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.

2017 Crowdfunding Trends in the Real Estate Industry

Real estate crowdfunding has moved beyond a buzzword into an ever evolving, multibillion dollar industry for both investors and buyers. The market is finally settling in, moving past the hype into an industry with tangible trends and real returns. What are the biggest crowdfunding real estate trends in 2017?

All Eyes on Institutional Capital

pile of coinsWhile crowdfunding efforts are an attractive way to allow personal investors to invest in real estate ventures, institutional investors have more funds to offer. When bigger investors remove their funds, crowdfunding companies take a major hit. That’s why companies like Prosper have renewed their efforts in attracting institutional capital for real estate investments. A healthy mix of individual investors and larger, stabilizing sources of capital is necessary for crowdfunding companies to succeed in real estate.

Make Way for Non-Accredited Investors

New regulations clear the pathway for non-accredited investors, and online crowdsourcing sites should start laying the groundwork to invest their capital. For many companies this means developing eREIT options, which are public, non-traded REITs that give investors flexibility like lower minimums and the ability to withdraw their support at will.

Consolidation Is Key

Crowdfunding is still the hot new trend in real estate, meaning hundreds of startup companies are cropping up each year. As crowdsourcing companies stabilize, the smaller, less successful ones will fall away, allowing for the emergence of clear hard hitters in the real estate crowdfunding industry.

Are you searching for a Northeast Atlanta real estate firm you can rely on? Contact The Premier Group today.

When Should You Lock In a Mortgage Rate?

A rate lock ensure buyers a fixed mortgage rate in case of interest fluctuations prior to closing. But it could also lock buyers into paying a higher rate if mortgage rates decrease. When should buyers lock in mortgage rates?

You’re Under Contract

If you’ve made an offer, the seller has accepted it, and you’re under contract to buy a house, you may want to extend your rate lock. Most lenders will lock in mortgage rates for 30 days, but if you or the seller needs longer than 30 days to close on the home, you’ll want to extend your lock-in. You should be able to secure a 90 day, 120 day, or 150 day rate lock, but it will likely cost you to extend the fixed mortgage rate past 30 days.

Climbing Interest Rates

If interest rates are on the rise, lock in your mortgage rate as soon as possible.

house rates fluctuating conceptUnsteady Interest Rates

Locking in a mortgage rate offers buyers stability in a market with interest rates that rise and fall frequently. The earlier you lock in your rates, the less stress you’ll experience when looking for a house.

You Need More Money in the Bank

You may need to lock in your interest rates to qualify for a loan. Many lenders won’t approve a loan to someone who stretches their budget too thin. If an increase in interest rates could put your monthly mortgage payments above 28% of your income, lock them in, or you may find your loan denied.

Do you need help finding a home in Woodstock? Call The Premier Group to find your dream home.

First Comes Love, Then Comes . . . Mortgage?

couple with keys to new homeReal estate trends show more young couples choosing to buy a home together before marriage. This trend is most common in couples between the ages of 24 and 35, who often purchase their first home with a partner. Purchasing a home as a couple shows commitment, provides financial security, and may garner significant tax benefits. But there are also many pitfalls to joint home ownership if you’re not married. How can you protect yourself (and your partner)?

Compare Credit Scores

You’ll need more than just a good salary to afford home ownership. You also need good credit. Creditors view unmarried couples as individuals, so if one of you has a low credit score, that may affect your mortgage options.

Decide Who Should Buy

If the relationship goes south, you’re still responsible for paying off the home. You can sign for the property as sole owner or as joint tenants, but no matter what happens in the relationship, once you sign your name, you’ve taken on the debt, even if your partner tries to renege on the deal.

Get It in Writing

In an ideal world, you and your partner’s cohabitation will be permanent. But if you’re not married, you’ll want to work with a real estate lawyer to make sure you’re legally covered. Prepare a written document that outlines the details of your arrangement, the division of home equity based on percentage of down payment and mortgage repayment each partner covers, and what happens in the event of a breakup.

Need help finding a home in metro Atlanta? Call The Premier Group real estate firm.