Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community events. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

June 2, 2022

Installing A Pool In Your Atlanta Home?


what to consider when installing a pool in your new Atlanta home?

Swimming pools can be a lot of fun. They give you a way to cool off during the summer, have fun with friends and family, and even get some low-impact exercise that feels more like play than work. Unfortunately, they can also be a hazard if you aren’t careful around them. As a result, your homeowner’s insurance company is going to want to know about that pool, since it creates a new point of liability.

If your home already had a pool when you bought it, your insurance company would have wanted to know about it when you first took out the policy. If you’re installing a new pool, you’re still going to have to tell them, and they’ll adjust your rate accordingly. Let’s take a look at pools and insurance to give you a better idea of how your insurance company sees your new pool and what you can do to keep those rates in check.

How Do Insurance Companies See Swimming Pools?


Swimming pools are classified as an “attractive nuisance” by insurance companies, meaning that they are potentially dangerous and have an appeal that could attract children and others to them. The attractive nature of a swimming pool creates a liability on your part, leaving you responsible for any injuries or other incidents that occur in relation to the pool. The large amount of water that they hold as well as work-heavy components such as filter pumps also subject pools to a lot of wear and tear, and failure to properly maintain a pool can actually cause insurance companies to deny claims that occurred because of a lack of regular maintenance.

It’s worth noting that insurance companies view above-ground pools differently than they do in-ground pools. Above-ground pools are considered personal property and usually classified as an “external structure”, while in-ground pools are generally viewed as a feature of the property. This can affect not only how your liability is calculated but also how your policy covers repairs for any damage that occurs to your pool.

When to Tell Your Insurance Company

For the most part, you aren’t required to tell your insurance company when you start to install a swimming pool. Instead, you’re required to inform them once the swimming pool is complete and before it’s put into service. This means that you don’t necessarily have to let your insurance company know as soon as you contact a pool installer, but you do have to let them know once installation is wrapping up and before you actually start using the pool.

The reason for this is that many pool installers have to schedule installations in advance, and in some cases may run into delays or other setbacks that cause them to reschedule. Depending on when you contract your installation, you could schedule it weeks or even months in advance of the pool actually being ready. It can be a good idea to let your insurance company know that you’re looking to install a pool in the future, but they won’t adjust your policy until the pool is in place and ready to start being used.

Safe Pool Installation

Reducing liability is an important part of pool ownership. This includes things like installing a fence around the pool, setting up monitors or alarms to let you know if anyone is around the pool without permission, and installing non-slip walkways or putting other safety measures into place around the pool’s perimeter. In some areas these are required by law, but they are still a good idea even if they aren’t legally required. 

What do you wish you had known before installing your pool? Any tips for those considering installing a pool?

May 31, 2022

7 Things To Consider When Deciding Which Atlanta Neighborhood to Call Home.

What is the best neighborhood in Atlanta? If you ask this question you are bound to get a multitude of responses, but how do you choose the right neighborhood for YOU? A good real estate agent should be able to help narrow down the options, which is why it is important to choose a Realtor who specializes in the areas you are interested in. There are a few things to consider that can help you and your agent funnel down to a handful of select neighborhoods that will likely be a good fit.

If you are moving from another state, this is especially important. Many people believe that you need to rent for a year before purchasing in a new city. I disagree. I think you can find your ideal Atlanta neighborhood by answering a few questions and talking to an experienced Realtor. 

Answering these 7 questions, with the help of your agent, should leave you with 3-5 neighborhoods that fit your lifestyle, budget, and risk tolerance. 

Are Schools Important?

A lot of people would say that schools are always important, regardless of wether you have children or not, because homes in good school districts tend to hold their value. While that is often true, there are a lot of fantastic neighborhoods in Atlanta that don't have highly rated schools. In fact, most of your better investments have poorly ranked schools because the neighborhood is still improving. However, if you have kids and/or you like to play it safe, you will want to choose a neighborhood that has good schools already such as Virginia Highland, Ansley Park, Candler Park, Sherwood Forrest or Inman Park. If you want to live in an area with fantastic schools, you'll want to live in the city of Decatur. Needing or wanting to live in an area with good schools can narrow your search considerably, so it is a great place to start.

Do I HAVE to Live in the City?

While the focus of this post (and my expertise) is primarily to help narrow the "in town" neighborhoods of Atlanta or "inside the perimeter" as we say, I find that many people begin their home search in the city and ultimately purchase a home outside of Atlanta proper. If you already know you don't need a lot of walkability and you don't care if you live in the city, it's a good idea to look in the suburbs. You will get more for your money the further out you go. In fact, if you know you don't mind living in the suburbs, I wouldn't even bother looking in the city. Finding the right Atlanta suburb is a post (maybe 2) in itself. I will post about that later, but the short answer is that it is very school, crime, and commute driven-especially as you go outside of I-285 or "the perimeter". In the meantime, feel free to call or message me if you have questions about the suburbs. 

Is Walkability Important to You?

If you want to live in an area where you can walk to coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, that is a great way to fine tune your home search. You'll want to live in neighborhoods such as Virginia Highland, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Candler Park, Grant Park, Peoplestown, and parts of Buckhead. Atlanta is becoming much more walkable, but there are still many areas, even in the city, where you need a car to do everything. Lake Claire, Grove Park, Oakland City are a few examples of neighborhoods that are awesome but fairly car dependent. If walkability is important, what would you like to be able to walk to? Are you happy to walk to a coffee shop or do you want to be able to walk to work? Shopping? Deciding how walkable and bikeable you need your lifestyle to be can often narrow down your search tremendously. A good real estate broker with knowledge of the Atlanta, Intown market should be able to guide you towards the level of walkability you need in a neighborhood. If not, I find the the walk score to be a good resource.

Who Do You Know?

This one is often overlooked, but it can greatly enhance your life to live near close friends and relatives. If you are moving from a different city, you may want to consider living in a neighborhood where you already know people. You will get settled in faster and quickly meet new friends. However, carefully consider if you have the same lifestyle as your friend. Buckhead is a great neighborhood, but you may find that the laid back, quirky ambiance of Candler Park is much more your style. Is Grandma going to help with the kids? If so, you'll want to be within 5-10 miles from her house. Atlanta has a lot of traffic (even on the weekends), so it's unlikely you will spend much time with people who live more than 10-12 miles away from you. 

Where Do You Work?

Speaking of traffic, you probably don't want to live more than 10-15 miles from work. Traffic can be brutal and certain areas should be eliminated from your search if they are too far from work. Atlanta is an eclectic, large city, so you can usually find a great neighborhood that is reasonably convenient to work. Don't bother looking in areas that create an excessive commute. Waze is an excellent resource for determining your commute during your actual commute time. You create a planned route, and it tells you what your commute will be if you leave your house at a specified time. Do you plan to take public transportation to work? If so, you'll want to live near a Marta station, if possible. 

Are You Looking For A Condo, Townhome, or Single Family Home?

Many neighborhoods in Atlanta aren't very dense, so if you plan to purchase a condo, you will be limited to Midtown, Virginia Highland, Grant Park, Inman Park, Buckhead, Old Fourth Ward, Candler Park and just a couple of other neighborhoods. There are more neighborhoods with townhomes and single family detached homes, but of course they are more expensive. Midtown and Buckhead will offer the largest selection of condos to choose from. 

How Much Can I Spend?

This is obviously one of the quickest ways to narrow your search. Like most cities home prices are rising rapidly in Atlanta, so talk to your Realtor about neighborhoods that fit your budget and lifestyle. 

While there are likely many other factors you'll want to consider while searching for your ideal Atlanta neighborhood, these questions will narrow your search down to just a few neighborhoods, in most cases. Moving to Atlanta from another city shouldn't be overwhelming. Most cities have similarities, and a great broker will be able to match you to your perfect neighborhood if you provide them the right information. 


What is your favorite Atlanta neighborhood and why? Let me know in the comments. I'm sure others will find it helpful as well.



Posted in Buying A Home
Nov. 7, 2019

Understanding Mortgage Insurance in the Atlanta, Midtown Market

Lowering your mortgage insurance in Atlanta, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park explained!


Mortgage insurance can be a pain, though in many cases it’s a necessary evil. Without mortgage insurance you may not be able to qualify for certain loan programs, including loans serviced through the FHA. Depending on the circumstances of your loan and the insurance you buy, this can be a considerable expense. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce this expense; in some cases, you may even be able to get rid of mortgage insurance altogether!

Be sure to keep in mind that like many things loan-related, there are a lot of factors that go into determining your mortgage insurance costs. While these tips may help you to lower that payment, their effectiveness will vary from person to person.


Build Your Credit


As with loan interest rates, mortgage insurance costs can be affected by your credit score. Mortgage insurance is designed to provide additional safety for the lender that extends the loan. As such, the better your credit score is, the less risk there is that you’ll default on the loan. If you can improve your credit, you’ll have a much stronger case for negotiating a lower mortgage insurance payment.


Pay Down Your Loan


Mortgage insurance is typically required when your down payment is under 20 percent of the value of your home. As such, you can usually renegotiate it or have it removed entirely as you build equity. If you can afford it, make additional payments against your loan to pay it down and build equity faster; this will get you in a position to renegotiate your mortgage insurance sooner than you would otherwise be able to.


Refinance Your Mortgage


Provided that you can get a good deal on your new loan, refinancing is a great way to reduce the cost of mortgage insurance. Because you’re taking out a new loan to pay off the previous one, any mortgage insurance that’s required will be based on the new loan amount in comparison to your home’s value. If you refinance with a loan that’s for 80 percent or less than the total value of your home, then you likely won’t have to take out mortgage insurance for the new loan at all. Likewise, if you can refinance with some government-backed loans such as those offered through the Department of Veteran Affairs or the Department of Agriculture, then you should be able to skip the mortgage insurance as well. Please contact me if you would like me to help you decide if you are able to refinance into a loan that doesn't require mortgage insurance. 


Increase Your Home’s Value


Another option for reducing or eliminating your mortgage insurance payment is increasing the value of your home. In some cases, this is simply a matter of having the property appraised again; there are a number of external factors that can affect property value, and if your property sees a value increase then you can use this to renegotiate your mortgage insurance rate. If that isn’t an option, consider home improvements or similar actions that will increase the value of your property so that you can get out from under that insurance umbrella. Let me know if you would like me to tell you what your home's value is so you can determine if you are eligible to remove your mortgage insurance. 


Talk to Your Lender


If you aren’t sure what to do, talk to your lender and see which options are best in your situation. They may look at your mortgage payment history and other factors to help you find a way to reduce that insurance cost. They can also help you calculate your equity and see exactly how much more you’ll need to significantly reduce (or completely eliminate) your mortgage insurance obligations. If you’ve already built over 20 percent equity then you may be able to simply ask for the insurance to be cancelled in your first contact with the lender.


Ask the Experts


Since mortgage insurance costs can vary from person to person, it’s always a good idea to find a professional to advise you about your specific loan situation. Fortunately, we can connect you with mortgage experts who can help you evaluate your personal situation and find the best way to reduce or eliminate your mortgage insurance costs. Sign up for a free account today to get started!


Please let me know if you have any questions about mortgage insurance. I am happy to help in any way I can!


Margaret Blanton

Dwell Atlanta Realty, LLC


Posted in Mortgages
May 3, 2019

5 Ways to Make Your AC Dollars Go Further

5 Ways To Make Your AC Dollars Go Further

How Air Conditioners Work (The Abridged Explanation)

Air conditioners are very simple devices. They were actually invented to remove the humidity from rooms where paper was stored. It was only after they’d been in use in industry a while that anyone thought to use them for cooling.

There’s not much to these devices. Essentially you’ve got an outdoor condenser unit that works like a giant heat sink to carry heat collected from indoor air to the outside. Ultimately, the cooler that outside unit is, the more heat it can remove and the more efficiently the whole system works.

Reduce the Strain on Your A/C, Stretch Those A/C Dollars

There are plenty of ways to help your air conditioner work more efficiently short of replacing the whole system. That will increase your efficiency, but you’re going to put a lot of money into a system upgrade that may not be needed just yet.

Before you do anything rash, give these a try:

Change your filter when it’s dirty. Dirty air filters are a huge drag on efficiency. After all, the more air that can be pulled into the system at once, the faster the air in your house will cool and the less time your A/C will spend running. You’ll know your paper air filters are dirty when they change color from white to gray or brown. That’s dust and other tiny particles clogging the pores.

Another way to tackle this would be to buy an electrostatic filter. These are reusable and washable, saving lots of money on filters, as well as energy (if you keep them pretty clean).

Clean your air conditioner condenser. That outside unit is too often neglected to the point that it can affect your energy efficiency. The fins get clogged with dirt, vegetation grows around the bottom of the unit and things like blowing leaves or plastic bags get caught in and around the unit.

Throw away any trash that’s clinging to the condenser, even if it’s inside. Just make sure the unit’s off before you stick your arm in. Next, remove vegetation that’s threatening to grow into the unit, treat it with weed killer if it’s particularly aggressive. Last, get your garden hose and spray the whole condenser down using minimal pressure. Crank up the water pressure and go over it again, slowly, working from the top to the bottom. Work in sections, moving to the next one when the water coming off the condenser runs clear. You may be surprised how much dirt was hiding in those fins.

Shade your unit. Plant a tree or install a solar shade over your A/C condenser to help keep it cool on those hot summer days. The less heat already being carried by the system, the easier to expel heat from your home. Blocking direct sunlight can make a huge difference, just be sure to allow at least two feet around the unit on all sides so your condenser has plenty of air circulating around it.

Install ceiling fans. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using properly sized ceiling fans in conjunction with your air conditioner can make 78 degrees feel just as cool as 74 degrees. Those four degrees can add up to serious cash, too. The reason this works is that ceiling fans cool people using a wind chill effect. It doesn’t change the actual temperature in the room, but it does change how it feels to you.

Hang heavy drapes. If your house has any windows that get particularly hot during the summer, you need to insulate them right away. The easiest way to do this is with heavy drapes, and the heavier the better. Make sure those curtains are closed during the hottest part of the day to prevent heat radiating into the rest of the house. To further help those windows stay cool, you can add Low-E film into the equation. When used together, heavy drapes and Low-E film will make a noticeable impact on your indoor temperatures.

Where to Look if Your HVAC Needs Repair or Replacement

I hope that information helps! If you are looking for a fantastic HVAC repairperson in Atlanta, my preferred vendor is HR Solutions 404-862-4614. He is local and knows HVAC systems inside and out. 

Posted in Home Maintenance
April 30, 2019

Top 10 Things Not to Do When Buying A Home

If you are considering buying a home, you may be overwhelmed with many things. Before you start thinking about neighborhoods or how much you want a walk in closet, make sure you don't ruin your chances of buying by doing any of these things.

Top 10 Things Not to Do When Buying A Home

  1. Don't change jobs before applying for a home loan.
  2. Don't change banks
  3. Don't buy a car or any other form of transportation that you have to finance.
  4. Don't buy furniture on credit before buying your house.
  5. Don't be late on your credit card payments or charge excessively.
  6. Don't make large or cash deposits into your bank accounts
  7. Don't lie on your loan application
  8. Don't co-sign a loan for anyone.
  9. Don't have inquiries made into your credit
  10. Don't spend your money saved for closing costs.

After you close, you are free to buy a new car or even change jobs, but doing any of these things prior to closing can prevent you from being able to get the home you want. Remember that the lender is required monitor these activities all the way up to closing, so when in doubt just wait. 

Posted in Mortgages
April 29, 2019

What is a Reverse Mortgage?


“What goes up must come down,” so goes the saying. And, to that end, what goes forward must also go in reverse. Turns out the same also applies to mortgages, sort of. Except, instead of being a direct inverse from a “forward” mortgage, reverse mortgages are kind of their own special thing.


If you don’t read beyond this opening section, just remember that the big takeaway here is going to be that some reverse mortgages are good, some are bad and you need to always, always read the paperwork before signing on the dotted line. This goes doubly if your parents are considering a reverse mortgage and you’re going to be helping them deal with their finances as they age.


Reverse Mortgages and Their Bad Reputation

When reverse mortgages were first becoming fairly popular, banks willing to make the loans proliferated. And so did con artists who took advantage of an aging population made of people who were often desperate to hold on to their homes or simply were medically incapable of understanding the consequences of the monthly payment they’d receive.


This was good for no one but the scammers. That’s why a whole lot of legislation has been written to remedy these kinds of situations. Now, if you or your parents are worried that a reverse mortgage offer might be a scam, you can opt for an FHA reverse mortgage. It’s easy to verify that an FHA lender is legit, where it may be less clear if certain brokers are on the up and up. You may get a better deal with a non-FHA reverse mortgage, but they provide confidence that you’re on the right path and that’s worth something, too.


How Do Reverse Mortgages Work?

Reverse mortgages are designed to help people who are retirement age afford to stay in their homes longer. Generally, this means that mortgage payments stop and there might even be some form of payment to the homeowner. So, if your grandmother shows up to the next family gathering in a brand new convertible roadster, it might be a good idea to ask her about the terms of her reverse mortgage. Some are genuinely helpful and decent; others are not so much.

The good part is that reverse mortgages are now heavily regulated by the government, so it’s much harder to scammers to take advantage of older people who may be having money problems already.


They don’t require a credit pull or even decent credit. You just need a home that’s free and clear, or has a significant amount of equity, and be 62 or older. You’ll pay some fees upfront and be required to complete HUD-approved counseling (you will pay a fee for this, too) that will help you determine if you’re really a good fit for a reverse mortgage.


If you happen to die while you still own the house, your heirs have the option to redeem it from the reverse mortgage lender by paying off the borrowed amount in full. Usually this is achieved with another “forward” mortgage.


Reverse Mortgage Payment Options

One of the best things about a reverse mortgage is the money that comes back into the pocket of the borrower. You or your parents can choose how that money is distributed, too. Essentially, you have three options: taking a lump sum, taking a monthly payment or using it as a line of credit. There are also ways to mix and match these, so you might take a percentage as a lump sum for that flashy convertible and the rest as a line of credit to use as you need to fill up on gas.

For a lot of seniors, a reverse mortgage will allow them to age in place without fear of losing their home (provided they keep up with the taxes and insurance). This can be a great option as long as the source of the funds is fully vetted, all the paperwork is in order and read from top to bottom and they have a plan to make the money last as long as possible.


Looking for a Reverse Mortgage Lender? Look no further!

  • Many lenders offer reverse mortgages. Fairway mortgage is very good in Atlanta and you could also try your bank.
Posted in Mortgages
Dec. 6, 2018

Christmas Recipe


You will love these and they are so easy to make! Give them a try and let me know what you think! 

Posted in Recipes
Nov. 20, 2018

Thanksgiving Recipe

I hope all of you are looking forward to the holidays! Our office is still very busy despite the cold weather, and I am more confident than ever that the market is leveling out to provide good opportunities for buyers and sellers! I wanted to post one of the recipes I make every Thanksgiving. It's a good one for those of us that need a break from the casseroles. I hope you enjoy! If you make it, please post a comment and let me know what you think!


Roquefort Pear Salad 

Roquefort Pear Salad

Rated as 4.85 out of 5 Stars



  • 1 head leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3 pears - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 5 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
  • 1 avocado - peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. In a skillet over medium heat, stir 1/4 cup of sugar together with the pecans. Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper. Allow to cool, and break into pieces.
  2. For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, avocado, and green onions. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans, and serve.
Posted in Market Updates, Recipes
Oct. 19, 2018

When is the right time to purchase?

The nature of real estate is that it will always change, but there is a continuous upward trend in prices. Even those that purchased during the bubble in 2005 and 2006 have seen their home's value increase in the past few years. In the graph below (S&P/Case Shiller) you can see that over the past 26 years there have been ups and downs but the overall trend is up. That would indicate that buying with longevity in mind is the key to successful real estate purchases. As long as you could stay in your home for 10 years than you could weather almost any storm. 

Posted in Buying A Home
Oct. 7, 2018

Are we in for another crash?

Some of you may have noticed that homes don't seem to be selling quite as quickly as they were a few months ago. If you keep up with the Atlanta market closely, you may have seen a few more price reductions than before. Is the Atlanta market in for a shift?

Yes and no.

When you compare days on the market, we are actually 3 days shorter than this time last year (FMLS InfoSparks Stats). That would indicate that we are actually shifting in a positive direction. Shorter days on the market means that homes are selling in less time than they did last year. We also had a little more supply than we did this time last year. We had 3.2 months supply in September 2017 and 3 months supply in September 2018 (FMLS InfoSparks Stats). Median price is up over 20k since this time last year. The numbers can vary depending on the neighborhood and housing type (condo vs. house), so the stats don't always reflect what is happening in your area. There are definitely more price reductions and less tolerance for poorly presented homes. Could it be that the market is just correcting itself from the extreme seller's market we have been in the past couple of years?



At some point home prices begin to surpass what the average person earns. At that point, people either continue renting, or purchase in an area that is less expensive. We have seen many neighborhoods experience tremendous growth because buyers have been priced out of other areas. This can only go on for so long before people decide that they don't like their options and opt to hold off on purchasing. Once that happens, inventory increases, and we start to see a shift towards a buyer's market. 

While I don't think we are in a buyer's market, I do think that there has been a shift. We are entering a balanced market. Buyers can look for homes, consider their offer, and even get a little more help from the seller in the form of closing costs, repairs, and price flexibility. 

What does this mean for sellers? Sellers simply need to put their best foot forward when listing their home and price it realistically. It does not mean that they will lose money when they sell. In many cases, buyers were backing out after hastily submitting an offer. When offers fall through, that can be frustrating and sometimes costly for sellers. Ultimately, the slight shift we are seeing is better for buyers and sellers. Sellers know that a buyer has had time to do their initial due diligence before putting in an offer, and the buyer feels like they got a fair deal.




Posted in Market Updates