What We Are Thankful For

With the Thanksgiving holiday only a couple days away, the Petersen Partners team has much to be thankful for this year. We’ve had an outstanding year. As the local real estate market has improved, we’ve had the pleasure of helping so many buyers and sellers this year. Our team, or our family as we like to think of ourselves, has grown, which means we are better able to offer our clients the best real estate services in the metro Atlanta area.

We think we have the best job in the world and we’re pretty thankful for that. The reason we have the best job in the world is because of the people we get to work for – our clients. To us, our clients are part of the family. They’re the foundation of our success and growth and we are thankful for each and every client we’ve had the pleasure to meet. We are so grateful for the trust you place in us.

As we approach Turkey Day, we are reminded of all the many blessings in each of our lives. We wanted to share what we are most thankful for and what we most love about the holiday.

No surprise, food is a common denominator at Thanksgiving. John Morris says his favorite Thanksgiving food is “anything with sweet potatoes in it. And Wine!” Topping Karen Burton’s list are pumpkin pie and especially the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies only found at local Kroger grocery stores this time of year. Dan Petersen may have the most unique food item to load up his plate with. He looks forward to a special family recipe– sour cream and raisin pie.

All the talk about food led John Cole to share a great holiday wish, “May your stuffing be tasty. May your turkey be plump. May your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump. May your yams be delicious and your pies take the prize. And may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs!”

Of course, Thanksgiving also evokes great memories of family traditions. Dan explained his favorite family tradition growing up was when “my cousins used to come have dinner with us then we would sit around and watch the Nebraska-Oklahoma football game”. John Morris’ favorite Thanksgiving day tradition is “having my kids help prepare the meal”.

Angie Halliburton reminded us how thankful we all are for our military. She remembers one particular holiday very fondly. “One of my favorite Thanksgivings was spent with a battalion of Army servicemen and women.  I was 12 years old and our family dined and visited with these dedicated troops.” Angie says, “I will always remember it.”

With so much to be thankful, we had a hard time listing it all. Sarah Farmer has enjoyed traveling with friends and family this year. Kara Peterson expressed something the whole team agrees with, “I am thankful for the Petersen Partners Team! They’re a great group to work with and they make me laugh every day!”

While we do enjoy a good time and love to laugh (at ourselves mostly), we do sincerely wish you and your family all the best this holiday season. As Jill Petersen and Karen Harris agreed, the love, health, and happiness of our family, friends, and clients really top the list of things to be thankful for. No matter how you spend your holiday gathering, we hope you have a wonderful day filled with all that you love.

Happy Thanksgiving.


What to Do With a Tough-to-Mow Slope

Green trees and gentle hills are just a few of the many things that makes Atlanta a beautiful city to live in. While a home on a hill can provide some great views and privacy, mowing that hill can be less than desirable, though.

Always a great resource for inspiration, Better Homes and Gardens Magazine offers some great tips on landscaping tough-to-mow slopes.

Check them out here: http://www.bhg.com/gardening/landscaping-projects/landscape-basics/hillside-landscaping-ideas/?sssdmh=dm17.612123&esrc=nwgn080912&email=4309959609#page=1

Virtual Home Staging is the New Wave in Home Staging


Here’s a great article about the new wave in home staging — virtual staging. You can read the full article here or keep reading to learn more…

Listing your house online requires more than just posting pictures or posting it on a local real estate website. For many home buyers, the first contact they have with a potential property to buy is the online listing. The photos need to be enticing, to say the least. Enter Virtually Staging Properties, a pioneer in the field of virtual home staging. I initially made contact with Krisztina M. Bell, the director of Virtually Staging Properties, on Hometalk.com, a social network totally dedicated to home and garden projects. Krizstina posts almost daily home selling and home staging tips on Hometalk, and I was totally impressed by her level of professionalism and expertise. She graciously agreed to an interview. Read on to learn how virtually staging your house could be the thing that sells it fast and at the asking price.

Q:  What is Virtual Staging?

A: Virtual Staging is a service we pioneered to help owners of vacant “for sale” properties best present their homes to potential buyers, via the Internet; which is where according to the NAR (National Association of Realtors) 90 percent of potential home buyers start their home search. We work with actual photos of a vacant home, and “virtually” stage them by adding attractive and appropriate REAL furnishings (Patent-Pending process) into the photos, so the online pictures of the home are more understandable and help create a connection with the potential buyers. When buyers view the virtually staged home online, they can envision themselves living in the home, so they are much more likely to want to go view it with their agent in person.

Q:  Is Virtual Staging less costly than hiring an in-person designer?

A: Virtual Staging is primarily designed to assist in the sale of vacant homes. Traditional staging entails moving furniture in and not only does the homeowner have the cost of the designer (or professional stager), but they also incur the cost of renting the furnishings as well.  Traditionally staging a vacant home is not an inexpensive proposition; however as traditional stagers ourselves we know the benefits almost always outweigh the costs. Virtual Staging costs range from just $225 to $325, or around 10 percent of the cost of traditional staging. Additionally, Virtual Staging is a one-time charge, if a traditionally staged home doesn’t sell quickly, furniture rental costs continue to accrue monthly, potentially costing sellers thousands of additional dollars.

Q:  What about when buyers come to see the home in person?

A: We brand each photo that we virtually stage with our web address and require that our clients disclose the fact that certain photos of the home have been virtually staged wherever the staged photos are used. In our view, Virtual Staging actually offers the buyers the best of both worlds. They get the benefit of seeing the potential of a home online (and in person if the seller orders our mounted enlargements option), and when they view the property in person, there are no rugs, furniture, wall hangings, etc that might distract the buyer from reviewing the complete house.  We would also suggest that virtual staging is no different than the seller/agent using photos of the home when it was occupied, after the owner has moved.

It is our policy to not edit the underlying photo or property.  By this, we mean that we will not change wall colors, floor coverings, add appliances, etc., nor will we cover up or “repair” damage that might be evident in the photos.

Q: I first found you on Hometalk.com. How has Hometalk.com helped you to make your business grow, and how is your presence on the site helping Hometalk members?

Hometalk has been a great social media community from the start for us since its focus is more about house and home. We like the friendly community that is serious about making the inside and outside of their home living better. We found it to be a great avenue to spread the word to homeowners as the majority of our mail marketing and presentations are more geared toward agents who really are the bread and butter of our business. But as a business you have to tap into all the sources of potential clients and Hometalk does just that and we have been amazed at the support and enthusiasm we have received from Hometalk followers and pros.

Our service is helping not only agents but also sellers market their homes for sale in a more economical way that will always still be classified as home staging but with a new tech savvy twist. We have also noticed an increase in our Web traffic over the past year since joining Hometalk, even getting phone calls from agents and sellers who were curious about our service. Also, it was Hometalkers that kick started our “Likes” and fan base on Facebook as they enjoy our photos of rooms in homes that give them great staging ideas and design ideas for their home even on a budget.

As professional home stagers we have also been able to provide Hometalk followers with our home staging tips, secrets and even some occasional interior design ideas because in real estate it is all about how you market your home, whether its to sell it to potential buyers or live in it in a more organized fashion to show off to your friends. Overall, we are thrilled to be a part of the growth of the Hometalk community and will continue to bring its followers the latest trends in staging and design tips and ideas for the home via our Hometalk profile.

Q:  Can you name some success stories?

Yes, in fact that is exactly what we call them, Success Stories.  Many of our clients have written us to let us know that their listings have sold and that our Virtual Staging made a big difference in both buyer traffic and days-on-market.  Some of these Success Stories can be found on our website.

Here are a couple of quotes from a few of our Success Stories:

Annmarie D., an agent with Prudential Connecticut says, “I had the property listed for just one short week and it produced 4 offers for full price!”

Catie M., a Top Agent with Long & Foster says, “We work with investors who renovate homes and having the vacant photos of the property virtually staged really helps sell the home fast and adds to our investors’ return on investment…a double positive for everybody!”

Sue M., a Broker and Agent with Re/Max of Naperville (Chicago suburb) listed a condo in a community where 60-plus condos were already on the market.  “My condo was vacant and I had 3 virtually staged photos done by VSP, which I added to my virtual tour,” she says.  “Within 5 days, the condo was under contract, beating out all others that were in the same price range!”

Q:  When should Virtual Staging be used versus traditional staging?

A: We developed Virtual Staging to offer customers around the country a less expensive, yet highly effective alternative to traditional vacant home staging.  If cost is not an issue, traditional staging is an outstanding tool to market and sell a vacant home.  However, if cost is a consideration, Virtual Staging is without a doubt the best approach for marketing a vacant home, offering most of the benefits of traditional staging, at just a fraction of the cost.



Choosing a Professional Home Inspector

Choosing a home inspector can be daunting. After all, a home inspection is one of the best protections a home buyer has in knowing that their biggest investment is a solid one. It can also sometimes play into negotiations of a purchase.

Dan Steward, the president of Pillar To Post Home Inspections (www.pillartopost.com) has some great advice on how to choose the best home inspector professional. In a recent article published by RisMedia, Steward reports, “There are approximately 30,000 home inspectors nationwide today. Only about half of the states require any kind of certification or licensing for home inspectors”. So how do you who to choose?

Steward offers some ways you can protect yourself from hiring an unqualified inspector:

• Do your own research. Ask potential inspectors for their qualifications, professional affiliations and certifications. Professional association affiliations can include membership in the National Association of Home Inspectors and American Society of Home Inspectors. Members of both of these organizations are committed to standards of practices and codes of ethics.

• Inquire about insurance. Professional home inspectors carry Errors and Omissions insurance (E&O), which can protect your client if the inspector makes a mistake. Home inspectors should also carry commercial general liability insurance.

• Do not hire inspectors who either perform repairs or refer contractors. Although some states allow this, it could potentially represent a conflict of interest.

• Ask for a sample home inspection report. A good report will clearly state the problem, explain the significance and recommend a course of action. Many inspectors also offer home maintenance guides that contain information about how a home works, how to properly maintain it, repair cost estimates, seasonal maintenance checklists and various ways to save energy.

• Ask home inspectors about the technology used during the inspection. Look for inspectors who use computers and take photos during inspections and incorporate those photos into the report.

• A professional home inspector will tag all accessible shut-offs within the home. This is a great added value for homeowners unfamiliar with the inner workings of a home.

• Ask how long the home inspection will take. Most inspections take at least three hours, some longer, depending on the size of the house and the nature of the inspection. Plan to stay for the duration and to shadow the inspector and ask questions about noted problems. Many things uncovered in home inspections are easy fixes and should not lead to a deal falling through.

• Know when to call in an expert. If you’re looking at a home with a pool, make sure the inspector has experience with pools. Additionally, if you’re concerned about mold, radon or lead paint, make sure the home inspector has the ability to do the proper testing.


Article URL: http://rismedia.com/2012-10-20/choosing-a-professional-home-inspector/


Mableton’s Efforts at Community Well Being to be Featured in a PBS Documentary

Lifelong Mableton, a project of the Atlanta Regional Commission, has brought national attention to our community.  Vital Pictures, a media company with a strong history of exploring social issues, visited Mableton last year as part of a documentary project being produced for PBS called Coming of Age in an Aging America.  The documentary explores the issues we will all face as the older adult population grows. Coming of Age in an Aging America is an extensive public media project aimed at creating conversation and action to productively shape America as an aging society.

The documentary takes a look at efforts to redesign communities that promotes social engagement, are walkable, and offers services and a sense of place for a diverse intergenerational population. Particularly as Baby Boomers age, the demographics of suburbs have changed. 75% of older Americans live in the suburbs. Older Americans want to stay where they are, near the places and people that are familiar to them. Yet, living in the suburbs creates challenges. One of the biggest challenges we are all so very familiar with is transportation. Suburban life very often depends on being able to drive a car. Yet, data shows most people are living 8-10 years beyond their ability to drive. The documentary examines how communities reconcile such challenges?

One of the most ambitious transformations in a suburban community trying to proactively face such challenges is taking place in Mableton. Through a program called the Lifelong Mableton Initiative, the community is actively trying to become a healthy place to live for all ages. Lifelong Mableton is one of only 14 Administration on Aging pilot projects nationwide. Launched by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), an Area Agency on Aging, it will re-shape Mableton’s traditional suburban.

ARC launched the Lifelong Mableton Initiative in the fall of 2009 to work with the Mableton community in its efforts. Mableton was one of ARC’s original Lifelong Community charrette sites. The goals of Lifelong Mableton are identical to those of any Lifelong Community: promote housing and transportation options, encourage healthy lifestyles and expand access to information and services. ARC is working with a diverse group of stakeholders in Mableton to reach these goals. Funding for the project comes through a Community Innovations for Aging in Place grant from the US Administration on Aging. It is one of only 13 communities in the nation to receive the three-year grant.

The documentary is still in production, but you can see clips about Mableton at the Vital Pictures website.  Take a look — you might just see some of your friends or neighbors on film and you’ll learn a lot about how communities can be better homes for residents of all ages.

Make Next Spring Gorgeous by Planting Bulbs Now

Don’t hang up your trowel just yet! There’s still plenty of time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Add a bold splash of color and fragrance to your spring landscape with tulips, daffodils, and other bulbs.

Check out the helpful tips from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine:

Plant Your Bulbs Right

Love Tulips? Plant These Beauties

21 Design Tips from Dutch Garden Designers

How to Care for and Store Bulbs

Dress Up Your Lawn with Bulbs

Walls That Store More

Admit it. You could have 2700 square feet of closet space alone and it still wouldn’t be enough. “Stuff” just acquires. Kids’ stuff. Sports stuff. Craft stuff. Cooking stuff. Collectible stuff. And for those of us who don’t actually have that much closet space, finding ways to store it all can be an exhausting enterprise. But who says you need closets? Every house has bare wall space that can be the perfect solution. Look to your walls to pack even more space and function into your home. Better Homes and Gardens Magazine offers some wonderfully creative and aesthetically pleasing ideas for all your “stuff.” Now if they could just magically dust it all too…

Check it out here:


Is Your Credit Home Buying Ready?

Many homebuyers now and into the foreseeable future will face tight lending standards and the need to improve their credit score
to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for mortgages. If you are thinking of buying a home soon, below are some good tips for assessing your credit-worthiness. This is certainly not an all-inclusive list, but it’s a great start for preparing to get pre-approved for purchasing a home.

Credit Card Wisdom
• Paying revolving credit cards down is generally more beneficial than paying down student,
mortgage or auto loans.
• Always leave a 30 percent or higher gap between what you owe on the card and the card’s
limit. Lenders look for this minimum gap.
• Use cards with care even if you pay off balances each month. Depending upon statement
dates, the lender may see big balances.
• Pay down the cards closest to their limits first for speedier credit repair. The lending bank
will then see the “gap” it wants to see.
• Do not ask a creditor to lower credit limits. Generally, carrying smaller balances on several
cards is better than one large balance on one card.
• Check your credit card limits to make sure the report is correct. Limits may not be reported
on all cards.
• Never make a late payment on credit cards or any loan.
Protesting Items
• Protest any unjust negatives such as late payments, collections that are not yours and any
items not reported as “paid as agreed” if you paid on time and in full.
• Protest items listed as unpaid that were included in a bankruptcy, and items older than
seven years (10 for bankruptcy).
• Focus first on the larger, newer negatives listed on the report.
Don’t worry about smaller items like incorrect address information or an old employer listed
as current unless there’s the possibility of identity theft or the file is mixed with someone


URL to article: http://rismedia.com/2012-09-01/do-your-buyers-need-help-with-theircredit-

Small Bath Solutions

A pint-size bath can speak volumes with the right balance of storage and style.

Give your small space a roomy feel with light colors and functional, glamorous features. Dream big in your small bath with some great ideas to save space and live better. Make your small bath stand out with these brilliant ideas and designs from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.

And be sure to download their free Ultimate Bath Planning Guide that will walk you through the remodeling process from start to finish.

25 Quick, Cheap and Easy Home Sale Tips

Even with rising values and reduced inventory in certain markets, selling a home remains challenging. Buyers expect not just a shiny new stainless sink but pruned hedges, freshly painted walls, glistening hardwood floors, and more. Making everything look great can cost a pretty penny, and many sellers won’t be able to afford all the suggestions you might make.

You can help them prioritize based on the condition of what’s needed most, what buyers in the area typically request, what competing houses offer, and — of course — cost. Here’s a list of 25 affordable, easy-to-make changes from top design and real-estate pros:

  1. Add power outlets with USB ports in rooms that lack them, especially in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms where they’re most needed. “Younger, more tech-savvy couples and individuals love them,” says Tyler Drew, broker and property investor with Anubis Properties Inc. in Los Angeles.
  2. Eliminate acoustic popcorn-style ceilings since they look dated and tacky.
  3. Remove exposed posts and half walls. Today’s buyers want more space, and partial walls and posts gobble up room. The only walls that should remain are those that offer privacy or conceal electrical wires or plumbing stacks.
  4. Update wiring for the Internet and flat-screen TVs. You don’t have to run CAT-5 through walls, which can be costly and require opening and closing and repainting walls. Instead, find a place to put a wireless router, Drew says.
  5. Clean carpets and wood floors since they’re often the first part of a room that buyers check out; you don’t need to replace them unless they’re in terrible shape. A good carpet steam cleaning or wood floor waxing can be relatively inexpensive, sometimes less than $200.
  6. Expand a small kitchen to make it work better and look larger. Two quick fixes: Change the backsplash by adding mirrors, stainless steel, or paint, which will introduce light and views; and add an island, which requires only 30” between counters and the island to pass through comfortably. If there’s not enough room for an island, bring in a rolling cart with pull-out shelves underneath and a wood top, says Libby Langdon, an interior designer, author, and expert with Liebherr Refrigeration..
  7. Clear out and clean a garage, a big selling feature.Power wash the floor or paint it if it’s in bad shape, remove dated cabinets, and remove all junk that’s been stored there, so prospects can see how much space they would have for their stuff.
  8. Change out corroded or dented door knobs and levers. The replacements don’t have to be expensive but they should look new and clean, Chicago architect Allan J. Grant suggests.
  9. Pay attention to landscaping, which can add 7 to 15 percent to a home’s value, according to HabitatDesign.com principals Jessy Berg and Bonnie Gemmell. Focus on mowing grass, removing crab grass, and eliminating dead plants and tree branches. “I’d rather have dirt and the potential to paint a picture for the buyers’ mind than a backyard full of dead plants,” Drew says. But if you have extra funds, consider Sacramento, Calif.-based landscape designer Michael Glassman’s ideas: Add lots of seasonal color through blooming annuals and perennial plants and remove problems like too much noise from traffic or neighbors by installing an inexpensive fountain with trickling water.
  10. Paint exterior windows, doors, gutters, downspouts, and trim, then go inside and paint the home’s trim, doorways, and walls that are in need of freshening. Don’t worry about the colors but consider those that veer toward quiet and comfort such as Benjamin Moore’s Yosemite Sand, Edgecomb Gray, or Carrington Beige. “Gray is a hot interior color now,” says Manchester, Vt.-based designer Amy Thebault. Painting rooms other, lighter colors such as white, yellow, and beige help to bounce and reflect sunlight and use more natural and less artificial light, according to Chris Ring, vice president at ProTect Painters, a professional painting source. But in cooler months, Ring says, dark colors such as deep brown and blue absorb sunlight, thereby reducing heating costs. And don’t forget ceilings, which can be a “fifth wall.” You can improve them with paint or old-style metal or faux-metal tiles, says Beverley Kruskol, a general contractor and owner of MY Pacific Building Inc. in Los Angeles.
  11. Remove outdated wallpaper, replacing it with paint and preferably a neutral color, says Shelley Beckes, ASID, CID, a designer with Beckes Interior Design in Los Angeles.
  12. Remove, store, or discard excessive accessories on tabletops and walls and in cabinets. “Less is more, and you want the house to be seen by prospective buyers without the distraction of too many personal items,” Grant says. Some suggest following the rule of three: Leave out only three things on any surface.
  13. Get the house inspected before it’s listed to know its condition and identify any structural issues that could derail sales. Many problems can’t be detected by an untrained eye, including those in a basement, crawl space, or attic, says BillJacques, president-elect of the American Society of Home Inspectors. “There might be roof damage or a plumbing leak. Many inspectors take photos and provide a detailed report,” he says. “And if home owners have repairs made, they should be handled by a qualified licensed contractor, so the home owner can get problems corrected.”
  14. Outfit closets for extra storage to make rooms look larger and less cluttered, but don’t redo all closets and elaborately. Top contenders for redos are an entry closet for a good first impression, kitchen pantries where storage is key, and a linen closet to keep sheets, towels, and other stuff neat, says Ginny Snook Scott, chief design officer at California Closets Co. “The costs needn’t be excessive. A linen closet can be fitted with baskets and cubbies for between $500 and $600, an entry closet for between $400 and $700, each dependent on closet size and features,” she says.
  15. Tighten a home’s “envelope” to improve energy efficiency and savings. Put money and effort into well-insulated double-paned windows, sealed furnace ducts, energy-efficient appliances, the newest programmable thermostats, LED and compact fluorescent lights, and a smart irrigation box on a sprinkler to cut water usage, says Kate Latham, energy consultant with WattzON, a service based in Mountain View, Calif., which analyzes home energy use to pare costs. “After a few months, sellers can show buyers how costs have dropped. They also should put together a green manual to show which features they added,” she explains.
  16. Improve a home’s healthfulness by using paints and adhesives with low or no VOCs. Point out these changes to prospective buyers in another list or manual, Latham says.
  17. Use what you have, and arrange each room in a conversational way if possible. Don’t set all furnishings in a family room so they face a TV, since most potential buyers like the idea of an open-room milieu for socializing.
  18. Remove and replaced faded draperies, fabrics, and rugs, or leave windows and floors bare to avoid showing lack of attention, Thebault says. Slipcovers, which can cover worn furniture can also provide an affordable decorative feature, changed for each season, says Hugh Rovit, CEO of Sure Fit, a manufacturer and distributor of ready-made slipcovers and other accessories. The company’s slipcovers range from $49.99 to $149.99, based on fabric and treatment.
  19. Replace old, dated, or worn bedding. Before any showing, fluff up pillows and covers, and make all beds neatly. Affordable choices can be found at stores like Target and Web sites like Overstock.com.
  20. Toss out old magazines. “You don’t want a People magazine from a year ago; it looks like nobody lives in the house or cares,” Thebault says.
  21. Check smells regularly. Besides getting rid of bad odors from pets and mildew, introduce nice fresh fragrances, but don’t go heavy on scents from candles. A light lavender or citrus spray is smart and inoffensive. Open windows before showings to bring in fresh air.
  22. Make rooms lighter and larger for showings with good lighting. Thebault prefers warm, cool colors rather than fluorescents. Additionally, 60-watt bulbs are a good choice, even though they’re not as energy-efficient.
  23. Go with plants rather than flowers indoors since they last longer, but either choice can add vivacity to a room.
  24. Pay attention to your bathrooms. Specifically, make sure you have freshly laundered towels, new soap in soap dishes, spotless mirrors, and no mildew in view.
  25. Be sure your house is priced competitively with the current market and homes in your area. In most regions, it’s still the No. 1 “fix” to sell quickly. Go a bit under the market price, and you may even bring forth multiple offers that are higher than expected, says Jill Epstein, a REALTOR® with Nourmand & Associates in the Los Angeles area.



Article URL: http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/architecture-coach/article/2012/08/25-quick-cheap-and-easy-home-sale-tips?om_rid=AAApkp&om_mid=_BQM-NOB8tkUm-V&om_ntype=BTNMonthly