North Fulton Chamber Announces Vesta Bringing up to 500 New Jobs to Alpharetta

The Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, announced that electronic payments
giant Vesta plans to open its newest call center in North Fulton. “We are thrilled with
their decision to expand into North Fulton,” Beach said in welcoming the Portland,
Oregon-based company to Alpharetta. “This move will bring hundreds of jobs to our

– Brandon Beach, President & CEO of

Your Guide to New Year's Events in Georgia

No matter where you are, there’s an unforgettable New Year’s Eve experience awaiting you in Georgia. Check out the Dropping of the Cotton Ball in the town of Nashville. Or the annual Possum Drop in downtown Tallapoosa. From a festive riverboat cruise and sumptuous buffet on the Savannah River to the Masquerade & Carnival Celebrations at Chateau Elan in North Georgia, there’s a unique and exciting New Year’s Eve adventure for everyone. There’s simply no better place to begin 2011 than in Georgia.

Find the best cities for a Southern Christmas including San Antonio, Atlanta, Louisville, Orlando, and Washington, D.C. Here, Southern Living's picks for what to see, do, and buy in each city...

Southern Christmas Vacations: Atlanta Pink Pig RidesTried-and-True Tradition: Pink Pig Rides at Macy’s (pictured) 
 Lenox Square in Buckhead
Ride Priscilla, the bubblegum-colored train in the shape of a pig, still chugging on the upper parking deck after 56 years. The 2009 version moves through a life-size storybook showing the ride’s history. This rite of passage costs $3 a trip; hours and printable two-for-one discount coupons at

Becoming a Tradition: Centennial Olympic Park Ice-skating
Downtown, across from CNN Center
The rink’s ready with rental skates ($2) and a view of the skyline. Multicolor rays bathe the ice in holiday hues to a seasonal soundtrack. It’s $7 for 90 minutes. Parking at the Green Lot on the Marietta Street side of the park, $8.


ACT1 Theater in Alpharetta presents "A Dickens' Christmas Carol"


Thanksgiving is upon us which means that no sooner is the leftover turkey and dressing stashed in the fridge that theaters throughout Atlanta (and the English speaking world) will open Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." But what would happen if a professional production of the tale went hilariously wrong?

ACT1 Theater presents "A Dickens' Christmas Carol," Mark Landon Smith's scrambled adaptation of Dickens' beloved Christmas story. Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley, and all of the required characters are present in Victorian London in the year of our Lord, 1843, as the seven member Styckes-Upon-Thump Repertory Theatre Company perform the Dickens classic during their annual farewell tour in England. Bettina, the company diva, pretends to be ill, certain the production will be canceled. However, much to her shock and rage, the show does go on without her! Mayhem ensues as she battles to reclaim her roles, and everything that could possibly go hilariously wrong does.

"A Dickens' Christmas Carol" opens Friday, November 26 and runs through Sunday, December 19. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 PM, with Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM on December 5, December 12, and December 19. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $12 for seniors age 60 and above, and for children age twelve and under. ACT1 Theater is located in the Alpharetta Presbyterian Church, 180 Academy Street, 20009 in Alpharetta. For tickets go to, or (770) 663-8989.

Downtown Alpharetta Open House and Christmas Tree Lighting- Dec 4th-5th!

‎33rd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Milton Square City Park across from Alpharetta City Hall, 2 South Main Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009 Sunday, December 5, 2010 5:00 PM

Celebrate the season at the Holiday Farmer's Market and Christmas Open House in downtown Alpharetta on Saturday, December 4th from noon to 6 p.m. The Christmas Open House continues Sunday, December 5th from noon to 7 p.m. Make it a weekend of shopping and celebrating at one of Alpharetta’s 23 upscale hotels. Check out our holiday rates at

Your Guide to New Year's Events in Georgia

No matter where you are, there’s an unforgettable New Year’s Eve experience awaiting you in Georgia. Check out the Dropping of the Cotton Ball in the town of Nashville. Or the annual Possum Drop in downtown Tallapoosa. From a festive riverboat cruise and sumptuous buffet on the Savannah River to the Masquerade & Carnival Celebrations at Chateau Elan in North Georgia, there’s a unique and exciting New Year’s Eve adventure for everyone. There’s simply no better place to begin 2011 than in Georgia.

Distressed home sales drop 31% in 3Q: RealtyTrac

A total of 188,748 homes in some stage of the foreclosure process sold in the third quarter, down 31% from a year ago and 25% from the previous quarter, according to RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketplace.
Many lenders froze REO sales in October to review affidavits that were allegedly signed without a review of the documentation. Even though those banks have refiled affidavits and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac cleared real estate agents to resume marketing REO, demand for these homes could still wane in the months ahead.

Wine Highway 2010 Winter Wine Highway Weekend Dec 3-5, 2010

wolf-mountain-cask-room.jpgThe Winter Wine Highway Weekend is your opportunity to travel the Northeast Georgia Mountains with your Passport to all 9 wineries. You can purchase your Passport for $20.00 at any winery where you begin your Wine Highway experience. Come and visit Blackstock Vineyards, Crane Creek Vineyards, Frogtown Cellars, Habersham Winery, Persimmon Creek Vineyards, Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards, Tiger Mountain Vineyards, Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Yonah Mountain Vineyards for unforgettable experience. For more details visit our web site at

Home Sales Fell 2.2% in October.

Real estate news and analysis from The Wall Street Journal

By Jeff Bater and Alan Zibel
Home resales dipped in October after two months of increases, with a weak economy and worries about flaws in foreclosure documents keeping buyers away.
Sales of previously occupied homes decreased by 2.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.43 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected home sales to drop 0.7% to an annual rate of 4.50 million.
The decrease in home sales followed a pair of monthly increases from the lowest sales rate in 15 years. September resales rose an unrevised 10% to a rate of 4.53 million. In August, resales climbed 7.3%.

Frommer's Top Destinations 2011--Atlanta is on the list.

Atlanta, Georgia

As the gateway to the New South, Atlanta has certainly come a long way since it burned to the ground during General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in 1864. And while remains of the Civil War are still a big draw for visitors -- the Kennesaw Mountain/National Battlefield Park and Cheatham Hill specifically, there is much more to this great city than 150-year-old confrontations. Atlanta boasts the world's largest aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola museum, a world-class zoo, an impressive botanical garden, and Federal parks highlighting the life and works of native son Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read more:

Shedding Some Light on the Issue of Shadow Inventory

There appears to be some confusion regarding the amount of shadow inventory that currently exists and the impact it will continue to have on the real estate market. Today, we want to bring some clarity to both of these issues. First, let’s define shadow inventory because part of the confusion is in differing definitions.  Originally, the term ‘shadow inventory’ was used by some to define a supposed ‘secret’ inventory; mysteriously hidden by banks from their investors and the general public. This definition caused banks to come forward and announce that they were not holding a ‘secret’ stash of foreclosures.

Holiday sights and sounds

Don’t worry about crunching numbers during the holidaysFernbank Museum and Callanwolde Fine Arts Center are partnering up this season to present two programs for one low price. Learn more about the world’s many cultures at Fernbank’s Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World, a programmed exhibition showcasing decorated trees, dance performances, storytelling and more. Then, head over to Callanwolde’s Christmas at Callanwolde, where the Gothic-Tudor mansion has been elaborately decorated for the holidays by Atlanta’s top interior designers. Displays and events like a gingerbread village and an ice carving competition are also a part of the program. From Dec. 1-12, experience both attractions for a special package rate of $30 for adults, $25 for students and seniors, and $22 for children ages 12 and younger. — Penn Hansa

Study: Amid housing slump, home sizes shrink

The median American home size has dropped to 2,100 square feet -- down from 2,300 at the peak of the housing boom in 2007 -- according to a study by, a real estate website. Each year, Builder magazine designs a concept home to reflect the current state of the market.  This year, the "Home for the New Economy" is just 1700 square feet.

Mortgage Applications Rise

Applications to purchase homes rose 5.5 percent last week compared to the previous week on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly survey.

On an unadjusted basis, purchases increased 3.1 compared over the previous week. This was the third consecutive week that purchase applications rose. They are at the highest level since May.

“The increases in purchase applications we have seen over the past couple of weeks align with the better than expected news from October’s employment report and other data indicating some improvement in the economy’s growth prospects,” says Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics.

Mortgage rates held steady:

· 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remained unchanged at 4.28 percent.
· 15-year fixed-rate remained unchanged at 3.64 percent.

Source: Mortgage Bankers Association (11/10/2010)

Senoia, Georgia - 2010 Southern Living Idea House

Rendition of the BrownstonesWhen Southern Living Magazine decided to go beyond the four walls of a house and showcase the renaissance of a quaint southern town, their search brought them to Senoia, Georgia.

Welcome to the Historic Senoia Project, the best kept secret in the South.

Peter Pan


Pemberton Place®, adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola®, Downtown Atlanta plays host to a unique event- a spectacular new production of JM Barrie’s classic story direct from engagements in London and San Francisco and Orange County.
Dazzling 360 degree imagery takes you soaring over London with Peter, Wendy and Tinkerbell in this magical journey that combines live theatre and jaw-dropping special effects in a state-of-the-art theatre tent!

Modifications Not the Answer to Foreclosure Crisis

Modifications Not the Answer to Foreclosure Crisis

Even the government now realizes that there is no way to prevent a large number of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) from entering the housing market.

Homeownership Stays Below 67%

Homeownership Stays Below 67% The percentage of U,S. households that owned their homes remained at 66.9 percent in the third quarter, unchanged from the second quarter, the Census Bureau said Tuesday.

The homeownership rate held steady for decades at 64 percent, but climbed to 69 percent in 2004. Since the housing bubble burst in 2006, it has declined steadily.

Because of rising foreclosures and tightening lending standards, homeownership is likely to decline to 66.7 percent, the rate in 1999, predicted IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport.

Source: The Associated Press, Alan Zibel (11/02/2010)

Housing Starts Rise in September

Spending on construction rose 0.5 percent in September with home building and government projects leading the way, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Monday.

Spending on home building rose 1.8 percent, but the increase was offset by spending on commercial construction, which dropped 1.6 percent. Overall, non-residential construction was at the lowest level since January 2005.

Housing starts rose 0.3 percent in September, the Commerce Department said, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units – still low, but improving.

Source: Bloomberg, Courtney Schlisserman (11/01/2010)

The Chastain Park Arts Festival--Nov 6th & 7th!

The Chastain Park Arts Festival is a two-day outdoor event with an emphasis on the visual arts. Located in the largest public park in Fulton County, we set out with many different goals in mind: 1) Give back to the community through art; 2) Create a venue that emphasizes local and Georgian artists, so they have a show they can depend on in their own back yard; 3) Bring a festival to the folks in the northern part of Fulton county; 4) Create a festival for Artists by Artists, letting the artist have a voice in the creation and operations of the festival; 5) Create a show unlike any other in the City of Atlanta, bringing together outstanding local, regional and national artists.

Lake Lanier Magical Nights of Lights

Magical Nights of Lights
November 21 - December 30, 2010
5 PM - 10 PM Nightly
Rekindle an old tradition or create a new one at Lake Lanier Islands
Resort’s Magical Nights of Lights holiday celebration. A seven-mile
drive through tour of animated, festive, holiday light displays.  At the
end of your tour, the Holiday Village awaits you with carnival rides and
 games, pony rides and numerous holiday treats.  Warm up with a hot
cup of cocoa or step inside Santa’s Workshop for some holiday
shopping and a visit with Santa.

Will Your House Be Worth More in the Spring?

Will Your House Be Worth More in the Spring?
This is a question anyone thinking about selling must ask. Should they sell now or should they wait for the spring? Most years that would be an interesting question. There is a belief that many buyers come out in the spring and, with that increase in demand for housing, prices may appreciate. This year is unlike any year in recent memory. Most experts believe there will be continuing depreciation of home values throughout the next 18 months.

Annual Harvest Festival

34th Annual Harvest Festival – November 6 (10am-5pm) and November 7 (Noon -4pm)
Come visit 200 vendors, handmade-homemade-homebaked or homegrown crafts; two stages filled with entertainment, a classic ar cruise and children and youth activities.
Phone: 706-282-3269 - Location: Downtown Square, Toccoa, GA


Hemockfest is an annual bluegrass, blues, and rock music festival held to benefit efforts to save the Hemlock trees of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are threatened by an invasive parasite, the wooly adelgid.