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The Buyer Interview: 10 Questions Agents Should Ask
By Geneva Ives
RISMEDIA, Wednesday, August 06, 2014— Buyers aren’t the only ones who should be asking questions during the buyer interview. There are a plethora of articles (like this one) designed to help clients find the right agent, but there aren’t very many that tell agents what they should be asking buyers.

After answering all of the buyers’ queries, now it’s your turn! Cement your expertise and your relationship with the clients by asking these ten questions. We’ve even created a mini real estate script so you can introduce these questions in a way that positions you as the knowledgeable and helpful expert.

I know real estate. Now is my chance to get to know you!

To help you find the home of your dreams in the right time frame and for the right price, I need to know the answers to these ten questions:

1. Why buy and why now?

Gain valuable insight into their reasons for buying a home that will help you tailor your services (and the rest of this conversation) to their situation.

2. Are you working with a lender?
This question lays the ground for a financial conversation. If they’re not pre-approved yet, this is your first opportunity to help them by recommending a lender.

3. How many houses have you already looked at?

Learn a little about their level of real estate experience and determine whether they are or have been working with other agents.

4. How do you prefer to be contacted?
Demonstrate your communication skills by offering to communicate via phone, email, text or even Skype. This is also the time to set expectations as to when they (and you) are available.

5. What if we found the perfect house tomorrow?
Gauge their readiness to move and get insight into their ideal timeline. Are they looking to move in the next three months? If they’re first time buyers, now is the time to discuss escrow and the closing process.

6. What are your 3 favorite neighborhoods?
A fun way to talk about where they’d like to live, how important schools are and showcase your neighborhood expertise.

7. What is your favorite room in the house?

Learn more about the lifestyle of your buyer(s) and begin the discussion about features they are looking for in a less predictable way.

8. How important is outdoor/garage space?
In many areas and price ranges, this question quickly eliminates a number of options, so get it out of the way early. Would they be willing to live in a condo with a park space or do they require a private back yard?

9. How long do you think you’ll live in the house you buy?
Some clients may want a house they can enjoy for now that will be easy to sell later. Others may want a forever home and have more particular requirements. There is a difference!

10. What is a deal breaker for you?
Roads with a lot of traffic? Apartment complex neighbors? No front yard? Save time by knowing their deal breakers upfront.

Whether you’re a new agent who is learning the ropes or a more experienced REALTOR® looking to freshen up your routine, we hope our buyer interview questions help you secure and keep more happy clients. Because you know what happy clients lead to… referrals!

Geneva Ives is the marketing writer for Point2.


Closing Costs Soar 20.8 Percent
RISMEDIA, Wednesday, August 06, 2014— While most homebuyers are focused on rising home prices, closing costs are rising nearly as quickly over the past three years, increasing by more than 20 percent since 2010, according recent information from

Mortgage closing costs rose 6 percent over 2013 after rising 6 percent in 2012 and 8.8 percent in 2011. They now average $2,539 on a $200,000 loan.

Each year, lenders’ origination fees account for the lion’s share of the increase.  Since 2010, origination fees, which include lender charges for services such as underwriting and processing, have increased 27.1 percent.

Bankrate’s annual survey of closing costs found that most of the rise in closing costs is tied to fees charged directly by lenders. On average, lenders charge about $1,614 in origination fees this year, up 10.3 percent from last year.  By contrast, third party fees for services like title and appraisals edged up 1 percent to $672.

Texas led the nation in average closing costs, at $3,046. Alaska ($2,897), New York ($2,892), Hawaii ($2,808) and Wisconsin ($2,706) round out the top five.

The cheapest closing costs are in Nevada (an average of $2,265). Tennessee ($2,366), Missouri ($2,387), Ohio ($2,392) and Washington, D.C. ($2,402) comprise the rest of the bottom five.

“New mortgage regulations are the biggest reasons why closing costs went up over the past year,” says Holden Lewis, senior mortgage analyst, “The good news is that some lenders have not increased fees. To get the best deal, consumers should compare good faith estimates from at least three different lenders.”




Some like spring cleaning; others, spurred by the start of a new school year and need for a fresh start, prefer to organize in the fall. If you're in the latter category, don’t wait for spring. The time to sort and de-clutter is now.

The number one thing on your to-do list? Make a to-do list. Write down each task, decide your top priorities, and rank them in order of importance. Now start tackling priority items in small groups. Doing three things a day is more manageable and less stress-inducing than covering your whole list in a day.

When it comes to playing the game of "toss or keep," be ruthless. Organization experts suggest that if you’re having a hard time letting go of certain items, ask yourself if you care enough to move with them. If you don’t, give them to charity – but not stained or ripped clothing; this should always be tossed.

Don't forget your kitchen and bathroom – reorganizing these spaces can help improve their efficiency. Bring frequently used items to the front of cupboards and shift others to the back. Sort through your medicine chest and take items that have expired to the pharmacy where they will be properly disposed of.

Your computer also deserves a de-cluttering. Sort items on your desktop, deleting old files, and backing up important items such as photos and tax information to your hard drive. Your computer will run more efficiently.

Finally, celebrate reaching the end of your list. And face the upcoming holidays relaxed.






Spring’s on its way, meaning spring cleaning and updating. One of the least expensive, most effective ways to update your décor is to paint. But what color? Paint colors, like fashion trends, fall in and out of favor. And most of us want to be in style.

Why not consider what’s new in interior design, furniture, and fashion? Watch the runways in Paris, Milan, and New York for hints about upcoming color trends. And look back at the January issues of design magazines – many included features on color trends.

For manufacturers and marketers, color is all about business. However, it’s a not-for-profit group of color design professionals that has been instrumental in shaping new color palettes since it was founded in 1962.

Based on considerable (and expensive) research, Color Management Group (CMG) decides what’s new in color and design. When CMG speaks, manufacturers of just about every product you can think of – including paint – listen. The result is new colors, not just for your walls, but for your toaster, your bathroom towels, and even your car.

So, what about your spring spruce-up? Once again, bold colors are in. Last year, despite a concerted ad campaign, consumers showed resistance to painting entire rooms in bright colors. Now, many paint companies have toned down their palettes and encourage the color-wary to use "big" color for accent walls.




The most important step in listing your home is establishing the price. That doesn’t necessarily mean what you need or even want for your property; it means a realistic price that reflects its true value. An unbiased perspective is vital – as the homeowner you’re proud of the upgrades you’ve made. But can you be realistic about whether the upgrades are still in good shape and on trend?

Unfortunately, most sellers don’t have the time or energy to compare their home to similar properties in the area. Your real estate agent can give you a good estimate of your home’s value. However, unless he or she is also a licensed appraiser,

your agent can only provide a broker’s estimate of value, established through a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).

CMAs can be very accurate in estimating your home’s value, but your agent may suggest you consider hiring a licensed appraiser to really nail down the value, and likely can advise you on good appraisers he or she has used before. Expect to pay a licensed appraiser $300 to $400.

Appraisers are unbiased. They usually use the cost approach – estimating how much it would cost to build a new house exactly like yours.

This has a side bonus: You’ll get a sense of how your older home

compares to new builds.

He or she will look at everything from your neighborhood to the cracks in the home’s foundation. It is in probing behind the cosmetics of your home that an appraiser earns his or her stripes.

That’s when you’ll find whether or not your upgrades are still assets, or if now is the time to fix that leaky roof.

If it’s good news, you may want to share your appraisal with buyers who are close to making an offer, especially if the buyer appears to be talking down the property with a view to submitting a lowball offer.




June 2014


Georgia housing market indicators for June: 

  • Median Prices rose 13.8% to $176,456        
  • Average Prices rose 13.4% to $227,379        
  • New Listings increased 16.1%
  • Pending Sales increased 26.5%
  • Closed Sales increased 9.1%  
  • Inventory Levels increased 3.7% to 44,431    
  • Months Supply of Homes for Sale decreased 1.7%       
  • Days on Market decreased 6.5% to 72 days
  • Percent of Original Price Received decreased .3% to 95.1%     



June 2014

 June closings up 7.8% compared to May closings

  • June 2014 closings are DOWN 3.8% compared to June 2013 closings
  • Inventory levels up 6% from May 2014; UP^ 25.8% from June 2013
  • Inventory levels are at 4.3 months (6 months is considered a normal market)
  • Average MONTHLY sales price is up 9.6% from one year ago
  • Average sales price is up 39% from bottom of 2011




Redecorating on a Dime? Work With What You’ve Got

The price of redecorating can be out-of-this-world, but it doesn’t need to be. With creativity, DIY perseverance, and craftiness, you can decorate on a dime . . . or very close to it. How do you do it? Easy – just use the suggestions below. As you might guess, it’s all about working with what you’ve got.

Find out what you have to work with: Get reacquainted with your own possessions. What do you want to do with the old stuff in your new space-to-be? Keep? Relocate to another room? Store? The inventory process spurs creativity and stimulates planning, and helps you to decide what’s missing and what you will need to invest in.

Repurpose: Determine how you can repurpose items you already have to create what you want. Maybe you’d like a new entertainment center. But wait; you have a nice old sideboard, so you can remove drawers to create space underneath, add a lick of paint, and . . . there’s your entertainment center. Cost: paint and some manual labor.

Swap items room-to-room: Just rearranging furniture can change a room’s look dramatically. From furniture, to what you have on the walls, to décor items, re-arrange or swap things between rooms.

Slipcover: Maybe you have a couch or some slipper chairs you’d like to change up. Check online for slipcovers. These days, it’s not about your grandmother’s slipcovers; there are some attractive and affordable options available now, and they can totally transform your space.

Relax and Relish: Relax and relish your new space. You deserve it.






A home office is on its way to becoming an essential item on a house buyer's wish list. After all, many people work at least part of the time at home — and even if they don't, they still want somewhere to store the computer and their household papers.

Here are some tips to help you create an attractive home office that you'll actually want to spend time in.

An attractive place to work

A home office doesn't have to be just functional — it can be attractive, too. So take as much care with the décor as you would in the other rooms in your house, making sure office furniture and accessories coordinate with wall and floor coverings.

Good lighting

If you don't have a lot of natural light (or you'll be working mainly in the evenings), make sure you have good lighting, particularly task lights for illuminating your desk. Include other types of lighting too, so you'll make the room feel comfortable.

Choose good furniture

It's essential that your desk and chair are comfortable to work at, so take time choosing them. Make sure the seat and backrest of your chair are adjustable and that the height of your desk is comfortable.

Power and the Internet

Make sure there are plenty of power outlets in the room and easy Internet access. Avoid a "rat's nest" of cables by bundling them together and tucking them out of sight.

Include good storage

Think carefully about the kind of storage you'll need and make sure there's enough of it. Consider stackable boxes to store paperwork efficiently, and an attractive filing cabinet. Put shelves on the walls and use them to store books; add wire baskets to the shelves for documents.

Bulletin board

Put up a bulletin board for reminders and other essential information you use every day. Then you'll avoid ugly sticky notes all over your computer.

FINANCE with a 203 (k)


I have been selling real estate in Metro Atlanta for over 19 years. My area of expertise is NOT mortgages. However, in order to sound half way intelligent I have to know basic information regarding mortgages. My disclaimer before you read on? I do not profess to be an expert in mortgages! My knowledge is just enough to be dangerous....


WHAT IS a 203 (k)?

  • It is an FHA loan that was introduced in 1961
  • It is a mortgage loan
  • It allows for repairs to be done AFTER closing
  • Mortgage amount calculated on the "after improved" value of the home, not the "as is" value
  • Get the money you want to make changes at the time of closing
  • If you do not move into the house directly after closing due to renovations or repairs, you mortgage WILL accrue interest, but you will not start making mortgage payments until you move in.

TWO TYPES of FHA 203(k) FINANCING:  FHA Streamline 203(k) ad Consultant FHA 203(k)

There is also the Conventional Renovation Mortgage with its own guidelines.

  • Buying/Selling in Metro Atlanta please visit my website:  (Search all properties in Metro Atlanta. Specialized searches for the areas of:  Braselton, Buford, Flowery Branch, Hoschton
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