With homes still selling before they’re on the market, ever-changing forecasts mixed in with low inventory, the Atlanta Jewish Times asked a group of seasoned and knowledgeable real estate agents what consumers need to know.
How should home sellers prepare their homes to attract the most money? What should a home buyer know before starting the process? And how can a real estate professional contribute to the outcome of the best possible experience? These questions and more are answered by a round-up of some of Atlanta’s well-known pros.
Robin Blass Group with Harry Norman Realtors has been in business for more than 40 years and the past 11 years with daughter, Lauren Blass Solomon.
According to Blass, “If you are a seller in our market, you have a great opportunity to capitalize on the current trends and happenings. The average homeowner has $274,000 in equity, up from $182,000 before the pandemic. Many homeowners are looking to make a change, whether it is rightsizing, downsizing, or relocating to be near family. They want homes that are comfortable and convenient, with high-end finishes and amenities. They also want to enjoy the lifestyle that the Atlanta suburbs offer, with walking trails, book clubs, gardens, pickleball, golf, and other adult interests. That’s why we have seen a 10 percent increase in prices in just the last year. If you are thinking of selling your home, now is the time to act and get the best value for your property.”
Lauren Solomon (Robin’s daughter), who became a real estate agent while she was a sophomore in college representing a younger buyer and seller demographic, from their late 20s and 30s, says, “The real estate market is changing rapidly, and so are the preferences of second-time buyers. Many of them are looking for homes that suit their current and future needs, such as good schools, convenient locations, and spacious layouts. They are not interested in fixer-uppers or outdated designs. They want homes that are ready to move in, with modern kitchens and bathrooms. They are willing to invest in properties that will serve them for a long time, even if they must pay higher interest rates now and refinance later. They know that the competition is fierce, and they have to act fast. They also understand that the standards for a million-dollar home have changed over time, and they must adjust their expectations accordingly.”
Christiane Zeh Schendowich, a 35-year Phoenix Award Recipient at Harry Norman Realtors, shared what consumers should know, “In the current real estate market in Atlanta, both sellers and buyers should be aware of several key factors. Sellers should recognize that the market has been relatively competitive, with limited housing inventory leading to potentially quicker sales and favorable pricing conditions. Properly pricing the property based on recent local sales is crucial. Additionally, showcasing the property’s unique features and investing in quality marketing can help attract buyers.
“On the other hand, buyers should be prepared for a competitive environment where multiple offers are common. It’s important for buyers to get pre-approved, not pre-qualified, for a mortgage to demonstrate their seriousness to sellers. It might be a good idea to waive as many contingencies as possible. For example, waive your appraisal contingency, ask for a five-day due diligence. During that time, a good mortgage company like Prosperity Mortgage can do the appraisal. If the gap between purchase price and appraisal is too big, cancel the contract or negotiate a lower price. Due diligence in researching neighborhoods, property values, and potential appreciation trends is essential. Flexibility and prompt decision-making are also valuable assets for buyers in navigating Atlanta’s dynamic real estate landscape.”
Leigh Schiff, real estate advisor, The Schiff Team, a division of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty shared, “In my professional opinion, the biggest story is that the current market is a real estate expert’s market. More than ever, it is crucial to align yourself with a longstanding, active realtor that can skillfully navigate today’s market. This means a realtor who is experienced and successfully navigated their clients through multiple markets and knows how to best represent their buyer or seller to achieve the greatest outcome.”
Schiff advised, “Anyone can search Zillow to find a home. When interviewing your realtor, questions to consider asking are: How do you find your buyer homes that are not on the market? How do you engage your database to realize their selling potential or opportunities that are not yet realized? Furthermore, how do you protect your buyers when negotiating skillfully and throughout the process to guard their best interests? What do you do to strategically position your property to obtain the highest price and as well producing a solid contract that will make it to the closing table? Most people in the market are surprised to find out that 65 percent of pending transactions are not making it to the closing table. Just because the inventory is low, does not mean that it’s easy. When working with our clients, our approach is that of an advisor and consultant that makes the process easier and successful for our buyers and sellers. There is more than one way to win in this market and sometimes we need to rely on outside-the-box thinking to allow our clients to achieve the outcome they are looking to achieve.”
Regarding what improvements sellers should consider, Robyn G. Zimmerman, of Harry Norman Realtors, encourages specific ideas for those ready to sell and are wondering where to start. She said, “The Atlanta real estate market is experiencing a shortage of inventory making it an opportune time for homeowners to sell. It still is important to present your home in the best possible light.” Her top tips include:
The power of a fresh coat of paint. One of the most cost-effective ways to transform the look and feel of your home is through a fresh coat of paint. Some sellers consider offering a paint allowance to potential buyers. It’s essential to recognize the impact of a freshly painted interior not just visually but also contributing to the psychological appeal with that unmistakable freshly painted smell. Curb appeal plays a vital role in making a strong first impression. Before potential buyers step foot inside your home, they evaluate its exterior. To make a lasting impression, start by power washing the exterior including windows. Well-maintained landscaping can elevate your home’s curb appeal creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. A freshly painted front door can act as a welcoming focal point, setting the tone for what’s to come.
Interior upgrades and small changes can have a big impact. Consider applying fresh paint to both walls and cabinets, accompanied by updated pulls and knobs. This simple change can breathe new life into your kitchen and bathrooms, giving them a modern and appealing look. Don’t neglect the details – regrouting where necessary and ensuring all light bulbs are bright and operational.
Declutter and depersonalize. Beyond physical upgrades, decluttering, and depersonalizing can help potential buyers envision themselves living in the space. Clearing out excess belongings and personal items allows buyers to visualize their own furnishings and décor in the home. Showcasing your home in the best possible light in collaboration with your real estate professional will help set you up for success in this market.
Regarding the landscape of today’s market, Eydie Koonin, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, said, “The Summer 2023 residential real estate market is starting to feel a bit more like a normal market. What do I mean by that? The old normal or ‘balanced market’ is one where property inventory is between six to seven months. We are starting to see properties stay on the market longer before going under contract. Buyers can now ask for a due diligence period of 7-12 days, and it will most likely be granted in the binding contract.”
Koonin added on a final note, “Sellers and their brokers should be having discussions around days on market to sell, due diligence, inspections, what inspections to expect, and then what the buyers may expect from the sellers regarding repairs. It may be prudent for sellers to pre-inspect before coming to market, especially if the buyers purchased during the crazy boom market where they may have not had due diligence and therefore, did not have the opportunity to ask the sellers for repairs or repair concessions. We are seeing more terminations this summer because sellers are not accepting the new reality that this market is drastically different than it was in the past few years.”