4945 Duncans Lake Drive, Buford, GA — $400,000

A spectacular 4BR/3.5BA home priced below a recent (March, 2016) appraisal by DS Murphy & Assoc. Located on an oversized (1.67 acres) lot in North Gwinnett’s Mill Creek HS district. So many features & upgrades including 30-yr architectural shingles, R30 insulation (added in December), Elfa shelving, granite counters, bonus room above garage w/full bath, sink in garage, deck, brand new dishwasher, sun room, full UF basement, etc. Neighborhood amenities include a 50-acre lake, 2 pools, tennis & volleyball courts and soccer fields.

1721 Emerson Court, Marietta 30062

Charming Cape Cod in the heart of East Cobb and within sight and walking distance of award-winning Walton High School.  Located on a quiet cul-de-sac, this home is freshly painted, has new flooring, new vanity and gutters, among long list of recent improvements.  Terrific yard w/deck, fenced backyard and garden area. Main level includes updated kitchen w/granite, spacious great room and master bedroom. Three upstairs bedrooms including 1 that can be considered a 2nd master. 2-car garage and unfinished basement provides plenty of storage. Close to shopping and restaurants.

4595 Sagebrush Dr., Kennesaw, GA

An amazing combination of a beautiful, private, 4.2-acre lot at the end of a cul-de-sac, and a completely updated, impeccably-maintained home.  This 2-story beauty has 2 decks –added in ‘12 — that provide a breathtaking view. A new roof – with 30-yr architectural shingles – was added in ’11.  The kitchen features soft-close hickory cabinets and  high-end granite counters. Bathrooms remodeled within last 3 years. The number of updates is too lengthy to mention. Located in award-winning school districts w/ proximity to I-75, I-575, Barrett Pwy, shopping, restaurants, etc. Part of the Calumet West community that includes a pool, lighted tennis courts and more.

3257 Mountain Hollow Dr., 30062


Listed at $172,000. A move-in ready, meticulously cared for ranch home in the award-winning Lassiter HS district. Within walking distance or a short drive of some of East Cobb’s top dining and shopping areas. Hard to find a 3BR/2BA home in this coveted area for under $175k. Living room has vaulted ceiling and fireplace. Master bedroom has walk-in closet. Good-sized kitchen with tile counters and stained cabinets. Spacious level yard with a fenced-in back yard. New HVAC in 2013, new roof in 2010.

Helping First-Time Real Estate Investors In Atlanta


Rent continues to rise in Metro Atlanta and novice real estate investors are wanting to take advantage.

I’ve received numerous calls recently from mostly out-of-state rookie investors looking to produce income. Most don’t have the cash to buy the property outright, but they typically have enough money to put down at least 20 percent.

The mistake most first-time investors and future landlords make is finding a property where the rental income covers only the mortgage payment, HOA fees and taxes. But that is short-sighted thinking.

That’s not taking into account a property manager’s fees (assuming they want a property manager), cost of repairs and months with no tenant. In the end you’re fortunate to break even and you mistakenly count on the idea that the value of the property will continue to rise.

I try to find my investor-clients properties that will bring in 2x the monthly mortgage payments. With twice as much rental income coming in compared to mortgage payments going out, you give yourself some breathing room.

For example:
$120,000 home
20% down
$96,000 mortgage
$550 monthly payment (approximate)
$1,100 monthly rent from tenant

Finding homes that will fit this financial criteria isn’t black and white. A good real estate agent can identify ideal rental homes, however, through a little hard work.

First, you’ll want to make sure there are no HOA rental restrictions. Many properties inside of Atlanta have such restrictions. For example, many of the high-rise condo buildings allow only 10 percent of the units to be rented — and there is typically a long waiting list for owners who would like to rent their unit out.

Many MLS descriptions will say that there are no HOA restrictions, but you should not always count on that information being accurate. A good agent will verify with the HOA or property management group that there are no restrictions on renting.

Imagine buying a townhome and putting a “For Rent” sign in the window, only to find out that you can’t rent the home. You’re stuck with that property.

Most first-time investors, especially those out of state, want to purchase a property that is move-in ready, or close to it. The last thing they want to do is spend thousands of dollars on repairs before they can begin renting it.

Again, a good real estate agent will filter the fixer-uppers out.

Once an agent finds you a list of potential properties, then the number-crunching begins. An agent will look at comparable properties to identify a fair purchase price. In addition, he/she will look at the average rent for similar properties in the area to get a good idea of what the property will rent for.

Now that the list has been narrowed down, I will go to the property and show it to the investors via Face Time or Skype. Some investors will use this virtual tour, along with my feedback, to make an offer. Others will want to come view the house in person — the much more highly recommended method if possible.

Shallow Ridge
This home in Kennesaw lists for $129,900 and could possibly be rented for up to $1,200 per month.

If you or anyone you know is curious about purchasing rental property in the Atlanta area, call me (404.295.8703).

First-Time Home Buyers Can Get Their Dream Home With Just 3% Down

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The biggest obstacle to home ownership for first-time home buyers is saving for a down payment, according to Fanniemae.com.

That obstacle recently got a lot smaller. Our Coldwell Banker partners at Sun Belt Lending are now offering a conventional loan for just three percent down — and that three percent can come in the form of a gift!

With rent rising at a maddening pace, purchasing a home now makes more sense than ever.

Loan program details:

  • 3% down payment
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
  • Down payment may be gifted
  • At least one borrower must be a first-time homebuyer
  • Flexible mortgage insurance options
  • Homebuyer education may be required

Property types include single family residences, condominiums, PUDs and townhomes used as primary residence. Manufactured homes are not permitted.

If you — or anyone you know — is curious about purchasing a new home, call me today. Along with Sun Belt Lending, we’ll get you that dream home.

Work With An Agent Who Does Real Estate Full-Time

Real Estate Agent

There’s a good article in the Contra Costa Times called “10 Things To Know About Real Estate Agents.”

While all 10 nuggets in the story are good advice, I think item No. 4 — Make Sure The Agent Works Full-Time — is especially crucial.

Here’s what that portion of the article says:

Make sure the agent does real estate full time. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you want to choose an agent who is actively following the market every day. If you’re buying, you want an agent who can jump on new listings and show them to you immediately. If you’re a seller, you want an agent who is always available to show your home to prospective buyers. A good agent should know about other area properties that are available “off the top of his head.” They should also have an office and phone number you can reach them at any time.

Rent vs. Buy? Now There’s Another Option

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Michael Walker, who had been renting a Marietta apartment since 2013, was shocked when he got the letter in the mail recently.

“I figured my rent would go up,” Walker said, “but they raised it by nearly two-hundred dollars. It’s going to be difficult to make ends meet.”

Rent is up throughout Atlanta. Renters are paying an average of $77 more monthly this year compared to a year ago. All signs indicate that rent will continue to soar in the next year and beyond. Atlanta ranks 16th nationally as the most expensive places to rent.

In many cases, it’s cheaper to purchase a home with a mortgage – especially with interest rates still in the low 4s — than to continue renting. The problem for many renters, however, is coming up with a down payment of at least 3.5 percent for an FHA loan or 5.0 percent for conventional.

Other renters would love to buy, but they have a foreclosure or short sale dragging down their credit score, making it more difficult to get a mortgage.

“We felt we were in limbo,” Walker said. “We want to save money for a down payment and we wanted to continue to grow our credit score, but the increase it rent makes it increasingly difficult to do either.

To buy or to continue renting is the dilemma many are facing. However, there is another option.

I work with a real estate investment trust that is allowing renters to move into their dream home and get out apartment living.

“Instead of moving from apartment to apartment, we found we can pick out a great home that’s actually for sale,” Walker said. “The home is purchased for us. We pay rent – about the same as we would be paying for an apartment – and we have the option to purchase it at any time.

“Assuming we continue to love the house and the neighborhood,” Walker said, “we’ll buy it in a year or so.”

In this program – which I can explain to you in detail – there is no surprise and large jump in monthly rent. You are told from the beginning what your rent will be now, one year from now, two years from now and so on. You’re also given a good estimate on what the house would cost you to purchase it in a year or beyond. It’s quite transparent.

So, what’s the catch? There is none, really. The program does require a deposit equal to two month’s rent. But, after one year you have the option to walk away – no strings attached.

The program’s philosophy is sound. They will only purchase single-family homes or fee simple townhomes, and they’ll purchase only in good school districts. They usually pay a good price for the house because they pay cash with no financial or appraisal contingencies.

In short, here is how the program works:

  1. Renter applies for the program ($75) and lists me as their agent.
  2. Renter works with me to search for the perfect home.
  3. Our partners negotiate then purchase the home for cash.
  4. After reaching an agreement with the seller, it takes about 20 days to close, then 10 additional days to get the home ready.
  5. If the home is in need of fix-up, many times the carpet is replaced and/or the home is painted.
  6. About 40 days after finding the perfect home, the renter moves in to their dream home.

It’s basically that simple.

I’ve worked with a number of clients who were in the rental market. Frustrated by rising rent and how quickly rental properties were being snatched up by other renters, they began working with me and all have been pleased with the process.

One current client is looking at a 2-bedroom townhome in Marietta, a 1,400-square foot property that lists for $145,000. The monthly rent is $1,250.

Another client has his eye on a $469,900 four-bedroom home in Woodstock than rents for $2,830.

If you are curious about the program, just give me a call (404.295.8703).