OK, it’s nearly midnight and I seemed to escape April Fools Day unscathed. No buckets of water on my head or elaborate pranks involving my car floating on a pontoon boat in the center of Lake Petit. I still have about 40 minutes left in the day but everyone knows that 10 is midnight in Big Canoe. For a foolish day I did get a lot accomplished including listing a fabulous Big Canoe lake house on Lake Petit where I can watch my car float by next April Fools Day on a primo point lot. It is all too new for pictures right now but I plan to promote is in the next few days, so stay tuned.

I’ve also taken a bit of a detour this past week working with a client heading to Atlanta. Sometimes a change of scenery helps you appreciate what you have even more. It was a blast zipping around Lenox and Phipps, and having a million fabulous restaurants to choose from. I was so overwhelmed with so much culture and the fast paced urban shuffle that I actually dreamed of living down there for a few minutes. This made me think of the good old days when I could skulk around NYC and the world was my oyster. However things snapped back to reality like a shot of espresso as I sat in traffic with some impatient person pontificating about my driving in no uncertain sign language. I only hope to see them meandering through Big Canoe one day and deciphering that fine tri-line between Mountain Mint, Valley View and Columbine Drive. I will gladly point them on to Deer Run Ridge and snicker as they drive away. Ah sweet Revenge!

We always seem to want the opposite of what we have. The city slickers love coming up to Big Canoe because of its peaceful demeanor, waterfall laden trails, and quiet stary nights. I love the city for it’s fast paced climate, great food, and culture. But when push comes to shove as it can often be the case in a crowded city, I head for the hills! City Mouse vs. Country Mouse, I think I’ll stick with the country mouse and leave the April Fools back on the highways. Just like the North Georgia Mountains, Atlanta will always be there and I am happy to visit any time as long as I know there’s a screened porch waiting for me when I come back home to Big Canoe. I think this is why so many people from Atlanta choose to own second homes up here in Big Canoe. They have a guaranteed escape in a spa-like setting. What could be wrong with that?

Hope you all had a great April Fools Day too!

~Karin

April 2nd, 2009

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The Market dropped more than my weight yesterday! Everyone seems to be questioning when it is going to hit the bottom.  I started to delve into all this to see what wasn’t losing money. Something astounded me and then it all made sense! According to Foxnews.com on Tuesday the following is stated to be true:

The Nasdaq Composite managed more modest losses than the broader market, with BlackBerry maker Research in Motion(RIMM) and eBay (EBAY) rebounding solidly. 

Hmmm????? Please read no further until you agree that I am NOT a Stock Market GURU. This is how I understand it: Everyone is tight on money so they have to sell all the things they have and don’t really need.  They get on EBay and research the products, prices, and surplus. They pop it up on E-Bay NOT worrying about the commission they have to pay, just happy that they have an audience. They set their reserve (blind to bidders), wait a few days and all of a sudden they have a bidder! Perhaps the reserve wasn’t met but they still have a potential buyer! They agree that something is better than nothing! And they Sell!

So, where does RIMM (Blackberry) fit in? This is what I know. As a “discount” broker I would buy a Blackberry over an I-phone because it is a mid range phone and I am able to do ALL my business from it. Sadly I am on a Razor right now and waiting patiently for my 12 months to run through so I can get a Blackberry or whatever else they have on sale. Luckily I work from home and my husband, Dan will call me as soon as an important email comes in to give me the scoop. EBAY users need instant email and Internet access, hence the Blackberry. Its a Match made in Heaven!

Sellers; I advise you to please set your “reserves” but don’t walk away from any offers. They may be insultingly low but it is an opportunity. Remember that many E-Bay bids start out at a penny. The excitement about bidding is not knowing the reserve. In real estate some Buyers come in with a one time offer but the majority of Buyers are ready to negotiate.

Buyers; I’d love to tell you that you can get a Big Canoe home for 50% off but your chances are pretty slim. These are few and far between. Trust me I LOOK every day for amazing foreclosures in Big Canoe. They pop up every once in a while and when they do, I write about them and usually advise you to make haste.  Sure, you may be able to find one or two on your own but unless you really know the area well it’s best to have an agent that knows the nitty gritty. It doesn’t have to be a foreclosure to be a bargain. Many new and resale homes are aching for offers. If you see a home you like, give it a shot, expect a counter, and prepare to get a great deal in the end.

From EBay I have learned to:

1. Research the products. Not all homes are alike. Big Canoe is a unique community. Don’t buy the first home you see! Learn the neighborhoods and apply one to your lifestyle.

2. Stay alert and in touch. Get a smart phone and call your agent regularly, check your favorite sites too, and watch the neighborhood stats! (They will go up tomorrow! I promise!) 

3. Whether you are buying or selling, be patient, realistic, and level headed. A great house may NOT be there tomorrow but if you know your market you’ll be one step ahead of the next guy. If you have a home that isn’t showing, find out why? Most of the time it’s priced too high, or has a drawback that you may already be aware of. Fix it if you can, or price it to sell.

 

With a grain of salt….I am patiently waiting for Oktoberfest!!

~Karin

October 10th, 2008

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My Mom and Kids

My Mom and Kids

As an agent I get a lot of curious people who peruse Big Canoe homes for sale on either my site or on others. They are intrigued by the wide variety of homes from little log cabins to state of the art contemporaries. As I drive them through Big Canoe on the Introduction Tour they always ask me, “Who lives in Big Canoe?”, and to that I have no simple answer. I have lived here for 3 years and every day I meet someone new. I can not name them all but the following paragraphs are a sampler of what Big Canoe has to offer. It is an explanation of how we really don’t fit into a classification such as retirement community, vacation resort, weekend retreat, or subdivision. In a way Big Canoe is as unique as its name.

To start this off right I felt that I had to write about the residents of Big Canoe. Like a true city, Big Canoe has a wide selection of ages from 1 to probably 99 years of age. There are children of all ages, and many generations co-habitate very peacefully up here. It is not uncommon for a couple to move up here and within a few years either their children or their parents also move to Big Canoe as either weekenders or part timers. The home prices range from 200K up to 2M, which is more “inclusive” than “exclusive”. Occupations range from pilots, entrepreneurs, attorneys, surgeons, executives, carpenters, chefs, educators, a few celebrities, and many, many real estate agents (unlike me, most of the agents are retired and simply “dapple” in the art of real estate) If we were allowed to have signs in our yards there would be an even split between Democrats and Republicans and a wide river of “others” in between.

The one Big Canoe resident that struck me as the most interesting was Ms. Elly Baker. She was a poineer for Big Canoe who moved here from Buckhead after buying a lot here on May Apple for the very atractive price of $11.00 back in 1976! Of all places, I met Ms. Baker the week I moved in to Big Canoe at a local hair salon. I wondered if I had made the right decision to move here because it was my first week and I was a little overwhelmed. Ms. Baker talked to me as comfortably as she would talk to a close relative. She was welcoming and I could sense that she was happy in her stomping grounds. She kept my attention the whole time telling me how she started the Smoke Signals (Our local paper) as a flyer for the then 60 residents of Big Canoe! She wasn’t happy to see it now with all the advertising (including, but not limited to my own ad) and that they replaced her hand drawn logo. I don’t really blame her as that would tick me off too! Ms. Baker was recently featured in the Somke Signals because she has moved out west. There was an impressive list of her accomplishments and I feel honored to have met her in such a relaxed conversational environment as a hair salon. In fact, I felt inspired and hope in some way that I can make even half the mark that she has made in this little community. She will be missed tremendously.

Where do you see yourself as a Big Canoe resident? We have room for everyone! The only requirement is that you must be a free-thinker with a notion not to take life too seriously. Grumpy people need not apply, unless Big Canoe has been prescribed to you for therapy!

Hope to see you soon!

~Karin

September 18th, 2008

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She wants the cottage in the woods with a trickling stream or lake, high ceilings, big kitchen with granite, and a stone lined path to the front door and less than 3 minutes to the gate. He wants a rustic log cabin in the middle of nowhere with a big view, built in flat screen TV over the fireplace, a 3 car garage (with a urinal), and basement bar with a pool table. Luckily homes like these do exist in Big Canoe. The problem is that they usually are not side by side! This scenario is more common than not, in fact I am willing to bet some of my readers are laughing about it right now! As an “unlicensed” counselor (hee hee) I have learned a few tips to help make the Big Canoe Transition smooth and quarrel free.

First Tip is to take a weekend trip to Big Canoe. If you have already done this, skip to the Second Tip, otherwise check out our list of Big Canoe Rentals. Arrange a trip up and schedule your first day with me. I’ll be “Julie the Cruise Director” for day one and will simply guide you through the different neighborhoods and tell you a few secret shortcuts to make navigating Big Canoe a lot easier. We’ll look at all types of homes in your price range, and I’ll get a feel for what you like. Take the second day just to enjoy the amenities and explore on your own. Then you can both go home, sit on the porch, or by the fire and discuss the homes. Be prepared to disagree, remember the Mars and Venus book. (ergo Tip Two)

Second Tip involves 2 pens and 3 pieces of paper. You both need to make a list, without talking to each other about the “Must Haves” for your Big Canoe home. Make the list of 20 or more things. Fill every space! I say make the list long because you will inevitably choose some of the same things. Write the things you both want on page 3 and put a heart at the top! Go back to your individual wants and take a second look. Remember you each listed 20 so there are probably a few that you can live without. Scratch them off and If the house doesn’t come with it then you may be able to add it at a later date. Remember old Mick Jagger singing “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need!!” (Hope that song sticks with you for a few days, it’s one of my favorites!)

Third Tip is to think of one very important detail, RESELLABILITY! If life takes a turn and you need to move, will you be able to sell it? Views and waterfront properties are PRIMO in Big Canoe. Close proximity to the gate or the trails is also very desirable. Sometimes homes can get so customized that it turns off the potential buyers.

Fourth and Final tip is to be ready. Regardless of the market, the good Big Canoe homes for sale go fairly quickly. If you both really love it then make an offer if you can.

Hope my tips were helpful and that you both can find a way to come to terms on the same home. Agreeing on the Big Canoe Community is easy, finding the right home is a rewarding journey.

July 18th, 2008

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Thank you for all the calls, emails and follow-ups on my blog post regarding the Big Canoe foreclosure on the waterfall lot. I was joyfully overwhelmed by the response!! I probably showed that house 20 times and met a lot of people who shared the same vision that I did about that property. Others I took out there were shocked at the remote location and amount of work that needed to be done but still happy that they got to see it. The sad news is that it has gone under contract, and when I spoke to the listing agent she said it was a solid cash deal. Of course I wish I had procured the sale, but I felt happy that the little house has someone to take care of it and I envision it to be spectacular when it’s finished.

One point to tonight’s follow up blog is that even though the market is slow there are some diamonds in the rough that will survive any market. The fact that this home was a foreclosure made it attractive to the masses. The fact that it was 171K on a 2.6 acre lot on a rushing creek in Big Canoe was irresistable! It’s my job to find deals like these and throw them out there for all to see. Because I live here and know Big Canoe real estate like the back of my hand, I enjoy specializing in Big Canoe rather than spreading myself out through several counties and subdivisions like a lot of other agents I know. I seldom need to scramble through listings to preview before meeting a customer. 

Keep reading the blog – I’ll be looking for the next great deal in Big Canoe!  Also, keep in mind that fall is not too far off, so if you’re looking for a fall weekend retreat or getaway, be sure to check out our Big Canoe rentals now before they are booked!

 

July 12th, 2008

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 I haven’t been blogging recently due to a rush of house hunters looking to purchase, move,  and get settled in Big Canoe so they can enjoy Fall in the North Georgia Mountains. It seems so strange to me because I just came back from Ellijay with a crate of fresh summer peaches! However these buyers are right on the money! it won’t be long before the Atlanta crowds start coming up for apples and pumpkins. School starts in less than a month, and the stores all have their fall lines displayed. Do I dare to put away my flip/flops and kiss away this practically perfect summer?

When you think about it these customers are thinking ahead and they make perfect sense! The average time it takes to buy a home is 30 days. This includes an average 10 day due diligence period and time for the lenders to process the loans. This does NOT include the time it takes to find the right home. Some people find on their first trip to Big Canoe but others need a few trips to get their bearings in Big Canoe. Adding the 30 days plus about 2 or 3 weeks brings us to almost mid September. Once you move in then it takes one or 2 more weeks to get your furniture placed, any painting or repairs done, and your fridge & pantry stocked. Now it’s October and all you need to do is stock up on firewood, break out the crock pot for chili, and go for a long Autumn hike.

So whether you are looking for a weekender or a full timer, it may be time to start heading up to Big Canoe to stake your claim. Feel free to wear those flip flops while you are looking!!

 

 

July 10th, 2008

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Eggs Go Flying During the Egg Toss

Wow! What a great fourth of July in Big Canoe!! I’m still recovering from a full day and night of fun. It all started with the Bike Parade. We arrived a little late but the kiddies were in full force riding their decked out patriotic bikes and scooters. There had to be about 30 bikes! After the parade a large crowd gathered in the field for the family games. Luckily Sam Rothermel and his handy megaphone were there to head up the activities! There were 3 legged races, sack races, wheelbarrow races, egg tosses, balloon tosses, hulu hoop contests, and a good old fashioned Tug O’ War! Kids parents and grandparents all joined in the games and had a blast!

Water Balloon Toss - Fourth of July Celebration at Big Canoe

After 2 hours of sun and fun in the field we all headed to the Wildcat pool for swim races and the Clubhouse Grill cookout.  Plenty of ambitious swimmers got to strut their stuff across the pool while friends and family cheered them on from the pool edge. That sure cooled everyone off.

Swim Race at Wildcat Pool - July 4th at Big Canoe

We went home for a brief siesta to rest up for the fish fry at my In-Laws and then the fireworks. The fish fry was fabulous featuring perfectly cooked shrimp and grilled flounder with pineapple mango salsa – Mmmmm Zesty!!! Homemade peach ice cream was a big hit too! The peaches were purchased from a local orchard and were delicious.

The grand finale was the gathering at Playfield Park to watch the fireworks over the dam. I got there late but lucked out with a great parking spot right near the playground. I found a large group of friends who had a whole buffet set up near their screened tent! We set up our chairs and the kids ran around on the field with sparklers, glow-sticks and Frisbees. While they frolicked I was offered some “kick your booty” punch from a highly respected neighbor, hee hee!! Yum! The best part was that everywhere I looked there were people I knew and liked. The fireworks were the best ever! Many “oohs and ahhhs” were heard throughout the crowd. (Maybe they were talking about that punch!)

4th of July Sparklers - Playfield Park, Big Canoe

Sparklers Before the Big Fireworks Display - Fourth of July in Big Canoe

Please enjoy some of the pictures from the fun day!!!

~Karin Elliott
Life in Big Canoe, Real Estate in the Mountains

July 6th, 2008

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July has brought about a new burst of enthusiasm from buyers looking for real estate in Big Canoe.  The responses to our last blog about the Big Canoe foreclosure on the creek kept me busier than a squirrel collecting nuts in Fall!  I was also delighted to see that I have officially contradicted myself in the prior blog about fixer-uppers in North Georgia as there are still some folks out there that are ready to dust off the old tool box and make an “ok” house better! Other agents I have been talking to have agreed that they have been busier than usual.  So, what has caused this apparent increase in activity?

Here’s what I think – First of all there has been a slight but steady increase in rates (6.25% in January to just under 7% in July), and some are starting to worry that they may miss the low rates boat. Secondly, home prices have dropped (including new construction) to the point where sellers are willing to either lease the home or simply take it off the market until things improve. In theory, if this happens then the surplus will go down and the prices will go back up.  Third, Americans by nature can not resist a bargain. Low home prices plus low rate mortgages equals a good deal!

In a final note I say let this “strong breeze” be good sign to a turning market.

July 3rd, 2008

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We had quite a few calls on the Big Canoe foreclosure I last wrote about, so I decided to add more pictures of the house itself. They may not make it on the cover of Architectural Digest, but Frank Loyd Wright certainly would have considered a lot like this! As I mentioned the house needs work including a roof, decks, carpet, kitchen, master bath, paint, and a whole lot of cleaning.   Again, what really ‘wowed’ us about this foreclosure was the large lot with the creek and small waterfalls behind the house.  I’ve never seen another creek lot like this in Big Canoe.  Enjoy the pics, and if you want to see our Big Canoe real estate listings, stop by our main site!

~Karin

Exterior of Home

Garage

Fireplace on Main Level

Wide Plank Hardwood Floors

Main Level and Kitchen

Finished Bonus Room in Upper Level of Home

July 3rd, 2008

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Small Waterfall in Blackwell Creek

I have a great home! It’s pretty big, 3 bedrooms on the main with level entry and even a big laundry room! My kitchen may not be gourmet, but it sure has fit the bill for some big parties. I have heard that my terrace level is a “man-pit”, with a big bar, pool table, home theater, and luxurious guest quarters.  Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person in Big Canoe to be blessed with such a comfortable home!

BUT (and you knew there was going to be one), yesterday we looked over a Big Canoe foreclosure that made us really think about selling our current home and making an offer on the foreclosure!  A call from another Big Canoe resident curious about the home prompted us to take a look, and my first thought was the old saying, “Location, location, location!”

Among the old hemlocks and giant white pines in the Equestrian area there are nearly 3 heavenly acres with Blackwell Creek running along the boundary of the property.  I didn’t know that Blackwell Creek has small waterfalls, but it does! Someone thought enough about this magnificent lot to provide observation decks and secret paths to provide access to the abundant natural beauty. Hand laid stone paths lead you through this truly usable and magnificent piece of property.  Someone also built an awesome outdoor fire pit on one of the observation decks overlooking the creek.

Unique Firepit on Another Observation Deck Overlooking Blackwell Creek

Stone Path Leads to Observation Deck Overlooking Blackwell Creek

But wait, there’s more! Aside from the lot, there is also a home that is nestled  perfectly in the hemlocks. It is a modest home in comparison to the lot.  4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, a living room, bonus room,big kitchen, pantry, family room, screened porch, and garage. Any family would be proud to live there if the home had the face lift that it so desperately needs.

The bad and the ugly is that the home appears to be in need of a new roof, new decks, carpet, paint, new master bath, kitchen, and plenty of landscape clean-up. Most of the floors are wide plank pine and they simply need some refinishing. There are a few other cosmetic endeavors that I’ll mention, but cosmetically, the main thing that the house needs is to be aired out and cleaned.

This is a foreclosure – it needs someone with vision to give it the strength to make it shine. In its hey day this may well have been the best home and lot in Big Canoe. It is worthy of wedding ceremonies, and peaceful retreats. The best part about it is that it is only $171K, and the lot is unique.  I’ve never seen one quite like it in Big Canoe.  If you’re into creek lots with small waterfalls, huge white pines and hemlocks, this is your lot.  The worst part is that there is no disclosure, and that you will need to rely heavily on your inspector’s opinion.

In Big Canoe you either have the perfect home or the perfect lot; rarely both. The important thing to remember is that you can change a house but you can’t change the lot. Natural waterfalls rarely have makeovers!! Homes do, and most of the time a nice home on a fabulous lot reflects a lot better than a fabulous home on a nice lot.

Sadly my couch has not provided me with the funds I need to pursue this dreamy property, but I did find my missing lipstick!!! Please feel free to call me for more info on this deal of a lifetime.

~Karin
kelliottiba@tds.net
http://ibamountainhomes.com

June 28th, 2008

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