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Friday, June 24, 2016

Hidden Expenses to Look for in Your Home Buying Tour

Hidden Home Expenses

Out of Sight May End Up Coming Out of Your Pocket
Often when home buyers begin their search they are caught up in the "thrill" of the quest. They got out their home buying calculator and have a laundry list of home features they "want" but may not be realistically within their budget. But, the most common complaints I hear are the little household quirks overlooked on the tour, that lead to big time expenses, even before the first mortgage payment has been made.

Here are five of the wallet busting, HIDDEN expenses to be mindful of when touring a potential new home.

1) Swimming Pools
Swimming Pools

Seeing that beautiful crystal blue water off a patio or deck instantly enchants potential home buyers with visions of household parties and family barbecues. The problem that many home buyers do not see is the costs of upkeep and hidden functional problems of owning your own swimming pool. Upkeep for an in-ground pool can cost up to hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of dollars for one summer season depending on the size of the pool. In addition, pools are very hard to accurately inspect for issues. Sometimes a leak costing BIG bucks is undetectable to even the most trained eye. In some cases, it might be best for your budget to forgo the home pool and look for a home with a community pool in close proximity.

2) Kitchens and Bathrooms
By far the biggest decision maker for many home buyers is kitchens and bathrooms. However often the ideas in mind of what their "dream" kitchen or bath encompasses, deters them from being realistic about the home's cost or the costs of future remodeling.  Have an open mind AND a budget idea in hand as you tour your potential homes. Make a list of features you want with the general costs associated with them. Is it a deal breaker to have that stainless steel refrigerator? Maybe a home that is ten thousand dollars cheaper overall would be the best choice versus purchasing its counterpart that simply has the frig you want but costs much more.

On a similar note, watch approaching homes that do not match exactly to your needs. There are very few, if any, ways to stretch a two-bedroom home into a four-bedroom home. Also, keep in mind future space needs. Will you be expanding your family or having a senior family member coming to live with you in the future?

3) Be the Detective
Be the DetectiveToo many times home buyers rely on the home inspectors (YES! Make sure you have one!) to find ALL faults. But even the best inspectors can overlook small items. As you tour a home keep an investigative, sharp eye out for items that could be a possible structural or function issues for the home, make notes and share them with your inspector.

Also keep in mind items that may not fall under normal inspection. For instance pools, fireplaces and specially installed household technology features. It may be wise to hire an outside inspector (specific to the industry) to review these.

 A fireplace that may be your "must have" feature can cost around $3,000 to replace if there has been an unseen chimney fire.

4) Home Decor
One of the biggest turnoffs for potential buyers is paint color and decor choices (lighting, kitchen/bath fixtures, flooring, etc.). This is why the home staging business is booming! While most of these can be changed fairly inexpensively by the average do-it-yourselfer, keep in mind that these features can add up when you are talking household wide. In addition, especially with electrical and plumbing, it may require a professional to make the changes.

5) Landscaping
I once knew a single woman who purchased her first home remarking how she loved that the yard because it seemed so natural (it was part of her home buying decision) and there would be very little upkeep...wrong! Within a few months the natural yard "upkeep" was threatening to take over her weekends. Even worse, overhanging tree branches were causing roof issues. Keep your eyes open to both inside and outside potential upkeep costs.

Being the detective when touring potential homes can alert you to future expenses that could quickly dampen your new homeowner joyfulness. But, taking a little time to research and solidify your new house "wants" from your "must haves" ultimately can help you in the decision making process.

If you are confused about what to look for in your new house or finding a house that matches your needs, please visit my site at You can also contact me at 678-656-6627. As an experienced member of both the National and Georgia Board of Realtors, I can answer any questions you have about local market conditions, financing or selling your home for the best market value.

Remember, no one sells a home like a Mom!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

July 12th Aging Parent Workshop - Celebration Village

You are all cordially invited to the Aging Parents Workshop on Tuesday, July 12th, 2016.

Refreshments are from 6:00PM to 6:30PM

Workshop starts at 6:30PM to 7:30PM.

Please join us at the 

Celebration Village Senior Living Showroom,  
Brookwood Marketplace Shopping Center, 
2623 Peachtree Pky., Suite 300, 
Suwanee, GA   30024   (770-886-6565)

Celebration Village is a Masterpiece Living Senior Community.  Masterpiece Living promotes individualized growth in older adults by facilitating engagement through social, intellectual, physical and spiritual fulfillments.  

 Eventbrite - July 12th Aging Parent Workshop

This event is hosted by the following:

Pam Santoro, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services of Georgia
Lisa McGrath, Island Financial LLCErica Ramsey, AAA, The Auto Club Group
Mary Becker, Best Deal Movers
MaryJo Bowser, Griswold Home Care

We are encountering more people coordinating the next steps for their parents and 

in-laws.  We'll discuss the documents needed for inevitable financial and health decisions, housing choices available, health and caring services available in the home, and insurance needs and savings.  

Please feel  free to join us at this free event.  

Learn how to "Empower Yourself and Your Aging Parents".

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thank You Mike Mahoney from the Aging Parents Workshop Team

MaryJo Bowser, Erika Ramsey, Mary Becker, Mike Mahoney, & Pam Santoro
 Last week Mike Mahoney, MBA, Commonwealth of Atlanta, LLC graciously stepped in for Lisa McGrath, Islands Financial LLC at our Aging Parents Workshop on Flag Day at the AAA Auto Care Plus in Roswell, Georgia.   Lisa did what any good first born daughter would do.  She went to support her parents and help during a medical issue.    When the workshop started, we all recognized that it was Mike's birthday and he was with us instead of his family.  Mike went the extra mile for us.


Pam Santoro, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services of Georgia
LisaMcGrath, Island Financial LLC
Erica Ramsey, AAA, The Auto Club Group
Mary Becker, Best Deal Movers
MaryJo Bowser, Griswold Home Care

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Due Diligence, the Exciting Ride to Home Ownership

due diligence rollercoater

Yeah, you have started a contract on your new home! The world is swirling around you (and possibly you are getting a bit nauseous) from the carousel of home buying activity. But before you jump onto the BIG roller coaster of home ownership, there are a few things you need to do during your Due Diligence Period.

That Looks Awfully Dangerous…What is Due Diligence? 

what is due dilligence? small roller coasterThink of Due Diligence as that exciting time of waiting in line just before you jump on the ride of Home Ownership. This time is the period in which both the buyer and seller have agreed on a purchase, signed the contract and are moving ahead to Closing. Usually the “wait time” for a Due Diligence (discovery) Period is traditionally around 10 days, however it can be extended if agreed up on by both parties.

During this time a bit of preparation is needed to assure that all parties are ready to jump on board. It also is the time when if the ride is not what it appears to be, like many of us who jump out of line at the sight of that triple-decker roller coaster, the home buyers can choose to leave the negotiations.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Alphabet Soup (Three P’s) of Selling Your Home

The Alphabet Soup of House Selling
Making the Most of the Three P’s (Price, Promotion and Product) of Selling Your Home

I love Shirley Temple! Animal crackers in my soup… Okay, so maybe I am dating myself a bit here. This song always makes me think of alphabet soup and in particular the Three P’s of Selling a Home.

Why yes I will admit being a real estate agent almost everything makes me think of selling homes, the three P’s (Price, Promotion and Product) have become particularly important in the competitive Atlanta Housing Market.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Stages Kitchen in Home for SaleThe Benefits of Staging a House for Sale

While some home sellers think that staging a house for sale is nothing but an unnecessary expense, experts believe that this extra step can make a big difference in days on the market. It can also mean making a better profit from when it comes to closing the deal. 

Why Stage Your Home Before Selling?

Is staging a home that is for sale really important? YES! Home staging an Atlanta property can be extremely beneficial for the sellers. According to studies conducted by industry experts most buyers form an opinion about the home within the first 7 -10 seconds of arriving at the property. Still another study indicates that an overwhelming 90% of home buyers are not capable of visualizing the potentials of the home through normal household clutter and imperfections. Thankfully, you can get past these hurdles, make a good first impression and help buyers visualize your home as their future home with some staging.