Real Estate Market

Shades of Gray

Gray is here to stay! Gray has become a wildly popular color for both interior and exterior paint. It pairs perfectly with a wide variety of decor and can set the tone of a room anywhere from mysterious to glamorous to serene. Gray has become to the go-to color for home updates - simply changing your walls to a great shade of gray can bring new life to an older property. In fact, you could say it's a definitive neutral, an ideal option for maintaining versatility and polish.

Gray can be light and dark, warm and cool, deep and rich, or pale and tranquil. Picking the right shade of gray will help you create the perfect ambiance for your home. When you decide to update your paint scheme it will be important to test the shade(s) you have selected. Check your gray color in all varieties of light - daytime vs. nighttime, fluorescent vs. incandescent, etc. And work with hues and tones. Paint an accent wall in a deeper shade of gray to create interest and depth in your room. Add a light gray to your ceiling to create a polished look. Use sites like www.pinterest.com and www.houzz.com to get ideas of gray color palettes for your painting project. And gray isn’t just for walls.. painting older cabinets a contemporary gray and adding new hardware can be a cost-effective way to update your kitchen.

Here are some fabulous options to use when you decide to jump into the world of gray. Click on each color swatch to get more information about the hue and see coordinating and complimentary colors.

Sherwin Williams

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Do Your Homework!

It’s hard to believe, but the beginning of a new school year is just around the corner! Although I am sure your kids are still enjoying their summer vacation, it will be no time before they have picked out the perfect backpack and stuffed it with all the essential school supplies.

One of the top search criteria I hear from buyers is schools. Schools can be a primary reason for moving and a major deciding factor for the home you choose to buy. First and foremost, parents want the best schools for their kids - that is a given. But beyond that, the school district where a home resides can determine the market value of a home and it’s potential to gain value in the future. And, the sought after schools can also help you down the road when it comes time to sell your home - making it more desirable to potential buyers.

Looking for a home in a particular school district? On the Premier Atlanta Real Estate site, we have an awesome tool to help you search for available homes located near the most popular schools in the area. Check out this link:

http://www.premieratlantarealestate.com/homes-for-sale-by-school-district-in-atlanta.php

Want to do some more homework? Request a copy of the Atlanta Business Chronicle annual school guide. When doing research on schools, I recommend reviewing test scores and visiting schools in person to speak with staff who can then provide you with more information about each school. A good place to start is with the annual Atlanta Business Chronicle School Guide. Send me an email at [email protected] to request a copy and I will mail you one directly.

Are you are ready...

What's The Real Story? It's Probably Pricing!

Time and again, I come across a home listing that is well kept, with awesome features, in a great neighborhood... but it just isn't selling.

Buyers will ask, "why has is been on the market so long?" Sellers will ask, "why isn't my house selling?" 

And the answer is usually: PRICE.

My job, as your highly skilled real estate professional, is to do the research and give you the tools and information to price your home properly, or to make the appropriate offer on a property. To get that information, I look at factors such as style, size, features, geographic location, schools, etc. in comparison to comparable recently sold (in the last 3 - 6 months) properties. I don't set the price - you don't set the price - THE MARKET SETS THE PRICE.

The goal is to sell the property in the least amount of time for the most money. And your pricing strategy will have a direct effect on your success of selling for the most money in the least amount of time. Statistics show that if you price your property too high, you risk sitting on the market for months. And in the end, you will probably be selling for less than if you priced properly from the beginning, because you will need to do price reductions to offset the perception that there is something wrong with the property. Price your property too low, and you aren't maximizing the potential profit from the sale - and the bidding war you hoped to achieve may never materialize.

Take a look at the snapshot below which demonstrates the effect price has on sales vs. listing price and days on market. Getting the price right from the beginning, is your best bet for selling your home for the most amount of money in the least amount of time.

Are you ready to have a chat about selling your home? I would love to meet with...

Keys to Successful House Hunting

Use the tried and true newspaper reporters tool to have a fabulous home buying experience! Answer these five Ws and one H to buy your next home with confidence and success! 

Why Do You Want A New Home?
The first, and most important question you need to ask yourself is “Why do I want to move?”. Your reason or motivation for moving will drive the rest of the process and will help you answer the rest of the questions. Maybe you are taking a new job in a new city. Maybe you want to be closer to the grandkids. Maybe your family is growing and you need more space. Or maybe you are just ready for new home. Whatever the reason you have for moving, it is the right reason, and it will play a key role in helping you make those key home buying decisions. Figure out your big “WHY” and then keep that as the focus during your house hunting.

How Much Do You Want To Spend?
This will be one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make so you need to begin with a discussion about financing. ALL HOME BUYERS NEED TO MEET WITH THEIR BANKER OR A LENDER BEFORE LOOKING AT ANY HOMES! Pardon my “shouting” - but having your financial ducks in a row before embarking on the home buying process is a crucial step you should take to ensure you start off the process on the right foot. If paying cash, your banker can discuss the status of your accounts, your budget, and provide you with a letter verifying you have the funds available to purchase a home. If financing with a mortgage, the lender can help determine your budget and provide information on the various loan programs available to you, as well as providing documentation of your pre-qualification. The professionals can also help you determine if it is not quite the right time, financially, to purchase...

Your Guide To Home Inspections

You have searched and searched and finally found that perfect home to purchase... what is the next step? As soon as you have a property under contract the next important step in the home buying process is conducting an inspection of the property. A home inspection is a valuable tool in evaluating the condition, soundness and safety of the property. The resulting report is a fantastic source of information about the home you are buying, and can highlight items that need to be addressed prior to purchase.

A home inspection should be conducted by a professional, licensed, experienced and highly recommended home inspection contractor. As in every industry, there are good and bad home inspectors. Ask for recommendations from your real estate agent - they have worked with many inspectors and have valuable insights to help with the selection process. Your agent will know which inspectors will provide the best and most useful information and provide excellent customer service, all for a reasonable price. You can also ask trusted family and friends for inspector recommendations. Once a professional is selected, your agent will schedule the inspection, coordinating with the listing agent and home seller.

A home inspection is usually paid for by the buyer. On the day of the inspection, the buyer (along with the buyer's agent) is invited to walk through the property with the inspector so they can verbally discuss and visually point out any findings . The inspector will also provide a written report for the buyer and agent to review, documenting all the things they observed while evaluating the property.

What is usually evaluated as a part of the inspection:
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Will You Be Early Out of the Gates?

You have probably heard lots of advice about the best time of the year to put your house on the market … “Spring! Sell in the spring, it’s the best time” they will say.  But getting a jump on the real estate market may be your best opportunity to come up a winner when selling your home. Here are just a few of the ways listing your home in January and February can benefit you in the home selling race.

Inventory is Low

The holidays did little to slow down the robust real estate market and we find ourselves still deep into a Seller’s Market. What that means is inventory is low and there are not enough homes to meet the demand of the buyers in the current market. This is the case both nationally and locally. According to realtor.com, on a national level, active listings are down a staggering 11% when compared to 2015.*  Here in Atlanta, intense demand is resulting in a 12.1% reduction of listings compared to this time last year.

So who remembers their Economics 101 class? Bueller? Bueller? When demand is high and the inventory is low, it is the BEST TIME TO SELL! As long as you follow the professional and knowledgeable advice of your carefully selected listing agent, you will likely be able to get more for your home and sell quickly.

As we head in to the spring months, inventory will inevitably increase. Your home will have more competition, you will have to work extra hard to get the attention of the buyers out shopping. That may mean pricing lower than the house for sale around the corner, making extra updates to your home, and dealing with fickle buyers. Be the star of the show by listing your house in January or February reap the rewards!

Serious Buyers

People who are house hunting in...

A New Home for Christmas?

Have you been thinking about buying a new home, but planning to wait til spring? You might want to consider doing your home buying during the holidays... this can be a fantastic time of year for you to find that dream home and get a great deal! Who says the best presents come in small packages? How about a two story with a pool and a fireplace sized package? Let’s talk about a home shopping during the holidays.

Deals! Deals! Deals!

Let’s face it, no one really wants to put their house on the market during the holidays. Listing your home usually means the hassle of prepping the house for sale, and keeping it clean for showings, and scheduling open house events. Now try doing all that while putting up festive decorations, hosting special events, attending school programs, wrapping gifts, and still finding time for work and family. So a seller who has decided it is time to sell is probably finding that prospect a necessity, whether for a employment relocation, a family need, or any number of other reasons.

This is where you, as the buyer, can have some purchasing power. Homes on the market during this time may be ripe for offers under the list price, due to the urgency of the seller to sell. Sellers may be more willing to take care of those inspection items because they need to get moving. And if you have the ability to move quickly, sellers may be very happy to oblige a short escrow period. (one caveat - check with your lender to check for any delays the holidays pose regarding time needed for closing the transaction).

Houses that have been on the market a while will likely try to price drop before or during the holidays to get some action on the home and get it sold before the end of the year. With fewer buyers in the market, sellers are trying everything they can to get...

Less Foreclosures in Alpharetta Means Less Downward Pressure on Prices

The number of foreclosure sales in Alpharetta in the last 60 days is down 84% from the same time last year. There have only been 6 foreclosure sales in the last 60 days of this year compared with 38 sales during the same period last year This is an amazing statistic if you think about it!

Foreclosures depress home prices because many buyers prefer them and appraisers use them as comparable sales to arrive at valuations for other homes. This is inline with what RealtyTrac reports nationally showing a 29% decline in Q3 of 2013 compared to Q3 of 2012 of foreclosure sales. Of course, foreclosures have always been below the national averages in Alpharetta, but with only 6 selling in the last 60 days, I believe we can make a few observations:

  • With this few foreclosure sales, prices will not be pressured downward any longer. We've seen this trend happening for about 1 year and half, but these numbers really put the end to any further speculation.
  • For buyers seeking a "deal", they are gone. It's time we now assess this market from the point of view of value again. Of course, you can still get a deal, but it's based on value, not price.
  • For sellers, this is great news because buyers no longer have the low priced options they had in previous years so you will see more real buyers and few low ball offers. This should mean prices wil continue to rise (see Alpharetta home prices if you would like to know what your home is worth) provided the economy does not fall out from under us because of what is happening in Washington (I don't see tha happening).

Overall sales don't seem to be trending up from last year, but with supply so low due to fewer foreclosures and the lack of equity for traditional sellers, we remain in a sellers market. The caveat...

Pricing a Home in a Down Market - You Can't Underprice a Home

This is something that we (and I think many other agents) struggle with in the market today. We meet with a client and go over what we believe should be the list price of a home and it's seldom a pleasant conversation. Typically, sellers know it's worth less than it was a few years ago, but getting the price right today really is more important than it used to be.

A home gets it's most activity from potential buyers in the early part of a listing period - the first 2 weeks. If it isn't priced for the market, it won't get an offer. Still, seller's feel they need to leave room to negotiate because they feel they need to squeeze every penny they can out of their sale. It's a fair enough idea, but it isn't grounded in what the data says they should do.

First, I'd like to discuss an important concept that regularly gets overlooked by both seller's and agents: It's impossible to underprice a home. Let me reiterate - you can't underprice your home. In a free market, it doesn't matter if you underprice by $1,000 or $50,000. It will sell for as much as the market will pay. Not more, not less.

So let's try to do a better job of recognizing the understandable objection about pricing and do a better job of explaining how the market works. If you list your home for the correct price, it will sell and it will happen fast regardless of your price point. It's not like homes aren't selling (see chart).

home-sales_610

As you can see from this chart which shows home sales during this declined market, home sales are actually quite consistent. It's just that only the ones that represent exceptional value sell. If you price it at the right number, it's impossible for it not to sell. So the obvious question is that if you list it low and it sells fast,...

3rd Quarter Atlanta Market Statistics - Video

The 3rd quarter is over and it was not great - but not really worse than most analysts expected. During the second quarter (and before the statistics were complete), many of us thought that we would see year over year increases in sales volume, but those numbers were more heavily influenced by the tax credit than was factored in to many of the early interpretations. It now looks like we will end up a couple percent down in sales volume and 5-6% down in sales price. ANother significant statistics for real estate here localy is that for the first time, RE/MAX is no longer the number one real estate company in Atlanta. Keller Williams surpassed RE/MAX in the number of closed sides of real estate transactions. Congrats to all of us at KW in Metro Atlanta!

While the numbers look down, the truth is that it is marginal- more sideways really - and not as bad as the bottom (January 2009). There is a chance still that we may set a new bottom in January or February of 2011, but in the bigger picture it will be more accurate to say that we are really just continuing to drag along the bottom. The actuaries can come back later and pinpoint the exact moment of the day, week, month and year of the bottom because if that is what you are looking for before you buy a house then you have miscalculated how to avoid risk in the real estate market. I'm not saying go blindly into your next purchase - only that we are at the bottom and it's not possible to judge the exact moment although it is probably a safe assumption that if you buy right now you aren't likely to see significant equity increases based upon appreciation in the next 2-3 years. On the other hand you aren't too likely to lose money if you work with a competent professional to help navigate the minefield that is the current market with lots of great opportunities and lots of really bad ones! Sorry for the digression....below is the video (I'm still working on some technical qualities, but this is pretty decent). It's about 10 minutes long......

The Tax Credit Effect - Can it Help Save the Market

After strong mid summer sales and real hope for 2010, the residential real estate outlook has dimmed again. The $8,000 tax credit is looking very much like the last great hope for 2009 to bring back some balance - or at least give a strong push of the pendulum back in the balance direction. The chart below shows sold single family residential units compared to pending residential units monthly during 2009.

This text is replaced by chart.

The uptick is incredible and certainly caused by the end of the tax credit. We will have to see how much of this strong surge in pending sales actually close before making any real predictions for 2010 and it will be mid to late December before the numbers arrive. If a large number of these homes do close, we should at least see one positive trend continue and that is a lowering of inventory.

The one consistent bright spot has been a steady and consistent reduction in inventory. With prices lowering again after the typical summer uptick, I believe the reason inventories continue to go down is related more to the fact that fewer people have enough equity to sell rather than anything else. Whatever the case, we need still need inventories to keep heading downward. We have yet to reach a balanced market so supply will continue to push prices down on a macro level due to low demand caused by stricter...

Summer Speeds by Taking Deals of a Lifetime with It

Exit 9 Facing South

Summer of 2009 is coming to a close quickly and some of the best deals in a generation are leaving with it. Were you able to capitalize on those deals or are you still waiting for prices to drop? If you're waiting, here is a recap of what you missed and why you may reconsider your position of waiting...and oh yeah...it looks like prices aren't really dropping any more - at least for good properties and especially in the more sought after areas of Atlanta

The average price for a home has dropped 8% in North Fulton since the summer of 2008, but, prices are trending up, sales volume is trending up and inventory is trending down.  We are still down in price from the summer of 2008 because pricing continued to decline until February of 2009 (they have been rising since). It seems as though market forces are correcting the market even without the inducements provided by the government and we are really expecting a surge of closings as the $8,000 tax credit expires at the end of November. Whether it gets extended or renewed is up for debate. I hope they renew rather than extend. I think it will induce more sales that way.

Nevertheless, deals are going fast. Unfortunately there are still far too many know-it-alls that think prices in Atlanta are going to be dropping another 15%-20%. I feel bad for these people because they fall into the "clueless" group and will miss the deals. Too bad, but, I suppose I can't convince everyone - nor should I try to, I suppose.

Here are some statistics that indicate real changes for the better in the market:

  • Positive year over year closings (more this year than last, sales volume is up).
  • Total price declines are continuing to decrease and would almost disappear by precluding condos and townhomes.
  • Average...

Waiting for the Bottom - You May Have Missed It

Smelling the flowers?Waiting around and smelling the flowers? If you are one of the many buyers waiting for the bottom, it's quite possible that you have missed it. Waiting on a "bottom" is a terrible homebuying strategy anyway, but, now is really the time to get off the fence. We as real estate professionals are not capable of exactly calling the bottom and that means that you as consumers have no chance of doing so. Think I'm wrong? We now have had four consecutive months where the average price of homes for sale in Atlanta is higher than the previous month. In February it $172,860. Now it's $209,999 or over $37,000 higher than the low! Translated, this means since February, prices have gone up every month so many areas the "price bottom" may be behind us. The confluence of low prices, high inventory and low interest rates presents itself as a window subject to close much faster than it opens so if you are going to move, you should know - it looks like the window is closing.

It's time to change what we call this. It's no longer a bad market or a good market. It's the new normal. For the next year to a year and a half, inventories will still be high and we will go through periods that see modest price declines but it will be hyperlocal, market and price point specific. The main reason is that loan qualifying has been constricted to shrink the sales volume, but, it looks like the market may be reaching a tipping point with inventory as it relates to sales volume. Next month (July) we are more than likely going to see resale home sales surpass those sales of 2008 based on pending sales now compared with pending sales at this time last year. That means the supply of homes is going to be heading down. With no loans available to build any new homes...

Homes for Sale in Crooked Creek - A Market Update

Crooked Creek Golf CourseCrooked Creek is a fantastic golf and country club community located in Milton undergoing something of an unusual change for a neighborhood in the real estate market today. A robust $4,000,000 renovation to the facilities is being undertaken in a real estate market that has just taken a beating over the past few years.  With homes dating to the mid nineties, many people believed that these updates may do the community well and freshen up the general appearance. This may still happen, but, construction is behind schedule and we'll really have to wait another year to see if that plays out. Until then, here is an update on market statistics. Faced with lots of competition in the zip code for similarly priced homes, staging, marketing and price ring true as the most important factors to get  home sold in the neighborhood and not listing your home for sale with an agent who "knows" or "lives in" the neighborhood. Those old myths never actually helped sell houses and do even less in a compressed real estate market.

There are currently 44 homes for sale in Crooked Creek as well as at least one additional home for sale by owner. Four of these are under contract. One of the under contract homes is in The Enclave. Four more of the active homes are in The Enclave. That leaves Crooked Creek proper with 36 active listings and 3 under contract or 1 in 12. A strong market (one that is good for sellers) would have 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 homes under contract at the high point of the selling season. In the last 3 months there have been 7 sales for an average sales rate of 2.33 per month. This makes the absorption rate in Crooked Creek 15.5 which means that there is 15.5 months of inventory if homes continue...

Spring Market Update for Metro Atlanta

The ups and downs (mostly downs) of the market are likely to continue, at least for most of this year and there is a good chance that the next six months will be the hardest summer selling season yet if you are a seller, but, the statistics are definitely showing some important and changing trends that you probably are not hearing about on the news. What we need to look at is one month from one year compared to the same month from a previous year. This counterbalances annual cycles like the ones that we have here in Atlanta. That's the case everywhere, but I digress. An increase in December over November is meaningless to the market as that is the case every year.

Below are a few sales graphs that I want to explain before you read them and then I'll add some further information below them. The first graph is all residential sales volume of single family homes by month. Below that is only new construction sales. The third is all non-new construction sales. Before you look at them, I want to explain why I did this. A few weeks ago, we had a presentation in our office explaining that the median price difference in Atlanta between new construction and similar resale homes was at an all time high of $122,000. This difference in afford ability has created a very interesting scenario in the real estate market in Atlanta that will begin playing out later this year and will mark the beginning of the end of the downturn locally unless something else terrible happens.

Remember this point for later: New construction cannot come down in price while resale home value can drop. It's going to be important to see what's happening in the market.

O.K., let's look at these graphs. The first is all residential single family sales in Metro Atlanta for 2007, 2008:

atlanta-single-family-sales-volume_579...

$15,000 Tax Credit Out, Housing Crisis Largely Ignored in Stimulus

Now that the stimulus bill has passed the committees and is set to be signed by Obama as early as Monday, any hope that the bill would include help for the industry with the biggest problem and is the biggest reason we are in a recession is all but gone. While it could be argued that the $15,000 tax credit was not the right prescription, it would have sent a message that the problem was being addressed.

Bloomberg reports this morning that the bill weighs in at $789 Billion dollars and that instead of a $15,000 credit, there will be a $500 addition to the $7,500 tax LOAN already in place. Like most things in the behemoth, little details can be found. We could hope that they would remove the LOAN portion of the bill with all this money being thrown around, but, I suppose there is no real reason to address the core of the recession - the housing market. Why would we expect that congress would do that when they have so much money available to spend on pet projects? 4 Million dollars for tennis courts, 2 million for lights in Vega, 15 million for a sports park project that will create 15 jobs. Yes, that's $1,000,000 a job. Maybe I'm in the wrong business.

So my questions are these: Since the entire real estate industry in a primary and secondary way makes up approximately 20% of the total GDP, why is the housing crisis, which is the root cause of the recession largely being ignored in the stimulus? Should we be outraged? Do you think that the money is being spent wisely? Do you believe this stimulus bill will help you and your family?

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Homes in Zip Code 30004 - Sales Down, Prices Up, but are They Really?

1_261I suppose it depends on how you spin the statistics and I really don't intend on doing that. The general statistics don't really show a decline in prices and that just doesn't seem to feel right so I set out to separate the market into more manageable segments to see if some segments are performing better than others thereby skewing the total statistics. My hypothesis was that the resale market below $750,000 (this is anywhere bnetween 80% and 90% of the market) was doing something worse than the market as a whole. In other words, one portion of the market might be making the total market appear as a much better market than what most sellers and agents are actually seeing.

As I start this post, let me first explain what I did. My goal was to separate out and use the majority of the market - this is the segment that I am concerned about because it is the part that will be most meaningful to the majority of people and can help to shed some realistic light on what you need to do with your price if you really want to sell your house. So, I eliminated all homes that sold above $750,000. The chart below shows how little of the market it represents, how it performs and should help to indicate why it is not giving a true representation of homes for sale in zip code 30004.

FusionCharts.

The Big Lie: North Fulton...

Alpharetta Market Sales Down, Prices Relatively Constant - What Happens Next?

When sales volume goes down and inventory stays the same, what happens to prices? This would be something like Economics .101 - A Middle School/High School level economics question. The answer should be obvious - over time, prices will fall setting in motion a series of events which ultimately will bring inventories back in line with sales volume as the pendulum swings in the other direction. It makes sense, but, it's not what we see hapening in Alpharetta and some other areas of North Fulton. It may mean however that prices will fall, but, conventional wisdom would leave me to believe that it would have alread been happening. This first chart shows the decline in sales volume for Alpharetta:

Sales Volume in Alpharetta 2007 vs. 2008

The second chart here shows the sales prices from 2007 to 2008 and if you look closely at the chart, there really isn't anything indicating a drop in prices:

Sales Prices for Alpharetta 2007 vs. 2008

Outside of the price change in October of 2008, there is nothing to indicate that prices are falling and no, a one month decline like that is not enough to draw any conclusions whatsoever. If we see three months of year-to-year sales drops then we will have a trend.

What Happens Next? 

I am of the opinion, personally, that there is absolutely nothing that can be done to increase sales volumes to 2006 and 2007 levels short of reinstating subprime loans and I wouldn't wish that on anyone or any real estate market. It is one of the leading causes of why we are where we are right now. Lower interest rates could help, but, not enough to increase sales volume back to pre-slowdown numbers....