Free Workshop for Potential First-Time Homebuyers

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

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

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

Best Drought-Tolerant Perennials for Your Garden

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

Salvia

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

Lavender

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

Globe Thistle

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

Purple Coneflower

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

Sedum

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

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

Five Tips for a Green Home

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

Change Your Light Bulbs

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

Buy ENERGY STAR® Appliances

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

Seal Up

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

Use Less Water

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

Adjust the Thermostat

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

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

Agency Struggling to Give Away $339 Million to Georgia Homeowners

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

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

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

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

Springtime Pests

Loving the warm spring weather Atlanta has been experiencing lately? So have the bugs! After one of the warmest winters in Georgia’s history, insects like termites and kudzu bugs (those stinky beetles that resemble lady bugs) are already proving to be as much of a pest as that yellow haze of pollen covering Atlanta. Warm temperatures all winter allowed insects to remain active and means their populations are likely to be larger than normal this spring and summer.  This also means pests like termites are swarming earlier.

Wondering exactly what kind of creepy crawly pest is crawling across your patio or camping on your window screen? University of Florida researchers released a handy app a few years ago called iPest that can be downloaded to your iPhone or iPad from your app store for $1.99. It’s a great tool that can help homeowners identify and educate themselves on common pests in or around your home.

There are simple things you can do to combat the pests you find invading your yard or home this spring. Spread a bait material insecticide around fire ant mounds. The ants will eat the poison and share it throughout the colony. Make sure there is no opportunity for water to collect around your home. Mosquitoes love standing water for breeding, so clean your gutters and make sure any water that collects around your home during a spring shower home (in flower pots, bird baths, etc.) can drain properly. You can also find helpful information on everything from pests to pollen on Northwest Exterminating’s blog.

 

Prudential Realty Awards Petersen Partners with Top Award for 2011

The Petersen Partners team was recognized at the annual Prudential Real Estate National Sales Convention, held from March 11-13 in Orlando, Florida. Prudential Realty awarded Petersen Partners with the Chairman’s Circle Platinum award, placing them in the top 1% of all Prudential Agents worldwide.

This is the 10th year the Petersen Partners team has earned the Chairman’s Circle award. It is a prestigious award given to the finest and most committed professionals that matches the mission of the Petersen Partners team to deliver experience and professionalism their clients can trust. Dan Petersen credits it as a group effort owed to the support of many, saying “We would like to thank our family, friends, clients (current and past) for all the referrals and trusting in our team to handle your real estate transactions. We could not have achieved this without you all! Jill and I would also like to thank our team members who help us carry out our mission of providing superior real estate services for all of our clients.”

Petersen Partners have over 12 years experience serving metro Atlanta home buyers and sellers and are seeing increased activity in the Atlanta real estate market. What sets the team apart is their knowledge of and deep personal commitment to the communities they serve. To learn more about the Petersen Partners team, Prudential Georgia Realty, or to search for properties for sale, visit www.PetersenPartners.com.