The Ghosts of UGA’s Past

As the great comedy writer Larry David says, “pretty…., pretty…., pretty good”, is exactly what most Georgia fans are feeling on this Tuesday before the Tennessee game. 

But not this Dawg fan.  In fact, I feel a great deal of anxiety for my beloved Bulldogs this week.  Yes of course I had a great time Saturday watching them thoroughly handle the bizzaro bulldogs from Mississippi.  You may even recall that I did predict this team to go 11 and 1, and so far I am looking much wiser than many thought only 4 weeks ago.  I still believe that record should be the eventual outcome of the season, but this Saturday the game in Knoxville truly has a chance to signify a drastic change in the football culture at UGA.  Most of you reading this should already understand why, but for those of you who don’t let me explain.

I was born almost three months after Georgia won its last national title in football.  Since then my life as a Dawg fan has been filled with great times, great friends, and great memories.  But it has also been filled with great disappointment.  And these great disappointments have come right after some of the really great memories.  That has sort of been the life of Georgia fans for the past 36 years or so.  Don’t get me wrong, I would not change being a Georgia man for any other team or school in the entire country.  I don’t want a degree from a different university, and I don’t want to live anywhere other than Athens.  Long and short, I am all in when it comes to the school and the state of Georgia.  I know this team is good, and I know the new coaching staff was brought here to change things for the better.  But I still have reason to worry.  I hate to be a “Negative Nancy” or a “Debbie Downer”, but allow me to remind you of a few big games followed by some tough losses from the ghosts of UGA’s past.

  • The first two games I have to lump together because I was so young. After rolling through the SEC in 1981 and 1982, Georgia lost two Sugar Bowls to two schools from Pennsylvania.  81’ to Pitt and 82’ to Penn State. Both games likely cost Georgia a national title.  Keep in mind these games were played after beating Florida, Auburn, and Tech to close out the season.  These games were heart breaking, but they are not examples of Georgia playing poorly.
  • The first big letdown game I can recall was Georgia vs. Auburn in 1997. Jim Donnan appeared to have Georgia over the hump with a 37-14 win over Florida.  The joy of that victory was short lived because Dameyune Craig and the Auburn Tigers beat Georgia solidly at Sanford Stadium in the very next game.
  • The next one came just a year later. Georgia went on the road to beat LSU with Quincy Carter in 1998.  Bulldog fans then dared to think their team would beat Tennessee the following weekend.  Well the joke was on us because the Bulldogs lost 22 to 3 in Sanford, and no one called Quincy Carter “ice water” ever again.
  • In 2004, Georgia dismantled the defending national champs, LSU, 45 to 16. We all felt great about ourselves.  Every fan was certain Georgia was on its way to the BCS.  But then Tennessee came to town the very next week with an upset win.  This one stung badly at the time.
  • Here is a list of other games in the last 15 years that hurt Georgia’s chances to have a special year: Florida 2002, Auburn 2005, Tenn. 2007, Bama 2008, Tech 2008, SCAR 2012 just to name a few. Trust me there are more.

So here is my point, this Tennessee game is the typical trap game.  Just about the time that the fan base starts to feel good, the team goes out and losses one they shouldn’t.  This has become a defining characteristic of Georgia Football for 20 years or more.  But here is an opportunity to change that perception with a win over Tennessee this Saturday.  I don’t care how they get it just as long as they win.  Have you also considered that Florida is already 2 and 0 in the SEC?  I know they don’t deserve to be, but regardless of a comically bad off season they are still 2 and 0.  If Georgia loses this weekend, they are already behind the 8 Ball in the SEC East. So in my opinion, the season starts Saturday in Knoxville, and Florida is already a win ahead of both Tennessee and Georgia.

So I hope all you Bulldog fans out there feeling “pretty good” about your team realize that nothing has been accomplished, and there is a long ways to go.  So don’t book a room in Atlanta just yet.  On the other hand, I think our head coach and new staff understand this all too well, and that should help the team keep their head out of the clouds this week.  All this being said, I am going to stand by my predictions for the year.  Dawgs win Saturday and the culture around the program improves a little more with each coming week.  Go Dawgs!

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A Message to Bulldog Fans in South Bend

Today is only Thursday, but it already feels less crowded here in Athens except for the Chick-Fil-A on Alps road of course.  I am trying to recall a game in my lifetime with as much excitement and fervor to make so many UGA fans travel as this week’s match up against Notre Dame.  Sure, there have been some big games here in Athens and Atlanta over the last 15 or so years.  LSU 2004, BAMA 2008 & 2012, along with some trips to the Georgia Dome come to mind.  However, I think you have to go back to 2002 when Georgia returned to the Sugar Bowl as the SEC Champion.  In 2002, Georgia fans were itching to get down to New Orleans to watch their Dawgs play Florida State.  I was one of them of course, and I had a blast even though it wasn’t that great of game.  If you recall, FSU that year was a little beat down, and an underdog to Georgia.  I think Anquan Boldin had to move from receiver to quarterback for that one game.  In the end, Georgia fans weren’t as excited about the match up in 2002 as they were about the trip.  And I worry that too many fans feel the same way about this trip to Notre Dame.

Granted, I have never been to South Bend, but I am pretty damn sure it is not equal to New Orleans.  Nevertheless, it does have appeal thanks to Notre Dame

Lou Holtz

and their football team.  There is not much reason for me to go into Notre Dame’s historic program.  Truth be told, I was not alive for much of their dominance.  I can recall Tony Rice, Rocket Ismail, and a kickoff return against Colorado while Lou Holtz spat on the sidelines with every word he shouted. (Suffering Succotash!)  To be very honest, most of what I remember of Notre Dame is Ron Powlus, Bob Davey, Tyron Willingham, and a dreadfully slow linebacker that believed he was dating a make believe girl on the internet.  None of these memories are good for Notre Dame by the way.   In the end, most people under 30 might be unaware of Notre Dame’s long history.  Sadly, the same can be said for UGA.  For many fans this is  for certain a big game .  But on the other hand, this is simply a fun trip for a lot of fans .  And yes it should be fun.  Fans can visit Chicago, see a Cub’s game, stare at Lake Michigan, eat deep dish pizza, and yes visit South Bend to watch Georgia play. I truly hope all of the Bulldogs enjoy the trip, but I also hope they know that this game means something.

I fully understand that this is NOT an SEC game, and a loss here doesn’t affect the standings in the SEC eastern division.  But do you know what a win in South Bend on Saturday night would mean?  It would mean a return to relevance.  That’s right Dawg fans. Georgia has not been relevant since 2012.  And they weren’t relevant in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 either.  Yikes!  The truth hurts.  Some of you may disagree with me on this point of view because you may define relevance differently.  For me, being relevant is defeating a Top 10 team or even winning a game as the underdog.  I know Georgia beat Auburn last year in Sanford, but that one doesn’t count for me.  I think the last big game Georgia won away from Sanford was Florida in 2012, and even that game was on a neutral field.  I could be wrong, but I think the last time Georgia had a big upset was 2006 against Auburn which was a 12 noon kick off on the plains.  Now I know that Notre Dame isn’t ranked in the Top 10, but the game airs at 8pm on NBC for all the world to see.  Georgia is currently the underdog, and if they can win this one then they are relevant at least for a few weeks anyway.  On the other hand, if they lose they could still have a great year.  But winning in South Bend at night with a freshman quarterback could make a statement for this team and coaching staff.  And that’s what they were hired to do here in Athens.  Winning this game could change the tune or narrative of Georgia Football from what it has been over the last 10 years.  So have fun up in South Bend and be sure to keep it classy.  But if you get into that stadium, scream your head off for your Bulldogs because this one is more than a vacation dawg fans.  Go Dawgs!

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Georgia Football 2017: Predictions & Prognostications

I have been posting these articles or blogs for about two years now.  Even so, I have not kept a real steady schedule or even been consistent on writing about real estate.  I quickly realized that always writing about real estate could become a little boring or even redundant because good real estate topics don’t emerge every week.  On the other hand, Georgia football is always a welcome discussion in our neck of the woods.  Therefore, I try to write a couple of posts each year depending on available time and my current feelings about the state of the program.  For example, in 2015 my feelings quickly went from good to terrible in what was ultimately Richt’s final season.  For better or worse those feelings were well

David Putty’s Classic 8 Ball Jacket

documented on this blog.  Nowadays, I am pretty d@&n optimistic about the “Smart Era” of Georgia football as you will see as you read through my predictions about the Bulldogs this year.  So now let me put on my magic 8 Ball jacket and gaze into the crystal ball.

UGA vs App State Sept 2nd– This is the typical game that happens every year where people want to talk up an underdog that is going to beat UGA, and this year it happens to be Appalachian State.  Long & short people are talking about how they upset Michigan in 2007 and almost beat Tennessee last year.  Well so what!  Tennessee was not a good a football team last year, and neither was Michigan in 2007.   The dawgs are going to win this one by 14 to 17 points.  1-0

UGA vs Notre Dame Sept 9th– Chicago and South Bend have no idea what is coming to town in less than two weeks.  I am not talking about the football team.  I am talking about the Bulldog fan base.  There is going to be a sea of red and black

Hey Chicago! What’s That Coming Down the Tracks?

swarming around up there.  Now I could be wrong, but I bet some of those Dawg fans do a little drinking while they are in town. I am sure the fan base will keep it classy unless the Bulldogs lose badly or even worse lose a heart breaker.  But that is not going to happen.  This game is going to be about Georgia’s defense.  I like Georgia in a close one.  2-0

UGA vs Samford Sept 16th– JUST STAY HEALTHY!  Seriously, get the win and get some people some playing time.  Dawgs Win! 3-0

UGA vs Miss State Sept 23rd– Miss State will be the SEC opener, and probably the first game that brings a big game crowd to Athens.  Plenty of people are already pointing to this game as a hiccup for the Dawgs.  Not because Miss State is that good, but because Georgia always does this once or even twice a year.  But you know what?  We hired Kirby to stop this trend, and I think he will get it done sooner than later.  Dawgs win by 17.  4-0

UGA vs Tenn Sept 30th– Someone I know well is getting married this weekend and I will be in attendance at the wedding.  I am already stressing about the wedding & reception time vs the kick off of this game.  I really hate to miss watching this one.  You know why?  It is going to be fun.  Knoxville is a hard place to play, but Tennessee does not have the talent or the coach to win this game.  I hope the Volunteers enjoyed the two year run over Georgia because it is over.  They will be trying to hire a new coach come December of this year.   Dawgs Win! 5-0

UGA vs Vandy Oct. 7th – Boy this one sure did hurt last year. Georgia has definitely lost too many games to Vanderbilt over the last 20 years or so.   But the year after a loss to Vandy has historically been good to Georgia, and this year will be no different.  I do like their coach, but I have been surprised by Vanderbilt fans of late.  In fact, I don’t really care for them anymore.  No reason to give you details, but I will say some recent experiences are reminiscent of a Duke fan.  GROSS!  Dawgs win again.  6-0

UGA vs Missouri Oct. 14th– This one was a close one last year, and if you recall, it was a big moment for Jacob Eason.  I think that if Mizz couldn’t beat Georgia last year in their own stadium then they won’t be able to do it to this Georgia team in Sanford.  I don’t even like this one to be close.  Dawgs Win! 7-0

GEORGIA vs Florida Oct. 28th– This one will always matter to both fan bases regardless of either team’s record.  Florida doesn’t seem to have a quarterback yet, and they have had a ton of off field issues.  I think 8 players may be suspended for the first game.  Florida will be the trendy pick for this one, and all the talking heads will be calling for Georgia to lose this one in Jax.  It will be close and Florida always seems to show up for this one, but I really believe Georgia pulls this one out.  Probably a low scoring game.  Dawgs Win! 8-0

UGA vs South Carolina Nov 4th– Historically, this is the letdown game for

Muschamp Keeping His Cool in Columbia

Georgia right?  I mean if I am correct and Georgia is undefeated after the Florida game then typically Georgia would lose. But like I said earlier, I don’t think that is going to happen this year.  Georgia pulls away in the 4th quarter to win by 10 or more.  9-0

UGA vs Auburn Nov. 11th – Last year this game proved to be Kirby’s first big win as a head coach.  In fact, Georgia has been dominating Auburn as of late.  Sadly, this domination will come to end on the plains just before 8pm.  Auburn pulls this one out and breaks our hearts.  9-1

UGA vs Kentucky Nov. 18th– Kentucky will probably be pretty good again this year.  At the time, last year’s win in Lexington was actually a really good one for Georgia.  However, this year the Wildcats are going to run into an angry Bulldog team in Athens.  35 to 14 Dawgs Win!  10-1

UGA vs techies Nov. 25th– No reason to even bring up last year with this game because this year is going to be so much fun.  I think Tech is in for a bad season.  A real bad one in fact.  Granted, they will always give Georgia a fight because of the rivalry, but there sting won’t be strong enough this year.  Dawgs Win 11-1

So there you have it.  My prediction for Georgia’s 2017 season.  Pretty optimistic right?  I think Vegas has the over/under on Georgia wins at 8.5 which means I am probably a complete moron or maybe I am just a homer.  In the end, Georgia’s season depends so much on an improved offensive line.  If this area gets better it will really help Eason and the entire offense.  With this in mind, let me rant about Eason for a little bit.  It seems to me that fans are giving this guy a bad rap a little too early.  He played very well at times last year for a TRUE FRESHMAN.  Does anybody remember Stafford’s freshman year?  If you do then you might recall it was worse than Eason’s, but I will say that Stafford showed improvement at the end of his freshman year.  My point is to say, give this guy a chance to be good because with a better line he just might be great.

Moving on, it seems every year in college football there are surprise teams that win more than the experts predict.  So why not Georgia?  The schedule seems manageable to me, and programs in their second year of a coaching change tend to do well.  Especially here at Georgia. Just look at Jim Donnan’s team in 1997 and Mark Richt’s in 2002.  Two great teams both in the head coach’s second year.  Furthermore, Georgia is one of only 10 teams in all of college football that have over 50% blue chip prospects on their roster.  Did you know that every single national champion since the 90s has had over 50% blue chip players?  If that holds true again it means only 10 teams have a chance to win it all.  Now I am not saying Georgia will win it all, but I do think they will win a lot of them.  Go Dawgs!

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Georgia Football 2017:  What are Realistic Expectations?

Another summer has come and gone in Athens, GA.  The students are back, and even now as I sit in our office on Milledge the soon to be sorority girls are parading up and down Milledge for formal rush.  This is always a fun time in Athens for many reasons.  The return of students breathes new life into our town each year and as always college football is soon to follow.  It has been so long since I have written a

Formal Rush in Athens

post on anything let alone Georgia football, so please excuse my grammatical mistakes as I am sure they will be plentiful in today’s post.  That being said, it seemed like a good time to write a football blog since fall practice has begun, and we are only 22 days away from the Appalachian State game.

Last season was a disappointment in many ways, but I do feel like there was some progress made as well. The 2016 season started off strong with a good win over UNC, but it quickly derailed with bad performances, an embarrassing loss to Ole Miss (cheaters), a heart breaker to Tennessee, and how can we forget Vanderbilt and Tech.  In fact, without wins over Auburn and TCU the season could have been a complete failure.  But was it really a failure or were our expectations a little too lofty?  I was guilty of expecting a 10 win season myself.  And with wins over Vanderbilt, Tech, and Tennessee which seemed reasonable to expect the 10 wins could have happened.  I don’t believe that any Georgia team should ever lose to Vandy, and a loss to Tech is acceptable about once every ten years.  But when I look back at what UGA had to overcome the record seems more realistic than I previously thought.  Think about it for a minute.  Georgia had a first year coach, a dismal offensive line, a freshman quarterback, slim receiving corps, and a weak kicking game.  How does that equal a good year?  So what the hell was I thinking?  Obviously, like most I was blinded by red and black glasses along with my unabashed love for all things UGA.  So if my expectations were unrealistic last year, what would be realistic for this football season?  Why should Georgia be any better?  Well, I bet I can come up with a few reasons to think so.

  • The Offensive Line Can’t Be Worse– Last year was bad, and I believe that wasn’t the current staff’s fault. They were undersized without much depth. I don’t want to take away from their effort at all. They played hard, and I believe they got better.  And instead of criticizing Tyler Catalina,  I want thank him for coming down and trying to help where help was apparently needed.  I don’t think the line will be world beaters, but they will be bigger overall and one more year under Coach Pittman will help.
  • The Defense Has to Be Even Better– Last year the defense was a bright spot on the team, and I think this year that side of the ball has a chance to be dominant. Coach Smart and Mel Tucker have already made their mark on the program in this area.  I think the future is bright for Georgia on the defensive side of the ball.
  • Improvements on Offense – I really do believe we will see better offensive production for many reasons. Eason will be improved, but how much only time
    Jacob Eason Fall Practice

    will tell.  At least he got a hair cut. The receiver corps seems to be deeper and may include freshman talent.  Isaac Nauta is probably the best tight end in the SEC already, and the running backs could be as well.  Sure we will miss McKenzie’s big plays, but offenses tend to take big strides in year two of a regime change.  Look at UGA in 1997, 2002, and even the Falcon’s success last year.

  • The Kicking Game– This one remains a bit of a mystery. But the coaching staff has made strong efforts to improve in this area. The kicking competition will continue with fresh young talent to add into the fold.  Kirby even added a new kickoff return specialist from California with the 85th scholarship.  It is apparent that special teams are important to this coaching staff.
  • The Schedule is Manageable– Thankfully for Georgia, the SEC east is not exactly a murderer’s row. There are no national championship teams on the schedule or at least we don’t think so.  Even a pessimists could take a look at the schedule and declare, “it’s possible for Georgia to beat any of the teams on their schedule.”  The issue recently is that Georgia never does it.  Regardless, the schedule could help this team significantly in year two.

In closing, maybe last year’s expectations are better suited for this year’s team. I am not ready to pick a record or the specific games, but I have to be honest.  I feel pretty damn optimistic about 2017.  Then again I guess I always do.  GO DAWGS!

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Athens Real Estate is Booming:  Will it Last?

If you live in the Athens area then you probably know our real estate market is booming.  Granted, there are a few pockets and price points that have not performed too well, but in general the market is thriving.  I recently wrote an article about Athens home buyers where I described the current frustrations of home buyers in this seller’s market.  Over the last several months, I have had many people ask me what I think is driving our market and how long do I think it will last.  In reality, no one knows for sure, but when asked I try to give an open and honest opinion based on what we see in the market on a daily basis.   This morning I find myself in the office looking out the window while Athens is under a tornado watch and flash flood warning.  This being the case, it seems like a good use of time to write a post and share my thoughts on this topic.

For many of us, the past mortgage crisis and real estate bust is ever present in our mind, and that influences our caution or even pessimism about the future.  Nevertheless, it doesn’t’ mean we are heading that way once again.  A wise man once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.   With that in mind, I think it would be smart to consider the Athens market before the last recession.  I began my career in real estate here in Athens right after graduating from UGA.  It was the early 2000s and the real estate market was strong.  It is fair to say I was pretty green when I started, but with a little hard work along with some help from others I was able to find a little success and make a living.  Nowadays, I am a little older, a little heavier, and a lot wiser.  And I have found that my experience of living through the recession has really helped and given me a good perspective on where we are now in Athens real estate.  I am sure many of my colleagues feel the same way.  That being said, what was going in real estate before the bust?  And how does that compare with what we are seeing now?

Well I can only speak to my personal experience during this time with regard to what I saw in Athens real estate from 2003 to 2009.  At this time rates were not too high but they definitely were not this low.  In some cases, prices were even higher than they are now.  I saw condos finance with ease at prices that have still not returned.  I saw numerous people move towards Watkinsville for schools, more land, and 3,000 plus square feet.  While 5 Points was still very desirable it was nowhere near as popular as it is right now.  In fact, many areas of 5 Points were heavy with rentals for students.  As for Normaltown and Boulevard, they were also filled with rentals and prices per sq. foot much lower than the $175 to $200 we see today.  I often heard clients refer to 5 Points as overpriced and out of date.  To quote a past client, “Why would we pay $300,000 for a 1950s kitchen and no closet space?” Overall, it seemed more and more Athenians were moving out and into newer subdivisions.  We all seemed to think real estate values could never go down, and most folks outside of our industry had never heard of loan terms like sub-prime, no doc, stated income, and the dreaded adjustable rate.  Lastly, it seemed every builder believed “if you build it they will come”.  Looking back I did a lot sitting in neighborhoods asking myself, “Where in the hell I am going to find all the people needed to buy these houses?”  So what is different between then and now?  The major difference between then and now is the Supply and Demand. Back in those days I never saw anything that resembled what I am seeing today.

Many things have changed since the “Great Recession”.  First of all, we all know low interest rates have helped and they continue too.  While we should expect rates to increase, I don’t think we will see anything drastic in the near future.  Interest rates aside, I think the major difference seems to be the demand for housing in our area.  While the University has not grown significantly, people’s desire to live and work here has increased greatly.  In 2005, if a client asked me to find them a home in Athens under $250,000 the options would greatly exceed what you find today.  There would even be feasible options in 5 points and Normaltown.  In the end, the supply was slightly ahead of the demand back then.  Not much but a little.  Nowadays, we have a scarcity of affordable in town housing, and sadly I don’t see that changing anytime soon.  This demand has been created by numerous factors.  Athens as a whole has become a retirement destination to people in Georgia and across the country.  We have a vibrant college town that offers great food, better music, and a good quality of life. Thanks to technology more folks are able to work away from their office in Atlanta which has brought even more people into our area.  I personally have worked with 4 clients in the past year that work inside I-285, but have chosen to reside here in Athens.  Furthermore, our in town neighborhoods just have more to offer now than they did in 2005.  You can walk to dinner and drinks in many areas, and the shopping is better from the Eastside clear across to Epps Bridge.  As I have mentioned before, HGTV shows have influenced numerous people over the years and have helped create many remodels in our area.  While these remodels and tear downs are not always popular with everyone they are a sign of strong local market where demand is way out in front of supply.  To further this point, just look to the recent moratorium on new development in Oconee County which could have a similar impact on the housing climate in Watkinsville .  I do not have a crystal ball, but I think our residential housing market will remain strong in the near future barring any unforeseen national crisis or drastic jump in interest rates.   As for our student housing market, well that is probably better discussed in a future post.  In closing, the market is strong and shows no signs of weakening at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can buy anything anywhere.  You still need to consider all the factors to purchase wisely.

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Athens Real Estate: Heaven Help the Home Buyers

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   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.

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The State of Athens Real Estate: Low Supply & High Demand

We are a few days away from 2017 which is an ideal time to look back at the year that was in Athens real estate.  Clearly, 2016 was an interesting year, and the overwhelming story of 2016 would have to be the Presidential election because it was very polarizing and ultimately quite surprising.  It seems half of the country is optimistic and the other half believes the end is near.  Despite your feelings about the year in politics, I can assure you that the Athens real estate market had a great year in 2016 thanks to many contributing factors.

First of all, we reside in a fairly desirable area with a major university and that never hurts.  Furthermore, interest rates have remained low which continues to fuel the market since money is currently cheap.  Lastly, many neighborhoods have seen more and more appreciation because availability remains scarce.  While all of this is generally good for the greater Athens area it has proven to be difficult for buyers.  And it is primarily due to the very low supply of homes in the market place.  Let me be clear that I am usually a big fan of low supply in real estate.  In fact, that is exactly what sellers want when they go to market.  However, working in real estate allows me to see both sides of the coin.  We work with many home buyers that are desperate to find what they need in the area, and right now many of them are frustrated.   Generally, the more affordable houses remain the hardest to find.  Right now in Oconee most properties under $300,000 are gone in a week.  Additionally, the in town areas like 5 Points and Normaltown barely have any listings under $400,000.  Meanwhile, the local market for investment is also highly competitive because workable properties are almost nonexistent right now. It has been a long time since the Athens real estate market was this low on product.  All this being said, the Athens market is seasonal especially when it comes to residential homes.   Usually, the New Year brings more homes to market, and I am confident we will see that trend continue in 2017.  So what does all this mean? Will this appreciation continue or not?

The truth is that no real estate agent really knows for sure, but we can try to make educated predictions based on what we know about our local market along with the economic factors.  As I mentioned earlier, the election was kind of a big deal this year, but its impact for good or bad may not be felt immediately.  I am not a stockbroker, but if I was I might advise people to get into financial stocks and stay there for a while.  But you know what?  I am no stockbroker, but I am fairly knowledgeable about Athens real estate.  So here are some predictions for 2017 in our area.

Interest rates are going up without a doubt.  Good sense tells us that they can’t stay so low for so long, but they also can’t grow too high too quick because our economy just can’t handle it.  The real estate market has been fueled by these low rates.  On the other hand,  I don’t believe reasonable rate hikes will kill the market.  In fact, it may even make it stronger at first.  There is a lot of interest rate fear with buyers right now which could bring even more people to the table.  On the other hand, higher rates could also create some price stabilization which will help these buyers.  I have said it before that, “trees don’t grow to the sky”, and while that is true, I don’t’ think prices stabilizing will be a bad thing.  Given the lack of availability in several neighborhoods we should see appreciation slow down without prices falling off.  So while trees don’t grow to the sky they can still stand pretty tall.  Conversely, the Athens investment market might be a little harder to read.  The Athens investment market has come back since 2010, but we have not seen the prices return to the highs of 2007.  Low interest rates have forced most investors into the stock market to gain an actual return on their money.  However, investment real estate provides a great alternative to the stock market which should continue.  Nevertheless, we may see the same price stabilization with investment properties that we could see with residential homes.  Rental rates have been growing in our market, but more student bedrooms are coming soon.  In all honesty, it is hard to know which rental development it will immediately impact until it all plays out.  But I can assure you that location is all that matters when the chips are down so be sure to keep that in mind.  And there you have it, a brief recap with a look ahead.  Here’s to hoping my predictions are correct.   Have a great new year, and an even better 2017.

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The Athens Condo Market: What You Need to Know

Most of you probably have an idea or at least a decent understanding of what constitutes a condominium, but just in case I will try to clarify it a little bit.  In general, a condominium is a unit or space that can be purchased inside a larger building.  When a person owns a condo they have exclusive ownership of a specific space or unit inside a building while also owning a small percentage or shared ownership in the rest of the building.  All the owners in a condominium share in the cost or upkeep of the entire building or complex. For example, condo owners pay HOA fees that cover building insurance, maintenance, and often the cost of amenities.  They can be attractive real estate because they are often more affordable than traditional homes, they offer low maintenance, and are often ideal second home purchases.  Nevertheless, many condo owners are suffering due to the recent recession.  In many areas condo values have dropped drastically, and while most real estate has appreciated in Athens not every condo development has recovered.  In fact, many areas are still close to the values of 2011. On the other hand, certain developments have seen values grow back quickly.   So why have some condos appreciated while others have not?  To understand why you have to go back to the recession.

Hopefully, you haven’t forgotten what happened eight years ago.  The mortgage crisis devastated our national economy resulting with a sharp decline in real estate values.  We saw massive foreclosures across the country, and condos were a major part of the foreclosure market.   First, you have to understand that many condos are developed to be vacation or second homes.  For instance, many coastal areas are covered with condo developments that are owned by people that do not occupy the units full time.   And if someone owns two propertiessimi_valley_foreclosures-sign when money becomes tight, the second home is usually the first thing they can live without.  As a result, numerous condos went on the market in 2010 when most people could not afford to buy them or were scared to buy due to the recession.  Consequently, property values plummeted, and many homeowners had to let their condo go into foreclosure.  Banks across the county took massive losses on condos, and now many large banks will not finance a condo.  And that’s the problem many condo owners face today. The financing has become more difficult which shrinks the pool of buyers resulting in depressed values.  Here in Athens, we have some condos appreciating and others that are not.  So back to the question, Why?


The answer is simple, and it is almost always the same LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.  You may think I am beating a dead horse, but it is the truth.  All properties are valued based on their location, but condo values are even more dependent on the location.  As an example, look at downtown Athens whereWelcome-to-Downtown-Athens many condos have appreciated over the last couple of years because downtown Athens is a prime location where many condo buyers are looking to purchase.  Meanwhile, the east side of town has an abundance of condos that are valued much less due to location and the overall supply.  For instance, on Barnett Shoals road there are four large condo developments:  The Woodlands, The Summit, Stones Creek, and Brookwood Mill.  All of these developments were originally targeted to investors or parents of UGA students.  They are well built, spacious, and fairly close to campus. However, the supply greatly exceeds the demand keeping the prices low around $100,000.  Conversely, condos at Lumpkin Square or East Cloverhurst are worth around $150,000 for a smaller and older two bedroom unit.  These condos are worth more because they are right next to campus and walkable to restaurants and Sanford Stadium.

Lumpkin Square Condos

So does this mean you should not buy a condo?  Heavens no!  Condos are still a very good purchase depending on the price, the location, and the purpose.  The values on the eastside of town offer a really low price point for investment.  In some cases, buyers can still purchase a three bedroom condo in the low $100s. And remember, a condo in an ideal location will always have value.  Additionally, we are starting to see condo financing improve, and I believe it will continue to get better over the next couple of years.  In closing, if you have a condo to sell or are looking to buy one don’t worry because either is very doable.  But I suggest you find someone in the area that really knows their stuff because you will need help to navigate the market and the current financing climate.

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Real Estate Appreciation in Athens

It is now the beginning of August, and kids are either back in school or getting ready to start.  The summer is almost over, but it hasn’t cooled off in the slightest.  And it probably won’t for a month or two.  Historically, this time of year marks the slowdown of the Athens real estate market at least with regards to residential homes.  However, I will say that this year may be unique because things haven’t slowed down quite yet.  There are still plenty of buyers in the house-prices-upmarket, and a surprising number of homes are still going up for sale.  Long and short, our local market seems to be generally strong despite a few areas here and there or difficult price points.  Overall, we have seen most properties continue to appreciate over the last year.  Especially, when it comes to the in town neighborhoods.  Which is great news of course, but what is causing our values to go up?  Will it continue?  Will it not?  No one has a crystal ball of course, and there are numerous factors that create our market many of which are on a national level.  I don’t know who is going to be President, and I don’t know what will happen to interest rates.  I can certainly make an educated guess, but that would be all.  However, I do know our area market, and I think the best way to understand all this appreciation is to focus on the local factors that are influencing our market.

First of all, let me make it abundantly clear that low interest rates are a MAJOR reason for our strong real estate market and increased values.  Money is cheap right now, and people should take advantage while they can because it will not last forever.    While interest rates are a big factor, they are not the only (2)  For instance, not every real estate market is strong right now even with the low interest rates.  But here in Athens, we have a lot going for us which really helps our real estate.  Earlier, I mentioned in town neighborhoods where homes are achieving the highest per square foot in the area.  This is actually not a new trend.  As an example, 5 Points has always had strong value relative to other areas of town.  It is highly desirable, and land is scarce.  The same can be said for our Normaltown and Boulevard neighborhoods.  Nowadays, Athens is a great place for retirees, families, and young professionals. Which is truly unique for a town the size of Athens.  People are flocking to our small little city because it can offer a high quality of life.  Retirees want to be in town, and many of them can afford to pay for it. Meanwhile, we are seeing just as many young families come to Athens or Oconee from the Atlanta area.  In some cases, they are even willing to commute5 Points Clockeditededited into Atlanta everyday just to live in Athens.  This is all great of course, but I do worry if too many move here we may just become another Atlanta suburb.  Scary stuff!  Another factor that has always helped the Athens economy is the University.  Our local economy is not massive, but thanks to UGA it has some real stability.  UGA is our biggest employer, and it is the primary engine that drives commerce.  The students are wonderful customers to many of our local establishments.  Downtown would likely be a ghost town without them.  Here in Athens, we sell students most of their clothes, gas, entertainment, housing, and food.  Which reminds me of a local business owner who once told me a story about buying a car in Athens.  He said, “the car salesman told me that the university didn’t help his business at all”, to which he replied, “where the hell do you think I got the money to buy this car you dumb@$$? I got it from selling ice cream to college kids!”  To further my point, most of the people that want to move to Athens went to UGA, and love Athens because of the time they spent here in school.  In summary, Athens offers a somewhat stable economy in a highly desirable town.  Meanwhile, land is scarce in most of the in town neighborhoods which creates a demand with limited supply.  Conversely, our neighboring counties have an abundance of land, but also have great schools, achievable home values, and they are right next door to our great city.

To sum it all up, we are really fortunate in Athens.  There many other things I could discuss that influence our market, but I think you get my point.  Besides, I have run on for long enough.  Regardless, this doesn’t mean that you can buy any house in any location and see appreciation.  The same rules will apply to anydownload (1) wise purchase.   First, think about the location which is always the most important factor.  Next, you need to consider the supply in your area and the comparable values.  Lastly, think carefully about the schools, and how many buyers will want your house when you need to sell.  It is much easier to make a bad decision in a strong market.  Thanks for reading, and get excited because we are 31 days away from Georgia football.  Go Dawgs!

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Ranking the Best SEC Coaches as of Right Now

We are right in the middle of July, and the heat is becoming unbearable. Nevertheless, I can sense that fall is around the corner because  football is getting close.  With that in mind, I thought I would get back to talking some college football. SEC media days is this week, and  all the coaches in the league are being interviewed.  Therefore, I thought it might be fun to create rankings for all the coaches.  Below are my personal rankings of all the SEC coaches starting with #1 as of today.  I am sure you will not agree, but that’s what makes it fun.


  1. Nick Saban, Alabama– Without a doubt, Coach Saban is at the top of the list.
    Bama Coach Nick Saban
    Nick Saban, Bama

    Despite numerous national championships and SEC titles his reign at Alabama doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.  Maybe another school in the league will finally step up and do something about it.  Only time will tell.

  2. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State– Well here is my first surprise on the list. I am sure you probably thought #2 would be Les Miles.  But in my opinion, Dan has done the most with the least since he has been at Mississippi State.  Lewis Grizzard use to say, “the best way to get to Starkville, Mississippi is to go to the middle of nowhere and turn right.”  This is not an easy place to win, and he has done a lot of it while keeping his nose pretty clean.  His teams play hard, and don’t penalize themselves which makes him a darn good coach.
  3. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss– I sort of feel the same way about Freeze as I do about Dan Mullen. The only difference is the possible NCAA infractions that have occurred at Ole Miss.  Right now, these are just accusations, but the Laremy Tunsil debacle was embarrassing.  I am not sure Freeze’s success will continue much longer.  But for now, what he has done is impressive even it hasn’t been totally compliant with the NCAA.
  4. Jim McElwain, Florida– He has only coached at Florida for 1 year, but that 1 year
    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 5: Head coach Jim McElwain of the Florida Gators looks on before the SEC Championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Georgia Dome on December 5, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Jim McElwain, Florida

    sure did impress me. He coached a team to the Georgia Dome that had virtually no offense and no kicking game whatsoever. He came back to beat Tennessee, whipped Ole Miss, and then embarrassed my beloved Bulldawgs.  He can even take some of the credit for Mark Richt being fired.  Many folks tried to turn on him when he chewed out his player on the sidelines.  But what I saw was a coach that wasn’t going to tolerate stupid and selfish penalties anymore.   In my opinion, his players responded to that incident which is exactly what he intended.

  5. Kirby Smart, Georgia–  Just solely based on the “G” Day game and recruiting, and I think he is 5th right now.  The man hasn’t coached 1 game, and who knows if Georgia will win, but right now it is obvious that he can lead.  So he is number
    Apr 16, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart talks to running back Sony Michel (1) during the second half of the spring game at Sanford Stadium. The Black team defeated the Red team 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
    Kirby Smart, UGA

    5 because he has no negatives on the resume.  But that could change come Sept. 3rd.  Remember this is as of TODAY, and I am a total homer when it comes to Georgia.  Besides, if you don’t like UGA then why are you reading this blog.

  6. Les Miles, LSU– Finally, here is the “Mad Hatter”. I know you are probably thinking how can a man with a national championship be #6?  He has won a lot games for sure, but his inability to find a quarterback or even have decent QB play is a big strike against him.  It is the
    Les Miles, LSU
    Les Miles, LSU

    most important position on the field, and he just can’t coach it.  He is now the most senior coach in the league at one school, and that probably means he won’t be there much longer.  Maybe he is just suffering from the Saban effect or maybe it is time to move on.

  7. Brett Bielema, Arkansas– This fellow has won in the Big 10, and had some decent success in the SEC. But he just can’t quite seem to put it together for a whole season.  There is no doubt he can coach, but I think he is going to keep Arkansas right in the middle of the league.
  8. Butch Jones, Tennessee– This guy has definitely worked hard to get Tennessee back to relevance.  However, his signature wins are over South Carolina and
    Butch Jones, Tenn
    Butch Jones, Tenn

    Georgia.  And let’s be honest folks, beating UGA under Mark Richt was not a rare occurrence.   Sorry but it’s true.  Lastly, there have been some ugly off the field issues in Knoxville under his watch.

  9. Will Muschamp, South Carolina– This guy is a heck of a defensive coach, and his teams at Florida played hard and were tough. But he failed to find an offense while at Florida.  I think he might give it more attention now that he is at South Carolina.  Regardless, the Gamecocks will be good on defense and play 4 quarters of football.
  10. Mark Stoops, Kentucky– This guy has a tough gig that is kind of similar to coaching basketball at Georgia.  He hasn’t done much while at Kentucky, but I just really wanted to make sure Gus Malzahn wasn’t in the Top 10.
  11. Gus Malzahn, Auburn– Highly overrated! That is all.

    Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  12. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A & M– Possibly More Overrated! That is all.
  13. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt- I really think this guy can coach. But it is just so hard to make a real winner at Vanderbilt.  I use to like that Vandy was in the SEC.  It’s a great school in a great town.  But lately I have met some real arrogant “A” holes from Vanderbilt.  I can promise you that if one more Vandy fan insults my intelligence because I went to Georgia then I am going to show them just how stupid I can be while applying my right hand to their jaw bone.  I’m just kidding, but not really.
  14. Barry Odum, Missouri– This man might be way up the list very soon. He is taking over for a very accomplished coach in Gary Pinkel.  He seems to have a lot of respect from his players.  I hope he does well, but not well enough to beat Georgia or make it to the dome.


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