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February
14

How to Fall in Love With a New Neighborhood

Falling in love with a neighborhood can be equally as important as the house when you're home searching. Whether you're looking to socialize with neighbors or you prefer to keep to yourself, selecting a neighborhood you love is essential to your overall contentment. Read on to determine the factors to consider as you search for a new home in a new neighborhood.

Commute Time
Suppose you regularly commute to your place of employment—this distance and time matters. Whether you drive or take the train, knowing the average daily commute time is an essential factor to consider. If you drive, calculate how long the drive will take, and if you take the train, make sure that the local train stop offers express trains.

Recreational Activities
Whether it's a country club, golf club, fitness center or pool, living near the amenities you use regularly is essential. It will result in less commuting time, less stress and afford you more time to engage in the recreational activities you love.

School Ratings
Regardless of if you have school-aged children or not, living near a highly-rated school should be an essential part of the home searching process. In addition to how the schools are rated on sites such as greatschools.org, you can review the school's state test scores, school programming options such as Advanced Placement (AP) classes, extracurricular activities, athletic programs and the Parent Teacher Association.

Access to Nature
If having access to nature is important to you, research the nearby parks, walking trails and hiking areas that are close to the neighborhood. If you enjoy taking long walks closer to home, ensuring the area has sidewalks or walking trails may be necessary.

Quantity and Age of the Trees
Tree-lined streets are an important part of a neighborhood to many home buyers. They signify a more established area and offer a certain charm that newer communities lack. They also provide health benefits, as they clean the air.

Neighborhood Amenities and HOA
Depending on your stance on homeowner's associations (HOA's), they may entice or deter you. For example, if you're looking for a neighborhood with a community feel and amenities such as a pool, clubhouse and other shared spaces, it likely means the neighborhood will have an HOA. On the other hand, an HOA's regulations may be too restrictive. Review the neighborhood's HOA bylaws before making an offer to ensure you're comfortable with the requirements that are in place.

Walkability
If you're someone who enjoys an early morning walk to get your coffee, making sure the local coffee shop is a quick walk away is one of the minor aspects that add up to your overall quality of life. Likewise, suppose you want the ability to walk into town to grab lunch, go shopping or for your hair appointment. In that case, ensuring your neighborhood is close to the town's central business district is an essential factor to add to your list.

Ultimately, the elements of a great neighborhood are the most important factors to you. Whether it's having a short commute time, highly rated schools or tree-lined streets, your requirements are all part of your unique home buying process.

September
9

Hurricanes aren't something that anyone likes to think about, unless they come in a tall frosty glass with an umbrella. As the approach — and eventual near miss — of Hurricane Dorian showed, owning a home in Savannah, Beaufort, Bluffton or Hilton Head Island, can be a little more threatening than to someone living in, say, Nashville. And while hurricanes are powerful forces of nature, you can be proactive and prepare, and give yourself peace of mind.

Be Smart

The first step is to gather information. Where is your home located? Is it in an evacuation area? Will it be affected if there is a storm surge? What is a storm surge? These are all questions for which you should have answers. Bone up on your weather knowledge and make sure that you know the difference between a "warning" and a "watch" in terms of severe weather. Being able to differentiate between these terms will help you understand severe weather reports and help you respond accordingly. Also, check with the local emergency management agency — they can also assist you with how you should respond to hurricanes and the conditions that accompany them, such as heavy rain, high winds, and flooding. Make sure you have a list of contact numbers for not only your local law enforcement/public safety agencies, but also for your utility company, local TV/radio stations, and your insurance agent(s).

Assess

Before a storm gets here do a walk through of your home recording a video and taking note of art, jewelry, appliances and furniture. This can be crucial in filing an accurate insurance claim. Take a look at your yard — how many trees do you have? Will high winds wreak havoc on your landscape? Make sure to know how many windows you have, in the event that you will need to board them up. You can also use online tools to check your hazards, including flooding, risks. And be sure to keep tabs on the important parts of your home by evaluating your home at least once a year by getting:

  • Complete Roof Inspection
  • Siding and Entry Inspection
  • Window inspection
  • Comprehensive Plumbing and HVAC Check

Have an Evacuation Plan

Even though nobody really wants to entertain the idea of being separated from family or friends, especially in a hurricane, it's important that you do exactly that, and make an emergency plan with your family. Be sure to plan for locations to meet/stay away from home and make sure that your schools, daycares, and business owners have emergency plans in place. And don't forget about the four-legged family members of your family — if you have a pet, make sure to include their care in your emergency plan. 

Stock Up

Most people think that they are prepared for hurricanes in terms of supplies and necessities, or that they will have time to stock up on supplies. Don't wait until the last minute to fight the crowds  buying emergency candles and bottled water. Instead, go ahead and put together a basic disaster supplies kit, and consider storage locations for the kit for different locations.

Putting this much time and effort into planning for hurricanes that might not even make landfall on the Coastal Empire's shoreline might seem a bit much, but remember — nobody has ever survived a natural disaster and then complained that they were too prepared. If you take the time now to make sure you are ready for hurricane season, you will be avoiding even more stress when one comes our way this hurricane season, and rest a little easier for it.

September
9

Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval

Getting ready to buy that dream home, first home, or second home? One of the first steps in the home buying process, can also be the most overwhelming (and sometimes confusing). But that's where your knowledgeable Cora Bett Thomas Realty agent comes in. They're able to break down the difference and importance of getting pre-approved and pre-qualified, so you won't miss a beat!

Here's a brief overview:

Step 1. Pre-Qualification (this is different than Pre-Approval)

Before you start the hunt with your real estate agent, often times your realtor will recommend a list of 3-5 lenders to get you pre-qualified for a mortgage. Getting pre-qualified for a home is the peace of mind that both you and a potential seller need to get started in the process. But don't let this step deceive you, pre-qualification isn't a promise that you'll get a loan for the home you are wanting to buy. Instead, it's a promise that a loan officer has briefly looked at your finances; from your income and estimated credit score to your savings. From their research, they have determined the approximate amount of money that you will most likely be approved to borrow for a mortgage. Pre-qualification shouldn't affect your credit, so pre-qualify as much as you want. This step will make the home buying process much smoother.

Pre-qualification is especially important for first-time home buyers. Take the information given to you from your lender and do some simple mortgage calculations to predict what your monthly payments will be. Buyer beware, just because a lender says you prequalify for a certain monthly mortgage, doesn't mean you'll be comfortable with that commitment for years to come.

Pre-qualification is not required, but it is certainly helpful. Use this as a guide for home-shopping, it's just a rough estimate for how much you can afford.

Step 2: Pre-Approval

Use this step to get serious about signing those papers, and buying a home. Pre-qualification and pre-approval differ by the depth of the lender's search into your finances. This step provides you with more concrete numbers.

Your lender will pull credit history, look at your income and debts, and you'll have to have a laundry list of documentation for them to do so. This process, generally, doesn't take longer than 24 hours… as long as you are able to provide all necessary documents. Due to the extensivity of the check this step will count as a "hard pull" on your credit, meaning it could have a negative affect on your credit score. So keep an eye out for credit score changes. The higher your credit score, the more you are expected to get pre-approved for.

The pre-approval process will also provide you with a letter outlining the expected loan amount and terms, based off the lenders research. This letter gives you the upper hand when your real estate agent places an offer. This letter is only good for 60-90 days, so make sure to put this timeline into consideration when getting pre-approved.

This pre-shopping process is an important one. Both pre-qualification and pre-approval prove to the seller that you have the funds to buy your new home. However, neither guarantee a loan with those specific terms.

July
12

Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI). Here are our top 4 Home Improvements For Max ROI. 

 


 

#1 Minor Bathroom Remodel

It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures. All manageable projects that update the new look of a dated bathroom. You'll get back an average of $10,700 at resale, a recoup rate of 102 percent.

Cost to Complete: $10,500 | Return on Investment: $10,700 or 102%

#2 Upgraded Landscaping

A splash of color at the front of the house is an eye-catching plus. Not sure where to start? Local garden centers often offer free design services, or ask the neighbors what works for them. A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property.

Cost to Complete: $5,000 | Return on Investment: $5,000 or 100%

#3 Minor Kitchen Remodel

If your kitchen's floor plan is good but requires a new look, refacing cabinets, adding a tile backsplash. changing the countertop, or adding under cabinet lighting is a great place to start. Add professional detail without the cost by changing drapes, fixtures and window molding.

Cost to Complete: $15,000 | Return on Investment: $14,913 or 98.5%

#4 Exterior Improvements

Outdoor spaces add curb appeal and a place to enjoy the aforementioned landscaping improvements. Consider repainting your house or investing in vinyl siding. For an updated look, remove old awnings from windows and doors. A new front door will add a welcoming feel .

Cost to Complete: $7,000 | Return on Investment: $6,700

Source: HGTV

 

June
14

Tips for Tree Risk Assessment and Limb Failure.

Tree Risk Assessment

While not a perfect science — given the unpredictability of nature — there are many signs to look for that could indicate the potential for tree failure. Some caused by improper pruning practices, and others occur naturally. In this article we will discuss signs and growth patterns that may indicate a trees potential likelihood for failure, along with how you — as the manager of your own little slice of our urban forest — can be educated when hiring a tree service contractor in hopes of mitigating these potential risks.

It's easy and understandable to be concerned about large trees near or over your home with the annual threat of hurricanes. As long as your house is within striking distance of a tree, there is the potential for impact if such a storm does occur; or, if structural problems with the tree go unnoticed or untreated. The goal of this article is to familiarize you with some common defects so you can be informed and are able to address potential issues. Also knowing how to identify some of these problems and understanding mitigation options will help you weed out potential "tree choppers."  These individuals may feed off of your fear of property damage and make unnecessary recommendations that can cost you significant money and oftentimes be damaging to your trees.

Tree Risk Assessment

First off, check to see if your tree is over or within striking distance to any targets. These include structures, high traffic areas, playgrounds, etc. If it isn't, move on to others. If it is, let's take a closer look:

Does the tree have any large, dead limbs? These are most easily spotted in summer when healthy limbs generally have leaves.

Do you notice a lean in the tree? Has the lean noticeably worsened over time? You could see heaving of the ground/roots on the opposing side of the lean. Are the majority of the limbs (weight) on the side of the lean, or does the canopy balance out the lean?

Now let's look at the larger branches, leads (large tree parts that grow from the truck off of which branches are attached), and trunk. Do you see any decay on these? Binoculars may be helpful. Keep an eye out for cavity dwellers: bees, raccoons, etc.. These are an obvious sign of hollow areas. Look at the "forks" of the large limbs. This is the area where the trunk branches out to smaller sized leads and limbs and often times where limbs break in high wind. The optimal fork will have somewhat of a "U" shape on the top side. Spread your fingers wide, and look at the base where they meet your hand. Notice the small webbing like appearance — that is what we are looking for in an optimal tree fork. This is the strongest growth form. If you instead see a harder, more "V" like connection, often times with swollen or discolored bark — this could be included bark.

Included bark will cause a weakened attachment of the leads predisposing them to possible failure. A supplemental support system (Cables and/or braces) may be necessary to prevent failure.

Moving on, let's look at the trunk and base of the trunk, "root flare" (Root flare is the base of the trunk where the trunk meets the roots)- do you see any cracks, cavities, loose or missing bark, conks or water Stains? Do you see flat areas as opposed to the mostly uniform roundness? Do you see any deep recesses or ridges at the lower portion of the trunk near the root flare? These are often times an indicator that the trunk may be hollow. If you don't spot any of these, let's move on to the roots.

Do you see any mushrooms or other such fruiting bodies? These could indicate root rot issues. Has there been a driveway recently installed, or other such disturbances that may have damaged the anchoring system of the tree? Do you see any lifted areas of soil or roots? Is the area a low spot? Oversaturated soil due to poor drainage could cause a tree to uproot easier in high winds and is also a breeding ground for root rot causing pathogens further weakening roots.

Risk Assessing Multiple Trees on Your Property

Now let's take a broader look at all of the trees on your property that could be a risk. Here is a list of potential hazardous trees and the risks they pose.

  1. Trees left after development. Often densely wooded lots are cleared with the exception of just a few trees. These trees are more likely to fail in high winds, given they previously shared wind load with other trees. They are usually tall with very thin trunks, low live-crown ratio, and lack a root flare. Root flare is swelling at the base of the trunk caused by added structural wood as a result of wind loading and is a desirable structural feature.
  2. Water Oaks and Laurel Oaks. These trees have a short life span and often develop decay and included bark with age. Keep in mind that just because the leaves are green and appear healthy, the trunk may still be largely hollow. Further inspection may be necessary by an ISA Certified Arborist if the tree is in a critical location.
  3. Trees that have previously been topped or lions tailed. We will dive further into this later in this article.
  4. Large limbs that extend well past the crown of the tree.
  5. Trees in low lying areas. Soil may provide poor anchoring, upping the potential for uprooting in high winds.
  6. Trees with excessive leans.
  7. Trees with low live-crown ratio - usually Pines. Live-crown is measured from the lowest limb to the top of the tree. Optimally this just be about ⅔ of the total height of the tree. The more limbs are concentrated above the halfway mark of the tree, a lever arm action is created in high winds.
  8. Bradford Pears. These are the perfect candidate for limb failure given all of the limbs generally grow from the same area on the trunk, resulting in weak attachment.

How Improper Pruning Practices May Result in Tree Hazards

Topping

Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree limbs to stubs or to lateral limbs that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Often times people assume that by shortening a tree they are ensuring it is receiving less wind load or is less of a hazard because it now won't reach the target if it falls. While the immediate result of topping is just that, many more problems arise down the road. Depending on the severity of the hack job, the tree may die shortly after. Remember — trees need leaves to supply food to sustain. If the tree does survive this travesty, it will sprout out numerous shoots all from one area at the end of the nubbed off limbs. These shoots grow to large limbs over a few years and are weakly attached and prone to break much more than before. Compounding this issue is the trees reaction to topping. It will allocate all of its energy to putting out new shoots/leaves and very little energy to the sealing process, leaving the end of these limbs open for decay. The newly grown limbs will be even more prone to failure. Avoid topping trees.

Lions Tailing

Lions Tailing is when all of the inner limbs of a tree are removed, leaving only the foliage near the ends of the large limbs - resembling a lion tail. The misunderstanding is that by doing this the wind will more easily flow through the tree reducing its wind resistance; however there is actually the adverse effect. Now that all of the wind resistance is at the tip of the limb, a lever arm is created and forces are amplified. Instead of removing this interior growth, weight/limbs should be shortened. As an example, try holding a 5-pound weight with your arm fully extended. Now rest the 5-pound weight directly on your bicep. The latter is much easier. Furthermore, the tree will react to lions tailing by exponential sprouting where the limbs were just removed in an effort to replace lost leaf area. You will hire someone to do it all over again and again. Avoid lions tailing limbs.

Making Large Pruning Cuts on Mature Trees

Large limbs/leads of trees over your house or valuables can be nerve wracking. The first thought is often to remove the entire tree part (i.e limb or lead) all the way back to the trunk. This may not be the best choice. It's important to know that every cut is a wound. The larger the wound, the longer it takes to seal - if ever. Open wounds from large cuts are the perfect opportunity for decay causing pathogens to enter the tree. Instead of having large limbs removed, consider removing weight/limbs from the tip to lighten the load.

Hiring a Tree Professional

Now that you are informed, this should be much easier. Avoid "point and cut" companies. These are the ones who know little about arboricultural practices but have a chainsaw and are willing to cut wherever you point. Find an ISA Certified Arborist — preferably with a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification. They have the knowledge to guide you on what is best for both you and your trees. Yes the initial cost may be a little more, but the results will save you far more down the road. My hope is that this brief "do it yourself" tree risk assessment is helpful. Importantly, this is a very watered down version as a guide to help you spot defects and hazards and should not be a substitute for a tree professionals thorough inspection and advice.

By Shem Kendrick
ISA Certified Arborist SO-7151A
Tree Risk Assessment Qualified
TCIA Tree Care Specialist

Coastal Arbor Care

912-272-0175
www.Coastalarbor.biz

June
10

summer maintenance tips

Technically, the first day of summer is June 21st, but as we in the Lowcountry know, summer has already arrived. Long days of sunshine, heat, and humidity are already upon us. No need to worry, though — with these easy summer home maintenance tips, you can have your home ready for summer in less time than it takes to heat up the grill. 

Indoor Summer Home Maintenance Tips:

1. Check your smoke detectors and your carbon monoxide detectors. 

  • Replace the batteries if needed.

2. Get your cooling system ready.

  • Consider getting your air-conditioning system serviced. Proper air conditioner maintenance can help your AC last longer and prevent air conditioner fires. In Savannah and the Lowcountry, life without AC is just about unthinkable. Don't wait until the dog days of summer to make sure your cooling system is up to par.

3. Dust the ceiling fan blades and check that the fan is balanced and working properly.

  • Attach a dryer sheet to a paint roller so you can reach easily and dust away. Or, my personal favorite, grab an old sock (b/c how often do you need socks in Savannah, anyway?) and dust the blades. After you use it, toss it in the washing machine and it's as good as new.

4. Get your chimney cleaned.

  • This isn't applicable to everyone, but many homes in the Historic District have chimneys, and they shouldn't be neglected. Yes, you might not use your fireplace again until fall or winter, but that's exactly why this is the perfect time to call a chimney cleaning service. They won't be as busy!

5. Clean or replace your shower heads. 

  • Most shower heads can be easily cleaned. Don't be deterred by scaling from hard water, vinegar can easily take care of that problem for you.

6. Clean bathroom drains.

  • Whatever method you choose, clean them! With so many affordable options available, there's no excuse to put this chore off another day.

7. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans.

  • If your fans spin counterclockwise, they'll push the air straight down to your home will stay nice and cool. To do this, turn off the fan, wait for it to stop, and find the direction switch and check that your fans are spinning counterclockwise.

8. Clean the baseboards of your home. 

  • Use a damp cloth and wipe away all the dust and grime. Disclaimer: I will be the first to admit, this is one of my least favorite chores. But man, is it satisfying once I've done it!

9. Check your attic and basement.

  • In your attic, look for signs of dampness, mildew, leaks, holes in the roof, and pests.
  • Basements are uncommon in the Lowcountry, but if you have one check for leaks, pests, mold, and mildew.

10. Clean the vents of your bathroom fans.

11. Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct.

  • Clean out all of the dust and lint trapped in the vent and exhaust duct. Call in a professional to clean and service your washer and dryer if needed. Clothes dryers can be a fire hazard if they're not cleaned and maintained.

12. Change the filter in the air conditioner.

  • If you have a smart thermostat, such as Nest, it should be automatically reminding you when it's time to change the filter. Pay attention to that reminder. Also, make sure to keep the vents around your air filters clean.

Outdoor Summer Home Maintenance Tips:

13. It's grillin' time! Are you and your grill ready?

  • Charcoal grills: Empty the grill and wipe away any dust or residue. Use hot water, dish soap, and a scrub brush or sponge to clean both the outside and inside of the grill. Be sure to let your grill dry off before using it next.
  • Gas grills: Close the lid, turn the heat up high, and let the grill cook for about half an hour. Let the grill cool. Use a grill brush to sweep the grill. Wipe down the outside with a sponge and cleaner. Then clean out all of the drip trays.

14. Wash down your porch. You should sweep the porch thoroughly, then wash it with a cleaner. Remove any embedded dirt by scrubbing with soap and water.

15. Give your deck a once-over. This is a summer home maintenance must, especially with the amount of late-afternoon thunderstorms we experience here in Savannah and the Lowcountry.

  • Check your deck to see if there are any boards that look like they're rotting, loose, or feel soft. If they appear to be any of these, replace them now. Summertime weather conditions will only make them worse.
  • Hammer any loose nails.
  • You can also check if your deck needs to be resealed by pouring a little water on it. If the water beads into little puddles, you're good. If it sinks into the wood, you should get your deck resealed against water.

16. Wash the windows.

  • Why not? Clean windows are nice. Use warm water and soap to get those windows sparkling, or go old school with vinegar and newspaper. 

17. Wash or change your window screens.

  • Use hot soapy water and a brush to gently wash your window screens.

18. Add a layer of mulch.

  • If you have plants, the extra mulch will help fight off weeds and help your soil retain moisture during these scorching summer months.

19. Check for outdoor leaks. 

  • Go on a hunt for leaks by checking all outdoor faucets. Then look at your hose. You can waste a lot of water if there's even a tiny hole in your hose. Use electrical tape to repair any small holes in your hose.

20. Check your outdoor play equipment. 

  •  Repair or replace anything that's damaged or possibly hazardous and make sure that the structure is still sturdy and strong. This includes rust, missing pieces, or tears in any parts of your play equipment. Safety is key.

21. Protect your home against unwanted guests. 

  • Yes, unfortunately sometimes critters decide that your house is the place to be. From snakes to squirrels, take steps to close off your home to non-pet animals.
  • Cover any holes that are more than a quarter-inch wide.
  • Get your tree branches trimmed back so they don't create a highway for squirrels to your attic. Branches should be at least 8 feet from your roof.
  • Make sure your outdoor trash bins are tightly sealed to prevent a buffet for pests.
  • Do away with yard debris. Leaves and twigs are a haven for animals that might decide to invade your home.
  • Tend to your lawn frequently by mowing.

22. Clean out the gutters and downspouts. 

  • You should clean the gutters at least once a year, perhaps twice if you have a lot of trees around your home.

23. Inspect the caulking around the windows and doors of your home. 

  • Keep ants and bugs at bay in the kitchen by adding fresh caulking to your windows and doors.

24. Consider having your driveway and walkway pressure washed.

25. Repair cracks or holes in your driveway and front steps.

26. Trim bushes and plants. 

  • Pay special attention to the area around the AC unit.

27. Touch up the paint on the outside of your home.

28. Check over your fence. 

  • Have it repainted, resealed, or repaired as needed.

29. Look at the outside of your house. 

  • Check for rotted, dirty, or loose siding.

30. Consider getting your roof inspected.

This summer home maintenance tips list may seem daunting, but honestly, most of these tasks take no time at all. Preventative maintenance will pay off by helping you avoid costly home repairs later. The priceless peace of mind that you can enjoy knowing that your home is ready for the summer is also invaluable, and will make that piña colada you're enjoying on your porch even more delicious.

May
6

Hurricane Preparedness Week 

In the Lowcountry, we are less than a month away from the beginning of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and now is the time to make sure you are prepared. We have recently had two seasons with close calls and you can read what  we learned about preparing here 

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is an upcoming event in the annual formation of tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere. The season will officially begin on June 1, 2019, and end on November 30, 2019. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin and are adopted by convention. 

While predictions right now favor average activity for hurricanes in the Atlantic, it is still important to be ready. Don't wait until the last minute to make preparations. One of the most important things you should do, and do immediately, is to check your homeowner's insurance. Most standard homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Check your flood zone at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources DFIRM Flood Map. Then, make sure to have adequate flood insurance for your home. Flood insurance coverage usually takes 30 days to go into effect.

Make sure that you are aware of your community's  evacuation plan and evacuation route. A great way to be prepared for a hurricane and to stay informed during a hurricane is to sign up to receive local alerts and warnings.

Pay attention to local weather forecasts. Storm paths change quickly and without much warning, so listen out for local weather alerts. Also listen to local officials for warnings and instructions, such as evacuation orders. Follow the Chatham Emergency Management Agency, or CEMA, on Twitter and Facebook and check in often for updates.

The FEMA mobile app is also a great resource for hurricane preparation, and includes checklists for hurricane preparation. The FEMA mobile app also provides weather alerts from the National Weather Service and maps of open hurricane shelters and recovery centers. 

Create and review your family's emergency communication plan and make sure that your family is all aware of the contents and location of your emergency supplies. Another important way to be prepared is financially. Strengthen your financial preparedness in the event of a hurricane by collecting and securing important financial, insurance, medical, and other personal records. 

Protect Your Investment

If you have an investment and/or rental property, do not neglect it, even if it is vacant. Instead, make sure to conduct a full hurricane preparedness check on the property every year. This ensures that your property is ready to withstand the high winds and heavy rainfall that is common during the Atlantic Hurricane Season. The staff at Cora Bett Thomas Property Management are available to conduct a Full Weather check on your property, which includes:

  • Complete Roof Inspection
  • Siding and Entry Inspection
  • Window inspection
  • Comprehensive Plumbing and HVAC Check

Once the check has been completed, you can approve any work or repairs that need to be done to ensure that your property is ready to withstand the forces of Mother Nature. The peace of mind that comes from having your property ready will be worth the effort and expense.

These are just a few tools and resources that can help you and your family get prepared, and offer some peace of mind as we approach the 2019 Hurricane Season. 

February
21

Prepare Your Home For Sale

Ready, Set ... For Sale!

BY ANN TOHILL

It's time to upgrade, find a better school district, move cities for a new job, or make room for more! Whatever the case may be, selling your home should be an exciting time. It's out with the old, and in with the new. It's time for a reset. But for some homeowners, it can be overwhelming. To ease stress ahead of one of the hottest home selling seasons, here are some tips for preparing your home… so that "For Sale" sign can be added to the front yard.

1. Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is so important — and so are first impressions! Start with the lawn. Freshen up the mulch/pine straw, add colorful flowers to the flower beds, mow the lawn, get rid of those pesky weeds, sweep off the pollen from the front porch, and make sure your front door is sparkling from afar. Catch their attention right away.

2. Take a Deep Breath

When you open your door, take a deep breath in… What does it smell like? Wet dog, cigarettes, food, bleach, cleaning supplies, or too much air freshener? You want that fresh scent, but nothing that's too overbearing. The smell of your home will make or break the deal. Diffusers are a wonderful investment or throw a batch of cookies in the oven just before a showing.

3. The Details

Make sure batteries are replaced in your smoke alarm and all light bulbs are working. You want the potential buyer to get a true feel for your home!

4. Clean, Clean, Clean

Wipe down your baseboards, wash your walls, clean your carpets, scrub your bathrooms, dust your fans, and don't forget your curtains and blinds.

5. De-personalize Your Space

Potential buyers want to be able to picture themselves in your home. Take down personal photos, artwork, and collectibles. Declutter your space, but don't throw items in a closet or the oven... people will look in all of those places when touring your home.

6. Touch up Your Paint

Think about using only neutral colors. Consider painting your daughter's hot pink room or your bright orange kitchen, a light tan or a faded gray. That's an easy fix for new home buyers, but some can't picture the potential, they actually want to see it.

7. Give Your Home an Easy Flow

Make sure your furniture is moved around so that it's comfortable. If you can afford it, think about renting a storage unit for excess furniture.

8. Set the Stage

It's good to have your home staged. You can hire a stager and get them to spruce up your home, so people can dream up what it can look like.

9. Make Repairs

That loose handle, the faucet that always drips, or the closet door that doesn't shut all the way… fix that!

10. Hire a Home Inspector 

If you've lived there a while, it's a good idea for you, as the seller, to hire a home inspector before putting your home on the market. This is to make sure it passes all inspections and is 100% ready to sell.

Are You Ready to Sell?

These 10 steps are all affordable and worth the time and effort. The homes with neutral colors that are sparkling clean and inviting to a stranger, don't last long on the market. There's no specific ideal time to sell your home, but if you're considering attracting springtime buyers, now is the time to start to prepare your home for sale.

If you have any additional questions or are looking to sell, visit our website at www.corabettthomas.com or call us at 912.233.6000 and we will connect you with a licensed agent.

January
29

Make Your Plans for Super Museum Sunday!

Super Museum Sunday

Georgia, and Savannah in particular, has an impressive variety of museums and historical markers. On Sunday, February 10th, Georgians and visitors alike can experience our state's rich history and cultural life. Historic sites, house museums, art museums, and other points of interest in Savannah and throughout Georgia will open their doors to the public, providing an exceptional opportunity to experience the history in our own backyard.

Check Out the 2019 Super Museum Sunday Printable Map

An impressive list of Savannah's Museums and cultural heritage sites for showcasing knowledge and education will be free to the public from noon to 4 p.m. The Coastal Heritage Society's five museums will participate in the 2019 Georgia History Festival's "Super Museum Sunday" on Feb. 10th. Those sites include Georgia State Railroad Museum, Old Fort Jackson, Pin Point Heritage Museum, Savannah Children's Museum, and Savannah History Museum. Guests can enjoy free interactive exhibits and engaging tours at each site through hands-on, immersive activities that illustrate the narratives of Savannah's past.

In addition to the museums that are part of the Coastal Heritage Society, the Telfair Museums will open all three of their sites — the Owens-Thomas House, the Telfair Academy and the Jepson Center. However, because of the crowds that are expected for Super Museum Sunday, you might want to go ahead and get that visit  to see the French Impressionism exhibition Monet to Matisse taken care of before February 10th (which is also the last day of this unforgettable exhibition).

Super Museum Sunday

Pin Point Heritage Museum, located in the old A.S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory, is your chance to experience the Gullah/Geechee culture firsthand. For nearly 100 years, the community of Pin Point was quietly isolated on the banks of the Moon River just south of Savannah. Now, you can explore the refurbished museum complex and experience multimedia presentations, exciting exhibits and unparalleled views of the marsh. If you are looking to have a more adventurous  Super Museum Sunday, you can also kayak to the Pin Point Heritage Museum. 

We Love Super Museum Sunday.

Many museums participating on Super Museum Sunday plan to offer free guided tours and live reenactments for the special occasion. The free admission provides the opportunity for those who otherwise  cannot afford the chance to visit one of their local community museums. It is also an affordable way to explore a museum in your neighborhood that you may have never considered visiting before. Below is a list of participating Chatham County Museums. If you won't be in Savannah on Super Museum Sunday, visit the Georgia Historical Society website for more information and the complete list of participating museums, parks and historical sites throughout Georgia.

Super Museum Sunday Chatham County

  • Bloomingdale History Museum & Visitors Center
  • National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force
  • Andrew Low House Museum
  • Beach Institute African American Cultural Center
  • Bonaventure Historical Society
  • Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens
  • Congregation Mickve Israel
  • Davenport House Museum
  • First African Baptist Church
  • First Bryan Baptist Church
  • Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home
  • Fort Pulaski National Monument
  • Georgia State RailRoad Museum
  • Girl Scout First Headquarters Museum and Program Center
  • Green-Meldrim House
  • Harper Fowlkes House
  • Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, National Historic Landmark 
  • King-Tisdell Cottage
  • Massie Heritage Center
  • Mother Mathilda Beasley Cottage
  • Oatland Island Wildlife Center
  • Old Fort Jackson
  • Ossabaw Island
    Call Ossabaw Island for ticket/wait list information.
  • Pin Point Heritage Museum
  • Savannah Children's Museum
  • Savannah History Museum and Battlefield Memorial Park
  • Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum & Nature Center
  • Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
  • St. John's Church
  • Telfair Museums' Jepson Center for the Arts
  • Telfair Museums' Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters
  • Telfair Museums' Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Thunderbolt Museum
  • Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
  • UGA Marine Education Center & Aquarium
  • Webb Military Museum
  • Wormsloe State Historic Site
January
24

Whether you are thinking of selling your house or buying a home, today's real estate headlines can be confusing – perhaps even concerning. What is actually happening with mortgage rates? Are home values dropping or are they just rising at a slower pace? What impact will the economy have on the housing market?

If you are either a buyer or seller (or both), you need to know what it will mean to your family if you go ahead with the move. You need to understand three things:

1. What is happening in the housing market right now?

Consumers must get past those fear-mongering headlines and gain a deep understanding of what is truly happening. How strong is buyer demand right now? How much competition do listings have today compared to what they will have in the spring? People want to make an educated decision on what is probably their family's greatest financial asset.

2. Why is it happening?

Understanding the individual pieces that impact the sale or purchase of real estate is important. Understanding how those pieces impact each other is critical. How does the amount of a down payment impact the mortgage rate a buyer will be offered? Can you still price your house a 'little ahead' of the market and still be sure it will sell?

3. How do the first two affect your local market?

Basically, you want an understanding of the overall housing market and a simple and effective explanation of how it will impact your personal real estate goals.

Bottom Line

The best way to get all three is to work with a professional at Cora Bett Thomas Realty who understands this shifting real estate market and can expertly guide you on the journey to reach your housing goals. Let's get together to discuss what today's market means for you.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

From KCM 

January
9

Kelly Durbin

Cora Bett Thomas Realty recently added of Kelly Durbin to our team. Kelly will be responsible for buying and selling homes in Richmond Hill and the surrounding communities. In this role, she will create targeted marketing strategies, be an expert at negotiating contracts for clients, and have a comprehensive understanding of the market.

Kelly is a strong negotiator and has a passion for real estate. She recently moved to the area from North Canton, Ohio where she served as a realtor for 5 years. While there she received several awards for her dedication to real estate, including the Ohio Association of Realtors President's Sales Club Award of Achievement from 2016-2018.

Kelly received her Real Estate Certificate from Hondros College and also attended Walsh College in North Canton, Ohio. Prior to real estate, she worked for several years as a Medical Coding and Billing Representative.

The beautiful history, proximity to the coast, and unbeatable landscapes, are just a few reasons Kelly  is excited to call Richmond Hill home. She's thrilled to explore everything our area has to offer and looks forward to sharing her love of real estate with so many new clients.

For more information about Cora Bett Thomas Realty and Associates, visit www.CoraBettThomas.com

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