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Monday, December 16, 2013

Should I Sell My House First or Buy the Next One First?

It's time to buy a new home. How do you get started? There are pros and cons to both buying or selling first. Let's take a look at the three things you should consider.
  1. Are you willing and able to make two mortgage payments for a short amount of time? If you decide to buy first, you will need to make a payment on both homes until your old one is sold.

    If you aren't able or don't want to make two mortgage payments, it's best to sell first. This doesn't give you as much time to find a home, but we can normally negotiate you a little extra time once your home is sold to find another.
  2. Do you need the funds from the sale to put a down payment on your new home? If you need the funds or want to transfer the equity, you must sell first.
  3. Are you outgrowing your home? Sometimes if you have too much stuff in your current home or if it is difficult to maintain while showing, it may be best to buy first and then sell the house empty. Homes sell best when they are removed from clutter and look exceptionally clean.
If you have any questions about what's best for you situation, please give me a call. We can talk about the pros and cons of buying or selling first for you.

Thanks for watching!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Should I Try to Sell My House Now or in the Spring?

Lately, I have had a lot of people ask me whether they should list their home now or wait until spring. Now is actually an optimal time to sell your home and here's four reasons why.
  1. Inventory is down - There are fewer homes on the market which means buyers have less options. Your home is now in higher demand and that means a better price for you.
  2. More competition in the spring - Most people are waiting until the spring to list their home. More competition means your home may not sell as fast or for as great of a price.
  3. Buyers are serious - While there are fewer buyers on the market, those that are looking and taking the time out of their holiday celebrations are ready to commit. 
  4. You can negotiate a later closing date - If you are worried that you will have to move during the holidays, it's always possible to arrange the closing date after the holidays.
Now is a great time to sell. If you have any questions about putting your home on the market, give me a call. Thanks for watching.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Special Financing Incentive and Market Update from Cornerstone Home Lending, Inc

My name is Russ Tanner and I am with Cornerstone Home Lending. I want to thank Justin Woodall and his team for giving me the opportunity to tell you about what we have going on.

From now until Dec. 31st we are offering a lender credit of 1.5 percent of your loan amount on any new construction contract we receive from anyone using a government loan: FHA, VA or USDA.

If you are using any of these three loans and you’re buying a new construction home, you qualify. What does that mean?

If your home is $200,000, you will be credited 1.5 percent ($3,000) at closing. This helps offset the cost of buying a home.

Take advantage of this! It’s a great time to buy: there are some fantastic new homes being built and interest rates have remained stable since this summer.

Give Justin a call. He and his team can help find you that perfect home and then we can help you with that 1.5 percent lender credit.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Main Reasons Homes Don’t Sell

Thanks for joining me today. We have had a hot market lately; with low inventory, homes are flying off the market. Why then are some homes not selling? I have a list of five common mistakes sellers make when they put their home on the market.
  1. Poor marketing - If people aren’t aware that your home is for sale, you can’t expect it to sell. Properly exposing your home is the key to getting more interested buyers visiting your home. 
  2. Poor photos - I’m sure you’ve seen the homes online with the dark photos or bad angles. With more than 90 percent of buyers starting their search online, those photos are really the very first impression a buyer has of your home. That’s why we hire a professional photographer to come in and get the best quality.
  3. Curb Appeal - Once a buyer decides to visit your home, the first thing they will see is the front of the property. Make sure the lawn is mowed, fresh flowers are planted, paint the front door if it needs a fresh coat, etc. 
  4. Staging - Some people confuse staging with decorating. Staging is about making the home aesthetically pleasing as well as more spacious. It may involve removing furniture or changing where you put the couch. 
  5. Price vs. condition - Price and condition are directly correlated. If you want a great price for your home, you need a home in good condition. Buyers in today’s market are smart and they want a good, quality home.
I hope these five tips help you get your home sold. If you have any questions, please give me a call at 706.621.6085. Also, if you know of anyone thinking about selling, please forward this to them. Thanks for watching!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

5 Tips to Protect Buyers

Welcome back! Today I wanted to give buyers a few tips on how to make the buying process easier.

The first thing you need to do is find a good agent. You want someone who is full-time and specializes in working with buyers. If you have a good agent, the other steps fall into place.

You also want a good mortgage lender. I’ve worked with a lot of different lenders; some are timely and good communicators while others just can’t seem to get their act together. You don’t want to miss out on a home because your lender didn’t meet the deadline.

Thirdly, I recommend a home inspection. Inspectors check every nook and cranny for only $300-$400. This can help protect you from buying a home with damage or needing of repairs.

Along with a home inspection, getting a one - year home warranty is also a good idea. A home warranty is your best defense against unexpected repairs during your first year of owning the home.

The final tip I have for buyers is to get title insurance. More than likely you won’t need this, but it’s always good to have in case.

I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any questions, please give me a call. I’d love to help!

Monday, September 30, 2013

How to Determine the Market Value of Your Home

Welcome back to my video blog. Today, I wanted to talk to you about how to determine the market value of your home. Now, there are several different websites where you can enter information about your home where a computer-generated model will give you a range. The truth, though, is most of the time those numbers aren’t accurate.

Some sellers hire an appraiser to help determine the market value of their home. Well, if you bring in three different appraisers, chances are you will get three different values.

The best way to determine the true market value of your home is through the free market place and buyers. When we do a free market analysis for you, we look at trends, homes sold, how many homes are on the market now, etc. This will educate you enough to determine a range that your home will sell in and together we can determine the best list price to help you reach your goal of getting the home sold for the most money in the proper amount of time.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Taking the Next Step to Owning a Rental Property

Important Tips for Purchasing a Rental Property

Hey, guys. Welcome back to my video blog.

For the past few videos we’ve been talking about rental properties: is owning a rental property right for you, which type of real estate is best for you, and whether you should use financing or cash to purchase your rental property.

To recap some important elements from our videos series, when you purchase an investment property, it’s important to know whether you want to manage the property yourself or hire a property manager.

Along with deciding which property is best for you, make sure you have a strong lease. Talk to a lawyer just to make sure everything is covered and secure. Leasing laws are different according to each state.

Screen your tenants as well. Do background checks, credit checks, etc. to protect yourself.

My final tip is to have a special savings account set aside for unexpected repairs or if the property sits vacant for a while. 

If you are interested in buying a rental property, please give me a call at 706.621.6085 so we can find the right investment property for you!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What are the Benefits of Financing Investment Property?

What are the Benefits of Financing Investment Property?

Hello, everyone. This is the fourth video in our series on real estate investment. Our last video I spoke about the pros and cons of purchasing property with cash; today, I liked to talk about financing options. 
Sometimes people aren’t able or aren’t comfortable paying with cash. Financing is also an option. Consider this scenario with estimated numbers. Let’s purchase the same $100,000 home that we bought last video, but this time with financing.

If you put down $20,000, which is 20 percent, than you finance $80,000. You decide to charge $1,000 per month for rent. Now, with insurance, taxes, interest rates (around 5%) and repairs, that property will cost you roughly $630 a month. You are making a monthly profit of $370, $4,440 of yearly profit.

That’s a 22.2 percent return on investment, a higher return than the 9.6 percent return if you purchased the property with cash. With financing, though, you do take on debt.

The interest portion of the payment can be tax deductible. Please consult your tax advisor about more information on the regulations and requirements.

If you have any questions about purchasing an investment home through financing, please give me a call.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Paying Cash for Real Estate

Hey everyone; welcome back to my video real estate blog! Today, I wanted to talk to you about the benefits of paying cash for a rental property. This is the third part in our five part series. Please consult your financial advisor for actual numbers.

Let’s say you buy a $100,000 rental and it rents for $1,000 per month. Now, if you pay cash, that’s $12,000 of income a year. Now, take into account $1,200 for taxes, $600 for insurance and $600 for repairs.  So, roughly that’s $9,600 a year of profit. That’s a 9.6% return on your investment.

Cash is the safest and most conservative way to go about this. Now if you have a CD or a money market account that is drawing 1%-2% interest, a 9.6% back is still pretty good.

On top of 9.6% return you also do have some depreciation benefits on your taxes. Consult your tax adviser on more details.

Thanks for watching!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is the Best Type of Real Estate for Me?

Hi everyone, welcome back to my video blog. Today’s video is part two of our series on investment properties. I want to talk about the five major types of real estate and the pros and cons to each.

1.    Single family homes: These are my personal favorite. People always need a place to live and rent. Maybe they don’t qualify for a loan to purchase a home, or maybe they are in a transitional period. For the most part too, you will have good tenants who will take care of your property.

2.    Duplex-type Units: These properties attract a different group than the single family homes. The benefit of this type of real estate is you generally get a better cash flow. The cost to buy versus the rent coming in is typically better than the single family homes. A downfall, though, is sometimes it can be a lower income tenant and you may have a hard time collecting rent at times.

3.    Apartment buildings: These are not for beginning investors. Owning an apartment building is like playing monopoly. It is a great vehicle of income, however, it is very expensive to purchase.

4.    Student rental housing: This is a very popular investment in the Athens area. Rent is typically charged per bedroom, so you can charge a little more. You also have parental guarantee. If you are considering this investment, it’s important to know about the school’s housing program and how enrollment is too.

5.    Commercial: Most people use the other investments as a stepping stone for commercial. You get longer leases and since a corporation or business is paying, it easier most of the time to get paid. The downfall, though, is it costs more.

If you have any questions about the types of investments properties or want to get started, give me a call at 706.621.6085 !

Monday, July 15, 2013

Is Owning a Rental Property Right for You?

Hi everyone! Thanks for joining me again. Today I wanted to talk about the pros and cons of owning an investment property. Having a rental property is right for some people and not for others. So I wanted to give you guys the best information possible to help you decide whether owning a rental property is right for you.

The tenant really determines how the situation will go. If you have a good tenant it’s a dream come true, if you have a bad tenant it can be a nightmare. A bad tenant will destroy your property and cost you money. A good tenant is ultimately going to buy the property for you. Owning a rental property may take 30 years to pay off, but the outcome is all income after that.

Another thing to consider is your personality. Is dealing with tenants in your comfort level? Are you willing to make repairs? If you’re not, an alternative is hiring a property manager. Most property management companies charge within the 7-10% range from a monthly income.

Another tip I suggest is having a backup fund, a savings for repairs and other mishaps that could happen.

Those are just a few things to think about when considering owning a rental property. This is video one of a series. The next topics will be different types of investment properties and other helpful information for you, so stay tuned!

Friday, June 14, 2013

What’s the Deal with New Construction?

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It’s hard to not notice all the new construction going on. Why are so many new homes being built? In the past few months, the supply of homes has decreased while buyers’ demand had increased. Buyers have the option of either choosing from a low inventory or building a new home. 

Isn’t building or buying a newly built home more expensive than purchasing one on the market? Most of the time, now, you are able to buy a newer home for the same price you would buying an older home. Builders are buying lots in bulk at a much lower price than previous years; this allows them to automatically discount the price of the home.

What do you want to consider when buying a newly built home?

•    The reputation of the builder. 

•    It’s important to have an agent who has experience with different builders and knows what to expect.

•    Look at the home warranty; your home needs to be perfect.

•    Have the walk through list completed prior to closing; once the home is closed, the builder sometimes does not view the fixes and repairs as a high priority

If you have any questions please call me at706.621.6085

Monday, June 3, 2013

Keep Your Home Safe While on Vacation

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With summer fast approaching, you might already have vacation on your I wanted to share with you on this little video clip my favorite safety tips. In fact, I have multiple critical steps to prepare your home for safe keeping while you're away, to keep your nest safe and secure.

This is exactly what I did to prepare my home while I'm on vacation:

The best way to keep your home safe in your absence is to make it appear you are home, leaving absolutely no clue you're actually away. Light, time and noise are your greatest weapons to accomplish this. Follow these tips to ready your home and keep it safe:

- Ask someone you know and trust to keep an eye on your house.

For short trips, ask one of your neighbors to pick up your mail and your newspaper. If you are going to be gone longer, however, be sure to stop by the post office and have your home mail delivery stopped until you return.

Be sure to provide neighbors, friends and family members with emergency phone numbers so you can be reached quickly. It's a good idea to leave a spare house key with a relative or neighbor as well.

- At least a couple of weeks before you leave for vacation, decide what to do about your pets. You may want to have a friend or neighbor stop by each day to provide food, water and exercise. Or you may want to hire a professional pet sitting service or take the pets to a reputable kennel. This decision should be made well in advance so that proper arrangements can be made.

- Use timers on lights, televisions and radios to provide sound and illuminate the inside of your home.

- If you still have a home phone, change the setting on your answering machine so it picks up on the first or second ring—or just turn down the ringer. A constantly ringing phone is also a good sign no one is home.

- For long absences, you may want to turn off the main water valve. This will help avoid problems with frozen pipes in winter and leaking pipes in the warmer months as well as other plumbing issues.

- Keep shades up and blinds and curtains open to make it appear you're home.

- Keep bushes and shrubs near your home's entrance and walkway well trimmed. This will eliminate hiding spots for burglars.

- Keep the outside of your home well lit. Burglars won't go where they can be seen.

- Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway, occasionally moving his or her car indicate your coming and going.

- Leave the air conditioner on. A silent compressor on a hot day is a good indication you aren't home.

- Have the lawn mowed by a friend or lawn service if you are away longer than a week in the warmer months.

- This one is tough for those addicted to Facebook, but posting where you are at all time is being shared with more than just your 'friends'. Those posts and photos allow others to find out when you are away and where you are. This is not as concerning when you are on a local trip, as you could be posting on your way home.  However, if you are somewhere, like Disney World, post pictures when you arrive home to avoid the wrong people finding out you are gone.

- Be sure to turn down the temperature on the hot water heater and unplug televisions and other appliances. These appliances will be drawing electricity whether they are on or not. Unplugging them will help lower your electric bill.

- Turn your thermostats down (or up) before you leave. There is no reason to spend money heating or cooling the home when you are not there.

- Don't forget about the plants. If you are having a friend or pet sitter care for your pets, ask them to take care of your plants as well. Simply soaking the plants with water before you leave is not enough. A better idea is to create a self watering system if you cannot have someone care for the plants. For small plants, make a self watering system by filling a plastic container with pebbles. Then fill the bottom of the container with water. This allows the plants to slowly absorb the moisture they need, without the danger of their roots becoming waterlogged. Larger plants can be mulched with a damp towel or newspaper to prevent the loss of moisture.

- When the day to leave for vacation finally arrives, try not to make that departure too obvious to those passing by. If you have a garage, be sure to pack the car with the garage door closed. If you do not have a garage, you may want to pack a couple of items a day in order to avoid broadcasting to the world that your home will be unoccupied.

- This last tip isn't a security measure for your house but for your credit (you know I always care about that as well) as you need to keep tight check over your credit in order to purchase or refinance your home!

With all the excitement of the upcoming trip we sometimes get carried away, plan only for the trip and security of our home for while we are away and leave for our stress-free trip. But wait!! You suddenly realize the day before you return the date! You've missed your mortgage payment, car payment, credit card, and utility due dates by a week or more! This happens more than I'd like to hear and the credit company doesn't accept this as a viable hardship excuse. :-) So ensure you plan ahead. Go on and sit down to make all the payments needed to be made in advance before your trip and all those due up till a few days after your return for good measure to ensure you don't get tied up with the return home and forget this very important task to protect your credit rating!

As you can see, there is a lot to think about before you jump in the car or on a plane for vacation. Use this checklist as a way of bringing peace of mind to you and your family. Enjoy your vacations without worrying about the safety of your home while you're away.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mortgage Rates and Lending Scenarios in Today’s Athens Marketplace

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One of the most prevalent questions we encounter when it comes to helping folks buy their dream home deals with financing. By and large there are lots of misconceptions about the types of loan products out there, limitations on qualifying for a loan and the amount of money needed to put down.

As part of video blog series designed to help our friends and neighbors receive maximum value from the latest real estate and mortgage information available – we spoke with Russ Tanner of Cornerstone Home Lending to help clarify some common questions.

What Types of Loans Are Available?

Consumers have access to several different types of loans and will most likely work closely with their lender to determine which suits their needs and situation best.

Designed to promote housing and development in rural areas, Rural Development loans offers some great benefits to borrowers including 100% financing. A common misconception is that the geographic limitations do not accommodate most people that want to live closer to a city. The truth is the geographic locations are not as far out as most people would imagine.


Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans offer the most flexibility for buyers in that you can put as little as 3.5% down and there is added leeway in terms of credit scores and income levels.

Typically used by people that have little to no credit or income limitations, conventional loans are a great product for people that have money to put down on the purchase. Most borrowers are mistaken, however, when it comes to the amount down required for these loans. You can put down as little as 3% with conventional loan products, depending on your qualifications.

Though there are more loan products than the ones mentioned here, these are the most common. When you meet with your lender you will be able to customize a product to your specific needs.

Do I Have to Put 20% Down To Buy a Home?
Contrary to popular belief, homebuyers do not have to have 20% down to purchase a home. In fact, there are several loan products that are available to the general public as well as some specific loans geared toward certain buyers (such as VA loans). You can finance a home for as low as 0% down using some loan products.

How Much Will My Payment Be?

Your payment amount will largely depend on a few factors; the purchase price of your home, the amount you put down, the interest rate on the note and escrow expenses like property taxes and home insurance. But in general, there are two scenarios and they each depict the difference in payment when you have a higher sale price, a higher interest rate or both.

Assuming a 3.25% interest rate on a $300,000 home, here is an eye-opening example of how price and interest rate impact your loan:

•    If the price were raised by 5% to $315,000 the monthly payment would increase by $70
•    If the interest rates increased from 3.25% to 425% the payment would go up $180
•    If both price and interest rate were to increase the payment would go up by $260

What this means is that as a homebuyer these days you can afford to buy a lot more house for a significantly lower monthly payment amount. This will quickly change once home prices are no longer depressed and once interest rates begin to rise, which is expected to happen in the coming months and next year.

When It the Right Time to Refinance?

Existing homeowners with a current finance rate of 4.5% or above will likely save hundreds each month with a refinance. Most people believe they would not be able to do a refinance if their home is underwater but both FHA and conventional loans come with some alternatives to help you lower your payment by reducing your interest rates. The rule of thumb is that if you are 1% or more above the current interest rate it might be a good time for a mortgage audit.


As with everything we do, we hope and expect to make your home buying experience the best possible experience for you. Please contact us today to find out how we can help make your dreams of owning a home become a reality!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Keller Williams RED Day

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Every year on the second Thursday of May, real estate agents band together, put aside their work and give back to their communities. The occasion is Keller William’s RED Day and it has become a staple of the organization. The event’s mission is simple: Renew, Energize, Donate. Offices across the country use RED Day as an opportunity to get their staff together to host a blood drive, refurbish a park or find some other way to lend a helping hand.

One of the core values of The Justin Woodall Group is to donate our time to missions, organizations and charities, so Keller Williams RED Day is the exclamation point to our year-round commitment to service. This year we hosted a food drive in which we were able to raise and donate 2,860 pounds of food to the Northeast Georgia food bank. On May 9, we spent the day unloading our contributions from our truck to the food bank. Not only was this a great opportunity to give back, but every year RED Day serves as a time where our staff can step back from our busy work schedules and spend time with one another.


If you have any questions about how you can be involved in next year's RED Day or if you have any real estate needs, please feel free to call us at (706) 612-1094 or email us at

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Greater Athens Area Market Update – April 2013

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Now that May is around the corner, real estate is really picking up. In fact, as we take a look at the numbers from just one year ago the positive change is very promising! Focusing on Clarke and Oconee Counties for now, the overall picture points to increased sales and decreased inventory. In some pockets, that means sellers are finally able to enjoy the benefits of multiple offers while buyers are starting to see a lot more competition. Here’s a closer look at how the 2013 real estate market compares to the same time year.

Clarke County Sales and Inventory

With 193 closed sales in the first quarter of 2012, this year’s 209 represent an increase of 8% in home sales. When you factor in the 6% decline in inventory levels, the market outlook is better, indicating sellers beginning to have more of an edge and buyers having less to choose from.

Oconee County Sales and Inventory

Though the actual number of homes sold in both years are not that high, what’s striking is the 74% increase in home sales in the first quarter this year versus the same time period last year. Seventy four percent! Many of these homes fall within the $200,000 to $300,000 price range. In terms of inventory, we reported a 19% drop in the number of available listings on the market with the hardest hit price bracket being under $200,000.

New Construction

In terms of new construction, the numbers are also on the rise. Part of the reason is that builders are able to keep costs down as opposed to the rising costs that have been evident for the past several years. Additionally, as more and more buyers compete against each other for the fewer homes on the market, many are turning to new construction. We saw a sizable jump in the number of newly built homes with 24 homes in the first quarter of 2013 as opposed to just 10 new construction homes in the same time frame in 2012.


As our marketplace continues to recover and rebuild after the housing crisis, we are experiencing a slow, yet steady decline in the number of foreclosures sold on the market. This year during the first quarter there were 138 foreclosures sold versus last year’s 237.
No matter where you are in the process of buying or selling a home – we’d love to hear your thoughts and provide our insight into anything you may need. This year so far, our sales volume is up 25% and we have you to thank for it – we appreciate all your referrals!

As always, please feel free to call the Justin Woodall Group – we appreciate the opportunity to help make your real estate goals become a reality!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Home Inspections Provide an In-Depth Look At a Home’s Systems, Safety and Structure

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Buying a home can be a harrowing process these days, but if you’ve made it this far, the last thing you want to have happen is for anything wrong to be found with the house.

As you probably already have heard from your Realtor®, a home inspection is a critical component of buying a house because it’s during that investigative period that a buyer has the right to walk away from the deal if something is not right with the home. What can you expect from a quality home inspector? And how do you know what to look for? We’ve covered these important questions and we’ve shared a close look at a home inspection as done by Robbie Woelfl of TLE & Associates in Athens, GA.

Some of the most common problem areas found during a home inspection are as follows:

Going through the electric panel, there can be signs of an improperly labeled panel cover and also a panel that is not bonded properly. This is a matter of making sure the electrical ground system and panel are correctly bonded together.

Another common problem we see is when circuit breakers show evidence of wire connections that are not tight enough. We check conductor size and make sure they line up with the breaker. Oftentimes, we see a circuit breaker that is too large for the conductor size, which could be a fire hazard.

Yet another concern that often comes up is with the use of double tap breakers. In other words, two conductors are wired to a single breaker where the proper installation would call for each conductor to be connected to a separate breaker.

These, and other issues with electrical systems can cause critical fire hazards and must be repaired. Each aspect of each system we check is thoroughly checked and outlined in the report we provide our clients, along with our recommendations for repair and cost estimates.

An important area for home inspectors is the attic. We thoroughly inspect attic spaces for roof surfaces on the home’s exterior as well as the parts of roofing that extend into the home through the attic. We look at everything from roof sheeting, fasteners and structure – to make sure there are no signs of heavy wear, sagging or energy-efficiency problems.

When looking at potential issues with energy loss, we check insulation, venting and quality of surface materials. Among other things, our goal is to provide our clients with an accurate estimate as to the life of the roof and other expensive components of the home.

When checking exhaust systems, some of the things we look for include the proximity of pipes with combustible materials, as well as evidence of moisture, which would indicate poorly ventilated rooms. This part of our evaluation takes place in the roof area as well as other areas of the home such as bathrooms.

We often come across open junction boxes, moisture penetration and plumbing or vent booths with staining around them. Rodent infestation is common problem that becomes evident during our investigation – once again attics being a prime location for these concerns.

Our safety evaluation consists of several areas. Not only do we look for evidence of mold, mildew or fungus but also look very closely for potential fire hazards, concerns with carbon monoxide and proper installation of ample fire and CO detectors throughout the house. We confirm whether the home is compliant with safety regulations and code in this regard.

Structural issues are not always commonly visible to most buyers. In our evaluation of a home we check for the home’s foundation, looking for cracks and other obvious factors that compromise the integrity of the structure. We also look for settling, walls and doorframes. Some of the common problems we find concern load-bearing walls that may need reinforcement.
There is a lot happening in a home inspection and we suggest you join your inspector toward the end of the process so you can learn about the workings of your home. It’s a great learning experience and helps to explain some of the concerns you may see on your home inspection report.

To contact Robbie, call 706-769-3738 or email him at As always, we’re here to help you too. Call us if you are ready to buy, sell or invest in a property.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Caterpillar, Inc. Sets Up a Large Manufacturing Plant in GA

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It seems just like yesterday that manufacturing giant Caterpillar, Inc. announced its plans to build its newest plant in our region, specifically in Bogart GA. Today, the plant has already been erected and several steps implemented toward the final goal.

The company plans to create 1,400 new jobs through this plant, which will primarily be building mini-excavators (at first) as well as small track tile bulldozers. The total employment goal is through 2020, with 300 local hires to take place during this year and the remaining new jobs gradually built up leading up to the year 2020.

Currently, there are about 60 to 65 employees already on the job or in the process of hiring, including executive management members that have transferred to the area. To apply for employment with Caterpillar, Inc. community members are encouraged to log onto the company’s employment website

Once in production, the near 9000 square foot facility and its manufactured goods will help to stimulate the local and regional economies with new jobs as well as lots of spin-off suppliers and business. Operation expected to begin by the fourth quarter of this year, business analysts and local economists predict a strong ripple effect that will reverberate throughout this and surrounding communities.
If you or someone you know are considering relocating to this area – contact our office today. We would love to help you find your new home and help you get settled!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

5 Ways to Protect Yourself as a Home Buyer

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Investing time upfront to find the right people to work with and steps to take will make the home-buying process a breeze.  Here are five steps we highly recommend taking.  You’ll be glad you did.

1.  Find a true home-buying adviser.  This person will be looking out for you and puts your best interest ahead of getting you into a home quickly. An agent will ultimately save you time.  This trusted adviser will also build a strategy so that you won't have to do the work, they will do it for you.

2.  Get preapproved with a lender.  If you take this step, the seller may take your offer more seriously than an offer from another prospective buyer who has not met with a loan officer. By speaking with a mortgage lender, you’ll find out your finance options, which include several loan programs with different rates and mortgage insurance.  It will also allow you to figure out a general price range so you end up with a payment you are comfortable with.  Before you decide on how much you want to spend, be sure to think about what type of lifestyle you want to lead.  Only you know how much you will feel comfortable borrowing, but keep in mind you want to be able to still go to the mall and out to eat as well.  Remember, a general rule of thumb is to borrow no more than 28% of your pre-tax income.  The 28% represents your house payment, taxes and insurance.  If you have debt, such as student and car loans, this number should not go above 36%.

3.  Do a home inspection.  These professionals can inspect the home and do other inspections, whether it’s looking for termites, checking a septic tank, surveying to mark property lines.  Hiring an inspector is the single most important initial investment you’re going to make into the home-buying process. It’s all about information.  Make sure you have an inspector who’s not afraid to get down and dirty:  crawl in tight areas, look at the foundation, dig into places in the home you might not see with the naked eye.  The bottom line?  Getting a home inspection is a very, very good investment. You’ll have all the information you need to move forward to negotiate repairs or walk away.  Either way, you save yourself a lot of time and money if you know exactly what the house needs.  

4.  Get title insurance.  Although you have clear title when you purchase the property, the title insurance protects your interests in the title in the event something arises later.  It’s a one-time fee, but you’re covered as long as you own the property.  It’s kind of like any other insurance:  you probably won’t need it but you’ll be glad you bought it.  

5.  Consider a home warranty.  People have very different opinions on warranties—they love them or they hate them.  A warranty limits your risk in case something breaks down or needs replacing.

Give me a call so I can tell you where to be positioned and how to be successful in this market.  Please contact me at (706) 621-6085 or visit  We’d be happy to assist you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Certified Pre-Owned Home Program Benefits Buyers and Sellers

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First of all, it’s important to understand what a Certified Pre-Owned Home Program is – and then we will go through how exactly you can benefit from the program. As you might imagine, when buying an expensive item such as a car – you want the benefit of as much peace of mind as possible. When purchasing vehicles this usually comes from there being a 100 point inspection or something similar where the seller is certifying the quality.

Multi-Tiered Certification Program Offers Buyers Lots of Protection

With our Certified Home Program, we have set up the same type of system where buyers can rest assured that the home has been inspected prior to being on the market and any repairs needing done have already been taken care of. Furthermore, the seller offers a home warranty to the buyer, guaranteeing the quality of the home. One more level of reassurance for buyers is the  guarantee that if they are not happy with the home in the first four months after purchase, we will sell it for them with no commission taken.

Sellers Enjoy Benefits of Home Program With Faster Sales and Confidence

As a seller, when you certify your home before listing it on the market there are several advantages over other sellers. First, your home will likely stand out and be the only one that has been pre-certified. Second, buyers will be much more willing to make an offer on a property that has a recent inspection and subsequent repairs done to the home. Additionally, certified homes tend to sell faster, for more money and usually make it through closing, unlike many transactions that run the risk of falling through over repair concerns.
So in a market where we know the next best thing to new construction is a certified home, why not contact us to find out how we can help prepare your home for sale? There are lots of eager buyers out there waiting to lock in today’s super low interest rates and they are ready to go. Contact us today!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Previous Year in Review Plus a Look Ahead to 2013 in Clarke and Oconee Counties

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We are well into the New Year and things are already picking up. In fact, looking at how 2012 compared to the year prior, there are lots of great things happening in our marketplace. We saw continued historic low interest rates that kept pulling off more and more buyers that had previously been waiting the market out. We saw a significant increase in demand and conversely a decrease in the supply of homes available for sale – as much as 40% fewer homes available this year versus last.

Clarke County Real Estate Snapshot
Last year there were 941 homes sold as opposed to just 818 sold in 2011. This represents a 15% increase in homes sales year over year, indicating a strong comeback for real estate in our area. The number does not rival pre-2007 levels however it does show strong promise for a better housing market ahead.

Oconee County Real Estate Update
We also reported approximately 2% increase in the average sales price in Oconee County as well as a sizable increase of 34% more homes sold in 2012 compared to 2011. The surprising fact is that about one fifth of these homes were new construction, an industry that until only recently had suffered from the housing market crash of 2007. Developers are able to buy land at lower prices and then pass on these savings to homebuyers, helping to propel the new construction industry.


Looking ahead to the months and year ahead, we are excited to serve you with even better service. We have brought on two assistants to the team and are putting in important systems in place to be able to provide you, our valued clients, with the best real estate experience.

If you would like more information on the counties we have covered here, or to obtain the market statistics for another area in our region, please feel free to contact us today! It’s a fantastic time to buy a home with market conditions as they are and we look forward to helping you achieve all your real estate goals.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How to Save Thousands of Dollars and Shave Off Years From Your Mortgage Payment

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What would you say if I told you that you could be mortgage-free five to seven years sooner than what your loan payment schedule dictates? And how about if I were able to share with you a simple, easy and very effective way to slash down your total mortgage payment by thousands?

Sure, you can walk into the bank and pay a huge chunk of money toward your mortgage – but who has thousands of dollars lying around? The truth is that if you follow one or more of my tips on how to save thousands and shave off years from your mortgage – you can do it without even noticing it. All you have to do is make one extra payment on your mortgage every year. Here’s how:

Use Your Tax Refund or Bonus Cash

Many households can expect a large chuck of cash at the end of the year (or later depending on when taxes are filed) and that gives them an extra couple or few thousand dollars to work with. If you can channel those funds or even a portion of them according to your mortgage payment, you will effectively pay an extra payment all at once and not have to worry about it for the rest of the year. It takes discipline but is the easiest way to knock off years and thousands of dollars from your mortgage. The same applies to annual bonuses.

Pay a Little Bit More Each Month Toward Your Principal

If a chunk of money each year is too much to handle, another easier way is to divide the amount of your monthly payment by twelve and tack on that extra amount to each month’s payment. So for example if your mortgage is $1,200 – just add an extra $100 to each payment. By the end of each year you will have paid an entire extra payment.

Make Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments

Yet another easy way to chip away at your mortgage at an accelerated pace is to make payments every two weeks. With 52 weeks in a year it will automatically result in an extra payment and you will not even notice. This can be difficult for some people, given the other expenses throughout a typical month but again, with discipline it’s a great way to manage your mortgage and pay it off much sooner.
If you can afford making a significantly larger monthly payment, another option is to refinance down to a 15-year fixed rate mortgage. Not only would that reduce your loan period by half but if you haven’t refinanced recently, you could save an additional amount with a new, lower interest rate! At the end of the term, the savings can add up to the tens of thousands of dollars depending on your mortgage amount.

Contact me today if you’d like to sit down and talk about your real estate goals, whether buying, selling, investing or just getting information about our marketplace. I look forward to serving you!