Home Buying Process: Part 3 Finding a Property

The most fun part of purchasing real estate is locating the property. Unfortunately, too many buyers jump the gun on this stage and start looking before they have an agent or an understanding of their financing. This is understandable because searching for a home or investment property can be a lot of fun. Nowadays, I do a lot of work with investment property and commercial real estate, but I continue to work with residential properties for many reasons.  Generally, I just enjoy helping people buy a house, but it is also a  lot of fun to look at properties.  Most of the time this is a very enjoyable part of the process but there are times where it can become frustrating for home buyers.  Find a HomeFor example, here in Athens the market is strong and good properties do not last long.  In some cases, they can be off the market within days and you can miss out on a property.   If this happens more than once it can be very frustrating.  There are a few ways to avoid this frustration but there are also times where frustration may be unavoidable.

First, it is important to be realistic when searching for a property.  If you have a max budget of $300,000 then do not look at houses priced around $375,000.  If the market is strong than the eventual price will not be close to your budget.  It is sometimes possible to get a house well below asking price but this should not be your expectation.  Try and determine what is most important to you in a house and that along with your budget will guide you in the right direction.  Second, be honest with your real estate agent.  A good agent will ask questions to try and understand what you want but sometimes buyers aren’t good communicators.  I often tell clients to be honest and feel free to tell me when they hate something.  If you are not honest about your opinions or your budget it will be hard for any realtor to help you.  I once had a client tell me they wanted a house for less than $200,000 in a certain area of town.  Well it was just not a very realistic price for the location and as it turned out they bought a house for $300,000 in the desired area.  But we looked at a lot of bad stuff before they finally told me the truth.  It turned out there max budget was well over $300,000, but they thought they may get a better deal if they told me $200,000.  In the end, we got on the same page and it all turned out well.  However, they made the process very hard because they weren’t honest.  I have to give credit to my business partner, Jeb, for this last one. You have to understand that “patience is a virtue.”

handwriting blackboard writings - Patience is a virtue

In most cases wise decisions are not made quickly or hastily.  If you lose out on a house or it takes a while to find what you are looking to find do not fret.  In the end, things have a way of working out the way they should.

Buying or investing in real estate can be a lot of fun.  That is why HGTV and A&E develop so much programming around real estate.  On the other hand, it can be stressful and disappointing.   However, you can avoid a lot of stress and frustration if you are realistic, honest, and patient.  I guess those are three pretty good words to live by in general.  I have to admit that I have a big problem being patient sometimes. In fact, if you ask anyone that knows me well they might say that I am a very impatient person.  Regardless of my shortcomings, it is good advice so do as I say and not as I do.

If you have any questions or real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit my real estate brokerage firm, 5 Market Realty.

Home Buying Process Part 2: Finding a Lender

Finding a lender and understanding your financial situation are critical when buying a home.  It is very common for home buyers to start looking at homes before talking with a lender but it can be a HUGE mistake.  Most people will go to a website and figure out a manageable monthly payment and then use that as a guide to begin searching homes.  In reality there are many factors and many options when financing a home.  The only people that are qualified to help you with this are a mortgage broker or a loan officer from an institutional lender.  Realtors can advise on where to go and what options may be best but they do not understand your credit history or your tax returns.  Therefore, it would be impossible for a realtor to speculate what your interest rate will be in the end.  Some people may even tell you to talk with a lender before finding a realtor.  housing-loan1 That is not a bad idea but a good realtor will help you find a good lender to get started.  There are many things you will need to understand when searching for a lender and a real estate professional can help you find the best people to speak with about a new loan. In general, a good realtor will explain the process to you before meeting with a lender because the more you understand about the process the better decision you will make.

First, you need to know that bigger is not always better.  Many people have an account with a large bank like Bank of America or a similar size bank, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them for a mortgage.  You need to work with people that are experienced and do a great job for their clients.  Sometimes the best loan officers don’t always stay with the big banks and that can happen for many reasons.  For example, bigger banks have recently been much slower when it comes to under writing and that can add frustrations to an already tedious process.  Second, you only need to meet with one or two lenders.  If they are referred to you by a professional than you should feel good about working with either one of them.  You don’t want to go around and meet with 8 lenders before making a decision.  In most cases a lender will pull your credit score when you meet.  And if you meet 8 lenders than your score will be pulled 8 times and that will lower your overall score.  Furthermore, there will not be a huge difference in rates between two very good lenders.  You may find a better deal on the fees or a better program, and sometimes you may just get along with one more than the other.  Third, DO NOT USE AN INTERNET LENDER!  You need to work with someone in your area and someone that you can keep a relationship with moving forward. Amazon Prime is great and everyone loves the internet but it is not a good place to get a loan plain and simple.  Lastly, get your documents in order before making an offer.  Any lender is going to need a lot of documentation from you to underwrite the loan.  For example, tax returns, paychecks, W2s, leases on existing properties, your net worth and the list goes on.  It is better to get this done early because it will speed up your loan.

In the end, you will enjoy the process much more if you locate a realtor and a lender in the beginning.  The loan process can feel overwhelming due to underwriting and government regulation.  It is tremendously helpful to have two professionals guide you through it and provide you with a realistic expectation of the process.

If you have any questions or real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit my real estate brokerage firm, 5 Market Realty.

Home Buying Process: Part 1 Finding an Agent

Part 1:  Finding an Agent

The first thing to do when buying a property is to find a well-qualified real estate expert to help you with the process.  It is always fun to look for houses on the IPad or smart phone, and really it is ok to go ahead and do that when you decide to buy.  But do not set foot in a house or property until you have found a good realtor to help you. If you are buying in an area that you currently live than you probably already know a good deal about your town.  But a good realtor will know a lot more and be able to assist you throughout the entire process.  If you are moving out of town than it is imperative that you locate a professional in the area you are buying.  The last thing you want to do is waste time looking at properties in an area that you should not be buying.  Or you could end up buying the wrong house in the wrong location.  Home-Buying-101An expert in the area can really help you locate the right property for your family and lifestyle.  But locating a house is just the beginning. A good realtor should be able to provide real value during the entire process.  For example, negotiating, inspecting, financing, and creating the contract.  You can find a good person by searching the internet, making a few phones calls or even meeting with a few different agents.  Now that you know you need help it is important to understand what to look for in a good real estate person.

First, please understand that sometimes less is more.  The agent that sells the most may not be the best fit for you.  Top sellers usually employ a team of agents and they focus primarily on volume.  Top producers are good agents but they may not have a lot of knowledge in some markets.  For example, if an agent sells 200 homes a year spread out over 4 counties it would be almost impossible for that agent to have expert knowledge in all of those areas.   Second, you need to find someone that earns a living selling real estate and works full time in the business.  There are some part time agents that work very well in their market. But you probably wouldn’t hire an attorney that practiced law as a side business.  Would you go to a doctor that that mainly worked as a landscaper and practiced medicine part time?  NO! So why on earth would you buy a house or investment property from someone who “dabbles” in real estate?  It is impossible to be good at something by going half way.  Real estate is a profession just like law, medicine, or finance.  So you need to find a professional and not a part timer.

Lastly, find a person that knows the area you are looking to buy.  The best agent in Atlanta, GA is just about the worst agent in town when they come to Athens to sell a property.  Real estate is a local business that involves high level local knowledge and high level service.  You cannot get either from someone that doesn’t live and work in the area you are buying.  If you keep these three things in mind when looking for a realtor you will likely find a good professional to work with you through the entire process.

In closing, you need to understand that you need help.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how much HGTV you have watched.  If you want the process to run smoothly you need a good realtor.  If you have any questions or need help in the Athens area just email or call.

If you have any questions or real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit my real estate brokerage firm, 5 Market Realty.

Welcome Back Students and Thank You

In Athens, August marks the return of the student population.  I have lived and worked in Athens for 16 years and one thing has always bothered me regarding our student population.   I don’t think they are too loud.  I don’t think they drink

UGA Students Cheer on the Dawgs

too much, and I don’t think they are a nuisance.  But I do think people here in Athens do not appreciate our students as much as they should.  Athens, GA is known as one of the nation’s best college towns.  It has made numerous top 10 lists through the years claiming it to be true.  Depending on who you talk to this can be perceived as a negative or a positive.  The reality is that most college towns have a lot to offer residents because of the university.  There are some great college towns that would still be great areas without a major university like an Austin, TX but Athens, GA is not one of those places.  As great as Athens is without UGA it would likely be a small railroad intersection about 20 miles Southeast of I-85.  Fortunately, that is not the case because UGA is located in Athens.

It is not uncommon to hear an adult Athens resident complain about the students. For example, some people complain about the traffic, the amount of bars downtown, and of course the hated fraternities just to name a few.  These common complaints have always bothered me and they seem to bother me more and more as I get older.  Granted people between the ages of 18 and 22 aren’t known for making wise decisions but they sure bring a great energy to our town.   First of all, the university is far and away our biggest employer.  UGA brings many visitors to Athens all year long and every fall it provides Athens with a new batch of students that are going to love Athens for the rest of their life. What other Georgia town has such a strong engine fueling its community? Thanks to the university Athens has a major government employer, a strong economic base, and a culture rarely found in a small town.

I think the students are one of the best things going in our community and welcome them every year.  Thanks to our university Athens remains a wonderful place to live, start a business, or invest in real estate.  We have wonderful neighborhoods, strong outlying communities, and a steady pool of renters that need affordable housing.  This helps make the Athens area a great place to live, retire, or invest.  So in closing, I want to thank all the college kids that live in Athens year in and year out.  I am so glad you are back because without you Athens just wouldn’t be Athens.

If you have any questions or real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit my real estate brokerage firm, 5 Market Realty.

Location, Location, Location!

Most everyone has heard that the three most important things when it comes to real estate are location, location, location. In reality it is true, true, true. We all understand that real estate in Beverly Hills or Manhattan is generally worth athensdtmore than real estate in Nebraska. But this principle usually applies to even the smallest cities or towns. In the Athens area location and school district directly affect the value and desirability of a residential property. For example, the two strongest residential markets in Athens-Clarke County are the 5 Points Area and the Normaltown/Boulevard Area. Both of these neighborhoods are close to many in town amenities, the university, and are located in strong elementary school zones. In 5 Points we are seeing values above $200 per sq. foot and in Normaltown values are around $170 per sq foot in some areas. There are many factors that can contribute to value but most can be traced back to location

For example, the Watkinsville area has some of the best schools in the state and it is in close proximity to Athens, GA. This creates a strong residential market in Oconee County and makes it desirable. The land can be purchased cheaper and therefore buyers can see a value to living in that area because they can have more house for less money. So if the schools are strong and the location is good why can someone buy more house for less money? Because land is more abundant in that area. The availability of land is directly correlated to the location. There is just not as much land to build or own in Clarke County as there is in Oconee. For example, a condo in the heart of Downtown Athens will be worth more than one located on Epps Bridge because in the downtown location land is scarce. Basically, it comes down to supply and demand. With little supply demand can grow.

Real Estate values are returning in our area and confidence is up with consumers. It is not likely that the market will crash like it did in 2008 but the reality is that trees do not grow to the sky. At some point, the local market will have to slow. It doesn’t mean it will fall but it will not grow to infinity. The best thing to do is to be aware of all the factors in location when buying a property. Make sure the location has a value and will remain valuable in good times and bad. Please understand that popular interior features are always changing when it comes to real estate. There is no way to know what will be the hot new look of a kitchen in 15 years but one can make a reasonable prediction on what locations will still have a high value. In closing, a well located property will sell in a good market or a bad market. So always make location the TOP priority when purchasing a property. Do not get too wrapped up in granite, tile, or other interior features interior. Remember location always wins.

If you have any questions or real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit my real estate brokerage firm, 5 Market Realty.

1st Post

The internet has changed the world in many ways over the last 20 years, but without a doubt the biggest impact has been in the way people communicate and share ideas. In the past, people had to go through numerous processes or scotttalleyaccreditations to share their opinions and write articles. In most cases, a person would need a degree in journalism or a publisher to get their message out to the world. That is no longer the case in our society. Thanks to the internet anyone can voice opinions or share thoughts. Most of this is done through social media but others take it a step further and create a BLOG. Ideally, these bloggers actually know what they are talking about but in some cases bloggers are just another moron spewing bullsh#*t over the internet. So the way I see it there are two categories of bloggers. Those who offer some insight into subjects they understand or love and others who just come across as idiots. Well as of today I am officially one of those people…A Blogger!

My name is Scott Talley and I am the Broker/Principal of 5 Market Realty in Athens, GA. I was born and raised in Valdosta, GA but enrolled UGA in 1999 and never left Athens. Right out of school I began a career selling real estate in the Athens area. I started with Coldwell Banker Upchurch Realty where I primarily sold residential homes but later began working in commercial real estate. From there I went to work with Landmark Properties, Inc here in Athens. At Landmark, I continued to work with residential homes but also worked extensively with investment and commercial properties. In 2015, I left Landmark to open a new company called 5 Market Realty where we provide clients service in residential, commercial, and investment real estate. With years of experience in the Athens real estate market I think I can avoid the moron category if I stick to real estate. When it comes to other matters I guess I will just have to use my best judgement.

This blog will focus primarily on real estate issues, questions, and things directly related to real estate in the Athens area. However, I am certain that I will not be able resist sharing my thoughts on other things like Georgia Football. I will make sure to avoid politics, religion, and all things Sammy Kershaw (apologies for the old song reference). I hope you will enjoy reading it and take away some useful information. Moving forward please excuse any grammatical mistakes. Commas have been a weakness since 9th grade.