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Tom and Christy Discuss First Time Home Buyers

The Curtin Team’s CEO, Tom Curtin and Director of Sales, Christy Smith explain the benefits for first time home buyers in today’s market. One of the biggest advantages of buying a home today is the stability and equity you get. Waiting a year or two can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in equity loss. And as rental rates continue to rise, a fixed rate mortgage payment stays the same. Also, many sellers and lenders are now offering to pay closing costs and buy downs on rates. Large down payments often scare off first time homebuyers, but some loans require as little as 3.5% down. As an example, the down payment on a $400,000 house can be as low as $14,000. And there are many ways to get that down payment including finding places in your budget to cut back and save, loans from family, or loans against a 401K to cover some or all it. The news of interest rate hikes shouldn’t scare off potential home buyers either. If rates go down, refinancing is available and if rates go up, you’ll be glad you locked in a lower rate.

Tom and Christy Discuss First Time Home Buyers

Tom and Christy Explain Mortgage Rate Buy Downs

The Curtin Team’s CEO, Tom Curtin and Director of Sales, Christy Smith explain the benefits of mortgage rate buy downs for buyers and sellers. Like many practices in the world of Real Estate, mortgage hacks depend on Buyer/Seller goals, timelines, and preferences. Buy-downs are unique, though, because they offer direct benefits to both Buyers and Sellers in the short term and long term. They allow houses to be sold more efficiently, less stress with high monthly payments for Buyers, and less interest payment over time. If you are in the market to either buy or sell a home, don’t forget that there are ways for you to save money during the process.

Tom and Christy Explain Mortgage Rate Buy Downs

Tom’s Top Five Business Books

What was the last book you read? More importantly – what was the last book you read that helped you and your team succeed at work? Being well read doesn’t just help you in your day-to-day activities. Choosing to learn from established experts and authors helps shorten your learning curve so you can bring practical information and methods to your co-workers, colleagues, and clients. While there’s no substitute for learning by doing, there’s a wide gap in knowledge that favors those who take time to read effective business books over those who don’t. Over the years, I’ve read more than a fair share of business books, and some have stood out more than others. That’s why today I am sharing my top five favorite business books that you will wish you had read sooner.

1. “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
Written as a narrative story, this is an easy read. I find this book foundational for any new or recently-started investor to understand what it means to have an investor mindset. It helps distinguish what is truly an asset and liability and how to use money as a tool to create wealth. You don’t have to be born rich to become rich. Instead, there’s a path that just about anyone who is willing to take can follow. In 1999, my wife Joanne read this book and I read it shortly after her. It was one of the reasons Joanne decided to leave her teaching career to become a real estate professional just a year later. It’s the reason we bought our first investment property and created goals around real estate investing. I have a lot of gratitude for this book.
2. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
This book is about breaking bad behaviors and adopting good ones in four steps with small, incremental, everyday routines that compound into massive, positive changes over time. You can truly change your behavior by following these steps. There are some great hacks here on breaking cravings and creating new habits. These include steps about making new routines easy to start, making them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. 1. Make it obvious – Don’t hide your fruits in the fridge, but instead put them on display front and center. 2. Make it attractive – start with the fruit you like the most so you’ll actually want to eat one when you see it. 3. Make it easy – don’t create needless friction by focusing on fruits that are hard to peel. Bananas and apples are super easy to eat, for example. 4. Make it satisfying – if you like the fruit you picked, you’ll love eating it and feel healthier as a result! The book goes into a lot more detail. I highly recommend it as you can apply these little hacks to make your life better and more efficient.
3. “Unlimited Power” by Tony Robbins
This book is a self-help classic that breaks down how Tony Robbins has helped top performers perform at their highest level and how you can use the same mental and physical tactics to accomplish your biggest life goals. “Unlimited Power” connotes your ability to revamp your life and produce every outcome you’ve ever wanted while generating value for the people around you. There is so much packed into this book that I can’t get into everything. It’s a long read, but it’s worth every page. One key idea is to use modeling – how you can model yourself after others who are more successful to get what they have. We’ve used this tactic in our real estate business as well as real estate investing. The difference between successful people and everyone else is that successful people see “failure” as an opportunity to grow and learn. We model, try new things, fail and learn. Also simple hacks to change your mood with body posture and breathing techniques, it works! And lastly emotional intelligence, how you respond to situations and your emotions, your attitude determines a lot of what you can accomplish.
4. “First Break All The Rules” by Don Clifton
This book walks you through how to be a better manager and debunks a lot of traditional management methods. I enjoy this book because it resonates with my management style, especially being a part of a small team. We are truly a family. Happy and satisfied employees make the company better and treat clients better. Managers can help employees be happier and more satisfied, it starts with caring about how happy and satisfied they are at work and personally. Intentionally design the atmosphere to encourage self-expression, trust, enjoyment, and productivity. A leader sets the goals, and helps guide but ultimately employees will be happier when they can control and have input in how they reach those goals. If you want to help your team grow, you’ve got to get to know them on a personal level. And if you want to know what standard you should hold everybody to, you need to look at your top performers and spend a lot of time with them. I’d recommend this book to someone who just became a manager and feels overwhelmed, or a seasoned executive that wants to learn and play to their employee’s strengths, or anyone that would like to become a great leader at work.
5. “Five Dysfunctions Of A Team” by Patrick Lencioni
This book will teach you how to have a functional team to be more productive and how to avoid back-channel politics. It’s written in an easy-to-read fable and then breaks it down into practical guidelines on how to overcome each of the five dysfunctions. In hindsight, if I had read this book at the start of my team building career, I could have avoided some drama and probably gotten out of business faster with some people we ultimately ended up parting ways with, but not before they caused damage to the team. it could have possibly helped to fix some bad behavior, but I suspect it would have just highlighted it and caused them to opt out sooner, and maybe I’d have a few less gray hairs.

The next time you are asked what the last book you read was, I hope you think back to one of my five suggestions and are able to apply what you’ve learned in the workplace. True leaders and intelligent thinkers know that they don’t know everything, and they know when to look for outside wisdom and advice to pass along to those who rely on them in the business world. These five reads cover everything from financial responsibility and habit building to team chemistry and unlocking your true potential, and I highly suggest that you check them out.

Tom’s Top Five Business Books

Protect Your Investment with a 1031 Exchange

Raise your hand if you know what a 1031 Exchange is.
Anyone?

If you’re a real estate investor, we’re betting YOU’RE raising your hands. Both of them.
We always say that there’s no greater investment than real estate. That’s true whether you’re buying a home in which you can live or whether you’re buying homes to hold as actual investments, not unlike buying stocks or bonds.
Investors—just like The Curtin Team—know that homes are great sources of equity, not to mention boons for their tax returns, paths to greater cash flow, better diversification of their portfolios, and great ways to counter the effects of inflation.
Real estate is a GREAT investment.

But what happens when it’s time to sell an investment property?

That’s a tricky question and if you don’t have a REALTOR who’s well-versed in how to handle these transactions, you could be left holding the bag (which could be woefully free of money).
When you have a REALTOR who understands real estate investment, however, and the intricacies of a 1031 exchange, you’ll be sitting pretty when all is said and done.
With a 1031 exchange, an investor can sell a property, reinvest the proceeds, and defer ALL capital gains taxes. That’s right, ALL. To give an example, if you sold a property and had $200,000 in capital gains, you’d be subject to taxes of around $70,000, meaning you’d only have about $130,000 left to invest in a new property. After making a down payment and assuming an LTV (loan-to-value) ratio of 75%, that means you’d be able to buy a new property worth about $520,000.
But with a 1031 exchange, you’d be able to use the entire $200,000. If you had the same down payment and LTV as we cited in the previous example, you could buy a property worth about $800,000.

If you think the 1031 exchange sounds like a great idea, you’re right.
But it’s crucial—CRUCIAL—that your REALTOR understands the rules and regulations related to these exchanges. If they don’t, you could find yourself in financial hot water, and nobody wants that. There are dates and deadlines to which investors must adhere, or they’re forced to pay penalties.

The Curtin Team is well-versed in 1031 exchanges and understands their ins and outs; we know that when your investments are on the line, there’s no room for error, no time for dilly-dally. We make sure that your investments—your hard-earned money—are protected.

If you’re interested in investing in real estate and have questions, or if you’re thinking of selling an investment property, talk to us. We’re experienced with investors and will make sure your dollars are working as hard as they can for you, and that they’re kept safe.

Protect Your Investment with a 1031 Exchange

Why You Should Work With A Team

On a successful real estate team, everyone has a specialized role that aligns with their skills. Agents are talented at contract negotiations and pricing. Administrative teams are talented at paperwork, details, and organization. Marketing specialists are talented at getting houses as much organic exposure as possible. Essentially, every team member provides value to the business by serving clients and always looking to help their teammates when possible. Over the years, many of the Curtin Team’s clients have expressed that they enjoy having a contact available to answer their questions, which is exactly what our team is available to do. Unlike solo agents who might be constantly busy and out in the field showing homes, our staff is in the office and able to help our clients with anything they need throughout the buying or selling process.

Working with a team means you get combined experience, which leads to smoother deals and less headaches. As a team, we invest in the best systems, tools, technology, knowledge, and talent available. We feel the scope of today’s real estate transaction goes beyond one person and that an agent acting on their own can’t possibly provide the level of service needed to get the job done well. This is why clients prefer team interactions, and previously solo agents are so glad they’ve found the right group once they’ve made the switch. An individual real estate agent won’t have the time, cumulative knowledge, or assets required to invest in the best tools and execute the marketing strategies required to give homes maximum exposure and quick selling times, but well-established groups can provide all of these and more.

As an agent working on a team, there’s greater fulfillment developing your inherent skills and being able to trust teammates to work behind the scenes for your clients. Many studies have linked employee happiness with customer satisfaction. A company’s ability to deliver a greater customer experience relies on hardworking team members who always look out for each other. When an agent works on a team, they enjoy a more balanced life. The work is divided and the responsibilities are shared. They can lean into their team for help when things don’t go their way, and they have a support system that brings the peace of mind that is so difficult to find when working alone. And most especially, their clients are happier. The stability, camaraderie, and effectiveness of real estate teams like the Curtin Team make everyone’s lives easier – both our clients and our agents included.

Ask Me Anything Invitation


The real estate market is constantly shifting. Do you know how to position yourself for success as a buyer or a seller? Our team of real estate experts will be available to answer your questions on August 10 at 10am (Eastern Time). Dial into our Zoom call and join us for an informative Q and A.

Register Here
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

What I Would Spend Money On If I Was Renovating

There are endless possibilities of what you can spend money on to improve your home. From simple upgrades to massive renovations, it can be overwhelming deciding where to start. To help, we’ve put together a list of priorities as we see it from a Realtor’s perspective. It’s important to start with what you love and enjoy (especially if you plan to be in your home for at least 4 more years) and prioritize the area of your home that you know you’ll get the most enjoyment out of first. On the other end, if there’s something in your home that causes you stress every time you see it, change it. Renovating can be a challenge, but assessing your wants, needs, and budget is a great first step.

Up To $5,000 Budget
1. Interior Paint – Fresh paint gives you the best bang for your buck. Depending on the size of your home, you may be able to get most of your main living area painted for under $5,000.
2. New Kitchen Backsplash / Updated Light Fixtures – An eat-in kitchen, dining room, or foyer chandelier provide a fresh, updated look without breaking the bank. If you have the builder-standard fluorescent rectangle in your kitchen: get rid of it! Replace with a new modern handing light or recessed lights.
3. New Bathroom Vanities – If you have any bathrooms that have laminate counters, this signals that the vanity is dated, too. You can purchase a new vanity that also has a built-in stone counter and new sink all together. You’ll just need to purchase a matching upgraded fixture to go with it.
4. New Front Door/ Refinishing Wood Doors – A new front door adds great curb appeal. Front doors make such an important first impression! When you’re selling your home, you always want the entrance way to be in top shape. Picture this: the buyers and their realtor approach your home, the buyers are eagerly looking around to assess the entrance, and the Realtor is trying to open the lockbox. Entry is not immediate — it can take a minute or two to get the lockbox open and enter the home. If you have rotten wood or an old pealing door, this will set the stage for a buyer’s negative impression of your home.
5. Exterior Cleaning – Power washing can be a surprisingly affordable way to make your exterior look new again. Your house, driveway, walkways, and roof can all be power washed for a fresh look. Add professional window cleaning and you’ll be looking great!

Up To $25,000 Budget
1. Flooring – Wood floors in main living areas and new carpet in bedrooms make a big difference. Real hardwood flooring is a timeless style and will never be an outdated choice. Color choices can vary and add personality but try to avoid extremes. And, you can refinish hardwood and change the look if needed.
2. Kitchen Appliance Upgrades / New Kitchen Counters – If your home is in a luxury price point, buyers will expect high-end appliances. The stove or cook top is the center piece, so consider this first.
3. Bathroom Vanities – We covered this in the $5,000 budget section, but if you have multiple bathrooms to upgrade, you’ll easily spend more than that. If your primary bathroom doesn’t have a dual vanity and you can find a way to add one, that will be a great investment. Pro-tip: This may also save you from arguments with your significant other if you’ve been sharing a sink.
4. Retiling – Primary shower and floors can often use new tiling, along with adding a standalone tub. Avoid trendy or colorful tile. Remember, light and bright is timeless.
5. Cabinet Makeover – Painting or refacing cabinets and changing out hardware is a simple but effective project.

Budget up to $100,000
1. Full Kitchen Update – New appliances, quartz or quartzite counters, backsplash, fresh paint; depending on size of kitchen, you may or may not be able to fully replace cabinets with this budget. Style and trends in kitchens change frequently. If you’re worried about making the right design choices, it’s always best to go light and bright, aiming for a timeless look that will last. The average cost of a full kitchen renovation in our area now averages over $150,000, so to stay on budget, consider hiring a professional designer who can help you find cost savings and make the right design choices.
2. Finished Basement – Adding additional finished space is a big bang for your buck. Adding a media room, an exercise room, office space, an additional bathroom, or an additional entertainment area will add huge value to a home.
3. Outdoor Living Space – An exterior gathering area like an outdoor fireplace, a new porch, or an upgraded deck are great additions. Consider high performance composite decking, a common brand is Trex, for great quality and value.
4. Exterior Upgrade – Fresh paint, a new roof, and new landscaping can transform the look of your home completely and even make your neighbors jealous with this project. Maybe they will follow your lead and paint their houses, too!
5. New Cement Siding / Windows – Many homes in our area built between the 1980s-90s were built using a siding referred to as OSB, or Orient Strand Board. One of the common brands that was used is called “LP” siding. This siding is a wood fiber glued together that deteriorates over time and is susceptible to moisture and other weather damage. New cement board siding, one of the popular brands is “Hardie Plank,” is made from a cement fiber that can withstand moisture and weather damage. If your home was built using OSB siding, it is also likely to have wooden single-pane windows. A major upgrade that will pay off when selling your home is replacing all of the siding and windows. Upgrading your windows to new dual-pane windows will enhance the curb appeal of your home and you’ll realize energy savings + noise reduction.

Renovating in today’s market requires patience and flexibility. The pandemic has caused price increases due to supply shortages and rising labor costs. Labor is hard to find, and you’ll need to plan ahead carefully with materials. We suggest that you make a plan and order supplies before you begin. Some appliances and fixtures can take weeks or months to come in, certain paints are hard to find, and the list goes on. In the end, it will be worth it! We hear it all the time: “I should have done this years ago!” Don’t delay and wait until you’re about to sell your home. Do it now and enjoy it without breaking the bank!

What I Would Spend Money On If I Was Renovating

Rising Mortgage Rates Still At Historic Lows

Mortgage rates rose today, but rates overall are at historical lows. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is 4.47%, according to Bankrate.com, and the average rate on a 15-year mortgage is 3.64%. On a 30-year jumbo mortgage, the average rate is 4.48%, and the average rate on a 5/1 ARM is 2.96%. These rates are just averages and subject to change daily. For current rates contact your preferred lender.

During the pandemic we had historically low rates. The factors that most affect the rate increases today are inflation and economic growth. But rates can change for various reasons. Overall though, rates are expected to continue to go up this year.

Does this mean you should cancel your home buying plans? Absolutely not! Even though rates are higher than in 2021 they are still very low. 30-year fixed rates were in the high 5%’s just a few years ago.

Buying a home isn’t just about interest rates though, it’s also about making a lifestyle choice. It’s best to find right house for you when the time is right for you. Home values have historically risen and now is a good time to get in to your dream home.

Rising Mortgage Rates Still At Historic Lows

Not All CMA’s Are The Same

Successful home sellers know that the key to a quicker, less stressful sale begins with an appropriate listing price. Before boxes are packed or walls are painted, understanding your home’s market value should be your number one priority. General Market Analysis Summary also known as a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) is the first step to estimate the value of a home sale relative to comparable properties in your area.

Factors that influence a CMA include:
– Square footage
– The number of bedrooms and baths
– The age of the home
– Construction and style
– Neighborhood and schools

However, not all CMA’s are the same. There is no standard process for creating CMA’s. Each agent has their own tools and methodology. The CMA you receive from the Curtin Team is different than CMA’s developed by other agents because we use a variety of tools such as the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), tax records, and an understanding of off-market sales. This deep knowledge of the local market makes our CMA’s invaluable to sellers looking to price their homes appropriately for the market.
A CMA from the Curtin Team helps match buyers and sellers with the best options in their price range and desired location and allows sellers’ homes to spend the shortest possible time on the market. Our List to Sale price ratio (seller’s asking price to the actual sale price) is above industry averages because of the way we strategically analyze this data to accurately price your home.

Request Your Analysis Here

Not All CMA’s Are The Same

Happy New Year! Melinda Nawn Hosting Home Buyers Workshop on January 26

Happy New Year from the Curtin Team!

It’s not business as usual, but it’s still a great time to BUY. Whether you are considering down sizing, right sizing or buying for the first time, Melinda Nawn, Curtin Team Buyer Agent, will show you the path to WINNING in 2022 real estate market. She will separate fears from facts, explain the realities of the current market, various financing options and the next steps to take to be in your new home.

The workshop will be hosted at 1255 Canton Street, Ste. A, Roswell, GA 30075 on Tuesday, January 26th from noon to 1pm. Light refreshments will be served. If you are unable to attend in person, a Zoom link is available.

SIGN UP TODAY

Happy New Year! Melinda Nawn Hosting Home Buyers Workshop on January 26