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Date Archives: September 2018

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September
27

Picnic in the Park is the first Sunday in October

Picnic in the ParkPicnic in the Park

As summer and its memories fade into the past, Savannahians turn their attentions to the pleasures of the fall season. October beckons in all its autumnal glory and brings with it the promise of diversion. Locals flock to the Historic Downtown area of Savannah to revel in some of Savannah's most-beloved gatherings, such as the Savannah Greek Festival and the Shalom, Y'all Jewish Food Festival. Heralding this season of festivity is Savannah's Picnic in the Park.

Picnic in the Park is the first Sunday in October and is held at Savannah's famous Forsyth Park. Live music performances are scheduled throughout the evening at the park's concert bandshell. Musical acts include those from local schools, the U.S. Army Band, 3rd ID, and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra.

Do not be mistaken by the term "picnic." If it's one thing Savannahians can do, it's have a good time, and they do so with both flair and gusto. Many families and groups of friends will gather together under several tents fully dressed tables, fresh flowers and chandeliers. Cold cans of craft beer keep company with cans of sparkling wine in metal tubs packed with ice. Silver trays, bedecked with doilies, are topped with tomato sandwiches, wedges of cheese, or bits of summer sausages, and flank chafing dishes of fried chicken fingers and boiled shrimp. Cakes, pies, and cookies will also be available, because no party is complete without a good dessert.

Some will dress in costume according to the theme. Others will keep it simple and just add a layer of bug spray to their normal attire. Ballgowns, glow necklaces, and flower crowns are a common sight, no matter what the theme of the year may be. Perhaps one can say that, no matter what, the theme of Picnic in the Park will always be the quirky joy in the simple pleasures. And that theme is truly Savannah. 

September
27

Falling Home Prices

We are beginning to see reports that more housing inventory is coming to the market and that buyer demand may not be increasing at the same pace it did earlier this year. The result will be many headlines written to address the impact that these two situations will have on home values.

Many of these headline writers will confuse "softening home prices" with "falling home prices," but there is a major difference between the two.

The data will begin to show that home values are not appreciating at the same levels as they had over the last several years (softening prices). This does NOT mean that prices are depreciating (falling prices).

Here is an example: Over the last several years, national home values increased by more than 6% annually. If you had a home worth $300,000 at the beginning of the year, it would be worth $318,000 by year's end. If the appreciation rate "falls" to 4%, that $300,000 house would be worth $312,000 at the end of next year – a $6,000 difference.

The price of the home did not fall. It just didn't increase at the level it had the previous year.

Appreciation rates are projected to end this year at approximately 5%, and then drop to somewhere between 4-5% next year. This drop in appreciation rate will cause home price increases to soften.

Again, this does not mean that home prices will depreciate, but instead that they will appreciate more slowly.

Bottom Line

Be careful when reading headlines that discuss home values. Some headline writers will be legitimately confused and will use the word falling in place of softening. Others will realize that the headline "Home Prices are Falling!" will get more clicks than "Home Prices are Softening" and will intentionally write the more compelling headline. Read the article. If the word depreciation is not mentioned, home values are not falling.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

From KCM 

September
26

savannah downtown design district

Unique Shopping in the Hostess City

Savannah's Downtown Design District is tucked in the Southern portion of the Historic District between Liberty and Gordon Streets, and between Whitaker and Drayton Streets near Forsyth Park and Historic Jones Street. This charming cluster of locally owned shops and boutiques are within walking distance of the rest of Downtown Savannah yet are just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Downtown Savannah shopping and traffic to allow for a relaxing day of strolling and shopping. For those who work up an appetite, Savannah's Downtown Design District is also within walking distance of the famous Ms. Wilkes Boarding House, the Diplomat Luncheonette and The Gryphon Tea Room. 

One Fish Two Fish is housed in an elegant stucco building and is perfect stop for those looking for something a little beyond the usual tchotkes. The shop offers upscale souvenirs, as well as home decor, jewelry and accessories. It's all too tempting to pick up a little something to dress up the house, and then something to dress up yourself at this store.

Next door to One Fish Two Fish — is Circa Lighting. With antique reproductions, vintage modern lights, and eye-catching fixtures, Circa Lighting is the place to grab a little something to brighten your home and make it truly stand out. The Annex, which is located across the street, houses overstock and reduced priced fixtures from Circa, as well as resort clothing and accessories from One Fish Two Fish.

savannah downtown design district

The art of letter writing has never really gone out of style, as La Paperie can attest. This charming little shop is ideal for custom-designed invitations and stationery. La Paperie also sells a number of pre-designed notecards, cocktail napkins, and assorted gifts. 

A local favorite for unique jewelry is Custard Boutique. Custard embraces the concept of helping every woman embrace her best self and highlight what makes her unique. With an emphasis on eco-friendly, fashion-forward clothing and accessories that are locally and regionally made, Custard strives to help women appreciate their uniqueness. 

Savannah's Downtown Design District

Don't miss out on the PW Short General Store. Owner Scot Hinson wanted to recreate the feeling of a small town community meeting place where you could find everything from French copper pots to smart phone chargers with utilitarian design in mind. This shop has a great selection of goods to furnish your home bar and is also a great place if you are looking for unique gear for a picnic in the park. The vibe is eclectic with a good dose of Midcentury Modern.  

Savannah's Downtown Design District

Check out Savannah's Downtown Design District for unique housewares, a variety of jewelry, art, and more. Many of the stores feature goods created by locals, have a decidedly Southern flare, and all have a cared for and carefully curated presentation.

September
25

Cost of NOT Paying PMI

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer as median incomes, rents, and home prices all vary depending on where you live.

There is a common misconception among homebuyers that a 20% down payment is required, and it is this limiting belief that often adds months, and sometimes even years, to the home-buying process.

So, if you can purchase a home with less than a 20% down payment… why aren't more people doing just that?

One Possible Answer: Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

"An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It's a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you've built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment."

As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. The monthly cost of your PMI depends on the home's value, the amount of your down payment, and your credit score.

Below is a table showing the difference in monthly mortgage payment for a $250,000 home with a 3% down payment and PMI vs. a 20% down payment without PMI:

Cost of NOT Paying PMI

The first thing you see when looking at the table above is no doubt the added $320 a month that you would be spending on your monthly mortgage cost. The second thing that should stand out is that a 20% down payment is $50,000!

If you are buying your first home, $50,000 is a large sum of money that takes discipline and sacrifice to save. Many first-time buyers save for 5-10 years before buying their homes.

To save $50,000 in 10 years, you would need to save about $420 a month. On the other hand, if you save that same $420 a month, you could afford a 3% down payment in less than a year and a half.

In a recent article by My Mortgage Insider, they explain what could happen in the market while you are waiting to save for a higher down payment:

"The time it takes to save a (larger) down payment could mean higher home prices and tougher qualifying down the road. For many buyers, it could prove much cheaper and quicker to opt for the 3% down mortgage immediately."

The article went on to say,

"Since renters typically devote a higher percentage of their income to housing than homeowners, providing flexible down payment options can help renters with solid earnings purchase a home – and gain a fixed-rate mortgage with principal and interest payments that will not increase over the life of the loan."

If the prospect of having to pay PMI is holding you back from buying a home today, Freddie Mac has this advice,

"It's no doubt an added cost, but it's enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment."

Based on results of the most recent Home Price Expectation Survey, a homeowner who purchased a $250,000 home in January would gain $50,000 in equity over the next five years based on home price appreciation alone (shown below).

Bottom Line

If you have questions about whether you should buy now or wait until you've saved a larger down payment, let's get together to discuss our market's conditions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

From KCM

September
18

Fall Festival Fun in Savannah

As October approaches, locals flock to the Historic Downtown area of Savannah to revel in some of Savannah's most-beloved gatherings, such as  the Savannah Jazz Festival, Picnic in the Park, the Savannah Greek Festival, the Shalom, Y'all Jewish Food Festival and Tybee Island Pirate Fest. 

 

The 37th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival has already begun, as it runs from September 23rd to September 29th. The festival will include performances from both local and globally-renowned musicians at venues throughout the Historic District of Downtown Savannah. See the schedule here.

Picnic in the Park is the first Sunday in October and is held at Savannah's famous Forsyth Park. Live music performances are scheduled throughout the evening at the park's concert bandshell. Musical acts include those from local schools, the U.S. Army Band, 3rd ID, and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra.

 The Savannah Greek Festival is held over the weekend of October 11th to October 13th at the Hellenic Center in St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church. The festival, steeped in 68 years of tradition, is a celebration of Greek heritage, featuring homemade Greek food, Greek music, dancing, and tours of the church.  

The Shalom, Y'all Jewish Food Festival is held in Monterey Square (of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" fame) on October 28th, from 11am to 3pm. The festival features a variety of traditional Jewish dishes and is a great way to get out and enjoy the natural beauty of Savannah and celebrate the spirit of community. 

Those looking for something a little closer to the ocean can enjoy the raucous good times offered by the Tybee Island Pirate Fest. This annual event is a good-natured celebration of the scoundrels of the seas, and includes a parade, live music, and arts and crafts vendors. This year Pirate Fest will be October 4th-7th. 

September
7

Blue Heron Bluff Neighborhood

Blue Heron Bluff Neighborhood

The Blue Heron Bluff neighborhood is designed to fully embrace the beauty and low country lifestyle of living on the beautiful 100 Mile Coast. The private community boasts stunning views of both the Intercoastal Waterway and the marshlands, and these can be seen from every lot. The neighborhood consists of 12 single family lots that will feature low country architecture, and welcoming porches--perfect to enjoy the sunrise and sunsets of each day.

The single street brick paver neighborhood will be gated and will feature the future amenities of a clubhouse and pool. Elegance, grace, and beauty all perfectly describe this neighborhood. It seems nearly impossible to be able to live on the water in a custom home neighborhood where no lot has a bad view. But Blue Heron Bluff is making this possible.

The neighborhood is located on Islands Expressway and is within 5 minutes to the Historic District, 5 minutes to the Truman Parkway, 15 minutes to Tybee Island. Neighboring communities include Emerald Pointe, Causton Bluff, and The Bluff. Living in Blue Heron Bluff gives you the luxury of living on the water while still allowing you to be anywhere in Savannah within a matter of minutes.

For Lot Pricing, Availability and More Information:

Call 912.233.6000 or send us an email. We'd be happy to help you.

 

September
5

National Preparedness Month. 

Preparing for an emergency

2018 has been a quiet year in general throughout the 100 Mile Coast. However, the rest of country has seen its share of fires, storms and flooding. So, with September being National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to check up on your preparedness level. Although never really wants to sit down and consider worst-case scenarios that we can face, by taking the time to make sure that you and your family are preparing for an emergency, you are giving yourself peace of mind and staying one step ahead. Preparing for an emergency may sound like a daunting task, but it can be reduced to 3 easy steps: Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

Get a Kit.

While most of us automatically reach for bottled water and flashlights in an emergency, there are some other items to consider as necessities in your emergency kit, such as:

  • A stocked first-aid kit (There are many options on Amazon) 
  • A radio (either battery-powered or hand-cranked)
  • A multi-tool
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • An emergency blanket
  • Sanitation and hygiene items
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Copies of personal and important documents (deed/lease, birth certificate, passport, insurance policies, etc.)
  • Medications (7-day supply) and any necessary medical items
  • Extra cash
  • Map(s) of the area

You'll want to make sure that you have these items in an easy-to-carry container that you can use either at home or take with you in case of an evacuation. This is just a list of necessities that you should have on hand in your kit, but it is by no means a definitive list. You will want to make sure that you pack additional items based on the types of natural disasters common to your area (i.e., rain gear, surgical or N95 masks, plastic sheeting, etc.), as well as your family members (extra supplies for infants and the elderly).

Make a Plan.

One of the most important things that you can do to remain safe for an emergency and/or natural disaster is to meet with your family members and discuss how you will respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live. This includes:

  • Assigning specific responsibilities to each family member
  • Choosing a place outside of your home to meet, in the event of a sudden emergency such as a fire
  • Choosing a place outside your neighborhood to meet, in the event that you cannot return home and/or must evacuate immediately
  • Choosing an out-of-state emergency contact person, and making sure that each family member has that contact information in writing and/or saved to their cell phones.
  • Planning what to do if you are forced to evacuate: determine whether or not you will stay with friends/relatives in a safe location, go to a hotel/motel, or to an evacuation shelter. You will also want to make sure that you are familiar with not just your evacuation route but also with an alternate evacuation route.
  • Don't forget your pets; you will want to make sure that you have a list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and shelters if you have to evacuate with your pet.

Be Informed.

Don't wait until it's too late. Learn about the types of disasters that are more likely to occur in your area, whether it's something that affects only you and your family, such as a house fire or medical emergency, or something that affects your entire community, such as a hurricane or flood.

  • Identify how local authorities will notify you of a disaster and relay subsequent information — radio, tv, etc.
  • Know the difference between different weather alerts, such as watches or warnings, and the appropriate actions to be taken for each.
  • It's a good idea to make sure that at least one person in your family is familiar with first-aid, especially CPR, and can operate an automated external defibrillator (AED), since disasters can affect emergency response times from ambulances, police officers  and firefighters.

Make good use of the resources available to help you prepare yourself and your family members for disasters/emergencies, such as those offered by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), CEMA (Chatham Emergency Management Agency), and the American Red Cross. Preparing both yourself and your family for emergencies and disasters takes only a little bit of your time, and should you ever find yourself in need, that time will have been well worth it.

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