Stephen Katz – First Home, First Loan Helping to make home ownership a pleasant reality Wed, 07 Feb 2018 21:20:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How To Win A Bidding War Wed, 07 Feb 2018 21:20:44 +0000 It happened, you found your perfect house. Congratulations, you’re one step closer to homeownership! You reach out to the listing agent, only to find out that someone else wants the house too. Now you are faced with a bidding war (wait… what?). Before you start to panic, we’re here to explain how to come out on top!

  1. Don’t bid more than you can afford

Talk to your lender first before you decide how much money you are going to bid. Ideally, you should talk to us before you even start your house search. We will be able to tell you how much you can afford and what type of loan you will be approved for.

Never bid more than you have been approved for! In fact, you should always opt on the lower side. If you bid more than you can actually afford, you could lose the house entirely. Even if you win at the higher amount, it will put you in debt before you even move in. This could lead to late mortgage payments and eventually foreclosure.

That being said, submit your best and final offer early. You don’t want to lose the house because the other buyers bid at a price that you could beat. Another option is to add a clause stating that you will pay $1,000 more than the next ‘best and final,’ capped at the original price as seen in the listing.

  1.  Utilize your agent and your lender

People forget how powerful a face-to-face or phone conversation can be. Everything is done through e-mail, which takes the human touch out of the equation. Have your agent personally speak to the listing agent to address any concerns that they may have. Ask your lender to do the same and you’re solid. While numbers are important to the listing agent, so is the certainty that the purchase will go through.

  1. Have a flexible closing date

If you are not in a rush to close, let the listing agent know. Most sellers are either looking to sell immediately or they have no timeline in mind. Play either side of the coin if you have the option. For example, if the listing agent mentions that the sellers’ new house won’t be ready for a few weeks, tell the agent that you are in no rush to move. This could swing the bidding war in your favor. On the flip side, if they are looking to move immediately, let the agent know that you can move ASAP. Then work with your lender to ensure the process moves along as quickly as possible.

  1. Accept the house as-is

The house may need some updating, but if you’re in a bidding situation, it may work in your favor to accept the house as it is. The sellers will be relieved that they don’t have to put any more work into the house and you’ll win the bid!

  1. Write a letter to the sellers

Most sellers have an attachment to their home. They lived there for years and have made many memories. Write them a letter to explain to them why you want the house and your plans in your new home (example: a place where you can start your family). The sellers will be happy to know that they are giving their house to someone who will truly cherish it.

Have you won a bidding war before? If so, let us know how! 770-552-1000

Should You Sell Your Home Occupied or Vacant? Fri, 19 Jan 2018 21:10:53 +0000 If you’re selling your home, you’re probably wondering whether you should move out now or wait until you have found a buyer. There isn’t an easy answer to this – whether you should move before you sell is dependent on many factors.

Do you have a lot of stuff in your home? Does the home feel cluttered? If the answer is yes, you have two options: one, thin out the furniture or, two, completely move out so the home can be shown in its entirety. If a home has too much stuff in it, it will feel cluttered.

Another thing to consider is whether you can keep your home in show-ready condition at all times. Depending on your situation, it might be better to move out so that the home is clear and clean once buyers arrive. On the other hand, if you’re a clean person who doesn’t have to clean up after kids, staying in the home while selling might be a more convenient option.

Obviously, if you have to move, (maybe due to a new job out of state or another similar reason) then you may be wondering if you should keep some furniture in your old house. This comes down to your personal needs, however, it is generally best to keep the house as simple as possible. The idea is to present the house to the buyers in a way that they can see themselves living there.

Also, when selling, you should ask yourself whether your furniture is in showing condition. If it is old and ragged, you should either replace it, or move out and have your home professionally staged.

If you have questions about the moving process, or if you would like our assistance, give us a call or shoot us a quick email. We’re always available to help!


How Can A Pre-Approval Simplify Your Home Search? Wed, 10 Jan 2018 20:56:43 +0000 If you’re thinking about buying, how do you find out how much home you can actually afford? This is a question we get all the time, and would love to answer for you.

The very first thing to do if you want to buy a home is to get pre-approved. The pre-approval is free, and you can figure out exactly how much house you can afford.

Once you have been pre-approved, you can begin looking at all your financial options and figure out the plan that works best for your needs. Often, you will be approved for more than you can really afford, and that’s fine – once you know the size of the loan, we can help you determine what amount you can comfortably make payments on each month.

We want to know exactly what you need and what your dreams are. Our goal is to get on the same page as you in order to help you achieve your personal and financial goals. For us, it’s not just about getting you into a house, but finding you the ideal home that will fit your needs for years to come.

If you want a full team of experts at your disposal to help you make the best buying and selling decisions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to hear from you!

What Should You Do to Prepare Your Home for Winter? Wed, 03 Jan 2018 20:00:51 +0000 Today we are excited to discuss an important topic that you need to know about this time of year. It’s important to be prepared for winter so you don’t have any big costs or repairs to do during the long, cold months ahead. We’ve got 5 great ways that you can winterize your home, and here they are:

  1. Have your furnace looked at by a professional.
  2. Look at the weather stripping around your windows and doorways, make sure it’s sealed tight.
  3. Disconnect any hoses out from the side of your house so you don’t have to deal with any frozen pipes.
  4. Clean your gutters out to prevent them from freezing. This will help protect siding and roof issues.
  5. If you have outdoor fountains or sprinkler systems, drain and cover those.

These are just a few of the things you can do to keep your home in tip-top shape throughout the winter. If you have any questions for us, or are thinking about buying or selling yourself, give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you!

Why Winter Is a Good Time to Sell Wed, 27 Dec 2017 21:33:22 +0000 Today, we’ll go over selling your property in the winter season. The conventional wisdom is that you shouldn’t sell your home in the winter because no one wants to buy a home and move during the holidays. However, we’ve seen that winter is one of the best times to sell and get top dollar.

Why? It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Due to the conventional wisdom out there, many people opt to wait and sell in spring or even take their homes off the market during the fourth quarter. This leads to a shortage of inventory.

No one wants to move during the holiday season. Those that move during winter do so because they have to. Maybe they are a military family. Perhaps, they’ve been transferred by their employer and need to move in by the end of the fiscal year, which is December 31st. These buyers are highly motivated. Since there aren’t as many homes available for sale, you can get the most amount of motivated buyers with the least amount of competition!

In the winter, you will most likely spend fewer days on the market, and your overall sales price can go up because of the highly motivated buyers. If you’re thinking of selling your home or if you have any other questions for us, give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you!

Why Aren’t Millennials Buying Homes More Frequently? Wed, 20 Dec 2017 21:09:45 +0000 One thing we know for certain about the real estate market is that it is never going to stay the same for long. Today we want to talk about an interesting trend we’ve noticed in real estate: millennials are waiting longer to purchase their first homes than their parents did.

The typical first-time buyer now rents for an average of 6 years before buying a home, which is up from 2.6 years in the early 1970’s, according to Zillow.

Here are three reasons why:

  1. Down payments are a huge factor

Renters in today’s market are struggling to save for down payments and qualify for mortgages. Most first-time buyers still depend on personal savings for at least some of their down payments, but rising rental prices have complicated the task of socking away money for a down payment.

  1. Rising rental rates are complicating things as well

Rental rates are causing 46% of renters aged 25-354, to spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent, up from 40 percent a decade earlier.

  1. Job security is important to millennial buyers

B buyers average nearly 4.5 years in their field of work and have held their current job for slightly more than three years. Those figures point to how critical career stability is to a younger generation.

Five Reasons To Buy A House In Atlanta Now Wed, 29 Nov 2017 19:49:16 +0000 Are you considering buying a house in Atlanta? Read on to find out why we think you should buy now!

1) House values are up by about 10% since last year

This number is based on the data reported by Zillow. Home prices will be higher than they were over the past year or two. Therefore, it is crucial to know exactly how much house you can afford. We can help with that! Once you are certain about your price point, it is important to buy your dream house while you can still afford it.

2) House prices are expected to keep rising

Adding on to the previous fact, house prices are only going to continue rising. Therefore, again, it is important to buy the house that you are interested in as soon as possible. You may not be able to afford it a few months down the road.

3) Atlanta home prices are expected to rise faster than other areas

Earlier this year, a panel of over 100 economists predicted that home prices would rise by 3.65% in 2018. This number puts Atlanta above the national average. Keep in mind that these are all just predictions, however, it is wise to consider them.

4) It’s a seller’s market

As we stated in a previous blog, housing inventory is currently limited. What does this mean for you? It means that you should buy now instead of risk losing your house to another buyer.

5) Mortgage rates are expected to rise

Along with rising values and prices, mortgage rates are also expected to rise. Give us a call today to find out what rate you can be approved for!

How To Get Your Home Search Off To The Right Start Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:41:42 +0000 Today, I want to share some tips on how to begin the home buying process. It can be confusing, so starting off on the right foot is crucial!

One of the first things you want to do is talk with a lender. Too often, when people want to buy, they are in a big hurry to go out and look at homes; it’s an exciting time and they want to jump right in. However, it’s key to take a look at financing before you start getting excited about homes. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a home only to find out you can’t afford it.

So, before you get out there and look at homes, don’t forget to figure out what your monthly payments are going to look like! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to help you!

What Should You Avoid When Purchasing A New Construction Home? Wed, 15 Nov 2017 21:48:08 +0000 Are you thinking about building a new home from scratch? If so, take note of these three things you need to avoid! We have a lot of experience in new construction properties and would love to make the process as smooth as possible for you.

  1. Hire a Realtor. An experienced Realtor knows what to look for when buying any type of property. Sure, the new construction builder has a Realtor on site, but that agent is only there to advocate for the seller. For guidance and representation, you need to hire a Realtor who will advocate for you! If any issues arise, you’ll have someone there to help you understand what your options are.
  2. Do your research. This comes back to hiring a real estate professional, as they will know exactly what to look for. For example, an agent will look at property taxes for you, one of the most important things to keep in mind while building a new home. You need to know exactly how much you are going to be paying in property taxes in order to avoid overextending yourself financially.
  3. Find a trustworthy lender. We will make sure you know exactly what rates and fees you’ll be dealing with ahead of time so that you can select the program that will best fit your financial needs.

If you decide to hire a Realtor, make sure you are comfortable with them. You should be able to call, text, or email them at any time in order to stay on the same page and ensure you’re both working toward the same goal. If you have any questions about finding the right agent or avoiding common new construction mistakes, we would love to hear from you!


Six Reasons To Buy A House In The Fall Wed, 25 Oct 2017 20:10:11 +0000 The end of summer typically means fewer “for sale” signs. However, whether you’re a buyer or a seller, don’t fret. This can be great news for the following six reasons:



1)      Less Competition. Fall means that school is back in session. AKA most families who wanted to move into their new home before school started have already done so.

Reason this is good news for buyers: Less homes for sale, plus less families, equals out to the same chances (or better) than you had before.

Reason this is good news for sellers: The buyers who are still in the market are typically more serious about purchasing (versus those in a rush to find a new home before August) which will make your job much easier.

2)      More money in your pocket. Those who close escrow before December 31 may get a nice write off on their taxes.

Reason this is good news for buyers: You can take deductions for your whole years’ worth of income from property tax and mortgage interest. Any payments that you have made before your closing is final are tax deductible.

Reason that this is good news for sellers: Closing costs and home improvements may be eligible for tax write offs. There is an entire list of possible write offs for sellers here.

3)      Nothing like being home for the holidays. Buying or selling in the fall means that you can sit back and relax in your nice, warm home when the winter weather and holidays hit.

Reason this is good news for buyers: Do we have to explain? You’re gifting yourself a new home for the holidays! Plus, since less people tend to move around this time, that means easier access to movers, etc.

Reason this is good news for sellers: Again, do we really have to explain? A sold home means less stress off your plate for the holidays! Check THAT off the to-do list.

4)      This one’s just right. Home prices will be more accurate in the fall than they are in the spring or summer. Since there is a smaller market for houses, prices won’t be raised due to demand.

Reason this is good news for buyers: Your chances of overpaying or having to outbid someone for your home is greatly lessened.

Reason this is good news for sellers: If you’re smart about your asking price, your home will stand out in the crowd and your chances of selling will greatly increase. Plus, gone are the days of trying to perform renovations in order to raise the value of your home. Put that hammer down and grab a cocktail instead!

5)      Fall = less burglaries. Did you know that burglaries happen more often during certain times of the year? July and August are the months during which most burglaries take place.

Reason this is good news for buyers: You can rest easy knowing your home is safer while you are moving in. It also gives you time to set up that new alarm system.

Reason this is good news for sellers: Your home is safer from theft. Again, do we really need to clarify this one?

6)      Deals and sales. Are you thinking, “we have this extra bedroom now, but no furniture for it!” Good news for both buyers and sellers: Black Friday and other holiday sales are right around the corner! Now that you’ve moved into (or sold) your warm, accurately priced, safe home, it’s time to shop and enjoy the holidays.

Give us a call when you’re ready to start the process!