5 Things You Should Know About Buying a Home in Atlanta

Don't get burned by the white-Hotlanta real estate market. Listening to our local experts can make for an easy, breezy real estate transaction.

Photo courtesy Keller Williams This modern home is located in Midtown near all the museums and restaurants. It boasts over 3,000 square feet of living space, 25-foot tall windows, a pool, a terraced deck and four bedrooms and four baths. Its price: $1.699 million. 

Buying a home may be one of the only business transactions where it is equally as important to listen your heart and your head. While the pragmatic side of you shouts for a good school district, the idealistic devil in you screams for the pool and rumpus room.

The great thing about buying a home in Atlanta is that you truly can have it all. It’s a city with some of the country’s finest school districts, varied and beautiful architecture and plenty of job growth opportunities. In the '80s, however, Atlanta fell victim to overgrowth without a clear vision for public transportation or the overall infrastructure. For the most part, it is a car town – if you choose to live in the suburbs and have kids. Urban singletons will have no problems navigating the city if they choose the right neighborhood. 

We caught up with two of the city’s top brokers, Randy Garrett of Capital Mortgage Advisors and Todd Emerson of Harry Norman, Realtors, in an effort to help you get your heart and your head acquainted at the very least.

Photo courtesy domoREALTY After this Buckhead modern was renovated it received multiple offers and ultimately sold over the owner's original asking price. 

1. Give yourself a head start. “In the current Atlanta market, homes that are priced well and in move-in condition are contracting quickly,” said Garrett. “Your real estate buying team must be running at the starting blocks upon viewing of the property and execution of the offer/contract to ensure your protection and your winning of the contract thru your purchase closing.”

Build your real estate purchasing team upfront to ensure the best experience along the way. Your agent and your mortgage professional should be working in lockstep as you approach the point of submitting any offer.

“What’s negotiated by your real estate agent must be delivered by your mortgage professional,” said Garrett.

2. Help me help you. “One needs to grasp that things have changed in the mortgage finance arena, regardless of your resulting loan type,” said Garrett. “Even if you think you know it all, identify your mortgage professional and consult with him/her early.” 

A month or more in advance is not too early. Fully disclose everything he asks for including your short-term and long-term objectives with your financial situation and cash flow. Have healthy dialogue to assist him in identifying, and assessing all your options in achieving the optimal product and delivery in meeting your objectives, not just the objective of a mortgage to purchase your home.

This should not be a rushed pre-qualification exercise at the point you are submitting a contract offer. Work with a market professional capable of full analysis and assessment of your personal situation. It could save you thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars, advised Garrett.

Photo courtesy Coldwell Banker Because of its IB (International Baccalaureate) school programs, Decatur is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods for Atlanta homebuyers with children. This four-bedroom/three-bath home is currently listed just under $700K and is walking distance from downtown and schools.

  3. Heart: Meet Head. “Try to keep your emotions in check and consistent with the current market realities,” said Emerson. “In a market where demand is high and supply is relatively low there's an obvious increase in buyer competition.”

While this is good news for sellers, buyers need to be mindful of this dynamic and be cautious about mentally moving into the home before it is actually theirs. 
“Multiple offer scenarios are more common in this type of seller-friendly market, so buyers need to be prepared to compete for the home that captures their heart,” said Emerson.

4. Trust me; I’m an agent. Do yourself a huge favor by identifying a skilled and trusted realtor to help you navigate the tricky buying process. 

“Understanding comps goes well beyond finding out what other homes have sold for recently,” said Emerson. “Plus, once your offer is accepted is really when the real work begins. Inspections, negotiating repair items, lending issues, appraisals, pulling title and everything else in between is critical to realizing a successful closing. You wouldn't perform heart surgery on yourself, so why take a similar risk when buying what ultimately might be your single largest investment?”

5. Everyone’s a winner, baby. Just when you think you’re stepping over that threshold, your agent tells you there are multiple offers on your Barbie dream home, offers exceeding your budget. 

“People are competitive in general by nature, but before you adopt the "win at any cost" mentality and find yourself in a bidding war find the presence of mind to take a step back and just breathe,” said Emerson.  “A part of your pre-purchase planning should include establishing a budget and "max amount" you're either willing or are qualified to afford.”

Don't lose sight of whatever that amount might be and be emotionally prepared to walk away when someone else is willing to pay an amount greater than what you've budgeted. There will always be another "dream house" that will come your way, said Emerson. We concur. 

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