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Congratulations Kevin & Audra!

19 Sep

I’m so excited to say that these two closed on their lovely new Whitemarsh Island home today. And yes, they are as every bit cute, and sweet as they can be in person. It was a tremendous pleasure to work with such lovely people!!


New Listing! 7324 Grant Street Savannah, GA 31406 MLS 126224

11 Aug

7324 Grant Street

Savannah, GA 31406

MLS# 126224


4 bedrooms 2 baths

(3 bedrooms+bonus/4th)

New Roof

New Windows

Newer HVAC

New Hot Water Heater

New Frigidaire Stainless Steel Appliance

(Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Oven & Microwave)

New Wood Floors, New Carpet, New Paint

Pantry/Laundry Room Combo


Rocking Chair Front Porch

Privacy Fenced Back Yard






bonus room/4th bedroom ...lower level

bonus room/4th bedroom …lower level

master bedroom ..lower level

master bedroom ..lower level

master bedroom, lower level

master bedroom, lower level


2nd bedroom, upstairs

2nd bedroom, upstairs

2nd bedroom, upstairs

2nd bedroom, upstairs

2nd bedroom, upstair- walk-in closet

2nd bedroom, upstairs- walk-in closet

2nd bath, upstairs

2nd bath, upstairs

2nd bath, upstairs

2nd bath, upstairs

3rd bedroom, upstairs

3rd bedroom, upstairs

3rd bedroom, upstairs

3rd bedroom, upstairs




New Listing – 127 Mary Musgrove, Savannah, GA 31410 MLS 124945

4 Jul

Fabulous new listing in The Settlement on Wilmington Island.

This home is casually sophisticated and turn-key.

Property Features:

3 Bedroom & 2 Baths + Bonus/4th Bedroom

Master on Main, Split Floor Plan

Living Room, Family Room, Dining Room, Breakfast Area

Hardwood, Ceramic & Carpet

Granite counters in Baths & Kitchen

Stainless Steel Appliances & Glass Tile Backsplash

Wainscoting in Dining & Baths

Dual Vanity Vessel Sinks in Master Bath

Separate Garden Tub & Shower in Master Bath

Walk In Closet


Upgraded Lighting

2 Car Garage

Laundry Room

NEW 15 Seer Lennox HVAC

NEW Smart Hotwater Heater

Cul De Sac

Lagoon View

Private, Lush backyard

Koi Pond/Water Feature



































Happy Fourth of July!

4 Jul

Did you know …

that Thomas Jefferson was only 33 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence? That both Thomas Jefferson & John Adams–the only two signers of the Declaration who went on to be President–both died on July 4, 1826? That 155 million hot dogs will be eaten in the U.S. on July 4th alone? That the Liberty Bell, so it won’t crack, hasn’t been rung since 1846? That each year, it’s tapped 13 times in honor of the original colonies?

Whether you go all out at the Nation’s Capital and watch fireworks over the water, or have a humble backyard BBQ, be thankful for the country we live in and the patriots that make it all possible, daily.

Happy Fourth of July.


Baldwin Park, welcome your new neighbors!

21 Jun

I’m so excited for Julia & Chris! They just moved here from Charleston and bought in Baldwin Park. Smart! Those prices are going to continue to rise and these two will have good equity very soon!


Congrats to The Beesons…again!

19 Jun

These two may look familiar. They have bought and sold with me three times now. We just closed on a new home in Pooler that is just perfect! Congrats to The Beesons!


Price Improved! 201 e 60th Street, Savannah, GA 31405

18 Jun

























What is a SCADPAD?

11 Apr

If you only click one link today, it should be this one:

SCADpad | Home.

Students of Savannah College of Art & Design brought big plans in small spaces to life.  These innovative creators were tasked with utilizing a parking structure in Atlanta to create an inspirational and sustainable community that proposes an answer to the growing urban housing challenges cities are facing around the world.  These student designers worked for 10 months to develop and create micro living spaces right down to every last detail, from architectural footprint to custom furniture and to even include home remote control.

Oh, any by micro living, I mean 135 square feet! The project was unveiled yesterday and you can watch the journey unfold by searching for #scadpad on your social media sites. Students will actually be living in these spaces and documenting their experiences.








Welcome to the South, y’all!

10 Apr

Jeff is smiling on the inside, I swear!

Sharon & Jeff  just bought a new place on the Islands to escape to from the frozen Ohio area.  Congrats and thank you so much!




Cute & Quirky Cottage in Thunderbolt – 3204 College Street

3 Apr

This is a super cute, eclectic & quirky cottage in Thunderbolt with 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, dining room, big open kitchen, Florida Room, side entry porch with laundry room and a great yard on a corner lot. Home features refinished hardwood floors, tile in bathrooms, fireplace, lots of closet space and renovated kitchen. Owner has made lots of updates & upgrades and it’s kind of a rare find at a great value in Thunderbolt. Would be perfect for a SCAD student or professor, an SSU student or professor, or someone looking to live in a safe, off the beaten path neighborhood that really is only about 12 minutes to everything. Only$139,000. Principal & Interest payments would only be around $650 and taxes and insurance are nominal…BONUS: not in a flood zone. A quick stroll to Tubby’s or Tortugas, a nice bike ride to Historic Bonaventure Cemetery. Watch the tide go in and out on the Wilmington Island River, throw your kayak in at the marina and explore the marshes, or trek through the dairy farm to the prayer flag trail.

Property Features:

3 Bedrooms 2 Bathrooms

Separate Dining Room

Open Kitchen

En-Suite Bathroom in Owner’s Bedroom

Glass Sunroom on Front of Home

Screened Porch off of Kitchen


Drive Under Carport

Refinished Hardwood Floors

Wooden Blinds

Custom Kitchen Cabinets

Ceramic/Marble Floor Tiles in Baths & Kitchen

Tile Counters & Backsplash

Imported Talavera Accent Tiles

Chair Railing

Imported Talavera Sink

Fenced Back Yard

Corner Lot

Average Electric Bill: $129/mo

Average Utilities: $43/mo

edited college


florida room
















3204 college mbed








tbolt tree





Oatland Island – Just Listed!

29 Mar

I have a great new listing on Oatland Island.

312 Sandy Springs Rd.

Savannah, GA 31410

MLS 120935

  • Benefits & Features Include:
  • 3 Bedrooms & 2.5 Baths
  • wood, tile & carpet
  • separate dining room
  • screened porch
  • open kitchen
  • bar
  • fireplace
  • 2 car, side entry garage
  • fancy owner’s suite with sitting area
  • owner’s en suite bathroom with dual vanity
  • owner’s walk in closet
  • owner’s suite private deck
  • great Oatland Island location
  • flood elevation certificate: AE (very low cost)
  • termite bond
  • chimney cleaned & inspected 2014
  • new bath tub in owner’s bath
  • new bath tile in guest bath
  • new deck off of owner’s bedroom
  • & more


































Ab Fab Condo at The Merritt – Under Contract

28 Mar

My buyers got a sweet deal on a 3 bedroom 2 bath split floor plan condo at The Merritt on Whitemarsh Island. This unit features a separate dining room, breakfast bar, crown molding, new paint and carpets, built ins, screened porch off owner’s bedroom, dual closets & vanity, beautiful bay windows and a serene wooded view. The community is gated and features billiards table, fitness center, car wash, swimming pool, club house, business center and more. A great community for professionals, those seeking maintenance free living on the Islands and a perfect vacation home!




You Get One Chance To Make A First Impression

24 Mar

You get one chance to make a first impression so improving your curb appeal is a smart move for sellers. There are so many ways to spruce up the appearance of your home that can be quick and inexpensive. Even if you aren’t planning on moving any time soon, a few changes can be just the spice you need to fall in love with your home again. There are oodles of ideas to give your home-sweet-home a face lift and here are a few to help get your creative juices flowing.

  • Add big, bold house numbers. It’s so easy to swap out house numbers, and this one thing can make a huge impact. Echo your house style in the numbers you choose — a clean sans serif font for a modern house, hand-painted tiles for a cottage, aged copper for a Prairie-style home etc.
  • Paint the front door. A front door that pops can be hugely cheering and add a new dimension of character to your home.
  • Add fresh porch furniture. We Southerners love to live outside and a pair of matching rockers, Adirondack chairs or a swing is a must when you have a front porch that is visible from the street.
  • Swap out porch lighting. Try replacing tiny sconces with a big, statement-making pendant light, add recessed lighting beneath the eaves or install solar lights along the front walk.
  •  Sizzle with Red accents. Red has such vibrancy; a little goes a very long way. Try a bright red bench, planter or mailbox to add zing that can be seen from across the street.

Do some hardscaping. Built-in concrete planters, a low stone wall or new paths are all great ways to add structure to your front yard that will last for many years to come.

Spruce up the side yard. Camouflage an eyesore with attractive fencing, clear out weeds and lay out a neat path to the backyard.

Add depth with a fence. A low fence around a property not only adds a welcome boundary between a hectic street and a private space, but it also makes the front yard seem larger.

Grass won’t grow? Don’t want to mow? Replace your lawn with flowers. Dig up part or all of your front lawn and plant perennials instead for a lush landscape that sets your house apart.

Repair the driveway and paths. Cement, stone and pavement all can split and crack over time. Repairing or replacing damaged areas can do wonders to freshen up your home’s street view.

Paint the garage door. The garage takes up a lot of visual space, so it pays to make sure it looks its best.

Refinish the porch floor. If your porch floor has seen better days, renew it by stripping off old layers of paint and finish, and brushing on stain or paint.

Add a shiny new door knocker. Gorgeous hardware (plus a glossy paint job) can make even the plainest door look very classy.

Try a unique front door. A really eye-catching front door can be just the thing to give a plain exterior a big dose of personality. Whether it’s supersleek and modern steel or a beautifully detailed Craftsman Style door, it can set the tone for the entire house.

Match plantings to your house style. Let the plants and pots you choose reflect the style of your house for a cohesive look. Accent a modern home with succulents and spiky-leafed plants in simple round pots, or surround your cottage with lush beds of flowers

Echo the architecture with paths. Another way to accent the style of your home is by repeating the lines of the architecture in the paths and landscaping surrounding it. Wide, angular paths echo the geometry of the modern home here.

Create curb appeal even in the city. When you live in the city, it can be hard to personalize your home’s exterior. Work with what you have by adding neat window planters, glossy black shutters, good lighting and clearly visible house numbers.

Does Moving Up Make Sense?

17 Mar


These questions will help you decide whether you’re ready for a home that’s larger or in a more desirable location. If you answer yes to most of the questions, it’s a sign that you may be ready to move.

  1. Have you built substantial equity in your current home? Look at your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out. Usually, you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest, but if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.
  2. Has your income or financial situation improved? If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving.
  3. Have you outgrown your neighborhood? The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same neighborhood you want to settle down in for good. For example, you may have realized that you’d like to be closer to your job or live in a better school district.
  4. Are there reasons why you can’t remodel or add on? Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your municipality doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option.
  5. Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market? If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy also will be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you’ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home.
  6. Are interest rates attractive? A low rate not only helps you buy a larger home, but also makes it easier to find a buyer.

The Worst Things You Can Do Before Buying A Home . . .

10 Mar

Cynics may scoff, but getting under contract on the right home can turn even the most stoic shopper into a bit of a dreamer. From paint colors to planting a garden, picturing yourself in that property is critical for many buyers.

But leave a little room for pragmatism. Remember that getting pre-approved for a mortgage and even under contract isn’t a guarantee. That prefix is there for a reason. Loan pre-approval is not loan approval.

You’ll have more hurdles to clear before a lender legally commits to funding your home loan. Buyers who don’t know any better can inadvertently add obstacles to that path, or even kill the entire deal between contract and closing day.

Some missteps can be costlier than others. Here’s a look at five of the worst things you can do before buying a home.

1. Go Credit-Crazy

It’s almost become cliché in the mortgage industry, but the warning still bears repeating: Don’t buy a truckload of furniture until after your loan closes. The prohibition goes beyond sofas and settees,  avoid obtaining credit for any major expense, such as a car, a boat or, yes, a new bedroom set.

Be careful with even minor expenses. If you absolutely need to obtain new credit or accrue debt before closing, talk with your loan officer as soon as possible.

New payments are going to affect your monthly debt-to-income ratio (and residual income on a VA loan), and not in a good way. Hard inquiries on your credit report could also lower your credit score. That might hurt your interest rate if you haven’t locked or even knock you out of qualifying range all together.

2. Shuffle Dollars and Cents

Lenders will scour your most recent bank statement as part of the pre-approval process. It’s not like they forget about it after that. They’ll take another look at your assets and bank records again during the underwriting process.

You’ll need to explain any unusual deposits or withdrawals. Lenders will require clear documentation and a paper trail if you’re putting gift funds toward a down payment or closing costs. Stuffing a wad of undocumented cash into your account is going to raise some red flags.

3. Get Behind on Bills

Having a late payment hit your credit report before closing can devastate your deal. Payment history comprises about a third of your credit score.

One solitary 30-day late payment can clip 60 to 110 points from your credit score. Maybe not a huge deal if you had an 800 score, right?

Possibly. But if that 30-day late blemish is a mortgage or rent payment, some lenders will boot your application altogether. Many will require at least 12 consecutive months of on-time payments to qualify for a home loan.

4. Co-Sign on a Loan

Co-signing a loan is arguably a bad financial move whenever you make it. But it’s especially risky during the mortgage lending process. It means you’re financially liable for someone else’s debt.

Yes, that someone else might be the most responsible person on the planet. Lenders will still need to factor that new monthly obligation into your overall affordability profile. Adding one more debt to the list could stretch too thin your debt-to-income ratio and assets.

5. Changes in Employment

Probably goes without saying, but losing your job is going to be a big problem. Even job-hopping can present some major hurdles. Lenders crave stable, reliable income that’s likely to continue.

Lenders are likely to slam on the brakes if you take a new job in a different field. Or if you decide to start your own business. Or even if you get a promotion but see some or all of your income shift to a commission basis.

The bottom line: Any change to your employment is significant. Keep your loan officer in the loop, and ask questions when in doubt. The last thing you want is to waste time and money on a home loan you’re never going to get.

Throughout the mortgage process, it can also be helpful to monitor your credit scores for changes so you can know whether you need to address any problems. To do that, you can use a free tool like’s Credit Report Card, which updates your credit scores and an overview of your credit report every month.

This article was written by Chris Birk and originally published on

Brand Spankin’ New Listing in Georgetown!

4 Mar

55 Beaver Run Savannah, GA 31419

MLS 120086



All brick 3 bedroom 2 bath with 2 car garage and workshop with brand new roof. Well maintained and loved landscaping and yard with large covered patio in back yard. Interior of home has hardwood floors, ceramic tile and some carpet. Kitchen has updated cabinets and counters, peak-a-boo window with eat-in breakfast area and separate formal dining room. Dining room has glass french doors and chair moldings. Living room has a vaulted ceiling, lots of natural light and wood burning masonry fireplace. Bathrooms have been updated and are squeaky clean, one even  has a new skylight. Laundry room just off garage with pantry.











_MG_5134 _MG_5112




























Feng Shui 101

3 Mar

Whether you have been practicing Feng Shui for years or never heard of it, here are a 5 Feng Shui concepts to help a home sell.



  • Pay special attention to the front door, which is considered the “mouth of chi” (chi is the “life force” of all things) and one of the most powerful aspects of the entire property. Abundance, blessings, opportunities, and good fortune enter through the front door. It’s also the first impression buyers have of how well the sellers have taken care of the rest of the property. Make sure the area around the front door is swept clean, free of cobwebs and clutter. Make sure all lighting is straight and properly hung. Better yet, light the path leading up to the front door to create an inviting atmosphere.
  • Chi energy can be flushed away wherever there are drains in the home. To keep the good forces of a home in, always keep the toilet seats down and close the doors to bathrooms.
  • The master bed should be in a place of honor, power, and protection, which is farthest from and facing toward the entryway of the room. It’s even better if you can place the bed diagonally in the farthest corner. Paint the room in colors that promote serenity, relaxation, and romance, such as soft tones of green, blue, and lavender.
  • The dining room symbolizes the energy and power of family togetherness. Make sure the table is clear and uncluttered during showings. Use an attractive tablecloth to enhance the look of the table while also softening sharp corners.
  • The windows are considered to be the eyes of the home. Getting the windows professionally cleaned will make the home sparkle and ensure that the view will be optimally displayed.

Our Holiday Expectations & Realizations…

19 Dec

What we imagine the Holidays will look like:






Moose in snow

What the Holidays really look like:

do your pets







Digital StillCamera


Moose in a swimming pool

Cutie Craftsman Bungalow – Under Contract

11 Sep

I walked through this house a few years ago and fell in love. Low and behold it came up for sale again and some very good friends will be the new homeowners. Congrats guys!!1309 e 48- croped

Does Your REALTOR Have Their Own App for Android & iPhone?

26 Jul

Does your REALTOR have their own app? I do and I offer this free to all of my buyers and sellers and their friends and family. Thinking about buying a home? Want to keep up with the sales in your neighborhood? Curious about your neighbor’s home that just came on the market? Have you ever driven by a house for sale and wanted info, but didn’t have the time to stop? Or maybe you’re just the ‘hands-on” type.  Whether you are an active buyer, seller, or just curious, this app is super cool and very useful!

Guess what else? You are invited to try it for free.  There is absolutely no cost to you, ever.  This application is linked directly to the MLS – so no more nightmares from sites like Trulia and Zillow with out-of-date information. It’s like keeping a Realtor in your pocket, information available when you want it, just turn it off when you don’t! Another cool feature is the ability to explore the finance side of real estate through a couple of taps on the screen. Give it a try, you can always delete it– but I guarantee you, you won’t!

  • First, go to either the Android Market/Google Play or the App Store on your Android or iPhone device.

android store



  • Next, search for “homescouting” and download.


  • Your VIP code is: 9122240460






HomeScouting Search

Under Contract – 1212 Crawford Way

24 Jun

Cute little HUD house under contract. With a little TLC this will be a happy home again!

1212 crawford

Under Contract! 7891 US Highway 80 East

21 Jun

This gorgeous home is under contract and being purchased by some of my favorite clients!



Congrats to Mike

7 May

Mike is one driven individual. Hard work pays off and he deserves the beautiful new home he closed on. MIKE

Sidewalk Arts Festival Always Draws A Crowd!

18 Apr

sidewalk2I can’t express enough how much I love this time of year in Savannah, Georgia! The azaleas are in bloom, the Sandgnats have returned to Grayson Stadium for another season, and there seems to be a perpetual breeze keeping the sun from being overbearing. Everyone is in a good mood, the park is full of runners, readers & dogs, and everyone seems to have the same idea to head downtown, beer in-hand, for a leisurely stroll.

Another highlight of the Spring season for me is the Savannah College of Art & Design’s Sidewalk Arts Festival. This is the 32nd year of this popular event where SCAD alumni, students and prospective students gather in beautiful Forsyth park and are able to design their unique paved square in chalk. Over the past years there have been amazing improvements in technique and imagination. Some artists use the chalk like paint and create gorgeous masterpieces you would covet for the walls of your dream home. Some artists use their space for activism or political perspective, and some take a comedic approach and are just silly.

The festival is an open-air gallery through the park and takes place Saturday, April 27th from 11-5. Admission is free, so grab your dogs, kids, or a beer and take a stroll through the park and enjoy the eye candy and soak up some good energy from our local talent.










Check out last year’s festival at SCAD’s Hong Kong campus here

For additional info for the festivities this year click here

What’s The Deal With Flood Insurance In Coastal Georgia?

4 Mar

flood-insuranceIf you live in or are considering a purchase in our beautiful, coastal Georgia area of Savannah and surrounding Islands, chances are that you will be required to have a separate flood insurance policy. Even if you are not required to have one, I definitely recommend that you add it. The determination of flood policy requirement is based on the flood zone your property lies in, detailed in a  document known as a Flood Elevation Certificate. Hopefully, your agent or the current homeowner can get or has one available, because otherwise you will have to hire a land surveyor to come out and measure. You can bet that if you live near a marsh, creek, beach or other type of waterway that your lender will require this additional policy. More recently, I have seen lenders require flood policies in Pooler, Effingham and Bryan County.

It is important to realize that your homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover flooding! A separate policy is necessary to cover structural and content damage that occurs from flooding. Here are some things that you should know and review with your Realtor and Insurance Agent:

  • Flood Zones: There are basically three categories of flood risk determined by FEMA; Moderate to to Low Risk Areas (B, X & C), High Risk Areas ( all A categories) and High Risk Coastal Areas (any V category). The High Risk and High Risk Coastal Areas carry a mandatory requirement for flood insurance.
  • Transfer of Flood Policy: Some policies may be transferred when buying a property, contingent on new lenders approval. Depending on the length left on the existing policy may determine whether or not new lender will accept.
  • Preferred Risk Policy: The flood maps are being updated regularly, and while Effingham and Bryan County were in an X zone prior to 2008, they are now in A and AE zones in some cases. What that means is that some properties will be grandfathered in, and keep the lower policy premiums for 2 more years, but after that rates are expected to double or triple.
  • Pre-Firm or Post-Firm? Elevated vs. Non Elevated : If you are considering a property on Tybee Island for instance, there is the question of pre-firm or post-firm?  This is simply if a property was built before 1971 (in this example), when the flood maps were drawn. Anything before this time can be insured however it was built, but anything after must adhere to current building codes to guarantee insurability. (Think about those properties with closed in lower levels..are they vented? are there piles, piers, posts or is it on a crawlspace? What year was it closed-in? Was it permitted? Be very careful when considering properties like this!) I’ve seen listing agents count it in square footage and valuation of the property, but how much is worth when only up to about 30% might be covered?
  • Primary Residence vs. Non Primary Residence: Primary residence is defined by a property you spend 80% of your time in. You will start to see variation in flood policies and coverage if a claim is made if it is determined that your property is not your primary residence.
  • Rate changes are coming: This year X zones increased 8% since October of 2012, V zones are up from 6-8%, AE post firm are up 3-4%, and so forth. Any home that is a secondary property, built pre-firm will be removed from any subsidized program. The product of that measure is a 25% rate increase annually until the average risk premium is equal to actuarially rated properties. Translation: be sure you can afford that property, especially if rated VE!
  • Venting: If your property is in an AE or riskier zone it must be elevated. If it is elevated, it must meet building material requirements and venting requirements. Some examples of approved building methods are piles, piers, posts, concrete shear walls,and full story foundation walls.  At a minimum, vents must start within 12 inches of adjacent grade, there must be one square inch of vent for each square foot of enclosure, vents can not all be on the same wall, and they must be on an exterior wall.

The bottom line is insurance is serious. If you live somewhere it rains, it could flood. Now is a great time to pull-up with your insurance agent and go over these items and make sure you are protected. Not all insurance agents are created equal, so make sure your agent knows their stuff! If you have questions or need recommendation, feel free to contact me.

*Information for this article was sourced from Jeff Brady Allstate,, Biggert-Waters Act 2012, and

FHA Changes For 2013

27 Feb


FHA has long been one of the more affordable mortgage products for consumers to entertain when looking to purchase a home.  This loan only requires a down payment of 3.5%, which can be in the form of gift funds, and only requires a nominal credit score. Here are the upcoming changes Federal Housing Administration is making to this popular loan program:

  • April 1, 2013 , the Federal Housing Administration is increasing its required monthly mortgage insurance premium (MIP) from 1.25% to 1.35%. While that might sound like much, it can add up to a substantial amount of money over time.
  • Starting June 3, 2013, the FHA will no longer allow you to cancel your mortgage insurance premium (MIP) payments when your loan balance drops to 78% of your property’s value. That means you could be paying a mortgage insurance premium for decades.
  • For loans between $625,000 to $729,000 the down-payment requirement will increase from 3.5% to 5%.


If you are on the fence, or entertaining which financing to use, don’t let this happen to you. Secure your FHA financing today before these changes go into effect. Take advantage of the low 3.5% down payment and some of the lowest interest rates in mortgage history, before they rise again.




The Top 10 Remodeling Projects That Offer The Biggest Return

25 Feb

As a Realtor, I am often asked my opinion on lots of home related matters including remodeling. It’s my general opinion that you won’t get what you put in, but some creature-comforts are priceless. I also tell my sellers and buyers that even though you may not get a dollar-for-dollar return, the upgrades may make your home stand out from competition and be the deciding factor in getting you sold. I decided to do some research to gain insight on remodeling confidence and return on investment figures.  Recent industry surveys are pointing to a strong rebound in remodeling and gains from those updates.  Another point worth mentioning, job costs are down from 2011-2012 and the gains are higher!

Building a house

Here are the Top 10 Remodels you can do in the South Atlantic area to get the most bang for your buck:

            Estimated Job Cost $1096

            Return on Investment at Resale 92.2%

           *2011-2012: EJC $1,137, ROI 85.6%

            Estimated Job Cost $8,550

            Return on Investment 83.4%

           *2011-2012: EJC $9,327, ROI 77.3%

            Estimated Job Cost $10,374

            Return on Investment 79%

           *2011-2012: EJC $11,192, ROI 72.9%

           Estimated Job Cost $1431

           Return on Investment 78.8%

           *2011-2012: EJC $1,496, ROI 75.7%

           Estimated Job Cost $44,429

           Return on Investment 78.8%

           *2011-2012: EJC $47,919, ROI 72.9%

  • Window Replacement (wood & vinyl rate within .2% of each other, but in our area you are more likely to see vinyl)

           Estimated Job Cost (vinyl) $9268

           Return on Investment 74.5%

           *2011-2012: EJC $9,770, ROI 71.2%

           Estimated Job Cost $17,476

           Return on Investment 74.5%

           *2011-2012: EJC $18,527, ROI 75.4%

           Estimated Job Cost $51,044

           Return on Investment 71%

           *2011-2012: EJC $53,931, ROI 68.9%

           Estimated Job Cost $14,389

           Return on Investment 70.8%

          *2011-2012: EJC $15,084, ROI 67.5%

           Estimated Job Cost $14,612

           Return on Investment 69.8%

           *2011-2012: EJC $15,782, ROI 65.2%

It’s really no surprise to see that in the South we love our kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor spaces. First impressions like front door and windows are important too. These estimates are for mid-price range homes in the South East. Personally, I feel like some of these quotes are on the high-end and I guarantee my well certified contractors can beat these prices. If you are considering any remodeling project, it would be pleasure to put you in touch with my A-Team contractors. If you are a buyer considering FHA 203K  financing, Homepath renovation financing or any other construction loan, I can help you find a great home and match you up with the appropriate lender.

*Figures available for higher-end properties as well. All information I used in this article was compiled from Remodeling Magazine.

9 Easy Mistakes Home Owners Make on Their Taxes

21 Feb


9 Easy Mistakes Home Owners Make on Their Taxes

Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary — know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.

Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes

You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind — that is, you’re not billed for 2013 property taxes until 2014. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.

Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2013, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.

Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid

If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Don’t just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.

Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance

Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, says Meighan, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan. If you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $133 per year.

Sin #4: Misjudging the home office tax deduction

This deduction may not be as good as it seems. It’s complicated, often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return. Hampton’s advice: Claim it only if it’s worth those drawbacks. If so, here’s what to  know about what you can write off.

Sin #5: Failing to repay the first-time home buyer tax credit

If you used the original home buyer tax credit in 2008, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years. If you used the tax credit in 2009, 2010, or 2011 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have to pay back the credit.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

Sin #6: Failing to track home-related expenses

If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer’s certification statement for energy tax credits and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.

Sin #7: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains

If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. You can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if you bought a home for $100,000 and sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you’re single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523.

Sin #8: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits

If you made any eligible improvements in 2012 — or will in 2013 — such as installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you may be able to take a 10% tax credit (up to $500). But keep in mind, it’s a lifetime credit. If you claimed the credit in any recent years, you’re done. Fill out Form 5695.

Part II of the form, which covers systems eligible for a larger tax credit through 2016, such as geothermal heat pumps, can be incredibly complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.

Sin #9: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction

You can deduct mortgage interest only up to $1 million of mortgage debt, says Meighan. If you have $1.2 million in mortgage debt, for example, deduct only the mortgage interest attributable to the first $1 million.

*This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

Erin Rowley-Stoner is now an SRS designee!

20 Feb

It’s official. Erin has officially earned her SRS – Seller Representative Specialist designation. This designation is the premiere seller agency designation, conferred by the SRS Council, recognizing real estate professionals who have completed special education in seller representation. Translation: bring on the listing referrals!


Recipient of the Realtor Distinguished Sales Society award

15 Feb

Erin Rowley-Stoner was recognized today as a recipient for the Distinguished Sales Society award at the annual Savannah Board of Realtors Award Ceremony.

The REALTORS® Distinguished Sales Society Club is to honor REALTORS® demonstrating the commitment and dedication to rise to the top of their profession. Real Estate is more than just showing beautiful homes. Distinguished Sales Society members show their exceptional skills in listening, negotiating, organization, attention to details, understanding legal and financial issues, and all routinely juggled under the stress of moving and change. Real Estate is typically a summary of life experiences: of education, previous careers transition, and dedication to truly serving people. It requires working days, nights, and especially weekends and is unique in that all the work is done, all the negotiations settled, all concerns met, and all the papers signed, long before the Realtor® is compensated. Commitment to service and success are the standards…..and it shows! Each REALTOR® in this Club has sold over one million dollars or more during any calendar year in Real Estate and has volunteered their time to their local board association.

And on a personal note, my infinite gratitude goes out to each and every customer and client that has helped me grow my business over the years. Thank you for the opportunity, thank you for your trust, thank you for referrals!


Another happy homeowner!!

11 Feb

vik and peggy

Congratulations to Peggy Drummond for the purchase of her beautiful new home on Wilmington Island. Her home features fabulous hardwood floors, an upgraded owner’s en suite bathroom with jacuzzi tub and gorgeous tile work,all  in a perfect tranquil community. She bought this property out of foreclosure and even has some equity going in. Peggy is pictured here with her amazing mortgage lender, Viktor Sasser of Starkey Mortgage.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Peggy, and it was a pleasure working with Vik as well.

Is there a Century 21 agent in the house??

7 Feb

35 Harleigh Lane, Ellabell, Georgia

25 Jan

New listing in the Black Creek Community. 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, converted garage for flex space (garage door still on so changing back would be a snap!), large privacy fenced back yard, fire pit, quiet neighborhood in a natural setting. Minuted to I-16, and I-95. Qualifies for USDA 100% financing. Seller may consider a lease.  Contact me with questions!

Play VisualTour

Savvy Selling Tips

23 Jan


So you’re thinking about selling? Here are some tips to help you to get top dollar and a fast sale

  • Choose a Realtor: Choose an agent that is familiar with the area, knows the market, has an established marketing plan and communication plan. (***extra savvy tip: look for an agent that is an SRS – Seller Representative Specialist)
  • Be Objective: It’s important to see your home through the eyes of a buyer and take into consideration the items that would turn a prospective purchaser off. Speak with your agent about which changes make sense for your home, market and budget.
  • Minimize and Neutralize: Clean, clean, and clean some more. Organize your closets, cupboards, drawers and garage. Donate unwanted items and store personal items. Is every room in your house a different color? If you have dark paint, neon paint, or dated wallpaper, it is probably a good idea to paint a more neutral color. The objective is to appeal to as large an audience as possible. Consult with you agent about their opinion on decor. Also keep in mind, you want a buyer to walk in and get the impression that your home is always clean and well cared for, and that they could move right in. If there are items that need repair or maintenance, do them. Presenting your property in the best light possible will net you a higher dollar.
  • Consider a Pre-Listing Home Inspection: Most homeowners think they know the condition of their home, but have you been in your crawl space or attic lately? When was the last time you had your HVAC system checked-up? The health of your home is important and these items are going to pop up when a buyer does their inspection. One thing to keep in mind is that if any latent defect is discovered it would need to be disclosed, and if repairs are made those need disclosure as well.
  • Staging & Photography: Staging is a key element in the marketing and sale of your home. Your agent can help you with this, or might recommend a property staging company. A well staged home will produce better photography. Better photos will generate more interest, and more interest creates a more competitive market surrounding your listing. Looks are everything when selling. The National Association of Realtors notes that 88% of buyers use the internet in their home search. Don’t you want your property presented in the best light?
  • Utilities: All buyers are hungry for information. Make your property stand out by having this information available. Take the time to prepare a report with a 6 month average of all your utility bills. Also, having a list of the companies and providers you use makes the buying process easy, makes a buyer feel welcome, and the less stress in a transaction the better the outcome.
  • Documents: Some other information a buyer will want to see are HOA documents and fees, flood elevation certificates in some areas, utility bills, insurance information, repair bills and so forth. The buyer will appreciate the fact that you are so detailed, because it indicates that you are a responsible owner who took care of the property.
  • Stay involved: Once you are listed, your agent should share MLS information, email flyers, and share links for you to use on social networking. You may consider sharing your listing with clubs and organizations you belong to. The more exposure, the better!

If you or anyone you know is considering a move, please put them in touch with me– I am a Relocation Specialist. I am an Accredited Buyer Representative and a Seller Representative Specialist. Also worth noting here is that 1 out of 7 mortgages is not current. If you or anyone you know is struggling to make their payments, please put me in touch with them. I can help! I am a Certified Distressed Property Expert and Certified Loss Mitigator. 

Breezy Buying Tips

14 Jan

8-515_Ocean_Breeze_hd All buyers, whether first time or very seasoned, should keep a few tips in mind that will help guide you in choosing the right agent, the right property, and a great lender. By doing so, your purchase will be a total breeze so you can fill your time doing the things you would rather be doing!

  •  Speak with a mortgage lender: This should be your first step in your home search. (Savvy buyers may consider being pre-approved with more than one lender). Need some good recommendations? Ask me!
  • Pre-Approved vs. Pre-Qualified: Ask to be pre-approved, instead of just pre-qualified. The approval holds more weight, and a savvy seller’s agent may consider this item in a multiple offer situation.
  • Learn about your loan: Are there geographical restrictions? What are the down-payment requirements? Are gift funds allowed? Are there pre-payment penalties? Ask your lender about the fine points of your loan.
  • Get a Realtor: Would you go to court unrepresented by an attorney? Would you consider surgery from a paramedic? It is very important to choose a Realtor. Realtors are licensed by the state and are bound by a code of ethics. They have continuing education requirements and are true professionals. Sellers and builders are represented by their agents, wouldn’t you want someone looking out for your best interests? Make sure your Realtor explains your agency options to you. (***extra savvy tip: look for an ABR – Accredited Buyer Representative***)
  • Start Online: This is obvious. Most buyers start their search online, but you should make notes about the properties you like. Include MLS numbers, addresses, and any questions you have up front. Narrow your search to your top five choices and begin your viewing that way.
  • Ask Questions: Do you know the tax information in the house you like? What is homestead exemption? When will my first payment be due? If there is anything on your mind, ask it!
  • DONT: It is very, very important that you don’t make any big purchases that could throw your debt to income ratios off. Don’t pay any bills off without asking your lender, as this may affect the reserve funds that are part of your qualification. Don’t open any new lines of credit… no new credit cards, and no new cars! Keep in mind, most lenders will check your credit at your initial application, during under writing, and may even do it again just before closing. Don’t quit your job! These may all seem obvious, but lots of buyers disqualify themselves by doing some of these things.
  • Insurance: See if the property you are considering requires any additional insurance, for instance a flood policy. Ask your insurance agent what your policy does not cover. Consider bundling your auto and home policies by the same companies for savings. If you need recommendations, I can help!


If you or anyone you know is considering a move, please put them in touch with me– I am a Relocation Specialist. I am an Accredited Buyer Representative and a Seller Representative Specialist. Also worth noting here is that 1 out of 7 mortgages is not current. If you or anyone you know is struggling to make their payments, please put me in touch with them. I can help! I am a Certified Distressed Property Expert and Certified Loss Mitigator. 


Patience Pays Off

26 Sep

A client of mine bought a house a few years ago after permanent orders from the military. It turned out those orders weren’t very permanent, due to base realignment. Through the Homeowner’s Assistance Program we were able to qualify him for benefits and with lots of patience and cooperative efforts from The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, release him from over $100,000 of debt without affecting his credit or security clearance. Pictured below is the selling agent and his clients who very graciously hung on through this lengthy but rewarding process. For their hard work they got a great deal on the house! I love it when hard work comes together and everyone is happy!


Before & After and now Under Contract: 321 E. 52nd Street

5 Sep

The oh-so-sad-and-scary Before Photos:Image




And After…. You will be amazed!!







Under Contract – 9 Springwater

28 Aug

This house is an REO with Chase Bank and is being purchased using the USDA loan program by some very excited first-time home buyers. This property has an awesome two car garage and open floor plan. There is a huge unfinished basement that is a blank canvas just waiting for this couple to get creative. 

New Bill Brings Better Housing Benefits for Veterans

24 Aug

President Obama stepped up to the plate for our military personnel and veterans this month. The President signed into law the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. A bipartisan bill that unanimously passed through the House and Senate, made specific and much needed changes to the VA loan program, expand Veteran support and also provide extended medical care for veterans and their families who were based in Camp Lejeune in the years the water was contaminated there.

This bill primarily focuses on the extended healthcare for those affected at Camp Lejeune, but I am a Realtor in a heavily military occupied area and prefer to focus on the reform to the 68 year old, VA Loan program.

Here are the changes:

Surviving Spouses
Prior to the bill’s passing, the only way a military widow or widower could receive zero down financing was if their spouse died with a service-connected disability or in the line of duty. Meaning, if their husband or wife died of normal causes, they were not eligible. Today, the VA’s mortgage benefits are now extended to surviving spouses of veterans who had a permanent, service-connected disability for at least a decade before their death.

Occupancy Requirements
Before the bill was made law, if a service member serving abroad were to buy a home, only a spouse could fulfill the occupancy requirement. Those who were married military couples and single-parent service members were powerless to buy homes while deployed.

This has now been repealed, ensuring that active duty members can meet the requirements of a new home purchase through a dependent child of the soldier.

The VA Funding Fee and Disabled Veterans
For every purchase or refinance loan that the VA backs, it applies a fee known as the VA Funding Fee. This fee helps fund the program and makes sure that it’s independent of the Congressional appropriations process.

Prior to the bill, veteran borrowers that had service-connected disabilities didn’t have to pay the fee, which is usually financed directly into the loan. But recently, because of delays with the VA’s medical system, many soon-to-be veterans have had to wait months to get an official disability rating after receiving a pre-discharge exam by the VA.

Meaning, if a disabled veteran tried to buy a home with the VA home loan program before then, they would have to pay the fee, which forces some VA borrowers into larger mortgages than they can afford.

The new policy provides that the VA will waive the fee if a future veteran is eligible to receive compensation for disability, without having the official rating.

VA Loan Limits

When veterans lives in one of the more expensive areas in the country, such as California, Hawaii, or the Eastern Seaboard, they lose some of their purchasing power because of lowered loan limits on VA-backed mortgages. The limits dictate the amount a veteran can borrow without having to make a down payment. Last year, the loan cap was reduced from $729,750 to $625,500. The bill brought the caps back up to last year’s levels, which are set to stand until after 2014.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

At the end of this year, adjustable-rate mortgages were no longer going to be offered through the VA loan program. Under the Act, adjustable-rate mortgages and hybrid ARMs will continue to be available through the VA. This is the only change I am not wild about. I still don’t think ARM’s are a good idea for the majority of borrowers.


9 Aug

Image  Congratulations to Nicholas & Christine Powell. They just closed on their first home this morning. It’s a beautiful property with expansive back yard, low country porch, and a tranquil water garden in the back. I wish you both many happy years in your home together. Thank you very much for the opportunity to assist you!

Suds-a-Pup Day: a benefit for the Surfers for Autism Ipad project

23 Jul

ImageWho can resist the urge to help children and animals? Not us! This past Saturday we had a casual day of dog – gussying and grooming with old friends and new to raise a little extra change for the Surfers for Autism Ipad project.(Thank you Tails Spin for letting us borrow the grooming stalls for a good cause!) Ipads can really help stimulate and motivate children with Autism…and we think those families deserve a treat. If you didn’t make it to this event, save September 8th for the big event on Tybee…. and if you have an extra couple dollars…consider a donation here:

Congratulations Taylor & Phoebe!

11 Jun

Look at these two! They are officially happy homeowners. Taylor and Phoebe got an amazing interest rate and a kickin’ deal on a Freddie Mac foreclosure. Thanks guys, for the opportunity to work with you both, it was a lot of fun.


Savannah looks good in green!

20 May

This past Saturday was the grand open house for the brand new, green-built Savannah Gardens Community. This community is a revitalization project engineered by the City of Savannah and built by a handful of local builders. These properties are certified Earth Craft homes, which entails several components of sustainability, that must be adhered to by builder and property alike.

The Savannah Gardens community is a 44 acre tract  located off of Pennsylvania Avenue and will eventually have 120 single family homes in addition to multi-family units. The community has a jogging path, mature landscaping and over 375 newly planted trees, LED lighting and solar powered trash receptacles in the parks and piazza, and state of the art storm water management system.

Each home must be designed efficiently and focus on indoor air quality, energy efficiency, water efficiency, resource efficient design & building materials, waste management, and site planning.  Each home has hardwood floors, nine-foot cathedral ceilings, hurricane screens, geo-thermal heating and air, rain barrels, smart meters, fenced back yards, garden sheds and front and back porches. Each home incorporates cement based siding and trim as well as architectural shingles. And did I mention that each home is pre wired for a solar panel, should you decide to take advantage of that option?

Here is more great news; The City of Savannah sponsored DreamMaker PLUS Program. This program helps qualified moderate income households purchase one of these brand new homes. Approved applicants may be eligible to receive up to $50,000 of DreamMaker funds. You might want to read that again. Fifty large my friends…FREE.Money to help you buy one of these outstanding homes. Current available properties range in price from $141,000-$167,000.

I am so excited about this development and the positive effects it will have on our local economy, environment and morale.

Please give my contact information to anyone you think might be interested. And please get in touch with me if you would like to tour these homes and learn more!

Under Contract! 111 West Tisbury

6 Mar


To Refinance or Not to ?

28 Feb

To refinance or not? That is the question, and it’s one question that I hear almost as much as the word “facebook“. But seriously, even President Obama made a point in his State of the Union address in early February to urge Congress to implement legislation regarding refinance opportunities for everyone, especially for responsible homeowner’s who have a good payment history.

According to CoreLogic, a leading provider of consumer, financial and property information, analytics and services to business and government , an estimated 28 million homeowners could cut the interest rates on their loans by more than one percentage point if they could refinance. That is a staggering amount of savings!

It’s not a bad idea to consult with your financial advisor/tax preparer/real estate agent. Here are a few key things to consider:

1. Make sure you are in good standing on your mortgage. As the President emphasized, refinances will be considered for those homeowners who have a good payment history and are current on their mortgages. If you’re currently underwater, a refinance is probably not an option for you. Consult your real estate professional about other options, including loan modifications and short sales.

2. Check your current credit score. Refinance candidates need to demonstrate steady income and good credit. Make sure your credit rating is up to snuff and see what immediate measures can be taken to improve it if it’s not.

3. Examine how much longer you plan to live in your home. If you are planning to put your home on the market in the near future, refinancing probably doesn’t make sense. You need to make sure you’ll be living in your home long enough to recoup the closing costs of the refinance.

4. Consider the length of the loan. Where you’re at with your current mortgage can play a significant role in your decision to refinance. If you’re close to retirement, for example, and your loan is almost paid off, refinancing could result in extending the life of your loan, ultimately costing you more. Also, if you’re several years into a 30-year mortgage, your goal should be to refinance into a 15- or 20-year mortgage instead. Otherwise, you’re extending the number of years in which you’ll pay interest. Your refinancing goals should be short-term and long-term savings.

5. Find out the costs involved. Before you plunge into a refinance, find out the costs involved. Weigh these fees against the money you will save (contingent upon how long you plan to stay in your home) to make sure refinancing is the right step.

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz Lincoln Center Orchestra

28 Feb

I am so excited. Things have been busy, busy, busy for me in real estate and I’m taking the evening off on Thursday to spend with my husband and one of our favorite musicians in the world! No phone, no email, no stress…just pure enjoyment!

My husband is a musician and audio engineer and his instrument of choice is trumpet, in which he is classically trained. I must give him credit for seriously turning me on to Jazz music and introducing me to the big hitters of the genre and some of the less known. Imagine his envy when I came home to tell him I had met Wynton Marsalis! It was a few years ago at an after party for the Savannah Music Festival. He is a friendly and humble man at the very least, but I am not afraid to say he is the Louie Armstrong or Miles Davis of our time. He is magical to hear and the Jazz Lincoln Center Orchestra is a delight to watch and listen to.

Wynton is on tour now and will be appearing Thursday evening with Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra here in Savannah at the Trustees Theatre. The official Savannah Music Festival kicks off March 22nd, but I’m glad I don’t have to wait to see my Jazz hero!! Tickets are still available here

Here is something fancy… if you can’t make it to the show, stream it live for free here!

On a side note, my husbands birthday is coming up so I am planning to smuggle his trumpet into the show in hopes I can get Wynton to sign it for him…pretty cool and sentimental gift idea, no? At the very least, perhaps it will inspire the hubby musically. Wish me luck!

Visit Savannah during the 2012 Savannah Music Festival! from Savannah Music Festival on Vimeo.

Tybee Mardi Gras

13 Feb

It’s almost time for the fourth annual Tybee Island Mardi Gras celebration!

Mardi Gras is a celebration that traditionally falls between the Christian observed holiday of Epiphany and culminates the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras in French, translates to “Fat Tuesday” and is the last day to indulge in your favorite rich and fatty foods before the Lent fast begins… but if you know anything about Tybee Island, there is always cause for celebration and festivities. The 2012 celebration will be held this coming Friday & Saturday, February 17th & 18th.

The official Tybee Mardi Gras kicks off with a Masquerade Ball at Fannie’s on The Beach. Tickets can be purchased in advance and the party starts at 8 PM. Then on Saturday the Mardi Gras Street Party starts at noon on Tybrisia Street and the Parade commences at 2 PM.

For more information visit the website here.

What is Homestead Exemption ?

7 Feb

Hello to all of you homeowners out there! Don’t forget it’s time to file homestead exemption if you have not already.

The Georgia Department of Revenue  specifies that generally, a homeowner is entitled to a homestead exemption on their home and land underneath provided the home was owned by the homeowner and was their legal residence as of January 1 of the taxable year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-40)

To be granted a homestead exemption, a person must actually occupy the home, and the home is considered their legal residence for all purposes.  Persons that are away from their home because of health reasons will not be denied homestead exemption.  A family member or friend can notify the tax receiver or tax commissioner and the homestead exemption will be granted. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-40)

Application for homestead exemption must be filed with the tax commissioner’s office, or in some counties the tax assessor’s office has been delegated to receive applications for homestead exemption. Here in Chatham County, you can just go down to the Courthouse on Montgomery Street. You should take identification with you as well as a utility bill with your name on it.

A homeowner can file an application for homestead exemption for their home and land any time during the calendar year. To receive the homestead exemption for the current tax year, the homeowner must have owned the property on January 1 and filed the homestead application by the same date property tax returns are due in the county. Property tax returns are required to be filed by April 1. Homestead applications that are filed after this date will not be granted until the next calendar year. (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-45)

The Standard exemption for the home of each resident of Georgia that is actually occupied and used as the primary residence by the owner may be granted a $2,000 exemption from state, county and school taxes except for school taxes levied by municipalities and except to pay interest on and to retire bonded indebtedness. The $2,000 is deducted from the 40% assessed value of the homestead. The owner of a dwelling house of a farm that is granted a homestead exemption may also claim a homestead exemption in participation with the program of rural housing under contract with the local housing authority.

If you are 65 or older, disabled, or a service member you may be eligible for a greater exemption.

So save yourself some money and file!

In the news…

19 Aug

Not your average log cabin….

27 Jun

I found this article about a hunting cabin renovated into this adorable shabby-chic cottage. An honest to goodness little Victorian Gingerbread House in the Catskill Mountains.  SHE did it all by herself, and for $3k. I love real estate outside of the box!

Neat story I just had to share!

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

14 Jun

My Karma is kicking!! I have lucked out with some really great clients lately!

Congratulations to The Szymanski Family! We closed on a lovely home in Pooler near the new K-8 Charter school at Godley Station on Friday.  They bought in a amenity packed community with a 65 acre lake, nature paths, 3 swimming pools with splash zone. I wish them many happy years in their new home.

Military personnel still eligble for $8,000 First Time Buyer Credit

20 May

I am shocked at how many people still don’t even know about the first time buyer credit (read about it here). What’s more, qualifying military personnel still have until 2011 to take advantage!

Here is what you need to know:

  • you must have served outside the United States for at least 90 days between the dates of December 31, 2008 and May 1, 2010
  • you must be a member of the uniformed service, Foreign Service, or intelligence community and their spouses
  • you must be under contract by April 30, 2011
  • you must close no later than June 30, 2011

I am a Cartus Network Affinity Specialist and I can help you make Savannah your home!

Click here to get in touch.

Award Winning Agent!!

27 Apr

I have been inducted into the Circle of Excellence with my brokerage! This award is given to recognize well-rounded agents, whose performance is measured in top production, participation and company support.

I have also been awarded the first IT award. This award is given to the agent within the company who excels in innovative technology, exceptional web savviness, and applies computer based creativity to their business.

Coldwell Banker Mortgage recognized me for placing third in most closed mortgages.

Quick Tip: Have you short-sold your home??

12 Apr

If your mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven during tax years 2007 to 2012, you may be able to claim special tax relief and exclude the debt-forgiveness income.

Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. But under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude debt forgiven on your principal residence.

Speak with your tax professional to find out if you qualify.

More Happy Home Buyers….

27 Mar

Clint & Sarah Jones were so much fun to work with. I sold them a property in Cumberland Point that is absolutely stunning. They got lots of upgrades and will qualify for the first time home-buyer credit. Congratulations guys!

Marvin’s First Home!

15 Mar

Congratulations to Marvin Phidd. We found a great little historic property downtown, that was built in the late 1800’s. I was able to negotiate lots of upgrades and updates, so Marvin got everything he wanted. He really lucked out! Marvin utilized a loan program called Dream Maker, which is sponsored by the City of Savannah. Marvin had his entire down payment paid by Dream Maker and I got the seller to pay all of his closing costs.

Fannie Mae & Buyer Incentives?!

2 Feb

Fannie Mae is offering a 3.5% incentive for buyers who purchase and close on a Fannie Mae-owned home between January 28 and April 30, 2010. Buyers purchasing properties listed on that are closed within this period may receive up to 3.5% of the final sales price for:

· Closing costs;

· The purchase of new Whirlpool appliances by Fannie Mae; or

· A mix of closing costs and appliances, at the buyer’s discretion, up to the maximum 3.5%.

To be eligible for this incentive:

· Offers must be accepted on or after January 28, 2010;

· Property sales must close before May 1, 2010, and;

· Buyers must be owner-occupants (investors are excluded).

Looks like they need a little help selling off all those foreclosed homes…either way, a potential win-win for buyers.

Palm Key

24 Jan

I feel I have been a little quiet lately, but there is a reason. I have been hard at work behind the scenes, helping to bring a new project to light. I was introduced to an amazing place, a real jewel of the earth and I am so fortunate to be part of it.

Palm Key is located in Ridgeland South Carolina…. which doesn’t necessarily sound exciting, but it might just change your life. I am in the process of creating a new website with loads of information.

Here is a taste of what’s to come….click me.

New Home for the Holidays!

21 Dec

Congratulations to John & Becca (not pictured). They just bought a great home in Wilmington Park today. Welcome to beautiful Savannah Georgia!

Another Happy Homebuyer!!

23 Nov

Congratulations to Edward & Felicity Boughner, proud new homeowners! They built a lovely 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom home, with an expansive rec-room. They chose a new development, in a top notch school district, with a large lot. There home has a beautiful granite fireplace, wood floors, stainless steel appliances… and they even got money back at closing! We got all of their closing costs paid for, they paid no money down and they are taking advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit. What a deal! Edward is overseas serving our country, but he has a beautiful home waiting for him when he gets back.

Want to know how and where? Give me a call.

Tax Credit Extended! Bigger & Better and you don’t have to be a first time buyer…

8 Nov


The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that would extend and expand the tax credit for first-time home buyers.

The provision was included in a bill that also extends unemployment benefits by an additional 14 to 20 weeks and lets all companies, not just small businesses, carry back current losses to offset profits made as long as five years ago. The bill passed the House on a 403-12 vote. The Senate passed the legislation 98-0 Wednesday, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law Friday.

The $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit, which helped home sales rebound this year, was scheduled to expire Nov. 30. The legislation extends it to homes that are under contract by April 30, 2010, and creates a new $6,500 tax credit for owners of existing homes who buy a new principal residence. To take advantage of this credit, buyers must have lived in their old house for at least five of the past eight years.

The legislation also increases the income eligibility limits for the tax credit from $75,000 to $125,000 for individuals, and from $150,000 to $225,000 for joint filers. The cost of the home cannot exceed $800,000.

More than 1.4 million households have benefited from the current tax credit, “the majority of whom have incomes below $50,000,” said Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

“This legislation would help even more moderate-income families fulfill the American dream,” he said.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., pushed the Senate to expand the tax credit to “move-up” home buyers. He said this is the last time the tax credit will be extended.

“I urge all Americans, whether they’re first-time buyers who’ve always dreamed of buying a home of their own or someone who’s been gridlocked in the failure of our move-up market, to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Isakson, a former Realtor.

The National Association of Home Builders predicts the extended and expanded tax credit will generate 180,000 additional home sales.

“Today’s action by Congress will further stabilize housing and the economy by creating new jobs, stimulating home sales, reducing foreclosures, cutting excess inventories and stabilizing home prices,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder from Tulsa, Okla.

The National Association of Manufacturers praised Congress for expanding the net operating loss (NOL) carry-back provision to all businesses. Businesses normally can use current losses to offset taxes paid in the previous two years, enabling them to get a tax refund. The economic stimulus bill enacted in February allowed businesses with annual revenue of under $15 million to carry back losses for five years. The new law allows larger businesses to get this break as well.

“This provision is urgently needed,” said Monica McGuire, NAM’s senior policy director for taxation. “More than 20 percent of small and medium-sized NAM members reported NOLs in 2008, and we expect that number to double for 2009. This relief will give manufacturers the ability to transform a future tax benefit to cash today and stem the flow of mounting job losses.”

Here is a link to a chart that summarizes the details….

TIme is Running Out!

28 Oct

I wrote a blog awhile back that detailed the First time buyer tax credit, and I just wanted to let everyone know that time is running out. As of today you have exactly 33 days to get your financing in place, find a home, and close on it.

If you are, or know any first time buyers in the Savannah area, please give me a call. There is still time to take advantage of what really is a buyers market. When have interest rates been this low? When has the government offered you thousands of dollars back at tax time to make a purchase you were already going to make? The answer is NOW!!! Did you know that you can own a home for less than you pay in rent? Did you know, most people begin to build long term wealth through home-ownership?

You have to act now to take advantage. Don’t kick yourself in December because you didn’t act on this opportunity!

275 Barrister Circle Guyton Georgia

12 Oct

Erin Rowley, Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners | 912 224 0460
275 Barrister Circle, Guyton, GA
100 % Financing available, NO money down! $8,000 in your pocket at
tax time!
4BR/2+1BA Single Family House
offered at $139,900
Year Built 2005
Sq Footage 1,674
Bedrooms 4
Bathrooms 2 full, 1 partial
Floors 2
Parking Unspecified
Lot Size .75 acres
HOA/Maint $0 per month


Adorable Home for Sale in AWESOME school district. This home has been loved! This house features beautiful laminate wood floors, nice neutral paint throughout and great fixtures in common areas. Kitchen opens to backyard, which is enormous! Perfect for a Sunday BBQ, entertaining, and lots of room for children to play. Swing set will stay as well as above ground pool! Master bedroom is on main level. Big enough to accommodate king sized furniture. Master baths features dual vanities, linen closet, and walk in closet! How convenient?! Half bath is located on first floor as well. The BONUS ROOM above the garage is used now as 4th bedroom/playroom. This an exceptional deal! Come check it out!

Here is an estimate of what it would cost to live here:

If you put NO MONEY DOWN,

And paid full purchase price of $144,000,

At a 5.5% APR, for 360 months (standard)

Your Premium and Interest would be about $817 a month.

Factor in Taxes to be $115/month and $60 for insurance…

It would cost you about $875 a month to live here.

Shown by appointment anytime!
Direct (912) 224.0460
Office (912) 352.1222

Hwy 21 North (either from Garden City, or exit 109 off I-95 North)

Left on Hwy 30 (west).
Continue straight for a few miles.
RIGHT on Midland Road.
Pass through blinking light at Blue Jay,
Right on Courthouse Rd.
Left into Barrister Crossing.
Right at Stop sign.
#275 down on RIGHT

see additional photos below

– Central A/C – Central heat – High/Vaulted ceiling
– Walk-in closet – Hardwood floor – Tile floor
– Living room – Bonus/Rec room – Office/Den
– Breakfast nook – Dishwasher – Refrigerator
– Stove/Oven – Microwave – Attic
– Washer – Dryer – Laundry area – inside
– Balcony, Deck, or Patio – Yard – Swimming pool


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Contact info:
Erin Rowley, Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners
912 224 0460
For sale by agent/broker

powered by postlets Equal Opportunity Housing
Posted: Feb 9, 2010, 4:33pm PST

Another Happy Buyer!!

7 Oct

Congratulations Dalphine!

We just closed on a beautiful 5 bedroom brick home.


Charter School Location Announced.

28 Sep

86_building 400

The West Chatham Charter school site has been chosen over much deliberation. JC Wardlaw donated the land that the school is being built on. It is located on Benton Boulevard just between Jimmy Deloach and the Highlands. As far as I know, students will be selected through a lottery. In the meantime, I would venture to say that the neighborhoods around the school, in the Highlands, Spring Lakes and in Pooler are going to be selling more. Who wouldn’t want to live steps away from such a prestigious academic opportunity?

It would be a great time to buy out there. Values and home prices will go up after the school is completed. If you are interested in buying in the Pooler area, I would love to discuss it with you!

Photos of progress coming soon!

Chatham County Charter School (almost) Announced!

23 Sep


We are one step closer to learning where the West Chatham Charter School will be located.

The contending locations are in Godley Station or on Technology Drive in Pooler.

Homebuilder, Fred Williams graciously offered to donate land at the backside of a subdivision in Port Wentworth. However, there is no access road from there to Pooler and the city council (foolishly IMHO), denied a request to build one.

I will follow up here later this week, as soon as the final location is announced. Parents will meet tonight with planning leaders to discuss the school and it’s proposed location.


22 Sep

Erin Rowley | Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners | 912 224 0460
123 Mapmaker Lane, Savannah, GA
Clean as a Whistle, Tip-Top, Move in Ready
3BR/2BA Single Family House
offered at $168,900
Year Built 1989
Sq Footage 1,425
Bedrooms 3
Bathrooms 2 full, 0 partial
Floors Unspecified
Parking Unspecified
Lot Size Unspecified
HOA/Maint $0 per month


Exceptionally well cared for brick home on Whitemarsh Island. Home sits on corner, elevated lot, with mature shrubbery.

123 Mapmaker Lane features 2 car garage with automatic doors, fresh carpet and paint, indoor laundry room, master suite with walk in closet, dual vanities.

Guest rooms are bright with ample closet space.

Home is shown by appointment any time!

direct: 912.224.0460


Victory Drive/HWY 80 East to Battery Point.
Entrance is Mapmaker Lane
Look for 123 on the left.

see additional photos below

– Central A/C – Central heat – Fireplace
– High/Vaulted ceiling – Walk-in closet – Living room
– Breakfast nook – Stove/Oven – Laundry area – inside
– Yard



Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5

Photo 6
Contact info:
Erin Rowley
Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners
912 224 0460
For sale by agent/broker

powered by postlets Equal Opportunity Housing
Posted: Sep 22, 2009, 8:19am PDT

Mitsubishi Plant, this Realtor loves you!

22 Sep

Mitsubishi PwrSys

Big news this week. Governor Sonny Perdue, along with MPSA Senior Vice President Dave Walsh,  announced yesterday that Mitsubishi will begin construction on 119 acres of the mega site, in 2009. This is great news for our local economy. Mitsubishi will begin hiring in 2010, and is expecting to fill 500 positions.

Mitsubishi will produce advanced steam and gas turbines on the site, and will also service turbines and related components for power generation. The Pooler plant, which will be constructed in three phases, will serve the company’s customers in North and South America.

In Phase Two, Mitsubishi will build service capabilities to support turbine rotor, rotor balancing, valve and other large component repairs and upgrades for gas and steam turbines.

During the third and final phase, the company will manufacture and assemble the next generation of high-efficiency, low-emission gas turbines.

2009 Jazz Festival

21 Sep

ben tuckerIt’s that time again. We are celebrating the 28th Jazz Festival this week around Savannah. The festival kicked off yesterday at Blowin’ Smoke BBQ and will continue through Sunday September 27, 2009.

Tonight a film will be presented at Blowin’ Smoke that details the story of Nica Rothschild’s discovery of Jazz music and her friendship with Thelonius Monk.

The Line Up

Ben Tucker & Mose Allison
Eric Culberson
Grace Kelly
Howard Paul
International Groove Conspiracy
The Fly Cats
Groove 8

Friday night is the big Jazz in the Park, presented at Forsyth park. Get there early, bring a picnic, and listen to the cool sounds floating in the cool breeze.

The what’s & where’s of the 28th Savannah Jazz Festival Here….

Bonus Time

17 Sep

I have had some serious reductions on my listings this week! Over $89,000!

100 Stephens Drive ( a beautiful brick, 4 bedroom/3 bath with bonus home theater) was $335,000 is NOW $299,900.

81 Cooper’s Lane (an elegant combination brick with 4 bedrooms/3 baths + over sized bonus) was $260,000 Now $240,000!

11409 Colleen Drive ( a mid century modern brick ranch w 3 or 4 bedrooms) was $157,100 is NOW $149,000.

275 Barrister Circle ( a sweet low country home on 1/2 acre 4/2.5) started at $149,000 and is NOW $144,000.

1834 Hale Street (a renovated  Gordonston area bungalow) was $161,000 and is now $130,000!


So, for anyone who brings me a contract on any of my listings from today through October 31 (Realtor or not)… I will give you your choice of :

1. A dinner for two at the restaurant of your choice ( Ruth’s Chris, Local 11Ten, Garibaldi, etc)

2. A couple’s massage at Vanilla Day Spa (or comparable service of your choosing)

3. An American Express Gift Card

My seller’s are all very serious and anxious to sell. Help me help them!

Email me or Call anytime!

The Landings

10 Sep

The Landings is an exclusive, gated community with it’s own zip code!. Set against the background of coastal Georgia (Skidaway Island) with 6 golf courses throughout ( designed by Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio, Arthur Hills, and Willard Byrd) , this is a lifestyle community to say the least. The amenities include 2 marinas, 3 tennis facilities, fitness center, 4 swimming pools, 40 miles walking/biking trails, dog park and fine dining. Home prices start in the 300’s, and lots are still available.

Short Sale 101

30 Aug

house short saleWhat exactly is a short sale in real estate?

A short sale occurs when the seller owes more on the property than it is worth, does not have the means to pay the difference, and the bank agrees to accept LESS than a full payoff for the amount owed. In such cases, the seller must demonstrate a genuine financial hardship.

Banks lose LESS money on short sales than they lose on foreclosures. Therefore, they have a logical reason to accept a short sale, especially if the sale price is close to the current market value of the property, and it appears that a foreclosure may be likely. The amount owed is not the determining factor. What is important? The fact that the property is worth less than what is owed, and that the seller has a GENUINE FINANCIAL HARDSHIP. These are the two qualifications that are necessary. The fact that the property is worth less than what is owed does not automatically qualify the owner for a short sale by itself.


Some financial hardship examples include: loss of job, business failure, damage to the property, death of a spouse, death of family members, severe illness, inheritance (when the property is inherited with a mortgage the heirs cannot pay), divorce, mandatory job relocation, medical bills, military service, payment increase, insurance or tax increase, reduced income, separation, too much debt, incarceration.

Sellers do not have to pay the Realtor’s commission or closing costs in a short sale. These funds come from the sale of the property, and this is made possible by the fact that the lender is taking less than what is owed.

Sellers are NOT ALLOWED to receive any funds from the sale of the property. After all, the lender is agreeing to take less than what is owed by the borrower. This often amounts to losses of 100’s of thousands of dollars on a single mortgage. Weigh the cost of the seller renting a moving truck against the repayment of the mortgage balance and it will quickly become evident who is benefiting the most from a successful short sale – the seller!

If you are considering a short sale as a seller or buyer, please contact me so that we can discuss your unique situation.


The Historic Landmark District

27 Aug

The original city plan was developed by General Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe’s plan consisted of 6 original wards; with a public square at the center of each– and eventually grew to 24 squares. The Historic District is bounded by the Savannah River on the North, Gaston on the South, and East Broad and MLK on sides. The architecture in this area ranges from brick row houses, high style Regency designs, Gothic, Queen Anne, & Greek Revivals. Many of these dwellings have been preserved or restored and command a much higher price tag.

The home in the picture has 3 kitchens, 5 bedrooms, and can function as a very large home, or 3 separate residences. The best part– it’s under $850,000!


The Victorian District

27 Aug

The Victorian District

Is an area developed from 1870 to 1910. In 1869 a streetcar system was installed. The boundaries are roughly East Broad on the East, MLK on the West, Anderson Lane on the South and Gwinett St. on the North. It is here where we start to notice the lack of parks or square between the grids, and have the patch of grass between street and sidewalk, and small gardens in front of the homes. The homes here are beautifully embellished with ornate details. Sadly, with the mass production of the automobile, also cam a depression in the area as residents were able to drive out to suburban areas. However, active revitalization is underway. Prices in the area vary.

Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners Commercial is Top Ranked in Nation

27 Aug


Coldwell Banker Commercial Platinum Partners ranked first of 13 Coldwell Banker Commercial offices in Georgia and 28th of 254 Coldwell Banker Commercial offices nationally.

“We are very honored for the recognition as a top office, especially with the challenges that the current market poses. This ranking exemplifies our dedication to the foremost tools, trainings, and technologies which help our clients in the Commercial sector,” said Jeff Farmer, Commercial Director of Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners.

Coldwell Banker Commercial Platinum Partners is a sister company to Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners. It is a full service commercial real estate company with local coverage spanning from Beaufort, S.C., through the greater Savannah area to St. Simons Island.

For more information call 912. 224.0460

Happy Birthday Leopold’s!

20 Aug

LeopoldsIceCream1LargeUnless you have been living under a rock in the city limits of Savannah Georgia, you know who and what Leopold’s is. For those of you new-comer’s, let me explain..

In 1919, Peter, George & Basil Leopold set up shop as an ice cream shop downtown at the corner of Gwinett and Habersham. It was here that Peter refined his knowledge of ice cream making, to the delight of any American. The ice cream shop was in full swing for about 50 years, with regulars such as the famed Johnny Mercer! The centennial of Mercer’s birth is being celebrated in Savannah this year, and Leopold’s has developed a special flavor of ice cream, Huckleberry Cheesecake, in his honor.

Stratton Leopold took the helm when his father and one of his uncles passed away.  Savannah saw  a dark day, when Stratton closed Leopold’s to pursue his dream as a movie producer in Los Angeles.  After some time, Stratton was taking up residence in both cities. It was then that locals saw the opportunity to shamelessly beg for Stratton to re open the beloved ice cream shop.

And so, he did. In 2004 Leopold’s was back in business at a new location, 212 E. Broughton Street! The new store was designed by Academy Award-nominated designer Dan Lomino, who incorporated many original fixtures, including the soda fountain, at the new location.

This weekend is the Celebration! There will be specials, including 90 cent ice cream and sodas, that will be available Saturday from 11-11.  There will be birthday cake at 3:30, and live music,and dancing.

Be there, or be square!

Loggerhead Turtles have Hatched!

15 Aug

turtleThe second reported nest of  Loggerhead Turtles hatched on Tybee Island late Thursday night.  By Friday morning, 99 baby loggerheads made their way down the beach and into the ocean.  Some of them needed a little help, but they all made it.

Logger head nests are down this year from last year, a common trend here in Georgia and throughout the Nation.  Last year in Georgia, there were 1,646 nests identified, down to only 938 this year.  Of those numbers, Tybee Island had six of those nests in 2008, versus only two so far this year.

First Time Buyer Tax Credit: Advance Topic “Monetization”

14 Aug

creditI’m sure by now, everyone has heard about the Federal First Time Buyer Tax Credit. You know, the free $8,000 you can get back at tax time if you purchase a home as a first time buyer? There are a few other pieces of information that are worth a mention. But first, let me recap the basics of the Federal First Time Buyer Tax Credit, aka American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:

  • The tax credit is for first-time home buyers only. For the tax credit program, the IRS defines a first-time home buyer as someone who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase.
  • The tax credit does not have to be repaid.

  • The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.

  • The credit is available for homes purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.

  • Single taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000 qualify for the full tax credit.

So now that we’ve gone through the refresher, let’s talk about some “advanced” topics regarding the credit. Have you heard of monetization? In relation to the credit, it’s the idea that we can turn the credit into actual cash money. An advance on the anticipated credit. On Friday, May 29, HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2009-15, which outlines the requirements that must be met in order to monetize the first-time home buyer tax credit.

The tax credit can be monetized in two ways:

  • Qualified individuals (Government) may advance the anticipated credit by creating a second lien (a second “loan” against the property to be purchased).
  • FHA-approved lenders may purchase the anticipated tax credit from a home buyer.


  • The borrower does NOT get cash back
  • The second lien cannot be greater than the sum of the down payment, closing costs, and prepaid expenses.
  • Payments to repay the advance do not have to be counted in the home buyer’s qualifying ratios as long as the payment is deferred at least 36 months from closing.

Which means  you will be able to use the advance to pay closing costs or other expenses, like escrows.

The Downside

The FHA’s required 3.5 percent minimum down payment must still come from the home buyer’s own funds and cannot include any of the money from advancing the credit. Which means you have to get together your own cash for a down payment when using an FHA loan. The only way to get around it is getting a “gift”.  That’s a whole other topic, though. 😉

So as always, I encourage you as a home buyer, to do your homework. Get with a lender and a Realtor. Realize that some people may tell you no along the way, but if you don’t A-S-K, you don’t G-E-T.

Good Luck!

The USDA Loan Program

13 Aug


The first time I heard someone mention a USDA loan, it threw me for a loop. I thought about it for a second, and the only inference I could make is that the USDA is the government regulatory agency for farmers. So, I assumed it was a loan program just for farmers and acreage. I was wrong.  Actually, the USDA loan program is one designed to stimulate the development in “rural” areas, but it’s open to anyone who wants to buy a single family home.

By definition, the USDA loan is a government insured loan program that is designed to make qualifying areas more affordable. In relation to Savannah, anything in Chatham or Effingham County, so long as it’s West of I-95, qualifies.  Stop and think about that folks. That means that a huge chunk of Pooler qualifies, as well as Port Wentworth, Rincon, Guyton, and Springfield. Now that you know where you can get this loan, let’s look at some other qualifications.

  • The USDA loan is considered “100% financing“, which means you don’t have to put any money down. This has the potential to be great! In many cases, you can buy a home for less than what you pay in rent.
  • There is no mortgage insurance premium, like there would be with an FHA loan. ( This is money that is paid into escrow to insure your lender against loss or default on your loan).
  • There is no maximum loan amount. As long as your income and credit can support it, there is no cap on the amount of your loan.
  • Think your credit score is in the can and you can’t qualify? All you need is a credit score of 580 to qualify.
  • ALL USDA loans are 30 year FIXED at whatever the current market rate is.  Today is 5.26% for example.
  • You can purchase re-sell or new construction properties.
  • You may even get approved with Chapter 7 bankruptcy!

There are some downsides to the program:

  • There are income limitations. These limitations are based on your income, and number of people in the household.
  • Also, I think it’s wise to plan to stay in your home a minimum of 3-5 years. At that point, you may have enough equity in the home to move up.

Not to worry though. It’s a great opportunity for many people to purchase a home that aren’t cash friendly. Despite what the media reports, real estate is still a very sound investment, as long as you go about it the right way. Be responsible. Do some investigating. Speak to lenders and get the help of a Realtor!

USDA Home Loans in Washington