Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Taxing Real Estate to Fund Heathcare?

Today, we're dubunking a political myth and sharing a copy of an article written by the head of our broker support staff, Ann Bone that deals with the common misconception over the "real estate sales tax" that is going to be imposed to support President Obama's heath care plan. Read on:

Have you heard that Obama’s healthcare legislation will mean a 4% tax on all real estate sales? It seems that most agents have either been told this or are telling others this. IT’S NOT TRUE!

Open, read and pass on this NAR-prepared brochure (it gives some differenet financial scenarios where the taxes are applied).


Beginning in 2013, sellers realizing a PROFIT on the sale of their personal residence of $250,000+ for single sellers or $500,000+ for married sellers will be POTENTIALLY taxed and ONLY on the PROFIT over and above $250,000 for single sellers and $500,000 for married sellers and ONLY if their Adjusted Gross Income for that year exceeds $200,000 for a single seller and $250,000 for married sellers.

The attached brochure illustrates all the “what if?” scenarios about selling investment property and rental income. Please save this link; you’ll be rewarded by grateful buyers and sellers for knowing the facts.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to Our Fabulous Friends, Family, and Clients!

Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Our office will be closed this weekend, December 24th & 25th, as well as Monday, December 26th. Please feel free to call or email if you need us.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Your Agent Markets Themselves, Indicates How They Will Market Your Home!

With the glut of available homes on the market, how your home is marketed is the biggest factor in determining how quickly it will sell (assuming the price is reasonably presented). A real estate agent's marketing plan should be the most crucial determinant in deciding who to list your home with. But, how can you really know about the agent's marketing strategies?

One way is to see what they are doing with their current clients. Do those homes "stand out"? Contact those sellers. Are they getting a lot of showings and offers?

Another way is looking at how the agent markets themselves and their services:

■ Does the photo they use for themselves represent how they look?

■ Does their print advertising look like everyone else's?

■ What technology are they using to show your home? Are they using video?

■ Is their website interesting and full of current information or just cookie cutter?

■ Do they have a professional presence on social networks?

■ Does their marketing show them as an expert or does it merely pat them on the back?

Quality photos on the web and top notch video may be the factor that drives people to see your house (and they are very important). However, how an agent drives traffic to see those photos and videos is even more important.

We all know the saying - "It's not what you know…it's who you know." However, in marketing, it's more crucial to know "who knows you". Agents who are unknown are not good marketers. Today, you need an excellent marketer to represent you.

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Source: KCM Blog - Steve Harney

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bank of America Mortgages/Home Loans

Anytime we work with a buyer who wants to obtain a mortgage with Bank of America, we can't help but cringe a little (okay, maybe a lot). Many of times, buyers don't know where to begin shopping for a mortgage so they call the big boys .... Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc. Unfortunately, they don't tend to win "service awards" in our book. I came across a video this morning of a couple from Georgia who missed four closing dates while they waited on Bank of America to get it together and close their loan. Meanwhile, the seller began charging a $50/day per diem for every day after their scheduled closing date. In effort to get Bank of America to cover the per diem and get the loan closed asap, they created this (cheesy) video ... and it worked! They also created a blog that outlines the entire loan history: http://closeourloan.wordpress.com/the-details/

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

...interesting to see what you have to do these days to get things done!

Most buyers don't realize how important it is to have a GOOD lender working for them. Not only is your lender determining your mortgage payment and fees for the next 30 years, but a bad lender can also cause all kinds of problems while putting your deal together on a home. In the worst cases, they can cause you to have to pay additional earnest money, hefty per diems (these guys had to pay $50 for every day they were beyond their closing date), and in the ultimate worst case scenario, you could miss out on the house all together. If you are unsure of the lender you are using research them....would you use BOA if you googled them and found this video? You could always call us....we have free advice on our experience with lenders and we know a few good ones we can send you to.
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Homes Sales are Increasing!!

The National Association of Realtors recently released their 2011 3rd Quarter Housing Report. In the report, they showed that combined sales of single family homes, condos and co-ops increased in EVERY state as compared to the 3rd quarter of last year. Here are the state-by-state numbers.

The next time someone says houses aren’t selling, ask them which state they live in and show them the chart.
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Source: KCM blog - Steve Harney

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shadow Inventory in Georgia


The nation has about 1.6 million homes that loom in shadow inventory, 22 percent lower than the peak in January 2010. Despite the decline, the shadow inventory is still dragging down home prices, housing experts say.

Shadow inventory is when homes are either in foreclosure or repossessed by banks but have not yet hit the market. While CoreLogic recently reported the drop in the shadow inventory as a “positive sign for housing,” the number still remains high and is weighing on the market, housing experts say.

The states with the largest shadow inventories are California, Florida, Illinois, Georgia, and Ohio, according to RealtyTrac.

For example, California has nearly 270,000 homes in its shadow inventory. "It's absolutely an impediment," Dustin Hobbs, a spokesman for the California Mortgage Bankers Association, told the USA Today. "It's hanging over the market."

The high numbers are blamed from a moratorium on foreclosures in 2009 by legislators as well as delays from lenders as they try to find a workout solution with home owners to keep them in their homes.

According to Standard & Poor's, the national shadow inventory of homes--worth an estimated $405 billion--will take four years to clear. It’s a catch-22 for banks: If they clear the shadow inventory too quickly, the inventory will overwhelm the market and could drive prices down further. On the other hand, if they clear the shadow inventory too slowly, it will prolong the housing market recovery, the S&P report noted.

Source: “Shadow Inventory Depresses Sale Prices,” USA Today (Oct. 4, 2011)

Our Two Cents:

If you are a home seller.....put your house on the market now!  Waiting until Spring for the "market to pick up" or "until prices come back up" isn't wise. With shadow inventory looming, prices aren't going to come back up anytime soon in our area (Metro Atlanta Real Estate).  In fact, in some areas, they may even depreciate a little further. Putting your home on the market now may be the wisest thing to do.

If you are a home buyer....it's not necessarily a good thing to wait on the shadow invenotory because no one knows for sure when it will arrive to the market. It's not like they will release hundreds of homes on the same day; it will likely slowly trickle in over the course of months and, as mentioned above, it will take years to clear out. Also, if you wait on the homes to come to market in hopes that prices will drop you are risking an increase in interest rates over the next year. If interest rates increase, even if you pay slightly less for the property, you will end up paying more to own the home.

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Info in this blog was sourced from: KCM Blog - Steve Harney
and Shadow Inventory Continues to Weigh on Market - Daily Real Estate News

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Complete Short Sale Package

Short Sales can be very difficult to navigate for a Realtor, as well as their clients. There's no doubt that there is value in having a Realtor who knows about Short Sales. If you are considering trying to complete a short sale on your home, be sure to ask your agent about their knowledge of the short sale process and experience in negotiating a short sale. It is very critical to the timeliness and success of a short sale situation that you have a Realtor familiar with the process. With that said, below is some information that will help you gather the necessary docs that will help you and your Realtor in trying to complete a short sale.

We are again honored to have Christopher Reale, Director of Short Sale Operations at Lepizzera and Laprocina Title and Escrow Services, as today's guest blogger. He is an expert on the short sale process and will share his knowledge with us on a regular basis. – The KCM Crew

"...if you take a shot gun approach rather than a targeted systematic approach to the process, you will set yourself up for failure. Below are the documents one must attain to make sure the short selling bank does not throw the file back on your desk when submitting the file for short sale approval:

Financial Information

■Tax information

■Two most recent 1040′s

■Two most recent W2′s

■60 days of current bank statements

■30 days of current pay stubs or commission check stubs

■If self employed-pay stubs or YTD profit and loss statement

■Monthly budget/financial statement signed and dated same day as P&S

Hardship information

■Hardship letter dated signed same day as purchase contract

■Any docs supporting the actual hardship

■Medical bills

■Child support or alimony payment information. Divorce decree or child support order

Mortgage & Other Relevant Property Information

■1st Mortgage statement

■2nd Mortgage statement if applicable

■Recent Real Estate tax bills

■Recent condo association bills if applicable

■Any recent water or sewer bills

Other Pertinent Documentation

■Authorization form

■Short sale disclosure

■Waiver of conflict if representing the buyer

■3 recent comps

■Listing agreement


■Listing history

■Buyer proof of funds letter or Pre Approval letter

It is important to understand that the above documents are required for almost every short selling bank. There are also bank specific forms that, in most cases, must accompany the above. You may contact your negotiator or the bank directly to obtain the bank specific documents. "

If you're interested in doing a short sale, we are very experienced in them, so give us a call.
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Parts of this blog are courtesy of the KCM Blog - Steve Harney

Friday, December 2, 2011

In the Spotlight

This week, our company featured us in our weekly company newsletter and spotlight. We thought we'd share some of the interview so that you guys could get to know a little about us. At the end of the day we're just normal gals who enjoy life and love our job (and we happen to be good at it too - not bragging.....just saying :)

We think it's important that buyers and sellers pick someone with the right expertise and knowledge to advise them in this tough market, but in our humble opinion it's just as important to choose someone that you respect, trust, and get along with. Personality conflicts do occur in real estate relationships. Maybe by reading these questions and answers below you'll see what kind of people we are at heart and learn a little more about us.

Melissa and Rebekah Stephens:
A Home-Grown, High-Performance Real Estate Duo

Office: Stockbridge (but they work all of South Metro Atlanta - Henry County, Clayton County, Fayette County, South Fulton, Spalding County, Newton County, Rockdale County, Butts County, Coweta County, and more).

Years with BHGRE Metro Brokers: 1

Years selling real estate: 11 years combined


Family: Speaking of family, we’re sisters and business partners!

Melissa: Married with 3 children – two daughters (ages 12 and 7) and one son (in his terrible 2’s).

Rebekah: Married with a very spoiled 2-year old black lab, Dooley.


We were born and raised just south of Atlanta our whole lives. In fact, we’re so homegrown that we graduated from the same high school that our parents did.


Melissa: Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Clayton State University.

Rebekah: Bachelor of Science in Integrative Studies from Clayton State University.

In my previous life, I…

Melissa: Started working as an administrative assistant for a top producing real estate agent at the age of 15 and went out on my own when I became licensed.

Rebekah: Worked as a relocation coordinator in the corporate office of another real estate firm throughout college and then obtained my license.

My idol:

For both of us, it’s our parents. They always put us first and raised us to be very strong, individual women who trust in God, work hard, and are honest. They’ve shown us how to love and live well.

Greatest accomplishment:

Melissa: Being a mommy. There’s just nothing like it.

Rebekah: Beginning a career in a depressed real estate market (2008), sticking with it, and becoming successful.

If I could do anything in the world, I’d…

Melissa: Learn to speak Spanish. I took three years in high school and two semesters in college and still can’t speak the language. It would be a fantastic asset for me.

Rebekah: Open a restaurant. I’ve envisioned it for years down to the menu, the d├ęcor, etc.

How do you relax?

Melissa: Laying in my hammock in my backyard or swinging on my front porch swing. Either way, I’m usually reading a magazine or book and sometimes enjoying a glass of wine.

Rebekah: I tend to spend a lot of time on the internet following several blogs (real estate, home decorating, cooking, etc). When I have a chance to relax, I kick back and catch up on my blogs.

Biggest pet peeve:

Melissa: Laziness! I can’t stand someone who won’t work hard or expects a hand out.

Rebekah: Rude or unfriendly people! Ugh.

Lesson learned in the last year:

For both of us, it’s that persistence and hard work pay off.

If we were to write an autobiography, the title would be:

“A Day in the Life of a Realtor: What You Didn’t Know About Real Estate.” We’ve always joked about writing a book comprised of all the funny, quirky, and weird things that have happened to us. At least once a week we say “that’s one for the book.”

Favorite movie or book:

Melissa: Call me sappy, but it’s “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks. It’s a book and a movie.

Rebekah: Same as Melissa – I guess we’re typical girls!

Favorite quote:

Melissa: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Mae West.

Rebekah: “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” Frederick Keonig.

I handle stress by…

Melissa: Taking some time off, whether it’s five minutes, an hour, or a day.

Rebekah: Still trying to find a way to manage stress, especially when related to real estate. I tend to freak out, but venting to my sister, mom, or husband normally helps.

If we didn't sell real estate, we’d

Open a restaurant named after our grandmother and serve up her famous southern cooked food.


Volume/Transactions in 2011: 44 transactions totaling $5.4 million (so far)

Primary focus in real estate: We feel that the smartest thing to do in this market is to diversify and that’s what we do. With the exception of commercial, we work most everything else including REO, re-sales, short sales, and buyers.

What trends do you see in the market? In south Metro Atlanta, we’re still seeing continued depreciation amongst our re-sale homes. One of the most recent instances is a re-sale townhome where average sold comp prices have dropped $10,000 in the last 45 days due to new foreclosure comps. We think it’s important to advise our sellers to be aggressive with their pricing from the start because there are still so many foreclosures coming to the market.

Best advice you can give your clients: We feel very strongly that this market presents the best time in history to buy a home, investment property, etc. Prices are at all time lows and interest rates are incredible but it won’t stay this way forever. We’ve made it our personal goal to educate everyone that will listen and encourage all of our potential buyers to buy. Our grandparents purchased their homes in the late 1950’s/early 60’s for more than what a buyer could purchase their homes for today.

Advantages of working on a team: The power of two people. We can play off of each other’s strong points. Melissa works better with some clients and Rebekah with others. We are also able to split the work load up. Plus, there’s always someone there to “have your back.”

What do you each feel your strengths are and how do they complement each other?

Rebekah: I’m more creative, technically savvy, and great with marketing.

Melissa: And I’m more detail oriented and great with negotiations.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Events in McDonough, Hampton, Locust Grove, Newnan, Senoia, Morrow, Jonesboro, Fayetteville, and Peachtree City!

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Now that's a Christmas song that is true to us! We love the holidays!

Here's a list of Christmas events in the south Metro Atlanta area (Clayton, Coweta, Fayette, Henry, etc.) where you can enjoy some holiday cheer....and spread some of your own too! If you'd like to add a house to your Christmas tour of things to do....give us a call! Happy Holidays!

Henry County

Saturday, December 3rd - Annual McDonough Christmas Tree Lighting and Parade
Tree Lighting at 5:30, Parade Starts at 6:00pm. Park as close to the square as you can get and watch the parade as it makes it's way around.

Saturday, December 3rd,  10th & 17th - 11:00am-3:00pm - McDonough Square
Santa makes a stop at the McDonough Square for photos and chance for kiddies to tell him what they want.

Thursday, December 1st - 7:00-9:00pm - Hampton ParadeJoin us again this year for the annual Christmas at Home December 1 from 7:00pm-9:00pm! This year the parade will begin at Hampton First Baptist Church! There will be live reindeer, snow flurries, holiday music and pictures with Santa!! Kelly Lewis Browning Photography will be taking pictures printed with a keepsake. This event is presented by the Hampton Business and Merchants Association. For more information please visit http://www.hamptonbusinessmerchants.com/

Satruday, December 3rd - 9:00am-12:00 noon - Hampton, GA- Cookie Decorating with Mrs. Claus
Don't miss decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus on December 3 from 9:00am-noon! Children up to age 10 are invited to decorate cookies, which they will take home (unless they eat them first!) Pictures with Mrs. Claus are taken and printed for each child. This event is sponsored by the City of Hampton.

Saturday, December 10th - 4:00pm-8:00pm - Hampton, GA - Holiday Tour of Homes
Tour gaily decorated homes in Hampton during daylight or lighted in full splendor of the evening on December 10 from 4:00pm-8:00pm! This year includes directions to a neighbor specially decorated for the holidays, cost for the tour is only $10.00 per person! This is a Main Street Program event and will benefit the purchase of a historic plaque on the City owned building at 2 West Main Street.

Saturday, December 3rd - 10:00am - 2:00pm - Downtown Locust Grove - Annual Parade and Fun
The City of Locust Grove and the Locust Grove Better Hometown will sponsor their annual Christmas . . . in The Grove on December 3, 2011. This is a free event for children and adults and features a parade, stage entertainment, food, train rides, rock climbing wall, craft vendors and the arrival of Santa via the Locust Grove fire truck. Downtown merchants also participate through "open house" where you may visit their stores and shop for that special Christmas gift. Refreshments are provided in each establishment and merchants welcome your visit. The Downtown Development Authority will have a hotdog stand where you may purchase hot dogs and drinks. The festivities are from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

Saturday, December 10th, 2pm - 6pm - A Heritage Christmas – at Heritage Park - McDonough, GA

Celebrate Henry County's Heritage and the beginning of the Christmas Season. The annual festival at Heritage Park begins at 2 p.m. and will feature caroling, crafts, hayrides, photos with Santa Claus and other beloved Christmas characters, local entertainment, cookie decorating and Elf School. Connecting Henry will be collecting new-unwrapped toys. Be sure to sign the patriotic banner and holiday cards for U.S. troops. The event concludes with the lighting of the Great Heritage Christmas Tree.

Fayette County

Saturday, December 3rd - Peachtree City's "HomeTown Holiday"
6:00 p.m. at The Fred: Musical Program includes holiday performances by Twilight Theater, Legacy Theater, and the Peachtree Wind Ensemble.

7:00 p.m. - Trail of Lights: Golf cart procession led by Santa to City Hall. The golf cart trail will be lit by luminaries.

7:30 p.m. - Tree Lighting at City Hall: Join Santa for the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. This year, the City is able to offer 5"x7" photos with Santa for $1.00

Saturday, December 3rd - Fayetteville's Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Parade
Parade at 4:30 - Park as close to the square as you can and watch the parade
Tree Lighting at 5:30ish
Carriage rides with Santa from 7:00-9:00
Free Hot Cocoa and Popcorn

Sunday, December 4th, 11th, and 18th - Complimentary Carriage Rides and Photos with Santa
Visit The Avenue Shopping Center (at the corner of Hwy 54 and 74 in Peachtree City) for carriage rides and photos with Santa from 1:00-5:00. The photos will take place at The Atlanta Bread Company within The Avenue complex.

Spectacular Christmas Lights at the Gaddy Residence in Fayetteville
898 Sandy Creek Road, Fayetteville

Nightly from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day - Dark Until 10:30ish.....These are some of the best residential Christmas lights ever! We take our family every year (multiple times) to this sweet home where the owners go all out with Christmas lights and decor. You can drive through on their u-ahaped driveway to view the lights and decor. Turn your headlights off to make the lights even more spectacular. There's no admission, however, they do take donations for Toys for Tots and they are having their annual Toys for Tots drive  on Saturday, December 3rd. Bring a new, unwrapped toy, and donate it.

Sunday, December 4th, 4:00pm-8:00pm - Tyrone Christmas Tree Lighting and Photos with Santa
Shamrock Park on Senoia Road. Visit and take photos with Santa. Free Carriage rides by the lake. Cocoa and Cookies too!

Coweta County

Sunday, December 4th - 3:00pm - Newnan's Annual Christmas Parade

Park as close to the square as you can and enjoy the parade. It's always a treat!

Saturday, December 3rd - Senoia Christmas

4:00pm - Santa and Mrs. Claus are there to light the tree. There's pony rides, Santa's workshop, and a food court.
5:30pm - The parade starts....park as close to downtown as you can get and enjoy the parade.

Clayton County

December 2-18th - Festival of Trees and Lights -Clayton County International Park - Jonesboro, GA
Hundreds of families travel to the Clayton County International Park every holiday season, to see the Festival of Trees and Lights. The opening ceremony celebration on Dec. 2 will feature arts and crafts, face painting, live entertainment, hayrides, cake walks, gingerbread decorating, concessions and photos with Santa.

Saturday, December 10th - Visit with Father Christmas - Stately Oaks, Jonesboro, GA
Stately Oaks Plantation, 770.473.0197, historicaljonesboro.org
Children are invited to the Stately Oaks plantation, to visit with Father Christmas! There will be two separate tours, 9–10:15 a.m. and 10:30–11:45 a.m.

Friday, December 9th, 7:00pm - Yule Log Celebration - Morrow, GA

Reynolds Nature Preserve, 770.477.3766, claytonparks.com
Mark your calendars for the Yule Log Celebration, a unique holiday event taking place at Reynolds Nature Preserve. The annual, outdoor event begins at 7 p.m. with music, fun and refreshments. Guests will walk a candlelit path into the woods for a bonfire, and a search for the fabled Yule Log. This is a free event, with shuttle service from Babb Middle School.

Miscellaneous Events

Gift of Lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway - Nightly - Friday, November 18 - Sunday, January 1, 2012 - Hampton, GA

What: A Drive-Through Display of more than 1 million Christmas lights and hundreds of light displays at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

When: Nov. 18 - Jan. 1, including Christmas Day!

Admission: $15 per vehicle; Admission for buses is $1 per person with a minimum of $20. Buses must be under an 11 foot clearance. Payment is cash only.

New Hope Baptist Chuch's Annual Living Christmas Tree (A Play with Singing and a "Living Christmas Tree") - Fayetteville, GA

Click the above link for tickets to this annual tradition.  Dates are below:

Wednesday, December 07th, 7:00pm

Thursday, December 08th, 7:00pm

Friday, December 09th, 7:00pm

Saturday, December 10th, 3:00pm (Matinee)

Saturday, December 10th, 7:00pm

Sunday, December 11th, 3:00pm (Matinee)

Sunday, December 11th, 7:00pm

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

How Much Should You Put Down on a Home?

Like most questions, the answer is "it depends". Today, I thought I'd give you some things to consider.

Let's begin the discussion with loans that don't require Mortgage Insurance. The suggestion is to borrow as much as you can afford. As an example, borrowing $310,000, as opposed to $300,000, will increase your mortgage payment by about $51 at 4.5%. Recognize that by doing so, you will have $10,000 in the bank. It is my experience that it is easier to find $50 more every month than it is to save $10,000. Even if you had the discipline to set aside the $50 monthly, it would take you 200 months to re-accumulate the $10,000 in principal (longer with lost interest).

Understand too, that the interest paid on the extra money borrowed is tax-deductible. In a 25% tax bracket the $51 additional has a real cost of about $38!

Having the $10,000 liquid has other potential advantages as well:

1. If rates go up in the future, you could potentially make more interest than you are spending.

2. If you can avoid using credit cards for furniture, home improvements, etc., you can save a bundle on those non-tax deductible interest rate costs.

3. In a world where home values have declined, the more you borrow, the less you have at risk. You transfer the risk of the future value of the home to the lender.

Now, many borrowers today will need some sort of Mortgage Insurance, whether it's a Conventional Loan with less than 20% down or an FHA Mortgage. These borrowers should sit with their loan officer and run the numbers because the cost of the Mortgage Insurance can vary based on loan-to-value and other factors. Examine the costs and the relative benefits.

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Blog article provided by KCM Group, Steve Harney

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Best Time to Buy a Home is Now!

The PRICE Is the Same, But the COST Is Less

There is more and more research coming out showing that it makes great financial sense to purchase a home today . Whether it be rent vs. buy ratios, income-to-price ratios or income-to-mortgage payment ratios, purchasing a home right now is a bargain compared to historic norms. Now we want to look at the COST of a home today compared to pre-peak prices.

According to the most recent S&P Case Shiller price index, residential real estate values have returned to 2003 1Q PRICEs. That, in itself, says something. However, when you factor in mortgage rates, the case for buying a home today becomes even more compelling.

In 2003, 30 year mortgage rates stood at 5.88%. Today, they are 4%. How does that impact the actual COST of a home? On a home purchased for $250,000, here is the difference in monthly cost:

That means you save $285.30 a month, $3,423.60 a year and $102,708 over the life of a 30 year mortgage! You buy the home for the same PRICE but the COST is over $100,000 less.

Bottom Line

This is why so many financial advisors are saying that this may be one of the greatest times in history to purchase a home.

We agree, see our blog below about prices in the Clayton County, Henry County, and Fayette County.

If you think it's time for you to buy a home, give us a call.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Real Estate in Numbers (3rd Qtr) - Henry County, Fayette County, Clayton County

Call us real estate geeks, but we love analyzing the numbers when it comes to real estate. Not only do we find it to be interesting and very telling, but it helps us stay current and informed as to what's going on in our local market. There's no way we could advise our clients if we didn't compile reports like this. Do most agents spend time doing their "homework"? Probably not. But we do! Take a peek at the info we've put together  -- it's pretty interesting!

A few things we want you to realize about the Clayton County, Henry County and Fayette County markets -

  • Prices have dropped approximately 9% in all three markets since this time last year.
  • Clayton County has seen a slight increase in the "average sales price" category when it comes to comparing 2nd quarter to 3rd quarter of this year. WHAT?!?! I know what you're thinking ... after months and months and months of watching the crazy drop in prices, I couldn't believe it either. In fact, I went back and ran the numbers again to make sure I wrote down the right statistic. Believe it folks! But....do realize that the average sales price is still 8.60% lower than this time last year.
  • Henry County is hot when it comes to selling homes - 3rd Quarter 2010 there were 655 homes to sell and in 2011 that number came up to 833. There's always a catch though... the average price has dropped almost 10% since this time last year. Good for buyers, bad for sellers.
  • While Fayette County has experienced depreciation since 2010, they're certainly holding their own this year. Looks like the market may be stabilizing in Fayette (fingers crossed!) The average sales price has stayed pretty much the same throughout this year, no continued depreciation this year.
Have specific questions about your county, city, or subdivision? Feel free to email or call us! We'd love to help!

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Open House at Monarch Village This Sunday!!

Two Beautiful Homes in Monarch Village
Open this Sunday, November 13th, 2:00-5:00

Visit and have a Chance to Win $1000!!
(One visitor who visits a Metro Brokers open house on Sunday will win $1000)

214 Monarch Village Way

Don't miss this beautiful home! 4BR/3.5BA, island kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, formal dining room, family room, master on main, full finished basement offering an office, theater room, and rec room with wet bar. Great deck for entertaining! It's worth seeing! We can't describe it all here!

253 Monarch Village Way


Looking for a Steal? This is it! 3BR/2.5BA with loft area, formal living room & dining rooms, big family room with built-in bookcases, large island kitchen with breakfast area and all appliances, nice master suite, 10' ceilings, hardwood floors, and privacy fenced backyard.

About Monarch Village: Monarch Village is an awesome master planned community in one of Henry County's most convenient locations! I-75, I-675, shopping, dining, and entertainment are all within minutes away! The community offers a clubhouse, lake, walking trails, tennis courts, playground, water park (yes, a water park, not just a pool), sidewalks, and streetlights. There's even an elementary school and day care center within the community. Come see for yourself!

Directions: I-75 South exit 228 or I-675 exit 1; Right on Hwy 138; Left on Speer Road; Left on Walt Stephens Road; Right into Monarch Village Subdivision; Continue Straight around the first roundabout to 214 Monarch Village Way on the Right; after visiting this fine home, continue straight to the 2nd roundabout; go 3/4 the way around and Right to continue on Monarch Village Way; 253 Monarch Village will be on Your Left.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Real Estate as a Long Term Investment.....It's a Good One!

Put Your Money in Real Estate! It's Our Personal Philosophy! We know it's a down market, but if you can stomach the last few years, and likely the next two to three years, Real Estate is a Solid Investment! It beats out the other options. See the graph below....need we say more?

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pick the Right Agent....The One Who Can Get the Deal to the Closing Table!

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Sales Report two weeks ago and in the report they discussed a troubling trend: cancelled contracts are increasing dramatically. NAR defined the issue:

"Contract failures – cancellations caused largely by declined mortgage applications or failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price."

NAR explained that 18% of all contracts were cancelled in August. This compares to 16% last month and 9% in August of 2011.

The percentage of cancelled contracts has doubled in the past year!!

It is extremely important that both buyers and sellers pick the right real estate professional to assist them with their real estate needs.


Make sure your agent can not only help you find the home of your dreams but also find you professional assistance with all aspects of the transaction (mortgaging, title, etc.)


Realize that your agent must sell the home twice:

1.to a qualified buyer

2.to the bank (through the appraiser).

The second sale may be more difficult in this market than the first.

Bottom Line

It is imperative in this housing market that both buyers and sellers use a true real estate professional to guarantee that the deal will actually reach the closing table. We happen to know a good one....well, actually two good ones.  : )

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Article courtesy of KCM Blog - Steve Harney


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure....A Short Sale Always Win!

Today's ever changing real estate industry has brought upon some very challenging questions from our clients. We as counselors, want to put forth the best, non-emotional advice that we can, in hopes that we can help our clients and their families navigate the rough waters of the short sale process.

The most prevalent question and one that continues to permeate the industry is:

"Why should a seller go through the short sale process rather than letting their house be foreclosed upon?"

While we cannot speak to every client circumstance, we can say one thing with complete conviction. In almost all instances in which a potential seller is contemplating whether they should short sell their house or let it go through the foreclosure process, a short sale is the better option. The following are examples to consider:

Example A- Short Sale

Mr. Smith owns a home in which he has a mortgage balance of $220,000 and a current market value of $150,000. Mr. Smith has elected to short sell his property. His Realtor successfully obtains a buyer who puts forth an offer price of $120,000 (80% current market value according to Realty Trac Foreclosure Report 5/26/2011). After reviewing the buyers offer and the financial hardship information from Mr. Smith, Mr Smith's bank agrees to accept the short payoff of $120,000 which would leave a deficiency balance of $100,000.

The transaction closes and is final. Mr. Smith then pulls his credit report 30 days after the transaction takes place. On the report he notices that the mortgage trade line states "Mortgage debt was settled for less than full" and the balance on the mortgage is $0. Mr. Smith is now on the road to financial recovery.

Example B- Foreclosure

For the ease of illustration we will use the same value and mortgage debt amounts as in Example A. However, Mr. Smith has elected to forgo the short sale process and let the bank foreclose on the property. The bank holding his mortgage facilitates the proper legal procedures to foreclose on the property, all of which are costly. Mr. Smith is notified and his property foreclosed upon of which is taken back by the bank to sell as an REO.

Six months later, the bank finally sells Mr. Smith's home only they sell it for $90,000 (60% of current market value according to Realty Trac Foreclosure report dated 5/26/2011). Remember, as a short sale, the home would have sold for $120,000 keeping the deficiency to $100,000. In addition to the deficiency now being $130,000, the bank has elected to add on legal costs of $15,000 and asset preservation costs of another $5000 for a total deficiency liability of $150,000. Mr. Smith pulls his credit report 30 days after being notified that the bank has sold his property and of his liability.

On the report he notices that the mortgage trade line states "Foreclosure" and the balance is $150,000. Because of Mr Smith's choice to choose foreclosure vs. short sale his road to financial recovery has taken a major detour. He not only has a foreclosure on his credit report but know has a much larger deficiency balance in which the bank, in most cases, will report on his credit report as a balance owed.

The Best Option is clear

While the financial and credit advantages are clear when choosing a short sale over a foreclosure, other advantages are sometimes overlooked. The most important of all of them is maintaining the seller's dignity and peace of mind. We have heard too many stories of families having to leave their homes because of a Sheriffs order or some other type of legal action. The short sale process alleviates this negative social impact. The process puts the control back in the seller's hands so that they can get back on the road to financial recovery and start providing for their families. In the battle of the two evils, a short sale always wins!!!

Rebekah and I have handled many shorts sales over the past few years. They are becoming more common and mortgage companies are generally becoming better at them and more open to them. If you need a short sale expert in Metro Atlanta, please don't hesitate to call or email. We'll be happy to evaulate your situation and help you through this daunting process.

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Courtesy of KCM Blog - Steve Harney

Monday, September 26, 2011

13,780 Homes Sold Yesterday!

To all those who have declared the real estate market dead, we want you to know that over 13,780 houses sold yesterday, 13,780 will sell today and 13,780 will sell tomorrow.

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. NAR reported that sales had increased 7.7% over the month before and 18.6% over the year before. According to the report, annualized sales now stand at 5.03 million. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, well over 13,000 homes sell every day.

We realize that these numbers are below the record for homes sold in 2006. We also know that we may never see those numbers again (and that is probably a good thing). But to say that the current real estate market is dead or that houses are not selling is totally inaccurate. We have over 13,000 pieces of evidence to prove that.

In addition, we closed four last week ourselves! We know real estate is selling and we know who can get the job done for your Metro Atlanta Real Estate needs.....US!
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Article Courtesy of KMC Blog, Steve Harney 

Monday, September 12, 2011

For the Love of ...Purple!

We're working with several buyers right now and we've been viewing some pretty interesting houses. Apparently the owners of the homes below didn't get the memo about neutralizing their homes before putting them on the market. Today The Stephens & Stephens Group would like to take time to appreciate the color purple!

A little color never hurt anyone!

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Remember September 11th - God Bless America

Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we are the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.

President George W. Bush
September 11, 2001

We're proud to be Americans. We will always remember this terrible day in American history. Our prayers and thoughts are with the fallen and their families on this day.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

5 Great Reasons to Sell Your Home Today!

We are often asked "Is the time to sell my home?" The answer to that question is based on what your families' goals are. If you don't need or want to move for a few years it might make sense to wait for the housing industry to recover and prices to appreciate. However, if you wish to move within the next six to eighteen months, it is probably better to sell sooner rather than later. Here are five reasons why:

Your House Will Get More Exposure Now Than the Winter

Housing sales usually level off in the summer and then regain momentum in September and October. The spring buyers' market has passed. Don't miss the early fall market. It has consistently outperformed the winter season.

Distressed Properties Will Impact Prices

Distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) on the market will increase this fall and winter. This will put tremendous downward pressure on prices for at least the next 12-18 months. Get your home sold before they become your competition.

Mortgages Will Become More Difficult to Attain

Lending standards are continuing to tighten. There is legislation currently being considered that will make it even harder for buyers to qualify. Less demand will equate to lower prices.

It is the Perfect Time to Move-Up

With prices where they are and interest rates at all time lows, there may have never been a better time to move-up into your dream home. If you move into a more desirable home now, you will be in position to gain larger equity as prices eventually appreciate.

You Get to Move On with Your Life

Probably the most important reason to sell is so you can get on with your life. You are considering selling for a reason. Do not allow a less-than-stellar housing market prevent you from reaching your goals as an individual or as a family. Think about the reasons you are thinking about moving . Are these reasons really important to you? If you have to take less than you were originally hoping to get for your house, your family has a question to ask each other: Is the dollar difference in sales price worth putting off our plans? Only you and your family know the answer to that question.

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Article from KCM Blog - Steve Harney

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We Love This Townhome...and You Can Own it Cheaper Than You Can Pay in Rent!

Welcome Home to:
3893 Princeton Lakes Pass, Atlanta, GA 30331

The Best Part...It's Only $84,500!
The community is gated and the association fee includes yard maintenance. It's truly a maintenance free lifestyle and a commuters dream! Major interstates, shopping, and dining are literally less than 5 minutes of this home. The home features 2 bedrooms/2.5 bathrooms. Both bedrooms are spacious with walk-in closets and each have their own bathrooms (it's like having two master suites). A foyer welcomes you into the home and leads you into a very open floorplan with a large and sunny living room, spacious dining area, and kitchen with all appliances. There's hardwood floors throughout the main level. A cozy deck is perfect for morning coffee, relaxing for dinner, or entertaining. Other features include smooth ceilings, a laundry room with cabinets, one car garage with automatic opener, and covered front porch.

To see more photos and info click the link ----- http://www.princetonlakespass.info/

We had a lender draw up some numbers on this house and it's incredible! You can own this home for cheaper than rent....whether it's a conventional loan, FHA loan, or VA loan the approximate montly payment is between $600-$650 including taxes and insurance. This is a steal!

To set up a showing, don't hesitate to call or email.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Discounted Competition is About to Enter the Market! Sell Your Home Now!

If you have your home on the market and it hasn't sold yet, you should get real serious about selling it. If you need to sell your home, put it on the market right now. Don't wait! Look at the graphic below and you'll see why! We're not making this stuff up....it's real!

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Graphic courtesy of KCM Blog, Steve Harney

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Real Estate in Numbers: Clayton, Henry, and Fayette County - # of Sales/Average Sales Price

In reviewing statistics from the Georgia MLS system, I put together a little graphic that reflects the changes in the market for the first and second quarter of 2011. To the right of the chart, I show what the average sales price was for each county for the second quarter of 2010 in comparison with the second quarter of 2011 and as you will notice, the Clayton, Fayette, and Henry County real estate market have all experienced depreciation since last year. If you review the quarterly numbers for 2011 so far, you will see that our market values are still continuing to decline with the exception of Fayette County as it experienced a very slight increase in average sales price; however, the county has still depreciated from 2010 to 2011. The good news is that the number of sales for the second quarter increased in all three counties from the first quarter to the second, although that's somewhat normal coming out of the winter months and going into the spring/summer. We expect to see further depreciation for the remainder of this year so if you're looking to sell your home and it's a must, then you may want to consider selling now before the numbers drop any lower!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crime, Schools, Registered Sex Offenders - Henry, Clayton, Fayette,etc.

When a buyer identifies a property that they are interested in purchasing, they often want to research the subdivision/neighborhood before moving forward and ask question such as

  • "Are there any sexual offenders in the area?"  
  • "What is crime like in this area?"
  • "What are the local schools like? Are they good?"
  • "Are there any children in the subdivision that my kids can play with?"
A smart buyer looks into these things rather than just purchasing any house that they fall in love with. While some of these things may be more important to one buyer than to another - it's always smart to do research before pursuing a property... but how? Where do you find this information, especially if you're not familiar with the area? Here are a few suggestions...

Local Police Department Websites: Check your local police department's website for crime information. Some may provide crime maps and crime statistics. If they don't have information online, call the local police department. Here are some links that you may find helpful:
              Clayton County: Request for Crime Statistics
              Fayette County: Fayette County Crime Map
              Henry County: Henry County Crime Map

Sex Offenders: There are several websites that provide information on registered sex offenders and some of the crime maps above include this information. The following is a link to the GA Bureau of Investigation's Georgia Sex Offender List:  Georgia Sex Offender List via Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Schools: There are many ways to research local schools. You can start on the internet and if it's really important to you, you can visit the school itself and set up a meeting with the principal to ask questions, tour the school, etc. Check the Georgia Department of Education's website for test scores, check out the individual school's website to see what they have going on and see photos of recent events, search for parent reviews online (after all, parent reviews give us a behind the scenes look (with a grain of salt of course!). Here are some links that may help you research the local schools:
              Georgia Department of Education
              School Reports via GA Dept. of Education
              Atlanta Journal Constitution Schools Guide
              Clayton County Board of Education
              Coweta County Board of Education
              Fayette County Board of Education
              Henry County Board of Education
              Rockdale County Board of Education

Neighborhood/Subdivision:  Unfortunately there's not a website that you can visit to give you stats on individual subdivisions and neighborhoods. If you want to know certain things about it, you'll have to check into it yourself. Your Realtor should be able to help you with some things such as information on the homeowner's association and fees, covenants and restrictions, etc; however, it's always recommended that a buyer drive through a subdivision of interest several times and at different times of the day to make sure it's a place that he/she wants to live. It may seem like a quiet, quaint subdivision on a Monday afternoon but what is it like on a Friday or Saturday night? Are there cars parked on the street all night? It may be helpful for you to walk the neighborhood on a weekend or evening to chat with neighbors out walking, working in their yards, etc. Neighbors will always be quick to give you the scoop in the subdivision!


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