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Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Property

We all have a dream home and wild expectations, but before you go after that dream, there are some things to consider. Can you afford to purchase, maintain, and live in your dream home? Does your dream home exist? Are you willing to make compromises or are you able to afford the ultimate dream after purchasing the property?

Hiring a professional to help you research homes can increase your chances of finding what you want and having someone knowledgeable in the real estate field will help decrease the chances of you making mistakes through the purchasing process. You become less vulnerable to sellers taking advantage of you. Do your research before you dive into the world of a homeownership. Pay attention to the market and be fully prepared for finance changes. Real estate agents have access to sites that the lay do not. They can enter in all your desired criteria in the areas you are looking for, and could potentially be the ultimate key in finding that dream home IN YOUR PRICE RANGE. Which brings me to the first and one of the most important discussions you need to have with yourself, your family, your bank and your real estate agent; What can I afford?

How does your credit score look? Have you looked at Interest Rates? Have you secured an affordable financing plan? There are so many financial factors in securing your budget before getting approved for a loan. There are a few ways to strengthen your credit score. If you don’t have any credit, now may not be the time to purchase a home. You will want fair-good credit for better rates. Need credit? Get a credit card. It’s that simple to put yourself on the radar. Start simple and keep up with your balances. The key to stick to “good” credit is only using 30% or lower than your total balance. Keep paying off your balances and keep them low. If you have multiple cards, keep an eye on them. Try to keep your number of balances small as well. It’s easier to build credit with a bulkier balance instead of five little balances here and there. Credit is a way of showing you are responsible and reliable. This helps prove your creditability to banks and companies who give loans.

It is recommended to secure a pre-approval rate before even house hunting (your real estate agent can help you with this). You don’t want to hype yourself up with unrealistic dreams just to be let down in the end. This will help you map out a budget and a realistic goal when you begin your search.

Mapping your budget – It sounds like common sense, but there is a reason there’s a saying “don’t buy stuff you cannot afford.” Keep yourself in your price range while “shopping” around for houses. If you look above your prince range and fall in love, it will be a romance waiting to fail. Say your budget is $500,000, and that is the highest you can go with absolutely no wiggle room. Which you should remember that you will want to put a nice sized down payment down, so you can get the best mortgage for your monthly post purchasing budget. Not to mention the closing cost, moving costs, and turning on utility costs. You start shopping and you find the ultimate dream home at $585,000. Can you financially afford to go $85,000 over your set budget? You decide, screw it! I’m all in! Some of the total might get knocked off before closing, but it probably won’t be the entire $85,000. You close at $579,500. Did you see if you could afford the expenses after the fact? Is the mortgage in your available price range? Did you budget in all the what if’s like your HVAC gives up in the first month of owning the house and now you must spend $5,000+ that you don’t have because you purchased a home listed $85,000 more than your budget? I hope you are catching my drift. There is a reason you don’t buy a house you can’t afford. After you purchase a property, the spending doesn’t just end there. You do not want to put yourself in a situation financially where you have bitten off more than you can chew. Factor in how much you’re able to put down as a down payment, how much home owner’s insurance and your monthly mortgage will cost you, and are you able to have a savings account for emergencies just in case something doesn’t go according to plan. Moral of the story; THERE’S A REASON YOU HAVE A BUDGET! STICK TO IT! STAY STRONG! DON’T FEED INTO THE TEMPTATIONS OF IRRESPONSIBILITY! If you plan on moving before owning the property for 5 years, you might want to rethink your budget before it is too late because there is no need to spend more money then you have to.

Now that you have gone through the steps of securing a price range, it’s time to find what you are looking for. Look at the neighborhoods in your price range. Find out about the area, and the local shops/amenities. If you have a family or plan on having one, research the schools around the houses you are looking at. Some people like to pick a school district and look at homes in that area. Do what is right for you. Shop around! If you are unsure about a property, keep going back. When you think you have found the perfect location and property, do the same thing, keep going back and take a full look at the place. Don’t let your love at first site rose colored glasses sweep you into a nightmare. You do not want to buy something you will regret or potentially cannot afford to fix up. Just because it looks like a deal on paper, doesn’t mean it’s a deal in the long run. Even if you think you’ve found the one, do not put all your eggs in one basket. Keep shopping, but make your final decision with confidence.

A professional will help you go step by step through the process of all of this, but, for your benefit, it’s good to know what you are in store for. Knowledge is power. If you are currently looking for a new home and need professional help, give us a call today! (770) 274-6350 

By: Corinne Sutherlin

Copyright (c) 2017 Bolt Property Management

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Tips and Tricks While Preparing your Home to Sell

If you are looking to sell your home, and don’t know where to start, we have some pointers for you! First things first, you should disconnect from the property. It’s time to say goodbye! Go to each room and say farewell while crying and reminiscing. No judgement here! Take down personal items that make it look like you and your family live there. Like, family photos and mementos. Potential buyers need to envision themselves and their family living in the home. Through this entire process, think like a buyer seeing this property for the first time ever. Check out the curb appeal. Stand outside and take a look at the house. Does it look inviting? Is the yard well-manicured? Is the siding all green covered in mildew?

Start there. Spruce up the yard with appealing plants that are in season and not too overwhelming in scents or colors. Also, consider pressure washing the driveway, porch, siding and the walkways. Repaint old shutters, wipe down windows, and fix broken screens. Be sure to remove all clutter, replace burnt out lights, old mats, and outdated fixtures. Same goes for the back yard. It is okay to leave out furniture and playsets, as long as they aren’t breaking down covered in chipped paint. Remove unwanted debris and store away all tools. Fix broken spots on fences and decks, then repaint or pressure wash them after freshening them up.

All of that applies to the indoors as well, but everything inside is going to be a bit more tedious. Hire a professional home inspector. That will give you insight on what a potential buyer’s inspector will see.  Handle larger items to be fixed first, that way you can avoid large negotiation cuts during the closing process. If there are repairs throughout the home, do all that you can, if not all of them before showing the property. Put a fresh coat of paint up to revitalize the home. Be sure to use a neutral color throughout the home, which gives a future buyer access to create accents as desired. Remove that outdated wall paper and 70’s orange shag carpet. Repaint trims, cabinets, and replace old flooring. Don’t forget to update the home décor! Keep the décor to an organized minimal. Appearances are key to potential buyers.

Declutter and organize, organize, ORGANIZE! I cannot stress that enough. Do not shove everything in that spare room or unused closet. Expect that every crevasse of the house will be looked at. You don’t want a pile of old shoes falling out of a closet onto a potential buyer viewing the home. Store items at a friend’s place or rent a storage unit until you can move. Start packing or moving to start thinning out your belongings. We all love decorating for all of the holidays throughout the year, but it is best to not have the house in full Christmas mode. That can distract from the property itself. Just organize your beloved items, and store them out of sight. Organization should be your motto when preparing your home to sell. Which brings me to the “problem” rooms. Bathrooms, kitchens, basements, attics, garages, laundry rooms, and general storage rooms need to be completely decluttered and organized. Bathrooms need to basically look empty. Replace old soaps, towels and shower liners. Keep vanities clear of clutter and only have a few items in the shower or bath. Same goes for the kitchen. Clean out the fridge and freezer so it’s either emptied or sparse. Thoroughly clean all appliances and put away all dishes. No one will like seeing a sink full of dirty pots and pans. It’s a complete turn off. Also put out fresh soap and cleaners like scrubby brushes. Laundry rooms are key as well. Do all of your laundry and put it all away nicely. Clean out the washer and dryer, whether you plan on leaving them or not. Most basements, garages, attics, and obviously storage rooms are notoriously used to store unused/least used items. Be sure to declutter and organize what is left.

If you can, hire a professional cleaner once everything is organized. Once it’s cleaned though, it needs to stay that way until the day you hand the keys over to the new owners. Some potential buyers will just drop by and you need the house ready to show at any moment without you there. When someone is viewing your home, don’t be there. It’s better if they get a feel of the home without you there. Remember to take your animals with you, or remove them from the home before thoroughly cleaning.

Now that you are ready to show the property have one of your friends or your Listing Agent come by and take a look as an outsider. They can give you tips and tricks on what else can be done or let you know that you’ve gone above and beyond and it’s time to sell! While showing the property, be sure to leave doors open and lights on throughout the home. It’s a trick to open small spaces and is more appealing to the eye of a potential buyer. Put out a sign to all viewers to leave lights on and doors open for following appointments. Bake cookies before a viewing. We recommend NOT burning the cookies, and if you’re not a baker, put out a candle or a gentle scent like citrus throughout the home. That will help make your home more welcoming and refreshing.

If you are thinking about selling your home give us a call today, and we would be happy to come by and give you professional advice on what you can do to prepare your home for market.

                                                               

By: Corinne Sutherlin

Copyright (c) 2017 Bolt Realty & Property Management

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Winter is Coming … Prepare Yourselves
Emergency Kit
Preparing an Emergency Kit is essential. Hopefully it is not something you will ever need to use, but not having one when a disaster hits helps no one. Fortunately for most of us here in Georgia, we rarely have to deal with overly insane winters. We will have a Snowpocalypse and a state-wide ice storm that completely shuts us down every once and awhile. For me, being from the Midwest, it’s a nostalgic ball game predicting southern winters. The south is not fully equipped for real deal northern winters, so when it happens, the entire state is under a winter emergency. I have adapted and have come up with a few tricks in preparedness. I have compiled a little list of essentials to put in an Emergency Kit, which you can use to add or subtract items from to help you survive through power/water outages that could possibly occur this winter season. Also, keeping this kit up to date all year round can also save you during other seasonal disasters.
• Matches/Lighters
• Candles
• Bottled Water (1 Gallon per person, per day)
• Flashlights
• Batteries
• Battery Operated or wind-up Radio
• Generator(s) with charge ports
• Non-Perishable food items (eating utensils, manual can opener, fire safe cookware)
• Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Fire Extinguisher
• Extra Clothes/Blankets/Sleeping Bags. (I suggest bright colors)
• Ice Melt/Salt/Ice Scraper/Shovel/Sand/Kitty Litter
• Copy of Important Documents (Birth Certificates/ID’s)
• CASH!
Something everyone should have prepared at all times, no matter the season, is a fully stocked and up to date first aid kit. I do suggest that your first aid kit stays with your emergency kit. Familiarize yourself with all of the components and make sure that everyone living in the household knows where it is located. Depending on how many people live in the home should help gauge the size of the kit needed. Some people prefer making their own, but you can easily pick up a premade kit from the store. If you want to be extra prepared, take a class to get CPR and/or first aid certified. The Red Cross recommends that at least one person in every household should be certified. Create a plan for an emergency and practice a scenario with everyone in the house. Have an emergency contact out of your area in case you need to check in or call for assistance from someone not affected with the same weather as you. Facebook has implemented a new way of checking in safe during disasters. Once you are 100% out of danger, that is a great option to reach out and let everyone know you are ok.
Don’t leave out our best friends! Make sure you have items prepared for your pets as well. Food, water, blankets, and puppy pads if they need to relieve themselves in safety.
Outdoor Prep
The crucial times to prepare the outdoor items of your home for Georgia is the end of September and all of October. Here is a little checklist that might be a little helpful to start you off.
• Clean Gutters/Roof
• Pick up all debris (remove and drain all items that can house water)
• Seal up all cracks and leaks on foundation, walls, and roof.
• Drain hoses and store in a dry area, then put up a hose spigot cover (you can find for under $5)
• Mulch/Weather ready plants
• Cut/Aerate/Seed/Pre-Emergent your grass with one last seasonal cut
• Trim large limbs of trees to prevent breakage. Depending on the size, you may want to call a professional
• Replace screens with storm windows/doors
• Seal windows/doors and think about adding or replacing the insulation
• Seal of access points for animals
• Insulate pipes/seal off entrance and exit points
Indoor Prep
A lot of the indoor preparations are year-round tasks that should be taken care of before winter time. Every 2-3 months, you should be checking/replacing all air filters in your home. The entrance and exit points to all plumbing should be sealed off and insulated. Proper insulation helps during the hot summers and rainy springs as well. Inspect all fire/smoke/monoxide detectors and make sure they have fresh batteries. Check all insulation on the pipes indoors and know your plumbing so you can be prepared to shut off the main during an emergency. If you own a fireplace or wood burning stove, hire a professional to come out and do an annual inspection. Make sure all the bells and whistles are working like your flue and damper. Purchasing a chimney cleaning log helps break down build up which helps prevent clogging and dangerous carbon monoxide poison fires in your home. Stock up your wood pile with safe burning wood in a dry covered area. It is helpful to purchase precut or precut your wood before storing it.
Last and final recommendation I have is storing up on hot chocolate and yummy foods to keep you warm and energized during this upcoming winter!
By: Corinne Sutherlin
Copyright (c) 2017 Bolt Property Management

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Why Choosing a Property Management Company Can Help your Investment

One of the largest decisions to owning a property is if you would like to invest in a Property Management company or not. There are many different factors in hiring a property manager to manage your investment(s).

  • Are you knowledgeable with the current real estate industry?
  • Do you have enough time on your hands to be the only point of contact with tenants?
  • Have you benefitted off purchasing this property?
  • Do you own more than one property?
  • Will your property benefit with a property manager?

 Here are some of the reason we think hiring a management company can benefit you.

Tenants. Tenants. TENANTS. Do I really need to say more than that?

Property managers have a keen eye for screening tenants. They have been and are currently digging through hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants daily. This experience takes practice and a lot of time to “master”. Being able to prevent a bad tenant, lawsuits, and many other headaches is possibly the best reason to hire a property management company. Although a great prospect could easily surprise you (we all know how life can happen) and become a terrible tenant, a property manager is experienced in handling evictions of an unsuitable tenant in your property. Tenants however tend to pay on time and stay longer in a property when there is a professional company involved that is knowledgeable in rentals and will be there to mediate all concerns professionally.

Maintenance + Upgrades = $$$

Why go out to eat when you can make your own food? Why hire a painter when you can just paint it yourself? Why hire an electrician when you can just YouTube how to wire it back on? Which can be very true if you are knowledgeable in these fields, but people hire professionals for a reason. They are trained in these skills. Property management companies can offer lower maintenance costs and a variety of professionals who can get the jobs done right. Companies have a list of go to guys and gals when a specific problem arises. Which will yet again help increase your investment(s). All maintenance requests come to the manager instead of straight to you. If you establish a relationship with your manager, some requests can be 100% handled with or without your approval. It all depends on the issue that comes up. If you want an alert every single time a maintenance request comes in from a tenant, no matter how small, maybe having a manager isn’t the right fit for you. A manager’s main job is to lift stress off your shoulders, all while keeping your property value from decreasing due to unforeseen repairs.

What is the true value, and who really knows best?

If a property has been managed by a legitimate property management company, all of its past and present information is in a database for all licensed brokers to view. Most professional property managers will use these records to help research your property’s potential. They can view rental rates and compare to competitor’s in the local area of your property. Which can give you an upper hand on expert advice when you go to put your rental on the market for lease and you aren’t sure what the monthly rent should be or how much upgrading should you do to get the upper hand in the area. Potentially owners can do research and find the right thing for them, but that is extremely time consuming, especially if they aren’t sure what they should be looking for. Do you think you have enough time to do that yourself?

Most owners don’t like stress, do you?

Less stress is a big reason to hire a property management company! You don’t have to be the one chasing after tenants for rent, answering late night emergencies, screening hundreds of thousands of applicants, showing the home on weekdays and weekends, evictions, keeping up with all the legal paperwork and current real estate laws, and so so SO much more. As an owner, you won’t have to deal with any of these things when you have a property manager handling everything. You are more available to seek out more investment opportunities and have more time for the things you enjoy doing. When you own a property, it is extremely time consuming and exhausting just trying to make all the ‘best’ decisions and being 100% responsible for everything 24/7. It’s exhausting just thinking about it and that’s why most people don’t invest in real estate unless they have professional help. Having a property manager helps disperse and delegate things you really shouldn’t need to worry about. Property managers handle most, if not all of it.

 It’s time for a vacation.

You can do it on your own, but realistically, it’s okay to ask for help. Seeking help from a professional can relieve all the stress from not just owning, but managing a property that is supposed to be a potential money maker. It is up to you to decide if it is worth the stress or money of not having a property manager do all the tedious work. You get to just sit back and receive the potential benefits of your investment. Especially if you own more than one property or plan on expanding. You should know your limits, experience, knowledge and your ability to commit to your investment(s). Hiring a company is not for every owner, but man, it sounds a whole of a lot less stressful.

If you are seeking professional advice in real estate, whether that’s purchasing future investments or in search of a local property management company, go to our link: www.BoltPropertyManagement.com

By: Corinne Sutherlin

Copyright (c) 2017 Bolt Property Management