June 6th, 2016


-Best Real Estate Agent
-Best Residential Real Estate
-Best Commercial Real Estate

We are proud to announce that we have won THREE categories for 2016 Best of Dawson by an overwhelming number of votes. Thank you to everyone that voted for us. We couldn’t have won without your votes, support, and encouragement. WOO HOO!!!


Tips for Homepath Offers

April 7th, 2015

As a listing company for Fannie Mae Homepath properties we see lots of offers and I would like to offer some tips for buyers and buyer’s agents.

1.  Upload a prequal letter or proof of funds with your offer.  The letter is not required but sending a prequal with an offer should be a standard procedure.  There is no seperate upload so I recommend scanning it in with the state contract offer form (last page is a good place).

2.  Upload all required docs as one pdf.  This makes it easier for the listing broker to review and will speed up the process.

3.  Don’t use jpg format.  A pdf format is generally clearer and easier to review, again this speeds the process.

4.  Make sure to add homepath.com as a safe sender domain in your email provider so you won’t miss counteroffers or multiple offer notifications.

5.  Make an attorney selection on paragraph 10f of the purchase addendum

6.  Fannie Mae is exempt from signing the FHA amendatory clause and generally will not sign our state financing contingency forms.  This can complicate the process if the state financing exhibit is made a part of the contract.  Underwriters generally want all parties to sign and if the seller refuses or is exempt then this obviously causes an issue.  The Fannie Mae purchase addendum provides for a financing contingency if negotiated in the offer process.

7.  Limit the number of special stipulations.  Requesting numerous special stipulations generally complicates the offer and lowers your chances of having an accepted offer.  If the situation warrants then use your best judgment.  Requesting the seller to paint each room a different color would be an example of what not to request.

8.  Remember the net to seller drives their thinking.  If you offer $300,000 with the seller to pay $10,000 in closing cost as well as providing a termite treatment and home warranty you have actually offered about $288,000.  The warranty and termite treatment represent a cost.  An alternative might be for the buyer to use some of their closing costs to order the warranty themselves.

9.  Clean and simple – keep this in mind when writing an offer.  Most situations can be addressed during due diligence.

10.  Be flexible and pay attention to timelines.  It’s the buyer and buyer’s agent’s responsibility to meet timelines for returning documents and conducting inspections.  Don’t wait for the due diligence to pass before making a decision on moving forward with the contract.


Handy Phone Numbers You Need!!

December 23rd, 2014

This post is based on my experience as a homeowner, landlord and REO broker that has dealt with MANY emergency repairs in my career.  You may have these phone numbers already in your phone but what if you are gone and the kids/babysitter/house guest/Mom or whoever is the one home when something happens?  You need a written list so ANYONE knows who you would call.

1.  911. Yes, you know to dial 911 but having it first on the list may help in a high stress situation to give you a visual cue to dial!

2.  Your family physician and pediatrician

3. Poison Control Center

4. Your veterinarian and an emergency vet if yours doesn’t take night/weekend calls.

5. Your utility providers to report outages or issues (you need to let them know if there is an outage, don’t assume the neighbor did).

6. A good local plumber and a second as a plan B.  Plumbers go on vacation too!

7.  A good general “handyman” service

8.  An HVAC company and a backup, it’s no fun being hot or cold!

9.  Your insurance company- if your home experiences damage that may qualify for a claim you need to get that process started asap.

10.  Your real estate agent.   Why???  Because we all know good plumbers, electricians, HVAC contractors and builders who can fix your home when it’s sick!  If your agent doesn’t know then send me an email if you are in North GA.

11. Most lists are top 10 and I wanted to be different.  #11 would be an emergency contact in case you aren’t home.

We all know everyone and every situation is different.  Please use this a start and add other numbers that would be important to you.  I suggest asking yourself “If I were not home and my family needed someone, who could they call?”  This is also a good way to get family and children involved, you might be surprised how smart they are or how thorough you can be when involving others.  (I often need to remind myself of that little pro tip!).


Happy Veterans Day!!

November 11th, 2014

Happy Veterans Day.  I want to thank my fellow Veterans and I also want to thank my family and friends who supported my decision many years ago.  I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve.  I met people and learned lessons that shaped and changed my life.

I feel an enormous debt to those who have served, currently serve and will serve in the future.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, I thought I would share the Oaths we all took below.  In my opinion these words are profound and have a lifelong significance.

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

“I, _____, having been appointed an officer in the (military branch) of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of ___ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”

I would encourage everyone to take time to read a little history of Veterans Day and how the date and name of the holiday has evolved since World War I.


Winterizing Your Home

October 24th, 2014

Winterizing a home is a fairly minor task but one we deal with often in the world of REO properties.  Because the majority of these homes are vacant, they are winterized during winter months to protect the home and plumbing system.  As a lay person, I always think of plumbing in two categories: water supply (water coming in) and water drain lines which is how the water goes back out of the home to the sewer or septic system.  Winterization deals with the water supply.  Why is this important to you?  While most of us live in our homes full time we may have a vacation home or simply go on a vacation.   I am a bit paranoid after seeing many properties flood so when I leave town I try to do a “partial winterization” on my home, no matter the time of year or temperature.   The first thing I do is turn off the water supply valve to my home and then open a couple of faucets to relieve the pressure.  The next step is important: be sure to turn the breaker off to your water heater (or turn it off if you use a gas model).  This will prevent the heating elements inside the water heater from burning out.  If you have a well you can also turn off the breaker to the well to stop the water flow into the home in case you don’t have a main shut off valve.  If you have municipal water you may be allowed to turn off the valve at the water meter (ask your local city/county first to avoid trouble or fines.  If your home does not have a water shut off valve inside the home I would recommend hiring a plumber to install one.  You may also need a pressure reducing valve installed.  This valve keeps the water pressure to a manageable level and still allows for strong pressure.  Too much water pressure can easily rupture pipes.

When leaving a home during winter months the other recommended practice is to pour antifreeze into the drains after the water has been drained from pipes.  Ideally the water in the pipes would be blown out by an air compressor prior to pouring in the antifreeze.  Now you probably know that antifreeze is poisonous to people and pets right?  Well, now you know so keep it away from kids and pets!  We really don’t want to pour poisonous antifreeze into our drains which ultimately end up in the ground water so the product you are looking for is RV antifreeze (RV as in recreational vehicle).  You can buy it at an auto parts store. RV antifreeze which is died a red color so you can identify it.   Consult a plumber to find out if adding antifreeze is necessary depending on where you live and what the expected temperature range will be while you are gone.   If I am going on a short trip I drain the water from my pipes, including your exterior faucets (called hose bibs).  These are often the first to freeze and can rupture inside the wall.  I do not add antifreeze if I am going on a short trip.  If I had a weekend cabin and would be gone for weeks in the winter time then I would.

Once you return home from your trip you will need to de-winterize.  First you need to make sure a couple of faucets are turned on so the air can be purged from the water lines once you turn on the water supply.  The next step is to turn on your main water supply valve so water can flow in.  If you have a well turn on the breaker to the well so the pump will run (I recommend sending up a little prayer that the well pump didn’t go bad first!).   Next you will open a few more faucets to make sure the air is purged and water is flowing.   You should hear the hissing and popping as air escapes along with the water pouring out.  After a minute or two you can turn the faucets off.  Then you will start to put away your things while you wait for the water heater to fill.  Once filled you can then turn the breaker on to the water heater so it will begin to heat.  Alternatively, if your water heater uses gas you will need to light the pilot light and ensure the burner is working.

Note that you can damage plumbing, water heaters, etc by doing these things improperly.  I am not a licensed plumber and have never worked for a gas company so make sure you read owner’s manuals or seek professional help if you are uncomfortable with the process.  The above was written in layman’s terms and if you need clarification be sure to let us know.   Either way, make sure to protect your home while you are away!   If you’ve ever come home to a ruptured water line or gone into a home after a pipe froze and burst you know exactly what I’m talking about.

While you’re at it, I also suggest looking at the supply line to your washing machine.  Those are notorious for breaking at the worst time.  Once you are done there go look at your water heater and check to see if the pressure release valve is piped to the exterior of your home as mentioned above.  Those are safety devices to prevent water heater explosion but if they release then the water has to go somewhere right?  You don’t want it going INTO the home, you want it piped to the exterior and safely away from your living space.   This is not info I reposted but is based on actual experience and having seen MANY damaged homes.


Why You Need a Buyers Agent

October 8th, 2014

Currently our local market is what most would consider a “seller’s market”. Micro areas differ but for the most part we are seeing a high demand for appropriately priced homes. In truth, it’s not that demand is so high, but that inventory is low, especially in more affordable ranges. Many buyers and agents have related that they see a new listing and a few days later the home is under contract before they even had a chance to see the home. Today I spoke with a buyer who called on one of our listings and she explained that she did not want to work with an agent. I respect that but I asked if she truly felt she could locate homes as well as a professional agent. She can probably do better as a motivated buyer than an unmotivated agent, but I would not bet on her versus a pro. A good buyer’s agent is basically free for the buyer. The commission is paid by the seller to the listing broker at closing and the listing broker shares the commission with a cooperating broker if one exists. Hence the reason I say it’s free for a buyer to use an agent. The seller’s agent represents the seller and the buyer should have someone representing them. If both agent’s work for the same brokerage this is known as designated agency where one agent is designated as the seller’s representative (listing agent) and the buyer’s agent is designated to work with the buyer. Some companies do not allow dual agency in which case the listing agent also represents the buyer. In either case the agency relationship (or representation) must be disclosed in writing to both the buyer and seller. Fortunately, the Georgia Association of Realtors contract form handles this disclosure when an offer is written. That said, as a buyer you have choices in who to work with so I recommend you find someone who is professional, current with market trends, financing types and who is responsive to you. You are making a big purchase, do your due diligence up front to make sure you are working with a pro. Most people work with whoever answers the phone at the company they call or someone they know socially. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you do an interview to make sure this person is truly knowledgeable. Just because you like to hang out with them or because they work at a company doesn’t mean the agent is the best. I ask questions like: how long have you been in business? Are you full time? How many homes did you close last year? How many the year prior? Do you have backup coverage in case you are out of town, sick, etc? Most good agents are busy (because they are good) and they should be ready and able to answer your questions without being defensive. If you are having trouble finding an agent please get in touch with us and we can arrange for one of our TOP buyer’s agents to represent you!




Record What You Own

September 15th, 2014

Record what you own. This isn’t about real estate so much as protecting what is probably AT your real estate.  We all have stuff. We all probably have too much stuff but want more stuff! Sometimes our stuff is stolen, burned or flooded. When that happens we have to be able to show the police, the insurance company or others what stuff we had. Here is how you can do it!

Buy or borrow a digital camera and video recorder as well as at least two thumb drives. You will then go room to room in your home and take pictures and video of each room. In the video call out what you are filming. i.e. “This is my collection of Beanie Babies and my DVDs of every episode of The Simpsons”. You get the idea. Now when you get to items that have serial numbers you will want to record those as well. Good examples would be electronics, firearms, boats, cars, ATVs, etc. Once you’ve recorded everything you will save it all to the thumb drive AND make a copy. Put each copy in two different secure places such as a safe, safe deposit box, a family member’s home, etc. Remember, at least two copies in separate locations.

I’d like to thank my friend the insurance agent, an investment advisor or three, my friends at a local sheriff’s office, the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations for this info. When I was a kid our family has a cabin that was broken into. My Dad was able to give the investigator serial numbers and accurate descriptions of the items that were stolen. Shortly after a man was arrested and the police found a lot of items hidden in his home. My family got a good bit of our stuff back as a result.


Get a Home Inspection

August 22nd, 2014

A home inspection is very important and this post will tell you why. Many of us have been inside homes that have obvious repair needs. We also have a chance to review a seller’s disclosure in some cases (not all homes will have a disclosure available, especially foreclosures). However, many issues lie unnoticed and may be hidden from view. Examples of this are plumbing, electrical, framing or foundation issues. Even the best inspector may not find all issues and while they are generally highly-competent individuals, the inspector may not have specialized knowledge. Specialized knowledge can include electrical, plumbing and hvac systems in particular. The buyer must balance the time and dollar cost of inspections versus their willingness to “roll the dice” with potential condition issues. At a minimum I recommend a general home inspection so you will have a good idea if major systems, appliances and structure should be sound. You may be buying a fixer upper and if so this can help you firm up your list of items that you will need to repair, or at least issues to keep an eye on. Another benefit to the home inspection is general knowledge of how your home works. Most inspectors will show you where water cutoffs are located, where the panel box is located and how the electrical breakers work as well as tips on maintaining your systems (where are the HVAC filters and how often should you replace them?). Some buyers will have a general inspection performed and then hire an electrician, HVAC contractor and plumber to check the systems within their fields of expertise. Just because the water is on, all valves work and the lights come on doesn’t mean the systems are performing correctly or even optimally. This of course comes with an expense and buyers have to make the call of how much to spend and where their priorities lie. Remember just because a home looks good doesn’t mean that the systems below the surface are good!   If issues are found the seller may or may not be willing to fix them or to contribute towards the repair. Every person is different which means priorities are different. I’ve seen buyers who could care less about things that bothered me and others who were quite disturbed at what I felt was a very minor issue. This is an important consideration during negotiations, we need to try our best to understand the other parties’ motivations.


Loan Qualifications: The Person and The Property

August 12th, 2014

I thought this an appropriate title for a situation we encounter from time to time. I am not a lender but having closed hundreds of REO properties in my career I have a unique perspective on what it means to qualify for a loan! A buyer may sit down with a lender and be qualified to borrow $100,000. The buyer then enlists the services of a real estate agent or broker, locates a home and makes an offer. Days later the appraiser goes out to appraise a property and the value comes back at $105,000. All is good right? Not necessarily! Many lenders and loan types require that the property meet basic criteria for safety and habitability and not all homes meet this criteria. Some homes are heavily damaged while others may be in good shape cosmetically but maybe the HVAC units have been stolen. Others may only need gutter downspout extensions or the paint is peeling on the porch. The most minor repair I’ve ever seen noted and required was only a missing door knob!   (Yes, we had it replaced and closed shortly after). We then receive a call from a frantic buyer or their agent wanting to know what to do. This is a sad situation because by this point numerous people have spent their time and energy working towards closing the sale. The buyer is usually emotionally invested (usually an entire family is).   So, let’s find out how we can avoid this type of situation or how to fix the issue.

Number one is to make sure you are working with an experienced real estate agent. A good agent should have an excellent working knowledge of the loan process and criteria that the home must meet for the specific type of loan the buyer is pursuing. If you are an agent, go to lunch with a local lender AND an appraiser and ask them questions! If you are a buyer, tell your agent what loan you are planning to use and involve your agent in the decision-making conversations with your lender.

One of our many services is knowing what the most common loans are for an area and price point and then taking a hard look at any property assigned to us to ensure that it seems to be eligible for those types of loans. We note if the HVAC and appliances are missing (refrigerators are not required for any type of loan in my area that I am aware of).   We also take note of any obvious safety issues or other conditions which may impair the loan process. Believe it or not, these repairs are more important to most of us in the REO business than cosmetics. We then make recommendations to the seller client to fully repair, repair to a condition that should pass most lender’s condition requirements, or not repair at all. This heavily depends on the estimated rate of return for the repair dollars spent vs recommended pricing AND time on market. We look at comparable sales in the neighborhood and analyze what types of loans were used to purchase these comps. If they are mostly cash sales then repairing to a lender’s standard of condition may not be necessary. This doesn’t mean only cheap homes! Many high end homes are purchased with cash and if we far exceed the FHA loan limits then we already know the buyer is unlikely to be using an FHA loan.

If the home’s condition is not up to par with your lender’s requirements then there are options. One, forget the home and move on to another. Two, use a “repair loan” product. FHA offers a repair loan and so does USDA (although it is less publicized and somewhat of a secret!).   If the home is a Fannie Mae property then the buyer may have an option of using the Homepath Renovation Mortgage. Another option may be for the seller to make the needed repairs if the buyer requests. In my market the seller usually determines the repair strategy before the home is ever listed for sale. They are more reluctant to repair once the home is for sale… but it has happened and can be done. Buyers can expect some seller’s to require the cost of the repair to be added to the purchase price via a contract amendment. Repairs usually take time and energy from all parties. My team is highly experienced with these issues and if you feel we can help you, please let us know.



Mobile Homes/Manufactured Housing

July 11th, 2014

Mobile homes can pose quite a challenge for the property owner who is unfamiliar with their intricacies. My team has handled many mobile home sales over the years and we often advise sellers (generally our corporate clients) on these issues. A mobile home or manufactured home is a home that is assembled in a factory and brought to the site on a trailer. (This is where the term “trailer” or ” trailer house” came from).   In my area the home was usually towed to the site and the tongue was detached and the wheels taken off. The frame of the trailer is basically the foundation of the mobile home. The frame is then secured to the ground with underpinning. Some are placed on blocks piers and some have block foundations built around/under them which is known as a permanent foundation.

The tricky part of selling a mobile home which is attached to real estate is title. For the focus of this post we are assuming that we are working with real property and not the mobile home only (which can be sold as personal property in many cases). The dirt under the mobile home is the real property with a legal description The mobile home is (or was) personal property. I am not an attorney and will not delve too deep into title theory but this is general information for those readers who may encounter, purchase or own a mobile home. The mobile home has or at one time had a title. A double wide would have two! By title I mean the same type of paper that your car has. Mobile homes are issued VIN numbers just like automobiles. The mobile home will also have what is known as an MSO or manufacturer’s statement of origin. This is usually a piece of paper glued to the inside of a cabinet or inside the panel covering the water heater or HVAC unit inside the home. This gives the manufacturer, model, date of manufacture, and manufacturer’s contact info as well as size of the home and specs of the systems such as insulation ratings, HVAC unit, etc. The MSO is a handy piece of information and take care to protect it if you buy the home. We always look for both the VIN number as well as the HUD numbers which is another type of serial number. The HUD numbers are often riveted to one (two for a double wide) corner of an exterior wall. Be sure to provide this information to your attorney (we often find that the bank or buyer’s attorney is unaware that the property includes a mobile home). In cases where the mobile home title is lost the seller can apply for a replacement title. The mobile home title(s) can also be retired which essentially makes the mobile home a legal attachment to the property much like a traditional site built home.   Another option which is used by many of our clients is to sell the REAL property and have the buyer sign a hold harmless for the mobile home which happens to be on the property. The hold harmless basically states that the seller may not have the title and that they are not granting any ownership in the mobile home, only the land. The risk or burden of obtaining title is on the buyer. I do not want to delve too far into title theory other than to give the reader the information that mobile homes (at some point) have a title which is separate from the real property.   This can stop a purchase and/or loan from proceeding and not all lenders will loan money to purchase a mobile home. If you are buying one make sure to let your lender know up front! Many people dislike working with mobile homes but we are more than happy to help should you find yourself in need of advice or assistance in buying or selling.