Question: My wife and I bought a second home in the North Georgia mountains that we wanted to really fix up and maybe sell at a profit. The house, which is on a lake, needed a lot of repairs. We had to do electrical work, heating, and air conditioning and we did the bathrooms, kitchen and all the floors. We even put in a pool. We got a loan and bought material from many home improvement stores—places like Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, Ace Hardware, and Gillroys. We thought we could sell the house but we can't. We haven't gotten a good offer in 2 years. We need to file a bankruptcy because we have gone through our savings and most of our retirement. How do we best determine what the home is worth?
Answer: Many people are in your position. With the collapsing economy the real estate bubble burst leaving homeowners all over Georgia facing the same problem. We see a lot of debt owed because of purchases at stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Sears, Menards, Gillroys, Ace Hardware and many others. What once seemed like a good investment that would outperform the stock market has now taken a turn for the worse and left many Georgians with property they can't afford. Homeowners all over the Atlanta metro area have seen their homes depreciate in value while property owners in North Georgia, oftentimes people who have bought a second home, have seen their investments plunge in value. And that's just as true for people who have made significant improvements to their homes—remodeling kitchens, bathrooms, pools, docks, etc.
With property and homes it's important to get a true, fair-market value. Some of the ways to do that include the website Zillow.com, hiring a real estate appraiser and getting several estimates from knowledgeable, local real estate agents or brokers.
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