6th November 2010

Best places for the rich and single – Sandy Springs, GA!?

I found this interesting too – I did not know Sandy Springs was the singles Mecca it is – but with the Northside hospital complex nearby and all the young interns that attracts, it makes sense! For the single gentlemen, I do know that nearby Vinings has a high population of single women homeowners – 3-4 ladies for every man!

Anyway, Money Magazine rated Sandy Springs, GA #4 out of 25 affluent US cites where singles are abundant!

Money Magazines Description of Sandy Springs:

Charming Southern gentlemen and sweet Georgia peaches in this Atlanta suburb are making the rounds at one of three major hospitals in the area or running operations at a Fortune 500 company like United Parcel Service or Newell Rubbermaid. Thanks to the natural springs the city is named for and the Chattahoochee River that flows through it, Sandy Springs offers a tranquil and peaceful setting for romance to blossom. After taking a stroll along the riverbank, head to Buckhead, Atlanta’s vibrant uptown district, for a night on the town. –H.Y.

I agree – young doctors and interns will find Sandy Springs very convenient to the major hospital complexes at Northside, St Josephs, and Emory!

A few stats:

Population: 82,674

Single: 35.6% – (that’s a high ratio of singles)

Median family income: $115,171 (That ranks in the top 25 of all 100 Best Places Cites)

Median Home Price: $380,000

Whether you’re a Grey’s Anatomy type in the medical field, rich, middle income, single or married, I can help you get a superb deal on prime Sandy Springs, GA real estate – from $200,000 to $10,000,000 – just reach out to me at 678-585-9691!

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13th October 2010

Fall Home Maintenance Tips – Get Your Atlanta Home Ready For Winter

It’s time to give our Atlanta homes a Fall tune-up. Everything from your furnace to the gutters needs to be made ready for the long cold winter months. Ok, I know all of you northerners are saying, it’s Atlanta – don’t you mean long mild winter months? Hey, winter is cold wherever you are! To help you cover all the bases, we’ve come up with a handy fall-maintenance checklist. Consult it every year and your home will thank you – actually many of these items need to be checked in late spring as well for season appropriate service such an AC check up.

Check your heating equipment before the beginning of cold weather – I like to know that my furnace will come on while its still in the 70’s! Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service your furnaces and if you have a heat pump the outside units as well. Clean heat pump coils operate more efficiently, and a seasonal service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels.

Check and replace your furnace filters every month. Clean filters not only keep your house cleaner, they reduce your utility bills because your HVAC system does not have run as long to make your home comfortable as when the filters are clogged with dust.

Change batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – don’t worry that your batteries may still have some charge and your “blowing $6” – this can save your life. As Nike says – Just Do It!

Clean out your gutters as soon as the leaves have all fallen – sometimes this has to be done twice. This is very important – clogged gutters can overflow and over time seep into walls and cause serious water damage to structural members. Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris. Hire a company if your home is a two story.

Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Winter rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage from settlement.

Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make wood repairs now before the winter rains do more damage to the exposed wood. For small pockets of damage or rot, Borden makes very good wood filler that is available at most homes centers, and Zinsser makes a great exterior spackle called MH Ready Patch that outperforms vinyl spackling compounds – home centers and paint stores sell this product. (No, I don’t get a commission from either company.)

Examine putty and caulk joints around exterior window panes and window and door trim and re-putty or caulk as needed to keep out water and air. Ensure that weather stripping on doors and windows creates a good seal.

From the ground, examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during summer storms. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.

Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep. A burning fireplaces in winter is charming – burning your house down is not! Have your flue checked for creosote buildup at least every two years if you use the fireplace regularly and never burn pine wood in a fireplace, and only burn coal if the fireplace is rated for coal and has the proper coal grate – most are not rated for coal.

Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs should drain away from the home’s foundation. Fill cracks between your foundation and items that abut the foundation such as: porches or entrance stairs, sidewalks, and driveways with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk.

Locate and turn off the shut off valves for all outside hose faucets, then disconnect garden hoses, and drain the faucet and the hose for the winter.

Check your gas-powered lawn equipment to make sure they are ready for storage – empty the gas tanks and run the equipment until the gas is completely used up before storing it away.

As the Boy Scouts Say, Be Prepared! Winter Emergency Tips for the Unexpected!

When the power goes out, or the ice builds up and you can’t get out of your driveway it can be inconvenient and in some cases dangerous. The following are preparedness items you might want to stock up on.

Candles – heavy pillar candles that can burn for days – never leave a candle burning unattended or while you sleep.

Rock salt – to keep your steps, porches, and driveways clear of ice and help prevent dangerous falls. If you have a steep driveway – a few 10 lb bags of rock salt can be the difference in being ice bound in your home, or being able to leave.

Sleeping bags – if you don’t have multiple heavy down comforters, even cheap Wal-Mart 30-40 degree bags can be way better than piles of blankets when the power is out comfort in winter – they can even be a life saver.

Of course there are emergency food ration kits to support an individual for up to a year for those so inclined – search on Google. You could also stock up on some canned goods. One great and pretty inexpensive option for a few days to a week is to buy freeze dried Mountain House meals that you just add boiling water to the foil pouch and wait 5 minutes. I have had the Spaghetti, Chili Mac, and Beef Stroganoff while backpacking on the Appalachian Trail and these taste (and look) great – I suggest you avoid military rations. You can get Mountain House products at Wal-Mart, REI and other outdoor outfitters. It helps to have a way to boil water or heat food – I have MSR isobutane camping/backpacking stoves to boil water.

Water – I store 10 one gallon jugs of distilled water in my basement for emergencies. In closing, you never know how long the power will be off…

In our famous Atlanta snow jam of 1983, (should have been called ice jam) I was visiting my grandmother down in Griffin on her farm and was watching an interesting Jacques Cousteau deep sea diving special on TV and the power went off. After about 45 minutes of waiting for the power to come on I began to get annoyed…little did I know that the power was going to be off for 7 full days and nighttime temps would plummet to 30 below zero 30 miles south of Atlanta! Fortunately the farm was set up to endure that event much better than the average suburban Atlanta home – old fashioned oil burning lamps, a full supply room of home grown canned vegetables, and my grandmothers awesome stews and cobblers, and two coal burning stoves kept us far more comfortable than hundreds of thousands of other folks who were caught in the snow jam – we were actually quite cozy in a strange “back to the 1800s” time warp. I got a real appreciation for how wonderful electricity is thank you Mr. Edison – I was lucky I was there and not back at my then home in the burbs of Stone Mountain.

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25th February 2009

$8,000 First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit Now Available!

The following is a well written article about this important first time home buyer incentive aimed at stimulating the economy. As I have said many times before – if you know your job is secure and you have good credit, there has never been a better time to buy an Atlanta home or Atlanta investment property. Robert Whitfield

By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch 2/25/09

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — First-time home buyers who purchase a home this year can now take advantage of the stimulus bill’s $8,000 tax credit, the U.S. Department of the Treasury said in a news release on Wednesday.

Unlike the previous $7,500 credit available to this group of buyers, the credit outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 does not have to be paid back — if the home remains the buyer’s “main home” for at least 36 months after the purchase date, according to the Internal Revenue Service’s Web site. First-time buyers, for the purpose of this credit, are those who have not owned a home in three years.

Buyers must purchase a home before Dec. 1 to be eligible, and the credit can be claimed on a home buyer’s 2008 or 2009 tax return. Tax returns for 2008 are due by April 15, but most taxpayers can get automatic extensions to Oct. 15 without citing a reason. (You must pay any estimated tax liability at the time the extension is filed.) Filing an amended 2008 return after you buy would also be an option for getting the credit sooner.

“For first-time home buyers this year, this special feature can put money in their pockets right now rather than waiting another year to claim the tax credit,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, in a news release. “This important change gives qualifying home buyers cash they do not have to pay back.”

Buyers can claim 10% of the purchase price, up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married individuals filing separately, according to the IRS’ Web site. The credit starts to phase out for those whose adjusted gross income exceeds $75,000, or $150,000 for joint filers.

The IRS has posted a revised version of the form required to claim the credit, Form 5405, on IRS.gov. Visit IRS.gov’s first-time home buyer page.

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8th January 2009

To A Prosperous New Year!

By Robert Whitfield
I wanted to take a moment to address the current economic situation and reassure you that your Atlanta area home is still one of the best investments you could have made or own during these troubled times.

I watch Squawk Box on CNBC every morning and always note the latest DJIA current and year to year stats. Just before this writing – stocks were down 38+ % from the same time last year! I am sure many peoples investment/retirement portfolio has lost even more. Except for certain California and Florida “bubble” markets, nowhere have home prices dropped nearly as badly as stocks. For example, per the latest Case-Shiller index, Atlanta prices are off only 10.8 percent over the same time last year. Since early ‘07 Forbes and Business Week have ranked Atlanta in the top 15 most stable US housing markets.

The market will come back as it always does and you can bet future home prices will only rise. Why do I and so many others think buying real estate is the best investment of all time? For many reasons – the worlds population keeps growing and people will always need somewhere to live. I have personally made and helped others make more profit in one transaction in a short amount of time than they ever could have in the stock market with the same amount of money and time span. In addition, as my grandfather used to say and as we’ve all heard “they aren’t making any more land” – thats true and one of the fundamental powers of real estate, but in the context of this article I am referring to “developed or improved land”. I dont recommend investing/speculating in raw land ever – unless you’re a developer, a population trend expert, visionary, or gambler with deep pockets! Why, because the hold time can be decades! Sure, I know someone who made a fortune selling land in and around the Perimeter Mall area 25 – 30 years ago but that land was in the family for half a century and the area was essentially a cow pasture then! I dont personally know too many other people who have done very well in land speculation. I do know plenty of people who have made money with single family homes and for the more sophisticated investor, multifamily apartment acquisitions.

Investors are absorbing great deals right now which is advantageous to themselves and the market as a whole. (Let me rant for a moment.) I get disgusted when certain media refers to investors as “vulture investors” – as if buying an already foreclosed home is doing a disservice to the family who used to own it! If investors don’t “take advantage”, many markets will remain so flooded with deteriorating bank REO assets (foreclosures) that it will take much longer for thier housing markets to stabilize. Someone should ask these reporters, “Would you rather see a foreclosed home on your own street become a vacant (often vandalized) REO home – a neighborhood eyesore that only drives down prices the longer it is vacant, or be purchased ASAP by someone who will fix it up, rent it to a deserving family and sell it for the highest possible price when the time is right – thereby maintaining or even raising neighborhood values?” The answer is obvoius when you frame it in reality – investors play an important role in bringing this housing market back to some kind of equalibrium – and in my opinion, we should be thankful they have the money, intestinal fortitude, and vision to do what they do.

Couple all of the historical and forward looking benefits of owning real estate with some of the current advertised and unadvertised deals available, the cheap mortgage money, and our up to $10,000 Cash Reward and a reasonably well planned real estate transaction can be a great opportunity.

The Economic Downturn is a Huge Plus for investors, first time buyers, and even move-up buyers needing a larger home. Move up buyers? Yes, as an Atlanta area seller you will not get as much for your home as in ‘06/’07, but you can more than make up the difference when you buy, and if your credit is good, mortgage rates are really outstanding. Investors, you need a buy and hold strategy; flipping is tough unless you’re a pro at certian market segments or wholesale deals to other investors. Buyers, get with your lender before you even think about looking – rates are great but qualifying is harder – it’s a good idea to make sure you can get a loan! I have seen to my surprise a few deals not be approved or not be viable because of extra underwriter requirements this year (not subprime either) that would have been a slam dunk in 06 and even the first half of 07. One involved credit scores in the high 700’s, the other was a Physician making over $800K a year. Exceptional deals are there IF you have cash or can get a mortgage. This market will be looked back upon by buyers and investors who are making shrewd acquisitions now and in the comming months, as one of the golden opportunities of a lifetime!

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24th October 2008

Ready for Some Good News? Say Yes!

Beleive it or not I am about to share some with you – both nationally and locally! I know everyone is tired of the bad financial news so here goes – a little upbeat housing market news…

Existing Home Sales Rise on Improved AffordabilityWASHINGTON, October 24, 2008

Existing-home sales increased last month as buyers responded to improved housing affordability conditions, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 5.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.18 million units in September from a level of 4.91 million in August, and are 1.4 percent higher than the 5.11 million-unit pace in September 2007.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said more markets are seeing year-over-year gains. “The sales turnaround which began in California several months ago is broadening now to Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Rhode Island,” he said. “The South was hampered by much lower home sales in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.”

NAR President Richard F. Gaylord, said low home prices and low interest rates have been attracting buyers. “This is the first time since November 2005 that home sales have been above year-ago levels,” he said. “Credit tightened at the end of September, but the improvement demonstrates that buyers who’ve been on the sidelines want to get into the market to make a long-term investment in their future.”

Total housing inventory at the end of September fell 1.6 percent to 4.27 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.9-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 10.6-month supply in August. This marks two consecutive monthly declines since inventories peaked in July.
“Compared to a fairly small share of foreclosures or short sales a year ago, distressed sales are currently 35 to 40 percent of transactions. These are pulling the median price down because many are being sold at discounted prices,” Yun explained. “The current market is not being dominated by speculative investors. Rather, 80 percent of current buyers are purchasing a primary residence, which is a bit higher than historic norms.”

Now for Metro Atlanta…

According to Smart Numbers, after 18 consecutive monthly year-to-year percentage closing declines metro Atlanta will post an increase in the number of single family closings once the September closing lags are reported. Additionally, the number of closed transactions for September may be close or even exceed August 08’s 4180 closings. This is especially good news since historically September experiences a 10 to 25% decline in closed transactions compared to August.

Finally, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes as reported by Reuters on September 30 2008, markets in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis showed the most evidence that a bottom has formed, with home price increases for the past three months or more.

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