North Fulton, East Cobb – News to Use

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Sandy Springs Artsapalooza 2014!!



Sandy Springs Artsapalooza 2014

City Center West
6100 Lake Forrest Dr. NE
Sandy Springs, GA30328



Artsapalooza is one of the premiere art festival attractions in the Sandy Springs area and draws a large crowd each year to the beautiful tree-lined streets of Sandy Springs. Equal parts art show, music festival and street party, Sandy Springs Artsapalooza is the perfect way to kick of spring festival season in Atlanta!

Sandy Springs Artsapalooza is a two-day outdoor event with an emphasis on visual arts and handcraft. This festival will feature up to 150 local and regional artists representing disciplines in painting, ceramics, glass, woodwork, handcraft, mixed media and more. In addition to our beautiful selection of artwork, the festival will also include an amazing lineup of food trucks, live acoustic music and children’s activities.


8 Home Improvements To Boost Your Chances of Selling

425x282xPainting-window-trim_jpg_pagespeed_ic_Spus_CYTC2When you’re getting ready to sell your home, there are two punch lists you need to worry about. The first contains all the issues a good home inspector is likely to find and report to prospective buyers.

The second list includes relatively minor improvements that can be extremely persuasive when it comes to seducing a buyer. Let’s call it the “I can live here list.” It’s based upon the premise that a buyer needs to be able to envision the home as his or hers — not yours. In other words, try to make your home feel less like you and more like a new house.

For the most part, the improvements are simple and inexpensive, things you can typically do yourself. Taken collectively, they can speed the sale of your home and ensure a fair selling price.

1. Do a thorough cleaning

It should go without saying, but dust bunnies and dirty windows are going to be turnoffs to most buyers. They are looking to buy a “new” house, so any signs of your tenure are bound to be negative. It’s worth hiring a service to clean carpeting and remove stains from upholstery.

2. Update the bath

If your toilet seat is worn, stained or dated, put in a new one (the cost is about $30 and the job takes less than 10 minutes). Replace the shower curtain and liner. This quick, inexpensive improvement spares prospective buyers the view of your mildew — even though they may have plenty of it back at their place. And, recaulk around the tub. This job, done right, will score lots of points with prospective buyers.

3. Run a dehumidifier

Turn it off for the house tour, but run a dehumidifier set at 60 percent relative humidity in the basement during the summer. High humidity, even in basements that do not have water problems, will promote mildew and accompanying odors. You don’t want that.

4. Improve the light

Everyone loves light, so make sure draperies are open. Replace missing or dim light bulbs too. If your compact fluorescents have dimmed over time, replace them. In recessed fixtures, there’s nothing as attractive as the light from halogen bulbs. Be sure, however, to use only bulbs and wattages that are recommended for your fixtures.

5. Clear clutter

Your real estate agent will second the motion, so get serious about throwing out or donating stuff you don’t need. Closets should show a foot or two of unused closet rod, and shelves should also offer unused space. Kitchen cabinets shouldn’t be stuffed either. Remove unnecessary furniture from rooms as well. Oh, and those prized knickknacks? Pack ’em up. It is well worth temporarily renting some space at your local storage facility for items you will be moving to your new home.

6. Get a new doormat

It’s one of the first things a buyer sees, and it can help say “new.” A doormat is also an indication that you care about keeping dirt out of your home.

7. Paint over reckless color choices

If your bedroom is purple or your living room, orange, cover it up with a nice light beige. Even if your house is already painted in neutral colors, consider repainting rooms where the walls and ceilings are stained or faded. Nothing makes rooms look new like a fresh coat of paint, and it’s one of the most affordable ways to update your space.

8. Renew floor finishes

Floors take a beating. If yours look worn, you may be able to renew them without having to resort to an expensive refinishing. Check out one of the many water-based products available from home centers and flooring stores. They can make an old floor shine. Try the product in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire floor.

The total cost for all of the above comes to only a few hundred dollars and a few days of work. The payback can be many times that.

By Bob Vila

5 Myths and 5 Truths About Selling Your Home

untitledSeems everyone has advice to offer about the real estate market. Unfortunately, not all that unsolicited information is true.

Misinformation can waste your time and cost you money. When it comes time to list your home, you’ll need to do your research so you can separate fact from fiction. Real estate agents participating in Zillow’s 2014 Home-Selling Season Survey identified five top real estate myths; the debunking of them should put you on the fast-track to selling your property:

Myth No. 1: I need to redo my kitchen and bathroom before selling.

Truth: While kitchens and bathrooms can increase the value of a home, you won’t get a large return on investment if you do a major renovation just before selling.

Minor renovations, on the other hand, may help you sell your home for a higher price. New countertops or new appliances may be just the kind of bait you need to reel in a buyer. Check out comparable listings in your neighborhood and see what work you need to do to compete in the market.

Myth No. 2: The outside of my home isn’t as important as the inside.

Truth: Home buyers often make snap judgments, often based simply on a home’s exterior. Therefore, curb appeal is very important.

“A lot of buyers I work with have done some preliminary online searches or they’ve driven by properties before they even enlist my services,” says Bic DeCaro, a real estate agent Westgate Realty Group in Falls Church, VA. “If a property looks bad, if the yard is cluttered or the driveway is all broken up, there’s a chance they won’t ever enter the house – they’ll just keep driving.”

The great news is that it doesn’t cost a bundle to make some big changes to your home’s exterior appearance. Start by cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and clearing away any clutter. Then, for less than $50, you could put up new house numbers, paint the front door, plant some flowers or install a new, more stylish porch light.

Myth No. 3: If my house is clean, I don’t need to stage my home.

Truth: Clean and tidy is a good first step, but as more and more home sellers across the country have enlisted the services of professional home stagers, the bar has risen. It’s not enough anymore to toss dirty laundry in the closet and sweep the front steps.

Stagers strive to make homes appeal to a broad range of tastes. They can skillfully identify ways to highlight your home’s best features and compensate for its shortcomings. A stager might, for example, recommend removing blinds from a window that has a great view or replacing a double bed with a twin to make a bedroom look bigger. It’s common for stagers to de-clutter and depersonalize homes by putting furniture and family photos into storage. Or, if you’ve already moved out, a stager can move in furniture to give potential buyers a sense of how rooms might be used.

You don’t have to hire a professional stager. But if you don’t, you better be ready to use some of their tactics to get your home ready for sale.

If staging is a trend where you live, an unstaged house will pale when compared to others on the market. And if staging is not yet something buyers in your area are used to seeing, your results will be even more impressive.

Myth No. 4: Granite and stainless steel appliances are no longer “in.”

Truth: The majority of home shoppers still want granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Quartz, marble and concrete counters also have wide appeal.

Granite countertops are still highly desirable.

“Most shoppers just want to steer away from anything that looks dated,” says Dru Bloomfield, a real estate agent with the Realty ONE Group in Scottsdale, AZ. “When you a design a space, you need to decide: ‘Am I doing this for myself or for resale?’ If you’re not planning to move anytime soon, you can decorate any way you like. If it’s likely your house will be going on the market within the next couple years, stick to elements that have mass appeal: neutral paint and tile colors, matching appliances or top-of-the line appliances.

“I recently sold a house where the kitchen had been remodeled 12 years ago and everybody thought it had just been done because the owners had chosen timeless elements: dark maple cabinets, granite counters and stainless appliances.”

Myth No. 5: Home shoppers can look past paint colors they don’t like.

Truth: Moving is a lot of work and, while many home buyers realize they could take on the task of painting walls, they simply don’t want to.

That’s why one of the most important things you can do to update your home is to apply a fresh coat of neutral paint. Neutral colors also help a property standout in online photographs – which is where most potential buyers will get their first impression of your property.

Hiring a professional to paint the interior of a 2,000 square-foot house likely will cost $3,000 to $6,000, depending upon labor costs in your region. You could buy the paint and do the job yourself for $300 to $500. Either way, if a fresh coat of paint helps your home stand out in a crowded market, it’s probably a worthwhile investment.

Author: Mary Boone | Zillow

Farm Day with The Art Barn this weekend! – Chattahoochee Nature Center


Spring is back and so are the animals! Whether they are on the farm, in the woods or in our homes, animals play a central role in our lives.  Discover the importance of spring animals and how to best appreciate them.  Meet, touch and hold live farm animals including ducklings, chicks, goats and bunnies from The Art Barn and learn about the important jobs that wild and farm animals perform in our watershed. All ages will enjoy this fantastic day at CNC. Included with General admission: $6 for Child/$10 Adult/$7 Seniors 65+/$7 Students 13-18/Free CNC Members & Kids 2 and under. 770-992-2055

Live Farm Animals from The Art Barn: 12 – 4pm
Meet the animals from the Art Barn at Morning Glory Farms. Farmer Sue will bring out her geese, goats, sheep, chicks and bunnies with a special appearance by the Art Barn’s famous chickens Vera Bradley and Zoe the Zebra Chicken. Brushing and touching is welcomed and encouraged!

Art Barn Farm Crafts: 12:30 – 2:30pm
Make crazy farm crafts courtesy of the Art Barn. Farmer Sue has designed fun projects that you can make, take home and treasure.

Farm Fresh Photo Ops: 12-4pm
Bring your camera to Farm Day. Stop in front of the Mini Art Barn, get a photo holding a live chicken and take a photo with CNC’s own Farmer Box Turtle and other CNC characters.

Miss Julia’s Down Home Storytime: 1pm
Put on your overalls and grab your bandana, Miss Julia is telling a down home farm story complete with barnyard “animals” that will have you giggling.

Unity Garden and Alpaca Outpost: 12 – 4pm
Visit the Nature Center’s Unity Garden to learn about the Farm-to-Table movement by exploring our Unity Garden. And be sure to meet the alpacas from Crafdal Farm and check out their extra soft wool.


6 ways to boost your spring curb appeal!

696bb3cb14194585afeb2d4be974c81cWith spring on the horizon, it’s time to get the home exterior straightened up for real estate showings. What’s your plan for increasing curb appeal? Did you know it’s not only about the lawn? Curb appeal actually involves everything from the yard to the front door to the siding.

Here are some tips to increase your home’s curb appeal before you start showing it off.

1. Paint exterior doors, trim and shutters

Freshen the shutters, trim and front door by splashing on a fresh coat of paint. This is a great time to add a swatch of color to a neutral exterior that helps it pop to prospective homebuyers. If you need professional help, the cost of a small paint project averages between $600 and $800.

2. Accent sidewalk and drive with lighting

If you have a showing in the evenings, outdoor lighting can accent your home exterior and light the path to the front door. The best method is to install landscape lighting along the sidewalk or driveway. Consider installing LED lights or solar-paneled lamps to save on electricity.

3. Add art to the lawn

Garden art can help to really sell the front lawn, if homeowners place the right pieces. Although gnomes might not be best, windmills, rock gardens or wireframe animals could add to the landscape. This Old House lists various ways for homeowners to create a secret garden with cheap art, including a do-it-yourself leaf birdbath, recycled bricks and iron rings.

4. Clean up the yard

A green, well-maintained yard should be the key selling point when buyers drive up. Shrubs, trees, flower beds and the lawn need to be in top shape to complement the home exterior. If homeowners don’t want to worry about maintenance, they can hire landscaping professionals. For example, hiring a professional arborist to trim or prune trees will cost between $390 and $580 depending on the scope of the work. General tree and shrub maintenance, such as fertilization and pest control, will cost between $260 and $440 according to ImproveNet.

5. Wash the siding and walkway

Snowstorms and other winter weather patterns often cover driveways and siding in dirt and grime, which decreases the exterior appeal. Homeowners can remedy this by washing those areas down. To save time, they can also hire a professional for approximately $300 to power wash these areas.

6. Throw in more colors

If the snow or deep freezes might have killed some plants, homeowners can plant new flowers of various colors to brighten the front yard and increase curb appeal. Better Homes and Gardens released a list of the must-grow trees, shrubs and vines for 2014 with types to fit any kind of landscape such as hydrangeas, magnolias and lilacs.

By Andrea Davis | MSN

10 Steps for Safe Spring Cleaning

untitledSpring cleaning is a great way to spruce up curb appeal and to get your home in tip-top shape for Summer, but some projects come are riskier than others. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013, more than 35,500 people injured themselves using a stepladder.

Many Spring cleaning projects are labor intensive. They require homeowners to step outside of comfort zones and onto ladders and roofs.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recently released some expert advice on what to do and not to do when performing maintenance on your home.

“We all want a perfectly clean house with the snap of a finger, so we tend to rush through a numerous amount of burdensome tasks in a short period of time, and that’s where we put ourselves at risk for injuries,” said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Lana Kang, MD.  “Whether it’s a fall caused after making a wrong step on a ladder or straining a back muscle, it’s best to pace yourself, complete one task at a time, and take regular breaks.”

Here are 10 steps that all homeowners should take to help avoid injury.

1. In order to avoid back injuries be sure to properly lift and carry heavy objects. How does one do this? The AAOS says to “separate your feet, shoulder-width apart and keep your back upright and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles. Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up.” Get help lifting heavy objects!

2. If you are dusting hard to reach spots use a step stool. Don’t dangle your body off of counters or flimsy furniture!

3. When you use a ladder, be sure to place it on a level surface. Do not lean or reach for objects. Take the time to get down and move the ladder to where you need it.

4. Many tasks will involve using an extension cord. You should inspect all cords prior to their use. Look for gnawed or cut wires. To prevent trips and falls keep cords away from doorways and walkways!

5. If you are working with chemicals, sharp objects, debris, or branches then consider wearing protective gear. This can include such things as protective eyewear, long sleeves, and sturdy shoes. Leave the flip-flops for the beach!

6. The AAOS says, “Read product labels for proper use of chemicals used for cleaning.  Store all chemicals in places indicated on the package. This should be out-of-reach of both children and pets. Never place chemicals into unmarked containers or containers labeled for a different substance.”

7. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It can be hot and sweaty work cleaning gutters, trimming trees, and replacing shingles. Take frequent breaks and keep water handy. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. That means you’re already dehydrated!

8. Have a cell phone on your person or within reach so you can call for help. Better yet, have another family member present while you are working.

9. When using a mower, use one that has certain safety features. You want one that stops mowing when the handle is released. Never mow when children or pets are in the area. Never disable safety features.

10. Finally, start any intensive project with a good stretching session. Whether you think so or not, these tasks are a workout and your body needs a little time to prep to avoid strains.

Written by Realty Times Staff on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:23 pm

9 Easy Mistakes Homeowners Make on Their Taxes

common-tax-mistakes-papers-floor_6d9dfefcdefb4afdc5c652bc23d6cd88_3x2_jpg_300x200_q85Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary — know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.

As you calculate your tax returns, consider each home tax deduction and credit you are — and are not — entitled to. Running afoul of any of these nine home-related tax mistakes — which tax pros say are especially common — can cost you money or draw the IRS to your doorstep.

Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes

You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind — that is, you’re not billed for 2013 property taxes until 2014. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.

Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2013, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.

Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid

If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Don’t just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.

Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance

Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, says Meighan, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan. If you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $133 per year.

Sin #4: Misjudging the home office tax deduction

The deduction is complicated, often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return. But there’s good news – there’s a new simplified home office deduction option if you don’t want to claim actual costs. If you’re eligible, you can instead claim $5 per sq. ft. up to 300 feet, or $1,500.

Sin #5: Failing to repay the first-time home buyer tax credit

If you used the original home buyer tax credit in 2008, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years. If you used the tax credit in 2009 or 2010 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have to pay back the credit.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

Sin #6: Failing to track home-related expenses

If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home improvement expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer’s certification statement for energy tax credits and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.

Sin #7: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains

If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. You can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if your cost basis for your home is $100,000 (what you paid for it plus any improvements) and you sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you’re single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523.

Sin #8: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits

If you made any eligible improvements in 2013, such as installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you may be able to take a 10% tax credit (up to $500; with some systems your cap is even lower than $500). But keep in mind, it’s a lifetime credit. If you claimed the credit in any recent years, you’re done. Fill out Form 5695.

The first part of the form, which covers systems eligible for a larger tax credit through 2016, such as geothermal heat pumps, can be complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.

Sin #9: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction

Taxpayers are allowed to deduct mortgage interest on home acquisition debt up to $1 million, plus they can also deduct up to $100,000 in home equity debt.

This article was original published in January 2011.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

By: G. M. Filisko | HouseLogic