Real Estate Blog

St Ives HomeSo you think you have it tough? There are currently 192 homes listed for sale in North Fulton County that are east of GA 400. Only one of them has gone under contract since December 16, 2008 according to the first Multiple Listing Service. That is not a slow market, that is a non-existent market.  At that pace it would take over 30 years to sell all of these homes. For comparisons sake, at this point in 2006 there had been 21 sales for homes listed above $800,000, 18 sales in 2007 and 14 last year as of this date in February.   So what is going on here? There have been big changes in the mortgage market that provides the jumbo loans usually necessary to finance these fine homes. Many lenders left this market and the ones that continue to serve this…
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housing stimulus The so called "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" (don't you just love the names they come up with for legislation?) also known as the Economic Stimulus Bill passed both the House and Senate yesterday and now awaits Presidents Obama's signature.  He undoubtedly will sign it next week. The housing stimulus proposal that Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson put forth was included in the final bill but altered substantially from his vision and recommendations.  According to the National Association of Realtors, the housing stimulus in the final legislation is summarized as follows:
  • $8000 tax credit -  to reduce the home buyer's income tax obligation - any unused portion will be refunded in the form of a check
  • Available to a first time home buyer
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It seems that the housing stimulus proposal that Johnny Isakson's was able to get added in the Senate stimulus bill was scaled back significantly in the conference committee. The latest information indicates that a home purchased as a primary residence before the end of August 2009 will qualify the buyer for a $8000 tax credit. I will be sure to stay on top of this story and let you know if it actually gets signed into law.  All the best,  Jeff
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Things are moving fast in Washington so I thought I would update my blog from yesterday. The legislation that Senator Isakson proposed for a housing market stimulus has been included in the Senate stimulus (spending) bill as of last night. Before I go off on another rant I just wanted to say thank you to Senator Isakson's staff for being so helpful. I called his Washington D.C. office to get some information straight from the source. I spoke to James Bostic (one of his aides) in Washington and Andrew from his GA office. They were both very polite and responsive. They both informed me that Senator Isakson has not decided at this point if he will be supporting the stimulus bill that now includes his housing proposal. Frankly I am doubtful that he will…
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johnny-isaksonIt appears Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson does not believe in free markets and limited government.  I read few news articles about the housing proposal that he is trying to push into the latest stimulus bill at a cost of $20 billion dollars.  To quote a recent article: "Specifically, Isakson’s Fix Housing First Homebuyer Tax Credit legislation would also enhance the existing homebuyer tax credit by:
  • Extending the eligibility period for the credit to December 31, 2009;
  • Increasing the credit amount to 10 percent  of the home price capped at 3.5 percent of FHA loan limits (geographically dependent) – ranging between approximately $10,000 and $22,000;
  • “Monetizing” the credit so it is available at time of closing; and
  • Allowing the credit to be
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good-news1Many of the people I see ask me how the Alpharetta and Johns Creek real estate market is performing as the new year gets underway.  So, do you want the good news or bad news first? I'd rather give you the bad news first, so we can end on a positive note. The Bad News
  • January 2009 sales are down 50% compared to sales at this point in January 2008
  • Homes prices are softer than this time last year (good news if you are a buyer)
  • Financial markets are still uncertain which works against large decisions such as home purchases
The Good News
  • Interest rates are fantastic!  (it is time to refinance or make a new purchase to take advantage of this temporary situation)
  • We are closer to a turn-around than we were a year ago
  • Prices for home
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ocee elementarySandra Gifford

Education is the cornerstone of any community’s future. While local government attends to the infrastructure to serve our people and the legislators craft laws to protect them, Sandra Gifford and her peers are educating and preparing the next generation of local leaders. Ms. Gifford has been a teacher for 23 years and is currently teaching 2nd grade Ocee Elementary and has been at Ocee since it opened in 2000. Previously, she substituted for five years at other Fulton Schools, so she is familiar with a number of schools in the district.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at Ocee Elementary? I enjoy working with such a dedicated group of teachers. The facility itself is a beautiful, well designed location for educating children.

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The recently released National Association of Realtors report for September Existing Homes showed sales rose for the first time since July 2003 as compared to a year earlier. Good news right? Not so fast. Keep in mind that this report reflects homes that actually closed in September 2008 which means that the homes went under contract in July and August. This was before the massive real estate slowdown which hit when the finacial markets went into turmoil in September. When the reports come out that reflect our current October 2008 real estate market, the headline will most likely read "Largest drop since the records have been kept!" or "45-50% drop shocks the market". The news media is better than I am in creating sensational headlines but you get…
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These days I am often asked when the housing market will start to improve. Of course being me I have a few opinions. First though we must recognize what got us into this mess before we can understand how to get out. Quite simply this was caused by a confluence of the following factors:
  • Loose loan qualification standards driven primarily by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines
  • Low interest rates that helped fuel the dramatic rise in home values giving the impression that fantastic profits could be made safely by short term real estate ownership
  • Investors and owner occupant home buyers that purchased homes as investments without considering the reality that homes prices don't always go up
  • Lenders that were more than happy to originate loans
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Tips to save money when staging your house for saleThis tough real estate market combined with the current economic environment presents a tough challenge for hopeful home sellers today. Let's face it. Economic times are a bit tougher for most people today than they were a couple of years ago. Proper home staging is more critical than ever in this buyer's market but the thought of spending thousands to get a home ready for market is out of reach for many sellers today. So how can you best prepare your home for sale in these tight times? Try these 5 powerful budget friendly tips to tune up your home and sell in this market. 1. Number one on your list is to declutter. I am tempted to put this as number two as well to emphasize how critical this step is. Most people underestimate the dramatic improvement…
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