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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Top 10 Cool Things to do in Forsyth County-continued!

Last week I published my first two cool things-Lake Lanier and Afforable Housing (see the last post).  Now it's on to some more cool FoCo topics, places or legends...

3.  Picking Farms and Horse Farms

There is still quite a bit of open land in the county and there are some nearby fun picking farms in the northern section like Kinsey Family Farm on Jot-em-Down Road and Warbington Farm on Crowe Rd.
The Kinsey Family Farm is well known for it's sunflower field, Christmas tree farm, hayrides, fish feeding, pumpkin patch and apple cannons.Open in the fall-it will also host events as well-they will do marshmallow roasts as well! They do have spring and summer hours, check their website.

Warbington Farms is primarily a strawberry picking farm (get there now, they are ready!)corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes and more with year round hours.  Check their website for hours and days they are open.

Roadside stands spring up all over the county this time of year to buy fresh produce and more.  Most horse farms are private, but if you take a ride up off 369 both ways you will see many horses and some cows grazing in the distance.

4.  Quirky Shops - Retail is not BORING in FoCo 

Ok, so you may not find those Louboutin pumps you have been looking for in the area (except for possibly a consignment store or Goodwill...) but there are some nifty places to buy lots of things and get your retail therapy going without heading to Buckhead:

My favorite kitty greeter at the Green Bean Exchange---------->

Cool Bees Art and Gifts is located on Highway 9 just north of Post Road and is a slice of hippie and art in the burbs!  Owner Terry Henner has opened this shop in a rennovated older home stocked to the brim with items from local artistans, jewelry, clothing, collectibles and Greatful Dead stickers...she also offers art classes and hopefully will have a live music venue there this summer.

Jul's Candles is located on James Burgess Road right across from the Sharon Elementary School  and is one of  the area's favorites for home made candles and scents (I love the 'black tie' scent), jewelry and they will even fill a container that you bring.

Market 334 is up on Dahlonega Highway right north of the courthouse and is also full of local artisans.

The Green Bean Antiques Exchange is a fun shop on Highway 20 if you dig antique malls-they are ful of vintage items, furniture, clothing, jewelry and more-it is a treasure hunt.  I especially love the hilarious taxidermy cat that welcomes you at the door...

For the latest in gifts and trendy jewelry, try 2 Posh Dames on Highway 306 right off exit 17. They carry Vietri, Rhonda Smith Designs, Hanky Panky, Caspari, Archipelago, Natural Life and more.  

Enjoy your retail therapy-and if that doesn't satisfy you, then there is also the outlet mall a few miles north on 400.....
More on my blog at

Thursday, April 12, 2012

10 Reasons Forsyth County is COOL!

The Reasons I love FoCo - the first 2 are here!

I love lists.  They are fun to read and I enjoy reading them because they are usually short and to the point.  With my ADD addled brain-it's one of the best ways for me to disseminate information and remember things.  So here is my list of the coolest reasons I love living in Forsyth County starting with numbers 1 & 2:

1.  First and foremost : LAKE LANIER!!!!!

     Who would not want a big, freshwater lake to sail, ski, fish, live on and still have great amenities close by for us city-type folk to enjoy?  The construction of Lake Sidney Lanier and Buford Dam was authorized by an act of Congress in 1946. Its original purposes were for power production, flood control, downstream navigation and fish and wildlife management. Buford Dam harnesses the waters of two rivers – the Chattahoochee and the Chestatee, which both start in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Construction began in 1951 and was completed in 1956 at a total cost $45 million. Today, estimates of the economic impact of Lake Lanier exceed $5.5 billion annually, based on a study conducted by the Marine Trade Association of Metropolitan Atlanta in 2000.
More than $96 million in electricity has been produced by the powerhouse generators located at Buford Dam since 1957.
Lake Lanier, located in the Highlands Region of Georgia, features 68 park areas that include boat ramps, picnic settings, hiking trails and camping.
Fast Facts about Lake Lanier
At a glance, here are fast facts about Lake Sidney Lanier

  • 39,000 acres of water
  • 692 miles of shoreline
  • Created from the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers by Buford Dam
  • Authorized by Congress in 1946
  • Construction began in 1951
  • Opened in 1956
  • 8 million annual visitors
  • 68 parks and recreation areas
  • 12 campgrounds with more than 1,200 campsites
  • 10 full-service marinas with restaurants, gas docks, pump-out stations and boat storage
  • Home to Lake Lanier Islands with two resort hotels, golf and a water park
  • Additional lakeside cabin camping, restaurants and boat launch areas
  • Most Corps of Engineers facilities at Lake Lanier are handicapped accessible. Information above from 
  •  Search for Lake Lanier Houses for Sale 
2.  Variety of HOUSING and LOW TAXES!

In the last 15 years we have seen FoCo grow exponentially from an agricultural county to a vibrant part of the suburban metro Atlanta housing landscape with a variety of housing prices from affordable to high end, golf, equestrian, lake, suburban and work/live communities.  This has also brought an influx of wealth to the county creating brand new high performing schools and local branches of some of Georgia's best colleges including Lanier Tech, North Georgia College and more.

Property taxes here are typically lower than most of the other metro Atlanta counties since the county does not have to support big local government and facilities like some others in the state.  This was one of the largest reasons many people have chosen Forsyth County to buy houses in.

Coming up next - the next 2 COOL Places in Forsyth County!

Friday, March 30, 2012

FoCo Foreclosure Trends-Are we out of the woods yet??

Seems everyone is talking about how good the market is for buyers right now, but how good is the market for sellers??

                                                 Trammel Road Mansion off Hwy 20

Inventory in the Atlanta Metro is at an all time low of 42K houses on the market today from an all time high back in 2006 of over 100K homes on the market.
  • Sellers are experiencing multiple offers on well priced homes in great condition.
  • Financing rules are starting to get a teeny bit more flexible.
  • New Construction starts are really on the upswing.
  • Average days on market is decreasing
  • Job Growth is climbing
So what about the distressed homes we see and hear about all the time?  In the metro area, 4th quarter distressed sales climbed 8.4% higher than the same quarter in 2010.  Was that the top of the foreclosure market here in Atlanta....yet???

For 2011, Forsyth County had close to 600 properties close as foreclosures/lender owned with the highest being that famous mansion on Trammel Rd. for $9.5 million to an unfinished home on Freeman Rd. for $12,500.  Average days on market for these homes was 72 and average sales price was $194,109.

Currently there are 105 active foreclosure/lender owned homes on the market out of a total of 1276 overall homes on the market in FoCo. 

The above RealtyTrac chart shows that 1 out of every 297 housing units in FoCo is distressed. RealtyTrac is also showing a downward trend in current foreclosure listings in the country overall 

The chart below for Forsyth County indicates that when the inventory of foreclosures tightens in an area the prices start trending upward as they have in FoCo since the beginning of 2012.  From RealtyTrac.

So, Mr. & Mrs. Seller in Forsyth County:  Average sales prices are trending up, both for distressed and non-distressed properties according to the graph above.  Inventory is low.  If you are priced correctly and your home is in great condition, you could be moving sooner rather than later!
Give us a call or text to 404-580-9969 or visit our website at

Friday, March 23, 2012

The TOP 10 THINGS you should NEVER do by YOURSELF!

Something funny for your Friday...

10.  Heart Transplant
9.  Build your own swimming pool
8.  Defend yourself in court
7.  Asbestos removal
6.  Hair Plugs
5.  Clean your own septic tank
4.  Root canal
3.  Lasik surgery
2.  Cremation
The #1 thing you should NEVER do yourself:
1.  Buy or Sell your home without  ME!!!!!!!!!!!!

So WHAT can YOU add to this list????

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

North Atlanta Lifestyle: Cumming Flea & Antique Market This Weekend

North Atlanta Lifestyle: Cumming Flea & Antique Market This Weekend

Cumming Flea & Antique Market This Weekend

Lakewood 400 Antiques Market This Weekend 3/16/2012
Looking for a cigar store Indian for your basement bar?  How about some antique guns for that military display in your study, or better yet, vintage buttons and fabric for any kind of art project??!!  You can find all that and more at the Lakewood 400 Antiques and Flea Market on Highway 9 in Cumming.

A monthly antiques and flea market typically held the third weekend of the month, the market has been a fixture in the North Atlanta area after moving from its original location at the Lakewood Fairgrounds in downtown Atlanta.  While not as big but growing, this market offers many different items from fine antiques to furniture to flea market finds in a compact, easy to navigate indoor and outdoor facility near Highway 141 in South Forsyth County.  Open this weekend from 9-6 Friday and Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday.  Admission is $3 and good for the whole weekend! You can find a discount entry coupon on their site.

I shop Lakewood for vintage jewelry, transferware, older wicker, art, designer fabrics and accessories for my home and unique planters and plants--the dealers are friendly and accommodating and the prices are generally good.


 Lots of fun dealers, artwork and contemporary pieces too.  They have a good little home style sandwich vendor with great burgers, BLT's and other choices that are yummy.

See you there--I never miss it!

Mary Anne Payne, ePro, Associate Broker

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Forsyth seen as 'Camera Ready'

Movies are being filmed in our area and on a pretty regular basis now.  We even have local residents who have appeared in some of these movies as extras and from one comment of a friend of mine-it was a BLAST--long day, not much money, but they ended up in the national trailer for 'Hall Pass'!  In the article below is more information of what has been filmed around our area:

Forsyth seen as 'camera ready'

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What's on the Market-March 2012 in Forsyth County GA

Is the market coming back? Percentages do tell and for all Atlanta areas on our local multi list system in 2011 Atlanta was up 15% in sales quarter over quarter from 2010.  Inventory is at an all time low of 40% over the all time high.  Interest rates are hovering in the high 3% range. Even Clark Howard said now is the time to buy-and we all believe him, right? (I know my husband does...)

So I took some time to research what was on the market in Forsyth County in the last 30 days and here are the numbers from the local MLS system:

New on the Market     510                          
SOLD                          197                   
Pending Sale                242
Short Sale Pending       47
Price Reductions          335

In the larger FoCo neighborhoods-here is a quick breakout of recent market activity:

Grand Cascades             9 Active/4 pending
James Creek                 18 Active/7 pending of which 5 are short sales
Deerlake                        4 Active/1 pending
Laurel Springs               7 Active/5 pending
Polo Fields                   11 Active/1 pending
St Marlo                       39 Active/18 pending of which 7 are short sales
Olde Atlanta                10 Active/6 pending of which 2 are short sales
Vickery                        12 Active/7 pending of which 2 are short sales
Windermere                 36 Active/14 pending of which 3 are short sales

So homes are selling.  Homes priced right are selling faster and closer to their list prices.  What does that mean if you are thinking of selling-get your home clean, updated, painted, etc. and rpice it right and you will be on your way!  For more information you can contact me at 404-580-9969 or email me at  My website is .

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Scott Antique Market - Girls Day Out!

Bring money.

Lotsa cash. Bring Credit Cards.  Bring your checkbook.  Wear comfy shoes.

This weekend is the Scott Antique Market.  Our southeastern Mecca for all things cool, antique, collectable, designer, vintage-you name it.  It is an 'antique-gasm' for the proven and a wonderful time for a full day of shopping-and I mean a FULL day.

Located on I-285 at the Jonesboro Road exit near the airport (yep look up in the sky and hope no one is using the restroom..) there are 2 buildings, a north and south building.  You can pay and park at either  one, there is a shuttle bus that takes you between both that runs all day.  Friday-Sunday from 9-5, shopping is best on Friday morning for selection and Sunday afternoon for deals - especially on furniture. 

This has been an institution here in Atlanta for over 25 years. The big designers get some really cool things here and many dealers shop it to stock their stores.  From French Antiques to rusted out old barn tools, there is something for everyone!  I shop for vintage jewelry and transferware so this place is just about the best to find that kind of thing.

They do have a food court in each building with home made fare-I enjoy the Greek cafe in the south building-it's wonderful but it gets really crowded at lunch and there is not much seating so I would suggest going earlier or later than noon!  Have fun and let me know what you find!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Boy is this the Truth!

Five Listing Description Deal Killers (and makers)

Guest Author, Michael Corbett, is host of NBC's Extra Millionaires & Mansions and author of the national best-selling book "Ready, Set, Sold!"
Every aspect of a listing’s marketing can impact its sale price, even the word choice. For agents,  making sure descriptions capture a serious buyers attention is key to getting your sellers the most money.
When describing a home, the details matter.  In the bestselling book Freakonomics, authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner explain that “An analysis of the language used in real-estate ads shows that certain words are powerfully correlated with the final sale price of a house…. A ‘fantastic’ house is surely fantastic enough to warrant a high price, isn’t? What about a ‘charming’ and ‘spacious’ house in a ‘great neighborhood!’? No, no, no and no.”
Levitt and Dubner say, “If you study the words in an ad for a real-estate agent’s own home…you see that he or she indeed emphasizes descriptive terms (especially, ‘new,’ ‘granite,’ ‘maple,’ and ‘move-in condition’) and avoids empty adjectives (including ‘wonderful,’ ‘immaculate,’ and the telltale ‘!’).” Also, Don’t make it appear that your clients are desperate to sell, as in “Must Move Quickly.” You’re going after the buyers looking for their dream home – and willing to pay for it—not the bargain hunters!
Words that kill deals or decrease profits
  • Fantastic
  • Spacious
  • “!”
  • Charming
  • Great Neighborhood
Words that make deals or improve profits
  • Granite
  • Energy-Efficient
  • State-of-the-Art
  • Maple
  • Gourmet

The Smart Words Philosophy

When it comes to writing descriptions, the smart thing to do is to be very specific. Don’t be vague and use words like “fantastic,” “spacious,” or “charming.” Boring! Avoid sweeping adjectives.
Give specifics using descriptive, straightforward terms that tell the physical attributes of your home, as in “Marble,” “Spiral Staircase,” “Gourmet Kitchen with New Viking Appliances, and “Solid Bamboo Flooring.”
Remember, home buyers are interested in the facts not your (possibly biased) opinions.

Descriptions Matter

This time of year, there are many new listings hitting the market. Pay attention to these key power words that can help your listings get the right attention and ultimately the best prices. What power words are working in your market that might be missing from the list?
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About the author

Michael Corbett is Trulia's real estate and lifestyle expert. He hosts NBC's EXTRA's Mansions and Millionaires. In additional to his regular segments on ABC's The View and Fox News, he is a national best selling author with three critically acclaimed real estate books: Find It, Fix It, FLIP IT!; Ready, Set, SOLD! and Before You BUY!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Week of January 16 2012-What's on the Market in FoCo?

It's already the second full week of 2012 and the market is really starting to hop.  What can you get in South Forsyth County for between $450,000 and $550,000 today? 52 homes are on the market - and in neighborhoods such as Windermere, Laurel Springs and St. Marlo (all golf) to name a few.  Click here to see what is available!

Forsyth County, Georgia, is one of the most sought after residential counties to live in in the Atlanta metro area. Close to Lake Lanier and in the foot hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, our recreation and schools are hard to duplicate!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Real Estate Photography..the good, the bad, and the ugly....

You have one chance, ONE chance.  To stand out in the crowd of homes for sale in today's real estate market.

While consumers are trolling the internet for great deals and great homes, they are staying on a particular listing only a few short minutes.  Whoosh, they are gone to the next.  What can you do or your agent do to make them stick around for a while?

Check out this virtual tour by a Keller Williams agent in Hollywood CA - wow-outside the box and fantastic is what this tour is all about:

Pacific Hills Drive

People are VISUAL - if you are having photos done of your home for a magazine, what would you do?  You should do the same thing if your agent or a photographer is coming over to take pictures.
DE CLUTTER, open all the window blinds, turn off the fans (they show too much blur in a photo) turn on all the lights, even the ones in your hallways, over counters, by the beds, EVERYTHING!

I had a customer once who when she was searching on the internet for her home to purchase, if the photos were dark, she assumed the house was dark and would not even look at it.  I even tried to talk her out of that explaining that most photos are not that great.  But she held her position.  You could be missing buyers.  She spent $600K on a home. 

Great photos of great listings turn up on TV on shows like the Today Show.  Make sure your agent is staging the property and taking the photos that will get you there. I sure do!