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

Monday, October 22, 2007

Buying Foreclosures, Part II

Buying a house at the courthouse steps is not for the faint of heart. It is filled with many pitfalls that can trip up even the most experienced purchaser. A good friend of mine who regularly buys at the steps told me about a problem he had with a purchase. I won't bore you with the details but to only say he still has $60,000 tied up in a property that he doesn't own.
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Real estate broker and writer John Adams was quoted in the AJC article on Sunday as saying: "The auction is a much more advanced technique, and quite frankly, it is almost impossible to fully protect yourself against some of the threats that are out there." So how can the average person pick up a good deal from all the foreclosures on the market now?
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Post foreclosure is where you want to look first. They are easy to find and the risks can be determined with a little effort in advance. These are properties that the lender has already gone through the legal process of taking the house back by purchasing it at the court house steps and have listed it with an agent. Great deals can be found here if you are willing to overlook some flaws in the property.
Because the lender has never lived in the house, no sellers disclosure or termite letter will be provided. Not that you can't find this information out on your own but the lender will tell you WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). AS IS really means AS IS! No Warranties really means No Warranties! You are on your own to find out any and all problems the house has.
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Next, you will have access to the house. You can hire your own inspector and termite company. You can inspect and test every system in the house, but it will be at your own expense and you will have no recourse to the lender if you miss something. If you find something that needs repairs, the lender won't care. They will not repair anything so you have to know what the house needs and the cost to fix whatever is broken.
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So what is the upside?
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You get a great price. How much of a great price are we talking? I would caution anyone buying a house this way to get at least a 30% price reduction from retail price.
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"Come on Michael, the lender won't go that far!" I'm sure someone is saying right now.
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Yes, they will - and even farther if needed. Right now is such a great time to buy one of these that I am personally about to enter negotiations on one myself.
What makes now such a good time? It is close to year end and the banks want the bad loans off the books before the new year. For every $1 in non-performing (bad) loans that lenders have on the books, they are required to keep a certain amount in reserves to cover that bad debt which means there is less money they can lend.
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The other way to buy these type of properties is to find the seller before the sale at the courthouse steps and make a deal directly with them. This is time consuming and often impossible because they often abandon the house and leave the area. There is also only about 30 days fromo the time that the public is notified until the bank forcloses. You must be able to close very, very quickly if you can even find the owner to sell the house to you. Many of these owners owe more than the property is currently worth so a deal is not even possible.
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Please call me if you have any other questions or would like to pursue purchasing a great deal from a lender who wants out. I have seen several excellent deals in Cherokee County and would consider it a privilege to help you meet your goals.
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How can I serve you today?

Michael Bradford
770-862-8002

Buying Foreclosures

Last week I touched on buying foreclosures and said it was a tricky business. The AJC had a great article in the Homefinder section of Sundays paper which was dedicated to buying foreclosures. This has become such a big issue I wanted to address it in more detail today.

Cherokee County had around 200 advertised foreclosures in the Cherokee Tribune this month that are scheduled for the court house steps on the first Tuesday of the month (November 6th). Just because a house is advertised does not mean it will ultimately get sold on the steps. There are a couple of reasons why.

1. The homeowner "redeems" the property. This can happen by several methods but most likely the homeowner was able to work out a payment plan with the lender. This is sometimes called a "forbearance agreement" (for more info click here) and the lender has agreed to postpone or stop the current foreclosure process.

2. The homeowner sold the property. Up until the day before the sale at the court house is scheduled, the homeowner can sell the property on his own. The closer to the sale date, the harder it is and the more likely the sale will not be able to be completed. It will also need to be approved by the lender. Here is where a "short sale" can take place (for more info click here) which is where the lender agrees to accept less than what is owed on the property to keep them from getting the property back. I have done a couple of "short sales" and lenders are becoming more open to them lately just because of the shear numbers of properties on the market and the number of properties the lender currently has in it's REO (Real Estate Owned) portfolio.

The bottom line is that lenders don't want the house back. What they want is a loan that is performing (payments are current and on time). Tomorrow I will talk about how to buy a foreclosure house with the least amount of risk for the greatest amount of reward.

Until then, if you have questions that can't wait, please call me @ 770-862-8002. If you know anyone who needs to buy or sell real estate in Cherokee or Cobb County, Georgia, thank you for considering giving them my name and number.

Michael Bradford
Associate Broker
Southern Prime Realty
770-862-8002

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lessons about the way we treat people

Thanks to my friend Robin who sent this to me.

Cleaning Lady...
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello." I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.



Pickup in the Rain...
One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960's. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others." Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.



Always remember those who serve...
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. "Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied. The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.



The obstacle in Our Path...
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand! Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.



Giving When it Counts...
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away". Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Know when to hold 'em?


Here is a great article from Real Estate Insights on REALTOR.org about pain that some investors are "feeling". I'm not sure exactly why (other than my age:) but it made me think of the Kenny Rodgers song "Know When To Hold 'Em". The article make a great analogy about investing in the real estate market versus the stock market. This is a must read for anyone who is currently renting! Lawrence Yun, Vice president of NAR Research, has some excellent statistics to counter the argument that people who own and invest in real estate are feeling "pain" now because of the current market.

Mr Yun reports that someone who invested $10,000 as a down payment on a typically priced house in the US that appreciated at 5% per year would have a return of $110,000 after 10 years. Compare that with a $10,000 investment in the stock market at 10% that would yield a return of only $23,600. This could also explain the next statistic. "A typical homeowner had $184,400 in net worth versus only $4,000 for a typical renter." Wow, what a huge difference!

NAR reports that "only the recent buyers (flippers) who bought last year in few specific markets would have encountered a loss" which of course is what the main stream media is reporting on. If you want to buy houses and "flip" them for a quick profit, be careful. It can still be done in today's market but you must do your homework and know what you are getting into.
Investing in foreclosures is also a tricky business and needs to be approached with caution. If you have the nerves for this kind of investing, give me a call. I can offer you some tips that I have picked up along the way.

But if you want to invest for a great return over time, now is the time to enter the world of home ownership. Interest rates are low and inventory is plentiful. Don't let the sensationalism of the media scare you away from increasing your net worth today.

Call me today and I will help you meet your goals.

Michael Bradford
770-862-8002

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You Know You're Growing Old When...


  • You've come to the annoying realization that your parents were right about almost everything.

  • The bag boy volunteers to help load groceries into your car-in the "ten items or less" lane.

  • You've stopped supporting your children, and started supporting your parents.

  • You've found yourself discussing the weather.

  • You remember your kid's names, just not always the right one.

  • You have nightmares about forgetting to move the garbage cans to the street for the garbage collector.

  • Your high school yearbook is now home to three different species of mold.

  • You buy "age-defying" makeup and "anti-wrinkle" creams and believe they work.

  • You've realized that all those geeky people in Bermuda shorts walking around Disney World include you.

  • You recognize Led Zeppelin songs that have been turned into elevator Muzak.

  • You've had three opportunities to buy every single Disney Animated Classic-"for the last time in a generation" Wal-Mart and Target seem to share your fashion sense.

  • The only way you know to stop a virtual pet from beeping involves the patio and a sledgehammer.

  • You can pack two suits, Five shirts, five ties, five pairs of underwear, five pairs of socks, a pair of shoes, and half of your bathroom into a carry-on bag-in less than five minutes.

  • You know what Earth Shoes are.

  • You think if you hear "Stairway to Heaven" one more time your head will explode.

  • Your weight-lifting program seems to have no effect on your muscles, but the veins on the backs of your hands are bulking up quite nicely.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

To "Open House" or not to "Open House"? That is the question.

I am asked at almost every listing appointment I go on how many open houses I plan to have. Most sellers are surprised when I tell them that I don't hold traditional open houses at all. I then go on to tell them I wouldn't want to put them or their home through all that for mostly my benefit. Do agents sell the homes that they hold open house for to people attending the open house? I am sure that it does happen. Would that same buyer have bought the home even without an open house? Probably. Buying a house is not an "impulse purchase".


Traditional open houses are great for agents looking for buyers leads. It used to be the number 1 way of finding buyers. But things have changed. The internet is where buyers are going and I want to have my listings as "Virtual Open Houses" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Between having virtual tours, multiple photos (25-50), plat drawings of the lot and soon, floor plans of each of my listings posted on the internet, I believe that both my time and yours is better spent leveraging the most powerful tool available today to market your home.

Research by REALTOR® Magazine Online reports that “while 80 percent of home buyers use the Web to search for properties, only 42 percent visited open houses last year”. They also reported “serious buyers tend to view properties online and make appointments to tour the specific properties that truly spark their interest”.

While an open house make’s it look like the agent is working hard for the seller, in most cases, it will only benefit the agent with new buyers leads. I want to sell your house, not use it to generate buyers leads. If you are ready to sell your house, let me show you how marketing on the internet will get thousands of people touring your home in a “Virtual Open House” every week, not just a few between 2 and 4 on Sunday.

Michael Bradford
770-862-8002

Monday, October 15, 2007

Local Investor Offers Solution to Many Buyers With Credit Issues

Howard Brummel is a man who can think outside of the box. This local real estate investor has found a way to put people into houses that they love even when they would not be able to get traditional financing because of credit or income verification issues.



Howard, and other investors like him, offer their houses (he has over 40 right now to choose from) for sale through the very popular Lease/Purchase program. This method of selling a house is proving to be quite popular with the tighter restrictions that mortgage companies are putting on their borrowers now.



HERES HOW IT WORKS:

A buyer has some credit issues but needs a house to live in now. Instead of the traditional 10% down on a house, Howard only requires an initial 3 - 5% down. They have 1 year to clean up their credit while they pay rent on the house as if they were leasing it. As they make their payments on time, they are establishing a record of being able to make payments on the house for the future lender to see.

If they buy the house within the first 3 months, 100% of their on-time rent is credited towards the final purchase price of the house. If they close within 4-6 months, it's 75%. 7-9 months is 50% and 10-12 months is 25% rent credit. After 12 months, 10% of their rent is credited. By credit, I mean that that percentage of their rent will go, along with the down payment, towards to purchase price of the house.

A buyer can know that at least some portion of his rent is working towards the purchase price of the house. He is also buying time to work towards establishing better credit so that he will qualify for traditional financing and lower interest rates.

To read more about Howard's Lease/Purchase plan, you can visit his site by clicking HERE. You can also reach him at 770-591-9492.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Solar Decathalon = Green Ingenuity

U.S.A. Today had a great story on an event that's taking place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. this weekend. It's a competition between 20 teams of students from all over the world that focuses on harnessing the energy of the sun to meet the energy needs of homes.

Many of the solar homes have sustainable materials in them such as "pressed wheat and sunflower hull cabinetry, recycled glass tiles and fly ash countertops made from the ash of incinerated garbage. Bamboo floors replace pine or oak because the durable, fast-growing grass yields four times as much material on the same amount of land."

There will be a team from Georgia Tech to represent us and the results of the hard work should be very exciting. To learn more about how solar cells work, CLICK HERE.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Newest Listing



I am so proud of my newest listing. I know a lot about the neighborhood, Hidden Branches, because I used to own a house on the same street. The neighborhood homes are all on approximately 5 acre lots so everyone has plenty of privacy and plenty of space to do their own thing. I really hated to sell my house and move.

The owner of this house has done some amazing things. First of all, his house is very unique in style and floorplan. It's a European/Bavarian stucco house on 5 acres with a creek and a pasture. The house is a passive solar design to take advantage of the sun in the winter for heating but shade in the summer to keep it cool. Everything (from windows to fireplaces to HVAC systems) are all high efficiency and designed to keep your energy usage low.


If you would like a private showing of this house, please call me today to schedule an appointment. I can be reached at 770-862-8002.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Holocaust Survivor Tom Reed Speaks at Reinhardt


As part of Reinhardt College’s “Year of Eastern Europe and Russia, the public is invited to to hear a first-hand account of the Holocaust from Thomas Reed, a native of Poland who now lives in Milton, Ga. On Oct. 15, at 11 a.m., on the top level of the Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center, Reed will speak about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor.

“I will tell people what I have lived through,” Reed said. “I will say, ‘Think about what it would be to be a 12-and-a-half year old boy. Close your eyes and let’s get going.’ Then I tell them my story, what I saw and experienced.”

In 1944 when the Germans occupied Hungary, Mr. Reed was the oldest of five children in his family. They were forced into a local Ghetto along with the 500 other Jewish inhabitants of their small town of Mezocsat. They were then transported to a central Ghetto and sent to Auschwitz in Poland. There his family, except for him and his father, was immediately murdered. Reed pretended to be 17 years old and, along with his father, was selected for work in Germany. He and his father survived the concentration camps of Munchen-Allach, Mulhdorf-Mettenheim and Mittergars and a massacre in Poing, Bavaria.

He was liberated by the U.S. Army at Tutzing, Bavaria. He lived for several years in a displaced persons camp in Bavaria and for a short while in Munich prior to coming to the U.S. in 1949. He served in the U.S. Army, married an American girl, and they have three children and five grandchildren. He earned a B.S.E.E. and J.D. and retired after 42 years in the defense industry.
For more on Reinhardt's Year of Eastern Europe and Russia, please see www.reinhardt.edu/Yeer/index.htm

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Active Adult Communities


They're becoming quite popular with the huge number of baby boomers!

These are communities of homes that are built with a 55+ resident in mind. They usually have minimal steps, wide open spaces, a lot of recreational activities in the community and smaller yards (for less maintenance).

Here is a snip from THIS ARTICLE in yesterday's Atlanta Journal & Constitution:

"Two other national home builders have rolled out a strategy in metro Atlanta aimed at another group of transient buyers, retirees. Both Pulte Homes, through its Del Webb division, and Levitt Corp. brand Levitt & Sons have launched a series of communities designed to appeal to "active adults," affluent retirees over age 55 who want to live in a community designed around recreation and leisure activities.


Pulte, in particular, has invested heavily in metro Atlanta with Del Webb communities at Lake Lanier and Lake Oconee and its signature Sun City design in Spalding County south of Atlanta. When first introducing Del Webb in the Atlanta market, Pulte executives predicted that Georgia will become as strong a magnet for retirees as Florida.

With the looming retirement of the baby boom generation, Del Webb is positioning itself as a leader for housing designed to appeal to the healthiest, most affluent generation of home buyers in history."


Cherokee County has such communities and I have seen the beauty and benefits of older adults moving into them. As the boomer generation begins to reach retirment age, the value of the homes in these active adult communities will continue to rise and the demand will be steady.

If you are interested in looking at some of these communities or would like to position yourself to be ready to sell your current home in order to relocate to an active adult community, give me a call today and we'll talk strategy. 770-862-8002.

Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good Morning

The first day of a new year at college, the Dean came in and said "Good Morning" to all of the students. When they echoed back to him, he responded "Ah, you're Freshmen."

He explained.

"When you walk in and say good morning, and they say good morning back, they're Freshmen. When they put their newspapers down and open their books, they're Sophomores. When they look up so they can see the who's talking over the tops of the newspapers, they're juniors. And when they put their feet up on the desks and keep reading, they're seniors. "And when you walk in and say good morning, and they write it down, they're graduate students."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pawcasso art show to benefit Cherokee Animal Shelter

I wanted to let you all know that today, an art show/sale called "Pawcasso" will be opening at the Cherokee Arts Center (located in historic downtown Canton behind the Justice Center). An excellent variety of animal art by several local artists will share the gallery space with art created by the very talented paws of some of The Cherokee Animal Shelter residents. Each original ‘Pawcasso’ painting will be matted and will have the picture, name and story of each animal artist attached to the back of every painting. Proceeds will benefit the Cherokee Animal Shelter. A must see for all animal lovers. If you can only attend once, try to go on Saturday, October 13th for a "Meet the Artists" from 1-3 pm.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Why residential Realtors support the FairTax

by Harvey Abernethy, Realtor®

(This article can be accessed for printing HERE.)

The FairTax plan has many positive features, not the least of which are the advantages that accrue to real estate ownership. The FairTax plan allows homeowners to:

• Pay an entire house payment, both principal and interest, with "pre-tax" dollars, a major improvement over the paltry home-interest tax deduction, which only pays interest with pre-income tax/post-payroll tax dollars.
• Get this benefit without itemizing deductions, which only a small percentage of homeowners do today.
• Save for down payments much faster, without the penalty of taxation.
• Reduce interest rates even lower than they are today.

The current system punishes those who would own property.

The federal income tax is unfair, complex, and riddled with loopholes. Even worse, it
punishes work, savings, investment, and productivity. It contributes to high interest rates
and a lack of savings among the American people. But now, fundamental tax reform is
seriously being discussed in Washington. The most innovative proposal is HR 25, called the Fair Tax Act. The FairTax is revenue-neutral legislation, repealing and replacing the following with a progressive retail sales tax:

• The individual income tax (including capital gains and alternative minimum taxes)
• The estate and gift tax
• The corporate income tax
• All payroll taxes including the Social Security, Medicare, and self-employment taxes

This single-rate sales tax is calculated to raise the same amount of money raised by the current system (revenue neutral). This proposal does not seek to raise or lower taxes but just to change the collection system. The change in the collection system provides the least expensive, least intrusive, most efficient way of raising the same amount of money, which removes significant friction from the American economy.

A 30-percent1 federal sales tax is imposed on all retail sales of goods and services. Used goods are not taxed, including pre-owned homes. American exports do not have tax costs embedded in their prices. Businesses-to-business transactions are not taxed, therefore no commercial real estate transactions are taxed. The sales tax is separately stated and charged. Social Security and Medicare benefits are fully funded and secure, with funds raised from a broad-based, progressive sales tax, rather than a narrow, regressive payroll tax.

States can elect to collect the federal sales tax on behalf of the federal government. Strong taxpayer rights provisions are incorporated into the act. The burden of proof in disputes is on the government.

Because of these features, the FairTax (a) makes all federal taxes visible, (b) untaxes the poor, (c) raises only the same amount of money as the current system does, and (d) untaxes savings and investments. In other words, it only taxes spending, not income.

Not only is this plan a fantastic benefit to individual Americans, it particularly benefits the real estate industry, both commercial and residential.

The FairTax supercharges the mortgage interest "deduction."

Under an income tax, the mortgage interest deduction is half a loaf. It allows home mortgage interest payments to be made with pre-income tax dollars. But mortgage interest payments must still be made with money that has already been payroll-taxed (the payroll tax comprises the most significant taxes first time homeowners pay). Under the FairTax, mortgage interest and principal payments are simply not taxed, so the entire payment is made with both pre-income and pre-payroll tax dollars.

Individuals are able to save for the purchase of a home much faster, which increases and accelerates the volume of home sales.

Today, buyers seeking to buy a new home or to step up to a larger or second home are taxed on their savings, reducing them. No wonder our savings rates are so low. Under the FairTax, savings and investment are not taxed, allowing buyers to save the down payment in about half the time (nothing is deducted from their paychecks). As a result, a chain effect takes place: Accumulation of down payments is easier and faster, existing owners are able to sell their homes faster and more new home sales take place. Realtors make more money faster since there are more qualified buyers faster.

Mortgage interest rates fall.

Today, mortgage interest rates are artificially inflated because they include a tax premium, which is the amount lenders pay in taxes on the income they receive. Because lenders don’t pay taxes on income under the FairTax, it is as if every homeowner is entitled to finance with a tax-free municipal bond. Home mortgage interest rates fall by 25 to 30 percent (i.e., about two points on a 30-year conventional mortgage). Real interest rates also stay low because the supply of capital for borrowing increases. With lower interest payments, everyone wins – especially homebuyers, sellers, and Realtors.

The FairTax makes housing more affordable by repealing upstream taxes.

Like other businesses, homebuilders pay corporate taxes, significant compliance costs, and payroll taxes, not only directly, but also in the form of upstream producer price increases that are included in their material and labor costs. Under the FairTax, these upstream costs are eliminated. Under the FairTax, principal payments are still sales taxed (as they are today, since the income earned to pay for that principal is taxed) but new home sales prices fall as a result of the removal of upstream tax costs.

A home buyer can earn less to buy the same home.

Considering the fact that a consumption tax taxes purchases, but the income and payroll
taxes take the money before we purchase, the proper comparison question between the
two methods is simply this: How much money would a purchaser have to make to pay
for the home? Since the FairTax lowers marginal rates, homebuyers face lower after-tax costs of their principal payments.

A far simpler, fairer system for Realtors

Under the FairTax, no sales tax is collected or paid in commercial transactions, so commercial Realtors are essentially removed from the tax system completely. There is no longer any record keeping for income taxes, payroll taxes, or any other such items. All Realtors earn their commissions and put 100 percent of that money in their pockets.

The FairTax ensures no American pays this tax on necessities.

Because there are no exemptions or exclusions from the FairTax, it provides every family with a rebate of the sales tax on spending up to the federal poverty income level (about $25,660 for a family of four). The rebate is paid monthly in advance. In this way, no individual or family pays tax on essential goods and services and middle-class families are effectively exempted on a large part of their annual spending. The poor and those on fixed incomes pay no tax whatsoever – hidden or obvious – up to the poverty level.

Get the FairTax residential real estate affordability calculator and worksheets.

FairTax.org provides both an automatic calculator, to compare the amounts homeowners can spend on homes under the current and FairTax systems, as well as worksheets for doing these calculations with pencil and calculator. To obtain these, please send an e-mail to info@fairtax.org and put "Need auto calculator" in the subject line.

1 This issue is often confusing, so we explain more here.
When income tax rates are quoted, economists call that a tax-inclusive quote: "I paid 23 percent last year." For every $100 earned, $23 went to Uncle Sam. Or, "I had to make $130 to have $100 to spend." That’s a 23-percent tax-inclusive rate. We choose to compare the FairTax to income taxes, quoting the rate the same way, because the FairTax replaces such taxes. That rate is 23 percent. Sales taxes, on the other hand, are generally quoted tax exclusive: "I bought a $77 shirt and had to pay that same $23 in sales tax." This is a 30-percent sales tax. Or, "I spent a dollar, 77¢ for the product and 23¢ in tax." This rate, when programmed into a point-of-purchase terminal, is 30 percent. Note that no matter which way it is quoted, the amount of tax is the same. Under an income tax rate of 23 percent, you have to earn $130 to spend $100. Spend that same $100 under a sales tax, you pay that same tax of $30, and the rate is quoted as 30 percent.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Will our tax meet the ax?


This past Tuesday, the AJC ran THIS ARTICLE about how House Speaker Glenn Richardson is trying to make a change for Georgia taxpayers. He not only wants to eliminate property taxes, but also repeal income taxes. (Florida is also a state with no state income taxes).

Reseach has shown over and over that when people have less of a tax burden, the economy does very well. This leads to more jobs, a stable economy, a healthy trading market, a sellers real estate market and business growth.

For more about taxes and real estate, please return tomorrow for a fantastic article on how the proposed FairTax legislation will benefit the real estate markets throughout the nation.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Rules for New Mortgages

Goodbye, easy money. Hello, higher credit standards.


The high default rates we are seeing now is a result of mortgage companies lowering their lending standards in the face of low-interest rates. Now that these banks are being stuck with empty houses in a soft market, their standards are being raised.


What can you do do be sure that you qualify for the type of mortgage that you will need when it comes time to buy your next house? THIS ARTICLE has some excellent information that will help you understand what is going on and what you can do to prepare for your needs.


If you have any questions about mortgages, how to find out what type of payment you can afford, how to clean your credit up to prepare for buying a house or to pull the trigger and buy now while rates are low and it's a buyers market, give me a call. 770.862.8002.

Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Questions Buyers Forget to Ask

Don't leave money on the table....

I was reading THIS ARTICLE at Realtor Magazine about questions that potential buyers forget to ask that could save them a lot of money down the road.
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I'll admit it.... I had never even thought about a few of these. But I am comitting them to memory so I can help my clients avoid these types of pitfalls in the future. As an agent, knowing the right questions to ask can help my clients avoid buying a money pit as well as giving them a huge tool for negotiating a sale.
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Don't know an agent that will work hard to save you money and find you the house of your dreams?
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Hi, I'm Michael Bradford.
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Now you do. Give me a call today and we'll get started! 770.862.8002

Monday, October 1, 2007

"Green" Houses: Keeping the Environment in Mind

I sometimes get questions about houses and the way they relate to being environmentally "friendly". Nothing hit this home to me more than THIS ARTICLE that I read on the cover of the AJC yesterday.
What factors are involved in making a house environmentally friendly? And what things can a homeowner do to help reduce energy and water consumption? These are some things to think about and some goals to work towards. Not only will these ideas save money, energy and water, but they will also be SELLING POINTS when you need to sell your house:
  • Go solar. The sun is free and if you can use solar panels to capture it's energy, you can use it to run or suppliment the energy that you use in your house. Solar technology is better and the materials are cheaper than they were just a few years ago. To learn more about solar energy, you can visit THIS SITE.
  • WATER. USE IT WISELY is an excellent resource for learning about reducing our consumption. It has 100+ ways to reduce, a family water audit to help you see where you may be consuming too much water, and ideas for saving water outdoors.
  • Landscaping is an important "green" factor in a house. Can you grow your own food? Organic gardening is an excellent way to suppliment your diet and a fun hobby as well. Planting fruit trees, vines and other food-bearing plants will add value and beauty to your home. To learn more, visit the Organic Landscape Alliance.
  • Add a composter to reduce the amount of waste that you add to your landfills. Your plants and trees will thank you for the nutrients you will be providing them with, as well. To learn more about composting, CLICK HERE.
  • If you are building a new home or rennovating your old one, put some thought into using either recycled materials, sustainable wood floors (bamboo instead of oak, for example) and natural products (wool carpet instead of synthetic). VISIT THIS SITE and you will see things that you have never heard or thought of.
  • Water filtration. Using good filters is important for your health and the value of your home. A whole-house water filter that will begin filtering your water as it enters your house will be a big feature. No chlorine, harsh chemicals or impuritites will get into your bath, drinking or laundry water. These filtration systems can be a huge selling point as well as help keep you and your family healthy. CLICK HERE to go to a buying guide.
  • Air filtration is a huge factor for your health as well as your energy bills. Using a good filtration system can keep you from visiting the doctors during allergy seasons, it will keep you from having to clean/dust as often, it will keep your AC unit from having to work so hard to keep your house cool and it will be a HUGE factor in the sale of your house. People love high quality filtration systems and you should keep this in mind when deciding on which one to purchase. At the minimum, you should have a very good air filter in your AC system that you change or clean often. To learn more about air filters, CLICK HERE.
  • Lighting is huge when it comes to energy consumption. If your house has not been designed with natural lighting in mind, it is imperative that you add energy-efficient lightbulbs. Not only will this reduce your monthly power bill, but you will replace them less often, your house will be cooler in the summer months, you will be reducing air and water pollution and your lighting will be better. Visit THIS SITE for more information.
  • Recycle. Making it easy to recycle is an important factor in whether that plastic bottle goes to the landfill or gets reused. Move your recycling containers to a place where they are as easy to get to as your garbage can. If you keep them out of sight, they will be out of mind. Many stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot sell organizing bins to aid you in your efforts to store/organize recycle materials. Installing these will not only encourage you to recycle, it will also be an attractive feature to many potential buyers. To see the variety of options, CLICK HERE.

If you are interested in buying a "green" house or knowing how to make your house more environmentally friendly, please call me today at 770.862.8002 and we'll get started right away!

Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty