Category Archives: Living in Atlanta


sign contract


In an effort to empower and protect consumers when purchasing a home with a mortgage, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act directed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to integrate mortgage loan disclosures.  What you must know is that on October 3, 2015 “TRID” was implemented.  TRID is an acronym for TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure.  (TILA – Truth in Lending Act, RESPA – Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) Confused yet?  Let me explain briefly what this is, and what it means to you if you or someone you care about will be buying or selling a home in the near future.

TRID is being affectionately called “Know Before You Owe”.  The intent is have processes in place whereby lenders must disclose all fees and terms of loan within a certain time frame, and to give buyers an opportunity to shop the terms of the loan.  I recently attended a 3 hour CE class on this topic and the take away is that these new government regulations will significantly impact the way we have done business in the past.  Most notably, the typical timelines in a real estate contract, especially the closing and possession dates, will most certainly be impacted.  It would appear that the days of a 30 day closing are a thing of the past.  I have spoken with several top lenders and closing attorneys around town, and while most seem to have processes already in place to deal with these new regulations, no one really knows for certain what the impact will be.

One thing IS certain, is it absolutely imperative that if you are buying or selling a home that you partner with a real estate professional who is knowledgeable on this topic and who can refer you to the lenders, closing attorneys, and other partners in the real estate transaction who can guide you best.   The CFPB means business, and you do not want to engage in real estate contract until you have the facts on how you may be impacted, whether you are on the buying or selling side of the transaction.

For more information on TRID

Dodd Frank

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


Interest Rate and Mortgage Payment Costs Across Time

Even with residential mortgage rates projected to rise, it’s always good to take a moment, look back and see that we are in good shape historically.

Back in the 1980s, interest rates were at an average of 12.7% (OUCH!) and on a $200k mortgage, that monthly payment would be around $2,166.  Here in 2014, our average rate has been 4.10% – meaning the monthly payment on that same house is around $966.  What a different a those interest rate points make.  Check out the chart below to see the other periods of time and their related payment amounts.

This information, combined with the hot housing market in North Atlanta is more evidence that now is a great time to buy!   Please contact me as you consider any real estate transaction. 

Average Interest Rate & Mortgage Payment Across Time

Interest Rates and Mortgage Cost Across Time

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rates and the approximate payment for a $200,000 mortgage. Payments are principal and interest only based on a $200,000 fully amortizing mortgage. Source: Freddie Mac

Infographic provided by


Incredible 26 Acre Equestrian Farm in Milton

Bethany’s Rest is an extraordinary property that is prominently situated on 26 acres in the heart of Milton.

This is a home where you will create the most special family memories that will become a lasting legacy.

Please click here to see additional photos and more information online.


13650 Bethany Road, Milton, GA

This Bill Baker designed main residence features a wraparound porch with visually stunning views of the lawn, spring fed stocked lake, riding ring, 5 stall barn, pool and spa.

Perfectly situated on an idyllic 26 acres in Milton.

Perfectly situated on an idyllic 26 acres in Milton.


A handsome entrance sets the stage for a beautiful estate.

Linger on the welcoming wrap-around porch.

Linger on the inviting wrap-around porch.

Inside, the main kitchen is the heart of the home and is open to the family room and breakfast area.

Inside, the main kitchen is the heart of the home and is open to the family room and breakfast area.

The stately study awaits a new owner.

The stately study awaits a new owner.

Impeccably manicured pastures for champion horses.

Impeccably manicured pastures for champion horses.

Terrace level has in-law/au pair suite. Barn includes a care takers residence with office and separate laundry, RV storage and 6 car garage.

Barn includes a care takers residence with office and separate laundry, RV storage and 6 car garage.

Barn includes a care takers residence with office and separate laundry, RV storage and 6 car garage.

Come and experience the rest and peace that will envelope you from the moment you enter through the gates.

Offered at $3,200,000

13650 Bethany Road  –  Milton, GA  30009

Rhonda Haran

Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty
Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty

Real Estate Market Recovery

rhonda2013 was a great year of recovery for the real estate market!    

Here are few points of interests:


Sales by units were up 11%

Sales by dollar volume was up 18%

The average sales price was up 6.5%


Sales by units were up 3.2%

Sales by dollar volume was up 29.3%

The average sales price was up 25%

Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty                                        Our company continues to outperform the competition. In 2013, we had a 53% increase in the number of homes sold! Additionally, we have the highest productivity per agent of any real estate company in our marketplace.

Real Trends predicts that for 2014, home sales nationally will be up 4 – 6% and that home values will increase 5 – 8%.

Overall, these are very positive numbers for the market. As most of you have heard me say before, there is no such thing as a national real estate market. Even within my sub-market of North Atlanta, there are significant differences in these numbers when you analyze by specific neighborhood and price point.

chart of real estate recovery

The chart above represents the six country area of northern Metro Atlanta.  The light green bar represents the total number of homes on the market each month for 2013.  The dark green bar represents the number of homes sold each month.   The red line represents the number of homes that went under contract.  While the trends in the market have been quite positive, the fact remains that it is the homes that are professionally staged, priced competitively, and marketed aggressively are the ones that sell and sell for top dollar.

To learn more about our comprehensive strategy for a successful sale, we can schedule a personal consultation. Or if you would simply like more insight into what is happening with home values in your neighborhood, please call or email me anytime.  I’d love to hear from you! You can contact me at

30 Day Rezoning Moratorium in Milton

Milton horse

Milton has imposed a rezoning moratorium because the sheer volume of developer applications is swamping Milton’s Community Development Department, which makes many residents fear the city could lose its pastoral nature.

Council members voted Monday night to stop accepting applications for 30 days on rezonings in the following classifications:
•Community Unit Plan (CUP),
•Neighborhood Unit Plan (NUP),
•Transitional Zone (TR),
•Single-family dwelling (R-2 and R-2A)

“The important thing to realize in all this is that we, as a city council, remain committed to protecting our city from unchecked development,” said Mayor Joe Lockwood. “Instead, we’re actively taking steps to build a proper balance of property rights and community desires.”

Community Development Director Kathy Field said the city’s AG-1 zoning classification allows one home per acre. Developers can build at that density on any property zoned AG-1.

“There are stringent setback requirements in the AG-1 classification,” she said.

Sometimes a 1-acre lot might have topographical or stream problems that mean a home can’t be built on the lot under those requirements. AG-1 allows for a variance of up to 10 percent of the house lots. So in a 50-acre property, up to 5 of those lots could be granted a variance.

If a property has more than 10 percent of its lots with problems, developers have nowhere to go except the CUP classification, which allows up to 100 percent of the setbacks to be given variances.

“There is a concern in the community that’s allowing too much flexibility on the setback requirements,” Field said. The community feels developers and owners of land should have to follow the original setback requirements of AG-1.

“We’ve been inundated with a lot of CUPs, asking for changes to setbacks,” she said.

Field said the perception with the CUPs and other rezonings Milton is ending up with increased density. Developers say they are building the same number of lots at the same density, she said, adding that they are just better lots.

The council in granting the moratorium is letting the Community Development Department to take a step back and look at rezoning ordinances to “see if the zoning is really answering the needs of the community in terms of all the development that is going on.”

Field said the time will be spend making sure the rights of landowners in terms of their development rights are protected as well.

Only a 30-day moratorium is allowed as an emergency. But the city will spend the next 30 days advertising for a longer moratorium that could last several months.

“I think this is being driven by the consideration that there’s an awful lot of development going on in all of those subdivisions that have been previously left vacated because of the economic downturn. Those lots are being built up and new subdivision are coming in as well,” she said.

“The community is concerned about losing viewsheds, losing the pastoral look of the city of Milton. I think the council has heard that, and this is part of that response,” Field said.

Source: Alpharetta/Milton Patch

Baby it’s COLD outside!


Homebuilders in the South often do not consider the threat of freezing weather and thus place water pipes in vulnerable locations. Houses built on slab foundations, common in the South, frequently have water pipes running through the attic, an especially vulnerable location. In addition, Southern homeowners experience relatively few severe cold spells, so they don’t consider freezing a problem and don’t bother checking the condition or location of pipes in their homes.

In the North, by contrast, homebuilders know freezing is a threat, and they usually do not place water pipes in unheated portions of a building or outside of insulated areas. Southern homeowners should be aware that pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are all subject to freezing and bursting. If these pipes don’t have insulation or heat to protect them, a strong overnight freeze can cause trouble.

Homeowners in the South need to be alert to the danger of freezing and bursting water pipes when the outdoor temperature threatens to drop to 20° F. That’s the temperature at which ice is likely to start forming in water pipes located in an unheated portion of a house. Once ice forms into a blockage in a pipe, continued growth of ice in the pipe can lead to excessive water pressure. It’s pressure of the water that has no place to go when ice builds that causes the pipe to burst, rather than ice pushing against the wall of a pipe. Although 20°F is well below the freezing temperature of water, two factors make this the critical outdoor temperature:

1. The temperature of an unheated portion of a house is almost always at least a few degrees above the outdoor temperature. For example, an insulated attic may be at 37 or 38° F when the outdoor temperature is 32° F.

2. Water “supercools” several degrees below freezing before any ice begins to form. In research tests at the University of Illinois, water pipes placed in an unheated, insulated attic consistently started forming ice when the outdoor temperature dipped just below 20°F.

The 20° F threshold is primarily for homes in the South and other areas where freezing may occur only a handful of times each season.  There are several precautions homeowners in the South can take when the temperature is expected to dip into the low 20s:

  • Seal all openings where cold air can get at unprotected water pipes. It’s especially important to keep cold wind away from pipes, which speeds up the freezing process.
  • Leave cabinet doors open under the kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow warmer room air to circulate around pipes.
  • Let faucets drip slowly to keep water flowing through pipes that are vulnerable to freezing. Ice might still form in the pipes, but an open faucet allows water to escape before the pressure builds to where a pipe can burst. If the dripping stops, it may mean that ice is blocking the pipe; keep the faucet open, since the pipe still needs pressure relief.
  • Pipes in attics and crawl spaces should be protected with insulation or heat. Pipe insulation is available in fiberglass or foam sleeves. Home centers and hardware stores have sleeves providing 1/8 to 5/8 inches of insulation; specialty dealers have products that provide up to 2 inches of insulation. The extra thickness is worth the price and can save a pipe that would freeze with less insulation.
  • Heating cables and tapes are effective in freeze protection. Select a heating cable with the UL label and a built-in thermostat that turns the heat on when needed (without a thermostat, the cable has to be plugged in each time and might be forgotten). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
  • Exterior pipes should be drained or enclosed in 2″ fiberglass insulation sleeves.
  • Pipes leading to the exterior should be shut off and drained at the start of the winter. If these exterior faucets do not have a shut-off valve inside the house, have one installed by a plumber.

Source: Institute for Business and Home Safety.

My 2 minutes and 38 seconds of fame

For just a few minutes last night, I was really cool in the eyes of my 10 year old.  For those of you with boys this age, you know what a huge accomplishment this can be!

I was excited to have the opportunity to feature one of our beautiful listings on 11Alive News.

Click here to see the video of 2985 N. Manor Bridge Road on 11 Alive News’ Open House Series:–Luxurious-grand-estate-in-North-Fulton

Click here to see the video that was aired on 11 Alive of my listing at 2985 N. Manor Bridge Drive in Milton.

Click here to see the video that was aired on 11 Alive of my listing at 2985 N. Manor Bridge Drive in Milton.

It was alot of fun filming and provided a unique opportunity for marketing for our client.

Thank you Melissa Long and 11Alive for a great piece!

Click here to learn more about this Milton estate home for sale, on my website including more images and information.