Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Am Grateful

Wow.  Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  There is so much to do, to prepare for the holiday, and I have a brand new listing that I need to get up and running before the day is over in addition to a "to do" list a half a mile long it seems.  Breathe.  Grateful.   Ah yes, I am grateful.

In this unstable, schizophrenic real estate market, you sometimes have to look for things to be grateful for... sometimes you have to look pretty hard.  But, of course, it all depends on your perspective.

The listing appointment I went on yesterday afternoon was a home that I had listed a year ago... about this same time.  The seller had taken a job out of state.  He wasn't happy about the loss of value his home had undergone in the previous couple of years, and he wasn't too excited about moving, but he felt it was his best option at the time.  About 45 days or so into the listing, we received an offer, and simultaneously, the seller decided he hated his new job and didn't want to leave Atlanta, so we withdrew the listing. 

Fast forward to one year later.  The same seller just got a great job opportunity.  This time he is stoked about moving to Michigan.  The bad news is that his home dropped in value at least another $10,000 in the past year.  But he still has some equity in the house as he purchased in 1999.  He is choosing not to see what he has lost in value since the market highs of 2004-2006.  The truth is, the loss in value is only theoretical since he didn't sell during the high point in the market.  He is still going to make money from the time he bought the house in 1999.   He still got to take a major tax deduction from his primary residence for 10 years.  Sure beats renting. 

I have a strong feeling that this listing is going to sell- pretty fast and pretty close to the asking price.  We have studied the market statistics, analyzed the comparable sold properties and have priced the property within 5% of the estimated value to sell.  And my client is ready to break his ties with Atlanta and move on.  He seems to be very sure about his future and realizes that he can move on.  With today's interest rates and prices, he will be able to buy (or build) his dream home in his new location.  I am happy for him.

Another property listing that I just closed last week was from a dear friend/client who had lost her husband a little over a year ago.  It took her awhile to come to terms with the loss of her husband.  They had a fabulous home and it was difficult to leave the memories, yet she needed to move on and start a new life.  We used the same formula to study the statistics, price the home within 5% of today's market value and sold the house in 38 days.  She can move on and start a new life for herself- and she deserves the best.  I am happy for her.

This has been a very good year for me.  Personally, one of the best, if not the best year of my whole life.  Professionally, the market has presented challenges, but I have done well- and I am grateful.  Buyers this year have a lot to be grateful for!  And the sellers who were able to sell have a lot to be grateful for.  The glass is both half empty and half full.  Drink up! 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When is Foreclosure Removed From Your Credit Report?

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fall Back: Fall Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Halloween is over and it's time to nest.  Don't forget to "fall back" this weekend.  Daylight savings time begins November 7, so don't forget to set your clocks back an hour.  I love that extra hour on Sunday morning!  Before you know it, we'll be in the cold days of winter.  So now is the perfect time to take measures to ensure that you and your house are going to get through the coming winter snug as a bedbug in New York City.

 •Check all window and door locks for proper operation

•Check your home for water leaks

•Review your fire escape plan with your family

•Make sure there are working nightlights at the top and bottom of all stairs

•Have a heating professional check your heating system every year

•Protect your home from frozen pipes

•Replace your furnace filter

•Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel is gone

•Test your emergency generator

•Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the flues and check your fireplace damper

•Remove bird nests from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures

•Inspect and clean dust from the covers of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

•Make sure the caulking around doors and windows is adequate to reduce heat/cooling loss

•Make sure that the caulking around your bathroom fixtures is adequate to prevent water from seeping into the sub-flooring

Additionally, it's a great idea to inspect the caulk joints at your exterior siding, windows and doors.  Caulk joints tend to shrink and separate over time, which can allow water entry and facilitate wood rot around windows, doors and framing.  And wood rot leads to termites.  And we hate termites.

Also, check masonry mortar joints at brick work on the exterior, especially if you have an old home.  The masonry mortar joints between bricks can crumble and fall out between the bricks, particularly on an exterior brick chimney.  A qualified contractor can assess and repair exterior caulking and mortar re-pointing issues for you.

Finally, now is a great time to have an assessment done regarding your home's energy efficiency.  My friend and past client, Don Liotta, owner of Outside the Box Home Solutions is one of the few contractors in Georgia that is an Energy Star Home Performance accredited contractor. They can perform a home energy audit to diagnose how you can improve the energy performance of your home and potentially slash energy bills.  Don's website is which will explain in detail how he may be able to save you $$ on your energy bill.  Plus, Federal tax credits are now available for energy efficient improvements made to your home of 30% of the cost up to $1500 (see energy star website..

Warm and cozy-- "That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it "(K.C. and the Sunshine Band for those of you   born after 1965 and don't get the reference).  Happy Fall, Y'all.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Atlanta Real Estate Market Statistics 3rd Quarter 2010

The Atlanta Metro sales statistics are in for the 3rd quarter of 2010. July- September sales fell behind those of last year. Homebuyer incentives from the government added to first half 2010 sales growth during the first 5 months of this year. The sales momentum these incentives created failed to carry on after the incentives expired.

The 3rd Quarter 2010 sales decreased by -19.3% compared to the 3rd Quarter 2009 and -23.5% below those sales of 3rd Quarter 2008. This decline follows increases in sales during the first two quarters of 2010.

In 5 out of 6 pricing categories, prices declined from 3rd quarter 2010 vs. 3rd quarter 2009. The only price range to increase is the price range of $500,000-749,000 which increased slightly with 461 homes sold in 3rd quarter 2010 vs. 447 homes sold in 3rd quarter 2009.

More than 65% of single family home sales year to date September 2010 took place using either FHA or Conventional Uninsured mortgages while just over 20% of single family homes were cash purchases. This is likely due to investors purchasing foreclosures and short sales.
Foreclosure sales as a percentage of total sales declined in 3rd quarter after increases during the first previous two quarters and represented 20% of the overall sales from the 3rd quarter. However, short sales increased during the 3rd quarter. The combination of short sales and foreclosures make up "distressed sales" and accounted for 37.5% of total single family sales in 3rd quarter and 35.3% of sales year to date.

Along with declining sales volume, median sales price also fell by -5.7% compared to 3rd quarter 2009. As the number of foreclosure sales increased, the sales prices of non-forclosure properties decreased. This is a result of non-foreclosure sales having to compete with distressed sales.

The median days on the market went down in 3rd quarter from 130 days on market in 3rd quarter 2009 to 103 days on market. The median price reduction a seller has had to take in order to sell was 13.4% in 3rd quarter (single family detatched homes), however, interestingly, one out of every 8 transactions resulted in selling prices that were higher than the asking price. A total of 964 homes sold for more than their asking price in the 3rd quarter 2010. This could mostly be accounted for low priced foreclosure sales and very well priced non-foreclosure homes.

For every 100 listings, 62 did not sell. Out of the 38 that did sell, 25 needed a price reduction in order to sell and ended up selling for 78.5% of the original asking price in 166 days on market. The other 13 homes (34% of the sold homes) sold in 27 days (median) for 96.9% of the asking price without a price reduction. This indicates that pricing correctly is critical for success and will maximize selling price and net to the seller and do it 80% faster!

In summary, sales were 1.7% lower through September 2010, -13.6% compared to 2008. Foreclosure sales decreased as a percentage while short sales increased making up overall distressed sales 37.5% of the total sales. (In the price range of single family detatched homes under $200K, distressed sales were 50.5% of total sales.) Sales price median slightly lower (-5.7% in 3rd quarter 2010 compared to 3rd quarter 2009). Days on market decreased by -20.8% (103 days on market). 61.5% of listings failed to sell. 87% of listings were overpriced in 3rd quarter 2010. The supply increased by 24% from September, 2009 at 10.5 months supply in September, 2010 (a supply of 6-7 months is considered a buyer's market).

It is still an extreme buyers market! Sellers have to be informed, realistic and motivated to sell. Buyers have the best opportunity in recent history to make great deals, especially at today's historically low rates. In move-up cases, it might make financial sense to sell your current house at the low of the market in order to take advantage of the low prices and fantastically low rates today. If you are considering buying or selling, contact me so I can help you understand how these stats will affect you and what the market is doing in your neighborhood.

Friday, September 17, 2010

If I Could Turn Back Time.. And You Can!

Fall is coming! It's almost here! As the weather turns cooler, folks usually start thinking about nesting. The weather isn't the only thing cooling... mortgage rates have cooled to an all time low and the housing market is still cool.. cold if you talk to some people. So now is the time for smart consumers to take advantage of an amazing opportunity!!

It's almost like going to your favorite department store and everything is on sale. The clearance section is huge and you look great in that new outfit, and it's discounted to the bone!

When Cher sang "If I could turn back time" she probably wasn't thinking about housing.. but the clock has turned back, baby! Mortgage rates rival rates from the 1950s and home prices have reset to prices from the 1990s. So you can take advantage of the good ol days and still have the good hair styles of today. "30 year rates are sitting in the low 4 percent range with the only possible direction being upward" according to Joanne Rotella of Brand Mortgage. Example of SAVINGS: If your current mortgage is at 6.25% on a $300,000 mortgage you could refinance and save approximately $370 per month! You can even get no closing costs options so you don't have to come out of pocket with any money and still save a bundle.

If you're even thinking about purchasing... NOW IS THE TIME! We are all going to look back at this moment in time and think "why didn't I buy when the market was down???" and want to kick ourselves. Inventory selection is good, and it is an extreme buyers market. Prices are lower than they've been in years COMBINED with the lowest interest rates.

A conservative example of savings that exists right now: Price of a home in 2008= $400,000. The loan amount (10% downpayment) would be $360,000. Interest rate= 6.25%. Your principal and interest payment would be $2216.58. Buy that same house today for $350,000. Loan amount with 10% down (that's right- you can still get financing of even 95% if you have good credit) is $310,000. Today's interest rate is 4.25%. Principal and interest payment= $1525.01. You would save $82,987 in 10 years. Wow.

Most likely in 10 years, the housing market will have recovered. Although don't expect home prices to soar like they did in the last 10-15 years, but steady regular growth is expected. And don't forget the tax advantage that homeowners have. Home ownership is still one of the best long term investments. Besides, you can't decorate your mutual funds.

If you are thinking of buying a home (or selling) contact me! If you would like to know what you would qualify for and to get specific examples of what you would save based on your price range in today's market, or if you want to know more about refinancing, call my friend Joanne Rotella at Branch Mortgage 404-290-4800.

Oh, by the way, the photo in this article are my parents. How cute are they? Now, if I could just turn back time to get my 1995 face back.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Transform a small room with Curtains!

It is amazing to me how transformative something as simple as drapery can be. Especially in a small space. You might think that a small room can't handle curtains, but I beg to differ. By using drapery panels, you can soften a space (especially good in the bedroom), add drama, texture, pattern and color.

What's really interesting is that the drapes can make a ceiling feel a lot higher by drawing the eye upward when you enter the room. Also, the volume of the drapes used vertically on the wall trick the eye into making the room appear larger. Another bonus is that the fabric helps to muffle sound.

When having drapes custom made, it's a good idea to have them interlined and lined. This means that there is a lining and another lining in between the backing of the curtain and the curtain fabric. This treatment further muffles sound and helps to darken a room when the drapes are pulled. This interlining is also recommended for delicate curtain fabrics like silk. It will help to protect the curtain fabric from fading and will extend the life of the curtains and will help the curtains to drape better as it increases the weight of the curtians. This is a lot more expensive than ready made curtains available at stores like Ikea, Pottery Barn, West Elm, etc., but it will pay off if you're spending the money for an expensive fabric and custom made drapes.

The other benefit of hanging curtains is that it can make the windows feel much larger and attract the eye to a nice view. Many old houses have bedrooms with one window on the bedwall. Solution: dummy panels. This means to hang curtains on the existing window, and then hang curtains right over the wall in the space that would make the window symmetrical. This is especially effective where you have the bed in between a window and a fake window with nightstands and lamps in front of the drapes for a lush, layered look.
In the example shown here of before and after, a new listing of mine had an unfinished and cold look in the bedroom. The window behind the bed didn't center at all with the bed and there weren't a lot of options for bed placement in this small bedroom. The solution was to drape the window and wall space behind the bed to make the entire space behind the bed feel like a large window with the curtains pulled. This look made the bedroom feel much more inviting and luxurious.

My tips on hanging curtains: hang the rods about 3-4" below the crown molding or ceiling for maximum height to make the ceiling feel taller. Make the window seem larger and wider by hanging the drapes beyond both sides of the window by 12" or more. This way, a 3' wide window will feel more like a 5' wide window and the room will feel larger, taller and more dramatic.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Atlanta Real Estate Market Condition/ 2nd Quarter 2010

The numbers are in and have been crunched and we have a pretty good snapshot of how the Metro Atlanta market is doing. On a bright note, my company, Keller Williams Realty became the number one real estate company in total sales in Metro Atlanta last quarter. WooHoo! Keller Williams has been increasing market share every year since 2005. I'm so proud.

While sales through last quarter rose above 2nd quarter of 2009 by +4.5%, they were still -5.7 lower than the 2nd quarter of 2008. The government home buyer incentives added to the 2010 sales growth during the first 5 months of this year. Now that these incentives have expired, we will watch with baited breath to see how sales go for the remainder of the year.

There was a big gain in number of sales in the $300,000-499,000 price range- those sales rose by +17% last quarter compared to 2nd quarter 2009. We also saw the percentage of foreclosure sales decline in this year's 2nd quarter after increases the previous 2 quarters. We hope that foreclosure sales will continue to decline to help the overall market improve and gain in sales price. Still, more than 1 in every 3 sales last quarter were foreclosures. If you add short sales into the mix, nearly half of all 2nd quarter sales were distress sales. Now you can see why your home's market value has not skyrocketed (to say the least).

However, the median sales price last quarter did rise by +6.1% compared to the same quarter last year. With 2 consecutive quarterly increases in median sales price, it appears that the bottom may have already passed and more stable pricing has returned. For all you buyers waiting for the bottom- you may have missed it, but there are still GREAT deals out there. When you factor in the lowest interest rates since prehistoric man decided to mortgage caves, it is still possibly the best time in history to buy.

For a more in-depth view of what is happening to real estate values in your neighborhood, please contact me for a free consultation. I have the numbers broken down by specific areas and neighborhoods and can help you understand how the national and local markets may be different than your own area of town. Also, I will be happy to show you what you can expect to get for your home and how long it might take to sell in today's market.

Thanks for reading my blog. I really appreciate your support.

Friday, July 30, 2010

What's Hot in Home Buying Trends and Design

Home Buyer tastes continually change- it's a moving target. But currently, today's home buyers are looking for smaller homes on smaller lots. That's good news for the home building industry since labor and materials costs continually climb and builders can make more money subdividing lots.

Home buyers are less likely to be interested in homes built from 1970-1999. Buyers do not want florescent lighting, wood panelling, walnut wood cabinetry with exposed hinges or 1990s style white vinyl coated MDF cabinetry, formica countertops, gold tone or brass trim, no shiny brass or outdated lighting. Even crystal chandeliers are not so hot for today's buyers.

What's HOT? 1) homes built pre WWII. These styles include bungalows, arts and crafts, tudor, cottage, etc.. These homes typically have "character"- hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. 2) Mid-Century Modern- homes that were built between 1945-1969 that feature open floor plans, low pitched roofs, cantilevered construction, exposed beams and geometric architecture. 3) Turn of the Century Arts and Crafts style new homes. Period details from the 1920s are re-created in new construction to mimick a 1920s boxy arts and crafts home that looks as if it has been recently renovated and modernized with open floor plan and modern touches.

Today's buyer wants either a period style kitchen with modern conveniences or a completely sleek and modern kitchen. No more straddling the fence with "traditional" style cabinetry. Buyers want an oversized single bowl undermount sink, kitchen island, stainless steel appliances, built in refrigerators and wine coolers, concrete, stone or quartz countertops, under-cabinet and recessed lighting, glass tile backsplases, 6 burner gas ranges and convection ovens.

Formal living rooms are out of fashion and formal dining rooms seem to be phasing out in favor of an open space for entertaining, dining and cooking. Media rooms and playrooms are very desirable with large flat screen tvs, oversized sectional sofas and head banging surround sound systems. Buyers love the old tile (like the old basket-weave black and white tile) in older bathrooms or luxurious modern baths with sleek wood cabinetry, raised height vanities, modern lighting, lots of stone and glass, oversized showers with multi-spray fixtures and quartz or granite countertops.

Today's buyer desires less (or no) carpeting and prefers hardwood oak flooring, exotic hardwoods like Brazilian cherry, polished concrete or stone tile, cork and bamboo. Earthtones are still popular but we're seeing more and more bright and ethereal colors for interiors.

Look for these future trends: recycled concrete and glass countertops, GREEN products and construction, fiberglass panel flooring, atmospheric paint colors, bold accent colors and patterns, smaller homes, smaller eco-friendly yards with very little turf and low maintenance, drought tolerant landscapes and light and aroma therapy built in to your interior environment. Modern furniture and design is coming on strong with sleek lines and natural eco-friendly materials.

If you are thinking of updating your home or considering selling your home, please contact me so I can help guide you towards decisions you can make to get the most bang for your buck for improvements that buyers will appreciate (and pay for) on the resale.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Keep it Clean

If you ask me, a clean home is a beautiful home. Don't just rely on what I say, though, ask any buyer who is currently looking to buy a home and they will tell you what a turnoff a dirty home can be. Some of us are lucky to have a professional cleaning service to maintain our abodes, other of us... not so much.

For those of us who like to (or have to) clean our own homes, following are some great cleaning tips that maybe you haven't already heard about.

Penetration= Good. That's right. Many cleaning products work best if they are allowed to penetrate the surface they are to clean, disinfect or protect. Some products require 30 seconds and some require up to 2 minutes or more, especially mildew or mold removing products. Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label.

Volatile Cocktail= Bad. Just like people, certain chemicals just don't mix well. Sometimes with explosive or hazardous results. For example, we all know that bleach and ammonia don't mix well. But have you checked the chemical ingredients on your cleaning product labels to see if a product contains bleach or ammonia?? Maybe the reason cleaning the bathroom gives you a headache is due to your cleaning products and not your distaste for scrubbing the toilet rim. (Then again, maybe not.)

Granite stains. It does. While granite is a wonderful, durable and practical countertop surface, it is porous and can stain. I have seen this with my own eyes. There are ways to lift the stain from the granite, but I have no idea how to do it. I do know that to prevent stains penetrating your lovely and expensive investment, periodically please use a sealer spray. I use a product called GranQuartz Stone Care Systems 113M on my granite surfaces- made right here in Tucker, GA.. A light spray coat on the granite countertop periodically (about once every 3 months) will penetrate the granite. Buff out for a great shine and it cleans and protects the stone from water spots and stains (can also be used on stainless steel and chrome).

Speaking of stainless steel, clean and shine with baby oil or mineral oil. It will make your stainless steel look new and help to repel grease stains.

I hate to mop. According to Jon Wood of Allstar Cleaning ( mopping wood floors is important so that dirt and grime aren't ground into the surface of the polyurethane coat that protects the wood. When (and if) you do mop your hardwood floors, don't use any cleaners or soaps in the water- a little white vinegar or ammonia in hot water will adequately clean the surface, but immediately dry towel the floor after damp mopping to protect your polyurethane coat. Jon suggests 1/4 cup of vinegar or ammonia to a gallon of hot water. Did you ever see a kitchen with hardwood floors where you can see the finish wearing off of the floor in areas? My guess is overmopping with commercial cleaners was the culprit. This tip alone will save you time cleaning the floor and money as your poly-coat will last longer. Wasn't this worth reading my article??

Don't forget to clean your bedding including pillow protectors and duvets or bed covers. We all hate those gross dust mites that munch on our dead skin at night and make the mattress so heavy, but we forget to clean the bed cover (duvet). Those little critters will set up camp in your duvet- yuk.

Also, set some sort of reminder to change your HVAC filter every month (or longer depending on the quality of the filter you're buying). This will decrease the dust in your house, make breathing easier and more fun, and help eliminate allergens that cause asthma. As a bonus, it will make your system run much more efficiently, thereby extending the life of the system (I'm all about saving you money).

Finally, use a lint brush to clean the lint out of the dryer exhaust. You'll find this exhaust pipe on the outside of your house on the same side of the house as the dryer. Lint build-up inside this pipe can heat up at very high temps when your dryer is on and can catch fire! You don't have to clean the exhaust pipe often, but maybe twice a year is twice as good as you've been doing so far. I'm just sayin.

Today is Friday and I'm in such a good mood. I'm happy and grateful that you took the time to read my article and I hope these tips were good for you.

Friday, July 9, 2010

3-D Textured Wall Panels Create Drama

To make a dramatic, artistic statement in an entry, hallway or room, consider sculpted 3-D wall panels from These panels come in 4'x8' sheets of SDF (sustainable design fiberboard) with a formaldehyde free adhesive system. They can be shipped without any finish (raw), stained a variety of wood stain colors, primed or painted.

These panels could be used in place of artwork and would be appropriate in modern, contemporary, transitional and eclectic designed spaces. A 4'x8' sheet of this wavy material painted white, cream or a pale watery color would add a sense of motion and flow in a long hallway. Painted a bright spicy curry color, hot pink or a metallic gunmetal, they would certainly make a bold statement.
Used in a dining room, an entire feature wall clad in this product and painted a pale color or dark metallic, this product would be extremely dramatic when lit by ceiling mounted halogen track or MR-16 recessed lighting. The dramatic play of light against the sensuous 3-D patterns would be very interesting and add a sense of excitement in a space that often lacks excitement.

Also, consider a family room in a finished basement on a windowless wall. Finished in a wood stain, these panels would be great to clad an entire wall. The wood color and texture would make the room feel much warmer and cozier and would add interest to a room that may otherwise feel a bit cold and dark.

To get an idea of cost, I got a quote from the national sales manage for a 4'x8'x3/4" sheet (primed only) for $448.00 or cut to size, sanded and painted $22/square foot or $704.00 per sheet. Visit the innovative accents website to learn more about the products and see samples of the patterns they make. Think outside the box and let your imagination run and play!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Power of Visualization

If you can see it and you can dream it, you can do it! When looking for a home, it's important to know what you want and focus on that. Be pretty specific, but also be open minded and prepared to make some compromises. In other words, know what criteria is MOST important to you- features you don't want to compromise on- and stick with those, compromise on "not-so important" items. For example, you may love bungalow style architecture, but school district and condition/price may be most important. So be willing to look at other homes with different architectural styles- so long as they meet your "must-have" criteria.

Maybe you really want a nice big kitchen with gas cooking and granite countertops. Will you be willing to look at homes with nice big kitchens with electric cooking and composite countertops?? Maybe you really want a two car garage, but want to live intown and can't find a home with a two car garage in an intown neighborhood for your price. Would you prefer to compromise and eliminate the garage or move to a different area/neighborhood? It will help your real estate agent to know the specifics of what is most important to you in finding the right home and not wasting time. It will also help you, if you begin the home search process if you have a clear understanding of what you can and can't afford and what you can and can't live without.

Also, be realistic in what you want vs. what you can afford. The first step in the home buying process is to get with a reputable lender to get "pre-approved" for a mortgage. This will set the monetary parameters for you so you don't look at homes that you can't have. That's just torture to look at homes just out of your reach.. those are the ones you'll like most and can't have, so then the homes you can afford seem like a let-down by comparison. Also, in order to make a serious offer on a home, the seller will want to know that you have already pre-qualified for a loan and may not take a contingency for you to be able to qualify for the mortgage.

Once you've been pre-approved and know what you can spend, decide your price parameters. Don't forget to budget for improvements like new paint, window treatments, refrigerator/washer/dryer (if not included in the home purchase), and new furniture. Realistically, you may need to buy a bunch of stuff for your fab new pad.

I believe in the power of a vision board to help you visualize your dream. Within your realistic parameters, find pictures of homes that you like and pin up on a board where you see it every day. It's amazing how that works... when you see it in your mind, you can acheive it!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mix Furniture Styles and Accessories

One of my clients recently suggested I write an article on the benefits of mixing furniture styles and patterns in decorating. Thanks, Stephanie, I couldn't agree more!

When decorating a room, mix it up! To keep a look fresh and non-static or predictable, mix furniture styles and patterns... no matchy-matchy. Did you hear me? We often fall into the trap of keeping everything in one style and trying to match colors and patterns in our decorating. This often results in a look that is flat and lacks personality and tends to get "dated" very quickly. Remember the look of teal and maroon, overstuffed furniture???- very '80s.

If you love traditional style rooms, don't make the mistake that everything in the room has to be traditional. For example, if the traditional room has paneled walls and heavy trim, loosen up the look with a clean-lined more contemporary sofa with traditional chairs upholstered in a color or pattern that is updated. A modern abstract painting hung over a traditional chest of drawers will create drama and interest while keeping the look more timeless. Don't be afraid to use sleek, mid-century modern glass lamps on antique tables. You can mix traditional and contemporary fabrics and patterns as well. Just make sure the colors and shapes relate to one another. Lighten the floor with a bound sisal or seagrass rug. This traditional room will appear more casual and inviting- and more comfortable and interesting.

The same holds true for modern style. If the entire space is done in up-to-the minute modern style, it will start to look "over" in another year or two. Mix some of today's fabulous modern pieces that are very streamlined with classic mid-century modern pieces such as a classic "egg chair" or "barcelona chairs". Throw in a dramatic over-sized architectural fragment that has been salvaged from a building and display a large antique as if it is part of a museum collection. This modern look can reflect your own personality and have longer staying power. Besides, anybody can go "buy the room" from a store. That's not much fun. Be adventurous. Play. Have fun. Express yourself!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

2010 First Quarter Atlanta Market Profile

1st Quarter Atlanta Market Stats 2010

The first quarter market stats are in for metro Atlanta and for the intown market. In summary, the findings point towards market stability. It appears that prices have hit the bottom and are slowly creeping up.

Sale to Original list price ratios were in a range that was somewhat below points reached in early 2009. The Median Days on Market was also more stable within a close range during the past 3 quarters. While quite high, the "failed" listings (those that did not sell) were in line with the same period in previous years.
The most important information is that of the intown properties that did sell, 65.6% of sales required a price reduction in order to sell and had 203 days on market (median). These properties only got 73.5% of their original asking price in order to sell. The other 34.4% of sales were only on the market for 21 days (median) and got 96.9% of their asking price. Of these sales, 33.2% got 97.2% of their asking price in 21 days on market WITHOUT reducing the price.

What this tells us is that properties that are aggressively priced against their competition and are in great condition will sell fast and close to the asking price. If you get the price wrong in the beginning, it may cost you big in the long run. It will take MUCH longer to sell and will probably end up selling for less than it would if you put a great price on the property when it's new on the market.
This model is nothing really new. It's just more extreme than we've seen in the past. Buyers are looking for great deals. And there are great deals out there, for sure. The savvy buyer will recognize a great deal and will pay close to asking.. if it's a great deal. Buyers are looking at a lot of homes, and they don't want to do a lot of work. Your home must be in move-in condition and look very appealing AND have the most competitive price or they will move on.

Contact me for more details about the stats and what they are telling us. I can even break it down by price range and area.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Real Estate Investor Info Regarding Flipping

A "flip transaction" is defined as a purchase for a transaction for a property that has been acquired by the seller in the past 12 months and is being re-sold at a higher price.

With great deals available today from short sales and foreclosures and incredible interest rates, there are a few things you as an investor should know regarding obtaining financing to purchase an investment property to "flip".

FHA had a 91 day rule on properties meaning that the property title had to be held a minimum of 91 days before the property could be resold. That FHA rule has just been temporarily repreived until February 1, 2011 according to Pat Griffin of Greater Atlanta Financial Services. Some important things to remember though are...
1) the seller must be on public record (some counties take more than 6 weeks to file deeds and this can cause a delay to close).
2) If the property is being sold for more than 20% of the original purchase price the seller paid for the property, two appraisals will be required and the buyer must receive a property inspection report.
3) The seller must provide information on improvements made to the property and supply invoices for the work completed.

Buyers using a conventional loan to purchase a property held less than 90 days will be required to put 20% down. Mortgage insurance companies are not insuring these transactions. A second appraisal is also required for conventional loans for a "flip" purchase.

If you are an investor who is planning to quickly resale your investment purchase for profit, these guidelines are important to keep in mind when accepting an offer from your buyer as it is imperative to scrutinize the buyer's disclosed financing options. And if you are a buyer who wants to buy a home that has been recently purchased and renovated or "flipped", you must know these guidelines in order to get a loan.

This information was provided to me from Pat Griffin of Greater Atlanta Financial Services, a Wells Fargo affiliate.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Use Color to Help Sell Your Home

Did you know that the wrong color can be an obstacle in selling your house? The use of color causes emotional and psychological responses in buyers. And after all, your best buyer is one who feels emotionally or psychologically connected to your house.

When considering color for your house, it is important to have a color theme that resonates from room to room and creates a harmonious and visual "flow". This doesn't mean to paint all the rooms the same, but all the colors and values should relate to one another. If you were to put all the colors in all the rooms together the palette should look coordinated- not necessarily "matched".

While some may advocate off whites and beige for a neutral palette, these rooms will most likely look dull, boring and depressing unless you use lots of contrasting values and textures. For example, in a very neutral off-white room, create interest and drama with rough textured wood (such as a distressed reclaimed wood floor) mixed with chrome, glass, polished wood, steel, nubby fabrics, silk, driftwood, etc... you get the idea. Go the gamut from black to stark white for accents and accessories (lamps, trim, pillows, art, etc.).

When using yellow, be careful as it can often cause agitation. If yellow is creamy and light or neutralized into a pale gold, it mellows enough to emote sunshine. Bright shots of lemon yellow as accents can be great in otherwise boring spaces. Even a bowl of fresh lemons kept in a kitchen can give an energetic lift to the space.

Green is often considered relaxing, refreshing and healing, but can also be considered sickly and associated with hospitals. A bright bamboo green or granny smith apple green can be great as an accent wall with wood cabinetry or in an all white kitchen.

Blues are strong in fashion and design right now. Bluish lavenders that are very greyed out and neutralized are very sophisticated, but tricky to pull off without looking gloomy. My advice for using blue is to keep them very pale and greyish to look elegant and sophisticated and blend with creams, tans, browns, silver and white for a fresh, elegant palette.

Red is a color associated with blood, aggression and stimulation. It is a very strong color and is often used in dining rooms as it stimulates the appetite and is very dramatic and sets a romantic mood. However, if you love red, keep the wall colors neutral in tans and golds and use shots of red in fabrics and accessories. Red can also be very effective in a powder room as it creates drama and mood in a very small space.

Orange will make a statement. Period. Orange is powerful and can easily overpower a space. Use shots of orange in oversized pillows in a neutral room that includes tans, rich walnut brown, grey, black & white to create tension and energy.

When choosing neutral shades of tans or brown to paint, compare the paint chips of all the tans on the manufacturers color wheel to compare the shades. By comparing the shades together, tonal differences will show up. Do you want your tan color to have a greenish cast like khaki or a pink cast, or bluish cast? The nuance will be greatly enhanced when painted on the walls. My favorite neutral paint color for a "one size fits all-goes with everything" neutral is Sherwin Williams Latte, Nomadic Desert, Hopsack and Coconut Husk. All these colors are various strengths (values) of the same color.

When in doubt, call me and I'll help you figure it out.

5 Tips to Make a Small Room Feel Bigger

We all seem to want more, bigger, better, taller, faster, etc. these days. We want our homes to feel bigger, especially as people are starting to downsize and economize. There are several design tricks that you can do to make a small space feel taller, wider or larger.

1. Use window treatments to maximize the size of a room. This can also maximize or call attention to a view. By bringing attention to the outside, you are also visually expanding interior space. Hang full length, floor to ceiling drapery panels beyond both sides of a window and 2-3" below the crown molding (or 4-5" below ceiling if there is no crown molding). It is amazing how effective window treatments can transform a small space.

2. Use paint colors to create visual depth in a small room by painting the ceiling the same color or a shade or two lighter value than the color on the walls. You can also play with depth by painting a feature wall in a room 2-3 shades darker in value of the same color on the walls. Also use the dark color for insets and the back of bookshelves to increase visual depth.

3. In a small room, use larger furniture. Small furniture in a small room tends to emphazise how small the room is. But be careful to not over-scale the furniture so that it "eats the space".

4. Use vertical stripes or patterns in wallpaper or paint to make a room feel taller. For example, after painting a room in a matte finish, a subtle striping can be acheived by taping off vertical wide stripes (8-14" wide) with a semi-gloss clear coat polyeurathane or a pearlized glaze to visually expand the height of a room. It works the same way to stripe horizontally to make a room feel wider or bigger. You can even get the expanded feeling by just striping one large wall as an accent or feature wall. Another example is to use a textured wallcovering such as grass cloth. I love it and it's back! Hang the grass cloth horizontally for a more contemporary look. The natural horizontal pattern will make the room feel wider.

5. Tall bookshelves will make a room feel bigger. Don't skimp, but go big! You can even use base cabinetry topped with open bookshelves all the way to the ceiling to really make a room feel much larger and more interesting. Be careful though, as you want to keep the open bookshelves free of clutter. Resist the urge to use lots of little nic nacs and photos. This is where a good interior designer can really help you merchandise the shelves so they can display collections and interesting objects that mean something to you plus, they provide great storage which is often lacking in small rooms.