Home Buyer FAQs: What You Need to Know About Closing Day

man with key closing on houseClosing day is an exciting moment for home buyers; after all, it’s when you officially receive the keys to your new home! However it can also be a source of worry, especially for first time home buyers who are unfamiliar with the process. To help you head into your closing with confidence, we have gathered some answers to common closing questions, with the help of real estate lawyer Scott Mills, Esq.

Must I use a closing attorney?

In short, yes. It is legally required to use a closing attorney in the state of Georgia because transferring a title is considered to be practicing law.

How long does it take to close on a house?

In cases where there are no problems with the title, you should be able to close within a week. However, the actual closing usually takes no longer than an hour.

Will I be able to read all of the closing documents before signing them?

Yes, if you request that your lender provides you with the closing documents ahead of time. Sometimes you will need to ask repeatedly for the lender to do so. Once they are provided to the lawyer the buyer and seller can review them.

What happens if I don’t bring the right amount of money to the closing?

If you end up bringing too much money to your closing, the closing attorney will write you a check for the difference. If you bring too little money, most attorneys will accept a personal check for the difference; however the maximum amount accepted by check can vary from lawyer to lawyer according to their risk tolerance. Erring on the side of too much is better than not enough.

Whether you are a first time home buyer or a seasoned pro, having an experienced real estate agent on your side can make the home buying process smooth and stress-free. The Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team with Keller Williams is here to help you with all of your Marietta real estate needs, so contact us today!

Photo by stockimages via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Summer Selling Tips from Your North Atlanta Real Estate Team

swimming poolSummer is here and the rush to buy a new home is on! This is one of the busiest seasons for the north Atlanta real estate market, due in part to families with kids trying to relocate and settle in to their new homes before school starts in the fall. As a seller, you will benefit from a large pool of highly motivated buyers; however you will also have plenty of competition.

So how can you set your house apart from other homes for sale in your neighborhood and city? Read on for some summer selling tips from experienced Keller Williams real estate agents Barry Wolfert and Lisa Wrenn of the Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team!

Embrace the season with summer staging

Summer is all about backyard barbecues and drinking sweet tea on the front porch while your kids catch fireflies- or at least that’s what you want potential buyers to envision when they view your home. Make a special effort to show off your home’s outdoor living spaces to their best effect.

Patios and decks should be pressure-washed for a nice, clean look and porches should be clean and tidy. If you don’t have much outdoor dining furniture or seating, you don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money. Adding a chair and a small table, along with a potted plant or candle, can easily liven up your porch or deck and help prospective buyers envision how they would use the space.

Make sure your yard is ready for its close-up.

Summer foliage and colorful flowers can do wonders for the curb appeal of your home. Pay special attention to your landscaping and consider hiring a lawn care company if necessary to ensure that the lawn and garden look their best. Brown, dead grass and plants are an instant turn-off, so be sure to keep everything watered adequately.

refreshments for house showingIf you have a swimming pool, showcase it. The sweltering Georgia heat is on your side in this, making people long for a dip in their very own pool. Keep the pool and surrounding area as clean and debris-free as possible, and consider using the same staging strategy above to help potential buyers envision their future use of the space.

Provide an oasis to tired house-hunters

There’s a reason we have the nickname “Hotlanta.” Running around to showings in 90+ degree weather is an arduous task, so make your home a welcome respite for hot, frazzled potential buyers. No matter how energy-conscious you are, now is not the time to ration air conditioning. Keep your home comfortably cool, and consider providing light refreshments, like a pitcher of tea or lemonade.

Working with experienced real estate agents will help you sell your home quickly and for a great price. Our north Atlanta real estate team is here to help, so contact us today about selling your Marietta, Roswell, Kennesaw, or Acworth home!

Photos by winnond and dusky

Summer Events in Marietta

event on Marietta SquareMarietta real estate is a hot commodity in the north Atlanta housing market, thanks in large part to the city’s vibrant and welcoming culture. Centered around the famed Marietta Square, historic downtown Marietta is home to many of the region’s best events and attractions. As the balmy nights of summer roll around, be sure to get out and explore all that Marietta has to offer.

Below, take a look at our roundup of the best summer events in Marietta, Georgia, from your experienced Realtors Barry Wolfert and Lisa Wrenn of the Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team with Keller Williams.

Yoga on the Square in Marietta

Head to the Marietta Square on the 2nd Tuesday of each month to enjoy free monthly yoga classes! Local yoga instructors will lead the class, which is appropriate for all skill levels. If you’ve been wanting to try yoga for the first time, this event is a great way to give it a shot. Do remember to bring your own mat, and check the weather before you go. In case of rain, the event moves to the nearby Lawrence Street Recreation Center.  

Cobb County Juneteenth Weekend Extravaganza

Celebrate Juneteenth in Marietta at this weekend-long event. Taking place June 13th through June 15th, the celebration will include live music, spoken word performances, vendors, food, dancing, and more.

 4th of July Celebration in Marietta

Don’t miss Marietta’s Fourth in the Park event! Starting Friday, July 4th at 10 am, this celebration will kick off with a parade, followed by free concerts and museum tours, an art fair, delicious food, carnival games, and of course a stunning fireworks display!

Free Concert Series at Glover Park

Glover Park on the Marietta Square is home to one of the city’s most popular events, the free summer concert series! The monthly concerts cover a wide range of music and take place on the last Friday of each month. Upcoming shows will feature Motown, Top 40, Big Band, Country, and more.

Bring a blanket or lawn chair to enjoy the show for free, or get some friends together and reserve a table! Many of the restaurants around the Square offer delicious to-go specials so you can enjoy your dinner in the park.

Do you want to be a part of the fun? Looking for the perfect home in Marietta? If so, call us today to get started with your Marietta real estate search.

 

Photo by Marietta Public Information Office via Flickr CC 2.0

Alpharetta, Kennesaw and Woodstock Rank Among Best Georgia Cities

downtown Alpharetta GA

A recent ranking of the best cities in Georgia showcased some of the hidden gems in the metro Atlanta real estate market. The list used a variety of criteria to rank cities with a population of 10,000 or more, evaluating everything from cost of living, home prices, and tax rates to climate, local amenities, and commute time. Crime rates and employment rates also went into determining each city’s rank.

 

So what are the best places to live in Atlanta, and in the state of Georgia? We’re proud to note that three of the top ten cities are communities that we serve here at the Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team with Keller Williams. Read on to learn why you should buy a home in Alpharetta, Kennesaw, or Woodstock!

Kennesaw

Coming in at number ten on the list, the Cobb County city of Kennesaw has one of the lowest crime rates of any of the cities that were sampled. It has previously been recognized as one of the best towns for families, and the historical and educational attractions (including Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park) make it a great place to live as well as a popular destination for visitors. See our Kennesaw real estate listings to start searching homes for sale in Kennesaw.

Woodstock

Woodstock, Georgia is a north Atlanta suburb that has been quietly racking up accolades and accomplishments in recent years, from being named one of the most affordable cities in Georgia to becoming a shining example of New Urbanism. In addition to the charming historic downtown, Woodstock boasts affordable homes for sale, lots of great amenities, and good schools, earning it the number eight spot.

Alpharetta

Alpharetta came in at number four on the list thanks to its excellent quality of life and high median household income. This city provides the best of both worlds, with suburban amenities and beautiful homes. However, many Alpharetta residents don’t even need to commute into Atlanta, since Alpharetta is a booming tech-industry hub in its own right! The city is home to dozens of major corporations, including AT&T, GE, IBM, Nokia, Philips, and Verizon. Visit our Alpharetta community page to learn more about this north Fulton County city and explore Alpharetta real estate listings.

If you are searching for homes in Cobb County, north Fulton County or Cherokee County, give us a call at 770-656-7551. North Atlanta real estate agents Barry Wolfert and Lisa Wrenn of the Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team with Keller Williams will help you find the perfect place to call home!

 

Image via Alpharetta CVB

Celebrate National Fitness Month at West Cobb Parks

Kennesaw Mountain trailDid you know that May is National Fitness Month? Whether your preferred exercise is running, hiking, tennis, or biking, you can work up a sweat while enjoying the great outdoors thanks to the many wonderful parks in West Cobb County.

Smyrna, Kennesaw, and Marietta real estate is extremely sought-after for many reasons, but the lush, shaded trails and scenic views of the local park systems sure don’t hurt. If you’re thinking of relocating to West Cobb, check out the list below to discover some of our best parks!

Heritage Park

Located in Smyrna, Heritage Park is a 105-acre nature preserve and home to one of the area’s best running trails, Silver Comet Trail. The 1.7-mile trail combines a soft surface trail with an elevated boardwalk over the wetlands of Nickajack Creek. While this park does not allow biking, runners and walkers will definitely enjoy the views of wetlands, mill ruins, and the historic Concord Covered Bridge.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

The Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is not just a haven for history buffs! This 2,965 acre park is a popular destination for local runners and hikers, who enjoy 18 miles of well-kept trails.

Laurel Park

Located just minutes from the heart of Marietta, Laurel Park has something for the whole family. Amenities include 13 lighted tennis courts, a one-mile walking path, a playground, a full outdoor basketball court, and a sand volleyball court. Picnic tables, grills, and shuffleboard courts make this a great park for grilling out and enjoying an afternoon in addition to the sports amenities.

Want to make this area your home? If you are looking for a home for sale in Cobb County, contact your local real estate market experts, Barry Wolfert and Lisa Wrenn of the Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team with Keller Williams today!

Photo by Ronnie via Flickr CC 2.0

3 Tips for Pricing Your Home to Sell

house made from folded moneyHomeowners understandably want to get the best possible price when selling their homes; home buyers understandably want to get the best value possible. When a compromise can be reached between the two, a sale is born. There are many factors that affect the sale prices of residential real estate in north Atlanta, from market conditions and interest rates to the marketing and staging of the home. Take a look at some tips for setting the list price of your home, from the Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team.

Pay attention to local market factors

Determining an appropriate price for your home involves weighing a number of different factors, including:

  • Value– The value of your  home compared to other homes in the same block, neighborhood, school district, or city.
  • Supply– The local real estate inventory, or how many homes are for sale. The more inventory, the more competition you’ll have.
  • Economy– Other factors can affect the local economy and therefore home prices and inventory, like a major employer moving into the area or laying people off.

Play it cool

Never show your hand when it comes to the asking price of your home. If a buyer catches wind of the fact that you need to sell your home quickly, you’ve lost the upper hand. Once buyers know that you may be willing to accept a lower closing price in exchange for a swift sale, you will be unlikely to get the asking price you wanted. Of course, you also need to be realistic about the market and where your home fits.

Remember that sale price is just one piece of the pie

Don’t forget that the price itself is just one component of the larger deal you make with the buyer. Sometimes it may be wise to take a lower price as opposed to waiting for a higher offer but having to pay closing costs, allocating money for roof repairs, etc.

Home pricing is complicated and the wrong price could alienate buyers, lose you money, or cause your home to take much longer to sell. Contact Barry Wolfert and Lisa Wrenn of the Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team with Keller Williams today to get the best advice and latest market information.

Photo by ponsulak via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

North Atlanta Real Estate Update

As real estate experts in the north Atlanta market, we monitor the market constantly. In order to provide our clients with the best service and expert advice possible, we stay up to date on the latest market trends and statistics regularly. Here are some interesting and relevant stats on the current housing market. Like any statistic, the data itself is not very meaningful unless you understand the context and what it actually means for the market. That’s why our clients hire us!

1st quarter 2014 sales are down 7% from the same quarter in 2013, and down 12% from the same quarter in 2012.

residential real estate sales

Analyzing quarterly sales by sales price range shows that the reason for lower overall sales in the 4th quarter was the 37.6% drop in sales of properties priced below $100K.

All price ranges above $200K increased in sales and the shift toward larger portions of purchases in higher price ranges caused the median sales price for all properties to increase again in the 1st quarter of 2014 compared to the same period last year.

graph of homes sold

Even though 1st quarter 2014 sales were lower, the median sales price rose by 16.5% compared to 1st quarter 2013, up to $198,000. An increase in the percentage of sales in price ranges above $200K compared to last year resulted in a higher median price.

median home sale prices

Continued low supply in the 1st quarter of 2014 lowered the median number of Days-On-Market (DOM) by 14.2%  to 66 days, compared to the same period of the previous year, which was higher than any of the previous 3 quarterly periods.

real estate DOM
These real estate statistics are for the metro Atlanta market overall.  However, all real estate is local and housing trends can vary widely from area to area and even within the same high school district. In order to get the most accurate picture of your local real estate market, contact Barry Wolfert and Lisa Wrenn today!

 

Atlanta Realtor Tip: Don’t Make These Home Buyer Mistakes

Preparing to buy a home can be hard work, from improving your credit score and building up a savings account to getting pre-approved for a home loan. But that’s just the beginning. Even after you have been approved for a mortgage, it’s important to avoid doing anything that could alter your credit profile until after the mortgage papers are signed and processed. Read on to learn the most common mistakes to avoid before buying a home, from your north Atlanta Realtors Barry Wolfert and Lisa Wrenn.

coffee cup and computer

Don’t apply for new credit cards or close existing accounts

Becoming a homeowner opens up a whole new world of maintenance, remodeling, and repairs (plus all of the power tools that go with them), but don’t run out to your nearest home improvement store to sign up for a store credit card just yet. Opening new credit cards can lower your credit score, which is a big don’t when a lender is involved. On the other end of the spectrum, this is also not the time to close existing credit accounts. While it may make financial sense to cancel unused credit cards, you should wait until after closing on your home in order to avoid changing your credit usage to credit limit ratio.

Don’t increase your debt load or make large purchases

From home improvement loans to buying a car, you should not add to your debt load or diminish your savings account before buying a home, even if you know you can afford it. Changing your debt to income ratio or decreasing your savings could affect your mortgage application and even cause your lender to reject your application.

Don’t miss payments

While buying a new home and preparing to move can be stressful, it’s important not to let any of your bills slip through the cracks. Missing a payment or paying late can damage your credit score, which is one of the main factors in whether or not you will be approved for a home loan.

Don’t take a new job

If possible, try not to change jobs.Your mortgage lender will need to verify your employment and income based on your pay stubs, and taking a new job (even if it pays more) can complicate that process and postpone approval of your loan.

If you are considering buying a house, contact Barry Wolfert & Lisa Wrenn today! As Keller Williams Realtors, we have the tools, experience, and passion to help you navigate the north Atlanta real estate market, including Marietta, Roswell, Kennesaw, Acworth, Smyrna, Alpharetta, and Woodstock.

Photo via picjumbo

Cobb County High Schools Among Nation’s Most Challenging

students working at deskIt’s no secret that Cobb County has many excellent high schools; in fact, the high quality of public education in Cobb County has helped to make it one of the most in-demand real estate markets in Atlanta. Adding to the county’s educational credentials is the announcement that fourteen Cobb County high schools have been included on a list of the most challenging high schools in America!

What does this illustrate about education in Cobb County?

According to the Washington Post, the Most Challenging High Schools ranking uses an index based on the total number of Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) tests administered at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated from that school in May or June.

This “Challenge Index” gives a picture of how many students are taking advanced classes and challenging themselves academically. The list was intentionally not based on the number of students who scored highly in the AP, IB, and AICE tests. Many school districts choose to artificially inflate those numbers by only allowing the top-performing students to take challenging classes, a real shame considering researchers have found that even low-performing students who score 2 (out of 5) on AP tests still performed appreciably better in college than low-performing students who did not take advanced courses in high school.

By allowing all students to challenge themselves academically, Cobb County is encouraging academic excellence and helping prepare its students for the more rigorous coursework they will encounter in college.

Cobb County high school districts

Many north Atlanta buyers base their home searches on school district, with PopeWalton, and Lassiter in particularly high demand. If you are looking for a home in a specific Cobb County school district, contact the Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team today!

Photo by Ambro via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ask a Home Inspector: Tips for Buyers

magnifying glass inspecting house

At Wolfert & Wrenn Real Estate Team, we know that becoming a homeowner is an important milestone in life and a major financial investment, and we love helping our clients find the perfect home! There are many things to consider when choosing a house, but one of the most important deciding factors is undoubtedly the structure of the home itself, which is why it is vital to hire a home inspector.

Charming architectural features and lovely landscaping can make you fall in love with a house, but none of that matters once you move in if you’re too busy dealing with a termite problem or other structural issue to enjoy it. Since most people don’t have the knowledge to thoroughly evaluate the state of a home, hiring a home inspector is a routine (and strongly recommended) part of the home buying process. Read on to learn more about what to expect from a home inspection, from local home inspector Scott Berlyoung with Alpha Home Services.

What is involved in a home inspection?

An ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) inspector will do a visual inspection of the home’s structure, lot, and all major systems, like heating and air, electrical, plumbing, etc. The inspection usually takes half a day (about 4 hours) although this can vary depending on the size and age of the home. Multiple HVAC systems or kitchens could require a longer inspection, while brand new homes may not require more than a couple hours of inspection.

Can the inspector repair the problems?

No, a home inspector cannot repair any of the problems found in a home, as that would be an inappropriate conflict of interests. If you need to find a contractor or other home repair service, contact us and we will be glad to recommend trusted local companies.

How much does a home inspection cost, and when do I pay?

The cost of a home inspection will vary depending on the size of the house and other factors that could require extra time and attention. $350 and up is typical for most Atlanta home inspections. The inspection fee is usually due at the time of inspection.

Photo by ddpavumba via FreeDigitalPhotos.net