Why the Purchase Offer Process is Easier Than Getting a Tattoo!

October 16, 2007

Buying property in the North Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains

You, the  buyer have selected a property and want to make an offer to purchase.  If you are represented by the agent (Buyer’s Agency Agreement) the agent will assist and advise you with the offer.  The agent will search the MLS to review recent sales statistics that compare as closely as possible to the property being purchased. 

This information will include:

••         Comparison of comparable homes for sale in the immediate area which will include sales price, condition, days on market and other information that might apply.

••         Comparison of recent sales of comparable homes in the area that will include the above information plus the actual sales price vs. the listing price.

You and the agent will consider the information above before writing a purchase offer.

The purchase offer will include:

••         Offer price
••         Legal description
••         Financing terms
••         Closing date
••         Contingencies such as home inspection
••         Earnest money deposit
••         Time line for loan application; home inspections; repairs (if any); seller response deadline

Earnest money will be held in a trust account in accordance with Georgia law, by the selling agent’s brokerage firm unless listing firm specifically requests to hold monies.

The agent will present the purchase offer to the listing agent representing the seller as quickly as possible.  The seller has three options:

  1. Accept the contract as written    
  2. Submit a counter- offer
  3. Reject the offer

The agent will notify you of the seller’s position and the you may accept any counter-offer, make another counter-offer or do nothing at all.  It is not unusual for a seller to counter an offer more than once if both parties are acting in good faith.  See, wasn’t that easier than getting a tattoo?!

Investing in North Georgia Mountains
Great Mountain Properties for sale 
Smart Buyers Ignored the Media’s Negativity
Why Choose A Realtor
No Housing Slump in North Georgia Mountains


Donna Yates, Realtor
North Georgia Mountains


Why You Should Choose a Realtor

September 26, 2007

realtor.gifFew things are as important as purchasing a home.  For most, it will be the largest investment of their life. Therefore, it is important to work with the best when you are ready to buy your home.  Be sure to choose a REALTOR® and not just a sales agent.
A sales agent may sell you a house but a REALTOR®  subscribes to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and adheres to continuous education and a strict code of ethics.  Real Estate is a very competitive industry, please choose carefully.

Why Choose a REALTOR “®” ?

  • A REALTOR® is a trained professional and knowledgeable consultant, who consistently completes continuous education classes to keep abreast of real estate law, ethics, contracting, fair housing and all matters pertaining to real estate.
  • A REALTOR® will minimize the inconvenience a buyer will experience in the search and purchase of a home by saving the buyer time, money and frustration.
  • A REALTOR® may assist, advise and represent the buyer (client) in negotiating, writing a contract, presenting an offer and/or counteroffer(s) financing, inspections and closing.   Note:  Georgia state law requires a Buyer’s Agency Agreement in order for a REALTOR® to advise and negotiate on a buyer’s (client) behalf. Contact or visit Donna , see the “buying” page for more information about buyer’s agency or ask a REALTOR® for details.
  • A REALTOR® is THE local market expert and may provide the buyer with actual market data.
  • A REALTOR® is committed to promoting the client’s best interest above anyone else including his/her own interest within the law.
  • A REALTOR® owes the buyer (client) specific duties such as, loyalty, confidentiality,  and lawful handling of monies.

    This was written with the buyer in mind but applies to sellers too.

Donna Yates, REALTOR®
North Georgia Mountains
706-633-0644 Cell

What Everybody Should Know About Earnest Money Deposits

September 6, 2007

cartoon-dollar.jpgHomebuyers should understand what Earnest Money is and that Earnest Money payments made before closing may not be treated the same in all transactions.  How the earnest money will be handled is usually spelled out in the purchase and sales contract.  You should consult with an attorney if you do not understand the purpose or disposition of payment terms or any other terms in the contract. 

Let’s start with some basic questions and answers:

What is Earnest Money?
It is good faith money that the buyer usually gives to the seller’s agent or may give to the buyer’s agent if the buyer is being represented by an agent (requires a Buyer’s Agency Agreement). 

Is earnest money required in order to have a valid contract?

Law does not require an earnest money deposit but most sellers will.  If you agree to pay earnest money and you not make the required payment, you (the buyer) will probably be in breach of the contract.


How much Earnest Money is required?

This amount can be negotiated.  Usually, it will be a small percentage of the purchase price which may vary depending on market conditions, the price and type of property (vacant land, resale of a home, new construction) as well as other factors.


Where does the Earnest Money go before closing?

The purchase and sale agreement will govern where the earnest money will go.  Also, an amount to be paid will be specified and when the payment will be made.  It should state whether the money will be held in a trust account sometimes called escrow, who will hold the money, whether it will be credited against the purchase price at closing and what happens to the money in the event the transaction does not close.

Will my Earnest Money earn interest between contract and closing?
Typically not because most earnest money is held by real estate brokers in non-interest bearing trust accounts.  In the event the earnest money is deposited in an interest bearing account, the buyer and seller must agree on who will receive the interest.  Be sure this agreement is included in the purchase and sale agreement and may require assistance from an attorney.

Who can hold Earnest Money?

Basically, any entity agreeable to (the buyer) and the seller but usually, it will be held by a licensed real estate broker.  Buyer beware if you allow a seller or builder to hold the earnest money. You risk not getting the money back should the transaction not close.  Therefore, it is good practice to have the real estate broker or attorney hold the deposit since they are required by law to deposit the money in a trust account.  This minimizes the risk of the monies being used improperly.


Is Earnest Money different from an option fee?

Yes.  An option fee is a separate fee the buyer may elect to pay in a purchase and sale agreement to walk away from the transaction during a specified time.  Earnest money may be refunded under certain circumstances; the option fee is non-refundable.


Is there a federal law that allows me to rescind my home loan and wouldn’t that allow me to get back my Earnest Money?

There is a federal law that gives a buyer three days to cancel a home loan commitment but it does not give the buyer the right to cancel a purchase and sale agreement and get a refund of the earnest money.  The buyer is obligated to the purchase as specified in the sales contract and is not related to your right to obtain the best loan possible.

Does the buyer get back the Earnest Money if the transaction does not close?
This depends on why the transaction did not close.  A typical contract may contain contingencies which must be met in order for the contract to proceed. 

Some requirements may be:

  • the buyer makes a good faith effort to obtain financing
  • the buyer may need to sell his/her own property first

  • the seller may need to make certain repairs

  • the seller will need to provide good title

If the seller does not meet his obligations, then the buyer may be entitled to a refund.  However, if the buyer breaches the contract, then the earnest money will be forfeited.  Also, the party injured by the breach may seek additional damages by asking for “specific performance” where a court may intervene.  Be sure to consult with an attorney to fully understand the consequences and remedies if the purchase does not close.


What if there is a dispute between the buyer and the seller on who is entitled to the Earnest Money?

The real estate broker will continue to hold the monies in a trust account until the dispute is resolved either in writing or until a court decides the matter.  The broker is not allowed to pursue a claim for either party but may appear as a witness in court and make necessary documents available.



 Donna Yates, Realtor with Mountain Investments of North Georgia is ready to help you find your “mountain investment”!  See Donna’s website:  www.move2northgeorgia.net for great mountain properties for sale, real estate tips and advice, general information about the North Georgia Mountains.  Contact Donna with any questions or leave a comment below.   

Gone Fishin’… Get Hooked on the North Georgia Mountains

September 6, 2007

autumn-leaves.gifFinally, September is here!  I will miss summer and it did fly by but “stars above” we had some hot temps in August.  Much of the month was over 100 degrees which is very unusual for the cool North Georgia Mountains.  Now the cool mornings and evenings are back and it feels like a cool splash in the lake!  Ahh, refreshing for sure. 

With September comes the first hint of autumn color and there’s nothing like Fall in the North Georgia Mountains.  It’s a great time to be out and about in North Georgia after a long week in the grind.  There’s plenty of family recreation such as horseback riding, festivals galore, shopping, rafting and why not fishing?!  I haven’t written anything about fishing yet and I thought it was high time to do so.

The northern third of Georgia boasts beautiful streams, rivers and lakes.  Plan a trip together as a family and go with the flow.  Let’s talk about fishing…  First of all, wear good shoes, not sandals or flip flops.  Everyone over the age of 16 years old must have a fishing and trout license.  It’s a good idea to get the trout license since the majority of North Georgia’s streams are designated trout streams according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

anbobber2.gifRainbow and Brown Trout are the two most common species associated with North Georgia but catching other species is very likely, especially in the Fall.  A rule of thumb is that you have a better chance of catching trout the farther upstream and will probably catch a multitude of native warm water species in the lower streams.  Here’s what you very likely will catch: 

  • black bass
  • sunfish (redbreast and bluegill) bluegill may be found on steep rocky banks in six or more feet of water
  • catfish
  • crappie and white bass  – may be found in ten feet or more of water, creek channels, main river beds or even water around boat docks
  • possibly striped bass and walleye

Visit Lake Blue Ridge Marina or any of the marinas on many other lakes throughout North Georgia for recommendations on where to fish and what kind of tackle to use.  Lake Blue Ridge Marina will rent pontoon boats as most other marinas will too.  Pontoon boats are great for families and provide a slow, lazy day of fishing.  Also, fish from the banks – walk easy and fish slowly.

Prepare yourself for great memories (don’t forget the camera) with your family and maybe even one of the best fish dinners you’ll ever have! 

Donna Yates, Realtor with Mountain Investments of North Georgia.  See Donna’s website for great mountain properties for sale; buyers and sellers tips and advice; request free market analysis; and other great tools for your real estate needs.  Donna Yates Real Estate – let Donna help you find your mountain investment.   Visit:  www.move2northgeorgia.net

Fannin County Creeks (Hemptown Creek) Flood of 1990, Historic Indian Writings

September 4, 2007

Hemptown Creek near McCaysville in Fannin County, North Georgia is full of history.  This creek is just one of many creeks in Fannin County.  The creek’s stone dam was destroyed in a flood that occurred about seventeen years ago.  A section of the stone wall still remains but the rest of the dam is gone, no longer stretching across the creek.  Big chunks of rocks that were left behind serve as a reminder of just how devastating the flood of 1990 was.  The property where the portion of the dam still stands has been privately owned since 1978.  It has become a landmark in Fannin County.  See the full story in our local newspaper written by Cynthia Maude:  www.thenewsobserver.com

An archaeologist from USC (University of South Carolina) inspected some stones which were found to have Indian writing.  A larger stone was inscribed with an Indian face, headdress, bow and arrow, knife and several joined lines. A female headdress was inscribed on a smaller stone.  It is possible that the rock carvings were done just before or after the civil war.  The archaeologist ruled the stones historic but not prehistoric.

Fannin County is known for it’s beauty with mountain ridges, valley settlements, creeks, Lake Blue Ridge and the winding Toccoa River from one end of  Fannin to the other flowing north into Tennessee which then becomes the Ocoee River. The average altitude is 1760 feet above sea level and Cowpen Ridge is higher than 4000 feet.  

Fannin County is the ideal setting for full-time living, raising a family, retirement or a weekend get-away.  There is no rush hour here!  Our mountains have called a variety of diverse people to our area starting with the Cherokee Indians who first inhabited the land.  With Fannin County centrally located to Tennessee and North Carolina, visits to surrounding towns is very convenient.  Atlanta is only ninety minutes away making it very easy for second home buyers who can come up on the weekends and escape the big city madness.

Whether you are looking for vacant land along Hemptown Creek or any of our other beautiful creeks such as Fightingtown, or you want a log cabin in the woods, on the lake or a ridge.  The North Georgia Mountains is a place you can call home.  There’s no place like home… a North Georgia Mountain home!  You dream it and I’ll help you find it.

Donna Yates, Realtor with Mountain Investments of North Georgia in Blue Ridge.  Visit Donna’s website: www.move2northgeorgia.net for great mountain properties for sale on Hemptown Creek, Fightingtown Creek, Lake Blue Ridge, Toccoa River and throughout the North Georgia Mountains, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.  Donna will help you find your “mountain investment“.

I apologize that I am not able to provide pictures via this blog site.  I have tried and tried to no avail.  Please see some outstanding pictures of Hemptown Creek  my Webblog:  http://www.activrain.com/blogs/blueridgemountains  or go to www.localism.com and select Georgia, Fannin County for more information  Thankyou. 

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Home Buyers Warning – Realtors work for Sellers, Not You!

September 2, 2007

The job of a listing agent is to get the highest price possible, in the shortest amount possible, with favorable terms for the seller.  Realtors work for the Seller not the Buyer unless…

The job of a buyer’s agent is to get the lowest price possible, with favorable terms to the buyer.

Simple right!?!  Well not so fast…

There are things you the buyer should know:

Buyer’s Agent      (A benefit that costs you the buyer nothing)
When you the buyer contact an agent for assistance and the agent provides assistance to you, even driving you around and showing properties to you, who do you think the agent is representing?  You may be surprised to know that the agent you contacted who is providing assistance to you is acting as a transactional broker and not Your buyer’s agentThe agent represents the seller!  That’s right, the seller.  You the buyer; however,  may have several choices in which to choose how your brokerage firm and its agents will work with you.  Such as:

  • You may want them to represent only You as a buyer’s agent
  • You may be willing to allow them to represent both you and the seller as a dual agent
  • You may agree to them representing only the seller (seller’s agent or subagent)
  • You may agree to a designated agency where one agent within the firm represents the seller and another agent within the same firm represents the buyer
    Note:  Some agencies will offer you a choice of these services, others will not.  Be sure you understand what your relationship is with the firms and its agents, what the agent will be doing for you in a transaction and put the agreement in writing as soon as possible.

Duties to the buyer by the brokerage firm and its agents are:  

  • to promote Your best interests
  • to follow Your lawful instructions 
  • to disclose all material facts which could influence Your buying decisions
  • to be loyal to You
  • to use reasonable skill, care and diligence
  • to account for all monies that they handle for You
  • not to provide confidential information about you to the sellers or their agents without your permission (once a Buyer’s Agency Agreement is signed)

So you should avoid telling the seller’s agent anything you would not want disclosed to a seller prior to signing a Buyer’s Agency Agreement.  Until you hire a brokerage firm and its agents as your Buyer’s Agent by signing a Buyer’s Agency Agreement, the firm and its agents work for the seller.

Remember, without a signed Buyer’s Agency Agreement, the firm and its agents will be acting as the Seller’s Agent and must try to obtain for the seller the best possible price, terms and provide the seller with any information about you (the buyer) even personal, financial or confidential that will help the seller.  Seller’s agents are compensated by the seller.  Buyer’s agents are compensated by the seller if the property being sold/purchased is in a multiple listing service.  If the property being purchased is a For Sale By Owner, the buyer may be responsible for compensating the Buyer’s Agent in the event the For Sale By Owner refuses to pay commission.

Donna Yates, Realtor serving the North Georgia Mountains in Blue Ridge. Please see great mountain properties for sale
Move 2 North Georgia where there’s no place like “a North Georgia Mountain” home!

Blue Ridge Skyport – “taking off” in Blue Ridge, Fannin County Georgia

August 24, 2007

 It’s a bird !  It’s a plane !  It’s a…  Wait, it really is a Plane!

It is probably fair to say that the new Blue Ridge Skyport has been somewhat of a secret, even to some local residents in Fannin county.  This new airplane development is located near Sugar Creek in Blue Ridge.  What was once a strip used for drag racing up until the late 1960s is now a pristine, private mountain community with a 3100′ landing strip. 

Jim Clack, the developer purchased the dragstrip in 1999 and began developing it into a residential community in 2002.  Mr. Clack graduated from Southern Tech and served in the Korean War.  He has always had a passion for aviation and has now developed the only air strip in Fannin county

Blue Ridge Skyport is now offering 40 homesites, 16 of which have access to the runway and a private hanger.  There are 18 hangers for homesites that do not have space for a private hanger.  Of the 40 homesites, 17 have already sold.  Surrounded by mountains, creek, spring fed pond, nature trails and native plants and trees, we believe this community has the potential to increase tourism and attract businesses to Fannin county.

Prices range from $39,000 up to $249,500 and lots range from 1.5 acres to 2.71 acres.  Lots 3, 6-21, 23, 25-26, 29, 35-37, 40 are available.    http://activerain.com/blogsview/182760/Blue-Ridge-Skyport-Sugar

Donna Yates is a Realtor with Mountain Investments of North Georgia in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.  She is passionate about the mountains and real estate and enjoys helping people find their mountain investment!  She can be reached at Donna@ellijay.com  Visit: www.move2northgeorgia.net  for great real estate opportunities!