Author Archives: Annette Walden Mason

June is National Home Ownership Month

Owning your own home brings lots of savings to the pocketbook, but with home ownership some of the other costs can add up. So it never hurts to take measures to help you reduce your monthly utility bills. Below are a few ways to do just that!

Electricity Bill

Saving money on your electricity bill can be done in multiple ways. Some easy changes include running appliances, like the stove, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer, at night, opting to air dry clothes, or cooking meals in a crockpot, toaster oven, and in the summer months – on the grill outside. Set aside time throughout the year to inspect the areas around doors and windows and seal any cracks with caulk or weather stripping. Additionally, make sure to unplug electronics when not in use or use a power strip to turn them all off at once.

Water Bill

Your monthly water bill can sneak up on you, but small changes can be made to cut costs. Install WaterSense-certified faucets and showerheads and convert toilets to low flow to reduce the amount of water used. Make sure to regularly check toilets and sinks for leaks and repair them. Opt for using your dishwasher instead of hand washing and ensure it’s a full load each time. Also, don’t forget to turn off the water while brushing your teeth and shaving.

Gas Bill

Investing in some changes upfront can make a difference on your natural gas bill long term. Add insulation in your attic and around your water heater and pipes. Make sure to repair any leaks in your ducts, inspect your furnace regularly, and check your home for any blocked vents that could cause your gas heating system to work overtime. You can also reduce the temperature of your water heater.

Here are some other tips to help lower your utility costs:

  • Give your thermostat a nudge: Set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%. A programmable thermostat does the work for you.
  • Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature: Set your fridge to 38 degrees and your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees. This will keep your food fresh, but your fridge and freezer won’t need to work as hard to maintain the temperature.
  • Take shorter showers: Trimming two minutes off your shower time can cut your water usage by five gallons.
  • Don’t wash clothes in hot water: Stick to warm or cold water when you do laundry and cut your per-load energy usage by at least half.  And wash full loads.
  • Fix leaky faucets: That drip, drip, drip isn’t just annoying, it wastes gallons of water.
  • Adjust the temperature on your water heater: The default temperature setting on water heaters is typically 140 degrees. Lowering it to 120 degrees can reduce your water heating costs by up to 10%. Leaving town for a few days? Turn your water heater to the lowest setting to conserve energy usage.
  • Purchase energy-efficient appliances: If you’re in the market for a new washer, dishwasher or water heater, buy an energy-efficient model to yield long-term savings. A dishwasher with the Energy Star label is required to use 3.5 gallons of water or less per cycle, compared with the more than 10 gallons used by some older models. Prioritize appliances that run most often, like the fridge, HVAC system, water heater, dehumidifier, TV, washer and dryer.
  • Ask about discounted rates: Some utility providers offer cheaper rates during certain times of the day, making laundry and other energy-intensive chores 5% to 25% less expensive during off-peak times. And some utilities offer senior discounts.
  • Swap out your lightbulbs: Save $75 per year by swapping out the bulbs in your five most-used light fixtures with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs that bear the Energy Star label.
  • Install dimmer switches: Dimmers let you set the brightness in a room to suit your needs, setting the mood and saving electricity.

Hope you found these tips helpful.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

Fees to be Aware of When Purchasing a Home

Purchasing a home is arguably one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. As you start your hunt, don’t forget there will be other costs associated with your purchase than the price of the home. This is valuable information, especially for first-time homebuyers. These are all good reasons to hire an experienced Real Estate Agent to help navigate you through the process, plus the fact of multiple offers and homes now selling above listing price.

Here are 5 fees to keep in mind as you begin to budget.

  1. Home inspection. This is a crucial step in the home buying process. The findings that come from the inspection can help you negotiate price and repairs. Generally, you can expect to pay between $300 to $500 depending on the home and the location.
  2. Title services. Title services encompass the transfer of the title from the seller and a thorough search of the property’s records to ensure to no one will pop up with a claim to the property. Additionally, you may need to buy title insurance which will protect the lender or your investment in the home.
  3. Appraisal fee. Before getting a loan, you will likely be required to get an appraisal of the home to determine its estimated value. This will be conducted by a third-party company and the cost can land anywhere between $300 and $1,000, depending on the size of the home.
  4. HOA fees. Many communities have a homeowners’ association that enforces monthly fees. This money is used for general maintenance and updates to areas like pools, parks, and more. Typical HOA fees are around $200 per month.
  5. Taxes. The taxes each buyer pays at the closing table differ, but it is not uncommon for it to be up to two months’ worth of county and city property taxes. Additionally, there may be taxes for the transfer of the home title.

I would be happy to talk with you as you prepare to buy or sell and devise a plan to help you transition as smoothly as possible.

Sincerely,

Marie Dinsmore

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

Feeling Grateful

Despite such a challenging year of 2020, with the Pandemic, low inventory of homes, etc. we are very honored to have been among those achieving the Circle of Excellence Award from the 400 North Board of Realtors.

While it’s an honor and I’m very grateful to receive these accolades, honors, and awards, it’s not necessarily my goal that I set out to achieve each year. My goals are to give my clients the best possible service possible, whether it is to help them list, stage, and get the best price for their home or to find them their perfect new home.  My passion is helping people.  As a result, by providing this high level of service, I have many repeat clients as well as referrals of friends and family over my 19-year real estate career.  For this, I am truly grateful for their trust and confidence.

One of the other ways I service my clients is my knowledge of the market.  I ensure I am well versed in all matters of real estate.  As a realtor, we are tasked each year to accomplish so many education units.  I typically go beyond what is required.  I have been certified in negotiating, probate, distressed property, luxury home market, iRep Pro, etc.  So, please know whatever someone’s real estate needs are, I will always do my very best to deliver the ultimate service experience.

For a list of certifications and awards, please see our ‘About’ page.

In Appreciation,

Marie Dinsmore

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

What Is A Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market happens when demand exceeds supply. When there are more buyers, but real estate inventory is low. Since there are fewer homes available, sellers are at an advantage. We have definitely been in a Seller’s Market for many months now.

In a seller’s market, homes sell faster, and buyers compete in order to score a property. These market conditions often make buyers willing to spend more on a home than they would otherwise. Therefore, sellers can raise their asking prices. Furthermore, the increased interest means that buyers rarely have the power to negotiate and are more willing to accept properties as-is.

Due to the shortage of housing, these conditions often lead to multiple offers. During these bidding wars, buyers will make competing offers and drive up the price, typically above what the seller initially asked for.

Tips For Buyers

 Whenever there is a low inventory of houses on the market and an abundance of buyers, timing is crucial.

Act fast: If you find your dream home during a seller’s market, you will have to act fast. If you hem and haw over a house you want to buy, you may find that it’s no longer available by the time you make an offer. You should get preapproved for a loan ahead of time, so your financing is in order when you need it.

Know that you’re at a disadvantage: When it comes to making an offer, keep in mind that you’re the one at a disadvantage. A seller’s market is not the time to try to push contingencies, concessions, specific closing dates or repairs. Focus your attention on what’s most important to you. If there are certain stipulations you want written into the contract, think hard about whether they are worth losing the property over. If you can make an all-cash offer, you should. Sellers prefer buyers who are willing to pay in cash because they don’t have to worry about the deal falling through due to issues with financing.

Be patient: If you find that you keep losing out on the homes you’re interested in, it’s crucial to be patient and not get discouraged. Many buyers end up suffering during a seller’s market because they get frustrated. Inexperienced buyers caught up in multiple offers will often offer more money than a home is actually worth – or they feel comfortable spending – in order to get the home they want. That’s always a mistake.

Don’t settle: On the flip side, some buyers will end up making offers on homes they otherwise wouldn’t be interested in because they’re tired of losing out. Remember, buying any property is a huge investment and often a 30-year commitment. Don’t settle on a home just because it’s cheaper. Unless you have to move immediately, it’s a much better idea to wait it out and resume your home search after the market cools down.

Tips For Sellers

Since sellers must compete to attract buyers in a seller’s market, it’s helpful to know how to increase interest in your property.

Clean and organize: To begin, make sure that your home is in good condition and has been cleaned and organized before you list, market, or show the property.

Price fairly: Even though homes tend to sell for more money in a seller’s market, it still helps to price your home fairly. If you set your asking price at or slightly below fair market value, you are likely to attract more interested buyers. Some sellers choose to list their homes for slightly less than the assessed value in order to encourage multiple offers.

Carefully consider offers: It’s even more important during a seller’s market that you carefully review the offers you receive. Sellers are often so focused on choosing the highest offer that they fail to examine the financial strength of each buyer. Just because buyers say they’ll pay a certain amount for your home doesn’t guarantee they’ll actually be able to obtain those funds. Lenders will not allow buyers to borrow more than the assessed value of your home.

The last thing you want is to accept an unrealistic offer and be forced to put your home back on the market when the deal falls through. The longer your home is on the market, the more questionable it will seem to buyers, and the more power they will have when negotiating. For ALL these reasons, is why you need an experienced real estate agent.

Ensure preapproval: For any buyers who require financing, you should ensure that they have been preapproved for a loan. Preapproval requires that buyers’ finances and credit history are verified, making it far more likely they’ll ultimately be able to obtain a loan for a specific amount of money. Prequalification, on the other hand, is just an estimate of buyers’ finances.

Be aware of contingencies: Also, be on the lookout for offers that include contingencies. Offers that include stipulations, like mortgage contingencies, home sale contingencies, appraisal contingencies, and inspection contingencies, enable buyers to back out of sales contracts if certain conditions aren’t met.

Is It A Buyer’s Market Or A Seller’s Market?

In the North Georgia area, it is definitely a Seller’s Market.  The inventory of homes for sale is at an all-time low which is preventing some potential sellers to list their property.  Here are some things to consider if you are one of those sellers:

  • Consider new construction. Often times you will have a more definitive timeframe and have somewhere to move.
  • Consider renting for a while. Yes, it may require two moves, but will also give you time to find just the right property.
  • Consider moving in with family. Not the most ideal situation, but some have the extra space and would agree for a limited time.
  • Go on an extended vacation. Have an RV or rent one? With work from anywhere situations, this might be the opportunity to travel until the market has more inventory.
  • If you have a beach/mountain rental, use it until you find your next forever home.

Bottom line is, if you can be flexible, you can take advantage of getting top dollar for your current home and still find your next home.  Give me a call and let’s work out a plan for you.

Best Regards,

Marie Dinsmore

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

Top Tips for House Hunting Online

Hunting for a new home online is a great place to start your new home search, but it should not be your end all be all.  One of the services that I offer my clients is providing them with the most up to date current listings of the homes that meet their search criteria.  I have access to and can send the notice of a new listing within 15 minutes of it going on the market.  And some I even know about as ‘Coming Soon.’  I can also research the ones of interest prior to the showing to find out if it truly meets all the checkboxes before we schedule a showing for you.

Good listing agents are excellent at highlighting the best features of the home, but keep in mind there may be more than meets the eye. To make the most of your time and efforts and gather a well-rounded picture of home listings online, keep the following three things in mind.

  1. Stay up to date. When you start your search, make sure you find a site that pulls up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service (MLS) where real estate agents actively post their most current homes for sale. Many online resources update less often or fail to remove listings that are off the market, making it more difficult to sort through the clutter. The service I provide will provide the most up to date information.
  2. Pictures can be deceiving. Real estate photographers are experts at showing a home in the best possible light. Many use tools and strategies to boost appeal, such as a fisheye lens to make areas look larger and creative editing to make colors and textures really pop. But often listings will not contain photos of unappealing parts of the home, like small closets or outdated bathrooms. When you wonder why there are not certain photos of key points of the home, it’s usually because that’s what they don’t want you to see.  Some research on my part often uncovers that and eliminate wasted time of going for a showing.
  3. See it to believe it. Once you find what appears to be your dream home online, call me to schedule a showing. You want to take the opportunity to vet the home in person and explore every part of it before beginning the offer process. I will help you cover all your bases and will ask questions you may not have thought of.

Yes, inventory is low and the market is very competitive right now, but I can save you time, energy, and frustration by being your source for your new home search.  Provide me your wish list and I’ll set up for you to receive a notice when your dream home comes up for sale.

Marie Dinsmore

RE/MAX Around Atlanta

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

Community Resources

WELCOME

2019 Welcome Services

The Dinsmore Team has created this handy guide for both Buyers and Sellers. The guide lists trusted service providers that we use personally and professionally. The providers listed service the Forsyth and North Fulton County areas.

2014 Complete Guide to Moving

This 20-Page Guide will be your comprehensive source for selling your home and planning your move. It includes tips for getting ready to sell, planning your move, packing and transitioning into your new home.

2014 Home Owners Tip Guide

This 20-Page Guide will help you develop an annual maintenance schedule for your home's systems and appliances to help you avoid bigger problems by taking care of them while they are small. It's also a great resource for trouble shooting malfunctions on your own, saving you time and money.


utilities

Looking for a fast way to connect all of your utility services online? Try Connect Utilities.

Please let us know if there are other resources you'd like to see.

Marie@DinsmoreTeam.com

770-712-7789