tour of kitchens

There is no house with a kitchen … get inspired. Join the Tour of Kitchens showcasing 14 of Atlanta’s finest residential kitchens created by the city’s most celebrated kitchen designers. The event will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2015 from 10:00am to 4:00pm and Sunday, March 29, 2015 from 11:00am to 5:00pm. Many of the elite chefs in Atlanta will perform culinary demonstrations in various homes on the self-guided Tour.  For details click here.


hello october

Fall is here and October will keep us busy with its exciting activities.  Here is my list of  interesting things to do in Atlanta:

And for Halloween related events, check my previous blog: terror is coming our way!

JP Kalmeijer

Photography JP Kalmeijer

terror is coming our way


There is no scare-free zone in Atlanta during October!

The Atlanta area is home to some of the most elaborate professional haunted houses in the industry. Many creatures have already jumped out of their caskets with one goal only: to have the time of their lives (if any) at your expenses.  Self-guided – yes you are on your own – the stunning attractions contain claustrophobic passageways, sudden scares, loud noises, simulated violence and extreme darkness with strobe effects, simulated fog, realistic props, cinematic gore, uneven flooring, sudden drops and strange smells …. Evil trolls warlocks and lunatics, unexplained phenomenons, zombies, ghosts and ugly monsters space slaughter houses, graveyards, dark mazes, woods … will you be able to find your way back?  No light, no flashlight, no phone, … sometimes no running allowed …  Can you handle it?

So enter if you dare…You have been warned.  Here are most of the scariest attractions in Atlanta:

  • NETHERWORLD (Norcross) is back with its Season of the Witch …a dark attraction filled with terrifying live actors, amazing special effects, and incredible monsters. 
  • Atlanta’s Chamber of Horrors at the Masquerade is shocking, brutal and intense.
  • The 13 Stories Haunted House returns to Newnan with 54,000 square feet of horror entertainment.
  • Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse (Conley): you will be terrified, you will run for your life, you will feel like you are living in the zombie apocalypse as you play a role to survive.
  • House on Horror Hill in Alpharetta.
  • Fright Fest at Six Flags over Georgia offers plenty of haunted houses, spooky shows, frightening rides and scarezones. Daytime activities include treats for the little ghouls and goblins, and at night, watch those same ghouls come to life!
  • Paranoia will get you in Canton.
  • Blowing Screams Farm is an outdoor haunted attraction located on Blowing Springs Farm in Flintstone, just 3 miles from Chattanooga. Blowing Screams Farm features roaming monsters, bonfires, and a massive haunt that takes you through twisted woods and dark swamps.
  • Talmadge Brothers Funeral Home and Casket Company in Jasper.
  • Camp Blood (Carrollton) combines humor (really?) and horror (surely) on nearly a 1/2 mile trail of terror through the sometimes silent, yet deadly pine forest! Haunted hillbilles and dead rednecks … The heavily wooded trail leads to a second attraction called the Toxic Woodshed.
  • Gates of Misery in Rome is a  12,000 square foot walk through haunted house is filled with torture, torment, terrifying screams and nightmares your afraid to face in a dark atmosphere…
  • Scream on the Trail in Snellville… you’ll find yourself trekking just under a 1/4 mile of the most startling and scary property anywhere, and that’s not even counting in the Ghouls, Goblins, Spirits and Monsters that creep around in the dark, stalking, and tormenting you just waiting for their chance!
  • Haunted Hill House of Horror in Hampton may or not open this season …
  • Fear the Woods … only the trees will hear your screams (Stockbridge)!
  • Haunted Barn in Perry.
  • Haunted Montrose & the Old Slaughter House
  • Pope’s Haunted Farm in Salem, AL is worth braving the state limits …

Due to the graphic nature of those attractions, there might be some age restrictions.  It might also be smart to visit your cardiologist beforehand… Persons with back, epilepsy, breathing problems or any other health issues that could be aggravated by those environments should not attend … same for expectant mothers.

If you survive your adventures, shoot me an email telling me all the crusty details of your experience!  I would love to read your story!

top 10 mistakes first time home buyers make

We all learn from our mistakes, and it’s extremely beneficial for first-time homebuyers to look at how they can do things differently than previous buyers. Check out this article that I found, it is a great way to make sure you are knowledgeable about the process and prepared to take the next step.  As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to home purchases, so please let me know if you have any questions. You come first!

Here are the Top 10 Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Make and how to avoid them by Sheila Bonnette.


subtle pitfalls can damage credit scores

Many people know that making late payments, skipping payments or filing for bankruptcy are surefire ways to ruin their credit.

But there are more subtle, often unrecognized, things people do that may damage their credit scores and spook would-be creditors.  In turn, that can trigger wide-ranging financial consequences — from paying higher interest rates and insurance premiums, to getting rejected for a loan, to forking over a higher security deposit or even getting turned down for a job.

One of the potential missteps is when shoppers are enticed by too many instant in-store credit offers — the ones that promise 10 percent off or more on a purchase just for signing up for a credit card.

First, potential creditors may view people who open multiple accounts in a short period of time as being in financial trouble.  In addition, opening up all that credit could hurt credit scores, which are affected by the average age of a person’s credit accounts. The older the accounts, the better, said John Ulzheimer, credit expert with and formerly with the credit scoring stalwart FICO.  “So if you’ve just added a bunch of accounts, you’ve made your credit report look younger, maybe a lot younger. It takes time for those accounts to age and the average age of your credit history to grow again,” he said.  “My suggestion for people who want the (in-store) discount is to think about the downside,” Ulzheimer said. “Especially if you want to go out and buy a home or a car. You’ll be in a higher interest rate tier.”

Another thing potential creditors don’t like to see when they pull a credit report is high credit card debt.  “Many people think that if they make payments on time, they’ll have good credit,” Ulzheimer said. But that may not be the case. “The main problem with credit card debt is it’s a high-risk type of debt,” he said. “It’s not secured by an asset like a home or a car. So if you have as little as $10,000 in credit card debt on cards that are maxed out, you’d be surprised how low your credit scores can be, even if you are making payments on time.  “The good news is, if you can pay (the debt) down, your scores will improve in a short period of time.”

Taking cash advances and consistently making only minimum credit card payments also can cause problems. Doing either can signal to a card issuer that the customer is under financial stress and is at higher risk for default.  “Believe it or not, there are certain credit card issuers that will hold certain types of transactions on your credit card against you,” Ulzheimer said.  People who have poor credit and take cash advances generally run into the most trouble, he said. “Card issuers are already looking at them as high risk. They are already on a short leash.”  The card issuer may react by suspending the card’s credit line, canceling the card or closing the account at renewal time.

Any of those moves could hurt the cardholder’s credit scores.

Another often-overlooked threat to a credit score is co-signing for a loan.  Besides being on the hook for the money in the event of a default, co-signers will see their credit scores dip the moment they sign and likely plunge if any payments are late.  The entire debt also goes on co-signers’ credit reports, which counts against them if they apply for a mortgage or other form of credit.  “It’s almost like an afterthought that some people willingly put their name on a contract and not really think through what they have just done,” Ulzheimer said. “When you co-sign for a loan, you might as well be applying for it on your own.  The impact is really no different.”  Co-signing also could lead to some uncomfortable personal moments.  “It can be very awkward at holiday dinners if a relative across from you defaulted on a loan that you co-signed for,” he said.


a tip for you – chimney sweep

Stroll in Avondale Estates-16It’s important to have wood-burning fireplaces and gas stoves cleaned and inspected each year to prevent the buildup of creosote, a highly flammable substance that collects in chimney. A professional chimney sweep will clean the fireplace and stove pipes and inspect it for damage. Be sure to take action before the chilly weather sets in—the chimney should get a good cleaning in the autumn.   As a Realtor, I can introduce you to reputable professionals in my network, don’t hesitate to contact me.

smart tidbit – smoke detector

This is a quick reminder … your life could depend on it.   Since July 1, 1987, every new dwelling and every new dwelling unit within an apartment, house, condominium, and townhouse and every motel, hotel, and dormitory shall be provided with an approved listed smoke detector.   The smoke detector is to be located on the ceiling or wall at a point centrally located in the corridor or other area giving access to each group of rooms used for sleeping.  If the dwelling  has more than one story, detectors are required on each story including cellars and basements, but not including uninhabitable attics.

If a dwelling was constructed prior to July 1, 1987, an approved battery operated smoke detector – which shall be maintained in good working order – shall be in place.

  • A working smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke.
  • The detectors must be listed and meet the installation requirements of NFPA 72.
  • Homeowners and Tenants are required to keep the smoke detector(s) in good working order.
  • The law is enforced by local building and fire code officials.
  • There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market but they fall under two basic types:  ionization (sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs) and photoelectric (quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires).  The  dual sensor smoke alarms combine smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit.
  • Some alarms may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.
  • Test your alarm monthly and check the batteries, replace them at least once a year.

Please contact your county fire office for information on connecting your smoke alarm.  Read more and about the Georgia Code.


smart tidbit – security deposit

Under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. §44-7-30) a security deposit is money paid by the tenant to the landlord.  The security deposit protects the landlord if the tenant vacates without making required payments or damages the rental unit.  If the tenant gives proper notice and vacates without owing any rent or damages, the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within 30 days.

Georgia law requires that, before the tenant pays a security deposit and moves into the rental unit,  the landlord must give the tenant a complete list of any existing damages (move-in inspection) to the unit that is signed by both the landlord and tenant.

Amounts identified in the lease as the security deposit are refundable to the tenant.  Pet deposits and advance rent deposits, which are refundable under the lease, are considered part of a security deposit under the Georgia law.  The security deposit does not include non refundable fees, or amounts applied toward payment of rent, services, or utilities.  Application fees are not considered security deposits and are usually not refundable, should you choose not to move into the unit. Reservation fees – deposits to hold an apartment until you actually sign a lease –  are not always refundable and sometimes they turned into security deposit at time of move-in inspection.

If the security deposit is held because of damage to the unit, the landlord must send the tenant notice within 30 days identifying the damage, the estimated dollar amount of the damage, and a refund, if any, of the difference between the security deposit and the amount withheld for damages.  When can the landlord keep the security deposit in full or partially:

  • if the tenant failed to pay any rent, late charges, pet fees, and utilities which were the tenant’s responsibility under the terms of the lease
  • if  the tenant contracted for the rental property to be repaired or cleaned and those charges were not paid.
  • if there are damages caused by negligent or careless acts, accident or abuse of the property.
  • as damage caused by the tenant’s early termination of the lease.

A landlord cannot retain a security deposit to cover normal wear and tear that occurs as a result of the tenant using the property for its intended purpose.

Georgia Law doesn’t require the landlord to place the security deposit in an interest-bearing account, nor does the law require that interest earned be paid to tenant.

Always get a receipt for any deposit or fee that you pay.

Source: Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook

smart tidbit – stigmatized property law

On July 1, 1989, Georgia’s “Stigmatized Property Law” (O.C.G.A. § 44-1-16) went into effect.  Owners and their agents are required to respond truthfully to the best of their knowledge if they are asked direct questions about the property’s prior occupancy by a diseased person or whether the property was the  site of a homicide, felony, suicide, or a death by accidental or natural causes.  However, the Attorney General advised the Real Estate Commission that there is a conflict between the law as it relates to such diseases as AIDS.  If asked about diseases as AIDS, a licensee “should respond by stating that he or she is unable to answer such an inquiry”.  According to the Attorney General’s Office, persons who have AIDS or who have tested positive for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are “handicapped” for the purposes of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

In 1998, the General Assembly adopted an amendment to O.C.G.A. § 44-1-16 which specifically relieves real property owners and their agents of the obligation of answering any question if doing so would violate the federal or state fair housing laws or any other federal or state law, rule, or regulation.   No legal cause of action is created by the failure to disclose such information.

Georgia requires that certain sexual offenders report their location and that the local sheriff make that information public. It is the sheriff’s duty to maintain a public registry of  the name and address of offenders. For a list of sex offenders go to the Georgia Bureau of  Investigations website.

Source: and

a tip for you – water heater

thermostatIf you are like me, throwing money down the drain is not an option. And coupons are not really my cup of tea.  What I like is to save for the long run … So here is a tip that I just received via my Nest May Energy Report.  It’s pretty simple and according to their research, it  could save you around $36 to $61 annually.  So why not lower the temperature on your water heater?

Most water heaters are set to 140°F by default but most people are comfortable if their heaters are set to 120°F.  So try turning the temperature down on your water heater this summer. That 20°F drop will not only save you money but will also protect you as it slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes. Water heated at 140ºF also poses a safety hazard: scalding.

There is a lot more to read on the website of  the U.S. Department of Energy …including a ‘before you start” and step-by-step instructions.  The project level is quoted as  ‘easy’.


Source: Save Energy at Home, ENERGY STAR and Nest Labs Inc.