Friday, December 28, 2007

Support For Homeschooled Students in Cherokee County

Canton is getting enrichment classes for homeschooled students!

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Exit Strategies for Real Estate Investments


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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Bradford 770-862-8002

Southern Prime Realty

Your Cherokee County Georgia Real estate Specialist



HGTV's "Green Home" Giveaway

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Local Charities Need Last Minute Help


Friday, December 21, 2007

Buy Investment Property Now



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


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Michael Bradford

Southern Prime Realty

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Woodstock Youth Wins Grant










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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Feds: Home Mortgage Proposal

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

Monday, December 17, 2007

Get Your Home Ready To Sell

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 14, 2007

Increase the Resale Value of Your Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Foreclosures: It Doesn't Have to Be This Way


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

Monday, December 10, 2007

Avoid Foreclosure!

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

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

Help is available but time is of the essence!

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

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

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

Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realthy

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Humane Society Needs Volunteers



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




Friday, December 7, 2007

Retirement with Real Estate

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty



Thursday, December 6, 2007

Brad Pitt: Importance of Green Housing

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



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



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



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



Michael Bradford
Southern Prime Realty

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Earth, Paint & Fire

By: Shannon Bradford

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



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


Shown below is Sheri Sands with her daughter Samantha.


This is Avery Rylander with her mom, Sara.


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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

Monday, December 3, 2007

Geothermal Heat Pumps

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



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

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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

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

Michael Bradford 770.862.8002
Southern Prime Realty