Lake Martin Area Real Estate News, Market Trends & Other Awesome Tid-Bits:

You'll find my blog to be a wealth of information; covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That's because I care about the Lake Martin community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. I'd love to talk with you!

Dec. 3, 2018

Kara's Ultimate Christmas Movie Checklist- A Lake Martin REALTOR

Lake Martin Christmas Movie Checklist

PRINT THE ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS MOVIE CHECKLIST HERE!

 

NEED A PLACE TO WATCH CHRISTMAS MOVIES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? CHECK OUT THESE LAKE MARTIN HOMES UNDER $250K

Posted in Community Events
Dec. 3, 2018

6 Ways to Budget and Save For The Holidays on Lake Martin

6 Ways to budget and save during the holidays around lake martin

Posted in Investing
Dec. 3, 2018

5 Reasons to List Your Lake Martin Home This Holiday Season

5 Reasons to List Your Lake Martin Home During the Holidays

Dec. 3, 2018

Should I Wait Until Spring to List My Lake Martin Area Home?

Should you wait until Spring to sell your home. The most common answer would be YES. I mean, think about it. The weather is nice, everyone is getting out and about, and the flower and trees are green, which makes for nice curb appeal. Seems the answer is obvious. But, what if I told you that the handful of buyers that are able to buy your home now might not be able to purchase your home in the Spring. 

So here's how it works.....

Buyers seek out a lender. Current mortgage rate right now is about 4.5. They turn in all their information: check stubs, loan amounts, payoffs, etc. The lender then determines their debt to income ratio and then tells the buyer based on all that info how much home they can afford. Now let's imagine the magic number the lender gave the buyer is how much your home is worth today. Great! 

But you didn't list your home...

Below is a chart of how rates are projected to rise in 2019. The interest rate in April '19 is projected to be about 5.09.

Those serious buyers, the ones searching for homes on top off all the added holiday stress, the ones willing to get out in the cold, are no longer able to purchase your home. 

According to my research, an estimated 52 homes will be sold in our small Lake Martin community in the month of December. The odds of your home being one is zero if your home is not on the market. 

 

How does your home compare to other homes that are currently listed in Lake Martin?

See the list of 3+ bedroom, 2+ bath homes currently active and a list of homes under contract HERE.

Nov. 15, 2018

Lake Martin Realtor®'s Role in the Mortgage Application Process

If you are new to the home buying process, there are a few things you should know. If you find yourself running off to find a lender before you check in with your Lake Martin Realtor®, you may be missing out on one the most valuable services that agent has to offer:

Given the mortgage represents the cost of the most expensive acquisition most people will ever complete, it's key to get the assistance of an experienced home financing expert.

Don't get me wrong, the lender is a key player during the application process and, of course, when it comes down to funding the loan, but a Realtor® can be the main point person when it comes to helping you prepare for the mortgage application. 

While many people believe the Realtor®'s role is solely to act as a tour guide to help them find their dream home, they typically won't start giving home tours until a mortgage is pre-approved. A Realtor® likes to know you are a serious home buyer and that you have the money to purchase a home. 

The first thing you should know is...

Your Lake Martin Realtor can initially help you get all your ducks in a row, including some of the most important first crucial documents - the credit report and credit score.

Now-a-days, you can easily monitor your credit score and view your credit report for free at CreditKarma.com. Your credit report will reveal if there are any errors or problems that could affect your application. Your Realtor® can go over the report and score with you to develop a strategy to improve your credit score, correct errors or take other steps, if necessary, to put your report and score in the best light before the lender gets its hands on it. Your credit report will also help steer you to the least expensive financing you can find, based on your score and other factors.

Beyond good credit, you will need proper documentation of employment, income, debt-to-income ratios, savings accounts, down payment sources and other mortgage qualifying factors. Your Realtor® can let you in on the things you will need to have handy before you fill out the application. 

And now....

So, there are many types of loan options for you as a home buyer. And many of those offer zero down options especially if this is your first time. A Realtor® can educate you on these types of mortgages and together you can compare banks and mortgage brokers. 

Once a Realtor® has intimate knowledge of your mortgage profile, they can refer you to a lender most likely to approve the mortgage.You always have the option of shopping around for the best rate and other terms, but a Realtor®'s recommendation warrants consideration.

A local mortgage broker backed up with refinances, inexperienced in the latest guidelines or slow handling contingencies, also can be bad news. Your Realtor® knows who's best at handling certain mortgages and can help you find the right lender for your situation. 

 

In the market for a new home this Fall?
See the Top 10 Homes Currently Listed in Lake Martin!

 

 

Nov. 12, 2018

Food4Thought: November

 
 
This week, I'm sharing a recipe for a decadent Faux-Tisserie Chicken paired with scrumptious Twice-baked Sweet Potatoes with brown sugar, pecans, and marshmallows, Green Bean Casserole with BACON, because isn't everything better with bacon,  and an easy Apple Dessert Pizza with cream cheese frosting! Who wants a BONUS treat: Kombucha Cider Smash!

Bon Appetite!
Your Real Estate Queen

'Tis the season to be THANKFUL!
 
 

Faux-Tisserie Chicken

 

By Serena Wolf, author of The Dude Diet

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 ( 3 1/2-4 ) pound whole chicken
  • 5 cloves whole garlic smashed
  • 1/2 lemon quartered
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kitchen twine

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Remove the giblets from the cavity of your chicken, then rinse the chicken thoroughly with water, and dry it well with paper towels. Stuff the cavity with garlic and lemon quarters.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, brown sugar, chili powder, black pepper, garlic powder, and cumin.
  4. Carefully run your fingers under the skin on the breast of your bird. Rub the breast underneath the skin with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and teaspoon of the spice mixture. Rub the remaining 2 tablespoons olive on the chicken's skin, and season the bird all over with the remaining spice mixture. When you're finished with the spicing, tie the legs together with kitchen twine and place the bird breast side up in an oven poof skillet or roasting pan (your choice!).
  5. Roast the chicken for 2 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours (depending on the size of your bird), basting at the 1 1/2- and 2 1/2 hour marks (no need for a baster- just spoon any juices in the pan over the bird) or until the meat is very tender and the skin is dark brown. (Don't panic if the skin has blackened in some spots. That's a good thing.)
  6. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
 

Better Than Your Mom's Bacon & Green Bean Casserole

 

By TERI

INGREDIENTS
  • 48 oz can cut green beans drained
  • 6 pieces of bacon cooked crispy and crumbled
  • 1 10.5 oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese divided
  • 1 cup french onions
  • 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 x 12 baking dish with non stick spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the beans, bacon, soup, half of the cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Stir well.
  3. Transfer to the baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and onions.
  4. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until the top is golden and bubbly.
 

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar, Pecans, and Marshmallows

 

By Rachael White

INGREDIENTS
  • 5 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • pinch of salt

for the topping: 

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the sweet potatoes, cut side down, on the parchment and roast for 30 minutes or until tender.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the topping (except the marshmallows) in a small bowl.
  3. When the sweet potatoes are done roasting, take them out and let them cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh with a melon baller, taking care not to poke any holes in the skin. Collect the potato flesh in a medium bowl and set aside and return the skins to the baking sheet, cut side up this time.
  4. Combine the sweet potato flesh with the egg and salt. Mash with a potato masher or fork until well combined and fluffy. Do not overwork the mixture.
  5. Scoop the filling into the potato skins, dividing it evenly. Use your fingers to sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon topping over each potato.
  6. Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes until the topping is melty. After removing the potatoes, preheat the broiler on low and move a rack to the top third of the oven.
  7. Top each potato with marshmallows.
  8. Return to the oven and bake until the marshmallows are golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them in this stage so the marshmallows don't burn.
  9. Serve immediately.
 

Apple Dessert Pizza with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

 

By Sally

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour, spoon & leveled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping

  • 1/3 cup (40g) chopped walnuts, such as Diamond of California chopped walnuts
  • 2 medium apples, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces (224g) brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) store-bought or homemade caramel sauce, divided

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Make the crust: In large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Add sugar, then beat on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Once completely combined, cover dough tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 1 day. Without chilling, cookie dough will spread over sides of pan.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Toast the walnuts for 10 minutes on a lined baking sheet. Set aside to cool.
  3. Turn oven up to 350°F (177°C). Generously grease a 12-inch pizza pan. Remove chilled cookie dough from refrigerator and press onto pan to form a flat circle. Leave a 2-inch space from the edge. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Allow crust to cool completely before decorating.
  4. As you make frosting, soak apple slices in club soda to help prevent browning.
  5. Make frosting: In medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and ¼ cup caramel sauce. Beat for 2 minutes until completely combined. Spread over cooled crust.
  6. Decorate with apple slices, remaining caramel sauce, and toasted walnuts. Cut into slices and serve. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  7. Make ahead tip: Prepare the cookie crust 1 day in advance; cover tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready to decorate. You can also store the prepared cookie dough (for the crust) in the refrigerator for up to 1 day-- see step 1.
 
Bonus:

Kombucha Cider Smash

 

By Jessica, How Sweet Eats

INGREDIENTS

cinnamon apples

  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider

kombucha smash

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon apples
  • 2 ounces gold tequila
  • 2 ounces apple cider
  • 4 ounces ginger kombucha
  • coarse sugar + cinnamon for the rim, if desired

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

cinnamon apples

Place the apples, cinnamon and cider in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the apples and soft and tender and almost falling apart. Remove and let cool. Store in the fridge if you make these before.

kombucha smash

If desired, you can rub a little honey on the rim of a glass and dip it in cinnamon sugar. I did this for only 1/4 of the rim!

Add the apples into the glass and pour the tequila over top. Smash and mix the apples with the tequila until they are almost pureed. You can do this with a fork or back of a spoon. Add crushed ice to the glass. Add the cider and stir well. Top it off with the kombucha. Gently stir before serving.

 

If you're in the market for a "fresh" start, be sure to give me a call! I would be absolutely delighted to show you the Lake Martin, AL area and give you the inside scoop into the Lake Martin real estate market!

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Nov. 6, 2018

7 WAYS TO BUY A HOME WITH LITTLE OR NO MONEY IN LAKE MARTIN

Guest: Julia McCreight Ameris Bank


The economy is strong, rates are still good, and the real estate industry is hot. For people wanting to purchase a home but struggling to scrape up the down payment, there is hope. Many people in the Lake Martin area are aware that they do not need a 20% down payment. But, what you might not be aware of is that there are many programs available that require little to no money down. Below are seven ways for buyers with limited funds to participate in the dream of home ownership. 


1. USDA Rural Housing Loans

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development department offers 100% financing for homes located in rural areas. A borrower would pay a one-time guarantee fee that can be rolled into the loan amount, and an annual fee that is added to the monthly payment. There are restrictions based on income and location. 


2. VA Loans

The Veterans Administration offers a 100% financing loan for military service members. Eligible members include veterans, reservists, active duty personnel, and select family members. This loan features flexible credit requirements, no down payment requirement and no mortgage insurance requirement. It also allows down payment assistance and closing costs funds to come from a gift or grant. 


3. What is Step Up?

 Step Up is a homeownership program designed specifically for moderate-income home buyers who can afford a mortgage, but need help with the down payment. The down payment funds are secured by a 10-year second mortgage and are combined with a 30-year, fixed-rate first mortgage. Since the loans are serviced by ServiSolutions, a division of AHFA, homeowners have only one check to write each month. 

Program participants must complete a homebuyer education course to qualify. Participants who earn less than $97,300 are eligible for the Step Up program, regardless of household size or location. 


Additional Information and Qualifications:


 • HFA Preferred conventional or HFA loans only

 • 3% down payment assistance available through Step Up 

 • For new or existing homes in Alabama 

 • Homebuyers must have a credit score of 620 or higher

 • Debt to income ratio must be 45% or lower

 • Homebuyers must complete a homeownership education course.


4. Ameris Doctor Loan

Ameris Bank offers the Ameris Doctor loan which provides up to 100% financing with no Private Mortgage Insurance. Eligible for these loans are MDs, DOs, dentists, pharmacists, and veterinarians (including residents and fellows). Because of the unique needs of medical

professionals, this loan takes into account the needed flexibility surrounding student loan debt, time on the job, and down payment requirement. 


5. Down Payment Assistance Programs

Many state and county government agencies provide down payment assistance. These come in the form of grants or second mortgages that are forgivable or repayable. Your down payment assistance funds are forgiven over a predetermined length of time that you own the home when using a forgivable grant or second mortgage. Repayable grants or second mortgages offer the buyer a chance to borrow the down payment, which can be payed back over time at an affordable interest rate.

The funds can range from a few thousand dollars to several thousand dollars towards down payment and closing cost assistance. You could use the assistance to subsidize the down payment needed for a 97% conventional or FHA loan. However, many of these programs have income restrictions, so check with your local Ameris Bank mortgage banker (or your local state and county government agencies) for eligibility requirements.


6. HomeReady or Home Possible Mortgage Loans

These loans are conventional loans that are ideal for borrowers with limited savings. They require only a 3% down payment and allow this down payment and closing costs to be gifted. Additionally, these loans offer reduced rates on Private Mortgage Insurance (which is required). Once 20% home equity is reached, Private Mortgage Insurance for conventional loans can be cancelled (Unlike FHA loans). You could save money over the length of the loan this way. For income qualifications and more details visit HomeReady by Fannie Mae or HomePossible by FreddieMac.


7. FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loans

FHA loans are one of the most flexible loan programs available, because:

 

o There are no income restrictions

o They only require 3.5% down (which can be gifted)

o A co-applicant is allowed, even though they may not live in the home with you.

 

This loan charges an upfront fee which can be rolled into the loan amount. It does require mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance on an FHA loan cannot be removed and stays on the loan for the life of the loan. 


The information voiced in this material is for general information and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

 

 

See what houses you can qualify for in the Lake Martin Area!

Check it out Lake Martin Homes For Sale Here:

 

 

Nov. 4, 2018

What's the role of your Lake Martin REALTOR®?

Buying or selling your Lake Martin area home could quite possibly be the largest financial investment you make. There are things you need to think about: financing, appraisals, zoning regulations, short sales, repairs, and more. As a Lake Martin area REALTOR®, I am here to help. Here's some info on understanding your options. 

 

REAL ESTATE AGENTS AND REALTORS®

What's the difference? REALTORS® must meet stricter education requirements, more than what is required by law. What holds a REALTOR® to a higher standard? The Code of Ethics. That's why only REALTORS® are allowed to use the famous Realtor® "R". 

Your Lake Martin area Realtor® is committed to protecting your interests throughout the entire transaction with the integrity, honor, professionalism, and expertise that meets the high standards set by the "Realtor®" name. 

Your Realtor® is your local real estate market expert and also a trusted adviser that can help you navigate a complex transaction. 

WHAT CAN A REALTOR® DO FOR YOU?

As a home buyer your REALTOR® can.....

  • help you determine how much home you can afford
  • explain financing options and help you find the right loan
  • assist in your home search through the local MLS, or with houses you find through Realtor.com
  • provide objective data about each property- including helping find information you might not realize is available
  • provide negotiation expertise, and help resolve any issues that arise with the seller that could delay closing or void the contract 
  • help you get and understand any homeowner association documents
  • coordinate appraisals and other issues your lender may require
  • help you determine what inspections are necessary, such as for dry rot, asbestos, and mold, and the condition of the roof and septic tank-just to name a few. 
  • explain earnest money deposits, escrow accounts and closing costs
  • go on a final walk-through to make sure everything is in order and any repairs have been made properly 
  • work with you and the seller's agent to reach a smooth and problem-free closing 

As a home seller...

  • go over the market conditions to help you set the right price for your home based on everything from size and condition to recent sales in your neighborhood
  • find the best places to market your property-including the local MLS and other channels that may not be available to the general public
  • help prepare or "stage" your home for sale by suggesting small improvements that can make a big difference-everything from arranging furniture to choosing the right paint color
  • take professional photos and video and make sure they're included in your home's advertising
  • coordinate inspections, appraisals, and other issues to ensure a smooth closing
  • provide negotiating expertise, and help resolve any issues that arise with the buyer that could delay closing or void the contract
  • work with you and the buyer's agent to reach a smooth and problem-free closing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*information obtained from National Association of REALTORS®

Find your Lake Martin Area Home Now!

 

Nov. 1, 2018

Your November Lake Martin Home Checklist

November brings in cooler weather in the Lake Martin Area, so it's the perfect time for you to check some things off your To-Do list. Don't have a Fall To-Do list? Here's a list for you to get started!

() Put up backyard bird feeders. Once freezing temperatures set in, hang suet blocks. 

() Set up a squirrel feeding station. These will deter those pesky rodents from raiding your bird feeders. 

() Buy a table runner, place mats, and nice linen napkins that match. Tis the season for entertaining!

() Add weather-stripping around drafty windows and doors. 

() Clean your eaves troughs and downspouts; wait until all the leaves have fallen, first!

() Decorate your mantel. Choose reflective, pre-holiday accents like mercury glass accessories, mirrored frames and silver pieces. Add a pair of tiny evergreens or cut branches in vases. 

() Clean out your medicine cabinet, bathroom and vanity drawers.

Doing these little things this month will surely leave you feeling fulfilled this holiday season!

 

 

Feeling cramped in your current home? Start your searching for your new Lake Martin Area home today! It's not too late. You can be in your new home by Christmas!

Check out these homes under $150k!

Check out these homes under $250k!

Oct. 16, 2018

DIY Rustic Charm on Lake Martin

The rustic look is most definitely what’s in style right now with many on trend homes embracing a modern vintage theme. Lake homes as well as off water homes in the Lake Martin Area has have definitely embraced this unique trend. Old school glamour and rustic quirky furniture encapsulates all that we love about vintage style. Although vintage style may seem costly, one can achieve these affordable looks by simply using resources and vintage items found right in our own backyards as well as items and accessories found in second hand stores. Which, there are several in our area!

Rustic charm can be achieved with carefully selected furniture both large and small along with the right accessories. Be as creative and imaginative as you like when selecting your vintage pieces this will allow you to create a truly unique design in your home. If you’re sold on the idea of a vintage style home read on to check out simple tips on ways to introduce a vintage theme into your home.

rustic charm on lake martin

Statement wallpaper

When creating your vintage, rustic style its best to create a specific focal point in your room wherever that may be so you don’t overpower the entire space. Wallpaper is a great way to easily create a feature and can create a fun, striking look without being overbearing. Look for patterned wallpaper such as a shabby chic floral print or a 70’s geo metric style to create the perfect vibe.

Geo prints or even tartan are great if you’re after a retro vibe. These wallpapers are often the perfect way to inject some color into your room. Try adding an animal print to bring out country charm in the kitchen.

 

Rustic Furniture

Rustic style furniture is the ultimate in vintage styling. Exposed brickwork and natural wooden beams are a desirable look that many of us wish we had unfortunately we’re not all lucky enough to enjoy the luxury of these natural features. However, all is not lost as there are many ways to include rustic pieces with fairly minimal effort.

Wooden shelving and plaques or distressed units have a very similar effect without having to make any drastic changes. Allow these pieces to truly stand out by adding subtle accessories around them and position them against a natural wash wall. Ensure the room receives lots of light and instantly you will feel a vintage vibe with the illusion of very minimal effort.

 

Mirrors

We believe no room is complete without the addition of a mirror. If you’re looking to create a vintage feel a specific kind of mirror should be used. There are 2 specific types of mirrors that can be used to create a charming vintage feel. The first is more of an elegant vintage style; think elaborate frames and lavish ornate detailing.

However, if this is too overpowering you can always go down the route of a subtler vintage feel such as wooden distressed frames and natural pale colors. Whichever style you select if you piece with other vintage accessories or even on a quirky wallpapered wall a mirror will increase light and space and complement the overall feel of your living space.

 

Accessories

Every room requires subtle accessories which help tie the design together. When considering vintage accessories think outside the box. Quirky pieces such as a lamp or even a patterned cushion can all add pops of style to your living space. If you’re into DIY you can even create the accessories yourself. Choose some retro fabric and craft your own cushion, pillow case or throw for your living room or bedroom.

Consider everything even down to the smallest items such as your tea cups and lamp shades. Switching up your lamp shade to a striking geo metric print or adding a new retro cup to your dining room table set can all contribute to the vintage vibe. Whatever accessories you choose continuing the theme throughout your room will gradually create the vintage feel you’re after.

So, you see, achieving the look is easy, even for the first timer! Let me show you some Lake Martin homes that just scream rustic charm!

Check out these waterfront homes on Lake Martin.

 

DO YOU DIY IN THE LAKE MARTIN AREA?