The people behind the posts...

Gina Bridges 
Owner & Team Leader

Ginka Bridges
Buyer Specialist

Ken Holewinski
Buyer/Seller Specialist, Stats Guy

Benard Sogja
General Contractor

Heidi Bridges
Closing Coordinator

Helpful Hints

We are constantly on the lookout for information that is useful to our clients. Check back often, click here to receive our weekly emails, or follow us on Facebook to make sure you never miss a tip!

March 1, 2018           Benard's Tips for Home Maintanence

Thinking about a bathroom remodel? Here are some great tips...and remember, we have a contractor on our team who can help you get the job done!

February 26, 2018    Ginka's Tips for Buyers

When you have an awesome team in your corner (when we say "team," we mean a great
Realtor, loan officer, inspector and closing attorney), buying or selling a home is much less daunting than it may seem on the surface. Here are some great tips from Realtor.com to
use when it comes to obtaining a mortgage.

If you're thinking about buying or selling, give us a call...we can help you build your "team" to make the process as smooth (and fun!) as possible.


February 22, 2018   Ginka's Tips for Buyers

Are you thinking about buying a home but not sure if you're ready? Aside from the long-term investment opportunities, there are also tax benefits of owning a home. Check them out here, thanks to Realtor.com!


February 20, 2018    Benard's Tips for Home Maintenance

Thinking about redoing your laundry room? Check out these tips from This Old House!

January 23, 2018    Ginka's Tips for Buyers

Are you thinking about buying a home? Take a look at these 10 home buying pitfalls to avoid from Realtor.com....then, call us - we can help!


January 22, 2018    Gina's Tips for Sellers

You know the commercials that talk about going "Nose Blind?" Well, we are truly "nose blind" to the odors in our homes, especially when it comes to our beloved pets. But, there is nothing that can turn in a potential buyer more than an overwhelming pet odor as soon as they walk in to your home. Here is a great video from Realtor.com addressing this very issue!


January 21, 2018     Ken's Noteworty Stats

You hear us saying it over and over again...now is a great time to sell because inventory is LOW. If you’re thinking about selling, give us a call for a consultation and market analysis on your home. Even if you have projects and don’t know where to start, we can help with that too!


January 2, 2018        Benard's Tips for Home Maintenance 

Brrrrr it's cold! Here are some tips to help prevent your pipes from freezing in these unusually cold temps.


November 21, 2017     Thanksgiving Fun!

Lots of out-of-town guests coming in for Thanksgiving? We have had years where our entire family has gotten together for Thanksgiving and we have managed to stay in one house...somehow it always works and we are always comfortable. I love these tips on how to accommodate when you have more people than rooms!

November 20, 2017    Thanksgiving Fun!

I absolutely love getting to use my dining room during the holidays and it's always so much fun to find new ways to set the table. Here are some ideas that we will be using this year from House Beautiful!

November 14, 2017  Benard's Tips for Home Maintenence
                                              Benard Sogja, General Contractor

It's not the prettiest time of year for yards with the leaves falling as fast as you can rake them up, but here are some tips that you can do now that will make the grass beautiful next year.
Get some fresh air and have fun.

November 4, 2017  Gina's Tips for Sellers
                                           Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

To the sellers out there, this is all true!

November 2, 2017   Ken's Noteworthy Stats
                                             Ken Holewinski, The Stats Guy

Smyrna, GA Housing Market 

Median Listing Price

Price per Square Foot
Median Closing Price

October 30, 2017    Benard's Tips for Home Maintenence
                                           Benard Sogja, General Contractor

It's cold out there these last couple of days. Here is some info on how to keep the warm air in. And don't forget to have your Fall maintenance on your Furnace scheduled. These check ups keep the systems running properly AND extend the life expectancy of the units.
You can reach out to any team member for our recommendations.

October 23, 2017    Gina's Tips for Sellers
                                          Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

If you are getting ready to sell, make sure you check this out

October 10, 2017   Ginka's Tips for Buyers
                                 Ginka Bridges, Buyer Specialist

Who pays the Real Estate agent?

This is a question that I think many people simply do not know the answer to...because as we have said before, you are usually only engaging in a few Real Estate transaction throughout the course of your life. It is standard practice that the seller pays Real Estate commission, as explained in this article from Realtor.com. This is why we try to help buyers understand the value in having a buyers agent - it (usually) does not cost them anything and that agent will be working for YOU. However, there are a few instances where that may not be the case and the buyer could be on the hook for some or all of their agent's commission. When would this be the case? Let's set up a free buyers consultation and we can go over all of those circumstances!

October 4, 2017  Gina's Tips for Sellers
                                      Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

I love these suggestions from THIS OLD HOUSE....not only are these great Fall projects but it's just good home ownership to have these projects done. They are so correct when they say it will save thousands in future repair costs - not to mention the energy savings. When you get ready to sell your house, you won't have to "get ready" because you will all ready be there!

October 3, 2017    Ginka's Tips for Buyers
                                        Ginka Bridges, Buyer Specialist

Buying a home for the first time can be confusing at best....and since we often only have a few Real Estate transactions throughout our lifetimes, subsequent transactions may be as well. I love this list from Nerd Wallet that breaks the process down into 3 phases and gives tips on what needs to be done in each phase. Of course, getting yourself connected with the correct Buyers Agent and loan officer are 2 of the most important steps. We can help with both of those - call, text or email us to set up a free buyer consultation with one of our buyer specialists!

October 2, 2017   Gina's Tips for Sellers
                                       Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

Wow...What great ways to spruce up the bath without spending a fortune...
who would have thunk?? 

Sept 29, 2017 Heidi's Tips for a Smooth Closing
                               Heidi Bridges, Closing Coordinator

What to Bring to Closing

Closing day is finally here. The loan is done and the funds have been wired. Everyone is packed and ready to move. The following is a list of items to take with you to the closing:

·        A government issued photo ID (ex. driver’s license, passport)

·        A second ID with your name on it (ex. credit/debit card, social security card)

·        Your checkbook in the event there is a change at the closing table.

·        If a power of attorney is being used, bring the original to closing.

·        Any documents requested by the attorney (ex. probate documents, quitclaim deed)

·        The seller should bring any keys to the property and garage door remotes.

Most closings last approximately an hour, but be patient and flexible. While infrequent, unexpected hiccups can occur at the closing table. Remember that all parties are working towards the same goal. Congrats! You’ve made it to the end of the buying/selling process. Now it’s time to celebrate!

Sept 28, 2017 Benard's Tips for Home Maintenence
                               Benard Sogja, General Contractor

I love to garden and take care of my plants. Even though our weather is still pretty hot, you know how it is in GA....it'll be 85 degrees one day and will frost that night. It's time to start preparing our plants and gardens for the winter. HGTV has a great to-do list for the month of October for your plants and garden.

Sept 25, 2017 Ginka's Tips for Buyers
                               Ginka Bridges, Buyer Specialist

I had this conversation with a client yesterday...it's important to know the difference between a Pre-QUALIFICATION letter and a Pre-APPROVAL letter. In this kind of market where there is high competition between buyers, a pre-qual letter is not usually enough to make your offer stand out from the others. Take the extra steps with the help of your loan officer to get that pre-approval letter. Don't know the difference? Take a look at this article from Realtor.com!

Sept 21, 2017   Benard's Tips for Home Maintenence
                                 Benard Sogja, General Contractor

The kids are back in school, football has started, and there is no shortage of pumpkin spice - Fall is here! It's time to get started on Fall home maintenance. Here is a checklist for you!

1. Clean gutters & storm drains. Make sure downspouts carry water at least 3 feet away from house.

2. When setting clocks back, change batteries in smoke alarms & carbon monoxide detectors. Check fire extinguishers.

3. Clean chimney of soot buildup; make sure fireplace doors fit tightly.

4. Clean sliding windows. Note air leaks and apply putty, caulking, or weather-stripping where cracks appear.

5. Clean or replace furnace filters; better yet have your system serviced by a licensed technician.

6. Clean and vacuum vents & ducts.

7. Check supports & foundation on porches, patios and decks for rotting wood or separation.

8. Winterize outdoor irrigation systems to prevent freezing.

Sept 18, 2017 Ginka's Tips for Buyers
                              Ginka Bridges, Buyer Specialist

We know what you're thinking....I can buy or sell a home myself and save loads of money by not using a Realtor. And the truth is - you can. But it's often not the best move and we find that buyers and sellers who choose to represent themselves end up leaving money on the table (sometimes A LOT of money). If you are thinking of making a move with or without a Realtor, start by reading this article from Realtor.com then call us for a consultation - we would love to sit with you and go over everything we will do to get you the very best deal on your buy or sale (or both!)

Sept 15, 2017  Heidi's Tips for a Smooth Closing
                               Heidi Bridges, Closing Coordinator

Not going to the closing? Tell Everyone!

All parties on the loan or title will have to sign documents at closing. If you are unable to attend the closing, you need to let your real estate agent and the closing attorney know. If you are the buyer, your lender needs to know as well. There are several options available to you if you are unable to attend, but it helps to know as soon as possible.

Your options are: (1) have someone attend closing and sign on your behalf using a power of attorney, (2) make arrangements with the closing attorney to go into the office and sign early, and (3) a mail-away option where the closing documents are prepared beforehand, sent to you for signature and then returned to the attorney’s office in time for the scheduled closing. If you plan to use a power of attorney, the closing attorney can prepare one. This is a specific power of attorney. Do not show up at the closing with your own power of attorney unless it has been reviewed and approved by the closing attorney and lender beforehand. There will be fees for the closing attorney to prepare a power of attorney and for the mail away option, but they are small when compared to postponing a closing due to a party’s absence.

It is ideal for all parties involved to be present at the closing, but that is not always possible. If you are unable to attend, let everyone know well ahead of time so that a proper alternative can be prepared and delays avoided.

Sept 14, 2017 Benard's Tips for Home Maintenence
                              Benard Sogja, General Contractor

We have posted about water intrusion many times before....and with the storms this week, the integrity of our homes has been a big concern. The most important thing that we can do to prepare for these big storms is consistent, preventative maintenance. House Logic gives us a great list of easy ways to keep your gutters in top shape - this alone will go a long way in keeping the water where it belongs - outside!

Sept 12, 2017  Ginka's Tips for Buyers
                                Ginka Bridges, Buyer Specialist

You see the signs and the balloons every weekend and if you're not actively looking to buy a home, you may not even consider stopping...but according to Realtor.com, taking a few minutes to stop and roam through may be more beneficial to you than you think!

6 Reasons to go to an Open House
From Relator.com)

July 24, 2017  Gina's Tips for Sellers
                               Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

These are great suggestions....I need to start with the first and go straight down the list...but I can skip over the back to school organization (Thank Goodness)

To-dos: Your August Checklist

July 24, 2017   Gina's Tips for Sellers
                                 Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

Homeowners - Enjoy your home! Do you do an improvement just because you are going to sell? Yes, your home should be in good repair when you put it on the market, but if you are thinking about selling in 3-5 years where do you put your money? Put it where you will enjoy it! You may not get every penny in return for your improvement, but every time you walk through the door you get a sense of satisfaction about the home in which you live. Can you put a price on that??
If you'd like to talk in detail about this, I'm available.

July 19, 2017 Ken's Noteworthy Stats
                              Ken Holewinski, The Stats Guy

GAR's Monthly e-Newsletter July 2017
Georgia Housing Market Posts Small but Steady Gains in the First Half of 2017 
Georgia housing indicators for June are in, which give us a picture of how the housing market has performed in the first half of 2017*:
- New Listings increased 1 percent to 92,661. 
- Pending Sales increased 6 percent to 68,206. 
- Closed Sales increased 7 percent to 61,068. 
- Days on Market decreased 13 percent to 60 days.
- Median Sales Price increased 7.5 percent to $198,900. 
- Average Sales Price increased 6 percent to $243,191.

In regards to inventory, indicators are year over year for June only: 
- Inventory levels decreased 13 percent to 38,266 units. 
- Months Supply of Inventory was down 17 percent to 3.8 months.

*Please note that these figures are year-to-date for Jan-June 2016 vs. Jan-June 2017.

July 24, 2017  Gina's Tips for Sellers
                               Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

Clean, clean and clean again. Here's a tip if you are going to put your house on the market. No one wants to buy your dust bunnies. They may really like your house, if they can see the floorplan through the smudges on the walls or the dirt in the corners. Don't be afraid to have a deep clean (including window washing) before putting the house on the market.

July 21, 2017  Heidi's Tips for a Smooth Closing
                         Heidi Bridges, Closing Coordinator

Respond to Requests Quickly

During the contract to close process, you will be asked to provide information to everyone. Real estate agents, lenders and closing attorneys each have their checklist of actions to get you to the closing table. It is often a step-by-step process that requires information from you to enable them to move on to the next step.

The documents provided to the lender are used to prepare and package the loan for the underwriters. After any conditions are met, the loan is resubmitted to the underwriters for final approval. Once the loan has received final approval, the closing documents are prepared. The Initial Closing Disclosure (CD) must be delivered to the buyer 3 days before closing and then the closing package is delivered to the attorney.

The closing attorney requests information from you including social security #s, contact information for your lender and HOA. They will use this information to run the title search and help clear any issues, obtain the payoff for the current mortgage and verify HOA fees and assessments. The attorney will also collect receipts for anything being paid at closing (termite letters, home warranties, repairs) and then they will prepare the documents for closing.

In addition to helping the lender and attorney obtain the information they need, your real estate agent is fielding requests from the other agent for utility information, repair receipts, home warranty coverage, and making sure the terms of the contract are met as well as helping you navigate the process.
Once you are through the due diligence period, it may seem as if there’s not much going on. Rest assured that is not the case. All parties are working hard to ensure that you experience a smooth closing without delays. You can help by responding quickly to any requests for information. Delays happen during the process, but having information quickly allows time to deal with any hiccups along the way.

July 19, 2017  Ken's Noteworthy Stats
                               Ken Holewinski, The Stats Guy

So how are we doing in Smyrna Real Estate - Last week (Monday through Sunday) - 28 homes went under contract - 17 of those were attached townhomes or condos and 11 were single family homes.
Highest asking price was $470,000 and lowest was $96,000.

July 18, 2017  Ginka's Tips for Buyers
                               Ginka Bridges, Buyer Specialist

House hunting can be a blast! No 2 houses are exactly alike and getting to tour homes during your search is (mostly) a lot of fun.

Before you start the fun part, it's important to get the pre-approval process rolling with a loan officer. Not only will this help you stick to a budget, but in a market like this one, seller's want to see a strong pre-approval along with any offer. Save the headache of having to get it done once you find THE house and you're on a time crunch. Nerdwallet.com has some other great tips on the pre-approval process here.

Don't forget to call us - even if you are just starting to think about buying a house. We can guide you from start to finish!

July 17, 2017 Gina's Tips for Sellers
                              Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

Do you feel like the Maytag Repairman? Fewer showings? Less activity? Never fear; it's just that time of the year. Most people have the misconception that we are still busy here in Atlanta in July and August. Truth is most folks that want to move for schools are closed or they are in the pipeline to close....and it's just too hot to enjoy looking at houses. Couple that with vacations and just trying to keep the kids entertained over the summer, we just don't expect a lot of activity now. Hang in there, it will start back up again - but probably not until after Labor Day!

July 17, 2017  Gina's Tips for Sellers
                                Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

We think these things are just obvious, but maybe they aren't. I particular like the mowing and blowing before 7AM and the lighting coming from the neighbors at night.

7 Home Improvements that Could Turn Your Neighbors Against You
From This Old House)

July 14, 2017 Heidi's Tips for a Smooth Closing
                               Heidi Bridges, Closing Coordinator

Don't buy furniture...

Sounds funny doesn’t it? Your real estate agent may have said this to you in passing and you laughed it off, but don’t. I understand the temptation. You’re closing on a new home and now you have room for a big screen TV, or you don’t currently have furniture for both an eat-in kitchen and a dining room. Plus you are excited! The thing to keep in mind is even with a pre-approval or conditional approval, your lender is going to pull your credit again before closing to make sure nothing has changed. They will be looking to see if you are suddenly delinquent or if your debt ratio has changed in the last few weeks. They do not want to see big purchases. The in-store financing or sale price won’t seem like such a great deal if it costs you the loan and ultimately your new home. Shop around, make the decision, but wait and celebrate after the closing with a new purchase. And don’t even think about new car shopping!

July 13, 2017  Benard's Tips for Home Maintenence
                          Benard Sogja, General Contractor

I've been doing many bathroom remodels lately...It's a great way to update your home (and boost the value) without spending the money that would be involved in a larger project like a kitchen.

This Old House has some great suggestions if you are thinking about a bathroom renovation!

July 11, 2017

Ginka's Tips for Buyers                            
Ginka Bridges, Buyer Specialist

In this market, it's important to have an experienced buyer's
agent in your corner. Things are selling quickly and it's
important to see new listings as soon as possible! If you're
thinking about buying (or are frustrated about trying to
do it alone), call us today for a consultation.

After in-depth discussions about what you're looking for,
we will send you up-to-the-minute updates on listings that
match your criteria....and once you find THE house, we will
guide you through the negotiation process to help your
offer stand out among any others!

July 10, 2017  Gina's Tips for Sellers
                               Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

Easy Upgrades for the Weekend DIYer
(From "This Old House")

July 7, 2017  Heidi's Tips for a Smooth Closing
                            Heidi Bridges, Closing Coordinator

Protect Yourself from Wire Fraud

Email is a convenient and often used form of communication during real estate transactions. Contracts are signed electronically and documents and information are shared between parties through email. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that the real estate industry has become the target of fraudsters. Fraudsters hack the email accounts of real estate agents and closing attorneys and monitor those accounts to gain information regarding upcoming transactions. They will then send an email to the homebuyer with a false set of wiring instructions – often as a last-minute change or “updated” instructions. Homebuyers in Georgia have lost their entire down payments due to this type of fraud.

Here are some tips from our Broker to help protect you from wire fraud:
• Read emails carefully – be mindful if you see grammatical mistakes or new phone and contact information.
• If you receive an email and are unsure about the authenticity of the email or link, do not click the link or provide any information, but contact the parties involved at a known number.
• A real estate agent should never send you wiring instructions or ask a client for personal information.
• Don’t use public computers if traveling (such as hotel lobbies) to access email.
• ALWAYS personally speak with the attorney’s office or lender to verify wiring instructions prior to sending funds. Do not use email to verify.

While a serious and growing threat in Georgia, following these simple precautions can protect you against wire fraud.


Gina's Tips for Sellers
Gina Bridges, Owner - Bridges Home Team

Thinking of selling your home? Here is a great video from Realtor.com that gives you ideas of what kinds of improvements to consider before you list.


Heidi's Tips for a Smooth Closing
Heidi Bridges, Closing Coordinator

Mind The Deadlines!

Regardless of whether you are buying or selling, there are deadlines you will need to meet: due diligence, providing neighborhood covenants, termite letters or repair receipts, financing and appraisal contingencies, possession.

Buyers: The Due Diligence deadline is not the last day for you to request repairs, but is the deadline for coming to an agreement. Be sure to schedule home inspections early enough to receive the reports and get any needed estimates. Be thorough during the inspection process, but allow time for negotiating.

Sellers: When scheduling repairs, allow enough time for the repairs to be completed and receipts provided to the buyers. Get a head start on packing and schedule your moving trucks so that the home is completely empty and clean when the buyer takes possession - whether at closing or after.

Deadlines have a way of sneaking up on us, but time management can keep us from watching the clock and lead to a smooth closing.


Benard's Home Maintenence Tips
Benard Sogja, General Contractor

I can't remember when we have had this much rain in the Atlanta area. Has anyone else's basement ended up with water in it?? Mine did, for the first time since we have been in our house (and hopefully the last time!)

State Farm gives a great overview of some of the common causes of water intrusion.

It's important to know how to spot the underlying issue, and if you can't you know it's time to call in a professional to get the job done.


Ken's Noteworthy Stats
Ken Holewinski, Stats Guy

Did you know that in Cobb County from June 1 through today there were 859 new properties listed? The highest asking price of all of those is over $2.5M and that honor goes to a property in Vinings. But here's the good part...June 1 through today 842 properties have closed in Cobb County making the inventory very even...one in/one out

Now in our little neck of the woods in Smyrna/Mableton here are our stats: 228 new listings in June and 180 closed...If you'd like to know more about our listing prices give a shout!


Ginka's Tips for Buyers
Ginka Bridges, Buyer Specialist

5 Things to Ask the Seller of the House You're Buying

Every house is different and every house has it's unique features (ie - what does this light switch control?) I have clients I am working with now who have requested that the sellers attend the walk-through prior to closing so they can help answer questions about the house. Realtor.com has compiled a great list of questions that buyers can ask the sellers to help familiarize them to their new home!