Atlanta Real Estate Blog

Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult?

Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult?

Potential homebuyers are always cautioned to be aware of mortgage lending standards and the difficulty they might face when trying to obtain a mortgage. Credit availability is expanding, making it easier to get a mortgage now than it was a year ago. The market is still tight however, and homebuyers should be prepared to shop around until they find a lender who is offering something that will meet the needs of their family.

Mortgage lending companies have high standards so it is important to make sure you and anyone else who will be included on the mortgage have their credit in check. The mortgage market is strict because lenders do not want to be put in a situation where they are forced to repurchase loans that are not paid on. They also do not want to end up in a litigation situation due to loan issues.

What Has Happened to the Number of Mortgages?

Due to the strict nature and requirements of the lending companies, the number of mortgages given out has significantly dropped. A report by the Housing Financial Policy Center at the Urban Institute showed that about 6.3 million fewer mortgages were given out between 2009 and 2015. The reasons behind this statistic are strict regulations and policies. These mortgages would have been granted if the lending standards where more reasonable.

Mortgage companies rely on calculations to determine if a home buyer will become delinquent on their payment. They will not give you a loan if you are too much of a risk for them. Credit history has a huge impact on this decision since lenders can see how often you pay back your debts. The history they receive is extensive. This view into your financial past causes lenders to take less risk when lending to you for your mortgage....

Common Things to Look Out for Before Buying Your Dream Home

Common Things to Look Out for Before Buying Your Dream Home

It is easy to become overwhelmed when you enter the home buying market. Friends, family, colleagues, and even acquaintances will give you their opinions if you are a first time home buyer. While most of them are looking out for your best interest, they are not fully aware of what is happening in the housing market.

It is important for you to be prepared and have your own questions ready. No matter what other opinions you are getting, you are the one buying the home and your comfort level will help make your final decision. Here are three important questions to ask before you purchase a home.

1. Why am I Buying a Home?

Regardless of the finances, it is important to think about what made you want to buy a home in the first place. Usually the reasons don’t have to do with money. Instead, home buyers are focused on how the house will impact their family in the future. A study done by the Joint Center for House Studies at Harvard found there are four reasons people buy a home. Those reasons include schools for your children, a safe environment, more room for your family to grow, and control of your own space.

These factors are the most common reasons people look to buy a new home. When you ask yourself why you are looking to purchase a home, do any of those factors come up? Spend time with your spouse or family members who are involved in this decision and determine why you want a home in the first place. Creating this list will help when searching for a home and can help your real estate agent find the best home for your needs.

2. What is the Trend with Home Values?

Our current economy and housing market is strong. That means home values and mortgage...

Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices?

Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices?

There has been some discussion recently on home prices in relation to mortgage rates. Some believe if there is a rapid rise of mortgage rates, home prices should decrease. Logically it makes the most sense for the price of the house to drop when interest rates are rising, but this is not always the case.

This theory of home prices decreasing is typically discussed by future home buyers. As a buyer you would like to think if you are paying higher rates on your mortgage, you should be able to see a decrease in cost somewhere else. Unfortunately, these rates are rising because the economy is in better shape. As the economy succeeds, incomes rise, rates go up, as well as the price of the home.

A recent study by the John Burns Real Estate Consulting found mortgage rates have very little impact on the cost of the home. The housing market and price increases are affected by things like job growth in the area and rising wages. Coincidentally, these same factors are causing the rise in the mortgage rates since people can afford to take out more.

Bottom Line

As the economy progresses and strengthens, mortgage rates and home prices will fluctuate. It is a misconception as rates increase, home prices will decrease. Advances in the economy have shown that rates and home prices are more likely to increase together.

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Why You Should Consider Selling in the Winter

Selling In Winter Attracts Serious Buyers

The season you sell your home can have an impact on how much you get for your home and how quickly it sells. The season that has the most success in selling homes is spring. This is a good time of year for families moving to new school districts and is also more convenient weather for moving. Because of this trend, most people will recommend waiting to list your home until after the winter is over. Avoiding the winter is a huge misconception in the housing industry and can cause homeowners to miss out on opportunities.

Selling in the winter can give you a few advantages. There will be fewer houses on the market since most people assume winter is a bad time to sell. This gives your home more attention. Potential buyers are always looking no matter the time of year. Keeping your house on the market in the winter might bring the right buyer to your door. Real estate agents also tend to be less busy during these months and commit more time to getting your home sold.

Studies have shown winter buyers are buying because they need to move right away either for a relocation or personal situation. They will want to close quickly and allow for a much smoother sale.

Bottom Line

If you need to sell your home right away, or have some time but want to see what is out there, consider listing in the winter. Most homeowners who are going to sell will list their home in the spring, making for a competitive market. The winter allows buyers who are in a hurry to move consider your home and sell for more money than you would have in the spring.

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How To Refinish Your Garage Floor In One Weekend

In real estate, we always say…Appearance Matters!  No where is it more evident than in a messy, nasty garage.  When you walk into your garage, what do you see?  Is there stains on the ground?  Can you see the bare concrete and wonder what can be done?  Which of the below would you rather have?

The answer is to coat the floor with epoxy and with the help of Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield from Home Depot, you can easily do it yourself.  The process does take a little bit of work but over the course of a weekend, you can easily have a shiny new floor in a variety of colors.

The first thing to do to get rid of any current surface issues like old paint, cement chips or oil stains.  To do this, you will need to scrub the floor with degreaser and then rent a diamond grinding wheel to go over the entire surface.

The unit is available at Home Depot and you may need help loading it in the car.  The unit comes with the cutting edge attached. ...

Rental Scams - 'Is That Home For Rent' - How A Simple Question Almost Cost My Client a Closing

It seems like an innocent question about a home that is actually "For Sale."  "Is this home for rent?"  "Would the owner consider renting the home?"  As professionals in the real estate industry, Brokers and Agents hear this question on a pretty regular basis but as I found out the hard way, there can be much more to the story.  We all know that rental scams are becoming more common but owners, agents and the general public can protect themselves from becoming a victim of this crime by applying a bit of common sense.  The following is a synopsis of a situation that occurred recently on one of my listing.  One potential tenant figured it out and the other was not so lucky.Rental Scams

The online "For Rent" ad probably seemed accurate enough.  There were pictures of the home (most likely stolen from the real online listing) and the description seemed accurate enough (again probably lifted from the online listing).  Both potential tenants were simply looking for a home to rent and they each thought they had found the perfect place.  They had found a 4/2.5 two story with full basement in immaculate shape in East Cobb's Walton High School district for $900.00 a month.  (For those that don't know this area; that does not exist!)  They both called the number listed and left their contact information and this is where the "con" starts. 

An individual who sounded knowledgeable returned their call and told them about the house.  In one case, the individual even impersonated my client by name.  They reportedly told the potential tenants that the property was still available "for rent" and that they would be happy to rent it to them.  The tenants just needed to provide the security deposit to secure the property. ...

Why Fix It For The Next Owner? Update Your Home Now & Enjoy Your Investment!

As a Realtor, one of the first conversations with a prospective Seller generally involves what to do to get the house ready for sale.  Most of the time, the "to-do" list includes simply making sure the paint colors are neutral, the rooms are de-cluttered and the homeowner has removed as many "personal" items as is possible.  These three items are easily addressed with a fresh coat of paint, limiting the number of decor items in the room and removing family photographs and personal collections/displays.  From there the "to-do" list really depends on the Seller and how they have taken care of the home.

When I do see a long list of items in need of attention, I always wonder why.  With the exception of investment property, why would you wait to improve/update/maintain the home when you are going to spend the money anyway to sell it to the next person?  I highly recommend that my clients take a look at their home with a critical eye and figure out the areas they can address now that will make a big difference come selling time.  Why not make the investment now and enjoy the improvement while increasing the value of your home.

Now for the big question.  What are those items that can make a difference in the home?  It really depends on the age and condition of the property but most often, dated tile, tired looking decks, siding or trim that has been neglected, outdated fixtures and laminate counter tops top the list.  Many items are more subtle and for help with those I have borrowed various lists over the years and compiled a cheat sheet.  Take a look at ...

How Do I Lower My Heating Bill?

Let’s face it. At one time or another, most of us adults have asked this question: how do I lower my heating bill? In today’s world, there is one certainty – your utility bills can and will increase in the near future. Don’t let that fact alone scare you, though; there are some steps you can take today to protect yourself against the ever-increasing home energy costs of tomorrow. Following, in no particular order, are just a few proven steps to lower your gas and electricity costs. 

A Few Suggestions 

  • Become an expert at weather-stripping. If your windows do not properly seal and keep out the cold, you can go to your local Wal-Mart or Lowes and purchase some weather-stripping for a relatively low cost. Once you get it home, you will measure it to fit your window(s) and then, using some specialized tape (included with the package) and a blow dryer, you will mold it over the window. Especially with bigger air leaks, this is an effective way to lower your electricity costs.
  • Turn down your thermostat. Lower Your ThermostatThis one is easy. If you (and your family) can stand it being a couple degrees cooler in the house, just turn down the temperature. There’s a good chance that if you turn it down while everyone is sleeping, you just might not notice the temperature drop.  Programables are easy to use.
  • Check your filters regularly. One of the easiest and cost-effective ways to lower your gas and electricity costs is to make sure you routinely check and change the air filters...

East Cobb's Indian Hills Neighborhood - February 2015 Market Update

Posted by Patrick Rary... Atlanta Real Estate Brokers on Thursday, February 26th, 2015 at 7:37pm.

17 Hole Indian Hills Golf Course

East Cobb's Indian Hills subdivision continues to be a hot spot in the Marietta and Atlanta area.  The neighborhood, which is home to 27 hole Indian Hills Country Club, has always been a favorite place for families due to location and the school systems.  Indian Hills is conveniently located in East Cobb between Upper and Lower Roswell and West of Johnson's Ferry.  This location provides excellent access to both I-75 and Ga 400.  The majority of the neighborhood feeds into Walton High School with the remainder feeding into Wheeler with it's outstanding magnet program and all of the elementary schools have outstanding rankings.

Market activity in Indian Hills continues to be strong.  There are currently 18 active listings ranging from $369,000 to $1.5mm with 7 pending sales with list prices ranging from $299,900 to $995,000.  There have been 7 homes sold YTD with prices ranging from $225,000 to $450,000.  

New construction in east cobbThe neighborhood is undergoing a transformation as many homes are removed and replaced with new construction. ...

East Cobb Market Trends- February 2015

The market continues to be tight for single family inventory in the East Cobb area and I am wondering if the real estate "ground hog" has seen his shadow and elected to stay in hiding a bit longer. 

When we look at a 2 year history for 30062, 30067 and 30068, we see a strong trend for Spring 2014.  Since that time, there has been an ever tightening of inventory and one would easily surmise that we have entered into a Sellers market.  The chart below demonstrates the tightening inventory for our area.

The good news is that Seller's are contining to see improvement in list pricing which should bring more of them off the sidelines.  This next chart shows a 2 year average with improvement seen in 30068 and 30062 while 30067 experiencing a slight setback.  

 

The next 30-60 days will tell alot about how the East Cobb housing market will be for the coming years.  If we are back on historical cycles, we will see more Sellers as we near the end of winter and get closer to the end of the school year.  Check back to see how we are doing as these charts update automatically as new data becomes available.

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New Homes Construction In Atlanta - Hiring An Experienced Realtor To Represent You Just Makes Sense!

                     

Looking At Buying A New Home in Atlanta? Thinking Of Just Going Down To the Lot And Putting A Deposit Down? Don’t Think You Need An Agent To Buy A New Home In Atlanta? You Might Want To Re-think That Strategy!

First things first! Let’s talk about the bottom line which is generally dollars and cents. I rarely have seen a situation where you “save the commission” by buying directly from a new home builder. When a new home builder “comes out of the ground” (starts the building process), the builder knows what they want for the house and marketing costs are already loaded into the project. Going to the home builder’s trailer and working with the “Agent on Duty” generally just means more profit for the builder. Buying a new home in Atlanta is not like going down to the local Christmas tree farm and picking out a tree. Do yourself a favor and find an agent that the verified experience and knowledge of the new home construction business to help you get the best value and highest quality home for your hard earned money.

 

Benefits of Hiring a Realtor with New Home Construction Experience

There are many reasons besides money to have a broker with new home construction experience representing you. Here are just a few:

  • As a Buyer’s...

What Does the Zillow Trulia Merger Mean for Today’s Real Estate Professional?

By now, you have undoubtedly heard that online listing giant, Zillow, is buying their next closest competitor, Trulia for $3.5 billion in stock.  For those real estate agents living under a rock, Zillow and Trulia aggregate listings from MLS providers and present the information via the internet along with pricing estimates, community information and more.  To date, neither company has made a profit but these two companies have been a major force in the shift of our client’s real estate research efforts.   

            

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SOLD! 3003 Asheton Place - Ranch Home In East Cobb's Walton District

3003 Asheton Place - Marietta, GA  $450,000  

OWNER SAYS FIND A BUYER!  READY TO MOVE THIS PROPERTY * BRING OFFERS  * Ranch Home In Walton District * Minor Updating Needed * One Story Living In Ashebrooke *  Columns In Entry * Large Master With  Master Bath * His And Her Closets * Beautiful Kitchen With Granite Counters * Private, Partially Fenced Backyard With Stone Patio * Second Floor Expansion Opportunity Plumbed For Full Bath & Ready For Additional Bedroom/Studio Or Whatever The Need Is * Active Neighborhood Ready For You To Call Home!   NOTE:  4th Bedroom and 3rd Bathroom Unfinished In Upstairs.

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SOLD! 3502 Bonaire Court - East Cobb - Marietta - Northampton

 

 

Atlanta Real Estate Brokers is proud to offer this beautiful home for sale.  Come home to this well cared for and updated home located in East Cobb's Northampton subdivison, a John Weiland designed neigborhood.  Home prices in this neighborhood range from $400,000 to $600,000 making this home a wonderful value.  The details are as follows.....Beautiful Six Bedroom Home in East Cobb's Northhampton Neighborhood * Sought After "Brookfield" Plan *  Home Built Without Two Story Family Room  Providing Additional Room On Second Floor *  Six Bedrooms * Three Full Baths * Full Basement Ready To Be Finished To Your Taste *  Highly Rated Cobb County Schools All Within Close Proximity * Neighborhood Offers Beautiful Clubhouse/Tennis/Pool Complex * Easy

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Why Should You Use A REALTOR®?

Most folks buy or sell real estate 2-3 times in their lifetime.  When they do start to think about entering the buying or selling process, one of the first questions they ask is “why should I use a REALTOR®?”

That is a very good question and one that people sometimes struggle to answer.  The average homeowner may not see much difference between the various real estate agents vying for their business.  One agent may have a great presentation package while the next may be able to make a client feel more at ease.  Another just had a quick sale and the last one is your mother’s friend from the beauty shop.  There are all sorts of reasons why someone may choose one agent over another but one area that should never be up for debate is whether an agent is a REALTOR® or not.    

Let’s get the known items out of the way first.  Being a REALTORS® provides the right to use the REALTORS® logo and access to ongoing training and specialty certifications.  REALTORS® also have access a deep knowledge base created to help professional REALTORS® run their business.  In Atlanta, being a REALTORS® provides access to Georgia Association of REALTORS® (GAR) forms versus forms created for individuals who are not willing to pay to be designated as REALTORS®.  And finally, being a REALTOR® means the individual has taken an oath to subscribe to a stringent, enforceable Code of Ethics with Standards of Practice that promote the fair, ethical and honest treatment of all parties in a transaction. Non-member licensees have taken no such oath and are not morally bound to the ethical practices and principles set for in the REALTOR® Code.

There is no doubt all of these items are strong benefits to hiring a REALTORS®  but there are at least two other reasons homeowners should feel more strongly about this decision.  One additional argument for hiring a REALTOR® is that relevant, successful...

What Is FICO And How Do I Fix It?

          The Real, Big C: How Are Credit Scores Calculated

What is easy to damage and hard to repair? Credit scores. Credit scores are so hard to repair because it is a weighted formula based on several factors. One or two mishaps may not gravely affect credit. However, any mishap is still important as credit scores follow people like shadows. Credit scores will make or break a buyer seeking to purchase a home. A credit score not only determines how much the bank will loan a buyer, but will also determine the interest rate for the life of the loan. Consider a 4.25 percent interest rate and a 6.75 percent interest rate on a mortgage of 279,000. The difference in monthly mortgage is roughly 500 dollars. In order get the best interest rate one needs to minimize credit nicks and dings by understanding how credit scores are calculated. 

What is my Credit Score?    A credit score is a formula determined by an individual’s use of credit compared with other people. The FICO (current name for the original company of Fair, Isaac and Company founded in 1956) score is the most frequently used score. It assesses five separate categories: length of history, payment history, the amounts owed, new credit, and the type of credit. There are three major credit bureaus and they each have their own formula similar to the FICO score, but they assess those same five factors. 

How Do I Fix My Credit?   The best way to fix credit is to eliminate debt as quickly as possible, starting with the line of credit with highest interest rate. It has been stated to put three times the amount of the bill towards the interest. Pay attention to the little number in the corner of your bills that states how long it will take to pay off the bill. That is a good indication...

Potential Tax Benefits For Home Owners

One of the benefits of owning a home over renting is the various tax breaks offered to home owners. But what exactly is deductible?

Mortgage Interest

The most common tax deduction among homeowners is the interest paid on mortgages.  "It's evolved over the last 10 years, but we now have a cap of $1.1 million in mortgage debt that we can deduct for tax purposes," said Monica Rebella, a certified public accountant in California, in a USA Today article. These full interest deductions are also attainable on second homes with a mortgage, so long as the total deduction among all the mortgages is less than $1.1 million.

The biggest concern to be cautious of is making sure any equity being taken out is directly used to improve the house or it isn’t deductible.  "If you refinanced your loan and decided, 'Hey, why don't we take another $50,000 out in equity,' but then you don't use that money to, say, build a pool, that's not fully deductible," Rebella said in the article.

Property Taxes

The second large tax deduction associated with owning a home is property taxes.  The taxes paid during monthly loan payments go into an escrow account for payment once a year, according to Bank Rate. The escrow account balance should be given in an annual statement from the loan lender, along with other loan interest information. Both of these are deductible for the entire time period of home ownership.

But if this is the...

Best Way To Fix Credit Scores

Credit is similar to any relationship that is built on trust. In order to maintain a good relationship, both parties must maintain mutual trust. Once that trust is broken, it takes times to rebuild. The best action to take in both instances -- relationships with friends and relationships or with creditors -- is to simply refrain from breaking the trust. It is essential to maintain a good credit score in order to make purchases for instance homes. There are several steps you can take in order to maintain good credit and good relationships with your creditors.  The best way to fix credit or maintain good credit is to:

  1. Know Your Numbers
  2. Monitor Spending
  3. Keep Credit Limits Low
  4. Pay AT LEAST The Minimum
  5. Pay On Time
  6. Montior Your Credit
  7. Find A Way To Establish Credit

Here is more detail on the suggestions above…….

1Know Your Numbers

A doctor tells patients to know their numbers--blood pressure, weight, etc. As with physical health, individuals should know their fiscal numbers in order to maintain good fiscal health.  The first question to ask is, “What is my credit score?” This is especially important if you are considering buying a house. The next question is, “what credit score do I need to buy a house?”

2. Monitor Spending

Check weekly to reconcile accounts. Check online statements to ensure that unauthorized charges have not been made. Inspecting accounts more frequently will help decrease unnecessary spending.

3.  Keep Limits Low

Because credit is based on the amount of credit that an individual...

How To Buy A Home After Bankruptcy

Picking up the pieces of your financial life after filing for bankruptcy can be immensely difficult. Getting any kind of credit built back up is an arduous task that takes years, but having that credit is absolutely necessary when it comes to massive undertakings like getting a mortgage. The good news is that if you give yourself time and follow the necessary steps, some of which are listed below, you’ll still likely be able to qualify for a loan to move into your dream home.

The first step is rebuilding your credit, which is no small task. Rebuilding credit from nothing easily takes years, sometimes even decades depending on your financial situation. The biggest step is immediately paying your bills on time. Bills don’t disappear, and even the slightest mishap concerning them will ding your credit. The next task is to actually use your credit card—but only have one. Try to ensure you don’t put more on the card than you can pay off in full throughout one billing cycle. Even if you’re not able to pay the entirety of a credit card balance, be sure to always pay the minimum amount required. Another option is to use secured credit cards, which has a limit tied to the amount in your bank account. This will help your credit improve and increase the confidence of lenders that you can be financially responsible. Finally, don’t forget to check your credit rating at least once per year. In the U.S., credit reports are maintained primarily through three organizations, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, and these companies are federally mandated to give you ...