4 Questions to Ask Before House Hunting

taking notes, house keysStarting the search for a new home can be a daunting task. It involves researching schools and communities, making lists of your new home’s must-haves, and analyzing your finances to determine what’s in your budget. And that’s before you get started! The Premier Group is here to make house hunting easier. Before you start looking for a new house, ask yourself these questions.

Why Do I Want to Move?

Is your family expanding? Do you want to move closer to the city (or farther away)? Are you tired of the layout of your current house? Answering these questions will reveal the deal breakers to keep in mind when hunting for a new house.

What’s My Budget?

This isn’t a question you can answer alone. Before starting your home search, sit down with a bank representative or mortgage broker to see if you qualify for a loan, and if so, how much. Communicate your budget to your real estate agent so you don’t overextend your finances.

What’s My Ideal Location?

Once you figure out where you want to live, it’s time to determine the location. Would you rather live amid trendy shops and restaurants or on a quiet cul-de-sac where your kids can play? Do you have transportation, or do you need public transit nearby? Keep in mind that you may have different needs in a few years than you do today.

What’s My Timeline?

If you need to move ASAP, you may have to compromise on your home wish-list. If you have longer to look, you can wait for that ideal house with an open floor plan and a park within walking distance.

Finding the right home takes time and attention, but you don’t have to do it on your own. Contact The Premier Group for personalized assistance in finding your ideal home in Cherokee or Fulton County.

Why Millennials Love Living in “the ATL”

atlanta - piedmont parkAtlanta is a hotspot for millennials, with tens of thousands flocking to Atlanta apartments, condos, and homes each year. Forbes ranks metro Atlanta as one of the best cities in the U.S. for people in their 20’s and 30’s. But what is it about “the ATL” that makes it such an attractive location for young people?

Job Opportunities

Many millennials who relocate to Atlanta are just starting their careers. Atlanta offers a variety of opportunities for young professionals in the film, energy, agriculture, healthcare and biomedical, media and communications, and finance fields. Available positions range from entry level to high-level corporate jobs, which appeal to millennials at all stages of their careers. Atlanta also has an economy where startups can thrive; an attractive opportunity for the next generation of business owners.

Community, Attractions, and Nightlife

Atlanta boasts a thriving nightlife with food, entertainment, and fun hot spots readily available. There’s also a healthy mix of young, single men and women, which makes it a good city for dating. With frequent sporting events, outdoor concerts and public attractions, as well as innovative bars and breweries, the community in Atlanta appeals to a millennial crowd.

Affordable Housing

While folks in Atlanta may complain about their rent or mortgage, housing prices remain affordable when compared to other major cities in the U.S. The city offers millennials a variety of housing options, from renting a house or apartment to purchasing a condo or townhome.

Need help finding a home in Atlanta? The Premier Group is an experienced real estate firm who will help you find your dream Atlanta home within your budget. Call one of our Atlanta real estate agents today.

Has Your Real Estate Transaction Been Hacked?

Unless you live in a cave without wifi, you’ve probably heard about cybercrime. When you think of cybercrime, you may think of “phishing” emails that claim you’ve won millions of dollars (but first, supply your SSN and bank routing number, please . . .). Or you may think of a room full of sun-starved tech-heads hacking into government databases and draining corporations of billions of dollars. The truth is that cybercrime is a risk to everyone, and you may not always see it coming.

Cybercrime Hits Real Estate

hacked computerThe real estate industry is a prime target for cybercriminals, and it’s one hackers have been capitalizing on for years. Real estate transactions include the transfer of large sums of money, so it’s a natural target for hackers. Because they track your online presence, their schemes often seem like legitimate emails. Most often homebuyers will receive an email that appears legitimate—one that may appear to originate from a legitimate source, like a bank or real estate agent—that informs the buyer about a last-minute change to their wiring instructions. If the homeowner falls for the scam, the funds are usually irretrievable.

Other real estate phishing scams involve silently hacking into email accounts to retrieve sensitive banking information, or sending an attachment from an apparently legitimate source that, once opened, installs malware to track keystrokes and hack passwords.

How to Protect Your Assets from Digital Fraud

  • Change your privacy settings on social media to prevent strangers from accessing personal details about your life.
  • Update your operating system regularly, since these updates often include firewalls against new cybersecurity breaches.
  • If you receive an email about changes to your closing or mortgage payments, contact your real estate agent or financial institution prior to wiring any funds.
  • Whenever possible, avoid sending sensitive information digitally.
  • Use complex passwords and update them regularly. When possible, enable 2-step verification.
  • Don’t forget about phones and tablets. These days phones are essentially mini computers, and they’re just as easily hacked as a desktop or laptop.

To learn more about how to protect your real estate transaction from cybercrime, contact The Premier Group in Woodstock.

Double Check That Home Inspector Checklist

For many home buyers, inspectors garner complete trust. Home inspectors are the primary line of defense against buying a lemon, and their inspection lists go on and on, covering thousands of potential risks and hazards before they sign off on the integrity of a home. But even the best inspectors have a handful of blind spots, and some areas of the house require a specialist for a more thorough examination.

4 Things Your Home Inspector Might Have Missed

  1. home inspector with checklistA good foundation. Inspectors will check the basic structure of the foundation, looking for cracks or signs of settling. For a more thorough examination, hire a professional engineer who can analyze the soil for potential problems, such as sinkholes or shifting foundations. For buyers on a budget, websites like PlotScan can help you analyze the risk by determining if the property (or properties nearby) have suffered problems in the past.
  2. The fireplace. For basic analysis, such as functional dampers and clear chimneys, a home inspector can help. For a thorough analysis of potential fire hazards from soot or creosote buildup, hire a fireplace inspector.
  3. Wells and septic systems. If you need to determine whether a home’s well and septic system contain harmful bacteria or chemicals, pay close attention to your inspector’s credentials. Only a few are qualified to perform additional septic tests (and most will charge an additional fee). If water system analysis isn’t in your inspector’s repertoire, you’ll need to hire a well inspector, too.
  4. The roof. If your home inspection takes place during inclement weather, expect your inspector to keep his feet planted firmly on the ground. High or dangerous roofs are another factor in determining whether your inspector will take the risk to assess the roof’s integrity. If your home inspector isn’t comfortable assessing the roof, hire a roof specialist to find any worn areas, storm damage, or HVAC leaks.

Need help finding a qualified home inspector in Cherokee County? The Premier Group can help. Call today for real estate resources in Woodstock.

5 Tips for Buying a Home in a Competitive Market

The real estate market has become a seller’s game. Homes stay on the market for an average of just 34 days—that’s 13 days lower than in 2016—and, according to the National Association of Realtors, housing inventory is 6.6% lower than last year. So how can home buyers succeed in a competitive market?

  1. Couple with new homeDetermine your budget (and stick to it). It’s easy to be swayed by square footage, amenities, or location, but fudging the budget can get home buyers into some serious trouble. Tally up additional costs—such as utilities, insurance, and property taxes—and don’t budge from your bottom line.
  2. Identify the essentials. Many home amenities like hardwood flooring, granite countertops, and tech-friendly home systems can be added later. Focus on essentials like school district, acreage, and number of bedrooms.
  3. Don’t delay. In Atlanta’s competitive market, homes sell fast. Get prequalified for a loan and put in an offer as soon as you find a house that meets your needs.
  4. Make a competitive offer. The highest bidder doesn’t always win, but low-ball offers put off sellers. Show the seller you’re serious with an initial offer that’s towards the top of your budget. Make your bid more appealing with seller-friendly details like flexible moving dates.
  5. Work with a pro. Realtors have the inside scoop on neighborhoods, property values, and other factors that go into buying a home. Working with a pro will give you an edge in today’s competitive market. And real estate agent fees are typically covered by the seller, so you don’t need to worry about extra costs.

The Premier Group has years of experience matching buyers to their ideal homes in North Fulton, Cobb, and Cherokee Counties. If you’re ready to own a home, contact us today.

4 Bathroom Trends That Won’t Sell Your Home (and 3 That Will)

A well-planned renovation can give homeowners a significant ROI when they decide to sell. But before you jump into the next bathroom trend, take a step back. Some bathroom renovations will actually hurt your chances of selling.

4 Bathroom Trends Home Buyers Hate

  1. All white. Sure, it looks attractive, but the all-white trend has been around long enough for homeowners to know better. It’s easy for all-white to become dingy, and these flashy bathroom designs are nearly impossible to keep clean.
  2. Minimalist. Clean, simple, elegant. Right? In theory there’s nothing more tasteful than the minimalist look, but the reality is a lot different. People tend to collect stuff in their bathrooms, and minimalist + clutter = one big mess.
  3. Color trends. Big, bold colors become dated fast, and unlike accent cushions in the living room, it’s difficult to remove a salmon-colored sink. Stick to neutral trends for bathroom remodels.
  4. oversized bathtubOversized tubs. A trend that’s elegant and eye-catching in the simple, sprawling bathrooms of home decor magazines, oversized tubs are a more difficult trend to pull off in a real life, moderately-sized bathroom. Few people use bathtubs anymore, and they’re not worth investing in for looks alone. Redo the shower instead.

3 Bathroom Trends That Add Home Value

  1. Neutral hues. Whites (within reason), creams, grays, and taupes are classic color choices for bathroom remodels.
  2. Storage. Instead of clunky medicine cabinets, invest in built-in storage like drawers, open shelving, and floating vanities.
  3. Sink space. Statement sinks like vessel sinks and pedestal sinks are draining in popularity, while options like voluminous trough sinks are on the rise.

Preparing your home to sell? Contact The Premier Group to get the best price for your property.

How Much Are You Paying in Property Taxes?

Do you know how much you’re paying in property taxes? According to new data from ATTOM Data Solutions, it’s likely lower than you’d pay elsewhere.

Property taxes can put a serious dent in your budget, causing many homeowners to purchase houses with less square footage than they’d like. With a thriving metropolis right in our backyards, one would expect Atlanta property taxes to fall on the higher end of the spectrum. In fact homes in metro Atlanta consistently fall beneath the national average of property tax rates.

Property Tax Rates in Atlanta

woman calculating on phoneProperty tax rates are calculated by expressing the annual property tax as a percentage of the estimated market value of a single-family home. ATTOM Data Solutions averaged the property tax rates of over 84 million homes to compare rates for properties across the U.S. The average national property tax rate is 1.15%, which is roughly $3,296 per home. Effective tax rates may rise as high as 9.51% or fall as low as .52% depending on location, and metro Atlanta homes skew toward the lower end of the spectrum. Do you know your metro Atlanta property tax rate?

  • Bartow: 0.71%
  • Carroll: 0.65%
  • Cherokee: 0.69%
  • Clayton: 0.96%
  • Cobb: 0.70%
  • Coweta: 0.77%
  • Dekalb: 1.03%
  • Douglas: 0.82%
  • Fayette: 0.94%
  • Forsyth: 0.74%
  • Fulton: 0.95%
  • Gwinnett: 1.03%
  • Henry: 0.93%
  • Newton: 0.88%
  • Paulding: 0.91%

Property taxes shouldn’t get in the way of owning your dream home. To find a property that falls within your budget, call The Premier Group.

Outdoor Kitchens Heat Up the Real Estate Market

Outdoor kitchens are an amenity that could earn you some serious ROI . . . if you know how to sell it. For many homeowners, “build an outdoor kitchen” is high on their renovation to-do list. If you live in a location that supports spending time outdoors, an outdoor kitchen can see an ROI of 100-200%. But only if you know how to sell it!

How to Sell an Outdoor Kitchen

When you put your home on the market, it officially becomes the primary product of your business. That means you need a crash course in marketing your house. How can you show off its best features, like that cozy, elegant outdoor kitchen you installed last summer? Learn how to stage outdoor spaces.

  1. outdoor kitchenCreate harmony and flow. If your indoor spaces and outdoor spaces feel too distinct, the outdoor living areas won’t feel accessible. Create a connection to make your outdoor kitchen feel like an extension of the house, not something tacked on. Install sliding French doors to create easy access, make sure your patio has adequate lighting, and use echoes of interior decorating to make your outdoor area feel like a comfortable extension of the rooms inside.
  2. Focus on creature comforts. The days of plastic lawn chairs are long past. Southerners love sitting on the back porch, sipping a beverage and watching the kids catch fireflies. Make your outdoor spaces as appealing as your interior spaces with area rugs, well-made furniture, and a bar or cooking area (or both!) for easy access to food and drinks. If you’re really feeling daring, you can entice sports families by installing an outdoor TV. Hello, perfect tailgate!
  3. Make it pop. What does your outdoor kitchen have that you can’t have inside? Sell your outdoor kitchen with a unique feature like a fire pit, dog run, or playground for the kids.

Do you need help staging and selling your home? Call The Premier Group Real Estate Firm.

Hot Real Estate Markets in Atlanta

The metro Atlanta real estate market continues to climb, making substantial gains over the last several years. There’s no better time to buy a home in Atlanta. Which are metro Atlanta’s real estate hotspots in 2017?

Hot Markets in Metro Atlanta

  • getting new keysSmyrna. The development of SunTrust Park, the new home to the Atlanta Braves, has made property value in Smyrna climb. Home values climbed nearly 10% between 2015 and 2016. Smyrna’s amenities, diverse demographics, and proximity to the city—just 10 miles Northwest of Atlanta—also make it an attractive neighborhood for young homebuyers.
  • Chamblee. An urban city in DeKalb County, homes in Chamblee stay on the market for an average of less than 25 days, making it one of the hottest neighborhoods in metro Atlanta. Market trends indicate that homes in Chamblee will continue to appreciate.
  • Cumming. A thriving city with a small-town feel, Cumming attracts young families to metro Atlanta. Close to the amenities of the city, Cumming boasts its own family-centric neighborhood amenities such as fairgrounds, playhouses, and a water park. Real estate prices in Cumming have increased 8% over the last two years, and homes continue to appreciate in value.
  • Alpharetta. Ranked the #1 suburb in metro Atlanta by Motovo, Alpharetta has a median home price of $384,475. It has many amenities valued by families and young professionals, including swimming and walking trails, shopping, and a variety of concerts and festivals. With a top-rated school system and its proximity to Atlanta, the demand for homes in Alpharetta continues to increase.

Need help buying a metro Atlanta home? Contact The Premier Group real estate firm.

Which Home Upgrades Are Worth It?

When you buy a new home, you want the best. But some builder upgrades simply aren’t worth the money. How can you tell the quality home upgrades from the window dressing? Let The Premier Group help!

Cost-Effective Home Upgrades

Whether you’re building a new home or renovating to sell, it pays to know which home upgrades are worth the money.

  • Couple building a homeGranite countertops. Homes with granite countertops sell for an average of 4.1% more than anticipated. Although they may not increase the property value for every home, granite countertops are a worthwhile upgrade for most homeowners.
  • Solar vents. Solar vents cost about as much as a quality ceiling fan, but when installed in the attic, they’re an easy way to cool down the house without using electricity. Hello, lower electricity bill!
  • Bathroom vanity. Like granite in the kitchen, upgrading the bathroom vanity offers a high return on investment for a comparatively low installation cost.

DIY Home Upgrades

Alright, you’ve let the pros handle granite countertops and kitchen cabinets. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty! These DIY home upgrades can increase home value with minimal investment.

  • Paint. A fresh coat of paint can transform a room, update old cabinets, and add shine to banisters and stairs. Choose neutral tones to make your investment worthwhile.
  • Thermostat. A smart thermostat makes a home feel modern and sleek. It’s also a great energy-saver, which makes it an attractive home addition.
  • Landscaping. Improving curb appeal is a failsafe way to improve the value of a home. Keep the lawn trimmed and healthy, remove any yard debris, and install a few colorful flowers near the porch and mailbox.

Want to know a real estate secret? If you can DIY it to sell your home, you can DIY it after buying a home. Shave costs when purchasing real estate by painting, landscaping, and making minor home upgrades yourself.

Do you need help buying a home in Woodstock? Contact The Premier Group, a partner of Keller Williams Realty.