Selling During the Off Season

Traditionally, the fall and winter months can be some of the slowest times of the year for home buying due to the holidays and the often less-than-perfect weather. But that doesn’t mean sellers can’t sell during these less than inviting times. Not all buyers will be giving up their home search.

Keep your listing in demand during the off season. Here are some quick tips for selling a home in the off season:

Keep it warm.
A professional stager has the know-how to give a home a cozy winter feel. And something as simple as rearranging furniture can ensure that a home’s selling-points don’t get overlooked. Display photos of the home that shows it in warmer summer months. And don’t forget to turn up the thermostat in the home so buyers are comfortable as soon as they step through the door. A vacant house in winter with the heat turned down low could lead to a chillingly low offer.

Keep it clear.
Keep sidewalks and driveways clear of snow, ice, and yard debris–giving potential buyers a clear path and view to your property’s front door.

Keep it light.
There’s less daylight in the winter months so it’s even more important to keep lights on as well as open blinds and drapes for natural light. Homeowners often head out to work without thinking to have their lights turned back on when it gets dark. Keep the home well-lit so it looks inviting to potential buyers who might drive by in the evenings after work.

Keep it looking good.
Just because the weather isn’t so great outside doesn’t mean your properties should follow suit. Potential buyers won’t be interested in seeing the inside of your home if the outside isn’t appealing. Make sure properties project a warm and inviting feeling to everyone who passes by keeping the landscaping and exterior in good shape.

Keep it working.
The cold winter months present the perfect opportunity to check heating systems, fireplaces and furnaces for problems. Take advantage of the season to have a professional inspector check for other issues, such as insulation, which might not be obvious during warmer times of the year.

Keep it in range.
It goes without saying in this business but sometimes it helps to hear it again. If a property is priced properly, it will sell any day of the year.

Are Young Home Buyers More Savvy Than Their Parents?

A recent national survey of young people aged 18 to 35 shows that young home buyers are more educated than ever, and despite the recent housing crisis, homeownership is still seen as an indicator of success.

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research for Better Homes and Garden Real Estate and asked 1,001 nationally representative Americans key questions about their perspectives on homeownership.

The survey showed that 69 percent of respondents think the recent housing downturn has made them more knowledgeable about homeownership than their parents were at their age.

Locally the trend rings true, said Jamie Day, a manager with Dayton-based Better Homes and Garden Real Estate Big Hill. “Back in the day, we’d have a buyer call who didn’t know his credit score and hadn’t talked to a loan officer,” he said. “Now when they call me, they know their credit score, they’re pre-approved, they’ve looked at my Web site and they know what they want when they make the phone call.”

The survey showed that young Americans are willing to make sacrifices in order to save for their home.

Sixty-two percent said they were willing to save by eating out less, 40 percent said they would be willing to work a second job, and 23 percent said they would be willing to move back in with parents.

Day said this new attitude of earning a home is good for the market because it leads to fewer foreclosures.

“If they had to save for a couple years for a down payment, they’ll fight for it because it was harder to get,” he said. “It’s just human nature.”

Day said 2012 has been an excellent year for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Big Hill, especially since May, with more buyers and sellers taking advantage of prices that are down 15 percent across the board.


The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

70475_photo1_UCH.R. 8 Is Passed!
So What Does This Mean?

In the wee hours of the night, the Senate overwhelming passed H.R. 8, The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. On the evening of New Year’s Day, the House passed the Act intact and President Obama signed into law on January 3rd.

The Act is 157 pages long and can be read in full by clicking here. But for a briefer read, here are some highlights of H.R. 8:

  • Beginning in 2013, the highest individual tax rates increase on the wealthy (now defined as taxable incomes over $450,000 for married couples and $400,000 for singles).
  • Tax rates will be fixed at the 2012 levels of 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and the new rate of 39.6%.  The sequester spending cuts are delayed until March 1, 2013.
  • Unemployment benefits will be extended for an additional year.
  • The estate and gift tax exemption is set at $5,000,000 as indexed for inflation and taxed at 40% (up from 35%).
  • In 2013, the maximum tax rates on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends will increase from 15% to 20% for taxable incomes over $450,000 for married couples and $400,000 for singles. In addition, the new Obama Health Care Tax of 3.8% will apply to taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $200,000 for singles and 250,000 for married couples filing jointly.
  • There are additional increases in tax rates on the wealthy again by phasing-out itemized deductions and personal tax exemptions in 2013 (for this purpose the wealthy are defined as taxable incomes over $300,000 for married couples and $250,000 for singles).
  • The alternative minimum tax (AMT) was permanently fixed for 2012 and all future years by increasing and indexing the AMT exemption for inflation. This will avert approximately 30,000,000 taxpayers from being subject to AMT in 2012 and future years but remains a very complex vehicle that typically impacts taxable incomes over $150,000. The AMT limits many popular deductions and exemptions including home mortgage interest.
  • The Act does not extend the 2% cut in the Social Security payroll tax that was in place for 2012.
  • The estate and gift tax exemption will remain at $5,000,000 as indexed for inflation. The maximum estate and gift tax rate will increase from 35% to 40% and there are no provisions to do away with discounts, GRATs, and other estate planning strategies.
  • There is a five year extension for various credits including: The American Opportunity Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Credit.
  • The COD (cancellation of indebtedness) provision for short sales for primary residences was extended through 2013. This is a big deal since many homeowners may have avoided short sale or mortgage principal reduction programs. This would have substantially increased the rate of foreclosures.
  • The teacher “above the line” deduction for school supplies was extended for 2012 and 2013.
  • The deduction for PMI mortgage premiums paid was extended through 2013.
  • The deduction for sales and use taxes was extended for 2012 and 2013.
  • Qualified tuition deductions were extended for 2012 and 2013.
  • The Charitable IRA transfer of up to $100,000 for taxpayers 70.5 years of age and older, was extended for 2012 and 2013. Given the retroactive nature of this bill, taxpayers will have until February 1, 2013 to designate a charitable transfer and count it towards 2012 and any required minimum distribution rules thereof.
  • The R&D tax credit was extended for 2012 and 2013 with new rules imposed on acquisitions of companies and the impact of qualifying R&D expenditures;
  • For businesses, the 50% bonus depreciation was extended through 2014 which should increase capital investment and spending.
  • Special definitions for Section 179 depreciation involving real estate and computer software were extended by the Act.
  • The built in gains (BIG) tax period for S-Corporations will remain at 5 years through 2013.
  • The 100% exclusion of gain on small business stock was extended through 2013.
  • Home energy and vehicle credits were extended through 2013.
  • Medicare physician payments were not cut and extended through 2013 with new rules set in place for 2014. The impact to doctors with the new rules will remain to be seen.
  • The special 15 year straight line depreciation method for certain qualified leasehold improvements and restaurant property was extended through 2013.

The total amount of the revenue increase is estimated to be $620 Billion but the Act will also contribute an additional $4 Trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office. President Obama is calling for additional investments in infrastructure, education and green energy to be funded by additional tax revenues from businesses and individuals. Republicans are calling for more focus on spending cuts and ways to generate more revenues from growth in the economy. With the debt ceiling about to be exceeded again in the next 60 days, it appears we will have FISCAL CLIFF #2 coming to a theater near you around March 1, 2013. The next round of negotiations is expected to be more difficult and even more contentious. Stay tuned…

Summary Provided By Prudential Georgia Realty

10 Reasons the Atlanta Metro Will Be in Demand in 2013

-1Buyers remain very active and we expect to see an increase in demand for 2013. Here are the top 10 reasons why we expect to see strong demand for homes in the Greater Metro Atlanta area.

10. Improving Georgia Economy: The Georgia economy will outperform the national economy in 2013. That has not been the case in the past 4 years. An improving economy drives consumer confidence and people buy more houses!

9. More Jobs In Georgia: After losing 325,000 jobs from 2009-2011, employment in Georgia is growing again. In 2013, analysts predict that Georgia will add 53,000 new jobs. More jobs mean more home purchases!

8. Companies Moving To Georgia: Major corporations are moving to our area to take advantage of great deals on commercial real estate, the low cost of living, our powerful transportation network (rail, shipping, trucking and airport) and economic development incentives. Big names like Porsche and Baxter have already announced thousands of new jobs and there are more to come. Relocating employees buy more homes!

7. New Residents Relocating To Georgia: New residents are moving to our area in larger numbers. In 2013, net in-migration will add 61,000 new residents to our area which is more than double recent years. The migration patterns from the Rustbelt to the Sunbelt are coming back and Georgia will benefit. That means more home purchases!

6. Baby Boomers Moving To Georgia: The Metro Atlanta area is home to one of the largest populations of young people of any major metro area. Atlanta ranks #2 in 25-39 age group and #5 in population under 20. There is a huge trend of boomers moving to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Baby boomers are already the 2nd largest group of home buyers in our market!

5. Increase In Household Formation: Household formation is back to levels not seen since the 1940s. More young people have been forced to rent. Some have joined their families in multi-generational living. Others have been through a short sale or foreclosure and are rebuilding their credit. Based upon the normal household formation trends, we should see household formation double in the next few years. First time buyers are the largest segment of home buyers in our area.

4. Exceptional Home Affordability: The Case-Shiller Index reports that home values increased 9. 87% in 2012 but are still down 29.86% from the peak of 2007. Home prices are still very affordable in our area but these conditions will not last forever. Smart buyers know that now is the time to “buy low” and sell high in the future!

3. Low Mortgage Rates: Mortgage rates remain at the lowest levels ever recorded. The Fed has announced a series of actions that will keep mortgage rates very low for the next year or two. But pending legislation to fix the mortgage system and the strong probability of looming inflation will eventually change this picture in a big way. That creates a sense of urgency to buy homes now!

2. Investors: Investors have been very active in our market. There are some very large investment funds and many small investors working hard to find rentable single family homes in the right areas and right price ranges. Desirable properties in the $50,000 to $200,000 price ranges are getting dozens of offers as soon as they hit the market. Investors see the opportunity and are buying aggressively now!

And The NUMBER 1 driver of housing demand in Greater Metro Atlanta For 2013 is….

1. This is a Great Place to Live, Work and Play! We live in a wonderful area with so many advantages. And our secret is getting out. More people realize that the Greater Metro Atlanta area is a great place to live, has a vibrant pro-business economy and lots of fun activities to enjoy.

We Wish You And Your Loved Ones A Very Happy New Year! If You Know Someone Who Can Benefit From Our Real Estate Expertise, We Would Love To Help. Visit us at Better Information Leads To Better Decisions!

Fight the Winter Blahs – Garden Indoors!

100023537.jpg.rendition.largestDoes your heart sink a little when fall comes rolling in? As delightful as the crisp weather and changing colors are, you know winter is inevitably not far behind. The holidays offer a little distraction, but once they’re over, January slumps in and there’s no denying winter has arrived. With winter comes the end of gardening outside. Better Homes and Gardens Magazine shares this dread and offers some secrets to successful indoor gardening as well as some really pretty ideas.

Try growing herbs indoors this winter. Herbs offer healthy additions to your winter feast as well as adding delightful fragrances to your home. Start a windowsill herb garden — you can even do your cultivating in daring evening wear or comfy pajamas if you like.

Succulents are another great choice for winter enjoyment. They thrive in harsh, dry climates, making them the perfect plants for your home. Succulents are always in style. With juicy leaves, stems, or roots, succulents form a vast and diverse group of plants, offering easy-care choices for your home. Plus, they look stunning planted alone or as companions.

The color variation of succulents seems almost endless: blue-green, chartreuse, pink, red, yellow, white, burgundy, almost black, variegated, and more. The leaves may be rounded, needlelike, berrylike, ruffled, or spiky. Many have an enticing “touch-me” quality — even cacti. Check out these recommendations on the top 10 succulent plants for the home.

Another easy option for bringing the outdoors in this winter are ferns. Ferns offer a wide range of colors and textures. Try these versatile houseplants in your home. Checkout these recommendations of the top 9 ferns to grow as houseplants.

A few succulents or ferns scattered around your home just not enough for you? Try adding an indoor garden. With color, texture, drama and a touch of whimsy, indoor plants instantly liven up any room with their individual personalities and will help you beat the winter blues this year. Whether it’s a terrarium full of succulents or the bold colors of an amaryllis, there is an indoor garden that will fit your style, mood and taste. Besides what they give back in aesthetics, one of the greatest things indoor plants do is provide much needed humidity in the winter months and freshen the air year round. Check out these four, easy indoor garden styles to brighten your home this winter.

Maybe you just weren’t blessed with a green thumb? Love houseplants but often forget to water them? If so, here’s a collection of great indoor plants that can take neglect. Or, if you just have a complete fear of houseplants, an air plant may be just right for you. Try these suggestions of easy to care for air plants.




Home Prices Expected to Rise 3.1% in 2013

Internet real estate giant Zillow has just released their prediction that home prices will rise 3.1% in 2013. According to Housingwire:

More than 100 economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists project home prices will rise by 3.1% in the new year, up from the forecast of 2.4% in September, according to December 2012 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey.

Home prices are also expected to increase by 4.6% for 2012, which up from the former  forecast of 2.3% in September. The panel also reported that home prices are projected to rise by more than 3% annually through 2017.

“An organic recovery in the housing market really took hold in the latter half of 2012, and this improvement is echoed in some of the most optimistic price projections we’ve seen in years from this group,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries.

He added, “Record levels of affordability and an improving overall economic picture have really helped buoy the market and have us well positioned for continued growth, albeit slightly slower, in 2013 and beyond.”

For 2013, price change projections range from 4.9% among the most optimistic quartile to 0.8% among the most pessimistic, on average, Zillow said.

The survey is based on the expected path of the Standard &Poor’s/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index for the next five years.

Home prices continued to rise in October with prices up 4.3% annually within the 20-city composite index produced for the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which posted results on Wednesday.

Mortgage Industry Fares Well in Fiscal Cliff Deal

shutterstock_112645772_3The mortgage industry can breath a sigh of relief with the final fiscal cliff deal bringing back a popular tax break on mortgage insurance premiums and debt forgiveness for borrowers who go through a short-sale or some other type of debt reduction.

A topic that is still up for discussion and likely to surface later in the year is whether the popular mortgage interest tax deduction will be part of a long-term deficit reduction plan.

Still, the deal passed by the Senate and House on Jan. 1 is one that leaves room for hope in the housing market.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 apparently extends a law that expired at the end of 2011, which allowed for the deductibility of mortgage insurance premiums, according to a research report from Isaac Boltansky with Compass Point Research & Trading. The law now applies to fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

“The law dictates that eligible borrowers who itemize their federal tax returns and have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $100,000 per year can deduct 100% of their annual mortgage insurance premiums,” Compass Point said.

“Certain borrowers with AGIs above $100,000 may benefit from the deductibility as well but are subject to a sliding scale. The tax break covers private mortgage insurance as well as mortgage insurance provided by the FHA, the VA, and the Rural Housing Service. In 2009, about 3.6 million taxpayers claimed the mortgage insurance deduction,” the research firm added.

One of the more watched provisions of the fiscal cliff was the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which was set to expire on Dec. 31.

The fiscal cliff deal extends it for another year, meaning homeowners who experience a debt reduction through mortgage principal forgiveness or a short sale are exempt from being taxed on the forgiven amount.

“The amount extends up to $2 million of debt forgiven on the homeowner’s principal residence,” Compass Point Research & Trading said. “For homeowner’s to qualify, their debt must have been used to ‘buy, build, or substantially improve’ their principal residence and be secured by that residence. The law, which was passed in 2007 with a 5-year sunset provision, will now be in effect until Jan. 1, 2014.”

Another minor win for housing is a provision tied to the government’s plan to increase the capital gains tax rate from 15% to 20% for individuals who earn more than $400,000. While in theory, this is harder on higher-income homeowners, Compass Point sees a silver lining through an exclusion.

Compass Point notes the law “states that only gains of more than $250,000 for individuals ($500k for households) are subject to taxes on the excess portion of capital gains. Point being, in order for an individual homeowner to be impacted by the increased capital gains tax rate they would need to have an adjusted gross income above $400,000 and gain more than $250,000 from the sale of the property. Since this exclusion threshold remained intact, the impact of the capital gains tax increase is limited.”


To read more, visit

2013 Will Bring Exciting New Trends for Real Estate in Metro Atlanta

-1We hope that you and your loved ones are having a joyous holiday season. The New Year is upon us and 2013 will bring some exciting new trends for real estate in the Greater Metro Atlanta area. If you are considering your options or know others who may benefit from this information, please contact us. We would be honored to help.

Real estate is heavily impacted by the laws of supply & demand plus a few other factors like mortgage rates and the economy. The “for sale” inventory across most markets is very low. Desirable properties that are good values are selling very quickly – often with multiple offers.

  • SmartNumbers reports that current inventory is back to levels not seen since 1996. For the Greater Metro Atlanta area, inventory levels are down 38% from 2011 and 55% from 2010.
  • The available “months of supply” is now under 4 months. Six months of supply is considered a normal market.
  • The pace of short sales and foreclosures coming on the market has slowed considerably. Most banks have paused foreclosing on properties during the holiday season. We do expect them to move more aggressively in early 2013 but distressed properties have become a much smaller percentage of the available inventory.
  • New Homes are making a slow but sure comeback. In November, there were 1000 new home starts. This annualized run-rate of 12,000 is more than double the previous year. But new homes cannot grow very fast due to constraints in desirable lots, rising material costs and labor shortages.
  • The mix of properties selling is changing back toward a normal trend. A few years ago, over 55% of properties sold were under $125,000. The normal percentage of properties sold in this price range was around 15-20%. Last month, the mix of these properties has dropped to under 40%. We are not quite back to a normal market situation but moving in the right direction.

We are providing this information to keep you informed about the latest trends and issues in the real estate market. If you know someone else who might be interested in receiving this report or who may benefit from our expertise, please let us know. Better information helps our clients make better real estate decisions! Please visit us at