Archive for the ‘Tips for Buyers’ Category

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Sustainable Homes No Longer Seen As Just A Fad

August 25, 2010

Carson Matthews, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

While Atlanta’s housing market remains stuck in low gear, the trend toward certified green or “sustainable” homes has been growing.

More builders are adopting sustainable practices and more buyers are weighing the economic benefit of paying a little extra up front for a house featuring environmentally sound design, construction standards and materials.

“Even if the economy had not gone sour, people are looking at sustainable practices and materials, not just for housing, but for the entire neighborhood,” said Sibet Freides, president of Idea Associates Inc., a marketing and consulting firm with a real estate development focus. Idea Associates clients include Reynolds Signature Communities, The Settings Development Companies LLC and Urban Land Institute.

“You might have some builders who have been in the industry for a long time who are thinking this is a passing fad, but people have bought into the concept of sustainability,” Freides said. “Younger buyers have now come to expect it and I don’t think the industry, as a whole, thinks it’s a fad anymore.”

According to a report by Carson Matthews, a Realtor with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, in the first quarter of 2010, green homes comprised 8.4 percent of the new homes on the market, which compares consistently with the 2009 total of 8.5 percent,

Matthews is a certified EcoBroker and the author of a blog, www.GreenToTheScene.com, which delivers news about green residential building in Atlanta.

In April, Matthews launched the Green MLS Toolkit, a resource that can be used by any Multiple Listing Service to track green activity.

In the first three months of 2010, Matthews reported that the median selling price of a certified green home was $494,000, which is 133.5 percent higher than a conventional new construction home; however, the report shows green homes are fetching more at closing.

“In the first quarter, green houses sold at 98 percent of list, whereas standard new construction homes sold at 92.5 percent,” Matthews said. “In the custom home market, that percentage is much higher.”

“Green building is here to stay,” said Les Stumpff, president of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association (GAHBA) and regional manager for Texas-based Standard Renewable Energy, which provides energy audits for homeowners, businesses and government entities.

“There is a growing awareness of how much energy and water and, therefore, money can be saved by owning a home built to some level of green-building standards,” Stumpff said.

Other benefits, such as better indoor air quality and overall comfort, will increasingly propel demand for green homes.

“The housing recession has made it more difficult to adopt building standards that increase new home prices, but builders who were building green in good times will continue to build green as housing starts return,” Stumpff said.

Although they cost a little more, the formula for building green houses is not very complicated, said Matt Hoots, founder and CEO of The Hoots Group Inc., a full-service green contractor, and co-chair of the GAHBA Green Building Council.

Together with the GAHBA, Hoots helped develop the EarthCraft House residential green-building program in partnership with Southface Energy Institute, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable homes.

“You start with a good design,” Hoots said. “You can save 30 [percent] to 40 percent in operating costs right there.”

Every aspect of the design is critical, from sighting the house on the lot to putting windows in the best location to ease the load on the HVAC system and limit the cost of blinds.

“If you only build to the standard energy-efficiency code, you’re almost building an EarthCraft-certified house,” Hoots said. “Unfortunately, a lot of builders build around the code or to barely meet code.”

As materials, utility and appliance manufacturers jump on the sustainable bandwagon, the expense gap between building green and building traditional housing is diminishing — resulting in more reasonable pricing for higher- performing homes, experts say.

Currently, Freides’ clients are building two new showcase green homes, one in The Settings of West Point Lake near LaGrange, and one at Achasta, a golf community near Dahlonega. Both houses are being built by Johnna Barrett of SUSTAIN house, the residential division of Atlanta-based architecture and interior design firm Barrett Design Inc.

“We started with a budget and we’re learning that it doesn’t have to cost that much more to build green,” Freides said.

Among other products, the green houses incorporate a radiant barrier sheathing that reportedly reduces monthly air conditioning bills by 17 percent, green bedding products, and tile and wood components made from recycled materials.

“A lot of this stuff is common sense and people need to be educated about the products and building practices that are available,” Freides said.
Read more: Sustainable homes no longer seen as just a fad – Atlanta Business Chronicle

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Unbeatable value: Bank-owned Townhomes in Buckhead (Charles Gerrick and Debbie Pille)

August 5, 2010

 Just reduced! You can now own at Brownstones at Honour for 50% the orginal listing price!

 A luxury estate home development of 14 gated townhomes located in a signature Buckhead location

Remaining homes at Brownstones at Honour are now bank owned, offering incredible pricing, reduced $500,000+ from original prices, with the full support of the original builder.

Brownstones at Honour ~ Living Room

Brownstones at Honour ~ Living Room

Beautifully crafted all brick exteriors, built by the award winning team from Brunning & Stang, each home features 3 bedroom and 3 ½ baths in a three level configuration. 

The community has a private HOA and has neighbor participation.  Your dues will cover maintenance of all surrounding grounds and townhome exteriors. Private trash service, termite bonds and all common area taxes are also included. 

Brownstones at Honour Fountain

Brownstones at Honour Fountain

These magnificently appointed homes offer everything you would expect and much, much more.

  • State of the art kitchens with all Viking appliance packages
  • Butler’s pantry with sinks and wine cooler
  • Spacious open floor plans, 3,400-3,900 square feet with 23-26 foot widths
  • Ten foot ceilings on all three levels
  • Coffered ceilings and fireplaces in most living rooms
  • Elevators servicing all floors
  • Master suites with sitting areas
  • Pre-wired for multi-sourced sound system
  • Pre-wired family room for flat screen television
  • Security system with three control panels
  • Spacious porches with both covered and uncovered living space
  • Relaxing landscaped courtyard with cascading water fountain
  • 2 car garages with ample storage and parking

 

Brownstones at Honour ~ Kitchen

Brownstones at Honour ~ Kitchen

For more information on these Buckhead townhomes for sale that are bank owned, please contact sales associates at Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty:  

Charles Gerrick, REALTOR

Charles Gerrick, Founding Member

Charles Gerrick
404.835.9593
charles@atlantafinehomes.com     

Debbie Pille, Founding Partner

Debbie Pille
404.668.3465
debbiepille@atlantafinehomes.com     

     

     

 
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Featured Home: Contemporary Loft in the Heart of it All (Andrea Cueny)

July 12, 2010

5200 Peachtree Road

This is a spacious loft at Peachtree Malone close to Brookhaven in Atlanta, Georgia. It has freshly painted & neutral paint colors, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and totally updated bathrooms and kitchen.

Living Room

Peachtree Malone Lofts is a creative and fun place to live. The entire building surrounds a courtyard area and the back of this particular loft backs up to beautiful green space. On the outside you see clean lines and corrugated metal walls separating oversized balconies. Open spaces and exposed duct work immediately add character inside.

Kitchen

This particular loft has dark hardwoods throughout and the kitchen and living room are open to one another. The kitchen cabinetry is light and continues the modern concept. Stainless steel appliances work well with accents that are both eye-catching and functional. Large floor to ceiling windows and a glass door off of the living room lead to your large balcony that overlooks a wooded area.

Balcony

The master bedroom and bath is spacious and has easy access to the laundry closet. The cabinetry in the master bath is light and the room has beautiful tile work. The two bedroom unit is great for a roommate or for a home office.

The location is extremely convenient with walking access to MARTA. You are only minutes away from fine shopping, dining and entertainment. The gated community has an upbeat vibe and will put you right in the heart of everything Atlanta has to offer.

Two Bedrooms and Two Full Baths

Offered at $185,000

5200 Peachtree Road
Chamblee, GA 30341

Click here for more photos and information about this home.

Andrea Cueny, North Atlanta Office, REALTOR®

Andrea Cueny, North Atlanta Office, REALTOR®

Andrea Cueny
Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty
(678) 695-7040
(770)442-7300

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Featured Home: Great Home in Wonderful Neighborhood (Diane Higgins)

July 9, 2010

2500 Summer Oak Drive

Move in tomorrow to this great home in the Tucker subdivision of Summer. It is conveniently located within walking distance to downtown Tucker and the new high school. The home was built in 1990 and has been well-maintained. It is in great condition inside and out. Make the changes that will make it your own and start living in this perfect home immediately.

Family room

There are hardwoods on the main level and a spacious vaulted family room with fireplace. The family room has a wet bar for entertaining. The kitchen and breakfast area are off of the living room and there is also a sunroom and master on the main. There are three bedrooms upstairs, one of which could be a second master. You have lots of versatility in this floor plan.

Breakfast room

The backyard is nicely shaded with established landscaping bordering your property and the one behind you. It is a nice place to relax on a warm summer day! The entire yard has been landscaped with well-established trees, shrubbery, and flowers.

Backyard

This is a wonderful home in a cul-de-sac neighborhood. There is a lot living of space for now and to grow into later. The home has many storage areas that are a huge plus to this floor plan. It will be very easy to be at home here. The convenience to so many nearby things will make everyday life bit simpler!

Offered at $295,000

2500 Summeroak Drive
Tucker, GA 30084

Four Bedrooms, Three Full Baths and One Half Bath

Please click here for more photos of this great home

Diane Higgins Founding Member

Diane Higgins
Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty
Direct: 678.778.5358
Office: 404.835.9600

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Featured Home: Excellent Starter Home in Buckhead (Heery Brothers)

July 6, 2010

2125 Howell Mill Road

What an opportunity to snag a great starter home or lot for new construction in the Morris Brandon area! This 1950 home has been updated and is move in ready if you want to make this your first home or downsize.

Kitchen

You enter the home through the living room which has a large picture window and fireplace. The room is very spacious. There are hardwoods here and they run throughout the house with the exception of the bathroom. White cabinets and neutral solid service countertops in the kitchen provide a great deal of storage and work space for a new homeowner to take advantage of. A breakfast area will easily hold a table for six.

Living Room

The home has two bedrooms and a great black and white tiled bathroom. Two really nice features of the Howell Mill Road home: a large screened in porch and separate deck. The space would allow you to expand the home if you desire or have multiple ways to enjoy being outside rain or shine.

Dining Room

If the desirable Morris Brandon area is where you want to live do not miss this opportunity. What a great price for an incredible location.

Offered at $299,000

2125 Howell Mill Road, NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

Two Bedrooms and One Full Bath

Please click here for more photos of this home

Heery Brothers, Buckhead Office Founding Members, REALTORS®

Heery Brothers, Buckhead Office Founding Members, REALTORS®

Heery Brothers
Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty
Direct: 404.974.4319
Office: 404.835.9600

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Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty responds to the crisis in Haiti

June 18, 2010

On January 12th our eyes became riveted to the television and our hearts broken as we watched round the clock coverage of the earthquake in Haiti.  At a shocking magnitude of 7.0, the earthquake was one of the worst natural disasters the world has ever seen.  It is estimated that over 100,000 people died, and left 1.5 million homeless and in need of aid.

Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty agents and staff, like others, could not just sit back and watch the devastation but were moved to spring into action.  As a result, we were compelled to send over $1000 in donations to the following relief agencies:

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971.  Today, MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, and exclusion from health care or natural disasters.

American Red Cross– as a leader of aid and relief internationally, the American Red Cross dedicated over $1 million to help the devastation in Haiti.  You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti- charges will be added to your cell phone bill.

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Real-estate pros offer tips on spotting shoddy remodels.

June 16, 2010

Shoddy remodel work On a 10-minute tour, it’s easy to be blinded by new cabinets, floors and appliances. Real-estate pros offer tips on spotting shoddy work.

By Liz Pulliam Weston

The Victorian looked fabulous.

The owner had poured thousands of dollars into refinishing the hardwood floors, replastering the walls and updating the kitchen.

What she hadn’t done was fix the home’s foundation, floor joists or beams.

“As I entered the dining room, a hutch that was 20 feet away was shaking,” said home inspector Rick Jarrett of First Home Inspections of Belmont, Ohio. Once he peered into the nearly inaccessible crawl space, Jarrett spotted the problem. “There was no understructure. It was all rotted from decay or termite damage.”

Jarrett’s inspection saved his client, a potential buyer, from having to spend tens of thousands of dollars excavating the foundation and repairing the damage.

If you’re looking for a house, you’ve probably seen your share of ill-conceived rehabs: additions that stick out like sore thumbs, for example, or once-trendy materials that quickly became dated.
Harder to spot are the remodels that look great on the surface, but ignore or deliberately try to hide serious flaws. An incompetent, clueless or greedy remodeler can leave you with a house that’s not only expensive to fix, but potentially dangerous for you and your family.

Youll encounter lots more shabby remodeling if:

  • “Flippers” have descended on your market. Investors who buy homes in hopes of reselling them quickly may cut corners on rehabs to boost their potential profits.
  • Expert construction help is costly. The more expensive it is to hire skilled tradespeople, the more tempted homeowners may be to try to do it themselves — even if they have no idea what they’re doing.
  • Building code or licensing enforcement is lax. Substandard construction and incompetent contractors can flourish in areas where no one is checking up on remodelers.

An experienced home inspector can help you avoid trouble. But at $300 and up, inspections can get expensive. Here’s what to look for so you can avoid the biggest money pits and winnow down your candidates before you hire an inspector.
Fundamentally unsound
Unless you have X-ray vision, you can’t peer inside the walls, floors and ceilings to see if a home is fundamentally sound. You can look, however, at the home’s surfaces for some real clues about what’s going on underneath. Such as:

  • Big cracks in the walls, ceiling, floors or foundation. Any foundation crack should be cause for concern. Wide cracks elsewhere, or cracks radiating from the corners or windows and doors, may also be a sign of trouble. They can indicate foundation problems, or ongoing movement that could be expensive to fix. If everything looks good, Jarrett said, check the closets. Remodelers may patch everything else — but forget about what’s hidden there.
  • Sloping, bouncy or “spongy” floors. All homes settle over time, so a slight slope (or even a rather noticeable one on a very old home) shouldn’t panic you. But sloping that’s accompanied by significant, recent wall and ceiling cracking should be a concern. If the new ceramic tiles in the bathroom are already cracking, for example, you have good evidence of serious trouble. So, too, is any floor that feels less than solid under your feet.
  • Doors and windows that don’t open freely. This could be due to settling, foundation problems or poor construction. In any case, it may indicate costly repairs are needed.
  • Wide open spaces. Remodelers often like to combine smaller rooms into larger spaces, but doing so can undermine the stability of an entire house if the remodeler unwittingly removes a structural or load-bearing wall. Sagging rooflines, ceilings or beams should be big red flags. Any time an older house has been updated this way, however, investigate further. At the very least, ask for copies of the permits and for the name and license number of the contractor who did the work. If the work is unpermitted or the contractor unlicensed, consider steering clear.

Shocking developments
Home inspector Jim Gibbs checks out a lot of homes for real-estate investors in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and he’s seen plenty of truly shocking remodels.

“The biggest problem I see is in the electrical,” Gibbs said. The remodelers are “not doing anything near code.”Some of the most common problems:

  • Failing to update wiring when adding rooms or circuits
  • Making dangerous connections
  • Failing to add enough circuits to cope with today’s households
    It’s not uncommon for kitchen remodelers to spend a fortune on, say, countertops and appliances while skimping on the electrical, Gibbs said. Instead of having five, six or more circuits to run all the microwaves and refrigerated wine cabinets, they have one or two.

You can see if there’s a problem by simply turning on a bunch of appliances at once and see what blows. Or you can take a look at the electrical panel.

“If they’ve had a major remodel and you look at the circuit breaker panel and it doesn’t look new,” said Gibbs, whose Gibbs Residential Inspections is based in Plano, Texas, “you need to be suspicious.”

Even a new box isn’t a guarantee, however, since popping in a new panel is relatively cheap. You might also want to stick your head up into the attic to try to gauge the age of the wiring you see. If you have any doubts, you’ll probably want a certified home inspector to give you a report.

Jarrett has seen do-it-yourself electrical jobs where the remodeler tapped into power directly from the street, running it into a garage or other room without benefit of fuses or circuits. Not only is such a stunt potentially lethal to the do-it-yourselfer, but the unregulated power could easily result in shocks or fire.

“It’s a wonder they’re walking around, that they haven’t been electrocuted,” Jarrett marvels. Read the rest of this entry ?