5 Things You Need to Know Before Selling a Home in Atlanta

Atlanta’s inventory is down and so are interest rates, but can you get top dollar right now?

Photo courtesy Atlanta Fine Homes/Sotheby's International Realty Know your market: Surrounded by traditional bungalows, this ultra-modern home may take a while to move in Atlanta. In Los Angeles, however, the home would find itself in a bidding war. 

Some people believe that life is a numbers game; probability dances with outcome. Others trust in their heart of hearts that luck or fate control their destiny. Real estate transactions are a bit of both. When putting your home up for sale it’s a good idea to try and separate the two.

We’re all young enough to remember the bubble and how the bursting affected us. Homes were sold for astronomical prices far over their value and the market suffered. Banks stopped lending money. Just a few years ago, Atlanta ranked in the top five of cities with the highest number of foreclosures, but has since recovered.

According to our experts, now can be a great time to sell your home in Atlanta, but only if the price is right.

Photo courtesy Atlanta Fine Homes/Sotheby's International Realty As of April 2014, Atlanta is definitely a sellers market. This condo is part of the current inventory and competitively priced at $225,000.

“The homes that sell super fast and for over asking have two key elements: Absolutely flawless condition and intelligent pricing,” said Eric Benjamin of Keller Williams. “Buyers will pay a premium for both.”

Know your audience. Typically, housing inventory in Atlanta is highest in the spring/summer and lowest in the fall/winter. In January 2013, the housing inventory level was 38,832, a staggeringly low number. As of April 14, 2014, about 50,261 single family and condo homes were listed on the MLS in Atlanta with a median asking price of approximately $199,900.

That doesn't mean it's a realistic time to buy a home, and this is where an educated consumer truly is the best customer.

"Having a lot of foreclosures and short sales brings down the median sales price,” said Mitch Kaminer, president of the Atlanta Board of Realtors. “In the city, buyers will likely find an older home for $102,000 – anywhere from 30 to 70 years old – typically with two or three bedrooms. At that price, the home might need some updating or renovating.”

Determine if your home is move-in ready, older and in need of a few repairs and what amenities are available to buyers such as a good school system and public transportation. This will all help determine your price tag.

Keep it real. This requires math with a reality chaser. Yes, there will be math before you even get the sign in your yard. 

“Sellers need to have a comparative market analysis to understand the value of the house,” said Mark MyGrant, a top agent at Beacham and Company Realtors.

Photo courtesy Beacham & Company Realtors This home sold for $425,000 in 1997 and is currently listed for $3.25 million. Potential buyers may scratch their heads in wonder over such a significant price increase. It's up to the seller to justify. 

This is where emotions can get the best of us all. Costly renovations don’t always increase the value of a home if the market in your area cannot justify a higher price. These are numbers your agent should provide upfront to help temper your expectations.

“Pricing is the most important reason why a house will or will not sell,” said MyGrant.

Make needed repairs now. If you have noticed a leak or drip here and there, potential buyers are probably going to see it, too. Naturally this will affect the offers you receive.

“Make sure the house is in good condition before the sale so there aren’t any surprises during the buyer’s inspection. If the condition is questionable, seller may want to have the home pre-inspected to address potentially expensive repairs before putting it on the market,” advised Diane Aiken of Harry Norman Realtors.

If the property is in less than pristine condition or if the seller isn’t in a position to do repairs, Aiken advises sellers to consider listing it as is, meaning the buyer’s agent will know that the seller is not going to do repairs that may come up in the buyer’s inspection.

Photo courtesy Harry Norman Realtors This Ansley Park home was listed on the MLS in April 2014 with a price tag of $824,000. It's ambitious pricing, but justifiable given the current owner's careful attention to the home's original details. 

“Keep in mind, the buyer may come back and ask for a price reduction in lieu of repairs.”

Show me the money. Once that for sale sign is in the yard, don’t expect your agent to suddenly make it rain. Be realistic. Dozens of potential buyers trouncing through your home doesn’t mean much if there’s no water at the well. This is where your emotions can take a beat down.

“Make sure the potential buyer is completely qualified to purchase,” said Aiken. “The buyer’s agent should provide a pre-qualification letter from a reputable lender or verification of funds if it’s a cash deal with the offer.”

See the big picture. So, you’ve put in the time and money into making needed repairs, and you’re ready to show your home. Not so fast. As a homeowner you might have tunnel vision. Look outside the box and see your home as a potential buyer might.

“The exterior of the house makes the first impression. Make sure the exterior is well maintained, landscaped and has the best curb appeal possible,” said MyGrant. “Interior needs to be clean, uncluttered and smell fresh, especially the bathrooms and kitchen.”

Benjamin often hires a stager. Don’t take it personally when someone tells you to remove treasured family photos from the walls and to take down the art gallery on the fridge. Once that sign goes in the yard, you don’t live there anymore, Alice.



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