Home Buyers - The Advantage is Gone!

Written by Posted On Thursday, 12 February 2015 06:02

The tables have turned; in many markets, home sellers hold the advantage. Home buyers need to hit "reset" as the edge enjoyed over the years is gone. Consistent trends have been seen across the country, it pays to understand the current environment. Atlanta area home buyers are starting to come out in earnest and there are several key things to keep in mind. First and foremost, the buyer’s market is over and so are the huge deals seen in the past. Inventory has leveled off in most areas and the expectation of 20% – 25% discounts should be tabled; that is over.

The buyer’s market has been over for two years, the idea of 25% off should be dismissed in most areas of North Atlanta. Educated buyers can find value but not without adequate preparation. An experienced agent is a critical asset to success.

Serious buyers must be properly focused to be successful. The single most critical step is learning how to select an agent to work with. EVERY buyer should be represented – including new homes – as the listing agent legally represents ONLY the seller. Avoid dual agency at all costs; since representation is almost always free to buyers, there is no reason to be taken advantage of.

This is a competitive market; successful home buyers have mortgage preapproval in hand, know the general characteristics of the home they want and have an idea of the area they want to be in. It’s possible the search may last a week, a month or a year – regardless; preparation is the key to success. There are many buyers looking, when a nice home pops up being ready to go will be a big plus.

Main points to remember as a home buyer in North Atlanta:

  • In much of north metro Atlanta, it’s a seller’s market. Fluctuations exist but the summers of ’13 and ’14 were strongly in favor of sellers. As ’15 breaks the cycle of the last two years is expected to repeat with the summer peak.

  • Quality homes will attract attention and will sell quickly. Many will be gone in under 60 days, in some areas under 30 days and in some areas in a week. Delays on the part of the agent or buyer mean lost opportunity.

  • Don’t expect to score big deals. Sale to list ratios are consistently in the upper 90% range in East CobbAlpharetta,Roswell and other highly desirable markets.

  • There are no short sale bargains. Lenders are fine foreclosing; they usually get mortgage insurance, still get money from the bailout, can elect to file a deficiency judgment and they get the property back in a rising market.  Then there’s the assumption that the sellers comply with everything in a timely manner…and since they’re not paying the mortgage what’s the motivation? It’s easy to keep delaying and living for free which is why these are an exercise in futility.

  • There are no foreclosure bargains and haven’t been for a few years. Lenders know buyers will look because of “foreclosure” and that in stable to rising markets someone will pay retail or close to it. These can be money pits with no disclosures, hidden issues, limited title and other traps. In the mind of a lender, cheap paint and carpet cures all ills.

  • If a home has been languishing, there is a reason. Unreasonable sellers, inspection and or appraisal issues, functional or external issues, lousy agents…a number of possible reasons exist. Homes develop stigmas for a reason. Or, it might be a great home with a trapped owner. Many owners remain under water or are even with no profit for a move. If a seller owes 525K on a 500K home and can’t come up with the 25K at closing, there is nothing to be done.

  • Some sellers may not listen. They might be able to move but refuse to acknowledge the data or issues present. Some refuse to acknowledge data, refuse to negotiate or refuse to consider issues found during inspection. This is not usual in highly desirable areas at certain times of the year. The East Cobb and North Fulton areas during the late spring and summer are perfect examples as buyers position themselves for the upcoming school year.

  • What is bought will be sold. Although it sounds crazy, think about selling the home; will it be appealing when it’s placed back on the market? Stigmatized homes with functional or locational issues that were used to “get a deal” could haunt the resale.

Every home buyer is unique but the recipe for success tends to be consistent. Learn how we educate buyers and instill the confidence required to act decisively. Drop us a note or call 678-428-8276; we’re happy to chat.

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Hank Miller, SRA

Hank Miller is an Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser in the north metro Atlanta area. Since 1989, real estate has been his full time profession. Hank´s clients benefit from his appraisal and sales experience; they act upon data, not baseless opinions. He is an outspoken critic of the lax standards in the agent community.

Hank remains an active certified appraiser and completes specialty work for FNMA, lenders and attorneys. He is a well-known blogger and continues to guest write for multiple industry publications as well as national outlets like the WSJ, NYT, RE Magazine, USA Today and others. He is a regular on public Q&A sites on Zillow, Trulia and many others.

Hank consistently ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the metro Atlanta area. He runs the Hank Miller Team and is known as much for his ability as he is for his opinions. He is especially outspoken about the lack of professional standards and expectations in the real estate industry.


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