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