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The risks of selling your Atlanta home yourself


More than 89% of those selling a home in Atlanta list with a real estate agent, but some individuals choose to go it alone. Selling a home "FSBO" (for sale by owner), while entirely possible, does come with a list of hurdles and some significant risks. These sellers are motivated to save the cost of the agent's commission. In many cases, however, selling without assistance can result in a lower closing price. In fact, according to national statistics the typical FSBO home sold for $185,000 compared to $240,000 for agent-assisted home sales.

So just what are the potential downfalls of selling your home by yourself?

Preparing/Repairing Home for Sale: Very few homes are market-ready right off the bat. The rule of thumb is that sellers should spend up to 1% of the purchase price readying it for market. Realtors know buyer "hot buttons" and where money should--and should not--be spent. Some also consult with top stagers to help maximize buyer appeal even more.

Setting the Wrong Price - In the world of real estate, setting a good asking price is absolutely critical. Most FSBO sellers tend to overprice, which will cause the home to stay on the market longer, eventually resulting in significant price reductions to get the home sold. Some homeowners underprice. Their home does sell, but they'll never know how much they could  have gotten with an agent representing them, bringing in multiple offers and helping negotiate through them to get the best scenario.

Lack of Negotiating Experience - One of the most important services real estate agents provide is the negotiation of a sale. Also, working without an intermediary makes it much more difficult to keep emotions out of the process, which is why nearly 90% of buyers and sellers prefer the "buffer" of being professionally represented.

Underexposure - Attracting serious buyers requires much more than being on Zillow (or even FMLS), and putting a sign in the front yard. Many of the marketing avenues that agents utilize are costly, or require resources that the average homeowner simply cannot access.

Buyer/Agent Wariness - Many buyers (and their agents) will purposely avoid FSBOs-they don't want to deal with an emotional seller who's not objective and whose home is probably overpriced due to lack of market knowledge. Buyer's agents know they'll have to work twice as hard for their commission because the seller has no representation.

"Low-ballers" - A FSBO listing tends to attract buyers who are looking for a "deal". These individuals see the listing price of a FSBO property as merely a starting point; they know the seller is not paying commission to a listing agent and will automatically discount your home by at least that 3%, but more likely more.

Failure to Disclose/Knowledge of legal contract - Failing to fully disclose any defects in your home is HUGE liability for any seller, and improper or non-disclosure is the number one source of lawsuits by buyers against FSBO sellers. Licensed real estate agents are required to stay up to date on all mandatory local, state and national disclosure requirements, as well as all legal contracts used (which change yearly!). They also have access to closing attorneys should any issues arise.

Safety/Time/Financing - FSBO homeowners take a real security risk in letting strangers into their home; and unlike buyers who have an agent, they may not even be financially qualified to purchase your home! And there is the inconvenience of the seller having to make appointments and be home for each showing. 

So if you're selling a home in Atlanta for sale by owner, remember these risks, and use caution.  Or better yet, consider a full-service real estate agent to get it sold more quickly, reduce liability, and put more money in your pocket!


Yes, Virginia, Homes DO sell in the Winter!


It’s October, school is back in session and the holidays are right around the corner. There seems to be a common myth that the smart thing to do when the holidays and winter approach is to take your home off the market (or wait to list it) until spring, when there will be more buyers and nicer weather.

However, there are several reasons why buying into that myth is costing you:

  1. Yes, it’s true there will be more buyers in the spring, but demand is still strong now. The latest Realtors’ Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now!

  2. So there are still lots of buyers…and even better news, you have fewer rivals vying for those buyers! According to NAR’s latest Existing Home Sales Report, the supply of homes for sale is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market at 4.3 months. This means that in most areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. With fewer homes on the market, your house will have more of a chance to shine.

  3. All of this is good news for home prices, but additional inventory is about to come to market which means you will have much more competition!
  • There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to sell; those who may have previously been underwater are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased.
  • There are all those “wait until spring to list” sellers you’ll be competing with.
  • As builders regain confidence in the market, new construction of single-family homes is projected to continue to increase over the next two years, reaching historic levels by 2017.

Therefore, choices buyers have will continue to increase. Also, interest rates could be higher in spring—and who know about the economy? Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

  1. There will never be a better time to move up. If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are expected to continue to rise over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. Interest rates are projected to increase, and .even a small increase in rate will have a big impact on your housing cost.

  2. It’s time to move on with your life. Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth it. Are you willing to risk a higher purchase price and increased monthly payment by waiting? Only you have the answer to those questions. You have the power to take advantage of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

My advice to sellers…if your home is for sale, keep it on the market; if you want to sell it, put it on the market! As a metro Atlanta Corporate Relocation agent, I can assure you that buyers get relocated to Atlanta at ALL times of the year--I've sold many homes in the winter months and during holidays. Even in the brutal winter of 2010, I had buyers who willingly slogged beside me through the snow and ice to view homes!

So be sure your home is gorgeous, priced competitively and marketed well. Don't miss out on a great opportunity to kick off 2017 with your home sold!


Win the Bidding War for Your Dream Home!


It's hugely frustrating when you find the home of our dreams and decide to make
an offer, only to find out that you're competing with several other buyers!

Here are some tips to help you get that home of your dreams!

1.  Cash is king.   In most cases, an all-cash offer will trump any other offer (even if it's a little lower than other offers).   Lucky for those who can--but most of us can't afford to go this route.

2. It's not always about the money.   I recently represented buyers who found their dream home and quickly made an offer.  The house was well-priced and we knew other people would soon be submitting offers. The listing agent told us the owner was an impatient person who just "wanted to be done" and wanted the selling process to be as uncomplicated as possible.  We made our contract as attractive as possible to get the seller to sign without waiting to see what other offers would come in--and it worked.   A good buyer's agent will try to get some information about what motivates (or doesn't motivate) a seller and will tailor your offer accordingly.

3. Always assume you're competing.   Even if the listing agent hasn't said there are other offers, assume there are (or will be soon)!   In most neighborhoods in metro Atlanta, the best homes will receive more than one offer.  Make your first offer your "highest and best" if you really want that home--you're not going to get a bargain, but unless you're planning on re-selling in the next year or two, it's worth paying a little more to get the home you want (and you have the appraisal contingency to protect you).

4. Introduce yourself to the seller.   You or your agent should write  a cover letter telling the seller something about who you are, what you love about their home, etc.  I once won a bidding war just because I had told the seller about my clients' two twin toddler daughters!

5. Look risk-proof.  If you can't pay all cash, dig deep and make as big a down payment as you can, and write that earnest money check (the check that accompanies your offer) for 2% or more -- you want to show the seller that you've got deep pockets and can make it to the closing table!

6. Be risk proof.   If you really, really have to have that home, and you have the stomach for it--waive the contingencies.  This is not for everyone!   You can waive the inspection contingency if you're willing to handle any repairs/servicing needed on the home, and you can waive the appraisal contingency if you're confident of the home value and/or are willing to pay any amount above the appraisal if the home doesn't appraise.  You can waive the financial contingency if you're positive you will qualify for the loan and you can cover any appraisal shortfall--it then becomes an all-cash offer so make SURE you can do this.  If you can't waive all the contingencies, make the time limit on them as short as possible.

7. KISS.  You've heard the term "keep it simple stupid"?   Make your offer as "clean" as possible--don't load it up with special stipulations, and don't get greedy and start asking for the washer/dryer, furniture, termite bond, home warranty etc.  You can get these things yourself after you get the house!  In the same vein, be careful of what you ask the seller to repair after the home inspection--stick to legitimately dangerous and/or expensive defects;  don't "nickel and dime" the seller over things a handyman could take care of.  Remember, your competition is out there just waiting for you to make a wrong move so they can have a chance for the home.

At the end of the day, remember that if you don't get the house you're bidding, it usually means there's a better home out there waiting for you.  Don't give up and keep trying!

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