Tips & real world advice to avoid disaster 

The discussions surrounding the question of “what’s a home worth” will never end, because there is no standard answer. Sure the reflex text book answer is “what a buyer is willing to pay” but that’s hardly the complete picture. A home has a number of “values” and most are not tied to the buyers in the market. There is a best answer of course, it also happens to be the simplest one. Spoiler alert...it’s not what it sells for. This short clip provides a common sense overview, below that we get more into the weeds.

Purchase Price

The purchase price is the amount the buyer agrees to pay the seller; this tends to support the “it’s worth what a buyer will pay” idea. Does it? Consider:

  • The costs of selling – commissions, repairs, closing costs,…

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It's easy to file the Georgia homestead exemption. In just a few minutes, Georgia homeowners can reduce their property tax bill. Georgia homeowners are eligible for this exemption on their primary residence if the home was purchased last year and occupied on January 1st. The exemption is not eligible on investment or vacation homes. This is not automatic, the homestead exemption must be filed in the property owner's county, it's quick and easy; there's no reason not to save this money.

Click the image below, that will open a page with multiple links to county sites. Each of the sites will provide details on what's needed and how to file for the homestead exemption in Georgia.


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Buying a lake home presents additional challenges a normal home doesn't; in Georgia those challenges can be formidable. Two major players influence lake homes in Georgia; the US Army Corps of Engineers and Georgia Power. The Corps of Engineers regulates and manages multiple lakes across Georgia, flood control is a significant responsibility of theirs. Georgia Power is the largest non-governmental provider of recreational facilities in Georgia. Power generation is their key role and one that they do exceptionally well. In North Georgia, the Tennessee Valley Authority has influence over the lakes close to the Tennessee border, using them for power generation and flood control. All have a role when it comes to buying a lake home in Georgia.

Value of lake…

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Size matters. It matters because you live in that space, you pay for and tax on that space, and you maintain that space. One day, you’ll sell that space. Size matters so you better understand how it’s determined…because many in the real estate industry don’t. They don't because no one makes them; the confusion over how to measure a home is due in part because there are no agreed upon standards.

Many variables influence the price of a home, size is one of the most influential. How many times is “price per square foot” referenced? Using price per square foot to value a home is unreliable, it is wildly inaccurate for multiple reasons. But it's accepted and big homes rule; you don’t typically see small homes at the top of the value range. Families are the…

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This home likely had the most significant foundation trouble I've seen over three decades. This was a home I appraised (what is this buyer thinking) and the foundation was failing in several areas, spectacularly so. Based on a thorough look around the entire basement and the site, two major issues stuck out: tree roots and very poor water management. Several trees are very close to the home and good sized roots were against the home in several areas, these are a constant source of pressure as the tree grows. Poor control of surface water is always a recipe for disaster; it's the cause of a multitude of issues. In this case, the two combined and the result is epic deflection of the walls in this foundation.

The foundation damage was part of the…

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Price per square foot is unreliable to value homes. It is without question one of the most quoted "sources" when home values are discussed but it is so flawed that on any level, it cannot stand even the softest of challenges. In fact, price per square foot is so unreliable that it makes  automatedvaluation models (think Zestimates) look reliable.

The idea that something as unique as a home can be "valued" using a method with at least 10 major variables is idiotic. Yet and still, price per square foot is bandied about as some type of cornerstone when home prices are talked about. It falls cleanly into the "garbage in, garbage out" research idiom as nothing in the data used to ascertain that "value" is credible. The typical real estate agent doesn't even…

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Driveways are the first impression of most homes. Not only do they help form the overall aesthetic but they serve an essential role; access in and out of the property. In an ideal world, the driveway is easily accessible, flat, and easily used. In the real world, most driveways don't hit every positive aspect. The challenge then, is what characteristic is considered adverse and negatively impacts value and/or marketability? If people are intimidated or put off by the driveway, it doesn't matter what the home has going for it. This video examines a home in a mountain community of North Georgia. Settings like this are common not only here but in all mountain communities...and they present a challenge.  

The clip below highlights the characteristics…

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The frenzied real estate market of '20-'21 exacerbated the issues found in normal markets. Buyers were/are so stressed to secure a home that some toss caution to the wind; overpaying, waiving finance contingencies, inspection contingencies and more. This is unwise at best and foolish at worst, when emotion rules the decision making process, bad things happen. 

There are more buyers waiving due diligence and purchasing homes "as is" than ever before. Some feel it's one of the best ways to win a bidding war and sometimes that's correct. But unless the buyer and agent have a working knowledge of construction and a level of experience that allows them to spot signs of trouble, the buyer may be walking off a cliff. Water and foundation issues are very…

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It’s closing day and the buyers walk the home before heading to the attorney’s office. But not all is right when the door swings open. What happens if the seller didn’t make the agreed upon repairs? What happens if the HVAC isn’t working? Can a home buyer terminate on closing day because of condition and refuse to close? Maybe. The most common problems are changes in the home from contract to close and agreed upon repairs.

Substantially the Same

The GA Association of Realtors (GAR) contract stipulates that the property will be in substantially the same condition as it was on binding agreement date.  Briefly: “Seller warrants that at the time of closing, the Property and all items remaining with the Property, if any, will be in substantially the…

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The Covid influence on real estate continues to be unprecedented. Not one pundit or economic expert predicted or could have predicted how the pandemic set the housing market on fire. Sellers hit unexpected jackpots but not all need or want to become buyers. Many are remaining in place, working on and improving their homes. Their concerns? What provides the best return on investment for homeowners?

The best improvement to any home is one that makes it work better for the owner. What’s the point of spending money on something if it doesn’t bring joy? This is “value in use”; and it’s different for every homeowner because every owner has different

requirements for their home. The best improvements are valued by both the owner and the market (the…

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