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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