Category Archives: Forsyth County

Forsyth County

Energy Independence vs. Homeowners Associations

Recently, I went to a Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce event at a local company, Solar Energy USA of Atlanta.  Back in my teen years, I actually won the Grand Award at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair with a project based around solar energy.  That win allowed me to compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair, which was a phenomenal experience because it brought me to my first encounters with science vs. human emotion / established industry / etc.

During my conversations with some of the folks at Solar Energy USA, I found that photovoltaics have advanced a LOT in the last 25+ years.  We also had a discussion about homeowner’s associations, including mine at Polo Golf & Country Club.

Lo and behold, just a few weeks after that conversation, Vickery Lakes subdivision in Cumming, Georgia is in ABC News regarding this exact subject.  Here’s the article here.

As a former high school debater, I could take either side of this story, gather some evidence and argue my case passionately.  I’m not going to do that here, but I would like your opinions and thoughts just to gauge the general feeling on the subject.  You can comment here at or go to my Facebook Page and comment on the thread there as well.  If you’d like to check out the discussion on the Georgia Tech forum, just go to The Hive.

Top Subdivisions in Sales for 2011

I was curious about the top selling mid-range communities in Forsyth County, so I ran a search in FMLS for subdivisions in Cumming, Georgia with home sales during the 2011 calendar year, having 4+ bedrooms and selling between $200,000 and $400,000.  Here’s the top 5 (with ties):

1) Windermere – 15 Sales

2) Fieldstone (all sections) – 13 Sales

3) Polo Golf & Country Club (all sections) – 11 Sales

3) Thorngate – 11 Sales

4) Evans Farm – 10 Sales

5) Green Summers – 9 Sales

5) Jamestown – 9 Sales

Each of these communities had foreclosures and short sales as part of the volume.

Leaky Faucets? Here’s a fix.

From the ages of 7 to 18, I worked in our family plumbing & electrical supplies store.  During that time, I saw lots of DIY (Do It Yourselfers) come in needing help with some issue.  With leaky faucets, especially these days, a full replacement just isn’t necessary.  Usually, the problem is one of the following or a combination: O-ring(s), seat, spring(s) or a stem.  Find the model of your faucet, at the very least get the manufacturer.  Turn the water off and remove the innards of the faucet.  You might want to consult Google or Youtube for a video on taking it apart.  You’d be surprised how many are available.  Then, take the innards to your local hardware or plumbing store and ask someone for help.  Since you already have it apart, I would replace as much inside as possible.  Trying to assemble / disassemble & test to see what’s the problem just isn’t worth the time, and you may be causing more damage tan necessary.  If there’s a complete repair kit, buy that and install it.  One little tip, a little white grease never hurts around O-rings.  Ask the store employee first, though.  Yes, you may have a little grease coming out of the faucet when you first use it, but it can do wonders to make things work smoothly and seal things up.

Sometimes Mutts are the Best Dogs

Back when my beloved black Lab, Buster, passed away, we didn’t look for a replacement for quite a while.  We wanted a smaller dog than the 110lb small horse that Buster was.  We looked at breeds, etc. and had made a decision.  So, before we went and picked out a pup, we stopped by the local PetSmart to get some supplies.  That day, the Humane Society of Forsyth County was having a pet adoption day.

While this varied off our carefully planned route, a particular dog, Simon really took a liking to my wife.  We talked about it awhile and talked to the representative about his situation (some previous abuse), house training, etc. and decided to take a little leap of faith.  Because we thought his old name of Simon may retain some feelings from his former family, we decided to name him Petey (as a nickname for Peter and as a reference to the Biblical transformation of Simon Peter).   Since the day we brought him home, he has totally infused himself into our family.  Not only is he a fantastic guard dog, he’s by far the most well-trained member of the household.

So, if you’re in the market for a companion, he/she might be waiting for you right now.

Humane Society of Forsyth County

(770) 889-1365 or (770) 887-6480


First Quarter 2011 Dominated by Foreclosures

This article does a great job explaining the problem of foreclosures in the market, how they affect home prices and how long we still have to go.

Terminate and Release to Save the Sale

I do a fair amount of training in our offices regarding personality profiles, sales psychology, etc.  A while back, I had a buyer who loved my listing, made an offer and had the inspection done.  She got cold feet and wanted to terminate her offer.  At first, the impulse is to fight and save the deal.  Instead, I had my client do the opposite.

I called them and let them know the whole situation, why the buyer wanted to walk, etc.  I also explained to them that I was going to allow this buyer to quickly get what she wants, give her a week to calm down and then see if I could save it.

Sure enough, we got her the T&R paperwork within hours, which relieved the pressure of her cold feet.  I didn’t communicate with anyone for about a week.  On Monday morning, I called the buyer and asked her if she had seen anything better than my listing over the weekend.  She said no.  I let her know that she wasn’t the only one looking for a home of this quality in this location and that it wouldn’t last much longer.  I empathized with the home buying process she was going through and all the emotions that entails.  After a calm conversation, I asked her if she would like to consider re-engaging.  I told her the sellers understood her situation, etc. and there would be no bad blood.

In the end, we got the deal done and everyone was happy, which is the whole point of real estate – creating Win-Win-Win situations.

Are Buyers Waiting in the Weeds?

I’ve been watching something the last 60 days that I’ve personally decided may be a trend here in Cumming, Forsyth County, Georgia.

I’ve noted several examples of this phenomenon, but I’ll use one property as an example.  I listed this two-story, late 90’s build home with a finished terrace level last September for $365,000.  The home is very well maintained, has a great back yard with both a sun deck and a screened porch.  The owner told me that they wanted to go ahead and get on the market, but really wasn’t going to be motivated to sell until Spring 2011.  After a few showings, we reduced the price to $350,000 sometime in late 2010.  All through the listing period, the property received at least one showing a week, with a little lull during the Holidays. 

The only negative about this property is that it has a steep driveway up to the garage entrances, which I pointed out during the listing appointment and was confirmed from showing feedbacks.  After looking at our local market trends (prices still moving slowly downward), recent sales (very few) and the competition, I counseled my client to go ahead and drop the price to $340,000.  That goes against my personal philosophy of pricing homes at specific price points, such as at $350,000. 

(As an aside, buyers search from $325k – $350k or $350k to $400k.  A price at $340k would cause us to miss buyers starting their search at $350k.  That’s why I try to price property at search points.)

So, I dropped the price on Sunday morning.  Since that time, I’ve had one showing each on Monday – Wednesday and two showings today (Thursday).  I’m fairly convinced, but with fingers crossed and a rabbits foot in my pockeet, that we will get this property under contract shortly.

So, what’s the trend I mentioned at the beginning?  Buyers seem to be reticent to physically view a property until the price hits what they believe to be either fair or a sllight deal.  Otherwise, they are just flat skipping equity-seller properties and sticking with foreclosures and short sales (which represent about 50% of the sales in Forsyth County). 

What happens when my appraisal comes in low?

In an uncertain market, there are several reasons why this can happen.  First, banks are now required to choose appraisers somewhat blind, so they can’t necessarily use someone local who knows the market.  For instance, I had an appraiser come from Spartanburg, SC to value a property in Forsyth County, Georgia.  A 4,000 sq.ft. home in Spartanburg doesn’t cost as much as one in Cumming.  There was a natural bias for this appraiser to not understand local values.

Second, some properties are just hard to match up with sold comparables.  The comparable sold properties ideally should be in the same subdivision and have closed within the last 90 days.  Appraisers also need a minimum of three sales to compare.

This made me do a quick analysis of sales within Forsyth County from January 1, 2011 until now.  Of all the hundreds of communities within the County, there were only thirteen with three or more sales so far this year.  The highest two had seven sales and were Chattahoochee River Club and Windermere.  Olde Atlanta Club and St. Marlo had five.  Champions Run, Green Summers and Riverstone Plantation had four.  Brandon Hall, Fieldstone, High Gables, Longlake, Polo Golf & Country Club and Villas at Habersham all had three sales this year.

So, back to the question of “What happens when my appraisal comes in low?”.  The first thought is to see if the buyer can add a higher down payment to make up the difference and complete the transaction.  This may sound far-fetched, but I had exactly this situation on a $425,000 home that appraised at $400,000.  The buyer came up with an additional $20,000 and we closed the sale.  In everybody’s opinion, the appraisal was just flat wrong.

Another option is to have the seller lower the price to the appraised value so the sale can be completed.  In a lot of cases, this is exactly what happens.  The listing agent should gather some comparable properties and work through the loan officer to try and get the appraisal amended, if possible.

In another case where we had a log home with very few comparable properties, we simply had to change lenders to get things done.  Even in this case, the mortgage officer had to really fight for the buyer who incidentally had about $125,000 equity in a $375,000 property. 

The last option is to simply have everyone part ways.  It’s not the best option, because at this point everyone has time and money into making the transaction happen.  However, in some cases this is the only way to resolve the situation.

Should you move or remodel?

  • Should You Move or Remodel?

    When your house no longer suits you, you can move or remodel. Find out which big change is the right investment of your housing dollars. Read

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New Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)

 These will go into effect April 18th, 2011.

 There are no changes to the Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP).


15 Year Loans

If LTV is under 95%, then monthly MIP will be 0.25%

If LTV is 95% or higher, then monthly MIP will be 0.50%


Provided by:

Ashley Bartsch
Senior Mortgage Loan Originator

NMLS# 206695 GA MLO# 25049

Office:      (770) 279-0222 ext. 623   
Toll Free: (800) 344-8788 ext. 4623
Cell:          (678) 231-7224
Fax:          (770) 279-9141
30 Year Loans
If LTV is under 95%, then monthly MIP will be 1.10%

If LTV is 95% or higher, then monthly MIP will be 1.15%