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    Atlanta, GA
    4 beds | 2 baths
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    Alpharetta, GA
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    Atlanta, GA
    1 beds | 1 baths
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    Atlanta, GA
    1 beds | 1 baths
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    Alpharetta, GA
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Growing Your Home's Value

It's a no-brainer: A nice landscape increases the value of your home, will help the home sell quicker, and for a higher sales amount.

The statistics back it up.  A home with excellent landscaping sells for about 6 to 7 percent higher than equivalent houses with merely good landscaping, a Clemson University study found.  And upgrading landscaping from average to good can increase the sale price by 4 to 5 percent.

Further, a Gallup Organization study found that landscaping can add between 7 to 15 percent to a home's value.  And according to Money magazine, landscaping can bring a recovery value of 100 to 200 percent at resale, compared to 75 to 125 percent for a kitchen remodeling.

Here are some of the best landscape investments you can make to cultivate a highly saleable home:

Add Curb Appeal

Use your front yard to set your home apart from the others on your street.  Small trees, flowering shrubs and flowerbeds frame your home and add personality.  Use low-maintenance plants for more enjoyment with less hassle.

Rebuild worn-out driveways and replace straight walkways with curving paths that add visual interest to your front yard — natural stone and paving bricks both work well and add texture.

TIP: Don't forget the basics — clear the weeds, fix patchy lawn areas, and keep the lawn mowed and shrubs pruned.

Create Outdoor Living Space

Add a covered deck or patio so you can entertain outdoors without fear of the elements.  Compared to a basic concrete slab, patios of paving stone or pressed concrete add both more personality and more value to the property.  In areas with high mosquito, black fly or other irritating insect populations, removable insect screens are another selling point.

Make your yard larger by reclaiming the parts that are too noisy or too public.  Add a privacy hedge.  These 'living fences' define your space and add visual interest while preserving your privacy and cutting noise.

Plant Big Trees

Adding trees adds value, but not if they are small saplings. Invest in larger trees — an 8-foot or taller tree provides immediate shade and visual interest, and grows in value as it grows in height.  Older trees need more care to start, but pay off more in the long run — especially if you are selling in 3 to 5 years.

TIP: Don't plant a tree in the center of your yard; it splits the space and makes your yard look smaller.  Talk to a landscape professional about which trees are best for your home.

Build in Irrigation

It's not visually impressive, but adding a zoned irrigation system with automatic timers saves money and water, and makes yard maintenance easier.  Buyers who like good landscaping will also like how easy you've made it to maintain.

Cultivate a Good Lawn

A nice lawn — especially in front where it enhances that all-important curb appeal — does for your outside what a fresh coat of paint does for the inside.  It bespeaks overall good maintenance and makes the house feel like someone could move right in with minimal renovations.

Further improve your lawn by keeping it well mowed and watered.  Keep up with fertilizing and weed control — if you're not sure how, hire a lawn care service, if practical. If grass is struggling in shade, replace it with a bed of colorful impatiens or a fast-growing shade groundcover. Or just cover it with mulch — wood chip mulch is better than depressing, struggling grass.

Do It Your Way

Unless you are planning on immediately selling your home, plan your landscaping around your own needs and desires.  No matter how much value a particular style of landscaping adds to your yard, if it doesn't make you happy, it's not worth the investment.


The Top 10 Home Inspections Issues

Are you thinking about selling your home one day soon?

Before you put it on the market, please review the list below and check around your house for any needed repairs.  Making repairs first will help you attract more buyers and ultimately get you a better sales price.

1. The house has poor drainage.
This is the most common problem found by home inspectors. To improve drainage, you may have to install a new system of roof gutters and downspouts or have the lot re-graded to better channel water away from the house. 

2. The house has faulty wiring.
An insufficient or out-of-date electrical system is a common problem, especially in older homes. This is a potentially hazardous defect and not to be taken lightly. You may have to replace the entire electrical system, or at least part of it, to bring this home up to code or to make it safe. 

3. The roof leaks.
If the roof has water damage, it may be caused by old or damaged shingles, or improper flashing. It's cheap and relatively easy to repair shingles and small amounts of flashing, but if the roof is old, you face a much larger expense to replace the whole thing. 

4. The house has an unsafe heating system.
An older heating system or one that has been poorly maintained can be a serious health and safety hazard. You may have to repair or replace the old furnace. This is a major expense, but new furnaces are more energy-efficient, which will probably save you money down the line. If your heating system is anything but electrical, install carbon monoxide detectors in a couple of locations in the house. 

5. The whole house has been poorly maintained.
Examples of poor maintenance include cracked or peeling paint, crumbling masonry, broken fixtures or shoddy wiring or plumbing. You can easily repaint a wall, replace a fixture or repair a brick wall, but makeshift electrical or plumbing situations are serious and potentially dangerous problems. Replace any such wires or pipes. 

6. The house has minor structural damage.
Minor structural damage means the house is not likely to fall down, but you should deal with the problem before it becomes more serious. Such damage is usually caused by water seepage into the foundation, floor joists, rafters or window and door headers. First you need to fix the cause of the problem (a leaky roof, for example), then repair or replace any damaged pieces. The more extensive the damage, the more expensive it will be to repair. 

7. The house has plumbing problems.
The most common plumbing defects include old or incompatible piping materials and faulty fixtures or waste lines. These may require simple repairs, such as replacing a fixture, or more expensive measures, such as replacing the plumbing itself.

8. The house's exterior lets in water and air around windows and doors.
This usually does not indicate a structural problem, rather poor caulking and weather stripping that require relatively simple and inexpensive repairs around windows and doors..

9.  The house is inadequately ventilated.
Poor ventilation can result in too much moisture that wreaks havoc on interior walls and structural elements. It can also exacerbate allergic reactions. Install ventilation fans in every bathroom if there are no windows, and regularly open all the windows in your home. To repair damage caused by poor ventilation, you may only have to replace drywall and other inexpensive pieces. If you have to replace a structural element, it will be more expensive.

10.  The house has an environmental hazard.
Environmental problems are a new and growing area of home defects. They include lead-based paint (common in homes built before 1978), asbestos, formaldehyde, contaminated drinking water, radon and leaking underground oil tanks. You usually need to arrange a special inspection to determine environmental problems, and they're usually expensive to fix. For example, it costs $1,000 to install a radon-ventilation system, and about $6,000 to remove a leaking oil tank.

Buyers love homes that have obviously been very well-cared-for, and they'll usually pay more for them.  


It's All Relative...

In January of 2005,
a gallon of milk cost $3.29
a loaf of bread cost $1.10
a new auto cost $21,345
a gallon of gas cost $1.96
a new home cost $221,800
the average income was $31,191
the Dow Jones was at 10,544

In January of 1995,
a gallon of milk cost $2.51
a loaf of bread cost $1.17
a new auto cost $12,800
a gallon of gas cost $1.35
a new home cost $111,200
the average income was $19,190
the Dow Jones was at 5,117

In January of 1985,
a gallon of milk cost $1.98
a loaf of bread cost $.74
a new auto cost $6495
a gallon of gas cost $1.24
a new home cost $116,705
the average income was $13,351
the Dow Jones was at 1547

In January of 1975,
a gallon of milk cost $1.40
a loaf of bread cost $.28
a new auto cost $3,800
a gallon of gas cost $.57
a new home cost $51,865
the average income was $7,004
the Dow Jones was at 852

In January of 1965,
a gallon of milk cost $1.05
a loaf of bread cost $.21
a new auto cost $2355
a gallon of gas cost $.24
a new home cost $41,540
the average income was $6469
the Dow Jones was at 969

In January of 1955,
a gallon of milk cost $.92
a loaf of bread cost $.18
a new auto cost $1950
a gallon of gas cost $.23
a new home cost $22,900
the average income was $4138
the Dow Jones was at 484

In January of 1945,
a gallon of milk cost $.62
a loaf of bread cost $.10
a new auto cost $1,350
a gallon of gas cost $.16
a new home cost $10,330
the average income was $2390
the Dow Jones was at 193


Area Flooding Causes Increase in Pest Problems and Poses Health Risks

Due to the storms and flash flooding which are hitting Georgia, and the Atlanta area, Arrow Exterminators, a local pest and termite control company, is reaching out to educate the public on issues related to pests and the diseases they carry. As the water recedes in most areas, it is creating prime conditions and breeding grounds for pests and pest related diseases.

The public should be made aware of these potential problems to help safeguard their families from associated health risks. The excessive rain will have disrupted these pests’ natural habitats and they will be forced to relocate – unfortunately, many times this relocating will put them in resident’s homes and yards.    

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, mosquitoes rank first in insects posing a risk to human life.  West Nile Virus, just one of the diseases carried by mosquitoes, will certainly be of high concern.  Even after flood waters subside, standing water – found in large trash receptacles, the root balls of uprooted trees or in clogged gutters – can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  September is the peak season for West Nile Virus, and the rapid reproduction of infected insects may lead to a much larger outbreak of the disease than previously anticipated. 

Although Georgians are used to dealing with pests, the potential number of pests may push residents out of their comfort zone.  Arrow is warning homeowners about the following pests that may be more active due to the floods:

·     Rodents – Rodents are attracted to water, and are well-known for appearing in areas after heavy rains or flooding, sometimes related to their natural habitat being destroyed. If homeowners notice any rodents in their home or on their property, they should contact a pest professional or health officials. 

·     Mosquitoes – Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, and with these heavy rains and continued warm temperatures, they may become a serious problem during the next few days and weeks. Areas of Georgia have already been dealing with significant mosquito problems, as evidenced by the recent incidence of West Nile Virus in Tifton.

·     Ants –While ants may be considered a nuisance more than a health threat, most homeowners want to keep them outside.  During heavy rains they tend to seek shelter inside homes.

·     Cockroaches – Cockroaches are also attracted to water and homeowners may be seeing an increase inside and around the home.

Call Toby Miller ar 770.833.8588 with any questions and to schedule an evaluation and treatment.  Be sure to mention my name and this website.


Dying Trees Can Be A Big Problem

Because of all the recent storm damage that's occurred this year in GA, we all need to be extra aware of dangerous situations, sometimes in our own backyards.  And, it could become a big legal issue.

When a neighbor has a tree in his yard that crashes down into your yard, or onto your house or property, you are responsible for your own repair and clean up.  Also, if a tree falls and does not damage property then your insurance provider generally will not pay a claim to remove the fallen tree.  This is considered an Act of God.  ( If the tree falls onto your house, then your homeowner's insurance will pay for home repairs, but why wait for this to happen? )
And... it doesn't matter whether the tree is dead or alive.

However, if you have previously notified your neighbor, in writing, about your concern for life and property should his tree ( dead or alive ) fall onto your property , then your neighbor is solely responsible for all expenses to repair and clean up your property.  This is only true if you have notified the neighbor in advance, and in writing, not verbally.

'I would add that having an arborist look at the trees in question and giving that information to the neighbor along with a letter is what we recommend' says Drew Neiss with Allstate Insurance.
And maybe remind the neighbor that a fallen tree is usually more expensive to remove than is a standing tree.

I am not an attorney and I am not intending to give legal advice.  For more detailed information on this issue, contact your homeowners insurance agent, check with an attorney, or see the website, www.nolo.com.  Also talk with the City Arborist for the City of Atlanta at 404.330.6150 before removing any trees.  A permit from the city is required prior to removing a tree.

For a referral to a recommended tree surgeon, go to the Neighborly Referrals page of this website, and look under Tree Services.