Ayelet Gilad

Alpharetta Living, Real Estate and Community


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Is Your Front Door Welcoming?

Creating indoor/outdoor transitions that welcome and complement your home can add to your home’s curb appeal and value. People often think only about the value of their house and what’s going on inside, but your front door is the first impression your visitors get of your home. Make it a good one.

Entries That Welcome

These days, many homeowners in the United States use their garage as their everyday entry to their home. They rarely enter their home the way their guest will, through the front door.

Have you ever been invited to someone’s home and discovered when you got there that you aren’t sure where you were supposed to enter? Or perhaps the front entry is so dark and overgrown that it feels scary and unwelcoming? One of the most important indoor/outdoor transitions at your home is the sequence people experience from the instant they arrive at the curb to the moment they enter through your front door. So, what can you do?

Make it Obvious

Guests should not have to wonder whether they should enter through your front door, a side door, or through the garage. Make the entry you want guests to use obvious by providing a clear path and making it visible from the street. Use containers of plants, lighting, or a wreath on the door to signify the importance of that entry.

Light it Up

Provide adequate outdoor lighting, not just at the front door, but along the path guests will use to walk from the street to your door. This is especially important if there are a number of stairs guests must climb and descend to get to and from your home. Your guests will appreciate a well-lit path, and the chances of someone injuring themselves on the way to your front door will be reduced. There are a wide variety of lighting options available to homeowners. You can choose anything from low-voltage and solar landscape lighting to step lights and LED rope lights that can be imbedded into concrete walls and stair risers.

Make it Safe

As mentioned before, visibility from the street is very important. This goes beyond simply allowing visitors to see the location of the front door. We often think of high fences and gates as mechanisms to keep out intruders, but once someone has breached that barrier, a high fence becomes a hiding place behind which to lurk. Fences and walls can be designed to keep intruders out while still allowing views in. High, solid fences and large evergreen shrubs near entryways should be avoided. Avoid built elements and plantings that block views or create a confined space. Your guests should feel safe when waiting for you to answer your front door.

Welcome!

The act of welcoming your guests does not start when you open your front door; it begins the moment they drive up and park their car at the curb. What does the entry sequence at your front door say about you? Walk across the street and take a look. Walk the path your guests will use several times and think about the experience. What works? What needs to change?

Do you feel welcome?


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What Can You Do With Your Tax Refund?

It’s tax refund season! Did you receive your refund already or about to receive it? I can think of at least two great ways you can use your refund for!

The first option is to use the refund to remodel your house and get it “listing ready” just in time for spring! For more details on the benefits and expected return on the investment in remodeling please read “Should You Remodel Your House Prior to Putting it on the Market?”.

Your second option is to use the refund for a down payment on an FHA loan. You only  need to put 3.5% as down payment (FHA loan can up to $346,250).

Still debating how to use your refund wisely? Call me today @ 404-245-7172  and I’d be happy to discuss it with you!


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Why I Appreciate “For Sale By Owner”

I must warn you in advance, as the title implies, this is a bit of a sarcastic post. Now that I gave you a fair warning, let’s get to discuss the “For Sale By Owners” sellers. I always appreciate entrepreneur  who wants to save money or make big bucks on the back of professionals.

So why do home sellers do it? Why instead of using skilled prefoessionals that have the experience, knowledge and resources to do it for them. they go and try to sell by themselves? They probably think they can do it by themselves or they might have had a bad past experience with a realtor. Also, some owners think that their house is worth more than what a real-estate agent told them it’s worth – I call this reason “The Denial Factor” or they just simply want to save the cost of commission

The reasons above are all valid reasons to why try and do it yourself. However, home sellers should be aware of the statics! The data show that  only 9% of “For sale by owner” home sellers succeed in selling their house by themselves and 1/3 of those 9% sold their house to a relative, a neighbor of a friend.  The list to price  ratio is  usually lower and stands around 80% as compared to transactions via real estate agent (the data are form the National Association of Realtor, 2012 profiles of home buyers and sellers).

Lastly, there is no subsitutue to the amount of exposure that I can get for your house and make sure it’s visible to the right audience, on the web especiaaly. With today’s technology, more than 80% of buyers found their homes on the internet, this kind of power is irreplaceable and I can make sure your house get this attention and exposure . To sum it up, while you might be handy and one of those DIY type of guy or a girl – selling your house is not really the DYI kind of task, so contact me today and find out how I can help you! And I’m always here to help!


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The (un)Power Of the Internet

The internet and the access to information have definitely changed our lives. The ease of accessing any type of information has made it easier for us in some respects to find any type of information or knowledge on the web, but it’s also a kind of a double-edge sword, as not all the information we find on the web is up-to-date, real or not biased. You might be wondering why is a realtor writing about the web and access…well, it’s because it’s very relevant to my daily work!

I often have my clients, surfing the web and searching for homes on websites like Zillow and Trulia, they find houses they like and then they call me asking me to show it to them or how come I didn’t show it to them yet? Truth is, that in many instances these real-estate sites are not too up-to-date. The house you like and think I didn’t show you is already under contract, or you might have even looked at a house that was recently sold or not for sale at all. Therefore, please be aware that these sites are not necessarily updated.

Another problem is the price estimate that is shown on every house page.  Home buyers should be aware that these estimates are very limited since they are based on information taken from coutny tax records, and these are not very up-to-date as well! Therefore, the estimate is often inaccurate. Further, these websites don’t take into account differences in interior features (like hardwood floors vs. carpet, formaica vs. granite counter tops and such); or exterior features like stuco vs. brick, the house location (cul de sac, entracnce to the neighborhood) and other factors like power lines, highway proximity and so on.

So if you’d really like to know how much your house is worth or what is the worth of the house you want to buy – contact me!  As your realtor I have all the hyperlocal and most importantly – the most recent & up to date information. Plus, you get to talk with a human 🙂


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Can You Still Find Deals Out There?

People are starting to feel like they missed the train, in some aspects – they might have, we’re now looking in the rear mirror on the bottom of the low of the market in 2009.

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If you’re thinking of buying a house to hold (i.e. to rent it out) , you should know that your calculation should consider if the amount you’ll get in monthly or  yearly is worth it? Even if the prices go up. In other words,  you need to know what is the Return-on-investment (ROI) you want to get out of it? If in low of the market (i.e. when the house prices hit rock bottom) the ROI was 10-15%, now you might only have net ROI of 7-8%. House prices are rising and rent prices are rising as well, however, they increase in house prices doesn’t fully correlate in the increase in rent prices, therefore your ROI can be lower. The take home message – before you buy a house to hold – ask yourself and calculate – is it  still worth it to you and make sure the ROI is still applicable to you and your financial situation before going into this transaction.


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I’m “Looking” For Deals!

Everybody wants a deal! I mean – who doesn’t? But what does a deal mean to you?

All the time, I hear: “I want a deal”, “I want to buy a foreclosure or a short sale”. But is a foreclosure a deal? It might have been true 2 years ago.  In the past, when banks listed houses on the market, they priced them based on their interior condition, but their exterior condition, and most often their interior condition, still needed repairs. Many times the cost of these repairs brought you to market price anyway. So what do you think? What is a deal or not? It probably was if the repairs cost you less than what the bank thought they’d cost. My point is, that you shouldn’t buy a house that is foreclosure just for the sake of buying a foreclosure. Today, the banks learned their lesson, they list fewer foreclosures at a time, and they price them closer to market value even if repairs are needed.  Since the inventory is so low, buyers are willing to pay more for a foreclosure or “a deal” even though the bottom line shows it’s not a real deal.

Still not convinced? Contact me today to learn more about the most up-to-date real estate market trends in the metro Atlanta area.


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On Mortgages, Lenders And Everything In Between

Do you really know your mortgage company? Is it so important to know who your mortgage lender is BEFORE you start a transaction with them? Hell YEH! This is so keen, I wish I could emphasize this even more!

How much stress can you pile on a home purchase? A LOT! It is such an emotional and stressful process anyway, so why not reduced it a bit in advance? Trust me – it’s totally worth it to have one less thing to sweat about.

As the market shifts to seller’s market, and the regulation are loosening up a bit, you see more mortgage brokers returning, as well as new ones, entering the business claiming they can get you a mortgage.  But since they’re not established or experienced enough you can become a victim! Please be aware of all the new and less known lenders – you won’t get your mortgage, lose money and even the house you wanted! As I mentioned above, purchasing a home is a very emotional process and you have to get into it with logic in mind. This is why you need get your mortgage from a reputable company (ask me for referral) and you have to it before you start looking at homes.

Especially in this market, if you see a house that is very relevant for – you have no time to lose. You need to be ready with your pre-approval letter, be aware of all the costs (like closing costs, escrow etc.). Working with someone that has no solid reputation,  may lead to delays in closing and even eventually losing the house you really wanted to be your home. This is why I highly recommend to all my clients that the first and foremost important thing you should do when you decide to buy a home is to get your mortgage; and I don’t mean just pre-approved mortgage based on your credit score, I mean give the lender all the documents (like W-2, tax returns, etc.). I saw in the past, when the pre-approval is only based on credit history, sometimes, when you submit all the documents they will reveal your real financial situation and your mortgage might not be approved.

As I write about often in my blog, there’s plenty possible pitfalls when you’re buying a house, and when you work with me and with a reputable lender, we can make sure to avoid them and have a smooth, less stressful transaction.  Call me today @ 404-245-7172 to see how I can help you!