My basement is full of firewood that I have yet to burn because the weather been has so warm this winter, and just like the weather in Athens the real estate market has been historically HOT in 2017. It is truly amazing just how fast some things are moving. I have lived in Athens for 18 years now, and I cannot recall a time where the supply was this low or the demand so high. In many ways this would seem a like a good thing for our area, but honestly it has caused a lot frustration in the real estate world. As a real estate broker, one of my primary jobs is to help buyers and sellers come together, and that has seemed harder lately than I can remember which has surprised me. The main reason seems to be the lack of supply. Many buyers have found it hard just to get inside a property before it is under contract, and many sellers have remained firm at high list prices resulting in low appraisals. At the end of day, my job is to help people navigate these hurdles, and today it seems the buyers have many more hurdles than the sellers. So I want to talk a little about our market and what a buyer should be doing to find their ideal property.
First of all, why do we have such a large amount of home buyers in our market? In my opinion, this is due to the return of seller equity and low interest rates. Many sellers were not able to sell when the market was down, but now they can exit their own property without taking a loss. It seems a lot of these sellers become Athens area home buyers, because so many people want to move here and so few want to leave the area. Long and short, we have it pretty good in the classic city, but what do you need to do to buy in the area you prefer? I would start by telling any home buyer to reach out to a good local and experienced realtor for many reasons. But most of all, for their expertise and knowledge in the market where you are trying to move. When the market is up you need strong advice on prices, appraisal values, and when to act fast. This is not the time to call your best friend who sells two houses a year or less. You need to call people that have the experience in the market you want to buy. Don’t ask your buddy if he knows someone unless your buddy knows a lot of people in real estate. In most cases, an out of town agent simply cannot know a market well when they live hours away. Our town can be very close knit, and a local realtor often will know of homes for sale that are not on the market. Here at 5Market, we frequently have seller clients that reach out and ask us to bring an offer from a qualified buyer instead of listing their house. Despite the efforts of many, our real estate market is heavily based on experience and strong local relationships.
The next thing to do is to tell the truth. I often start with telling my clients to be honest with me about properties so I can better understand how to help. It is ok to say, “I hate this house or I don’t care for this street”. Please tell your agent what you want and why. Another part of being a home buyer is being prepared to act. Buyers need to have a conversation with their lender before stepping foot in one home. That way you have an idea of what you can afford and what cash outlay is best for you. Therefore, you can act quickly on a hot property. In most cases, your realtor will know several good lenders to speak with before getting started. Home buyer’s now need to be proactive on the home search as well by using websites like Zillow and Realtor.com. Many real estate brokers are often frustrated with Zillow and Trulia because the sites can be inaccurate and sometimes advertise homes that are not for sale. Furthermore, they can mislead buyers and sellers on home values especially here in Athens. While this is true, I appreciate these sites because it gives my clients a place to search homes on their schedule. A good agent will have more than a few clients, and they can’t be expected to sit at the computer to wait for new homes all day every day. For example, I encourage buyers to use these sites, but we also encourage them to download the MLS app which can verify listings they might find.
In closing, I think the most important thing I typically discuss with clients is that things have a tendency of working out the way they should. In my experience, when a client loses a house or an inspection goes badly it seems to work out for the best. So many buyers lose out on houses, but they often find another one they like even better. I am a big fan of learning and borrowing from others. When I hear something wise I try to remember it and internalize it. One of the best things I have heard my co-worker, Jeb Bradberry say is that, “Patience is a Virtue”. This is true in life, and true in real estate. So remember try not to be discouraged and remain patient because if you deal with good people in business it has a tendency to work out for the best.