Thursday, November 15, 2012


FABULOUS updated kitchen with granite countertops!
 I'm so excited about this new listing in the popular Parkview High School district of Gwinnett County!  It is beautifully maintained, freshly painted inside and out, and with new carpet and wood floors.  It offers a stunning kitchen with granite counter tops, hardwood floors, cherry cabinets, and newer appliances. 

840 Rocky Ridge Court, Stone Mountain, GA
The Mountain Park area of south Gwinnett offers the Mountain Park Aquatic Center, Mountain Park Park, and is minutes from Stone Mountain Park, Yellow River Park, and historic Lilburn. 840 Rocky Ridge Ct is situated in a quiet cul-de-sac in Mountainbrooke subdivision. The expansive back yard is fully fenced and include a large out-building with natural light and electricity. 

If you know anyone who is looking for a great house in an excellent school district for under $140,000, please share this link to the home tour.

Friday, October 26, 2012


I've enjoyed all the Autumn harvest decorations in "Old Town" Lilburn.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



There's nothing like autumn and winter sunsets!  I got lucky with the photo above.  It was taken from  Lilburn City Park, and just as a pushed the shutter button, a group of geese flew across the sky.   It was my Facebook cover photo for about two days, until another wonderful view took its place!


I try to concentrate and condense information primarily for our local Atlanta market. The most recent information is from August, and we're hopeful that we'll begin to see month-to-month improvements through the end of the year.  Many experts believe that metro Atlanta finally has  hit bottom, which, believe it or not, is GOOD news!  You may have heard on the news that closings in July were up by about 5% over July of 2011, and  inventory was down, and the average sale price of Single Family Detached homes was up from July of 2011.

August showed a slight increase in number of closings for August 2012 over August 2011.  The only bad news is that the average sale price year to date was lower than the same period in 2011.  Clearly, we have a long way to go.  However, I am still seeing quite a number of new homes, and new construction stimulates the local economy in many ways.


Since many of you may be choosing to stay in your homes for awhile and make improvements, or purchasing homes which need immediate repairs, I want to post a few reminders about permits and special inspections.

As of 2008, all general contractors, as well as plumbers, electricians, and HVAC contractors, must be licensed.  Before hiring a contractor to handle a renovation or finishing, be sure to check his/her credentials. Permits are not needed for many jobs, but something as large as a basement finishing require building permits.

Ironically, the property owner does not have to be a licensed contractor to supervise a renovation.  However, the owner must know and abide by current building codes and county ordinances.  Upon resale, the most common inspection issues involve unskilled work involving electrical, plumbing,  HVAC, and decks, porches, and steps.  Most of these items are safety related. 

Another fairly recent issue is the requirement of any home built prior to 1978 be tested for lead based paint by a certified inspector.  If the house tests positive for unacceptable levels of lead, any renovations which significantly disturb an existing wall or window must be completed by  a certified lead paint contractor.  If you need resources, please let me know.


So much has changed in the City of Lilburn, I thought it was time to rerun this article. Main Street now offers brick pavers and sidewalks, with a plaza in front of City Hall. The park is bustling with activity, with soccer and concerts on the green, and the newly opened Lilburn Greenway along the creek.

Lilburn, located in the western part of the county on the Southern Rail Line, was established around 1891 when the railroad was completed, although it was not chartered until 1910, and officially incorporated in 1955.

However, there were early settlers in the area, including Thomas Wynne, who built his family home here in approximately 1838. It was restored in 1975, and is now owned and maintained by the City of
Lilburn. Several old plantation homes still exist on Five Forks Trickum Road between Lilburn and Lawrenceville.

Early settlers of the area included the families of: Carroll,
Nash, Jordan, Brownlee, Harmon, Kennerly, McDaniel, Young, Dickens, Pickens, Mathews, Kelley, and Garner. Many early family members are buried in the Lilburn Baptist Church Cemetery (originally called Liberty Baptist).

Camp Creek Primitive Baptist Church and cemetery is located just east of the town of Lilburn on Main Street-Camp Creek Road at the corner of Arcado Road. The first conference of this church was held in May, 1823.

Friendship Primitive Baptist Church was organized on May 25, 1833. It is located on Dogwood Road, just off Five Forks Trickum Road between Lilburn and Lawrenceville.

Yellow River Baptist Church, located on Five Forks-Trickum Road, was organized in 1871. The first building was erected in 1871, and was replaced by a stone building in 1947. A large brick complex has since been added to the stone building.

Lilburn today is still a quaint little village, called "Old Town Lilburn" on the railroad. It has its own city government and police department, and newly renovated
Lilburn Park. It holds annual festivals and summer concerts in the park.

The old stores are now antique and gift shops. In town are many lovely Victorian homes. Just outside the town itself are residential and commercial areas, and Lilburn schools are considered some of the best in metro
Atlanta, including Parkview High School, Providence School, and Berkmar High. Many Lilburn residents are in the Brookwood High School cluster.

Newly expanded and renovated public parks include
Mountain Park Park, Mountain Park Aquatic Center (opened 2004), and Lilburn City Park. The newly opened BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir is one of the largest Hindu Vedic temples outside India (if you have an opportunity to tour it, do. It's amazing.)

Lilburn is convenient to I-85, Highway 78,
Stone Mountain Park, and the Yellow River Biking Trails.

History of
Gwinnett County, 1818-1960, Volume II, by James C. Flanigan, copyright 1959
Dynamic Gwinnett, text by Bill Kirby, copyright 1993.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Spiny Orb Spider Web

I know that not everyone loves spiders, but I  really have enjoyed watching this Spiny Orb Weaver build her elaborate web.  She's quite a hardworking and artistic little lady. I discovered two more webs today, and so far, they've survived the weather and the landscaper. This web is almost invisible to the naked eye, and I'm pleased that my little Panasonic Lumix camera is up to the job.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


The Housing Market in Atlanta and Georgia.  The July numbers have been crunched, and there is modest good news across the board for the Atlanta and Georgia housing markets. The Georgia Association of REALTORS(R) describes the housing market as having been the "headwind" of the economy prior to 2008, now being the "tailwind".   For the state, inventory is down, with a 30.9 decrease in July.  Statewide pending sales were up  30.9. The median sales price increased 2.3% to $116,500. 

A year to date increase in closings in Metro Atlanta has been reported, with a small decrease in the average sale price from the year to date average in 2011.  Across the board in Metro Atlanta, the average sale price of single family detached homes in July indicates a decrease 33.27% since April of 2007.

There is reason for some optimism for a slow recovery, depending on an improvement in the unemployment number which was 9.3% for metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia in July.  Builders are beginning to build again.  Interest rates are ridiculously low, and any qualified buyer should take advantage of this perfect storm!  Resale homes are selling, too, especially if they are clean and have updated kitchens and baths.  Supply is down.  We just need to get Demand up!

Please don't hesitate to call or email if you'd like an update on what's been selling in your neighborhood, or if you just want to say hello!  I'd love to hear from you!

Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation - Yellow River Park

I'm a walker and a nature lover, and plan to feature a different Gwinnett park each month.  The photographs above are from the Yellow River Park in Snellville.  If you live in the area, you may have visited. It offers a wonderful walking/biking path to stunning views of the river shoals. It is located off Juhan Road, just south of Stone Mountain Highway.


Monday, July 9, 2012



The good news is that qualified buyers are buying,  showings have increased since the first of the year.  Our most recent listing and closing reports for metro Atlanta are for May 2012. They showed a modest  increase  in number of closings and average sale price over May 2011.  Inman News reported that Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta were in the Top 10 markets in the country in 2011 for first time home buyers obtaining FHA loans. 

The average sale price of detached single family homes in metro Atlanta in May was about $191,000.  As a comparison, in April 2007, it was about $269,000.  We just need a steady upward trend in the number of closings AND the average sale price, and I'll keep you posted!

Areas which were thriving before the recession are still doing better than most. The highest average sale price for single family detached homes in May was reported in Area 61 (Norcross, Peachtree Corners, Berkeley Lakes), with Area 62 (Duluth, Suwanee, Sugar Hill, Buford) right behind. It must be said that while schools influence demand, the amount of newer inventory can tilt the statistics for any area.  


May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country! ~Daniel Webster



I was talking to someone the other day, and joked that we all should pretend that we're moving once a year,  just to clear out the clutter to create breathing space. 

Ebay.   Particularly, if you have an item of value which is easy to package and mail, you may want to consider selling on Ebay.  I recommend taking the time to review similar items for sale, to get an idea of market value.  Pay attention to what items and prices are getting bids.

Garage Sale.  If you can predict your next good weather weekend, there's nothing quite as invigorating, and at the same time, exhausting, as a Garage Sale!  I try to do this about every two years, and it takes a lot of planning, including what will happen if you have a rain day.  Again, Craigslist offers a great free add with up to four photographs, and I've found it worthwhile to pay for an AJC ad.  Warning:  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ad must be placed well in advance of the sale!

Most Garage Sales are held on Friday and Saturday, but you may make your own signs for any weekend day(s).
For display I recommend several long tables with white plastic or cloth covers to make them more uniform.  Usually, I create a theme for each table, with a centerpiece, and rearrange and put out "new" merchandise during slow times. 

Craigslist. If you are not ready to brave the heat to hold a garage sale, you can list items for sale on Craigslist with plenty of space for description and up to four photographs for FREE.  Good quality clothing (especially kid's clothes) may be ideal for a local consignment shop.

Donation or FreeShare. If the value of your item  is not worth the trouble of selling, consider donating to Salvation Army or Goodwill, or offering it on the Yahoo!Group FreeShare for your area. I belong to the Northeast Atlanta group at and  recently recycled four solid oak legs from an antique table. You never know!

Storage.  If you are looking for quick, cheap, hidden storage, try rolling under-bed storage bins (usually priced at under $20).  They are perfect for kid's toys, out of season clothing, wrapping paper, and long term storage.  For long term or moving storage, shredded paper makes great packing material!


Monday, May 21, 2012


We're so pleased to see the Mountain Park  Bruster's reopen this month!  I'm making a commitment for at least one Mint Chocolate Chip in a waffle cone a week.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

UPDATE ON THE TANGLED GOSLING... I returned to Mountain Park Aquatic Center late Thursday afternoon, and either the gosling has swallowed entirely the fishing line, OR, someone had mercy and removed the hook and line. I'll keep an eye on it for any signs of distress.
I'm certain that danger lurks as I write this, but for this moment, I'm happy!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fishing At Mountain Park Aquatic Center

On all my blogs and web sites I try to publish positive and helpful information. I host the Gwinnett County GAGenWeb, and hope that I am contributing to historic preservation and free genealogy research for Gwinnett County, Georgia.  I've been an active REALTOR(R) in Gwinnett since 1986.  My Mama taught me that one person can make a difference in a community. She never said, "Well, it's just the way it is."

My favorite walking trail in my area is at the Mountain Park Aquatic Center.  Certainly, it's not the prettiest park in Gwinnett, but I love nature.  I enjoy watching the geese and ducks, the Green Heron, the Robins, Bluebirds, and Eastern Song Sparrows.  I see the same little brown bunny every day, along with butterflies, bull frogs, and so many other creatures.

Over the years, I've seen some tragic sights I would like to forget (but can't), and they were caused by fisherman fishing from the bank in shallow water.  This is a small, shallow pond, and when they put their lines in right where the waterfowls are feeding, it's a tragedy waiting to happen.  Below is the young gosling that I've been trying to rescue for several days.  It has swallowed a hook, and the fishing line runs from its gullet to wrap all around its body.
It has good parents who wait for it to walk slowly, swim slowly, and feed slowly.  I've been trying to befriend the parents to get close enough to at least snip the line below the chin, hoping to free its wings and lower body from the line.  When I was there this morning, a fisherman appeared, and explained his position. "I was here when that happened.  It happens all the time. It was an accident.  I use bread as bait, and the ducks and geese like bread."    After we agreed to be at odds on this subject, his final response was to plunk his chair down on the beach and put his line into the water right where the ducks and geese were feeding.  I would like to say to him (and others), that if they put bait on a hook in shallow water where the birds are feeding, and they just happen to snag a duck or goose, it's no more of an accident than getting pregnant if you're not using birth control.  As he said, "It happens ALL THE TIME."
 The picture above was taken when the three goslings were newly hatched. So sweet and innocent!

Below is the result of a typical fifteen minutes of gathering of trash off the beach.  I've gathered yards and yards and yards of fishing line that has washed ashore, along with a few hooks, broken glass, etc. This is where parents let their children play, not to mention where the waterfowl feed.
 ANYWAY...I've written a letter to every Gwinnett County commissioner and the "Powers that Be" in Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation, asking that they seriously consider prohibiting fishing at this very small pond.  It's too small a space for fishing not to have a negative impact on wildlife. To their credit, I have gotten  responses from the county commission and Parks and Rec.  I hope for a short term rescue of this sweet baby, as well as a long term resolution to prevent this from happening over and over.

Friday, May 4, 2012



The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.   ~ James Allen

WELCOME TO MY "NEW" REAL ESTATE NEWSLETTER!  I have decided to merge my regular blog, "Positively at Home In Gwinnett," with what used to be my Client Direct monthly newsletter.  It may include a variety of topics, but the one thing you'll see every month is a summary of LOCAL real estate conditions, and what my gut is telling me about the metro Atlanta and Gwinnett County markets.  The photograph above was taken at the Mountain Park Aquatic Center.  I'm told that this is a type of Jasmine, which really surprised me (it is not a vine, but a sprawling bush). Combined with the honeysuckle along the walking trail, it creates an intoxicating sweet perfume in the air in May.  Lovely!  


It's year five of the housing crisis, and I've never done so much research to determine fair market value for listings.  I remember the "good old days" when I would list a 2-story house in an established neighborhood, pull up three comparable sales from the last 12 months, and feel pretty comfortable that it would sell in 90-120 days.  With so distress properties in every area and price range, sometimes we have to go with our instincts.  

The most recent published statistics are for March listings and closings.  In general, inventory has dropped.  This may mean that the average owner occupants are on the fence about listing in this market, while foreclosures and short sale continue to pour into the market.  Because of the same phenomenon, values continue to drop in existing homes, while.  new home sales are picking up a little in some areas.  I hate using averages, but there's no denying how the average home sale prices have plummeted in metro Atlanta, with median sale prices in some areas under $100,000. On the other hand, in February I began seeing a  slight increase in traffic on resale homes, and an increase in new construction.  


If you are thinking of listing your home, be realistic.  I work primarily in Gwinnett County, but the same is true all over metro Atlanta - buyers are shopping for a home online, and they are looking at a LOT of homes before making a decision.  Your listings is only NEW for about three weeks.  My strong advice is to be 100% ready before listing, because you do not want to waste showings.   Make sure that it is clean and in good repair.   Pay attention to landscape maintenance, including pruning, mowing, and edging.  Take a look at the front door area, as this is where your prospective buyers are standing while their agent is unlocking the lockbox.  Does the door need painting? Does it need new hardware? Does it have a fresh looking welcome mat?

If you have the ability to update, it may be worthwhile to do so.  If you have not been in the housing market for awhile, I always recommend looking at model homes in a subdivision just over your home's price range (or browse new homes on the Internet).  Since most buyers prefer a new house, you may get simple ideas that you can use to update your resale home.  

If you do not have money to spend on updates,  painting in light, warm colors may make a big impact.  If you cannot do that, you can brighten and neutralize the space by minimizing personal belongings (especially family photos and collectibles), and opening or removing curtains and draperies.  Especially if you have an older home, think LIGHT, BRIGHT, NEUTRAL, CLEAN! 

Monday, April 30, 2012


It was a lovely sunny, warm weekend in Atlanta,  packed with family activities.  We attended an excellent production of "Charlotte's Web" in Lawrenceville, put on by the Drama Club of  Spectrum Autism Support at .  The kids'  many months of  preparation was apparent. Thanks to the directors, sponsors, and parents for making this program available for young people like my niece to make friends, learn new skills, and feel good about their accomplishments.

On Sunday we enjoyed what may have been the best meal of my life in Flowery Branch.  Marinated grilled shrimp kabobs and fresh asparagus, fabulous salad,  sauteed mushrooms, garlic rolls, and brown rice, with fruit for dessert. YUM!   I always enjoy riding through Flowery Branch.  What a charming town, minutes away from Lake Lanier.

I hope everyone else had a good weekend - either fun, or productive, or both!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beautiful Day at Briscoe Park

I was checking out a prospective listing in Snellville today and couldn't resist walking around the lake at Briscoe Park.  What a lovely, sunny, mild day!

New Listing in Brookwood High School Cluster!

1252 Killian Way, Lilburn, Georgia.  Offered at $169,900.  One level living in 2,212 Square Feet (Gwinnett tax record).    This is an excellent value in Killian Woods, a sidewalk community in one of Gwinnett County's best school clusters. Killian Woods is conveniently located to Stone Mountain Park, Ronald Reagan Park and Dog Walk, and Mountain Park Park and Aquatic Centers.  It's an easy commute to Atlanta and the CDC.

The home features vaulted ceilings in the Living Room and Family Room, a banquet size Dining Room, and spacious kitchen with center island, breakfast bar, built in desk, and Jenn-Air downdraft cook top and grill. You'll love the luxurious master bedroom suite with two walk-in closets, whirlpool garden tub, and his and her vanities!

Enjoy morning coffee and summer evenings on the private courtyard patio.  The expansive back yard is fully fenced.

Take the full tour at .

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February 23rd Sunset

This was a stunning sunset on a warm, windy evening. To the east, the clouds were pink against a blue sky. This was looking west from the entrance of Evergreen Lakes subdivision in Lilburn.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Looking Up and Down

I love my nature walks, and this afternoon at the Mountain Park Aquatic Center was a reminder that we don't always need to be forging ahead. Sometimes, we need to look up, down, and around.

The first photograph is one I took on the walking trail. Of course, it's just a small branch with what's left of two little pine cones (after a squirrel had enjoyed the rest)....but doesn't it look a lot like a dragon fly? The other is one of many I took of the same afternoon of a stunning winter sunset.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year In Oak Valley

I'm afraid that I've been negligent in posting regularly here, and I'll try to do better in 2012. I so enjoy my HO scale miniature winter town year around, I created a blog for it this holiday season to share photographs (you can link to it by clicking on the title of this post, or go to It's given me a chance to become well acquainted with my new camera and actually see the street scenes and people at ground level! I've met quite a lot of nice people around the world who have enjoyed the daily viAdd Imageews of Oak Valley.

For me, the allure of towns and cities goes back to a kid of the 50s and 60s growing up in the suburbs. When we moved from the Columbus GA area to metro Atlanta, we rented briefly in the "Great Lakes" area of the City of Decatur. My sisters and I named our little cottage style 1930s house "The Witch's Cottage." For the first time, we could ride our bikes to Woolworth's in downtown Decatur!

I've always been fascinated with historic towns and cities and that fascination has led me to collect and restore vintage postcards, host history and genealogy web sites, and learn about 19th century architects.