Size Matters – Even in the Atlanta Real Estate Market

Size matters when you are comparing homes and pricing. But size is not the only factor. Sometimes, size is not even the primary factor. The most trustworthy source for square foot measurements in the Atlanta residential real estate market is the sketch from an actual appraisal. The second best source is the county tax assessor sketches but those records are not always up to date with renovations. Tax Assessor sketches are also not easy to find… Bottom Line: We have to compare multiple sources as a real estate professional when we are advising clients. So we created this cheatsheet!

Links to County Tax Assessor Sketches:


Cobb County

Dekalb County

Forsyth County

Fulton County

Gwinnett County

Top 10 Reasons FSBO’s Fail

“Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail”FSBO

There can be multiple reasons why homes don’t sell. Even the professional real estate agents make some of these mistakes. Selling a house is usually HARD work! If you are doing it as a part-time job, I know there is a chance it could go right. But, statistics show that it almost always doesn’t go as well as it could. Here are a number of reasons why FSBO’s fail to sell:

Top 10:

  1. Did not have a process to screen the buyers (and their lender) to make sure they diligently pursued the loan and could actually close the deal
  2. Did not use a professional stager to get the house ready
  3. Did not use a professional photographer and their photos were just not compelling
  4. Did not have enough time to prospect for buyers every day
  5. Buyer prospects knew the inventory better than they did so they had the upper hand in the negotiations
  6. Other sellers with competing houses were better prepared and better positioned in the market
  7. Missed the mark on pricing initially and could not recover
  8. Did not know how to manage home inspection issues without giving away the farm
  9. Talked too much when showing their house and turned off the buyers by hovering over them the whole time
  10. Had trouble coordinating showings with prospective buyers

5 More:

  1. Did not have court-tested contract forms and experience enforcing them
  2. Had no professional sales language and negotiation training
  3. Started out objective but lost sight of the whole reason they were moving when their emotional attachment flared up.
  4. Did not know which marketing techniques mattered most and wasted resources chasing dead-ends.
  5. Buyer found something during the inspection that should have been disclosed up front and terminated the contract.

Chicago Lives up to the Hype

I was skeptical at first but Chicago Lives up to the Hype!

Chicago Night Skyline

Chicago is a fantastic city to visit! In the summertime. Here is the skyline view from the 360 Chicago Observation Deck at dusk (94th floor of the John Hancock building). When we finally made it up to the top, the building was socked in with clouds. Then, gradually they went away around sunset and we were left with this view.

Marina Towers

Two of the most recognizable buildings from the architecture are the Marina Towers. Our hotel was close by so these buildings were some of the first we saw up close. Turns out they have been in several movies and TV shows.

Riverside Towers

Iconic Michigan Avenue

Michigan Ave

Michigan Avenue is a great place to get your steps in. We walked all the way from the river to Bloomingdales.


The river front is picturesque and there are sidewalks down the south side along the water.

Chicago's First Lady

If you take an Architectural Tour on the river you can see lots of iconic landmarks (like the draw bridge in the above photo -stuck in the up position).


One of our favorite activities was the Segway Tour which we scored on Groupon. We recommend going first thing in the morning! The temps were mild (even in July) and it was not too crowded at the stops. Plus, some of the views were spectacular!

Wrigley Field

Our visit to Chicago would not have been complete without a trip to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game and a Chicago Dog.

Chicago Dog

There really is nothing like an afternoon game at Wrigley Field.

Wrigley Field

And, then there are the great spots to eat out or get coffee. They are everywhere!

Coffee Shop

One of the day trips we took was on bikes along the Chicago shore.

Lakeshore Trail

Could have been 5 miles or so up to the beach for lunch but it was so worth it! I will have to say though, I was ready to be done with the bikes you have to pedal after this trip! They were a $10 add-on with the Segway tour so it was hard to pass that up.

Beach Club

Ah, yes. The quintessential “bean”. Even on a cloudy day it is something to behold.

The Bean

Below is another view of the river front downtown which was such a nice place to base out of.  There is just something about water that soothes the soul.

The River

This has to have been one of our favorite all time trips! We had perfect weather in July and there was so much to see and do that we ran out of time. Will definitely have to go back!

CFPB Closing Disclosure replacing HUD-1 Form

Are you making loan application after August 1, 2015? Fasten your seatbelt – you are now a Beta test pilot! On August 1, 2015 the CFPB Closing Disclosure is replacing HUD-1 Form.

CFPB Closing Disclosure replacing HUD-1 Form

As with any effort to improve, there will inevitably be unintended consequences. We are just going to need to take a deep breath and roll with the transition.  I actually agree with the need for changing the forms because the current HUD-1 form IS confusing for most buyers and sellers. For the real estate professionals, the HUD-1 form has been THE form used for every closing (for over 20 years) so we all just learned how to read it, use it and explain it.  Good news! It looks like the new Closing Disclosure does organize all the numbers in a more understandable format. But make no mistake – this is a BIG BIG change in the residential real estate industry.

It is now more important than ever to make sure you have a top, experienced and dependable closing attorney and local lender on your team!

Quick Links:


Favorite Restaurants in Atlanta

We asked “What are your Favorite Restaurants in Atlanta?” and people answered – passionately!

Favorite Restaurants in Atlanta

Favorite restaurants in Atlanta run the gamut from cheap and cozy to ultra chic. We had so much fun looking through these restaurant recommendations to see what Atlanta has to offer for dining experiences.  So, without any further delay – Here is the list we compiled from our recent survey:

Multiple Recommendations:

(11) Hal’s (The Overwhelming Favorite)

(4) Bones – Steaks

(4) Chops – Steaks and Seafood

(3) Local Three Kitchen & Bar

(3) Two Urban Licks 

(2) 10 Degrees South

(2) Bacchanalia 

(2) Davio’s 

(2) Houston’s

(2) McKendrick’s 

(2) Moxie Burger 

(2) New York Prime 

(2) R. Thomas Deluxe Grill 

(2) Rumi’s Kitchen 

(2) Seed Kitchen & Bar 

(2) Six Feet Under 

(2) Sun in My Belly 

(2) Taqueria Del Sol

Just interested in Steak? Here are the Top 11 Best Steaks according to Thrillist

Other Favorites:

Agave Restaurant 


Atlanta Fish Market



Blue Ridge Grill 

Brookwood Grill 

Buford Highway Hits

Buford Highway Hits 2

The Busy Bee Café 

Cakes and Ale 





Crazy Cuban 

Double Zero 


El Porton

Fat Matt’s Rib Shack 


Front Page News 

Gordon Biersch 

The Greater Good BBQ 


Hankook Taqueria 

Horseradish Grill 

Hearth Pizza Tavern 

Heirloom Market BBQ

Hugo’s Oyster Bar 

The Iberian Pig

Jilly’s Cupcakery (Yes, seriously. I guess someone eats cupcakes for dinner)


Majestic Diner 

Marietta Fish Market 


Mezcalito’s Cantina 

Mi Taco 

Muss and Turner’s 

The Oceanaire Seafood Room 

Ocean Prime 

One Midtown Kitchen 

Osteria Mattone 


Pig ‘n’ Chik 



Sage Woodfire Tavern 

Salt Factory Pub 

South City Kitchen 

Steam House Lounge 

Sublime Donuts 

The Varsity

Verde Taqueria 

Yeah! Burger 


Experiencing Keller Williams Realty Family Reunion

Experiencing Keller Williams Realty Family Reunion doesn’t feel like this all the time… but it does a few times.


Crowd gathers for Mo Anderson’s Inspirational Brunch

If you have never been to Keller Williams Realty’s Family Reunion (annual convention), read on! Each year it is an intense few days as so many good sessions are offered and there is limited time.  Below is a quick overview of the 5-Day Schedule.  Starting in 2016, the event will be compressed into 4 days so get ready.  Intense just got intense’r!


For many, Saturday is a partial travel day. Registration begins in the morning and after lunch Gary Keller usually does a 2pm-5pm session.  The topics have ranged from his current book projects to Quantum Leap.


Photo Property of Keller Williams Realty

Once Gary’s session Saturday afternoon is over, attendees are free to decompress or reconnect with KW friends from around the world. Even though the Vendor Hall is open 5pm-7pm, there are no scheduled Family Reunion events Saturday night.


Sunday starts off in the main ballroom at 8:30am with the Opening Ceremony.  This ceremony typically includes some local flavor.  The year Family Reunion was in Dallas, TX it opened with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.  IMG_1496

Once the clock strikes 9:00am, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan come on stage (with AC/DC’s Back in Black playing) to share their vision for the real estate industry in the US and Canada. This equates to a “State of the State” national overview which lasts until 11:00am – at which time attendees are free to hit the Exhibitor Hall and network.  A buffet Lunch is provided in an adjacent hall at noon – picture a sea of round tables where agents mingle and exchange cards in groups of 8 over lunch.


Once lunch is over, the Session Scramble begins.  Grab you map because it is time to find your first session and grab a seat. Don’t be late and think you are going to sit in the aisles or around the edges… It is not unheard of for the fire marshall to come through and clear the excess people out to get bake to the posted room capacity. The convention center plays host to roughly 25 concurrent sessions that attendees have to chose from in each timeslot.  The first session runs 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Then, the BIG SWITCH happens because you have 30 minutes to navigate the halls to your next session which starts at 3:15pm.  The second session ends at 4:30pm and at that point attendees are free to visit the Exhibitor Hall.

Sunday night is also the night for the Red Bash where the Gary Keller band plays and artists like Michael McDonald perform.  In short, the Red Bash is a mad house!!

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 9.23.47 PM

Photo Property of Keller Williams Realty

Photo Property of Keller Williams Realty

Photo Property of Keller Williams Realty


Monday starts off at 9:00am with The State of the Company session in the main ballroom. This ends at 11:00am and again a buffet lunch is provided in an adjacent hall at noon – same sea of round tables where attendees mingle and exchange cards over a buffet lunch 😉


This is when we get to hear about International Expansion Country Announcements!


Once lunch is over, the Session Scramble begins again.  The first session runs 1:30pm to 2:45pm. There is also an International ALC Meeting where company-wide issues are discussed during this first session timeslot.  Then, the BIG SWITCH happens because you have 30 minutes to navigate the halls to your next session which starts at 3:15pm.  The second session ends at 4:30pm and the BIG SWITCH starts again to get to the third and last session of the day which starts at 5:00pm. By 6:15pm most people are DONE!

Alliance Partners and vendors to the rescue!! There are usually some alliance partner Happy Hour events like this one at B.B. King’s Blue Club in Orlando where attendee’s can unwind and debrief after the day.



Tuesday kicks off first thing with the Keynote Speaker! In 2015, Adam Grant, author of the book “Give and Take”was the keynote speaker.


Tuesday is also a FULL 3-Session afternoon. So the day is packed with learning and connecting. By the end of Tuesday, most people are running out of gas. Dinner is on your own as people push to connect with those they hoped to meet and have not yet reached. This is the LAST night!  Some will fade and some will rally. It only happens once a year… Which would you be?


The only event on Wednesday is Mo Anderson’s Inspirational Brunch from 8:30am – 10:30am.  Each year, we get to hear from people who have persevered through hardship and sometimes tough personal decisions that had to be weathered out of principle.


Hearing stories of the human spirit and heroic decisions reminds us that the pain of taking the high road really is worth it.  That taking a cultural stand in a dog-eat-dog culture is never easy. In 2013, we also to see how the Keller Williams Realty family came together to rally around unfair business practices involving a KW market center in Iowa.


Once the Inspirational Brunch is over, everyone heads home.  That is, unless, you decided to tack on a vacation 🙂 Then, the fun continues!

Until next time…

Extended E350 Test Drive

Have you ever wanted to take an extended E350 test drive?

Extended E350 Test Drive

I have.  So, I did – thanks to a cool German luxury rental car agency!  You see I am interviewing for a new car.  I have driven a number of Audi’s and Mercedes.  While I save up, I have the luxury (whahaha) of testing the field to see what I am going to really like.  The online reservation process was so easy and the people on the ground were super nice.  I was in and out in no time and on my way.  Ok, ok.  So I manipulated the situation of having to take my car in for service by making it fun with a rental 🙂  I admit it!

I had a company conference coming up two hours out of Atlanta up in North Georgia for a couple of days.  The next day I was showing homes to clients.  Sixt gives you unlimited mileage so that gave me the freedom to get some highway miles in.  The reasonable rates allowed me to enjoy the experience for a few days instead of stressing over getting the car back in 24 hours.  What a blast!!!  I rented a Mercedes-Benz E350 – turned to be a 2014 Iridium Silver E350 with very few miles on it. Yippie!!  It drove great.  It handled great. I really hated to give up the keys.  This could be love…

If you happen to live in Buckhead and want to play around with a luxury car for a day or two, Sixt is probably your answer. Driving home, I saw an Audi A6 sitting on the lot at Enterprise on Roswell Rd and they wanted $175/day for that with a daily mileage cap of 150 miles.  I would never pay that – it’s not worth it! I paid a base rental rate of $69/day by booking online at Sixt for a 2014 Mercedes E350 with no mileage cap. I did add the loss damage waiver because we are talking about expensive cars here and life is too short.  But my guess is that the LDW was going to come into play at any rental agency so I assume Enterprise would have tacked that on too.

I have also rented Harley’s over the years and they run $135-$150/day to rent. With the Harley, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted when it came time to buy my first bike.  As it turns out I ended up much happier with a different model by trying a few out through rentals. It took long trips and highway driving to discover comfort features that really make a difference in the driving experience. After 10 years I sold my Harley because I could not ride it very often.  Now I rent so I do not have to give up riding altogether.  Niche renting has actually become one of my best strategies for trying out vehicles and avoiding buyer’s remorse.   With the cars, that 2 mile chaperoned loop around the dealership just does not tell you very much. You really need a few days.

In the end, I would highly recommend Sixt if you are considering buying a luxury car, just want to drive something different or have a special event to go to. They have a wide selection of sedans, SUV’s and even vans for rent and the process could not have been simpler. The staff is also very familiar with each model and can give you unbiased insight since they are required to drive them all. I found that very helpful.




Chastain Park Home Sales as of Nov 2013

Chastain Park Home Sales as of Nov 2013 running behind 2012.

VIEW Chastain Park Home Sales as of Nov 2013

View the Latest Home Sale Stats 


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