It Depends

I was reading this article by Freda Savana about pools and I thought it was good enough to share. There is a lot of controversey and questions about pools. Many sellers think they add value to the house. Many buyers are put off by the cost of maintaining them and keeping them in good repair. So what's the deal with pools anyway?

Walter Molony, spokesman for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, says that pools can be "a double-edged sword" when it comes to a home's resale value. "For people who like them they are a plus, but for families with small children it may discourage them from a purchase," he says.

After reviewing almost 30,000 home sales in Philadelphia from 1996 to 2003, NAR reported in 2004 that property values jump about 8 percent because of in-ground pools and fall by roughly 2 percent because of above-ground pools.

If you have an in-ground pool that has been well-maintained and you live in a nice neighborhood, your pool will likely be an asset. If your pool is above ground, you may want to consider removing it before you decide to sell your house. Otherwise, you may need to take less money for the house.

For more information on maintaining pools, you can visit this site .

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Real Estate Tip #7

The entrance to your house is extremely important when selling!

This house would turn many potential buyers off simply because the entrance is not a welcoming and neutral space. If you have something like this by your front door, go ahead and pack it up for your next house and replace it with a warm, welcoming doorbell. First impressions are very important. For more tips on how you can make your house entryway perfect for showing, you can click HERE or give me a call @ 770-862-8002 today!

TAG! I'm It!

E-Babe over at A Modicum of Decorum tagged me with the Random Facts Tag and I have to play along. Here are the rules:

1. Let others know who tagged you. (E-Babe)
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves. (see mine below)
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged. (This will be a challenge because I'm so new to the Blogoshpere but I will give it a shot!)

My Random Facts:

1. I'm happily married
2. I'm grateful to be a dad
3. I love dogs
4. I'm somewhat musically inclined (except when singing with headphones on)
5. I love to talk about real estate
6. I'm becoming a trivia junkie
7. I like card games
8. I love sleeping late - because I never get to!

I'm going to tag the following people:
  1. Maxloxton
  2. thanate191
  3. Reebles
  4. oiloffmar

I'll have to think about the rest!

Thanks, E-Babe!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Real Estate Investing 101

Since we've been on the topic of real estate investing, I wanted to make a point to help clear up any confusion that people have about when a good time to invest in real estate might be. The best time to invest in real estate is ALL OF THE TIME - but especially when the market is slow.

Allow me to explain: When markets are sluggish and the prices are in a holding pattern or downward trend, people begin to worry that it's a bad time to buy and they don't. This is a costly mistake. The best time to buy any investment is when prices are low. (Stock Market Rule #1: "Buy low, sell high" - Also applies to real estate). You can get some amazing deals right now! It is a buyers market... especially in Atlanta. Ands there is a glut of houses listed so you have many more choices and sellers are more open to negotiate on things like price, terms, repairs and even help with financing.

Why wait another minute? NOW is the time to get that investment property you've always wanted. I can help you find a cash flow stream, show you how to get a tenant in and let them pay your mortgage for you while the value of the house, along with your net worth, grows every day. Give me a call and let's talk about your real estate investing strategies.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Flip That House?

One of my "flips" BEFORE
The same house 7 weeks later

A lot of people are interested in flipping houses for big profits these days. And there is a good reason: you can make great money while improving a neighborhood and providing a buyer with a nice, newly refurbished home. It's a win-win... IF it's done correctly.

I have "flipped' more than 20 properties in the past 6 years and I can share with you some of my experiences, tips and help if you are interested in doing this type of work. There are some hard and fast rules that novices either don't know or ignore. Let me help keep you from making those costly mistakes. Give me a call today @ 770-862-8002 and, together, we'll find a deal for you!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Real Estate Tip #6

Home need updating? One of the questions that I am asked quite frequently by sellers is how can they update their home to help it sell quickly without spending big bucks? The great news is that has already been done for you!
When builders develop a new subdivision, they spend a LOT of money researching what is popular among potential buyers. They hire professional stagers to design the model homes so that they look modern and appealing.
Go visit a few of these model homes to get some good ideas about changes that you can make that won't break the bank. A few well spent dollars can add thousands to your selling price! For more information on staging, click here or call me @ 770-862-8002 for some local recommendations.
-Michael Bradford
Associate Broker, Southern Prime Realty

Friday, July 13, 2007

A New Informational Tool

This is a "Talking House" sign. It's a new tool in my selling package that I'm so excited to tell you about. How does it work? you ask....

It is a simple technology that uses a small radio transmitter to broadcast facts and features about a house in a small area near the home. The transmitter is placed inside of the house and stays on a continual loop so that a potential buyer can hear it over and over.

When you list a house with me, I will put one of these signs in your yard so that potential buyers can listen to all of the features that make your home stand out above the rest. This sign keeps people off of your lawn (to get flyers that are continually running out, getting wet and causing your grass to be trampled on). This Talking House is a free service to my customers.

If you are interested in listing your Cherokee or Cobb County house for sale, please give me a call today at 770-862-8002. I will show you all of the tools I plan to use to get your house sold quickly. Thanks!

-Michael Bradford
Associate Broker, Southern Prime Realty

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Real Estate Tip #5

Keep to the Code! (Arrr!)

Many sellers do not realize that as they customize their homes, they need to comply with current building codes. If you fail to follow the code, you may have a difficult, if not impossible time, finding a buyer when you are ready to move. Although you might think your repairs and customizations are safe, the local governments and building inspectors may beg to differ. Don't let this problem become one that costs you big bucks down the road. If you would like help finding an inspector or contractor to check your house out, please give me a call today and I can hook you up! 770-862-8002.

-Michael Bradford

Transtechnik Plans Growth in Cherokee County

I came across this encouraging article about more growth of jobs/economy in Cherokee County in the Atlanta Business Chronicle:

German power supply company Transtechnik plans to add 45 jobs to its facility in Ball Ground, Ga., Gov. Sonny Perdue announced after a meeting in Munich, Germany with company officials.

The company moved its manufacturing operations from New Jersey to Cherokee County in March 2006 and now has 47 employees. The company makes power supplies for mass transit systems such as the Las Vegas Monorail and MARTA. Transtechnik is adding capacity because it is branching out into subcontracting for original equipment manufacturers.

Read the rest of this article by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Real EstateTip #4

When considering how to landscape your house to make it sell quickly, it is better to plant your flowers either directly into the ground with plenty of mulch -OR- you can use pots and containers found in the garden section of your local store. Although I support recycling, using old toilets for planters is not generally appealing to the eye and tends to turn potential buyers away. For more tips on prepping your home for sale, give me a call today at 770-862-8002. Thanks!

Michael Bradford

Friday, July 6, 2007

Patriotic House

Mortgage Rates Remain Calm

Mortgage rates remained calm during this holiday week, with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate holding at 6.74 percent, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey of large lenders.

The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage popular for refinancing inched higher to 6.41 percent. On larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate nosed higher to 6.97 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages behaved the same, with the average one-year ARM and 5/1 ARM each rising, to 6.24 percent and 6.48 percent, respectively.

Fixed mortgage rates are roughly one-half percentage point higher than three months ago. At the time, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.25 percent, meaning that a $165,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,015.93. With the average 30-year fixed rate now 6.74 percent, the same loan originated today would carry a monthly payment of $1,069.09.

Fixed mortgage rates still remain the better refinancing alternative for adjustable rate borrowers facing sharp payment adjustments. (Source: Bankrate.com)

If you would like to get mortgage information or find out what type of load you would qualify for, please give me a call today!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Real Estate Tip #3

Hiring a qualified contractor is of the utmost importance! Before you get your house ready to sell, be sure you check the qualifications and references of your contractor. You could end up spending a lot of money to have something done that will not add value to your house, and in some cases, even DETRACT value. For more help in this area, give me a call today!

(Example of poor contracting of a back porch)

Good News For North Georgia Real Estate!

I was reading an article by Mardell Cully over at realtytimes.com and he made some important observations that I wanted to share with you. He states: "Overall market conditions for Atlanta remain strong and vibrant for several different sectors including first-time homebuyers, buyers "moving-up" to the $200-$350K price range, and investors seeking to capitalize on historically low interest rates. With the current popularity of interest-only loans and competition among lenders, low mortgage rates continue to fuel the housing market and mutually beneficial deals are being negotiated for both buyers and sellers."

Hank Miller from the same site writes:
"We've seen a bit more activity in the North Atlanta real estate market over the last two weeks as relocation buyers from around the country add to local buyers. Now that schools are out in most states, transferees are starting to appear - and that's a good thing! If you're headed to North Atlanta, you'll be pleased with the area as well as the standing inventory of both new and existing homes."

I could not agree with Hank more! I have never seen such inventory of gorgeous homes and beautiful properties. It really is a great market. Even more good news on the horizon, too, according to Cully. He states: "There is plenty of evidence that our leaders and citizens will rise to the challenge of welcoming new residents while maintaining and improving our quality of life. Consider:
  • The Quality Growth Task Force is analyzing and developing recommendations for responsible land use and quality growth throughout region.
  • The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is advancing the area's first transportation plan, called Mobility 2030. The plan identifies the most congested corridors, establishes goals to fix the worst first, and is recommending accountability and performance measures.
  • Future area transportation projects include funding for commuter rail to encompass surrounding counties.
  • The newly-created Regional Arts & Culture Leadership Alliance will begin to drive initiatives that will benefit and nurture the arts throughout the region including Atlanta.
  • The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, along with city and state legislature have agreed on guidelines to provide for the region's future water needs, and the local economy will continue to grow through entrepreneurs, as well as big corporations.
  • By targeting innovative industries, our research universities offer immediate advantages to emerging fields, such as the biosciences and other technology.
  • Internationally, our leaders have positioned Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to continue to be America's gateway for emerging nations and the transportation hub for the entire Southeast.

So there you have it, this market is not one to be afraid of, but rather one to embrace! We have every reason to believe that this next year will be one of the strongest years for any buyer or seller in the north metro Atlanta area. If you need to sell a house or property, look at some to consider buying or you just want to know what you should be doing if you are thinking about doing either, I will be glad to speak with you. Give me a call today at 770-862-8002.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Real Estate Tip #2

Ready to buy a house? Before you get in the car with your agent, a call to your bank, credit union or mortgage broker is a great place to start. We have all heard the news that foreclosures are at an all time high. Don't become a statistic! Learn about what programs are available and how much house you can buy before you find the home of your dreams. The National Association of Realtors has put together information designed to help you. Please visit the NAR web site for more information.

Don't let what happened to this house happen to yours! Ask your Realtor for help navigating the waters of home ownership.