Don’t Make These Three Mortgage Mistakes

For most buyers, the mortgage is the largest monthly expense they will ever have. Yet many borrowers don’t know how to prepare, negotiate or shop for mortgage loans.2302642.medium

  1. Compare lenders. A loan officer works for a bank or savings and loan and offers you proprietary loan packages. A mortgage broker shops your deal around to various lenders and gets quotes for you. You’ll have to share personal financial information to get a realistic rate, and then pick the lender’s offer you like best.
  2. Pay attention to terms. All fees are negotiable. It’s all in your loan estimate and closing disclosure form when you’ve applied for the loan, so ask for a blank one up front so you can compare fees. Ask the reason for each fee if it’s not apparent.
  3. Choose the right type of loan. Current market conditions favor fixed rates, because rates are rising from all-time lows. Yes, they cost more than hybrid loans or adjustable rate loans, but the base amount is fixed and doesn’t change. Only your taxes and hazard insurance will cost you more over the years.

If you get an adjustable rate mortgage, you are at the mercy of market conditions. While there’s a cap on how high your interest rate can go, it’s only a good risk if you plan to occupy your home less than five years.

Ask your lender to explain the risks and benefits of the types of loans available.

 

Speed Clean for Showings

Life is messy, and cleaning your home in time for an unexpected showing is never convenient. But you can do a speedy pick-up and spot clean so your home sparkles for homebuyers. Here’s how.2302641.medium

  1. Get everyone on board. Selling your home is a team effort. Start good habits now so there’s less for everyone to do later. Remind kids to put their toys away and hang up their clothes before bedtime and to make their beds every morning. For weekends, assign each household member a room to pick up in addition to their bedrooms.
  2. Keep baskets handy. Make a five-minute clean up drill fun. Give each household member a basket. Show them what belongs and what should be put in the basket for each room. Blow a whistle to begin and then a quick pick-up drill becomes a fun race.
  3. Clean litter boxes daily. Pets contribute a lot of odors to homes, so make sure cat litter boxes are sifted daily and wash dog beds weekly. Don’t forget the back-yard dog run!
  4. Shortcuts for speed. It’s crucial that kitchens and baths are spotless for showings. Keep a plastic housekeeper’s caddy loaded with toilet bowl cleaner, bleach wipes, paper towels and glass cleaner. Be ready to go for a five-minute once-over on counters, mirrors, etc.
  5. Reward good jobs Look over each room before heading out the door with the kids and the family dog. The one who did the best job gets to pick a treat – ice cream, a movie or the park.

8 Plants That Repel Bugs and Mosquitoes

According to this article from our friends at RealSimple.com, these 8 plants can beautifully help fight mosquitoes and bugs! Most on this list do really well here in Georgia, plus they’re pretty and some are even tasty! Check it out before you do your spring planting!

Citronella Grass

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Citronella Grass

The citronella candles on your patio are made with the oil that comes from this plant. “Citronella is by far the most popular plant that repels mosquitoes,” says Carmen Johnston, a garden lifestyle expert. “It has a very pungent odor. I often place this in small eight-inch terra cotta pots and mix in with my centerpieces when entertaining outdoors. You can either use the clippings mixed in with arrangements or use the plant itself as the centerpiece.”

Petunias

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Petunias

This perennial is sometimes known as “nature’s pesticide,” because it can repel aphids, tomato hornworm, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, and squash bugs. “Petunias are very easy to grow and you can plant them in the ground or keep them potted,” says Peyton Lambton, lifestyle expert and star of My New Old House. “They like sun, and I recommend buying transplants and placing them in light, well-drained soil in full sun after the last spring frost.”

Lavender

 Juliette Wade/Getty Images

Lavender

“Lavender has a fragrant smell that deters mosquitoes,” Johnston says. “I have this planted in clusters at the entryway of my garden, and I love those purple blooms. It likes to be hot and dry, so it’s perfect for summer.” You can also apply lavender oil to your skin as a natural repellent.

Germany, Rhineland-Palatinate, Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

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Nasturtium

It repels whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, several beetles, and cabbage loopers. This one will help other plants in your garden, too. “They produce an airborne chemical that repels insects, protecting not only themselves but other plants in the grouping,” says Chris Lambton, a professional landscaper and star of My New Old House. “Plant these in early spring in moist, well-drained soil in full sun. They should be regularly watered and deadheaded to promote blooming.”

Rosemary

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Rosemary

It not only adds flavor to your dishes, but it will also help keep the bugs away. “This one is another plant perfect for summer heat because it likes to be dry,” Johnston says. “It is one of my absolute favorite smells, but mosquitoes can’t stand it. You can plant it in containers, but it also works well as a hedge.” Johnston says the plant also adds texture to arrangements, so why not place it in an outdoor centerpiece to repel bugs and provide some eye candy?

Basil

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Basil

“It’s an annual herb and repels houseflies and mosquitoes,” says Chris Lambton. “Ensure that the plant gets six to eight hours of full sun daily, and its soil should be moist and well-drained. When you see blossoms start to form, pinch them off at the base to ensure the best-tasting leaves.” This versatile herb can also treat mosquito bites, Johnston adds. She recommends rolling several leaves between your hands to release its natural oil and apply to your bite to ease swelling.

Lemon grass in garden, Horizontal

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Lemongrass

Lemongrass is closely related to citronella and repels mosquitoes, but unlike the latter, it’s edible and is commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking. “It can grow three- to five-feet tall and adds lots of extra height and texture to the garden, so it needs a larger container,” Johnston says. Keep this plant in a sunny spot.

 

Mint

 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Mint

Refreshing mint can be used in dishes and cocktails, but it has an added bonus. “It’s a perennial that repels mosquitoes,” says Peyton Lambton. “Mint is easy to grow, but once established in a garden, it can be tricky to remove. Plant it in a pot instead and frequently pick its leaves to keep the plant at its best. You can grow the plant indoors all winter long—and it will help keep flies outside, too.”

7 Important Things Home Sellers Often Forget to Do

Selling this spring or summer? Realtor.com® offers the following often-overlooked tips for home sellers:

To-do No. 1: Google your address

Not all sellers scour the Internet to find out what’s being said about their property, but they should. Nearly all buyers—90%—search online during their hunt for a home, according to the National Association of Realtors. You should be aware of what your online listing looks like, since it will influence the kinds of concerns buyers will have, says Avery Boyce, a Realtor with Compass Real Estate in Washington, D.C.

“Is the site’s estimated value very different from your asking price? It might be because tax records have the wrong information about the number of bedrooms or bathrooms your house has, and this is easily fixed,” Boyce says. Consider this too: Google Maps’ street view of your property may not show improvements that you’ve made, so you’ll want to be sure to include those updates in your listing.

To-do No. 2: Account for improvements and issues

“If you’ve owned your home for a while, make a list of all the problems you’ve solved while you’ve lived there,” says Boyce. This could include chimney fires, water damage, or a flood in the basement. Whether you solved the problem or not, you should disclose this information to the buyer so you don’t wind up in a lawsuit after the sale. Disclosing “invisible improvements” that you’ve made, like re-grading or adding a French drain system, can also be a great source of comfort for buyers, adds Boyce.

“The same goes for sewer lines or tanks, radon remediation, or leaky skylights.”

To-do No. 3: Check your real estate agent’s references

An agent’s bad behavior or incompetence could cost you time, money, and peace of mind, so it’s well worth taking extra steps to find the best real estate agent for you. Ask friends for recommendations.

Check that the people you’re considering have a current real estate license—with no complaints filed against them. Meet with the agent and reach out to a few of their references directly.

“Real estate agents should be happy to provide a number of references for a new client to call,” says Marianne Leonard Cashman a Realtor with William Raveis Real Estate in Andover, MA. As far as talking to your friends about a real estate agent recommendation, here are some questions Cashman suggests asking:

  • Did you have confidence in your real estate agent?
  • Do you think he/she had good knowledge of the local market?
  • Did your agent communicate well and keep you informed during the entire transaction?
  • Do you think that he/she negotiated well on your behalf?
  • Did your agent have good vendors who could assist you?
  • Did your agent returned calls/emails in a timely fashion?
  • Would you recommend this person? Why? (Or why not?)

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We’re proud of the reputation we’ve built in our community. We have the experience and professionalism you can trust. Please contact us at info@petersenpartners.com or check us out at www.PetersenPartners.com. We will be happy to provide you a list of references and answer any questions you may have!

To-do No. 4: Insist on social media marketing

You staged your home beautifully, picked a competitive price, and listed the property, but there’s something else you’ll need to prepare before you’re fully ready to sell—a social media marketing plan. Video tours, floor plans, and photo galleries promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are must-dos, advises Cashman.

“You want to make sure that your agent is using all avenues to attract the right buyer for your home,” she explains. “Make sure your home has a presence on your agent’s website, their agency’s website, and is promoted on various sites that will market the home and give information about open houses.”

To-do No. 5: Make sure the doorbell rings

Ah, attention to detail. It’s those little cosmetic repairs that could cost you your home sale. If buyers see that you can’t even be bothered to repair a busted doorbell, they’re automatically going to think about what else may need fixing and view the home negatively.

“First impressions make all the difference,” says Cashman. “A well-kept home, starting with the view from the curb, gives the perception that the seller has great pride in the home and has taken good care of it—which translates into less energy and costs for the buyer as they prepare to move in.”

To-do No. 6: Clean inside everything

Storage is a huge selling point for homes. So be warned: Buyers are going to poke around inside closets, drawers, cabinets, ovens, refrigerators, and even the dishwasher, whether they’re cleaned or not—so you’d better make sure they are clean.

“Spending the money on a service to deep-clean your home will come back to you at least 10 times in your sales price,” says Boyce. Even if you’ve swept up and scrubbed all surfaces to a shine, you’re not done until dust, crumbs, and creepy crawlies are cleaned out from within the small spaces too.

To-do No. 7: Clarify which items are not included

You don’t want a buyer to fall in love with your house because of the custom window treatments and then rescind their offer when they find out the curtains aren’t for sale.

“The law says that anything bolted to the wall or ceiling goes to the buyer unless specifically excluded in the contract,” says Boyce. “If you want to take your flat-screen TV, chandelier, or custom pot rack, be sure to label it as soon as the house goes on the market, so that buyers don’t bank on owning that item and wind up disappointed.”

2017 Atlanta Spring Festivals

Atlanta Parent compiled this great list of spring festivals around Atlanta. Lots of fun activities to check out!

With the weather finally warming up in Atlanta, weekends are going to be jam packed with outdoor festivals for your family to explore. These festivals are often free, and include multiple children’s play areas, inflatables, face painting and arts and crafts stations. The Dogwood Festival includes high-flying swings and big slides, and the Inman Park Festival has a  parade complete with colorful costumes and a funky community band.

If you are looking for a new art piece for your home or want to grab a bite to eat from the window of a food truck, spend your spring weekends festival hopping. The kids will love Lemonade Days at Brook Run Park with carnival rides and games, and you will enjoy tasting samples from over 75 restaurants at the Taste of Marietta. If you want to travel back in time and watch knights joust on horses or be amazed by a juggling show, visit the Georgia Renaissance Festival through June. Our spring festival picks bring so many ways to plan quality, weekend family time. Grab the sunscreen and head to a park!

Festival on Ponce

Olmsted Linear Park
April 1-2. Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
150 local and regional artists, children’s area, local food and more.  1451 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. Admission, free.

Dogwood Festival

Piedmont Park
April 7-9. Fri., noon-11 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Three-day festival features artists from around the country, musical performances, children’s area with inflatables, arts and crafts, face painting and more. 14th St. and Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-817- 6642. Admission, free.

Wild Azalea Festival

Reynolds Nature Preserve
April 8. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Azalea showcases, guided nature hikes, face painting, animal shows and more.  5665 Reynolds Rd., Morrow. 770-603-4188. Admission, free.

Acworth Art Fest

Downtown Acworth
April 8 and 9. Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Over 100 artists displaying paintings, pottery, metalwork and more. Children’s area includes arts and crafts projects, bounce houses, sand art and face painting. 4415 Senator Russell Blvd., Acworth. 770-337-4049. Admission, free.

Art on the Chattahoochee Art Market

Pinckneyville Park
April 15. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Live entertainment, vendors, artist demos, children’s area, kid’s chalk art contest, food trucks and more.  4758 South Old Peachtree Rd., Norcross. 678-277-0920. admission, free.

Sandy Springs Artsapalooza Arts Festival

Sandy Springs
April 15 and 16. Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Children’s area, local musicians, interactive art stations, plus up to 150 arts and crafts participants.  6100 Lake Forrest Dr., Sandy Springs. 404-873-1222. dmission, free.

Georgia Renaissance Festival

Fairburn
Sat. and Sun. April 15-June 4 and Memorial Day. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Artist market, fire whip show, jousting, a hypnotist, belly dancing, aerial trapeze acts, knife throwing and more. Grab a turkey leg and travel back in time.  6905 Virlyn B. Smith Rd., Fairburn. 770-964-8575. Adults, $22; ages 6-12, $10;ages 5 and younger, free.

Lemonade Days

Brook Run Park
April 19-23. Wed.-Fri. 4-10 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun. noon-6 p.m.
Rides, games concessions, arts and craft fair and live music. 4770 North Peachtree Rd., Dunwoody. 770-668-0401. Admission, free; unlimited ride pass, $20-25.

Taste of Newnan

Downtown Newnan
April 20. 5-8:30 p.m.
Samples from local restaurants plus live entertainment, children’s area, carnival rides and more. N. and S. Court Square, Newnan. 770-253-8283. Admission, free; tasting tickets, $1.

Taste of Henry

Heritage Park
April 21. 6-9 p.m.
Over 30 Henry County restaurants serve tasting samples plus kids can enjoy slides, moonwalks, face painting and more. 101 Lake Dow Rd., McDonough. 678-432-1630. Adults, $20; ages 3-12, $5; kid zone tickets, $1 each.

Big Shanty Festival

Downtown Kennesaw
April 22 and 23. Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (parade, 9:30 a.m.); Sun., noon-5 p.m.
Enjoy the artist markets, children’s area and live music.  2829 Cherokee St., Kennesaw. 770-423-1330. Admission, free.

Atlanta Arab Festival

Alif Institute
April 22 and 23. Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. noon-6 p.m.
Traditional music, dancing, arts and crafts, Arabic calligraphy, face painting, carnival games and food from local
Arab restaurants.  3288 Marjan Dr., Atlanta. 770-936-8770. Adults, $5; ages 11 and younger, free.

Atlanta Streets Alive

Grant Park to Westview
April 23. 2-6 p.m.
Enjoy biking, skating or walking down the car-free streets. Local businesses will have booths and displays along the route. Bike parade at 2 p.m. Georgia Avenue and Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Admission, free.

Spring Chicken Festival

Downtown Gainesville Square
April 29. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Chicken city parade, upcycled arts and crafts show, live entertainment, children’s area and chicken cook-off. 104 Main St., Gainesville. 770-531-1102. Admission, free. Chicken sample card, $5.

Cars and Q for the Cause

Choate Construction
April 29. 4-7 p.m.
100+ cars on display, barbecue, live music and more benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. 8200 Roberts Dr., Atlanta. 678-892-1200. $20; ages 8 and younger, free.

Washington Park Jamboree

Washington Park
April 29. 2-6 p.m.
Visit the Atlanta BeltLine for games, live music, dance performances, food trucks, health and wellness screenings, fitness demos and more.  102 Ollie St. NW, Atlanta. Admission, free.

Smyrna Spring Jonquil Festival

Village Green
April 29 and 30. Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun. noon-5 p.m.; 5K: Sat. 8 a.m.
Artist market, Jonquil Jog/Walk 5K, puppet shows by Peter Hart, food for purchase, live music and children’s area. 200 Village Green Cir., Smyrna. 770-423-1330. Admission, free.

Inman Park Festival

Inman Park
April 28 (home tour only), noon-4 p.m. April 29 and 30. Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (parade, 2 p.m.); Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
A self-guided home tour of the neighborhood’s historic houses, an artist market, kid’ yoga, live pet shows and children’s area. Euclid Ave., Atlanta. Admission, ree; home tour, $20.

Taste of Marietta

Historic Marietta Square
April 30. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
75 Cobb County restaurants, live entertainment and children’s area.  50 Park Sq., Marietta. 770-429-1115. Admission, free; tastings, $1-$5.