Tag Archives: Choosing the Right Agent

Before Buying a Lake House – What You Should Know

A-Room-With-A-View-CopyThere are a lot of benefits to purchasing a home in Forsyth County, especially if you’re someone who has worked hard to realize your dream of living on the lake.  Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway, a retirement home, or a primary residence, buying a lake house can be an exciting process.  However, as with anything in life, it’s important to remember that living along a large body of water isn’t always going to be beautiful sunsets and serene mornings.  Homes near or on the lake have their own unique set of struggles, so it’s important to begin the process with your eyes wide open.

SELECT AN AGENT WITH EXPERIENCE

Lake homes aren’t like regular homes, so you don’t want to make the mistake of hiring a regular agent.  When it comes to waterfront properties, you’ll want to make sure that you’re working with someone who can explain the various aspects of owning a lake house and who has the right experience to back it up.

DON’T JUST LOOK AT THE HOME – CONSIDER THE WHOLE PROPERTY

Purchasing a waterfront home is about more than the home itself—it’s about the water that goes along with it.  Therefore, don’t make the mistake of falling in love with the house, only to discover that the water is murky, filled with invasive species, or regularly traversed by noisy powerboats.

It’s important to take some time to think about your reasons for wanting to live on the lake.  If it’s about swimming, fishing, or peaceful relaxation, make a point to check out the water quality and consider speaking with the neighbors to get a better idea of what area water traffic looks like.

LAKE ASSOCIATIONS

When it comes to waterfront properties, many lakes require homeowners to join the lake association that governs the water and the beaches, so it’s important to remember that your property’s shoreline may be the subject of various regulations.

For Lake Lanier, while it’s not mandatory to join the lake association, it’s worth noting that the water—including the shoreline—is governed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  For the most part, this shouldn’t be an issue, but they may be able to dictate what you can and cannot do with your property, especially if it jeopardizes the integrity of the shoreline.

Before you buy, it’s wise to find out what types of rules govern the property and to assess whether they are things you can live with.

PAY ATTENTION TO EXTRA EXPENSES

While lake homes frequently promise a great return on investment, keep in mind that they are often filled with extra expenses, such as increased property taxes and higher insurance premiums.  In addition, it’s important to be aware of the fact that most waterfront septic systems need to be routinely checked to ensure the lake isn’t being polluted.  While this may not seem like much, these checks can be expensive, especially if they require the replacement of an aging septic system.

CONCLUSION

Whether you’ve just started shopping or you’ve been searching for a waterfront property for several months, I have a solid knowledge base to work from and understand that shopping for a lake front home is very different from shopping for a land-locked home.

If you’d like to see what types of properties are available or would like some more information about what the market is like along Lake Lanier, I’d love to help.

Please call me.

Marie Dinsmore | The Dinsmore Team | www.DinsmoreTeam.com | 770-712-7789

Buying a Home? Set Yourself Up for Success

bigstock-African-American-family-celebr-14087630While some of us may be prone to spontaneous bouts of spending or find ourselves unable to stick to a strict budgeting system, when it comes to buying a home, it’s important to remember that such a large financial decision warrants more than a few helpings of discretion, sensibility, and budgeting.

With that being said, it’s important to stay on the right path, especially if financial discipline remains a challenge for you.  Therefore, the following tips will help you keep your eye on the prize.

KEEP SCORE: Plain and simple, the better your credit score, the better your mortgage terms will wind up being when it comes time to apply for a loan.  While improving a depressed score may take a good deal of work, a good credit rating can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.  Therefore, start by reviewing your credit a few months before you intend to place your loan application and if your score is in the 600s or lower, along with making consistent on-time payments, try to pay down your balances so they sit below 30% of your limit.

CONSIDER ALL COSTS: Sure, the cost of the home itself is a great starting point, but it’s important to factor in all of the other costs of homeownership, such as taxes and insurance, as well as other expenses such as utilities and homeowner association fees.  With that, don’t forget about the ever-necessary rainy day fund which will help you cope when various issues demand repair and go into the process with the understanding that the average homeowner spends 1-4% of a home’s value on property maintenance each year.

BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR SEARCH: In our culture of instant gratification, it can be a little difficult to distinguish between wants and needs, but in order to make a sensible housing decision, making the distinction between the two is imperative.  When it comes to building your list of must-haves, include items that will directly affect your quality of life, such as the home’s location, its price, the number of bedrooms, and the its square footage.  While you may have your heart set on hardwoods and granite, it’s important to prepare yourself for life’s necessary concessions so that you can remain flexible and stay within your budget.

KEEP YOUR COOL: Purchasing new things is exhilarating for everyone; however, buying a home is not like getting excited over a new pair of shoes.  Using a bit of self-restrain will not only prevent you from overspending or choosing a home that doesn’t fully meet your needs, but it will protect you in markets where the homes are selling quickly.  Even if you have your heart set on someplace you thought would be perfect, be prepared to walk away if the home inspection reveals more defects than your able to deal with.  With this, maintain a sense of calm if you find yourself in the middle of a bidding war, as it can push you to spend more than is prudent.  At the end of the day, maintaining a sense of patience will help you remember that whether your offer is accepted or the home inspection goes off without a hitch, there are always other great homes available.

Marie Dinsmore | The Dinsmore Team | www.dinsmoreteam.com | 770-712-7789

Tips For Purchasing a Luxury Home

Luxury Home Pool ShotIf you’ve worked hard for years in an effort to accrue a certain income level, then at some point, you’re likely to want to invest your hard-earned money into a lavish home that you and your family can enjoy.  Whether it’s a modern high-rise condo or a sprawling golf course estate, there are a few items that should be considered before purchasing a luxury home.

1.) UNDERSTAND THE SEARCH PROCESS: While most buyers have the option of perusing home listings on large real estate search engines, the house hunting process can be somewhat different if you’re looking to buy within the luxury market.  Often times, in an effort to protect the seller’s privacy, many high-end homes go unlisted and tend to be found through the Realtor’s personal connections instead of the MLS.

2.) DON’T PLACE TOO MUCH WEIGHT ON PHOTOS: Surprisingly, large homes don’t always show well in photos, especially since many of the details which make them truly amazing are better seen in person.  If you’re concerned about what is around the property, perform a search on Google Earth to get a better idea of what the area looks like, but when it comes to viewing the home itself, make a point to go beyond the pictures.

3.) WORK WITH A LOCAL EXPERT: While this is important in any real estate transaction, it’s even more important when you’re considering a luxury home.  Plain and simple, working with a knowledgeable Realtor is critical since most high-end properties offer viewings by appointment only.  By selecting a buyer’s agent who not only knows the area but has an abundance of connections, you’re more likely to have success.

4.) DOCUMENTATION IS VITAL: Even though the housing market has begun to turn around, there is still a great deal of scrutiny in the luxury market, which means financial documentation is imperative.  Generally speaking, most people who are able to afford high-end properties are working with accountants and money managers who have diligently sheltered their money; however, while this may be important wealth protection, it makes things difficult when banks are pushing for income verification.

5.) HIRE SMART ADVISORS: Since you’re the one purchasing the home, you want to be the one making the ultimate decisions; however, it’s important to have reliable advisors to help you along the way.  If you’re working with both a financial planner and a Realtor, you’ll want to make sure they’re on the same page.  Good advisors will not make your decisions for you, but they will keep you from making rash decisions that may hurt you in the long run.

In regards to hiring the proper Realtor, don’t make the mistake of assuming that all agents are the same.  Just like any other industry, real estate professionals tend to have varying specialties, so when it comes to working with someone, it’s a good idea to consider Realtors who are Certified Home Luxury Marketing Specialists (CHLMS).  This designation, which is given by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (www.luxuryhomemarketing.com), helps buyers feel confident that they’ve selected an agent who has documented performance in the top 10% of their market and has also successfully demonstrated their expertise in the luxury home field.

In the end, making a purchase within the luxury home market is obviously not something you just want to jump into without a lot of planning and preparation.  Purchasing a home is a massive investment for anyone; however, there’s something to be said for spending the amount of money that most high-end homes require.  Don’t get caught up in the excitement—think smart, hire smart, and make sure you’ve dotted your “I’s” and crossed all of your “t’s.”

If you’d like to speak with a Certified Home Luxury Marketing Specialist in your area, you can search for members through their website at www.luxuryhomemarketing.com, or you can contact me at your earliest convenience.

Marie Dinsmore, Certified Home Luxury Marketing Specialist | The Dinsmore Team | www.dinsmoreteam.com | 770-712-7789

Appraisers vs. Online Automated Valuation: Know the Difference

AVM-copyBig news came down the wire last week when it was announced that Zillow had acquired Trulia for $3.5 billion in stock options.  While a lot of people may not see how this merger will directly impact their life, for home buyers or sellers, it’s always a good idea to understand the difference between “zestimates”—home value estimates taken from Zillow—or Automated Valuation Models (AVM) and real people.

When it comes to AVM’s, they tend to work best on “cookie cutter” homes where most of the properties look relatively similar to one another.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that very few lenders rely solely on AVM’s for loan decisions since they can’t always accurately value unique properties such as those sitting on Lake Lanier, various upscale golf courses, and homes with a great deal of acreage.

Therefore, the following is a list of things that an automated or non-appraiser valuation (such as the kind you would find on Zillow) won’t tell you.  Before you consider purchasing a home based on these types of online valuations, it’s important to understand the difference.

1.)    IS THE PHYSICAL HOUSE STILL STANDING WITH ACCURATE SQUARE FOOTAGE?  Sites like Zillow obtain their information from courthouse and property data regarding location and square footage, which means it’s not based on an actual appraiser’s home measurement.  If you’re considering a house, you’ll obviously want to know for sure that it has things like four walls and a roof; therefore, it’s not always smart to assume that a computer is the best source for up-to-date data.

2.)    ARE THERE UNIQUE FEATURES WHICH MIGHT ADD OR DETRACT FROM THE PROPERTY VALUE?  Sure, the computer might value a property at $300,000; however, that number might be subject to extenuating circumstances such as the train tracks just down the road or the desirable parks right outside the neighborhood.

3.)    WHAT VARIABLES IMPACT COMPARABLE SALES?  While a computer might compare your property to similar, recently sold property a ¼ mile away, it doesn’t mean all of the other variables are in line.  The properties might be in a different school district, sit on different roads, be flood-prone, or have been sold under duress.

4.)    ARE THERE MARKET FLUCTUATIONS?  Since automated online systems utilize data from recent, nearby sales, they may not account for neighborhoods that are beginning to experience upturns or downturns.

5.)    IS YOUR APPRAISER QUALIFIED?  When you work with an appraiser, you’re generally aware of the person’s qualifications and whether they will complete your project with professionalism, solid ethics, and judgment; however, when it comes to free online services, you have no idea who is behind the values and either way, they will never compare to the work of a physical, on-site appraiser.

Marie Dinsmore, Certified Luxury Home Specialist | The Dinsmore Team | www.dinsmoreteam.com | 770-712-7789

Featured Neighborhood: Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park is a luxurious, gated community located in Johns Creek. Just 30 miles outside of Atlanta and 20 miles from Lake Lanier, this area offers residents numerous amenities and recreational opportunities, including the Atlanta Athletic Club and the Country Club of the South.

Greenwich

With homes built by the respected builders, Traton Homes, these estates will have stunning architectural exterior and interior design, including four sides of exterior detail, elegant yet functional features and 3 car-side entry garages. Gourmet kitchens will be garnished with stainless steel appliances and granite countertop; hardwood flooring will spread throughout the homes and each owner’s suite will be equipped with a luxurious bath and walk in closet.

Greenwich 2

Johns Creek is a diverse community that is proud of its impeccable public safety, various national park services and exceptional public schools. In fact, the children of Greenwich Park will attend the finest public schools in Georgia, including State Bridge Crossing Elementary, Autrey Mill Middle and Johns Creek High Schools.

With easy access to I85, I285, 141 and GA400, Johns Creek offers its residents the perfect balance between rural and city life. Johns Creek national park services include the Chattahoochee River, National Recreation Area, Autry Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center and the Johns Creek Art Center. Music lovers will also take note of the 45-acre Encore Park, which includes the 12,000 seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, the summer home of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and venue for top musical acts.

Each of the 21 Greenwich estate homes rest on 1/3 acre to 3/4 acre lots, and prices are in the $800,000’s. For more information about this fabulous community, please contact me.

Marie Dinsmore, Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist

The Dinsmore Real Estate Team | www.dinsmoreteam.com

Marie@DinsmoreTeam.com | 770-712-7789