How Real Are "Reality" Home Shows?

C'mon, we've all done it.  Like that one song in your playlist that you LOVE but would be embarrassed if anyone else knew.  We have all lost a weekend watching HGTV and binging on Property Brothers, Love It Or List It or Fixer Upper and Good Bones.  Like I said we've all done it and it looks so easy, right?  If I'm looking to buy a house I'll go get a realtor, see three homes and then pick one!  We can knock this out in a couple of hours, right?  Wrong! 

Well, here's a little secret for ya, not quite that easy.  Remember it's "reality" TV so it must be real!  As Lee Corso would say on Gameday, not so fast my friend.  I've already given away the first myth of these shows so let's get to it:

Myth #1:  Buyers look at 3 homes and decide to purchase one of them.
Truth: Look, there are people who fall in love with the first home they see and jump right on it.  But, according to my own experience as a 
Realtor® and the National Association of Realtors, the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search. 

Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.
Truth:  Remember this is reality TV so...Everything is staged!  Most of the homes we see are already under contract.

Myth #3: The buyers are just starting the process. 
Truth: Seriously?  The buying process takes some time and there is no way to go through everything in a 30-minute show,  so most of the time the folks we see have already chosen their home. 

Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it ALWAYS sells at the open house. 
Truth:  How awesome would that be?  While open houses are a great way to expose your house to potential buyers, it's just a small piece of what goes into marketing your home.  I have yet to write a contract during an open house. 

Myth #5: Homeowners decide to sell their homes after a 5-minute conversation.
Truth:   Most sellers interview many 
Realtors® and have thought long and hard about putting their house on the market.

The one thing that is portrayed correctly is that having an experienced local professional on your side while going through the home buying or selling process is the best way to guarantee you can achieve your real estate goals. 

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Americans: "Homeownership Is An Investment!"

When I was a young man my grandfather was giving me investment advice. I had made about $1500 that summer mowing lawns (hey it was the 70’s and we’re talking $10 per yard) and I asked him what I should do with it. He told me to let him buy me stock in the electric company because everybody needs electricity, and when I get enough money, invest in real estate! I was 11 so real estate was out at the time, but I will always remember him telling me that the wealthy folks in America own real estate. Well, 40 some years later, that still holds true. 

The latest survey from The Federal Reserve Bank (The Fed) shows that 65% of Americans believe homeownership is a good financial investment. Since 2014, the percentage has increased by over nine percent.The Fed’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Expectations Housing Survey also shows that it doesn’t matter into which category you fit. The results are broken down by age, education, income, or region of the country, more than 55% of Americans in each category see homeownership as a good investment.To back that up, Gallup did a recent survey of Americans showing that real estate was their number one choice for the best long-term investment when compared to stocks, savings accounts or gold. 

So here’s the deal, Americans’ strongly believe that owning a home as a good financial investment. So if you’re ready to take my grandfather’s advice and become one of those Americans, let’s talk.  

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You CAN Afford To Be A First Time Home Buyer

Yes, it's true that home prices have been rising over the last year or so.  Yes, it's true that mortgage rates were going up last year, but you know what isn't true?  The myth that first time home buyers can't afford a house right now!  As a matter of fact, a recent study by NAR (National Association of Realtors) shows that first time home buyers made up 33% of home buyers this past March.  One-third of home buyers are folks who are getting into a house for the first time.

The fact is that yes, home prices have been rising over the past few years - what that really means is that they are getting back to where they should have been after the crash 10 years ago.  Also, the fed continues to show signs of not having any interest (pardon the pun) in raising interest rates so this makes for a great time to check into a mortgage with one of our many lender partners.

So, when you boil it all down, what does this really mean?  It means that buying a home is just as much a part of the American Dream for younger generations as it was for their parents.  Those that are taking the step towards being a homeowner are doing the right things to get ready...making sacrifices to save their down payment, cutting back on social things and getting their credit in order so they can stop dreaming and make buying a home their reality. 

So, if you're ready to take that next step of home ownership because you realize that paying rent is like setting money on fire, we can get you in touch with the right people to get you started on your way.  And of course, if you own a home and have been thinking of selling, this means there are buyers headed your way.  Now may be a good time for us to talk about getting your home on the market. 

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Spring Has Sprung!

Print your spring maintenance checklist here.


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Homeownership Increases Your Net Worth 44%

I get asked all the time if buying a house is really better than renting. “With renting I get someone else to fix stuff when it breaks, mow my yard and all that” is the kind of stuff I hear. My answer is if that’s all you’re worried about then yeah stay a renter, however, if you want to invest in yourself and in your future then being a homeowner is a great way to do that. 

In a recent survey by the Federal Reserve (every three years they conduct a huge survey collecting data across all economic and social groups.) they found that the median net worth of a homeowner was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013). What this shows is that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter. 

Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth. I’ve talked about this before, as a matter of fact, I had this argument with my son and he finally gets it, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity in your home. And this isn’t just me saying this, for five years running Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment in a Gallup poll. This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26% and then gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds. 

Greater equity in your home gives you options. If you’re ready to leave the renters world behind or if you want to find out how you can use the increased equity in your house to move to a home that better fits your current lifestyle, let’s talk. I’d be glad to sit down with you and take a look at your situation and we’ll figure out together how to get you home.  

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This Should Be Your 1st Step When Buying A Home

A lot of times when you're thinking of buying a home, the number of buyers searching far outnumbers the number of homes for sale. One way to show that you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. I insist on this being the case with my buyers.  It does you no good to go look at homes, pick one and then try to get financing. Even if we're not in an incredibly competitive market, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach. I always say most of us would like to live on lobster but the reality is we have a chicken nugget budget.

Getting pre-approved or pre-qualified does two things:

  1. Sets your expectations and helps us know which homes to be looking for
  2. Puts you ahead of the game when you're ready to make an offer.  Areddin offer with money in hand is much more appealing to the seller than an offer without pre-approval.

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that we have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you through this process. We work with many great LOCAL lenders that can help. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow: 

Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments.
Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash.
Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase.
Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time G

Bottom Line, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.  Plus as of the writing of this blog, mortgage rates are at a one year low so if you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at what you can do!

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5 Tips Keeping Your Chimney Flue Healthy

Baby, it's cold outside and for a lot of us, that means using the fireplace for the first time this year. Owning a fireplace is a little like owning an exotic sports car. It’s nice to look at, you might use it now and again, but most of us don’t really know how to properly care for them. That’s ok, that’s what we’re here for. If you’re eyeballing that firebox right about now, make sure your flue is totally safe and ready to go with these five tips: 

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Which Remodeling Projects Pay Off Best?

I get asked all the time "which home remodeling projects will benefit me most?" Well, we have the answer for you according to the Remodeling 2019 Cost vs. Value Report (  Things have changed a little as you can see by the chart below.  Kitchen and master bedroom upgrades aren't returning quite as much as they used to, however, outdoor work is up.  Things like garage doors and stone veneer on the exterior of your home.

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What WIll 2019 Bring?

Heading into 2019 I'm getting a lot of questions about what I think will happen to the housing market. One of the biggest questions I get from a lot of people is about the Fed raising interest rates because that does affect mortgage rates. Will this affect my ability to buy? Will there be enough inventory to shop for my new house?  All legitimate questions to be sure.  Here are a few facts to keep in mind for the upcoming year:

  • Interest rates are projected to increase steadily throughout 2019, but buyers will still be able to lock in a rate lower than their parents or grandparents did when they bought their homes! (I bought my first home in 1987 and was pumped that the interest rate had just DROPPED to a flat 10%!!!) 
  • Home prices will rise at a rate of 4.8% over the course of 2019 according to CoreLogic. 
  • All four major reporting agencies believe that home sales will outpace 2018! 

    And if you're renting and hoping to buy a home but are worried about the rising interest rates consider this. According to the 2018 Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report, 74% of renters plan on buying in the next 5 years, with 38% planning to buy in the next 2 years! Why? Two reasons according to this survey - 1. 52% said that rising rental costs were their top reason, and 2. over 40% of renters believe that their rent will rise every year. So really there is one reason - higher rental rates. Not just higher rates but no return on your investment. Paying rent is like helping your landlord buy his new boat...he benefits from your investment, you don't. 

    So when looking at the big picture, buying is still better than renting and even with the "big bad interest rate hikes" you will still be able to go after your dream home in 2019.

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Step One Of Home Buying

Thinking of buying a home? Now’s a great time! Especially as interest rates continue to rise, the sooner you get locked in on a mortgage rate, the better. Here in the Atlanta area, the number of buyers searching for their dream home far exceeds the number of homes for sale. When this happen, the marketplace becomes very competitive. Simple supply and demand fundamentals, really. Which is why one way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. 

I talk with folks all the time who are ready to buy, and my first question is always “have you been pre-approved or pre-qualified for a loan?” I’m always surprised at how many haven’t been. This is always step one in the home buying process, especially for first time home buyers. Getting pre-approved or pre-qualified does two things: 

  1. Let’s us know how much home we should be searching for. I always tell people, we all have diamond taste but most of us live on cubic zirconia budget, right?
  2. Most importantly when it comes time to make an offer on your dream home, having your financing together, hopefully, moves you to the top of the list for the sellers.

We have great relationships with our lenders who will be able to help you through this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information a lot of times about your history regarding credit, debt, work history and that sort of thing. 

In a nutshell, here’s what determines the amount you will be able to borrow, according to Freddie Mac. It’s known as the ‘4 Cs’: 

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments 
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time 


Bottom Line? Many potential homebuyers overestimate how much they’ll need for a down payment and they think their credit score may not be good enough. Working with a lender, you may be surprised at what your numbers really are.  

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