Atlanta’s job market isn’t the only thing doing well — the housing market has also been steadily heating up as the economy continues to bounce back. The resale market is saturated with buyers looking for a new place to call home, but the supply of available homes remains low due to sellers being hesitant to trust the recovering market.
Due to a lack of supply and ever-increasing demand, homes are selling faster than in previous years, with many sellers experiencing sales of their property in as little as 30 days. According to a report by Metrostudy, the disconnect between supply and demand is leading to an increase in home prices for both new and resale homes. The fast pace of sales, combined with increased prices and limited supply, make for a market that can be overwhelming for buyers, especially those unfamiliar with metro Atlanta. This is where a good realtor can make a difference between a simple homebuying process and a complicated one. And finding a good realtor is half the battle. How do you find an agent you can trust, and where do you go from there? It is important to ask an agent questions that will help guarantee that you are on the same page before beginning the search. Besides giving you important information concerning the process, the way an agent answers questions can give you a sense of their knowledge and professionalism — two important attributes for someone you’re trusting with such a large investment.
By sitting down with a realtor and asking a few important questions before the process begins, homebuyers can rest assure the agent will find a great new place for them in Atlanta to live out their American Dream—white picket fence optional. The questions below are a great starting place for any homebuyer, but don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper or ask for more details during any phase of the buying process.
What areas and property types do you specialize in?
Although this question seems simple and straightforward, it’s one of the more important questions you can ask because not all agents work with all types of homes or in all areas of metro Atlanta.
“It’s so important that a buyer, especially a relocating buyer, is confident knowing their realtor has actual knowledge and experience regarding the specific areas and types of property they desire,” says Lisa Robinson, a private office advisor with Engel & Volkers in Buckhead. “Understanding properties is just one element in identifying the perfect housing choice. Your realtor should provide valuable info about schools, shopping, traffic patterns and restaurants—all the things that make you love where you live and increase your quality of life.”
What is your strategy for finding a new home?
Knowing an agent’s strategy will tell you how they run their business and also what you can expect from them. Additionally, knowing what work a realtor will put into the search will help you determine if that agent will be an asset in your search or if they’ll leave you feeling like you did all the work at the end of the day.
Jon Kiser, the relocation director for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Atlanta, says, “The homebuyer needs to be certain that the realtor is ‘in tune’ with the buyers priorities in searching for a new home. The realtor needs to be aware of the importance of the homebuyer’s criteria, their housing needs, style of home, lifestyle, location, desired commuting time to work and price range. The buyer’s realtor needs to be aware of the buyer’s desired communication with them throughout the process and communication in the selection of homes.”
Kiser went on to say that many times, if a buyer also provides photos to the agent of a home they are moving from, it will help supply the agent with a better understanding of a buyer’s taste. “The selection of a home is not just a business transaction but is also an emotional and lifestyle selection,” he adds.
What do I need to consider besides location?
Is the neighborhood walkable? Is there a problem with wildlife? What will be included in a homeowner’s association fee? These are all questions that, when asked of an agent, he or she should be able to answer thoroughly.
“Sometimes, buyers don’t know what they don’t know and a good experienced realtor will explain the real estate process from the beginning to the end,” Robinson says. “This includes, but is not limited to, obtaining financing, travel time to and from the office, potential growth in the area and potential resale advantages and disadvantages. This is the information that creates an exceptional real estate experience!”
What steps do I need to take in order to make a serious offer on a home?
This question is especially important for first-time homebuyers who are unfamiliar with metro Atlanta. With the fast pace of today’s market, any snag can set you back and cause you to lose the perfect home to another buyer. Knowing what steps to take before making an offer will ensure you’re ready to do so when the times comes.
“The buyer needs to be informed of the sequential steps in the process of purchasing a home in order to make it a smooth and successful experience,” Kiser says. “The purchase of a home is one of the most important investments that a buyer will make, and it is critical that the buyer be aware of the many facets involved in the process.”
Important things a realtor should discuss with their clients before a purchase including a purchase or sale contract, Sellers Property Disclosure of the home, requesting a copy of the HOA covenants and restrictions, the pre-qualification letter along with the purchase and sale contract, buyer earnest money, home inspections and selecting a closing process, just to name a few. “The realtor’s proactive response to the buyer’s needs, requests and concerns for knowledge and information throughout the homebuying process should help to make the purchase of a new home for the buyer a rewarding and exciting experience,” Kiser concludes.