A Choice in Columbus Neighborhoods

by Tiffiney Graham

Purchasing a home is a big decision.  The first thing home buyers tend to think about is what the home itself offers, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, whether it has a pool or a big green backyard, if it is newer with all the upgrades or older and in need of some work.  In addition to the amenities provided by the home itself, there are a number of important factors to consider when choosing the right Columbus GA neighborhood in which you will purchase a home.

  • What is the home and neighborhood like at different times of day? Visit the home a few times, each at a different time of day, and even on different days of the week, say a Saturday and then a Wednesday.  This will give you a feel for various factors such as traffic congestion and the safety of a neighborhood in the evening.
  • What additional community costs are there? In addition to paying for the mortgage and property taxes, additional community costs can include not only Home Owners Association fees but things such as gas costs for a house with a longer commute to work.  Such costs can place the price of the home much higher than anticipated.
  • What do the local have to say about the neighborhood? To get a real feel for the neighborhood, talk to residents of the neighborhood about safety, noise-levels, local schools, proximity to entertainment, and commute times.  The current residents will have all the true details of the neighborhood.
  • Let your fingers do the walking on the internet. Look up neighborhood information by searching online to get a feel for average home prices and price-appreciation, school-performance data, crime rates, and local area attractions.

Taking the time to answer these questions for the Columbus GA neighborhoods in which you are looking to purchase a home can help to ensure that you find the right home at the right price point within the exact community in which you desire to live.

Find Columbus open houses, featured listings of Columbus real estate, use the in-depth Columbus MLS search, browse through all Columbus GA homes, or look specifically for real estate within a specific price-range, including Columbus luxury homes.  Contact Tiffiney Graham and Lisa Raines, and get the expert advice and experience that only a specially trained Columbus GA REALTOR® can provide for the entire Columbus area.

Columbus Georgia Real Estate Market and Columbus Area Overview

by Tiffiney Graham

The city of Columbus sits in beautiful Georgia, a state with a low crime rates, and relatively short local commutes for workers which average less than 20 minutes.  There are 61 local pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools, and about 15.6 students per teacher.  A majority of the schools are rated either 4 out of 5 stars or 5 out of 5 stars by local parents whose children attend the schools.

The Columbus real estate offerings are quite mixed.  While homes have been built in the Columbus area since its inception in the 1800s, a good portion of homes currently available for sale were built from the 1930’s through the 1990’s.  A good majority of the household incomes for Columbus sit in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.

The Columbus Georgia real estate market is what is known as a buyer’s market, where the low and reasonable housing prices offer a great market value to Columbus home buyers.  In Columbus the average listing price has leveled off at approximately $172,000 and a median sales price sits at $100,000. A large portion of Columbus homes are currently offered in the $147,000 to $245,000 range while the average price per square foot sits at $64 per square foot.  Compared to the rest of the country, Columbus’s cost of living is 10.10% lower than the U.S. average.

Get the professional advice and knowledge on Columbus GA homes for sale that only specially trained Columbus REALTORs® can provide.  As specialists in the Columbus GA areas and surrounding areas, Tiffiney Graham and Lisa Raines have just the right amount of local familiarity and expertise necessary in today’s Columbus Georgia real estate market conditions.

Strategies for Columbus Open Houses

by Tiffiney Graham

In the current real estate market, buyers tend to rely heavily on internet research and their real estate agent to find a new home.  And yet, open houses can often bring opportunity, by exposing listed homes to a different set of customers.  Yard-signs are still considered a good way to catch people’s attention, since buyers tend to drive through the areas where they hope to live in order to look for new listings that pop up.

There are two types of open houses: those for the general public and those for real estate agents.  While some sellers shy away from open houses in general, providing an open house solely for real estate agents to attend is still important in order to get exposure to the greater real estate community.  When done properly, Columbus open houses can be a marketing tool that quickly sells a home.

Having well- advertised open houses on the first few Saturdays or Sundays after a home is listed is important.  If the open house is treated as more of a special event and is properly promoted, it will draw more potential buyers.  If there is no serious interest right away then open houses should be used more strategically, such as when additional home improvements are made, or when the price is lowered; no one wants to have a home open to the public week after week with no sale.

When used as a part of an overall marketing plan, in conjunction with proper exposure to the real estate community and an internet listing with professional looking photographs and information which highlights unique features of the home, open houses can ensure a more prominent listing and ultimately a faster home sale.

Find Columbus open houses and get the professional advice and knowledge on Columbus GA homes for sale that only specially trained Columbus REALTORs® can provide.  As specialists in Columbus neighborhoods and surrounding areas, Tiffiney Graham and Lisa Raines have just the right amount of local familiarity and expertise necessary in today’s Columbus Georgia real estate market conditions.

Getting Home Improvement Tax Deductions and Credits

by Tiffiney Graham

One of the biggest questions that often arise with regard to making home repairs and home improvements is whether they are tax deductible or are eligible for a tax credit.

There is a big difference between making home repairs to items around the house, and in executing projects which are considered home improvements.  Fixing things around the home which are broken or worn out are most commonly considered home repairs, and as such do not count towards tax deductions or tax credits.  However, replacing something that is worn or broken with something new that is more energy efficient may be seen as a home improvement and can contribute to a tax refund.

A home improvement project may be eligible for a tax credit or tax deduction if it falls within one of the following three categories.

  • Home improvements are performed for medical reasons (adding wheel-chair access, improving filtration systems, adding hot water spas for physical ailments, etc…)
  • Home improvements include energy-efficient upgrade to the home (energy-efficient windows, doors, adding insulation, upgrading roof, installing solar panels or wind energy systems, etc…)
  • A home equity loan or home equity line of credit are being used to pay for the home improvements

It is not always easy to tell the difference between a home repair and a home improvement, and each home-owner’s situation is looked at individually at tax-time.  But oftentimes, repairs which are made right alongside these types of home improvements can often be considered a part of the home improvement and can be eligible for home improvement tax deductions or home improvement tax credits.  While a tax deduction lowers the taxable income amount, a tax credit takes a set amount off the taxes which are owed.  Each offers its own pros and cons, but both get home-owners much-needed relief at tax time.

It is important to speak with a qualified financial expert before starting a home improvement project, in order to do it properly, allowing that as much as possible of the project is eligible for a credit or deduction.

As specialists in the Columbus Georgia area and surrounding areas, Tiffiney Graham and Lisa Raines have just the right amount of local familiarity and expertise necessary in today’s Columbus GA real estate market conditions.  Get the professional advice and knowledge on Columbus Georgia homes that only specially trained Columbus GA REALTORs® can provide.

Get Tax Deductions on Losses Incurred in a Real Estate Sale

by Tiffiney Graham

Within the current real estate market where the money owed on a mortgage is often higher than what a home will sell for, minimizing such financial losses becomes quite important in maintaining the status quo.  Many individuals are asking: what can be done to recoup these types of financial losses?  Can homeowners deduct such a loss from their income taxes at year-end?

While a loss sustained due to the sale of a personal asset such as a home is not deductible, there is an additional option: converting that home into a rental.  By converting a home into a rental, the government no longer considers the property a personal asset, but rather an investment asset, and a loss taken at the sale of an investment asset is tax-deductible.

One must consider all variables in doing this, and there are some requisites which must be adhered to, such as:

  • the property must be rented to someone unrelated to you
  • the rent must be set at a comparable market price
  • the income received must eventually be reported to the IRS

However, even with all this you will most likely have little or no taxable rental profits due to the home’s depreciation and other expenses which are also considered rental tax deductions.  When all is said and done, the loss may turn out to be less than anticipated, especially considering that a loss from the sale of a rental property is tax deductible as an ordinary loss.  An ordinary loss is deductible in full against your normal income such as wages and interest earned.

Thus the eventual sale of that rental can be a sort of stop-gap in easing the difference between what you originally paid to the bank for the home, and what you eventually sold it for (the rental income received over the months and the tax deduction on the loss becoming a part of this financial recovery).  In many instances this option can help individuals to recoup as much of their financial loss as possible.

All of the tax implications of converting and selling real estate, whether at a profit or a loss, can be quite complex; it is important to consult trained and knowledgeable professionals.  Contact Tiffiney Graham and Lisa Raines, and get the expert advice and experience that only a specially trained Columbus GA REALTOR® can provide.

Additionally, find Columbus open houses, featured listings of Columbus real estate, or use the in-depth Columbus MLS search.  Get local Columbus Georgia area information, browse through all Columbus GA homes, or look specifically for real estate within a specific price-range, including Columbus luxury homes.

New Technology in Muscogee County Schools, Columbus Georgia Schools

by Tiffiney Graham

Muscogee County School District is offers a solid education to over ninety percent of all school-age children in Muscogee County through one of their public schools.  That is a responsibility which is not taken lightly; in fact all MCSD schools meet the requirements set forth by not only the Georgia Department of Education but also the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).  Great focus is put on cultural diversity teaching students understanding and respect, and several of the schools have adopted the use of uniforms in order to promote a cooperative atmosphere where students can feel less peer pressure and more easily focus on their studies.

One of the most recent and exciting school improvement programs, is that Muscogee County schools are in the process of implementing new technologies into the classrooms in order to better facilitate a broader range of educational techniques.  One of these is the integration of SMART Board Technology in classrooms throughout each of the Columbus Georgia schools.  The SMART Boards are interactive whiteboards which enable teachers to utilize current technologies in the teaching environment while students learn and express their imagination in the most effective way possible.  Each teacher will receive two days of training on the SMART Board in order to be prepared to use them during class sessions.   Over five hundred SMART Boards will be installed in classrooms this year alone, and by 2013 all classrooms in the MCSD will have them.

The use of SMART Boards in the classroom is expected to improve student achievement and facilitate a professional learning environment for children of all ages.  It is great to see the local educational system taking an interest in facilitating a change that will greatly enhance the current classroom setting.

Tiffiney Graham and Lisa Raines are specialists in Columbus Georgia and surrounding areas, offering their clients just the right amount of local familiarity and expertise which is necessary in today’s Columbus GA real estate market conditions.  Get the professional advice and knowledge on Columbus Georgia homes, and Columbus houses, that only specially trained Columbus GA REALTORs® can provide.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Nearing Record Lows

by Tiffiney Graham

Across the board, fixed mortgage rates have fallen yet again, this time nearing record lows: brilliant news for those who can afford to purchase a home, for those first time home-buyers entering the market, and even for those looking to refinance existing home loans.

According to Freddie Mac, in the past year the record-low for a 30-year fixed mortgage was at 4.17 percent in November 2010, and since then has fluctuated, most recently dropping from 4.39 to 4.32 percent in August 2011.  During that same time-frame the very popular 15-year fixed mortgage also fell from 3.54 percent to 3.50 percent.  The average rate on a 5-year adjustable rate mortgage fell to 3.13 percent the lowest since January of 2005.  While the average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate loan dropped to 2.89 from 3.02, beating a record low which dates back to 1984.

Considering that rates on the 30-year fixed loan were up above 8 percent when going as far back as 2000, this continuance of low interest rates should in theory help boost a lagging real estate market by not only increasing home sales, but in the refinancing sector.  In fact many lenders have found that their refinancing departments have been booming, at their highest level of the year to date.

Lenders have implemented their own measures to aid in lending appropriately based on what borrowers can afford, often insisting on higher credit scores or possibly larger down-payments.  While this may appear to hinder some borrowers from getting the loans they desire, it actually safeguards those who cannot afford to purchase a home from doing so and then ending that financial transaction in a short sale or foreclosure within a few short years.

This continually stabilizing real estate market has a lot to gain from mortgage rates which continue to remain low, and since that is not likely to change any time soon, the future of the market remains bright.

As specialists in Columbus GA and surrounding areas, Tiffiney Graham and Lisa Raines have just the right amount of local familiarity and expertise necessary in today’s Columbus real estate market conditions.  Get the professional advice and knowledge on Columbus homes that only specially trained Columbus Georgia REALTORs® can provide.

It’s Back to School Season for Columbus GA Schools!

by Tiffiney Graham

It’s that time of year again!  Summer is wrapping up nicely, the season of spending every waking day-light hour swimming at the local pool or playing in the park, and staying up late during the week to watch movies has given way to the purchase of new backpacks and textbooks, college rule paper and number two pencils.

Kids of all ages are taking the bus from their Columbus homes or driving in cars with mom or dad to one of the local Columbus GA schools, where they will learn not only the cognitive skills necessary to survive in a corporate environment, but how to interact with their peers, gaining the interpersonal skills necessary to take them through life.

With this change in the season comes the comprehension of our history, the expression of new ideas, the trying out of new experiences, joining sports teams and school clubs, and watching a football game on a Friday night with friends.  Throughout the Muscogee County School District, teachers are preparing lesson plans, principals are managing the ins and outs of running a Columbus school, secretaries are back to answering parent inquiries, and parents are helping young ones with homework at the kitchen table.  It is a good season, filled with hope and life and wonder.  Welcome back to school Columbus Georgia!

As specialists in Columbus GA and surrounding areas, Tiffiney Graham and Lisa Raines have just the right amount of local familiarity and expertise necessary in today’s Columbus real estate market conditions.  Find Columbus open houses and get the professional advice and knowledge on Columbus homes that only specially trained Columbus Georgia REALTORs® can provide.

Columbus GA Real Estate

by Tiffiney Graham

With Fort Benning to the south, the Alabama state line to the west, and the Chattahoochee River running through it, the city of Columbus and consequently Columbus GA real estate has a diverse character, which is has been influenced and molded throughout the years.

As the city grew and expanded, various architectural styles and builders were incorporated, so that in some sections of the town, it seems almost as if you’ve walked directly into a little piece of history.  Uptown Columbus has numerous historic districts, East Columbus with its golf course, Midtown Columbus with a fabulous nightlife, North Columbus filled with newer subdivisions, and South Columbus which sits adjacent to Fort Benning military base.  No matter what part of the Columbus area you tread, there are homes which are everything from breathtakingly grand, to quaint and cozy.

Stunning Columbus waterfront estates with pristinely manicured landscaping and soaring ceilings offer luxury around every bend.  Columbus Georgia homes for sale in the historic district offer an old-world charm, including fully renovated kitchen, and built-in library.  Columbus houses set close to nature offer a view of the woods and a number of comfortable places for relaxing, both inside and outside.  Columbus properties built with the growing family in mind offer all the space which is needed while incorporating some quite unique and homey architectural features.  Condos for sale in Columbus offer the best of many worlds, with upgrades completed throughout and skyline views of the cityscape.

Find Columbus open houses, featured listings of Columbus real estate, use the in-depth Columbus MLS search, browse through all Columbus GA homes, or look specifically for real estate within a specific price-range, including Columbus luxury homes.  Contact Tiffiney and Lisa, and get the expert advice and experience that only a specially trained Columbus GA REALTOR® can provide.

Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain Georgia

by Tiffiney Graham

When respite from a hectic schedule is needed, Callaway Gardens is the place to go.  This beautiful area of woodland gardens and trails has become a preferred destination for many who own Pine Mountain real estate, as well as those in nearby areas that don’t mind a short drive.

The Callaway Gardens include a discovery center, a butterfly center, a horticultural center, a pioneer log cabin, a vegetable garden, an azalea bowl, and an overlook with breathtaking views of the woodland countryside.  The garden hosts not only birds of prey shows, but daily nature programs to learn about butterflies and plant-life, art classes, and even enjoy the FSU Flying High Circus.

During the summertime people can be found swimming on Robin Lake Beach, and playing miniature golf or table tennis.  Experience the wonderful Iceberg Island, ascend the rock- climbing wall, dare yourself to do a spider jump, enjoy the slippery water slide and even ride a paddle-boat.

The park features not only beautiful woodland gardens, but also the Callaway Gardens Discovery Bike Trail, which is a seven and a half mile trail that leads through the entire garden, offering views of its most popular attractions and features.  There are also a number of additional walking trails which wind through various sections of the gardens, offering spectacular woodland and floral views.

Take in the beauty of nature at Callaway Gardens in Georgia, and begin to understand the unique and beautiful plant life which surrounds us day-in and day-out.

Get the professional advice and knowledge on Columbus GA homes for sale that only specially trained Columbus REALTORs® can provide.  As specialists in Columbus GA and surrounding areas, Tiffiney Graham and Lisa Raines have just the right amount of local familiarity and expertise necessary in today’s Columbus Georgia real estate market conditions.  Find single-family Pine Mountain homes, or browse million-dollar Pine Mountain cabins.