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I’m Buying New Construction, Should I Use a Realtor?

REPRESENTATION – The real estate representative in the builder’s sales office represents the builder’s best interest not yours. An independent real estate agent represents your interests and advocates on your behalf. Additionally, a real estate agent will help you get the most value for the least amount of money and make the real estate transaction easy and frustration free.

WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT YOU GET- You tour the model, and it looks great. The problem is the model isn’t the base price of $400,000 being advertised, it’s $500,000 because of all the upgrades. Top tier granite countertops, crown molding, upgraded appliances, built-in bookshelves and trey ceilings are usually upgrades and they add up. A realtor representing your interests will help make sure you’re aware of what’s included in the base price and what’s extra.

AGENT FEES – Buyers do not pay the real estate agent fees, the seller or builder does. Builders view commissions to real estate agents as part of their cost of doing business. In fact, they rely on outside agents to bring clients to them. Builders will not credit buyers the commission they would otherwise pay to a Realtor. If they were to do so, realtors would no longer bring clients through the builder’s doors and ultimately it would impact their future sales. Therefore, there is no downside and no cost on your end to have an outside agent represent you.

NEGOTIATIONS – An agent will look at the transaction from a dollars and sense perspective without being swayed by emotions. A good Realtor will also know what is and what is not negotiable and as you can imagine it varies by builder. For example, did you know many builders will cover some closing costs? Include a warranty? Include free upgrades? Builders are far more likely to negotiate on fees or upgrades than they are on price. An experienced agent will help guide you through negotiations and ensure you are getting the most for your money.

GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING – Any concessions or guarantees provided by the builder should be confirmed in writing. Do not sign any paperwork or contracts without ensuring everything you’ve agreed upon including upgrades, fees, timelines, etc. are incorporated into the contract. If you skip this step, the builder does not have to deliver what they agreed upon and you will have no recourse. An agent will ensure all the terms agreed upon are included in the contract.
Inspections – You SHOUD DEFINITELY consider a home inspection when buying new construction. A builder doesn’t necessarily want to inspect itself and if they did would you trust they have your best interest in mind? Often, homeowners think a new home warranty will cover any issues that arise. In certain instances, it does not. A good real estate agent will have relationships with multiple independent inspectors who will look out for your best interest and may even help the homeowners set the appointment with the inspector and review the inspector’s report to identify potential areas of negotiation, corrections, repairs, or replacements with the builder.

FINANCING – When you are buying new construction, the builder usually offers financing. But is it the best financing available? Even a small increase in the interest rate could have a significant impact on your monthly payment or the total amount you pay for the home. An experienced real estate agent will be able to connect you with reputable lenders so you can compare rates. Also, the current taxes are on the land so be sure to estimate the future taxes of the completed home using your local tax rates.

CONTRACT – How familiar are you with a real estate contract? Do you know what to look for to make sure you are receiving all the benefits you’re hoping to receive? Are you aware of any hidden fees or community fees? A real estate agent is an expert in the industry who is there to provide guidance throughout a real estate transaction. They review real estate contracts regularly and know what to look for to ensure everything is correct. Some builders will have their own contracts so be sure to examine them carefully before signing.

QUALITY OF CONSTRUCTION – How familiar are you with the builder? What’s their reputation? What is the quality of their construction? There are hundreds of builders. An experienced agent will be familiar with all the major builders and their quality of work. They’ll also be able to provide recommendations and references for custom home builders to ensure you are connecting with a reputable builder.

Seasonal Sales… 6 Reasons to Sell During the Holidays

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Why The Holidays Are a Great Time to Sell Your Home

When it comes to real estate, the ideal time to sell your home often falls in the spring months. After all, many people hunker down during the winter months or are too busy with the holidays to think about purchasing a new home. And don’t forget, people like to start shopping in the spring to make sure they are settled in their homes before the start of a new school year.

But what if you can’t wait until the weather warms up to get your house on the market? Should you consider putting your house up for sale around the holidays?

It may not seem like the most ideal time, but the holiday season does have its benefits—provided you position your home in just the right way. You might not get in the middle of a bidding war, but you are going to deal with serious buyers who are ready to close a deal.

6 Reasons Why the Holidays Are a Good Time to Sell

1- Less Housing Inventory During Winter
Conventional wisdom says people should wait until the spring to get the most from a home sale. After all, inventory normally picks up in the spring as the weather gets warmer. This often leads to price wars breaking out in coveted neighborhoods. A home in a great area with a lot of potential buyers can sit on the market for just a few weeks or, in some cases, even days.

2-Winter Buyers Are More Serious
Most open houses take place during the spring and early summer. It isn’t unusual to see people saunter into a property without a clear plan to buy. People often check out homes just for the sake of looking. After all, hitting open houses is a favorite pastime for many Americans.

3-That Warm and Cozy Feeling
The holidays are often a time when people gather around fireplaces, drink hot chocolate, and bake cakes and cookies. Homeowners who put their houses up for sale during the winter months can stage their house to give off the comfy and homey vibe that appeals to many buyers.
Some people may argue that showing a house in the winter is hard to do because the ground is mucky, the house is drafty, and the curb appeal is lacking. But turning the heat up, having a yummy treat in the oven, and keeping the sidewalk and driveway clear of debris can boost a home’s appeal.

4-Festive Neighborhoods Are Inviting
One of the staples of the holiday months is that many people adorn their homes with festive lights and decorations. That is also true of local communities where lit-up snowflakes and wreaths can be found on lampposts up and down the main streets.
People purchasing a home during that time may see the neighborhood in a different light—more festive and cheerful—and may be more willing to consider an area that they may have been on the fence about.

5-Year-End Job Transfers
Another good reason is timing. The end of the year is typically the time when people get notified, they will be moving because of a job transfer, or perhaps an offer comes through from another company that’s just too good to pass up.
Those people are going to need a home sooner rather than later and, as a result, they’ll be hunting for a new home during the holidays. These buyers can’t wait for spring, which is one reason why listing during the holidays can get the home sold—and sold quickly.

6-End-of-Year Tax Breaks
Reducing the property tax bill may not be the main reason buyers purchase a new home, but it could be why serious buyers make a move during the holidays. That’s because buyers can deduct the mortgage interest, property taxes, and interest costs of the loan if a sale closes on or before December 31. New tax laws limit the deduction, of course, but the tax benefits could still prompt a buyer to move during the holidays instead of waiting until spring.

Fall Maintenance Checklist

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As the seasons begin to change, here is a reminder of what needs to be done. Fall isn’t here yet but getting everything scheduled should be done now. First here are some items that could be done monthly. If you haven’t done them in a while add them to the list or have your service provider do these:


  • Clean the furnace filter to remove dust build-ups, make it easier to regulate your home’s temperature, and ultimately decrease energy bills.
  • Check filters on water filters.
  • Clean faucet aerators and showerheads to remove mineral deposits.
  • Inspect tub and sink drains for debris; unclog if necessary.
  • Test smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and all ground-fault circuit interrupters.
  • Inspect electrical cords for wear.
  • Vacuum heat registers and heat vents. Refrigerator vent too if you have pets!
  • Check that indoor and outdoor air vents are not blocked.
  • Flush out hot water from the water heater to remove accumulated sediment.
  • Clean the garbage disposal by grinding ice cubes, then flushing with hot water and baking soda.

Fall checklist:

  • Rake leaves and aerate the lawn.
  • Have forced-air heating system inspected by a professional. Schedule an inspection in late summer or early fall before the heating season begins.
  • Check fireplace for damage or hazards, and clean fireplace flues.
  • Seal cracks and gaps in windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping; replace if necessary.
  • Touch up exterior siding and trim with paint.
  • Inspect roofing for missing, loose, or damaged shingles and leaks.
  • Power-wash windows and siding.
  • Remove leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Mend cracks and gaps in the driveway and walkway.
  • Drain and winterize exterior plumbing.
  • Have your fireplace professionally inspected.
  • Tune up major home appliances before the holidays.
  • Repair or replace siding.
  • Replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Install a smoke detector on every floor of your home, including the basement.
  • Clean the carpets.
  • Clean window and door screens.
  • Vacuum lint from the dryer vent.
  • Inspect exterior door hardware; fix squeaky handles and loose locks.
  • Check for frayed cords and wires.
  • Drain and store hoses and drain in-ground sprinkler systems.
  • Wrap insulation around outdoor faucets and pipes in unheated garages.
  • Check water heater for leaks.

Since I am in the middle of having our hot water heater replaced after finding the drip pan about to overflow, this list is one to really try to get to the issues before they become problems.

Hottest Garden Trend? Gnomes!

I love Fairy Tales, Folklore and Yes, I believe in Tinkerbell! But the act of purchasing a ceramic garden creature isn’t something I ever thought I would do. I did get a few little mushroom critters for my grandson when he was 3, but I’m not turning into an eccentric, old woman quite yet. I recently revamped my shaded back porch in beautiful shades of purple, mint and aqua. It sounds awful but with all the foliage, it’s really peaceful. Then I went to the At Home Store Home Decor & Furniture Store Chattanooga TN | At Home for a few items to pull it together.

Walking up and down the aisles, I wondered how I had ever survived home ownership without all of this “STUFF”…and there he was staring at me. A Gnome, in colors that screamed that he wanted a home, on my porch. I put him in my cart and walked around the store until I regained my sanity and put him back. There were only 3 left and he haunted me all week, so I drove back over there and I bought a Garden Gnome. And we gave him a name, I know TMI but there is a 5 year old involved.

When my oldest kids were little, one of their favorite shows was David the Gnome which had Tom Bosley’s voice, who was also the father on Happy Days. The show taught about nature and I loved it too. Most European cultures have some Gnome mythology. Gnomes are believed to guard plant life and treasures making them a perfect garden ornament.

A few weeks later the list above was in my inbox from The National Association of Realtors who credit this chart to Atlas Ceramics, the creators of the Garden Trends Index. I was so relieved to see this that I then bought the frog in lotus pose that I was also in love with. So, if you are suddenly taken to buying statuary it’s likely because the retailers are suggesting it, with firepits, patios and pergolas probably the best return on investment. But a gnome might make you smile.



What do you want for Your Chattanooga Life? Signal Mountain is a charming community of tree lined streets with homes that range from bucolic cottages to majestic mansions with unbelievable views. St Ives Community is in the heart of Signal Mountain with the library, golf course, shops and award-winning schools within minutes away. The homes in St Ives are built to a standard that says…wow! It’s a place where there are still sidewalks, kids ride their bikes to the pool and catch frogs in the pond. Enjoy living in this custom-built, all brick home with stunning stone accents. It has a side loading 3 car garage with ample flat parking space. From the covered front porch, you enter the foyer where you first see the hardwood floors that are in much of the home. Along the left there is a private hall leading to an impressive office with vaulted ceilings and plenty of windows so working at home is a pleasure. To the right of the foyer is the dining room with gorgeous wainscotting that looks out to the beautifully landscaped front yard. The great room overlooks the back deck with views of the pond beyond. This area is open to the kitchen, creating a large entertaining space with entry to the screened porch where you’ll spend evenings (and mornings and afternoons) listening to the sounds of nature and the distant spray of the pond fountains. The kitchen has a built-in oven, electric cooktop, island with sink, desk area with built ins and a generous walk-in pantry. The back hallway from the garage has plenty of storage with 3 closets! The master bedroom is also on the main level. Plenty of windows light up this large room overlooking the backyard. The large ensuite bath has a soaking tub, separate shower, double sinks and walk in closet. Upstairs there are 3 or 4 more bedrooms, all with large closets, 2 full baths and a huge attic storage area. The peaceful backyard is ideal for a campfire or sitting by the pond when your friends and family visit your Chattanooga life!