SOMETIMES PROCRASTINATION PAYS OFF                                           Home Buyers: ACT FAST!!

By John Adams, for Fox5 News ATLANTA, AUG 09 2016                               © 2016 All Rights Reserved

Occasionally, procrastination pays off.  Now may be one of those times…

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If you’ve been sitting on the fence waiting for the right time to buy your next home, your gamble has paid off!  Here’s why:

  1.  HOME PRICES ARE STILL ATTRACTIVE

Yes, resale home prices in metro Atlanta are up about twenty percent over the last couple years, but we still have not fully recovered from the crash. Compared to renting and compared to buying in other parts of the country, home prices remain attractive.

2.  INTEREST RATES ARE AMAZINGLY LOW

Here’s the key: your INTEREST COSTS are typically the largest overall expense of owning a home, and anything you can do to lower that cost will have a big payoff.

Most of us who watch the market fully expected home loan rates to be higher by now. But for whatever reason, this has been the slowest economic recovery since the depression. Just about the only thing keeping our economy afloat for the past several years has been the federal reserve printing LOW COST MONEY and pushing it onto the market.

THAT FACT ALONE makes this a great time to buy a house.

You can lock in a 30 year fixed rate home loan today at just blow 3.5%. But the real bargain is a 15 year fixed rate loan at 2.75%.  Yes, the monthly payments are higher, but the low rate and fast payback slashes your overall interest expense to the bone.

3.  TAX BENEFITS ARE REMARKABLE

As if the first two factors weren’t enough to push you over the edge, the tax benefits of owning versus renting are just as good as ever, and they’ve always been good!

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As an example, if you buy an ugly house in a nice area, and move in. On weekends, you paint, clean-up, improve, and finish out every square inch of the property. Two years later, you sell for a nice fat profit, maybe fifty thousand dollars profit. If that happens, every penny of profit is totally tax free.

  1.  LONG TERM OUTLOOK FOR REAL ESTATE IS STRONG

Folks are still getting married and they’re still making babies. As long as that continues, we’ll need more housing.

Last time I checked, there were 324 million people living in this great nation of ours, and most of them prefer to live indoors. That’s not gonna change!

CONCLUSION:  The time is right to explore your options for home ownership.  This combination of factors makes ownership particularly attractive, and locking in a long term fixed rate mortgage below three percent is an absolute steal.  Anyone who buys a house today will probably be very happy with their decision five or ten years from today.

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About the author:                                                                                                              

Atlanta native John Adams is an award-winning freelance columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is a real estate broker, a property manager, an investor, and a lifelong entrepreneur. His website is Money99.com

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Seven Questions to Ask Before You Sign the Lease

by John Adams

Every state has slightly different laws and customs regarding leases, so it’s important to know how these laws affect you. The best way to do just that is to read your lease carefully.

Your lease isn’t just a piece of paper – it’s a legally binding contract. That’s why the right time to get essential information from your landlord and negotiate details isn’t while the ink is drying – it’s before you sign your name on the dotted line.
1. How long is the lease & what happens at the end?

A lease is most often for one year, sometimes 6 months. It’s important to know the length of your term because you’re locked into that time frame once you sign a lease.

You should also find out what the penalties are for breaking your lease in an emergency situation. For example, if you get married or you’re transferred, can you get out of the lease? Unless you get the landlord to include an early termination clause, you could end up losing your security deposit and still be on the hook for the rest of the rent.
2. What about utilities – are they included?

The types of utilities paid by landlords vary considerably, so it’s best to know about them ahead of time. That means finding out what you’re responsible for and what your landlord covers, like water and sewer, electricity, gas, internet, cable, trash pickup, and so on.

Many landlords are now including a “water & sanitation” surcharge to help cover increasing costs. These types of additional fees can add up, but if they are not mentioned in the lease, you don’t have to pay them.

3. Can I have a dog or cat?

If you have a pet (or plan to get one), ask your landlord about their pet policy now.

Landlords are appropriately worried about anything that could damage a unit, so some owners prohibit all pets. Other landlords may allow all pets, but ask for a separate pet deposit or “pet rent” (a monthly fee for having a pet), or accept pets up to a certain weight (or other stipulations).
4. When is rent due and how do i pay it?

In Georgia, there is no legal “grace period” for rent unless it is written in the lease.

This is in contrast to most mortgages, which include a 15 day grace period. In addition, rent is payable in advance, whereas interest is paid in arrears.

Whether your landlord lives next door or you mail a check to a property manager, it’s important to find out when and how your rent payment should be sent every month.

And even if you don’t think you’ll be late with rent, it’s smart to ask your landlord when a payment is considered late, and if there are any charges.

5. Exactly what must I do to get a full refund of my security deposit?

By law, all security deposits are refundable in theory. Your landlord can withhold part of your deposit for damages you caused beyond normal wear and tear or if you break the lease. Deductions can also be made against your deposit for unpaid rent or fees.

Georgia has very specific laws on security deposits, so make sure you understand this issue.

6. What is the procedure for maintenance & repairs?

The heart of Georgia Landlord-Tenant law is this:

“The tenant’s duty is to pay rent, and the landlord’s duty is to repair.”

That means your landlord must make reasonable attempts to make repairs in a timely manner. But what is “reasonable and timely” to one person may be stupid and slow to another.

For that reason, it is imperative that you know how to report issues and how soon to expect a response. Open communication here is critical.

Depending on your rental situation, your building might have on-site property management. But it is rare to find around the clock repairs. In any case, before you sign the lease, it’s good to know the procedure.
Also ask if renter’s insurance is required. Even if it’s not, I always recommend that you be covered. It’s cheap, and covers your personal possessions in case of fire or loss.
And finally
7. What are the rules for painting or improvements?

If you want to paint your bedroom walls or install curtain rods in the living room, you should check now on what kind of changes are OK and which are forbidden. Getting it all in writing can avoid potential major expenses at the end of your lease.

In most cases, you’re expected to leave your apartment in its original state when your lease is up. If you make unapproved cosmetic changes, a portion of your security deposit could be withheld in order for your landlord to restore the house or apartment.

SUMMARY:

You lease agreement governs most of the terms between you and your landlord, so it’s a very important document. Make sure you read it before you sign it, and ask all the questions you can think of before you sign on the dotted line.

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