If you bought a house in the last few years, your property value is likely up. In some cases, its up bigly. But, if you own a home in Fulton County you are very likely facing a hefty increase on your property tax bill this year.
Assessments started to arrive in the past few weeks. There is a fair amount of outrage sticker shock out there right now because property value has significantly increased in the past three years while the county has failed been slow to keep assessments current with the prevailing market.
Now, for something you may not want to hear: The increased values are likely correct. Appreciation has been significant. Now, that’s great news if you are a homeowner looking to sell any time soon, but the tax man is going to demand his tribute for your appreciation.
It does not hurt to attempt an appeal. Call me and I can help you evaluate what case you may have to make to the assessor’s office.
I could go on for days about what I think the county should have done to smooth the ramp up of a significant expense for the majority of home owning households, but the can was kicked down the road for the past few years and it would appear that this is how Fulton County thought it best to manage the situation.
Its going to be interesting to watch how the county decides to spend the additional 28% (on the lower end by some estimates) in property tax revenue that they stand to collect this year.
Will the tax payers get a clear update on how the county is spending the windfall?
Rather than throw a bunch of stats at you, I’ll keep this short and sweet:
Inventory is painfully low.
Realistically priced homes in popular areas sell in a few days (or hours), often with multiple offers.
Interest rates are fluctuating wildly on the current stock market turmoil. I think most experts would argue that the long term pressure and trend is for rates to rise, which is exacerbating the drive for buyers to purchase now before the cost of financing rises further.
There has not been a better time in recent history to sell your home in the City of Atlanta.
Its tough out there right now and people do “fight” over in-demand properties, but I can help you get through it.
Get your financing in order. Get as far in the loan underwriting process as your lender will allow without a purchase contract on a specific property.
Set up showings with me for properties that interest you as quickly as possible.
Make the strongest offer you are comfortable making up front and be willing to walk if it doesn’t get the house. Don’t waste time playing the negotiation game. Too often, it just allows more time for other competing offers to come in on the property.
Thinking of Selling?
Set up an appointment with me to view your home. We’ll talk about a customized marketing system to get the most money out of your house in the shortest amount of time possible.
Check with your lender and see if you need to sell your current home before you can execute the purchase of your next house.
Start researching short to medium term housing options in the event that your home sells before we find you the right house to make your next home.
Breathe. Its good to be the one holding the house right now. If you bought more than 2 or 3 years ago you are likely in really good shape and we can get you through this with as little stress as possible.
Be present in the moment and enjoy the time with your friends, family, and whoever else makes the list of who you love this holiday season. For my crew, this is also the time of the year that we enter the month long marathon of watching our favorite holiday films. For the adults in my house this means:
Die Hard (Its not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from Nakatomi Tower).
Love Actually (Oooooo… Would we call her chubby? RIP, Alan Rickman)
My kiddos aren’t quite old enough to pay attention through a whole movie just yet so they’ll make due with some periodic exposure to Rudolph and Frosty.
With market activity slowing heading into December and current sellers getting anxious about whether their house will sell before the clock runs out on 2017, its arguably the best time of the year to get a great deal on a home. Avoid the mad rush and bidding wars that chronic low inventory is going to bring in the spring. Call me today.
Also- We have a new website/search platform going live in a few weeks. Check it out at scott.viewhomesforsaleatlanta.com . Register, play around with it, and let me know what you think.
( Image from Spy Game: (2001) Robert Redford, Catherine McCormack, and Brad Pitt. Great flick if you haven’t seen it)
I’ve been meaning to get a post out about this for some time now, but a “wardrobe malfunction” last week put it front and center of my mind.
Allow me to set the scene:
Its 3PM on a beautiful autumn Thursday in the city of Atlanta. My out-of-town client is flying in to view several houses over the weekend. They texted me about a specific property and wanted more information on a couple of features in the home. The house was vacant, so I ran over to get a better look at what they were asking about, take some pictures, and to decide whether to add that property to our itinerary to view on Saturday.
I arrive at the home, make my way to the front door, and bend down to activate the lockbox and retrieve the key. Upon performing this completely reasonable, harmless, and relatively risk-free action, my belt decides that it can no longer take the strain, and explodes right there on the front porch. In what can only be described as clothing carnage, the buckle lay scattered across the battlefield in 4 different pieces.
Two things go through my mind:
1. I am so glad the client isn’t with me.
2. I really, really need to find the time to get into shape.
Now that I am very much reliving a high-school nightmare where my clothing stops functioning, I hurry my now-very-awkward-self inside to get situated. I fumbled with the belt for a good minute or so before surrendering to the sad fact that nothing could be done to fix it. As I gave up the fight, I looked up to see that I had been performing this embarrassing ritual dance directly in front of their DIY internet security camera.
So, a couple of big things to be learned here:
If I show up for an appointment belt-less, please don’t judge. Keep in mind I may have lost it in a recent tragic incident that will negatively impact my mental state for the foreseeable future.
People may very well be listening or watching you through electronic devices while you walk through a potential new home.
I do attempt to emphasize this to all of my clients, but a best practice during home shopping is to wait until you are safely back outside to discuss your feelings on price, condition, and your overall desire to purchase the property. Don’t give the seller the advantage in future negotiations by telling them exactly how much you love the property, and how much you may be willing to pay, before we ink the initial offer. With today’s technology and connectivity, you can never be sure that you are not being monitored.
I tried to keep this as brief as possible, but there is a lot of information to cover for a comprehensive look in a six minute video. If I moved too fast or if you have questions, I’d love to hear from you.
Inventory continues to be constrained and the market is still very competitive for properly priced homes.
Median Days on Market. Properly priced and marketed homes are still moving very quickly.
Median Sale Price and Median List Price are Moving in lockstep. Homes are still selling very close to list price on average.
Housing inventory is still very limited. New listings have crept up, but not nearly enough to flip us into an overall buyer’s market. Some of that inventory is going to get snapped up as we move into the next busy cycle closing out 2017 and into the early months of 2018.
Just a quick update for YTD market stats in Atlanta. Thinking of buying or selling? Opportunities abound.
Inventory is still low and properly priced properties in great condition move fast, but there are deals to be had.
Thinking of selling? The upward sales price trend has flattened somewhat heading into the late summer. Its impossible to precisely time any market, be it real estate, stocks, or virtual currency (get at me, Bitcoin millionaires). If the time is right for you and your life situation, the market is still at its highest level in years.
Time to buy? The right home is out there. Low inventory just means I have to work a little harder to lock it down for you. That’s what I’m here for.
The Atlanta Metro Real Estate market is currently at low inventory levels. Fairly priced and affordable properties in good condition and in sought-after areas are often under contract within 24-48 hours.
We all want the deal of the century, right?
Nobody faults you for that. If you are dead-set on submitting a low-ball offer on a sought-after property in this environment, you must also be willing to walk away from the property if and when your bid is not successful. If you fell in love with the home and just assumed that you’d start low and come up if the seller didn’t bite on your first offer, you may be blindsided when they decline to counter and take an offer from another client while you are stuck considering your next move.
Hypothetically, let’s say you were trying to buy a well-appointed two bedroom condo in Midtown that just listed today for $350,000. No savvy negotiator pays full ask, right? Conventional wisdom and tradition tells us that list price is the starting negotiation point. So, you decide to open with an offer of $335,000 and see if they bite. Closing costs are expensive as well, so lets ask the seller to cover $6,500 of that and just see what they say. You’ve essentially made an offer that nets the seller $328,500. In a slower market, or maybe if the property has been sitting for a month or so, I wouldn’t necessarily advise against this strategy. In this example, that just isn’t the case.
Many times, this is what actually happens:
Another buyer looking at the same limited inventory in your price band and location goes in to view the property a couple of hours after you. They are also interested and have been looking at properties for weeks. They, unbeknownst to you, have the benefit of experience on their side. They have already lost out on two homes they loved because they were crowded out by stronger offers. They have impeccable taste, just like you, and also decide the property is suitable and decide to make an offer. Their agent calls the listing agent, who communicates that the seller is currently considering another offer on the property. Not wanting to lose out and waste more time searching, they submit an offer at $348,000 and ask for no concessions for closing costs.
Many sellers choose not to start a round of multiple offer/highest and best bidding in this situation. The reality is, the seller has two offers in hand and are quickly burning through their valuable first days on the market. Your offer is currently $19,500 lower than the other buyer’s. The seller does not want to risk alienating or scaring away the stronger offer with additional negotiation on the off-chance that you’ll increase your offer $20,000 just to compete. They accept the other buyer’s offer, and bid you adieu.
Fine, right? You win some, you lose some. We’ll try again on the next property…
Here is where I am going to get a little “meta”: Are you now chasing the market up?
Lets say this condo is in a high-rise development. You love the amenities (Hnnng…that pool is sexy, right?) and location and you really want to get a unit in this building. The neighbor down the hall from the one you lost out on owns a unit with the same floor plan. They noticed the unit listed for $350,000 and decide its time to sell. Just like you want the deal of the century, owners want the highest price for their property the market will support. They decide to list their home at $360,000… Assuming that this property is comparable to the original one, what do you think you would decide to offer? You’ve now placed yourself in a situation where you may be “chasing the market up”. You get the idea? Starting to feel a little like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day?
If you are home shopping in a highly competitive environment and think you have found “the one”, my advice is to make the strongest offer you are comfortable with and willing to commit to as soon as possible.
Its important to be honest with yourself, and with potential buyers, about how many functional bedrooms your home offers. That 10 ft x 10 ft attic expansion with no closet, or the dark basement room with no windows and the nearest shower access 2 floors away that you are marketing as an extra bedroom may be turning off more buyers than its drawing in. Presenting the features of your home in the best light possible is an elementary and bedrock principle of marketing your property. However, this must be done in an accurate and honest manner.
Imagine a qualified buyer who has a legitimate need for three functional bedrooms comes to view your home. This person has spent his or her valuable time to show up and evaluate your property for purchase. If your home is not what was represented to this buyer in the listing information, you have wasted their time, their agent’s time, and quite possibly your valuable early days on the market by trying to sell your home to the wrong buyer. This example of a potential buyer was never going to make an offer on your house because it did not meet their needs. You have now created two unhappy and dissatisfied parties who could spread negative information through word of mouth about your home while it is listed for sale. The better choice would be to market your home to buyers who are open to a two bedroom house with space for a home office, creative space, or bonus room.
A common must-have from clients looking to buy in the city is the ability to create a functional home office. Many of the older houses in Atlanta have unique small spaces that were created or have accidentally emerged from decades of remodels, rehabs, and expansions. That small room in the converted attic space that people weren’t quite sure what to do with in the past (and often ends up being added to the listing as an additional bedroom) has suddenly become much more useful and marketable as technology has evolved and the only space many of us need to work is somewhere to sit with our laptops and a smart phone. There is no shame in playing to this strength and getting a premium price for your home by offering this functionality to the correct buyer.
Trying to sell that space as a bedroom may be a mistake that could cost you more money and time on the market than it gains you. Is a bedroom more valuable than an office? Yes. But if you don’t have a third bedroom, you don’t have a third bedroom. The market will punish you for trying to sell something that just isn’t real.
I see this while showing homes with unbelievable frequency. Walking through an open house in a renovated older home listed as a three bedroom where potential buyers are milling about and commenting that “oh, this is really a two bedroom. I couldn’t use this space as a bedroom” as they walk right out the door makes me cringe for both the property owner and the other agent. You will command the highest and best price from your property from the market by working with me to target the right buyer and presenting your home for what it truly offers.