Your Home is Your Castle

“Your home is your castle,” is something we have heard many times over the years. And let’s face it–it is. When you go home you should feel safe and protected from everything that is outside–the boogie man, the weather, unwelcome guests, bugs, animals. Really, home is a place  where you should feel safe. So when looking for a home, you really need to consider location. That’s why you hear, location, location, location!

We all cannot afford to live in a castle with moat and huge concrete walls surrounding us but, we can find a home that is well built and located in a safe neighborhood. This all still comes at a cost so save up or prepare to compromise. That’s right, compromise. Sometimes we have to consider what is more important? We may have to forego that spare bedroom we wanted. Or maybe we will have to forego the big yard. Then again, maybe we can have the spare bedroom and the large yard but, we have to move to the suburbs. Are schools important? Well, that’s another thing to consider.

We live in a world of–I need this NOW! But, that isn’t true, we just seem to think that. I remember growing up and thinking I had to wait until I could afford something. Technology has changed our lives and our thinking. Technology has brought things to us so quickly we hate to wait for anything. Our patience has flown out the window. When buying a home, (that’s right you are not buying a house, you are buying a home) you need to exercise patience. Remember, good things come to those who wait.

If you are looking for a home, make your list of necessities and then your wants. You may find homes that have all your necessities and some of your wants. Make sure you know what you can live without–at least for now. Talk to your realtor® and be honest. We really want to help. We want to find your castle.

While you are searching on line please stay off Zillow and Trulia and all those sites that have inaccurate information. Please use to search for your home–it is the most accurate of all the sites for home searches.




The Headaches of New Construction

Who doesn’t want new? Buying a new home–new build-can be wonderful and it can be really stressful. Trust us, we know. Diana and I spent 20 years selling new homes–working for builders. We were the agents who sat in a model home all day, just waiting for you. Actually we had a lot of things to do but, that is the impression most people had of us. We probably spent more time with the buyers than their agent even though we did not represent them. That’s right, we represented the seller–the builder. Many customers who came into the model home, thought we were their (the customer’s) agent. So here is a head’s up–if you are a buyer looking at new construction–make sure you have an agent. The on site agent has to protect their client–the builder. Though we did everything we could to protect you (the buyer) our loyalty was with our client–even if we didn’t agree.

Many buyers head out on their own to look at model homes. This is fine but, make sure the on-site agent knows that you have an agent. In fact, if you can, have your agent call ahead to let the on-site agent know you might stop by without them. Don’t sign anything with out your agent being present.

We are not going to get into representation because this is really about new construction. When you are buying new and starting from the ground up there is plenty of time and room for errors. Know what you want when you write the contract. After the contract is written it is difficult to make changes and/or add ons. Here is an example: You write a contract and after it is binding you realize you forgot to include the island in the kitchen -which was an option. Though you do not see anything being done, it does not mean it is an easy change. Many builders today use a computer program to order all their vendors. What this means is: Upon a binding agreement, the contract and all it’s content is sent to all the subcontractors to place orders. An island requires electrical (on a slab that is underground), it requires cabinets and countertops. It may require additional lights. It seems like such a simple fix but, the cabinets have been ordered, countertops have been ordered and electric has been ordered–without the island. Again, there seems to be plenty of time–right? Well, before any changes can be made, an amendment must be written and signed by all parties.

Let’s say the builder agrees and the amendment is now binding. You go into the house as it is being built and you don’t see where the island is suppose to go. Where is the electric coming out of the floor? It should be there–the amendment was signed last week. Well, the electrician didn’t get the amendment yet, so it was built according to the original contract. It doesn’t mean you won’t get it, it just means there are some things that will have to be “fixed” first. If this is a slab, the concrete will have to be broken up to run the conduit and electric. It’s going to look real messy–but it’s ok–don’t get upset.

The next time you go in you notice the cabinets are installed but not the island. Oops, cabinets are ordered really early in the building process and naturally the cabinet maker was not aware. He is aware now but there is a delay because the island was ordered later. This can delay closing–so be prepared.

Let’s say you wrote a contract and made no changes. What could go wrong? To begin, even subcontractors are human and make mistakes. One time we had a builder “forget” there was an open rail upstairs looking over the family room. Seriously, it happens. It was in the plans but somehow, someone framed for a wall. Again, no big deal. It can be fixed–but it could delay things depending on when it was noticed.

Why are there delays? Hmmm–so many reasons. Number one is weather. The weather can hold things up in the beginning and at the end. Once a house is dried in, most of the work is inside so the weather won’t cause delays. Another delay, especially today, is shortage of subs. Subs are working around the clock and there is more business than they can really handle so, you may experience delays due to subcontractors being too busy. Shortage on building materials. You might think this is a joke but there was a time when there was a major shortage on sheetrock. It was taking months to get sheetrock delivered. Who would have thought. Then of course we have the utilities being connected. Power will not come out if they “think” it is going to rain (in some areas). The utilities also work in stages. First the locating crew comes out to “mark” the location. Then someone comes out to dig and then the crew comes out to connect.

When building new, be prepared for any delays. Always have a back up plan in case you do not close on time.

When visiting the site, keep in mind you cannot talk to the subs nor keep them from doing their work. This is usually written in the contract. You may think they are not working on your house because the last couple days you came by no one was there. Your house could be waiting for an inspection. There are a lot of inspections during the building process and most often once a builder gets to the point of an inspection, nothing can happen until the house is passed. If the inspector fails, the builder must complete what the inspector failed and call for another inspection. It’s ok, but keep that in mind.

Though the on-site agents usually don’t mind the buyer bringing in a “check list” of things they think are wrong in the house, most builders will through that list away. Let the builder build the house. I say that and one time I had a builder build the wrong house. He was glad someone brought it to his attention at framing. He had to tear it down and build the right house. That cost him–and it also caused a delay in closing.

I know there are many more things that can go wrong and cause delays and headaches but, being prepared makes things go a little smoother. If you have any questions feel free to call me or Diana


architecture build building construction

Photo by Pixabay on

First Time Home Buyers

First-time homebuyers have always been a favorite for me and Diana. Nothing compares to the thrill of helping someone find their first home and realize a dream. We still love working for those who are moving up or downsizing but, that first home buyer brings a new kind of excitement and adventure. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages. We have helped several couples who were up in years—if you know what I mean. One couple was about to retire and purchasing their first home. One couple had grown children and actually called about finding a rental. Since we don’t deal with rentals we just asked, “Why rent if you can buy?” They just never knew they could. Can you imagine how excited they were when they found out they could own a home?

First time buyers are full of questions and keep us on our toes. There is a saying that says something like this, “You learn more by teaching.” This is so true. And those first-time homebuyers ask questions about real estate—so we continue to learn as we teach them the way. Most first-time home buyers are younger than us and have a way of keeping us up to date on the latest technology. We have to know to keep up with them.

If you are a first timer, looking for your first home let us give you some tips. First of all, work with a realtor® or real estate agent. It is not going to cost you anything and you will have someone working with you to make this smooth sailing. Have your agent refer a good lender and get pre-qualified before you head out to see any homes. You want to know what you qualify to purchase and you want to make sure the payment is in your comfort zone. Just because you qualify for a $200k home does not mean you want that payment. Maybe something around $150k would be more comfortable and allow you to continue eating out or going on vacations. Don’t become house poor. Trust your agent and your lender and have fun.


Diana and I would be happy to assist you. Just give us a call

Diana Stowe 678-414-6414    or    Mary Lesh   678-618-9688

So, You Want to be a Realtor®

It’s a great career that allows you to work from home, schedule your time and make lots and lots of money. Some of this is true but, some of it is not—we’ll get into all this.

Our favorite is the people who decide to get their license but keep their day job because, number 1 they just want to make extra money and number 2 they don’t want to give up their income until they have “made it”.

One thing we have learned over the years is when you want to do something—jump in and do it. How do you work on your business if you are working all day? Being a realtor®/agent requires hard work. It is not about showing homes and then sitting back and collecting a pay check. In fact, showing homes is the fun part and we probably do that once or twice a week. Of course, if you are working all week you will have to show homes nights and weekends. That could mean you have to go out twice as often because you only have 1 or 2 hours during the week days. In today’s market houses are going quickly. Some won’t wait until you get off work. For instance, Diana and I just listed a house and in less than 12 hours we had a full price offer. This is not the first time this has happened. As a matter of fact, my daughter was looking for a house and I did not represent her because I could not get to Atlanta fast enough to sell her something in the area she was looking. I was not going to be the cause of her missing out on buying her dream home.

If you are a buyer or a seller, do you want a part time agent? Do you want to wait until your agent gets off work? For some people, this could work just fine because they work all day too. They might want to go look at homes in the evenings or on weekends. Full time agents do not have nights and weekends off.  They don’t have week days off either. So, let us tell you what we do all week, each night and on weekends. This is to benefit anyone thinking to become a realtor® or someone looking for a realtor®.

In order to stay in business and keep the paychecks coming, we have to prospect. That means we are constantly looking for new business. We could be calling friends, family, past clients or even cold calling, asking for business. In addition, we could be knocking on doors, networking, or entertaining. We are constantly marketing ourselves to let anyone and everyone know we are looking for work. This also includes making marketing material, mailing things out, and emailing. This takes up about 70% of our time.

If we are working with a buyer, we are constantly searching for their home. Often the buyer will send us homes from Zillow or Trulia and we have to search for them—only to find they were long ago sold. Once the buyer has decided on homes to view, we have to schedule them. That’s right, we can’t just walk in and show. We need to verify they are still available and make sure we have permission to show. Just because it is vacant and there is a lockbox on the house does not give us permission to enter the premises.

If we are working with a seller, we begin by doing Comparative Market Analysis’ and gathering information to price it right. In addition, we have lots of paperwork to complete and sign. Pictures to take, signs to put up and marketing material to make. All this then has to be entered into the multiple listing server before it goes live. Once it is active, we answer all calls from agents scheduling. We show our sellers home to buyers who call us directly and we show our sellers home to buyers who have an agent who cannot show. We give weekly reports to our seller to let them know all we are doing and all the activity on their home.

Then there are the negotiations to contracts. We have to make sure our client, whether buyer or seller, meets all deadlines and adheres to all timelines and agreements. We have to follow up with lenders and closing attorneys as well as our client.

We attend inspections, the walk through and closings. If all goes well, we close and then we get paid. Sometimes, we go through this and at the last minute something goes wrong and there is no closing and we don’t make a dime. We just start over.

Can you get all this done with your nights and weekends? How many times will you—the part time agent—have to tell your client, I can’t, I have to work? Or will you count on the co-op agent to do your job for you? Will you miss a deadline because you were at your full-time job?

Will your buyers lose earnest money because you were working and couldn’t get your part-time job done? Will your buyers miss out on their dream home because you couldn’t take them out because you had to work? Will your sellers miss out because there was a buyer who had a part-time agent who could not show because they were working, and you couldn’t show because you were working?

As a buyer or seller, do you want someone who can’t give you 100%?

If you choose to get your license, please jump in and do it. It isn’t easy but it can be rewarding and there is some fun.

#usearealtor® #bearealtor® #MaryandDianadoitbest!


What Is Going On In The Real Estate Market?

Everyone is always asking about the real estate market. What is going on?  Are there still deals? How much to do need to put down? What is the interest rate? What is a good offer on a house?  Do I need a realtor®?

First let me say, the market is good, but it could be better. It is definitely a sellers market–which means they are getting their price. Depending on the area–because all real estate markets are relative. What that means is the real estate market is relative to the area. It could be relative to a city, town, county or even a neighborhood. Be sure to ask a realtor® for the most up to date information in your area. The biggest problem we have today is lack of inventory.

So, are there deals? It depends on what you consider a “deal.” If you have to pay full price, does that mean you did not get a “deal?” A good deal means both buyer and seller are happy with the price. Let’s face it, full price on a house that is priced fairly is a good deal. Did you get what you were looking for in a house? Is it in your price point? I had a buyer offer more than list price for a home because she really wanted the house. Did she think she got a good deal? Yes! She loves her house and she was willing to pay more to out bid the other buyers. If you think a good deal means you bought for less than list price–you might not think there are deals out there. Many homes are selling for list price or more–because there are more buyers than sellers and buyers want the house. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a good deal.

How much do you need to put down? Well that depends on you and your lender and I will answer the next question with this one. What is the interest rate. First let me explain, interest rates change daily. So it really doesn’t matter what I tell you today. It can go up or down before I spit the rate out. In addition, the interest you will pay is determined by the type of loan and your credit score. That means it doesn’t matter what I tell you because I don’t know what your  credit score is nor do I know what your debt, nor income is. While interest rates have gone up lately, they are still considerably low. The best thing you can do–if you are buying a house–is to bind a contract and lock in your rate.

Another thing I can tell you is, your lender is your friend. Your lender can tell you what you need to do to bring up your credit score and advise you through the process at no cost. You do not need to pay someone to help you improve your credit score. So just a FYI, if you need credit counseling, call a lender. You might also want a realtor® to recommend a good lender. We know who we like and who works harder for our buyers.

What is a good offer on a house? Well, that is another question that is difficult to answer. It is best to have your realtor® do a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on the home you want to buy. Depending on the market, a good offer could be list price. Don’t think a realtor® is going to tell you a higher price because he/she wants a higher commission. We don’t work that way.

Do you need a realtor®? Yes, yes and yes. Whether you are buying or selling, you should use a realtor®.

For the seller, we market the home–including signage, lockbox, multiple listing servers, open houses, agent lunches, flyers, pictures. . . In addition, the realtor® is there to negotiate on the sellers’ behalf and , monitor the transaction from start to finish. There are companies that will list for you but then you are totally on your own when it comes to negotiations and follow through. They don’t help you with the contract, negotiations nor the follow through. They do reduce the commission for not doing the work.

For the buyer. Today, buyers have access to all the multiple listings through Zillow, Trulia, and so many more. What they don’t have is access to the house nor someone to help with negotiations and follow through with contractual agreements. The buyer can always call the listing agent to get into the house and that agent will also write a contract but, that agent is representing the seller. Do you think the listing agent has the buyers’ interest in mind? No. And that agent receives commission for both sides of the transaction. Buyers, make sure you have a realtor® to represent you. This holds true for new construction too. On site agents represent the builder and do not represent you!! Remember that.


Spring is for Listing!!!

Spring has always been the best time to list your home. Flowers are blooming, leaves are popping out on the trees, grass is greener and it is warming up. On top of that the days are getting longer. We have several listings coming up including this beautiful town home in Marietta. It is a corner unit and it is going live next week — we don’t expect it to last long.

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There are not many listings on the market so it is typical for them to go quickly. Looking in Marietta? Call Property Pros

#Propertypros #townhome #Marietta #forsale

Open House, October 18, 2015

We are hosting not 1 but 2 Open Houses on October 18th from 2:00 PM-5:00 PM. Please stop by to visit and enter to win $500. or an iPad Air2. You don’t have to be looking to buy a home, just stop in to register. Increase your chances of winning by visiting any BHHS Georgia Properties open house this Sunday, October 18th.

Open House Flyer_Hawthorne                                                     Open House Flyer                                                                                                        #openhouse #realestate #BHHSGeorgiaPropertie #PropertyPros

Time Flies When You Are Selling Homes!

I started today by going to the gym. I joined the gym just about a month ago and decided I needed help, so I hired a trainer. I worked with him two times last week and was pretty confident I could do this by myself. This morning was my first time alone. I did most everything but I just could not remember how to do one of the exercises. I made up for it by doing some cardio for 40 minutes. I think that is a very fair pay off.

I worked at the subdivision again today and it was relatively quiet. One of the buyers’ who verbally accepted an offer yesterday stopped in to pick up the contract (because he did not have a printer) and took it with him to have the co-buyer sign. That is coming back tomorrow. I re-entered a contract in the program the builder uses for production. Somehow we (me and my partner) deleted the entire contract the other day. I was very lucky the program ran smoothly and I had it done in only minutes. Yay!! That is a true miracle.

The counter offer on my listing is being totally ignored by the buyer??? Whatever. Get this, a buyer makes a $15,000. deduction in the list price and will not respond when my seller counters at $7,000. more. Really? The best part of this is that the house is only $69,000. listing. Most sellers would have been insulted at the offer and totally ignored them. Oh well. It’s only been listed for a few days I think we will hang in there.

We just found out one of our buyers won a “highest and best” offer and today we are told the bank does not have title and the home is being taken off the market until it is straightened out. OMG! I shouldn’t complain. Last year I had a buyer wait 6 months for the bank to finally get the title. I have a buyer right now who has had to extend for 2 months waiting for the title. At least this bank is telling us up front.

Another buyer asked me to “shop” attorneys today for the lowest closing costs. It’s a first for me. In 15 years I have never had to do that one.

Looks like I’ll be meeting a buyer out at Brookmont to check out the lots, then showing another buyer a home later in the afternoon. All this after a sales meeting with our new broker.