Residential Real Estate Pricing and Online Presence

Residential Real Estate: Pricing and Online Presence

When getting ready to list your residential property in the real estate market, there are a few things that you should implement in order to sell your home quickly and for the highest price. For starters, you need to ensure that you set a proper and accurate price for your home. Homes that are priced too high will languish on the market causing agents and buyers to steer clear. Additionally, you will need to market your home with proper staging and the best photographs possible for the most impactful online presence.

Competitive Listing Price

Setting the price for a residential property can be a daunting experience for any seller, as the majority are not experts at gauging the real estate market nor is it easy to see a realistic value in personal homes as there can be emotional attachment involved. Some property owners are even willing to test the waters by intentionally overpricing their homes in the hopes they will attract a buyer regardless. Although the urge to set a higher price in order to leave space for negotiations can be tempting, there is ample evidence that shows this strategy doesn’t work and can actually delay the home selling far longer than anticipated.

The price you set for your home can determine whether it sells quickly or lingers on the market for months or even years. In today’s real estate climate, buyers are equipped with excellent online research skills, and they can smell an incorrectly priced property from a distance. They can sift through websites and compare similar properties in a given area. In today’s market, a home is likely to gain the most exposure and momentum in the first week of its listing, possibly even promoting a bidding war. After the eleventh day, the possibility of getting an offer will drastically reduce. Incorrect valuation of your property will likely make it stay longer on the market, something that might lead to you missing out on ready, willing and able buyers who may have submitted offers in the first two weeks of listing.

And as the days go by, buyers who view your listing and see it on the market for months will think there is something wrong with it, not just the price. This is a feeling that can persist even if you organize an open house for them to inspect the home. This is what is referred to as ‘stale bread effect’. Buyers don’t want something that has stayed too long on the shelves; they are attracted by fresh items that have joined the queue. With buyers having the impression that something is amiss they’ll start downward bidding, something that could have been avoided with the correct listing price, and you may even be forced to sell the home for below-market pricing.

Photos And Staging

Besides accurate and competitive pricing, real estate listing photos of a clutter-free and properly staged home will also have a significant effect on a home sale. With more than 90 percent of home buyers using the internet as part of their home search, it makes economic sense to have professional photos when listing a property.

The first impression you give a potential buyer is essential. If your listing images are poor quality and not appealing to the homebuyer, they will possibly scroll to the next option. Exciting property photos will instill a positive emotion and affect the buyer’s perception of the home before viewing it in person. And since emotion is one of the most prominent triggers for buyers, you should utilize it to your advantage by striving for excellence and getting creative with the listing photos. Cell phone cameras should never be used in lieu of a professional camera. Likewise professional lighting and video drones are highly recommended for homes in higher price points to gain the most advantage online. A professional photographer specializing in real estate is often a marketing cost well worth spent.

In addition to a high end camera or even a professional photographer for visually compelling images, it is also imperative to have proper staging of your home. Since the goal is to appeal to the homebuyer’s emotions, you need to include details that help them envision living there. A poorly furnished house won’t do that, nor will personal photos and items. One of the easiest DIY’s in this scenario is to declutter. Declutter, declutter, declutter. Look online for ideas of how to stage homes and tips on how to rearrange rooms, and/or use objects and pops of color to make your house feel professionally staged.

We Can Help

In the current real estate market, serious buyers are looking for properties that are priced in line with market conditions. Additionally, they don’t want to see dull and unprofessionally captured photos. They want to envision themselves living in the homes that are displayed on the listing websites. The Meridian Real Estate Group can help you in accurately pricing your home and providing you with the strongest online image possible. We specialize in residential real estate; from starter homes to luxury homes, from secondary residences to investment properties, we can help serve all of your real estate needs.


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Commercial Zoning: Processes, Impacts and Considerations

If you are an investor in the real estate market, you may be familiar with the term zoning.  Before leasing or buying a commercial real estate asset, investors are advised to ensure that property is zoned in a way that will resonate with their future goals and needs. For those unfamiliar with what zoning is, it is the process of segmenting and designating land to various uses. It also involves regulating other elements that are critical to real estate such as design, height, and density in some places.

Commercial zoning includes ordinances that regulate commercial structures such as shopping centers, apartment buildings, and office parks, among others.  The purpose of zoning is to specify what type of businesses can reside in a given area, the type of building that can be erected, and how it will be utilized. The zoning bylaws and regulations vary from one state or city to the next.  When buying a property, you should make sure that you are abreast with the updated zoning by laws for any given location in order to avoid future disappointments.

Impacts of Zoning on Your Property

When zoning is changed from one type of property to the next, it can impact your real estate investment. For example if a property is changed from commercial to residential zoning, the value of your property will plummet and lead to massive losses. However, if the reverse happens, the value of the property may increase dramatically. Additionally, banks and lenders may also have some policies which don’t favor the kind of loan you want to acquire when zoning a property. At times the municipality or state can institute a conditional zoning requirement, which can either affect your property either positively or negatively.

Understanding the impacts zoning regulations will affect your transaction can help you make an informed decision. You also need to know the steps to follow if you want to rezone the property.

The Process of Rezoning a Property

At times, investors may feel the need to rezone their properties. They need to understand what steps to follow in order to complete this potentially detailed process.  In the state of Georgia, most of the zoning decisions are handled locally.

The Zoning Ordinance in Georgia requires that you attend three meetings before you submit a Special Use Permit or Rezoning Application.

The first meeting involves the property owner or representative, and a member(s) of the Planning and Zoning Department. Here you will discuss the rezoning process, make your application, and review it together. You’ll have to explain the intended use of the property and the plan you have in place to achieve this. The Planning and Zoning Department will then determine whether your project is consistent with the area’s comprehensive plan.

Next is to attend the preliminary review meeting with the Plan Approval team. Here, you’ll discuss how new development regulations may affect the project. You’ll try to uncover significant technical hurdles and cost items.

The third step is the Community and Input Meeting, which involves the surrounding property owners and interested parties. Here, you’ll seek to know how your neighbors feel about your application.

Once the three meetings are complete, all county departments will review your application to determine whether it is feasible. They will also seek to understand if the project aligns with state and county ordinances.  If the form is complete, it will be placed on the agenda for the upcoming Planning Commission Public Hearing. The application will then be publicized so that interested parties can attend the hearing.

During the public hearing, the Planning Commission will allow the public to make their inputs, after which they’ll send a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners. The board will evaluate the proposals and act accordingly, either by approving, approving with conditions, postponing, or disapproving the application.

Should You Rezone Your Commercial Property Before Listing?

Rezoning a property can be a lucrative experience for property investors. However, it is never a smart idea to rezone a property before listing if it’s based on rumor and speculation. This is because the whole process is expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, if your plan doesn’t meet zoning requirements, it might slow down the process of actually selling your property.

However, if you conduct a thorough due diligence in your research and feel confident that rezoning will lead to a more profitable outcome, you may wish to proceed with it.

Zoning Considerations When Buying a Commercial Property  

When buying a commercial property, you need to examine the current zoning of your potential investment carefully. It would be best if you identify what uses are deemed to be acceptable and unacceptable. Be sure to survey the surrounding properties and seek to know how other property owners in the region intend to use theirs in the coming years. You may identify a property that enjoys scenic views of the sunset, only to learn later that space in between is zoned for storied, heavy metal industry.

You also need to check out design and overlay restrictions. Properties on floodplains and swamps can have limitations. The presence of endangered species or anthropological sites near the property can also have strict regulations put in place to discourage property development.

Also, consider all aspects relating to the future of the area where your property is located. Visualize the property in the next 10 years. Is the city planning to build a highway behind your property? Or a fire department on the lot next door? If so, how will these changes affect your property? Though some of these things are hard to predict with certainty, an area’s Comprehensive Plan may provide a few insights about future development activities.

We Can Help

Obviously there are many factors to consider when investing in commercial real estate and the details and processes can seem overwhelming. We can assist you through every step of the way and have a proven track record of helping investors realize their dream. The Meridian Real Estate Group is a full service commercial real estate team. We service all of the main divisions of commercial real estate including Office, Industrial, Retail, Multifamily, and Land. We are experts in the process of land assemblage for large commercial land development projects as well. Let us assist you in finding commercial property for lease for your business or finding tenants to lease your existing commercial property. Our mission is to provide the highest level of service for all of our commercial clients and to aid investors in finding properties and negotiating deals to build a lasting commercial real estate legacy.

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Understanding The Basics Of Commercial Lending

Understanding the Basics of Commercial Lending

Purchasing a property for commercial purposes is an investment that can be financially rewarding above all other real estate transactions. However, it is an endeavor that needs lots of cash.  And even though it is a lucrative investment that can generate generous monthly cash flow, it is a daunting task to build wealth in commercial real estate without an abundance of funds. This is where commercial real estate loans come in handy.  As an investor, learning the ropes of commercial real estate financing can help you seek the best rates and terms for your enterprise.

What is a Commercial Real Estate Loan, and How Does it Work?

As you may know, commercial real estate is property that is used to generate income. As such, a commercial property loan is a type of financing that is specifically designed to help you purchase a property that is purposely designated for business. A commercial real estate property may include any of the following:

  • Manufacturing industrial properties
  • Office spaces
  • Retail spaces
  • Special-use properties, such as self-storage facilities and car washes, among others.

Now that we understand that real estate loans are those that help you cover the high costs associated with purchasing a business property, how do they work?

Typically, commercial real estate lenders provide loans that are secured by liens of the property being purchased.  This means that if an investor is unable to service the loan, the lender has the legal right to seize the property. Additionally, some lenders require that you make a downpayment on the loan you are asking for. A significant number of commercial real estate lenders require that you make a downpayment of between 20-30% of the property’s buying price.

Application Process/Time Frame

When getting ready to apply for a real estate loan, there are a few things that you need to put in order.

For starters, since a solid credit score is vital for this process, you should ensure that your financial ducks are in a row. Make sure that your credit score is at the minimum above 680. Ascertain that it doesn’t contain recent bankruptcies, foreclosures, and tax liens.   A low credit score can spell doom for your loan application process.

Another important thing is to have a clear and detailed business plan. Lenders will intensely scrutinize what you intend to do with the property once you buy it. Have a clear outline of how you will utilize the property and a carefully thought out forecast of anticipated cash flow. Having the business entity set up before you actually fill out the application can make a huge difference.

Additionally, you need to tidy up your paperwork and ensure that it doesn’t contain things that may appear as red flags. Conveying a sense of preparedness will go a long way and something as simple as organized paperwork may be a determiner of whether you will get that commercial real estate loan or not.

How Long Does it Take to Get the Loan?

For most lenders, they estimate that the loan approval process should take about 30-45 days. However, experience dictates that most commercial mortgages take from 45 to 120 days to appraise the loan, but this doesn’t mean you won’t find exceptions. Nonetheless, if you are on a timeline, it is critical to understand that the process can take longer than expected.

Cash Flow Factors

As an investor, you should also understand other cash-flow factors that lenders consider when it comes to commercial real estate loans.

  1. Loan-To-Value (LTV) Ratio

Since commercial real estate loans don’t have private mortgage insurance, lenders usually use the property being bought as the collateral. Therefore, lenders largely depend on the loan-to-value ratio (LTV).  This calculates the value of the loan against the appraised value of the property.

 Loan-To-Value (LTV) = Mortgage Amount (MA)/Appraised Property Value (APV)

When the LTV is too high, lenders may not be willing to give you a loan as they view it as too risky. Typically, viable commercial real estate loans are those that have an LTV ratio ranging from 65-80%. Additionally, the LTV ratio is used by commercial lenders to determine the interest rate you’ll pay.

  1. Debt-Service Coverage Ratio

Another essential aspect that commercial lenders consider when offering commercial real estate loans is the debt-service coverage ratio (DSCR). To get this ratio, lenders divide the annual net operating income from a property by its annual mortgage debt service (principal and interest payments).

Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR) = Net Operating Income/Total Debt Service

A DSCR of 1 or more indicates a positive cash flow. A ratio below 1 indicates a negative cash flow. Generally, commercial lenders usually require that a property should have a DSCR of 1.25 and above.  However, some lenders may accept a lower DSCR if they offer loans with a shorter amortization, or find out that the prospective properties have a stable cash flow.

  1. Fees

Commercial real estate loans also come with other charges besides the interest rate. You must be aware of the upfront fees that you are required to pay when getting a commercial loan. They include legal cost, property appraisal, loan origination, loan application, and survey fees. While some lenders may ask you to pay the fees upfront, others will bill them annually.

Commercial Loan Repayment Terms and Schedule

Commercial real estate loans are not like residential mortgages, which are often paid in regular installments over a fixed period. They come in two terms:

  • Intermediate-term loans of 3 years or less
  • Long-term loans that last for 5 to 20 years

The loans can also be classified as amortized or balloon loans. Amortized loans are paid in installment plus the interest until the full amount is recovered. On the other hand, balloon loans require you to make fixed monthly payments for some years and then pay in a lump sum to clear the remaining principal when the provided loan period expires.

The Meridian Real Estate Group Can Help

As you can see there are multiple factors that play a part in obtaining a loan for commercial real estate as well as many other components that are involved both before and after the loan process. If you’re an investor wanting to embark on this potentially lucrative journey, we can help. The Meridian Real Estate Group is a full service commercial real estate team servicing all of the main divisions of commercial real estate including Office, Industrial, Retail, Multifamily, and Land. We are also highly experienced in the process of land assemblage for large commercial land development projects. In addition, we can assist in finding commercial property for lease for your business or finding tenants to lease your existing commercial property. Our mission is to provide the highest level of service for all of our commercial clients and to aid investors in finding properties and negotiating deals to build a lasting commercial real estate legacy.

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Getting the Most Out of Your VA Loan Benefits

As a U.S. Veteran, you are entitled to special privileges when it comes to financing. With a VA loan, you can buy the home of your dreams and live comfortably. Many Veterans are relatively unfamiliar with VA loans, how they work, and what they can get out of them. Here is what every Veteran should know about how to get the most out of your VA loan benefits. 

Introduction to VA Loans

One of the first things you should know about VA loans is that the application rate is very low. 

Only 6% of the 21 million Veterans living in the United States take advantage of VA loans to buy a home. That means that there’s a lot of opportunity out there for Veterans looking for financing from the VA. The application rate is exceptionally low mostly because so many Veterans don’t know how to leverage VA loans.  

Blue Water Navy Act

In the Blue Water Navy Act, Congress authorized the following changes to the VA Home Loan benefit beginning on January 1, 2020, for ALL eligible Veterans. The Blue Water Navy Act introduced a number of significant modifications that are largely beneficial to Veterans seeking financing through VA loans. 

Here is a breakdown of these changes, what they mean, and how they will affect you as a Veteran.

What to Know About the VA Loan Funding Fee Change

At this time, there is a temporary change to the VA Funding Fee, which is a congressionally mandated fee associated with the VA Home Loan. Veterans and Servicemembers will see a slight increase of 0.15 to 0.30% in their funding fee (currently for two years), while National Guard and Reserve members will see a slight decrease in their fee to align with the fee paid by ‘Regular Military’ borrowers (permanent). 

Veterans with service-connected disabilities, some surviving spouses, and other potential borrowers are exempt from the VA loan funding fee and will not be impacted by this change.

Overall, the VA loan funding fee change is relatively fair as it rewards injured Veterans and members of the National Guard Reserve. While the fee was increased for uninjured Veterans and Servicemembers, the increase is nominal and should not have a large impact on their ability to secure financing through VA loans. 

How Purple Heart Recipients Can Save Money on a VA Loan

If you are an active-duty Servicemember who has earned a Purple Heart, your funding fee can be waived if you close on your home while still serving on active duty. This is perhaps one of the most significant changes to VA Home Loan programs. 

Earning a Purple Heart represents a great honor and sacrifice. It is only fitting that Veterans with a Purple Heart are honored with easier access to financing a home.  

Conforming Loan Limits

Another thing you should know is that there have been beneficial changes made to conforming loan limits that will give Veterans greater access when using their no-down-payment home loan benefits. Veterans seeking to obtain what is commonly referred to as a “jumbo” loan, or Veterans living in higher-cost markets, will no longer be subject to the Federally-established conforming loan limit maximums. 

After January 1, Veterans may obtain no-down-payment VA-backed loans in all areas of the country, regardless of home prices. The benefits of this will be huge as it means you won’t have to save up for a down payment. 

The down payment for expensive homes can be substantial and even act as a barrier that prevents folks from going after the home that they really want. By using a no-down payment loan and taking advantage of the changes to conforming loan limits that took effect after January 1st, Veterans can rest easy. You will have a wider range of options when house hunting and a higher chance of being able to finance the home of your dreams rather than having to settle for less. Let’s face it, Veterans deserve the best.    

Advantages of VA Loans

There are several great advantages to financing your home with a VA loan. First, there is no requirement for monthly mortgage insurance on a VA loan which means you’ll save a lot of money on your payments. 

The interest rates on VA loans are much lower than what you’d be paying if you applied for a conventional mortgage. 

The credit requirements to qualify for VA loans are exceptionally low which helps Veterans gain access to financing that would have been denied to them otherwise. 

Finally, VA loans offer special protections to Veterans that make it difficult to induce foreclosure. That added foreclosure avoidance protection helps Veterans keep their homes after working so hard to acquire them. 

The Meridian Real Estate Group Is Here to Help

As you can see, Veterans can be well served by participating in this unique and specialized loan program. Let The Meridian Real Estate Group assist you in navigating VA loan requirements and procedures to ensure you get the most out of your VA Loan. We look forward to making your dream homeownership a reality.

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Filing For Homestead Exemption in 2020

If you are filing for homestead exemption, homeowners may need to provide their Warranty Deed book and page, proof of residence, social security numbers, driver’s license, and car tag info. In most counties, to be eligible for the current year, you must have owned and occupied the property as of January 1st.  If the property is located within city limits, the homeowner may be required to file with the city as well.

Cherokee County – deadline is April 1, 2020            678-493-6120

Clayton County – deadline is April 1, 2020               770-477-3311

Cobb County – deadline is April 1, 2020                  770-528-8600

DeKalb County – deadline is April 1, 2020               404-298-4000

Douglas County – deadline is April 1, 2020             770-920-7272

Fayette County – deadline is April 1, 2020               770-461-3652

Forsyth County – deadline is April 1, 2020              770-781-2106

Fulton County – deadline is April 1, 2020               404-612-6440

Gwinnett County – deadline is April 1, 2020           770-822-8800

Henry County – deadline is April 1, 2020                 770-288-8180

Paulding County – deadline is April 1, 2020            770-443-7581

This information was provided by one of our preferred closing attorneys Neel, Robinson, & Stafford, LLC. All rights reserved. NRS has multiple offices to choose from including Glenridge, Buckhead, West Cobb, Inman Park, Alpharetta, and Acworth.

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What are Real Estate Experts Predicting for 2020 and This Upcoming Decade?

2020 not only brings a new year but a new decade. There’s, of course, no way to know exactly what the next decade will bring, but real estate experts have made their predictions for what the housing market could look like in this next year –

Here’s a great blog post from one of our preferred closing attorney’s Perrie & Associates, LLC about real estate trends moving into this next decade.

Mortgage Median

Mortgage rates are expected to stay at their low rate for most of 2020, according to Forbes and data from Freddie Mac. Current rates are at 3.75% and are expected to remain between 3.7% and 3.9%.’s 2020 Housing Report supports this, predicting that the year will end with rates at 3.88%. Ben Lane with HousingWire says this rate will make 2020 a popular year for refinancing. In 2019, reports showed that it was the best year for refis since 2016, and Freddie Mac experts are predicting $834 billion in refinance originations in 2020. The low rates will benefit home buyers as well, with Freddie Mac predicting $1.299 trillion in purchase originations to start the new decade. Sean Hundtofte, with chief economist with lender, told Forbes this will allow homebuyers to “be able to afford more house than they would have otherwise.”

Price Point

According to the chief economist at Danielle Hale, the price will be the major selling point for 2020. “Many people would prefer to live in the San Francisco’s and other big cities, but for the right price they will make the decision to go to another city,” she said. Forbes says home prices are expected to rise because of inventory shortages and high demand. Experts are predicting prices to rise 5.6% by September of 2020, and the lower-end of price ranges will be hit hardest due to a lack of new starter homes. Ralph DeFranco, chief economist for Archer AMI told Forbes, “low-interest rates and a shortage of starter homes will continue to push up prices. This is especially the case for lower price points, since builders have tended to focus on more expensive, higher-profit houses and less on replenishing low inventories of entry-level homes.”

Millennial Movers 

A large portion of millennials will be turning 30 in 2020 – the prime age to buy a first home, according to, and the oldest millennial will be turning only 39. Therefore, this generation will dominate the market. According to Hale, millennials will hold more than 50% of mortgages by mid-2020, and despite the belief that the generation doesn’t want to settle down, many are at the age where they have started having families and are ready to establish roots. However, these potential buyers will face many difficulties, as older generations are choosing to remain in place, keeping many homes off the market. This is pushing millennials to “Hipsturbia,” according to Forbes. These young homebuyers are looking to suburban markets outside of major cities that offer live-work-play neighborhoods and walkability to many amenities.

Look Locally 

While it’s important to look at market predictions across a national level, Caroline Feeney with Forbes reminds agents to focus on the local picture. Geography, affordability, jobs, and others are all nuanced factors that play a role in a local market. George Ratiu, the chief economist for, told Feeney that 2020 will bring a lot more “differentiation between various markets.” In Atlanta, forecasts show a split down the middle between the city and the surrounding metro area as millennials flock to “Hipsturbia.” This split will see lots of activity and growth in lower price points, and “softer price points driven by weaker demand and the affordability ceiling at the higher end.” According to Forbes, Atlanta is predicted to see home values in the bottom tier raising 10%, while raising just 2.1% in the top tier.

Again, you can never be certain of what the new year will bring – but we can be sure to see many changes in real estate in 2020 and the following decade. Be sure to keep your eyes on local markets and follow us here at and like our facebook page as we share the latest news and trends! Here’s to a wonderful new year of growth!

Did You Accomplish Your 2019 Real Estate Goals and Have You Set Your Real Estate Goals for 2020?

Did you accomplish your 2019 real estate goals and have you set your real estate goals for 2020? We can help.

Are you or someone you know in the market to buy, sell, or invest in commercial or residential real estate within the next 12 months?

Buying? Interest rates are still at historic lows which gives buyers more buying power and bang for their buck. Are you wondering how much you might qualify for and need the name of a trusted commercial or residential real estate lender? We can help.

Selling? All local and national indicators point to us having reached or come close to reaching the peak of the housing market with the commercial real estate market typically following by 18 months. So if you are thinking of selling within the next few years, right now would be the time to take advantage of selling at the peak of the market.

And despite the common mindset that the spring is the best time to sell, consider selling in the winter when your competition is lower which will help you get top dollar for your property.

Investing? It’s always a good time to invest in real estate and in fact, real estate has outperformed stocks by a 2 to 1 ratio for the last 20 years and there are no indications that will change anytime soon.

Refinancing? Simply refinancing and dropping your interest rate by as little as 3/4 of a point could save you several hundred dollars a month on your monthly mortgage. Need the name of a trusted commercial or residential real estate lender? We can help.

Renovating? You’ve owned your property for a while and you are still fond of it. But it’s no longer exactly what you need or want. So do you put it up for sale and move on, or upgrade and settle in for the long haul? Need help answering that question? We can help.

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What is the Difference Between Getting a Pre-qualification Letter and a Pre-approval Letter?

Is there a difference between getting a pre-qualification letter and a pre-approval letter from your lender when starting the home buying process? And if so, what is it, and is one better than the other?

So the answer is “yes”, there is a difference.

The pre-qualifying process is a preemptive information gathering exercise where your lender will ask you to provide the information necessary to get pre-approved for a loan. However, other than pulling your credit from the social security number you’ll provide them with, they won’t actually verify the rest of the information they may ask you for. This includes W-2s, a current pay stub, a summary of your assets and your total monthly expenses, and if you already own real estate, a copy of both your mortgage statement and your homeowners insurance policy.

Based on the information you provide your lender can run some basic calculations and give you an idea of how much of a loan you’ll likely qualify for. However, since they haven’t verified the majority of the information you’ve given them, your pre-qualification won’t be as valuable as a pre-approval.

So the biggest difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification, at least from a lender’s point of view, is validating the information with documents as opposed to just getting verbal information. In a pre-approval the lender isn’t just going to take your word for it, they are going to verify the information you have given them.

From a borrower’s point of view, the difference is the leverage that pre-approval gives you when it comes to purchasing a home since most seller’s agents won’t accept an offer without a pre-approval letter. They want it to say ‘pre-approval’ at the top because they know the lender has done an in-depth analysis on the buyer.

The pre-qualification letter has its place though in the very beginning of your home searching process. It will help you and your buyer’s agent determine what is a good starting price bracket for your property search. But that will only get you so far in the process and you will soon need to take it to the next level and get a pre-approval letter.

Think of it this way. Getting pre-qualified for a loan is like asking for approval from your significant other’s parents before you propose. While it might be nice to get a “yes” from the parents, until you drop to one knee for the ultimate approval, you aren’t really getting anywhere.

Of course, you’ll still have to go through the underwriting process after you submit the application and wait for final approval.

If you need any help getting a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter, let us know. We have some great lenders we work with that can guide you through the process and put you in the right position to take advantage of this incredible market we find ourselves in.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It’s October, which means it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Join in the cause to help women in need today. Together, We can make a difference. 

Click the link below to learn more about how you can help in the fight against breast cancer.

5 Amenities Buyers are Willing to Pay Extra for…

 When it comes to the best that money has to offer, luxury homes lead the way. So if you are interested in trying to get the best possible ROI on your next home improvement, you’ll want to know what luxury home buyers are looking for most in their next home, and figure out how you can offer similar features at any price point.

Today’s homes need to be a mixture of the newest technology, upgrades, and open space for its owners and their toys.

So let’s take a look at the amenities topping the latest must-have list for the luxury buyers.

#1 on the list is Home Automation and Smart-Tech. Homebuyers today are looking for the same great technology they have come to expect in their smartphones and mobile devices and there are certainly plenty of ways home tech can satisfy.

The ability to control everything from sprinklers and mowers, to inside temperature and lighting, entertainment and security, to appliances and beds, from one device with a voice command or push of a button is what is fast becoming expected to today’s luxury buyer.

For example why settle for a run-of-the-mill media room, when with today’s technology you can have a dedicated home theater room specifically designed with your comfort and entertainment in mind complete with a Hisense 100-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart Dual Color Laser TV, ranked one of the best TV’s for 2019 by with a MSRP of $10,995.99? If that is a little out of the budget for your dream Gaming/Theater Room you can choose the equally impressive Samsung 65-inch Class Q90R, with an MSRP of $3499.99 or LG’s similarly priced 65-inch OLED dream screen.

Of course, you’ll have to sit through those long three-hour movies in style so why not select Elite Home Theater Seating, one of the finest home cinema seating builders in the world, to create you your own sumptuous custom seating experience?

Additional features in your must-have dream theater room to create the perfect ambiance include a chest-pounding surround sound system, mood-setting dimmable lighting, walls painted with a soothing color palette, and finally, a plethora of lavish materials including throw rugs, blankets, and pillows.

You can expect to spend from $5,000 if you are on a shoe-string budget, to upwards of $50,000 building your ideal high-tech, private, cinematic experience depending on your viewing appetite. But of course, if you’re someone like Tyler Perry you might go all out entertaining your guest at home in this Game of Thrones-style home theater, that according to insiders cost well over $500,000.

See our blog post titled Smart Home Tech for a list of the 2019 Best Smart Home Devices.

#2 would be a little of this and a little of that. That’s right, combining old and new together, recycled and ageless, classic with modern, has become the hottest trend in designing for luxuriousness, and it is an inclination that is likely to stay around for a while.

Incorporating reclaimed materials, like brick and wood and blending them with modern materials, fixtures, and appliances, is a way to create architectural focal points, great topics for interesting conversation and set your property apart from all the others when it’s time to sell.

By blending reclaimed materials such as this 100 year old chandelier, walnut wood and cabinetry and these massive support beams which were saved from the Savanah Harbor and preserved in The Villa De Cielo pictured here, with state of the art appliances that are available for the modern kitchen, we are actually being kinder to our world and helping our environment which is a huge selling point to the affluent and discerning buyer.

#3 on the list, and certainly a feature most people think about when creating their must-have amenity that they would be willing to pay extra for is, of course, a kitchen a chef would be envious of.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and a must-have kitchen will include high-end cabinetry, chef-grade commercial appliances, and beautiful inviting design.

Sleek or classic look doesn’t matter, open and integrated with other living spaces for entertaining is where it’s at. However, since cooking can be messy, builders are now incorporating a secondary kitchen in their designs. Called a “dirty kitchen” or a “catering kitchen”, these kitchens are usually next to the designer kitchen for ease and efficiency. But having a second kitchen where all the dirty work takes place will leave your designer kitchen nice and clean for entertaining your guests. And of course, no must-have kitchen will be without smart-technology. Today’s modern kitchen technology can include refrigerators that let you know when you are low on groceries, ovens that clean themselves, precision cookers that use Wi-Fi connectivity so you control them from anywhere, even when you’re not home, and steam ovens, coffee makers and microwaves that you can control with your phone or tablet.

#4 on this list would be living a life of luxury outside. And we’re not talking about camping. We are talking about outdoor space so inviting that you may end up spending more time there than inside your home.

Luxury buyers are used to experiencing decadent outdoor environments while traveling around the world so there’s no reason why they wouldn’t want to experience the same while they are home.

Outdoor gourmet kitchens, resort-style pools or water feature, plush comfy seating under the cover of structures like cabanas, verandas, lanais or terraces, cozy fires, and well-stocked bars are among the essentials of a well thought out, well designed outdoor living space. There are also incredible opportunities to have the best of both worlds by engineering space as both an indoor and outdoor living area. This can be done by designing partitions and walls oftentimes made of glass to break away and or fold back so as to open an indoor space to the outdoors.


#5 Last on the list but certainly not least would be a place to keep your collection of toys. That’s right, a grand barn for your modern-day stallions. A garage fitting of the cars that reside in it. And in this case, bigger is usually better. Large garage space has become almost as important as large bedroom closet space when it comes to making decisions on purchasing a home.

A fact not often missed with luxury homebuyers is that when it comes to displaying their items of value, the display case is important. And there is really no limit to what can be done when creating a showroom for a luxury car collection.

One thing you can count on when it comes to luxury homebuyers, they are looking for and willing to pay for the finer things of both indoor and outdoor living, and an excellent agent knows how to help them find or create what they are looking for.


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Job Creation Still Strong in Atlanta Despite National Slowdown

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent numbers, metropolitan Atlanta added roughly 58,700 jobs over the past 12 months, a 2.12% bump in employment.

The region has comfortably outpaced the national average for much of the economic expansion since the Great Recession and is projected to continue to do so throughout the rest of this year.

Professional and business services led the way in growth over the past year, as Atlanta added 17,500 jobs in this cohort. Overall, with small net reductions in the financial activities and information sectors, office-using employment grew by 13,800 jobs, or roughly a 1.75% increase.

While Atlanta has seen office-using employment slow, the market is on stable footing. From 2010 to 2018, Atlanta added the sixth-highest number of office-using jobs in the nation on a nominal basis, almost 170,000 high-paying jobs. The region boasted numbers higher than Los Angeles with 159,000, Boston with 140,000 and Washington, D.C., with 100,300.

White-collar employment is expected to continue growing over the next few years, as major corporations add thousands of jobs to the area. Investment firm BlackRock, health insurer Anthem and Norfolk Southern Railway are looking to add thousands of high-paying jobs to midtown, arguably Atlanta’s epicenter of corporate relocations and expansions.

Elsewhere in the region, insurance company State Farm, accounting software company LeaseQuery, and Arby’s owner Inspire Brands are in the process of adding thousands of jobs to Perimeter Center. Thyssenkrupp Elevators is expected to hire 600 employees in Cumberland and Ameris Bancorp plans to add 300 positions in Buckhead.

The addition of tens of thousands of high-paying jobs has been a boon to Atlanta’s office market, particularly for high-end properties in the region’s well-positioned markets. For example, midtown and Buckhead will have absorbed roughly 4.6 million and 2.7 million square feet of high-quality space, respectively, by the end of this year.


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