Here we are in a New Year! May you be happy and prosper in it! Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions. We want to take good advice from wise people and find ourselves in a better situation this time next year. If reading good books is on your list, I highly recommend Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography.
Believe it or not, his life didn’t go so well as a young man. He ran away from an apprenticeship as a teen, an act that was punishable by imprisonment; ran with a crowd that brought him down; and was terrible with money. He tells of a time after all of this, when he was sailing back to America from England, when he realized that he had made a lot of bad decisions. That’s when he made a list of rules to live by and turned his life around. I highly recommend this read! You can read it for free on many sites, but click here for a quick link to the online book.
In the book he writes of moving to Philadelphia and settling down. He is young and just bought his first home and business. He then meets a man named Samuel Mickle who felt the country was going to hell in a hand basket, and tells him how sorry he is that Ben invested all that money. Sam felt Ben was going to lose it all! Nothing could have been further from the truth! We all know how Ben does well with his printing business and goes on to be a leader of our young country!
If you have your ducks in a row, and are tired of renting and thinking of buying your first home, you might run into a few Samuel Mickles telling you what a bad idea it is! But the truth is, interest rates are low, and the economy is running along better than it has been. And over time, life just get more expensive.
Mr Franklin tells us that after years of nay-saying, Samuel ended up buying a house for seven times what he could have paid if he had just bought as a young man instead of renting. We never hear of Samuel Mickle again in the history books! But we all know Benjamin Franklin! He’s so popular that he ended up on our $100 bill! So take my advice and read his advice! And call me! Let’s get moving on your dream to own a home!
Suzanne Kasler says that when looking for a new home, “You’ve got to have good bones, and if you don’t you must create them.” How true! So when looking for a new home, think about focal points in a room. Is there a pretty mantel? Are there moldings in the home? Is the room symmetrical? If not, can you add something and make it more balanced? Here’s an example of a recent example of this.
This couple needed to move closer into the city for work, but were used to a well-proportioned home. They wanted three bedrooms and baths and love a symmetrical living area layout. Since their children were grown and had homes of their own, they really wanted to downsize to a condo with everything on one floor. Their location was also tight – under one half mile commute to work! They were tired of fighting traffic and wanted a more pedestrian lifestyle. After looking for about a year, they found a beautiful flat in Buckhead.
They loved the layout from the beginning: a formal living room and dining room with a foyer in between. They love the way the condo has two balconies, with wonderful windows and doors to the outside. The bones were great, but they didn’t love the color and needed to do a few small renovations. The main thing they changed was paint.
They painted the entire home a soft white, using different sheens for the ceiling, moldings, and walls. I think it really opened up the space.
The biggest change in the dining room, was a more traditional light fixture and paint.
There was a lowered ceiling over the island in the kitchen. Since the cooktop is vented underneath in the island, it wasn’t needed. They like the more open feel now.
The lighter paint really opens the space in the master bedroom also. As you can see, this was a very minor project with painting being the most intense part of the process. I hope you like it too!
So Tuesday is my day to see all the new, lovely homes on the market. It’s such a thrill to see all the different ways you can live in homes! These listings agents are all friends of mine and Dorsey Alston agents, and I love to see what they are up to! All of these homes are fantastic! You can see the listings if you follow the links, so I just wanted to show you what struck me.
This is the front door of Patti Junger’s listing inside the perimeter in Sandy Springs. I love a door with character. It’s a lovely home with so much charm! This home has a wonderful layout and lots of bedrooms. There is a small bedroom next to the master that the wife made a lovely dressing room/closet! I’ve always thought this would be a great idea, and it is beautifully done here!
My friend Jason Cook has this fabulous in-town home on the market. I was so glad to get a chance to see it yesterday! Built in 1905, it oozes charm! The ceiling heights make the rooms perfection, and are finished off with amazing moldings. The dining room boasts the original leaded windows and moldings. Lovely!
There’s a charming basement suite with a kitchen that would be great for an older child, a nanny, or parents.
And don’t you just love older staircases?? The ones in newer homes are factory built and the tread always seems a bit short and steep to me. This stairway is an easy stride! The curve and gleam of the railing is so inviting!
Then I popped by Sue Richardson’s listing on Peachtree Battle. So much room and such a great location for under $1M. I fell in love with this gorgeous mantle in the living room! I love marble mantles, but the gleam of this wood and the curve of the design captivates me! Let me know if you would like to see any of these houses! I’d love to work with you and any of these delightful agents! What’s your favorite? I’d love to know!
Wow! There are some great things going on to help you start your Christmas right!! Here’s a list of my favorites around town for the holidays!
Top of my list is Tree Elves!! This wonderful service combines two of my favorite things – Kind of Pops and Christmas trees! Purchase a Christmas tree online. Included in the basic purchase is the tree with a tree stand, a tree bag for easy disposal, and a 4-pack of Holiday King of Pops to enjoy while you decorate the tree. If this isn’t enough fun, the delivery people are dressed as elves!! Joy! But here’s the best part – In January, when the festivities are over, take the ornaments off your tree. They will pick it with the stand, and recycle the tree! I’ve already ordered my tree and am living for my December 2nd delivery!!
Since no one likes to look at a winterized pool, the delightful people at The St. Regis Atlanta build a skating rink right on top of it every year! It is up and going! The easiest way to make reservations is just to pop by. There’s a holiday reservations desk on the 6th floor just inside the skating rink that handles the skating and Santa Claus tea reservations. If that’s too much trouble, book online. Many people do both. And if tea with your mother in law and all of your nieces, nephews, sons, and daughters has made you a little edgy, I highly recommend getting your hot chocolate spiked!! It’s the best! They use marshmallow vodka – who knew?? We will have to meet there and discuss your next Atlanta home purchase over a cup!
Oh! And stumped on what to get that difficult person on your list? This Friday, December 2, Sid and Ann Mashburn are taking 10 minute phone reservations to personally help you find the perfect gift! If you haven’t been by their store, treat yourself to a great shopping experience and drop by!
So it looks like Christmas is off to a fantastic start here in Atlanta! May your holiday be merry and bright!
Congratulations! You’ve decided that you are tired of renting and are ready to take the plunge into homeownership! I’m proud of you!
Let’s take some time and organize our thoughts.
- Find a realtor! He or she is going to be your new best friend for a while! Make sure you like her! What’s her plan? Does she help you use the internet to find great properties and look at properties in your area or price range? Does she listen to you? When my husband and I were younger, we asked a realtor to help us find a three bedroom home within the city limits of a suburban town in Atlanta. She drove us out of the city and county, taking us to some ludicrous exurb forty minutes from the town we wanted to live in! I swore if I ever got back to my area, I’d never get in a realtor’s car again!!! Find someone who respects your wishes, time, and takes your search seriously.
- What’s your budget? You probably have a good idea of what you can afford, but by getting pre-qualified with a good mortgage loan originator, you can look with confidence. She will check your credit and make sure that you can qualify for a good FNMA, sellable mortgage loan. This, to me, is the most tedious part of the process, but by being prequalified you entice listing agents to want to work with you. I have seen people not be able to purchase after putting time and money into making an offer and starting the purchasing process, only to be told later that they aren’t able to obtain the loan that they thought they could. It’s heartbreaking!
- Where do you want to live? Do you want to be near family, great dining and shopping, work? If you don’t have it down precisely, that’s fine. But two or three of zip codes is a great idea. When I work with clients, I have them set up on a daily email that shows all of the activity in their price range and location so they can keep track of the market and really see what homes are selling for and how long it takes a home to go under contract. As they learn where they want to live, they can start to make a good, timely decision on what home to make an offer on and be certain they are offering a good value.
- House or Condo? This is tied in with where you want to live. If you want to be more urban, you will probably be more concerned about the condo market. In Atlanta, if you are looking in Buckhead or Midtown under $500,000, you will probably looking at condos. There is a good supply of single family homes and condos in this area over $600,000. Right now I have a client looking between $500,000 and $700,000 who is strongly considering either.
- Make a list of what you really want in a home. I had a client recently looking in the high $100,000 to low $200,000 range who really wanted a tub. It didn’t have to be fancy, but only a shower was a deal-breaker for her. We didn’t even go look! She also really wanted a guest room. It didn’t have to be large, but a place for her guests to have some privacy when they visit. Since she has lots of friends who like to stay with her (she’s a blast!), this was also a deal-breaker for her. She ended up buying in a fabulous, historic condo building in Midtown. Her condo needed a little work to bring it into the 21st century, but that didn’t bother her. She loved the idea of light repairs, updating the kitchen appliances, and painting to make the space exactly what she wanted anyway. I have another client who works constantly and has a very demanding career. He has a much higher price range, but the home has to be updated and ready to move in and love. He has no time or inclination to do any repairs. I can’t blame him! I wouldn’t either with his schedule!