June Lawn and Garden Tips

Pike Nurseries is always a great resource for learning how to garden without the guesswork. Every month, they publish a list of lawn and garden advice.

Below are some great tips from Pike Nurseries on what do in your garden this month and even some advise on what to feed the birds!


In the Garden

  • Plant More Garden Color. Plant Hydrangeas and Crape Myrtles now.  They are blooming, so it is easy to see what color you are planting! Continue planting Gladioli bulbs each week, through mid-June, for a succession of blooms.
  • Fresh Herbs for Cooking. Plants herbs in a sunny spot close to your kitchen door.  Basil, Oregano, Thyme and Rosemary are easy to grow and great for cooking.
  • Keep the Veggies Going. In the vegetable garden pull spent plants, re-till the soil and plant your second crops.  Water well as needed.
  • More Color Please. Fertilize flower beds with Green Light Super Bloom to keep the blooms going.
  • Keep it Clean by Pruning. Prune arborvitaes, junipers, yews and hemlocks and clean up spent foliage of spring bulbs once the foliage has completely died back. Cut back bearded iris and divide.
  • Mulch, Mulch, Mulch. Mulch to keep weeds down and increase water retention in the garden.
  • A Beautiful Garden with Less Water. During dry weather, be sure to keep the garden adequately watered.  A weekly deep, thorough soaking is more beneficial than a daily light sprinkling. Water between 6-10am to avoid evaporation.

In the House

  • Water While You’re Away. Add SoilMoist to pots.  The granules absorb water and release it as needed.
  • Feeding Time. Continue feeding your houseplants monthly.

For the Lawn

  • Water in the AM. Water your lawn in the early morning.  Turf will have time to dry off before night, preventing disease.
  • Lay Sod. Now is the perfect time to sod your entire yard or replace deadpatches.
  • Move it Up and Keep It Sharp. Raise the mower blade up a notch and sharpen the blade. Taller grass can withstand dry weather and a grass blade with a clean cut needs less water.
  • Keep it Green. Continue to fertilize Bermuda lawns.


For the Birds

  • Bath Time. Keep birdbaths clean and full, especially this time of year.
  • Food Please. While the garden provides a good amount of food for the birds, supplement their meals by keeping feeders full.

Atlanta Makes List of Markets Where Housing Inventories Have Dropped Most in Last Year

The number of homes on the market continues to become a shrinking pool. Inventory of for-sale single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops dropped 20 percent in May compared to year-ago levels, according to data from REALTOR.com of 146 markets.

Inventories in May declined in all but two — Philadelphia and Shreveport-Bossier City, La. — of the 146 markets tracked by Realtor.com.

While inventories were on the decline, the median national list price was on the rise, inching up 3.17 percent in May compared to May 2011.

“These key indicators continue to suggest that the housing market is steadily moving along a path of stabilization and gradual recovery,” Realtor.com notes.

12 Markets Where Inventories Have Dropped the Most

California metro areas are seeing some of the largest drops in inventories of for-sale homes.

From May 2011 to May of this year, the following metro areas have posted the highest drops in the country with their housing inventories, with inventories falling 35 percent or more in the last year. Those metros are:

  1. Oakland, Calif.: -56.60%
  2. Fresno, Calif.: -48.76%
  3. Bakersfield, Calif.: -48.59%
  4. Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.: -44.71%
  5. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.: -42.65%
  6. San Jose, Calif.: -40.80%
  7. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.: –39.76%
  8. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.: -39.25%
  9. Atlanta: -39.19%
  10. San Francisco: -38.90%
  11. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.: -37.43%
  12. Sacramento: -35.92%

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News

Visit HGTV Green Home on June 19th to help Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption!

If you are a fan of HGTV, you are probably already aware that the 2012 Dream Green home is being built just outside of Atlanta in a community called Serenbe. This special community is just 30 minutes southwest of the airport.

Visiting Serenbe is reason enough to leave the hustle and bustle of the city. But this Spring, HGTV is showing off their Dream home and offering you the opportunity to help a local organization do some good!

The HGTV house is helping out Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption. Tours of the home cost just $20 and we get 50% of the proceeds collected on Tuesday June 19th.  Please sign up for this specific day.   To purchase advanced tickets, click HGTV Green Home. 

Please help spread the word, come down and see the house, and plan a fun day in the community of Serenbe. After you tour the HGTV house, stick around Serenbe to walk the nature trails, enjoy lunch, shop around in local stores and pet the animals at the farm.

U.S. Housing Market Finally Reaches a Turning Point

RISMEDIA, Monday, June 11, 2012—Home valuations will start to climb again while adjacent consumer industries will capture significant new growth opportunities in 2012 and beyond as the U.S. housing market finally turns the corner, concludes a major new study recently released by The Demand Institute. The recovery of the housing market will have far-reaching impacts in the coming years across the U.S. and international markets as U.S. consumers increase their spending on buying, renovating, furnishing and maintaining their homes.Launched in February 2012 and jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen, The Demand Institute is a non-profit, non-advocacy organization with a mission to illuminate where consumer demand is headed around the world.The new report, “The Shifting Nature of U.S. Housing Demand,” predicts that average home prices will increase by up to 1 percent in the second half of 2012. By 2014, home prices will increase by as much as 2.5 percent. From 2015 to 2017, the study projects annual increases between 3 and 4 percent. This recovery will not be uniform across the country, and the strongest markets could capture average gains of 5 percent or more in the coming years.

“In these initial years, the prime driver of recovery won’t be new home construction, but rather demand for rental properties,” says Louise Keely, chief research officer at The Demand Institute and a co-author of the report. “This is a remarkable change from previous recoveries. It is a measure of just how severe the Great Recession has been that such a wide swath of Americans had to delay, scale back, or put off entirely their dreams of homeownership.”

“In the long-term, we don’t expect homeownership rates to change,” says Bart van Ark, chief economist at The Conference Board and co-author of the report. “Over 80 percent of Americans in recent surveys still agree that buying a home is the best long-term investment they can make. What will be intriguing to watch is how their aspirations around homeownership are affected by this period of extended austerity.”

Between 2006 and 2011, some $7 trillion in American wealth was wiped out when home prices dropped 30 percent after a dramatic climb in valuations during the housing bubble. Looking forward, the moderate growth expectations for coming years suggest a return to normalcy. As home prices continue to drop and interest rates fall further, first-time buyers and others who remained relatively cautious will be drawn back into the housing market.

“As the U.S. housing market strengthens, almost every consumer-facing industry will be impacted in the coming years,” says Mark Leiter, chairman of The Demand Institute. “Business and government leaders will benefit by fully understanding the nature of this recovery. In doing so, they will be better able to anticipate how consumer demand will evolve and to formulate critical business and policy decisions to lead their organizations.”

Key Findings in the Report 
-The recovery will be led by demand from buyers for rental properties, rather than, as in previous cycles, demand from buyers acquiring new or existing properties for themselves.

-Young people—who were particularly hard hit by the recession—and immigrants will lead the demand for rental properties.

-Rental demand will help to clear the huge oversupply of existing homes for sale. In 2011, some 14 percent of all housing units were vacant, while almost 13 percent of mortgages were in foreclosure or delinquent.

-The average size of the American home will shrink. The size of an average new home is expected to continue to fall, reaching mid-1990 levels by 2015.

-Despite the number of Americans who have been hurt financially by the housing crash, the desire to own a home remains strong. In fact, one survey has revealed that more than 80 percent of Americans recently thought buying a home remained the best long-term investment they could make.

For more information, visit www.demandinstitute.org.

Some Must-Know Tips for Navigating the Housing Market

June is National Homeownership Month, an annual event that focuses on the long-standing tradition of homeownership serving as a symbol of prosperity and success in the U.S.

“Studies on homeownership prove that it enhances our lives in many ways, and among them is how we plant deeper stakes within the communities we call home,” notes John L. Heithaus, CMO of MRIS, a network of over 45,000 real estate professionals. “Since navigating the housing market has become more complex than ever – any potential homebuyer, whether a first time buyer or not, can benefit from solid professional advice in their pursuit of homeownership.” To that end, MRIS has compiled the following list of “must read” tips, reinforcing some of the best practices for ensuring that potential homebuyers are home-ready.

• Understand and update your FICO credit score. This single number plays a major role in determining the interest rate on your mortgage, so it’s vital to know what your FICO score is, address any discrepancies and take corrective action to improve your score if it’s below par. As of May 2012, 664 was listed as the national average, and the median was listed as 723. According to Heithaus, individuals with scores of at least 700 tend to get the best rates on a mortgage. Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once per year. To order, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

• Know what you can afford. Up to 12 months in advance of your desired home purchase, establish a relationship with a trusted mortgage lender who can help you identify your monthly payment goals, target purchase price and the types of loans you are qualified for based on your current financial situation.

• Boost your savings. After you have determined your monthly payment goals and target purchase price, make sure you have the cash on hand for when you are ready to buy. We suggest saving enough money for six months of mortgage payments, as well as a minimum of 3.5 percent of the purchase price to cover the down payment and closing costs. First-time and repeat homebuyers should also establish reserves for less visible expenses, such as closing costs, moving costs, home repairs, renovations and planned upgrades when saving for a home.

• Avoid making major purchases. When preparing to buy a home, it’s important to stay away from big-ticket items, such as purchasing a car, in order to keep your cash reserves high and show the lender that you’ll be able to service the mortgage debt more easily.

• Understand the micro-local real estate market. Homebuyers can save themselves money by watching the seasonal trends in their targeted area(s) and being financially prepared to make an offer when the time is right.

• Consult a real estate professional. Long before you are ready to buy, seek out and interview up to three real estate professionals who can prepare you to face the market by addressing questions, setting realistic expectations and providing valuable insight and expertise to the complex process of home purchasing. Heithaus advises that “This is no time to ‘go it alone,’ and an expert real estate professional can help navigate you through a successful purchase.

The tips above were provided with support by MRIS customers Teresa Tolson, Teri Deane , Colleen Minahan , and Debbie McKeen. Article reprinted from RISMedia: http://rismedia.com.

How to Avoid Costly Mistakes When Buying Your Next Home

Today’s low interest rates and large amounts of inventory make buying a new home easier than ever before. Maybe you need more room, less upkeep, just want a change, or maybe you’ve saved for a down payment and are ready to stop renting. Even if your credit isn’t so perfect or your down payment isn’t as significant as you’d like, chances are you could still buy that new home. It’s often just a matter of working with the right people who have the best strategies. When it comes to buying a new home, that means a REALTOR®.

What is a REALTOR®?

The term REALTOR® is not a generic term; it is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a licensed real estate professional who is a member of NAR, the National Association of REALTORS. The term REALTOR® is NOT synonymous with “real estate agent.” Not all real estate licensees are REALTORS®. Only members of the NAR can call themselves REALTORS®.

Through NAR membership, REALTORS® stay abreast of the most recent trends in their fields, remain well-informed of industry developments in their specialized areas, and address industry issues more effectively. NAR offers advanced educational opportunities to its members that allow REALTORS® to offer a more diverse array of services with such accredited sub-specialties as buyer’s representation (ABR®). REALTORS® are also industry innovators who have harnessed the power of the Internet to better serve consumers and have helped bring real estate technologies into the home buying and selling process to facilitate and streamline today’s real estate transactions. Plus, all REALTORS® have to take comprehensive training on NAR’s Code of Ethics, a comprehensive document that provides guidelines for protecting buyers and sellers, as a requirement for membership.

What can a REALTOR® do for a buyer?

Very simply, REALTORS® add value to the real estate transaction. A REALTOR® understands the local market and knows what matters to buyers and sellers in your area. They have the expertise and experience to help sellers protect their investment and help buyers build theirs. Using a buyer’s agent means you have a trained professional working with your best interests in mind. A buyer’s agent will work to find you the best property, negotiate the best price, ensure the property is inspected, and make sure you have the representation you need. Best of all, in most cases, the buyer’s agent is paid out of the seller’s commission, even though he/she works for you. Plus, things you tell a buyer’s agent remain confidential.

While some people are hesitant to use an agent because they think it means paying more, the reverse is usually true. In most situations, a buyer’s agent is simply working for the same commission that is paid by the seller and splits it with the seller’s listing agent. While some might argue this method leaves the incentive for a higher sales price, a buyer’s agent typically doesn’t make a large enough percentage of the purchase to make a difference. Even a $10,000 discount on the sales price typically only translates to a couple hundred dollars at most for the agent. It ultimately is in the agent’s best interest to negotiate and reduce that sale price. The benefit of a satisfied client and a positive word of mouth referrals is an investment that far outweighs a reduced commission.

Buying property is a complex and stressful task. Real estate transactions have become increasingly complicated in today’s market. New technology, laws, procedures, and competition from other buyers require buyer agents to perform at an ever-increasing level of competence and professionalism.  Today’s typical home sale involves as many as 20 steps to complete the transaction. REALTORS® work through the real estate transaction process daily and understand how it affects the interests of their clients and customers. REALTORS® know how to negotiate contract terms, manage inspections, and ensure a smooth settlement.

Buying a home doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, but the wrong decisions can end up costing you thousands of dollars. Working with a buyer’s agent who is a REALTOR® can help you avoid costly mistakes. A buyer’s agent has a fiduciary duty to their client. That means they are loyal only to you and obligated to protect your interests.

According to the 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, eighty-five percent of sellers used an agent or broker to sell their property. Shouldn’t you have an agent, too? Work with a buyer’s agent who has a keen understanding of the real estate business and who is on your side.

Mortgage Rates Plunge to New Lows

Fixed-rate mortgages reached new record lows for the sixth-straight week as long-term Treasury bond yields declined further following downwardly revised economic growth and job creation data.

The Freddie Mac survey showed the 30-year FRM averaged 3.67% for the week ending Thursday — a new low — ticking down from the prior week’s record average of 3.75%. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.49%.

The 15-year FRM, a popular refinancing choice, averaged 2.94% — also a new low — down from last week‘s record average of 2.97%. A year ago, the average rate for a 15-year FRM was 3.68%.

Five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.84%, unchanged from last week and down from 3.28% a year earlier.

And one-year, Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.79%, up from last week’s average of 2.75% and down from 2.95% last year.

A downward revision of economic growth and job creation data helped push rates to record depths.

Gross domestic product rose 1.9% in the first quarter, after originally being reported as 2.2%, led by gains in inventories, more government cutbacks and the slowest increase in corporate profits in over three years.

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft pointed out that the economy added 69,000 jobs in May, less than half of the market consensus forecast and revisions subtracted a total of 49,000 workers in March and April. And the unemployment rate ticked up from 8.1% in April to 8.2%

Home loan analytics firm Bankrate, which surveys large banks, reported the 30-year FRM fell slightly to 3.92% from 3.94%, while the 15-year FRM rose a bit to 3.16% from 3.15%. The 5/1 ARM declined to 2.99% from 3.01%.

Source URL (retrieved on Jun 7 2012 – 11:28am): http://www.housingwire.com/news/mortgage-rates-plunge-further-new-lows

Free eBook Series for Potential and First Time Homebuyers

LendingTree, LLC, the nation’s leading online source for competitive loan offers, announced today that it will be releasing a series of free ebooks to help potential homebuyers capitalize on today’s housing market. The first ebook in the series, available today, focuses on first time homebuyers, providing information on applying, negotiating and closing a mortgage in the current lending environment.

“With June being National Homeownership Month, we saw a prime opportunity to provide consumers a guide to navigating the housing market, with expert advice and information to aid in the loan process,” said Doug Lebda, LendingTree founder and CEO.  “Borrowers who are new to the housing market have tremendous amounts of skepticism and confusion related to home-buying.  By empowering consumers with a wealth of information, we hope to instill confidence and provide clarity to the process of financing a home.”

The LendingTree Homeownership eBook is available to download through the site: http://www.lendingtree.com/smartborrower/mortgage-news/home-ownership-guide/

The free ebook series reflects LendingTree’s commitment to the education of home buyers and homeowners, empowering consumers throughout all stages of homeownership.

About LendingTree, LLC
LendingTree, LLC is the nation’s leading online lender exchange and personal finance resource, helping consumers take charge of all their financial decisions, from mortgages to credit cards and more. LendingTree provides a marketplace that connects consumers with multiple lenders that compete for their business, as well as an array of online tools to aid consumers in their financial decisions. Since inception, LendingTree has facilitated more than 30 million loan requests and $214 billion in closed loan transactions. LendingTree provides access to lenders offering mortgages and refinance loans, home equity loans/lines of credit, and more.LendingTree, LLC is a subsidiary of Tree.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: TREE). For more information go to www.lendingtree.com, dial 800-555-TREE, join our Facebook page and/or follow us on Twitter @LendingTree. CONTACT: Megan Greuling 704-943-8208 Megan.Greuling@tree.com.


SOURCE: LendingTree, LLC/CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/

Congratulations to Our iPad Winners!

Congratulations to the following iPad winners. They are the latest winners of a new Apple iPad as part of Prudential Georgia Realty’s “Text, Scan or Browse” contest held at open house events across the Atlanta Metro area. For a list of open houses for the upcoming June 10th Super Sunday Open House Event and “Text, Scan or Browse” contest, visit www.PrudentialGA.com.


  • Gabriel Gil won an iPad by visiting the open house for Sterling at Dunwoody – a wonderful condominium and townhouse community built by The Providence Group.
  • Debra Luther won an iPad by visiting the open house for 3003 Heart Pine Lane in Buford, GA.
  • Chris Anderson won an iPad in our contest for sellers who allowed us to host an open house. His home was located at 735 Lake Mist Cove in Milton, GA.
  • Laura Sum won an iPad when she visited the open house for the Brownstones at Decatur located at 10 Arbor Way in Decatur, GA.
  • The next Super Sunday Open House event and our “Text, Scan or Browse” contest to win a new iPad is coming up on June 10th.

Prudential Georgia Realty hosted one of the largest open house events of the year on April 28th and 29th in cooperation with the National Association of Realtors® Nationwide Open House Weekend. According to FMLS reports there were 1,366 properties open over that weekend and Prudential Georgia Realty hosted 616 of these or 45% of all the open houses. We continue to host additional Super Sunday Open House events each month during the summer to promote our beautiful listings. Each Super Sunday offers a consumer the chance to win a new iPad in our “Text, Scan or Browse” contest. The next event is June 10th.

Home Improvement Tip: Clean & Repair Your Gutters

Cleaning roof gutters is a small task that can prevent big problems. Every spring and fall, thoroughly cleaning your home’s gutters will keep them working like they should. Leaves can build up and clog the downspouts, which can cause water damage to your roof and fascia (board behind the gutter). All that water pouring over the gutters can end up next to your home’s foundation, and maybe in the basement or crawlspace. Follow these simple steps for cleaning your home’s gutters and making simple gutter repairs.

Select an appropriate ladder to clean gutters. Use a step ladder if possible. For a two-story home, you may need an extension ladder. For all ladders, make sure the legs are set on a solid and level surface.

Removing Debris
Begin cleaning the gutter near a downspou t. Remove the large debris (leaves, twigs, etc.) with a trowel and dump it in a bucket. To clean out finer materials, flush the gutter lengths with a hose starting at the end opposite the downspout. Alternatively, you can use a gutter-cleaning attachment on a hose. If the water doesn’t drain, recheck the downspout strainer, and clean as necessary. If gutter water still doesn’t drain, the downspout may be clogged.

Check the drain end. If the downspout runs underground, remove it from the pipe as needed. Install a small nozzle on the hose and lock it at full pressure. Turn on the water and feed the hose up from the bottom of the spout. If this doesn’t clear the downspout or the nozzle is too big, use a plumber’s snake tool to clear the blockage. Reattach the downspout.

Repairing Gutters
After flush ing the gutter, if there is still standing water, the gutter may not be sloped correctly and will require adjustment. The length of the system should decline at least ¼” every 10’ toward the downspout. If the gutter doesn’t slope enough, detach the hangers and adjust the gutter enough to drain properly, then reattach. It may be easiest to work on small sections at a time to prevent the entire gutter system from falling. Inspect the gutter for obvious damage and missing parts. Support hangers should be spaced every 2’ along the gutter.

Repair any leaks in the gutter. Identify gutter leaks by filling the gutter with water, but make sure the gutters have dried before repairing. To repair leaks at the seams, make sure the gutter lengths are tight against each other, and run a bead of gutter sealant on both sides of all joints. To repair leaks at the end caps, add sealant along the inside of the join t. To repair holes in the gutter material, ask a Lowe’s associate for products designed to repair aluminum or fiberglass gutters.

Apply gutter touch-up paint to cover any blemishes as desired. If necessary, repaint some or all of the gutters in the home’s exterior color.