Enjoy Private Garden Tours and A Plant Sale on May 12th

Plant enthusiasts will have the opportunity to enjoy this year’s Through the Garden Gate tour and Garden Party/Plant Sale Saturday, May 12. The tour will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through seven private gardens and projects of Master Gardeners in east and central Cobb County. Tickets are $10 per person in advance and can be purchased at the Cobb Extension Office or for $15 on the day of the tour at any of the gardens. Proceeds go back to the community, benefitting project gardens supported by the Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County.

Also featured in the event is the Garden Party and Plant Sale, which will include local artisans and growers, children’s crafts, local organizations and demonstrations. It will be held at Chestnut Ridge Christian Church, 2663 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No ticket is required for this event. The Jean and Elwood Wright Environmental Center is adjacent to the Garden Party location and will be open for tours. The CrossRoads Community Garden is also on the property to browse and learn about vegetable gardening. Master Gardeners will help with a children’s craft at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., for a $5 materials fee. There will be face painting and a complimentary drink and snack for children under 10 years old. For more information, visit cobbmastergardeners.org.

Can Short Sales Heal the Housing Market?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently decided to start requiring mortgage servicers to be quicker about making decisions on short sales. In the past, short sales could take several months to complete as everyone — servicers, borrowers, buyers, investors, lein holders — had to agree on a transaction before it could proceed. A shortened timeline and more streamlined process means homeowners considering the option of a short sale may be able to sell their homes faster.

Recent statistics show short sales are outpacing foreclosures. That’s good news because short sales often aren’t as damaging as foreclosures are to neighborhood values. Short sales usually don’t sell quite as low as or sit on the market quiet as long as foreclosures. Short sales occur when a lender agrees to let a homeowner sell their home for less than what is owed on the mortgage. The lender forgives the difference and the borrower is able to walk away from a home they can no longer afford. A short sale can be a nice option for homeowners who are struggling.

A recent article on HousingWire.com suggests short sales could be the housing market’s knight in shining armor and suggested better informed buyers and sellers can also speed up the process considerably.

The President and CEO of BSI Financial Services, spoke about short sales at a mortgage servicing conference last week. “A better educated borrower from our perspective is a better borrower,” he said, noting that the more a buyer is educated about the process, the less in denial they are about their ability to get themselves back on track. “This,” he said, “leads to a more rational discussion that results in a faster turnaround and an easier time for the servicer and the homeowner.”

A short sale production executive for Bank of America agreed with Sharma, and said more real estate agents are also catching on to the short sale process. “They are the primary person that guides the process and ensures its success,” she said. A real estate agent who has experience in short sales can make it a very easy and effective process by keeping the homeowner informed. Homeowners with questions about the short sale process can contact any member of our experienced team at 678-439-6699 or info@PetersenPartners.com.

 

 

Finding the Money for Home Improvement

You have the vision, now how do you pay for it? Whether it’s time to expand and update your long time home or you just purchased a fixer-upper, there are many options for funding home improvement projects.

Home equity loans or unsecured consumer loans can be easier for homeowners and lenders to manage than a home improvement loan because they don’t require inspections and the money can be spent as needed. Some homeowners find refinancing their mortgage or taking out cash is the best option, but that does require having some equity in the home, as well as a steady income and good credit score. Another option is a second mortgage, which typically allows you to borrow up to eighty percent of the appraised value of your home minus the balance due on your first mortgage. There are also many government run home improvement programs you may be eligible for.

For help deciding which option best fits your financial needs, talk to your lender and do some research on available options. A recent article in This Old House Magazine speaks more in depth on options for financing home improvements. Your real estate agent is also a great resource!

Free Workshop for Potential First-Time Homebuyers

A free workshop for potential first-time homebuyers will be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, April 21, at the Cobb Extension Office, 678 South Cobb Drive, Marietta.

The event will be hosted by Cobb Extension and CredAbility, a nonprofit credit counseling and education organization. Participants will receive information about budget and credit, down payment assistance, the loan process, the real estate process, day of closing, insurance and inspection. At the conclusion of the session, participants will also receive a HUD-approved certificate.

Seating is limited to the first 40 participants. To register, call CredAbility at 800-251-2227.

Best Drought-Tolerant Perennials for Your Garden

When Georgia’s inevitable summer heat kicks in, you can rely on these drought-tolerant plants to hold their own — and look beautiful year after year.

Salvia

Also known as sage, salvia is part of the mint family and can be found in huge varieties of ornamental colors and textures. Salvia blooms from late spring to early fall. It’s an all-around hardy plant that will grow up to 3 feet tall in a variety of conditions and loves full sun. Hummingbirds and butterflies are also fond of salvia.

Lavender

Lavender looks great with its varieties of blue, purple, and white blooms and it smells incredible, even when dried. Lavender spreads well and can get up to 3 feet tall.

Globe Thistle

Globe thistle produces round, metallic-blue flowers though the summer. It’s unique shape and silvery tint is a great compliment to brighter flowers in your garden. Thistle is very easy to grow and will get up to 4 feet tall.

Purple Coneflower

Also known as Echinacea, this resilient perennial produces tons of mauve-purple blooms throughout the summer that hold up really well when cut. Or, if you leave them in the garden, they’ll attract scores of butterflies.

Sedum

There are hundreds of varieties of sedum available and almost all are very hardy and drought resistant. Sedum only grows to about 18”. Many varieties have great looking variegated leaves that look great all spring, summer, and fall. In autumn, sedum will bloom with pretty pink flowers.

For more varieties of drought-resistant beautiful perennials, check out suggestions from the experts at Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.

Five Tips for a Green Home

Eco-friendly. Carbon footprint. Global warming. Energy-efficient. These catch phrases have become part of our lexicon as we’ve become more aware of our impact on the environment and our role in protecting it. As a homeowner, there are some simple, inexpensive steps you can take to make your home energy-efficient. Get started on the road to being “green” with these five tips:

Change Your Light Bulbs

By replacing just five incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, you can save $100 per year on electric bills while using up to 75 percent less energy and removing greenhouse gases from the environment.

Buy ENERGY STAR® Appliances

ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, such as refrigerators, washers and air conditioners, meet a higher level of energy efficiency set by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy than standard models. According to ENERGY STAR, if just one in 10 homes used ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, the impact could be compared to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees. And, switching to these appliances is not only good for the environment, but easy on your pocketbook. Although these appliances may costs more, you can reduce your energy bill by $80 per year.

Seal Up

Cracks and air leaks represent cash seeping from your doors and windows. Get rid of air leaks in doors, windows and other areas by caulking gaps and cracks. This will help decrease your heating and air conditioning bill. But make sure you use silicone sealants. Acrylic caulk tends to shrink, while silicone sealants are waterproof and won’t shrink or crack, creating less waste.

Use Less Water

Did you know that roughly 60 percent of a home’s water consumption takes place in the bathroom, according to the California Urban Water Conservation Council? The largest culprit is the toilet, which accounts for 27 percent of your household supply every year. By installing low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets, you can save thousands of gallons of water each year. In addition, replace leaky fixtures. That slow-dripping faucet can waste as much as 2,400 gallons of water per year.

Adjust the Thermostat

When adjusting your home’s thermostat, the rule of thumb should be: turn up the dial in the summer and down in the winter. Lowering the temperature by just one degree will reduce your electrical costs. And if you use a programmable thermostat, you can program your air-conditioning and heating systems to reduce output while no one is at home or at night while you sleep. Ceiling fans are also helpful in circulating the air to keep the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Going green doesn’t have to be overwhelming or costly. By making just a few small changes within your home, you can help decrease energy consumption and help make the world a “greener” place.

Agency Struggling to Give Away $339 Million to Georgia Homeowners

According to a story published by Atlanta’s Channel 2 news, one state agency has millions of dollars of relief to offer homeowners but few are applying. The federal government gave Georgia $339 million to help unemployed Georgians facing foreclosure but most of the money is sitting in a bank account.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has a program in place for dispersing the funds called Homesafe Georgia. The program provides “bridge” mortgage assistance in the form of grants to Georgia homeowners who are currently unemployed or substantially underemployed. Homeowners who are currently able to make their mortgage payment but got behind on the mortgage while they were unemployed or underemployed are also eligible for the program. Homeowners may not be more than six months behind on their mortgage payments to qualify.

The agency has only spent $4 million of the $339 million, but they have committed another $23 million to 900 Georgia homeowners. The state goal is to help 18,000 homeowners by 2017. If they money isn’t used it must go back to the federal government. Some homeowners who most need the help may not have internet access to access Homesafe Georgia’s website and apply for the grants. Many homeowners may not even know of the program. The Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs admitted they may not have done an effective job of getting the word out to homeowners in need.

Homeowners who are in need of mortgage assistance are encouraged to visit www.homesafegeorgia.com for more information. All Georgians are encouraged to spread the word to friends, family, and neighbors who may benefit from the program.