Posted on 9. July 2010 05:53 by qmiskini

In the Disney classic animated film Snow White, the 7 Dwarfs sang "Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It's off to work we go..." In today's chaotic, stressful economy not only is that refrain becoming rare, but as more and more families experience job loss and cut-backs, making the monthly mortgage payments becomes harder and harder. Many families,though not yet behind on their payments are in eminent default - just one or two payments away from not having the resources to pay their mortgage.

There are a variety of alternatives for those in eminent default or who have already stopped making payments and are in default.  If you are not yet in default, not behind on your payments, have an interest payment on your loan that, if lowered could help you make those payments, meet with a qualified loan officer about re-financing your current home loan with a lower interest rate in order to lower your monthly payment. This is a good the first step. But if you do not qualify for refinancing and have already begun to fall behind, speak directly with your current lender about how to qualify for the Obama Administration's Making Home Affordable Program (known as HAMP,) designed to help you modify your current home loan (called loan modification) to make your payments more affordable. Several hundred thousand loans have been modified since the program's start. It's tricky and you have to keep up with the demands of the lender as well as the messy process of completing the modification, but worth it if your goal is to find a way to make payments and keep your home. 

If you already know there's little or no hope of keeping your home because financial recovery is not in the immediate future, then utilizing the the process called Short Sale can be a method of selling a home you can no longer pay for and that may also, in this depressed real estate economy, be worth less than you currently owe. The HAFA program, which is part of the Making Home Affordable Program can help.  But to sell the home, you'll need the help of a Realtor who is experienced in the Short Sale process which involves a number of additional steps and processes not usually associated with the sale of a home.  If there is more than one lender associated with the home, the process doubles (or if there are three lenders - triples.) Short Sales are long, sometimes complicated processes involving both selling the home to a new Buyer and working with your current lenders to gain their approval of the Short Sale and all the details that follow.

In any case, the one thing you should NEVER do is NOTHING.  If addressed early enough in the process, any of these options, re-financing, loan modification or short sale are preferable to waiting until you are facing foreclosure.


Posted on 6. July 2010 10:13 by qmiskini

"I'm looking for a really great deal in Lassiter," she exclaimed. "A really great deal!"  Well, okay. Who isn't if you're optimum choice of High School districts is the well respected Lassiter High School district in East Cobb/Marietta. In the sub divisions surrounding Lassiter in both Marietta and a segment of Roswell (just over the county line in Cobb County) where prices have declined considerably less than in other areas of Metro Atlanta, finding that "really great deal" can take a variety of forms.

It all starts with developing a plan with your Realtor; one that takes into account a list of important criteria that provides both focus in researching homes, sub divisions or streets, and allows for flexibility and creativity when viewing homes and ferreting out those "great deals."  In this Area there have been fewer foreclosures and short sale properties and so counting on finding an under priced bank owned or pre-foreclosure home means facing potential disappointment; banks and their distress sale managers know their markets and can afford to hold on to a property until they get their intended price.  That's where flexibility comes in.

Many of the foreclosed and short sale properties come with a history of physical neglect - meaning all those "deferred maintenance" issues that start small but grow into costly repairs when left unattended that can add to the cost of a so called good deal because of the need to make those repairs in order to bring the property up to reasonable living standards.  These "fixer-uppers" can be great deals. But you have to have the budget and the skills necessary to do the work yourself, or supervise a team of professionals to make the repairs for you.

For those home buyers who are neither "handy" nor ready to invest thousands in repairs before even moving in, a good Realtor knows where to find properties that are not distressed - yet the price for the quality of the home, street and neighborhood is a great deal.  These are homes that have been meticulously maintained by the owners.  They are in neighborhoods that have continued to appreciate despite the market crash. The amenities - pools, tennis, clubs, etc. are well established, carefully maintained and inviting. They are homes that need nothing more than a splash of paint here and there to match your color schemes, and a new owner who will provide the same high level of care and attention to the property so that the value will continue to grow over time.

Knowing what your tolerance is for work and effort, and understanding the limits of your budget and time helps frame a flexible strategy through which your true home buying goals can be achieved with patience and persistence. Then finding that "really great deal" in any market can become a delightful reality.



Posted on 5. July 2010 07:18 by qmiskini

According the the official Roswell Georgia website, "Roswell, GA, is an affluent suburb of Atlanta that is renowned for its high standard of living. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Roswell was 79,334 in the year 2000 and its total land area is 38.6 square miles. In 2008 Roswell’s population was estimated to have increased to almost 102,000, the median income for a household in Roswell was more than $73,500 and the median income for a family was over $94,500. Roswell is ranked among the safest cities to live in the United States and Atlanta Magazine selected Roswell as the best place to live in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area."

The City of Roswell website summarizes its founding history this way: "Roswell was incorporated as a town in Fulton County on February 16, 1854. The city is named for the original settler of the area, Roswell King. King, and others, traveled from the Georgia Coast with the hopes of investing in mining. After discovering that this area was close to the Chattahoochee River, King was inspired to build a major textile mill powered by the water. The Roswell Manufacturing Co. and the Roswell Mill played key roles in the development of the town during its earlier history."

Whether you consider moving to Roswell because of it's unique charm, its roots or its potential for future growth, there's one thing for sure anyone living in or near Roswell should not miss - the 4th of July fireworks display at the park alongside Roswell High.  By 6PM cars are beginning to line Old Scott Road, eventually stretching nearly all the way back to Holcomb Bridge Road.  The park, a bucolic grassy and tree-lined stretch becomes a sea of small islands of families and friends. From infants to teens, from young adults to grandparents, everyone just settles in, enjoying the gentle late afternoon breeze, chatting amiably, stretching out on blankets or relaxing on folding chairs, all waiting for sundown and the first pop-boom of the opening display signaling the start of the ever-building series of sparkles, flashes, crackling flairs and colorful radiating pyrotechnic plumes.

In the background tunes like "Born In The USA" burst out over the loud speakers. The crowd oohs and aahs at each new display, cheers at the ever intensifying array of combinations of colors and shapes, and applauds and cheers all the more at the end of the big finale more than 30 minutes later. 

Roswell may no longer be the small mill town of the 1850's. But the flavor of small town life is not lost in Roswell, certainly not on the 4th of July. Then it was over and the crowd began to disperse.  As you listened to the comments you could easily say no one was disappointed. And many will be back again next year. It may be a small thing, but in Roswell it's one among many small and valuable elements of neighborhood life that makes living in communities like Roswell great.


Posted on 4. July 2010 10:17 by qmiskini

Knowing the historical valuation of an Area is one of the critical research pieces required when deciding how to price an offer to purchase a home as well as understanding the current value of your property when selling a home.  The Atlanta Metro area is divided up into Areas - smaller segments of the region that have a variety of characteristics unique to that part of the larger Metro community. Home prices are tracked by Area. When working with a Realtor, whether as a Buyer or Seller, you want to be sure the Realtor understands and can illustrate the shifts in fair market values.

In part, home and property appraisals are based on these historical values.  An appraisal will take into account the pricing of homes similar in size, style, land size, physical condition and a number of other factors and look back approximately 90 days at the sold prices of these comparison properties.  When producing a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) of an Area, sub division and street for a property, looking back at the recently sold properties tells us approximately what the property you are wanting to buy or sell should sell for in today's market. Age, condition and a number of other factors play into pricing decisions as well. But knowing the longer term pricing history is a critical element as well.

Knowing, in this tough Buyer's market, how well or poorly homes in an area have held their value following the "crash of October 2008," and how stable pricing has remained over the past 12 to 18 months develops a history for a property that lets you measure where (barring extraordinary and unforeseen calamities) your property will stand over the next several years.  For example, in Area 81 in East Cobb which is bordered by I-575 on the West, Hwy 92 on the North, Sandy Plains Road to the East and 120 to the South, the Average Sale Price of a home in May 2010 was $234,801. Exactly 12 months ago the Average Sale Price was $246,332. At the end of May 2008 the Average Sale Price was $257,246. 

What does that mean to a someone interested in buying or selling a home in that popular area of East Cobb?  It tells us that between the height of the market prior to October 2008 until now, the average decline in property valuations is around 8.7% and the decline in the past 12 months is 4.7%. Just knowing the decline in values tells us a lot about the stability of pricing and Areas. By comparison, in Newton County, Area 151 and towns like Covington, the decline has been far more dramatic - nearly 35% over the past 2 years.  So understanding the history of property values can add an important element in more closely understanding the current values of properties, neighborhoods and communities and judging what the future may hold.


Posted on 2. September 2009 09:07 by qmiskini

A great sigh of relief could be heard rising up from all the first time home buyers and their loan officers in the Atlanta Metro area who were struggling to get loans cloased before the looming June 30th Tax Credit deadline. At the 11th hour - just hours before the deadline - the US House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill extending the deadline to close contracts that had been consummated and agreed upon prior to April 30 to September 30th.

But what does this mean to home buyers who missed the April 30th deadline to have a home under contract in order to qualify for the $8000 first time home buyer credit or the $6000 move-up buyer credit? With an overabundance of housing stock, especially foreclosures and short sales, coupled with record low interest rates, buyers are searching for ways to take advantage of the depressed pricing - in some areas of Metro Atlanta prices have dropped as much as 35% below the record highs of 2008.

A buyer that is ready, willing and able to buy now can, with the help of a savvy Realtor, ferret out some great deals. But a key ingredient in the search is a relationship with a top-flight loan officer or motgage banker who can both plug you into one of a variety of good loan programs available and lock in a great interest rate. Just as important as finding a Realtor who has a keen understanding of the market, the schools where your dream house is located, and the value of the home itself, is your lender who can work with the Realtor and you to get you pre-approved as a buyer.

Buyers who have been pre-approved by their lender essentially are like cash buyers. That pre-approval tells sellers, especially banks selling foreclosures and short sale properties that your ability to close that sale is based on the value of their home and not the steadfastness of your credit. You have more negotiating power on price as well as leverage in maximizing the benefits of such a sale. The tax credit that helped many a buyer get into their first home may be history; but the opportunities to find a once in a generation deal on your next home means that if you can buy now, now is the time. But build your team first - Realtor, lender and all the support systems they can employ on your behalf.