Metro Atlanta Real Estate Blog

April 2017 Atlanta Real Estate Market Update

Market statistics for Metro Atlanta, including median home price, mortgage rates, and more.

The Atlanta residential real estate market continues to remain hot as fire; with those in the market to sell their home reaping the reward. We saw a flurry of activity in March, with substantial jumps in the number of closed sales, selling prices and list prices. Despite a year over year increase in new listings hitting the market, the lack of available inventory of homes for sale continues to play a significant role in pushing home prices upward.

Interest rates have actually gone down in the past month or so, bucking the expectations of many in the mortgage industry. This, combined with an unemployment rate that continues to fall, seems to be motivating more and more buyers to enter the market. The influx of home buyers flocking to the market has created a demand for homes that seems to outweigh the supply. It's only April, and it appears the frenzy will continue for at least a couple more months.

Atlanta Housing Market Tidbits
Highest price home sold: $6,400,000
Lowest price home sold: $8,000
Most total days on market: 1067
Largest home sold: 13,000 sq/ft
Total dollar volume sold: $2,176,773,122
Average estimated home value: $174,200
One year price forecast: $181,168

Metro Atlanta Housing Trends

The market data and housing statistics contained in this report come from FMLS and CoreLogic. Unless otherwise specified, the market trends in this report are based off of single family attached & detached properties listed on FMLS....

Arm’s Length Transaction - What The Heck Is It?

A person's arm with an arm's length transaction tattoo in front of a house for sale.

If you're not familiar with the term, you may be wondering what an arm’s length has to do with the sale of a home? Well, this is the United States, and we do use feet to measure distance, so… Maybe the arms sounded like logical choice when the phrase was first coined; who knows?

I’m not sure where the term originated, but it’s become a means of describing how close (relationship, not distance) the parties of a transaction are to each other. These days, whether or not the sale of residential property is an arm’s length transaction must be disclosed, and it may even impact the terms of the sale. It may also be referred to as arm’s length negotiation, depending on who you’re talking to.

Definition Of An Arm’s Length Transaction

When it comes to buying and selling real estate, an arm’s length transaction is one where the parties involved in the contract have no relationship to each other that would otherwise influence their decisions during the purchase/sale of a property. A “relationship” can include: family members by blood, family by marriage, business associates, beneficiaries, or even parties that share a common business interest with each other.

In an arm’s length transaction, all parties are considered to have equivalent bargaining positions, a clear mind, and equal knowledge of the property being sold. Without the presence of a pre-existing relationship or undue duress, it’s determined that buyers and sellers will act in their own best interest. This also means, pressure or coercion...

February 2017 Atlanta Real Estate Market Update

Various Metro Atlanta housing market trends and statistics for February 2017.

The Atlanta real estate market has already started to take off in 2017, led by a jump in list prices, which spiked 13.7% from the year prior. New listings are being priced higher because inventory is still down (-8% YOY), and demand from homebuyers remains strong. A recent drop in mortgage rates has only encouraged buyers looking to participate in the upcoming spring buying season. Sale prices continue to increase, days on market remain low, and more homes are selling than last year… all signs that Atlanta’s housing market is showing no signs of slowing down just yet.

Atlanta Housing Market Tidbits

Highest price home sold: $4,000,000
Lowest price home sold: $4,000
Most total days on market: 885
Largest home sold: 22,054 sq/ft
Total dollar volume sold: $1,167,109,504
Average estimated home value: $173,300
One year price forecast: $181,618

Metro Atlanta Housing Trends

The market data and housing statistics contained in this report come from FMLS and CoreLogic. Unless otherwise specified, the market trends in this report are based off of single family attached & detached properties listed on FMLS. MetroAtlantaHome.com has taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information in this report is current and accurate, it cannot however guarantee the accuracy of information or that it is current.

Average Sale Price Up 5.2% From Last Year

Just as we’ve seen in the past, the average sale price was down in January, compared to the month prior. The five percent month over month decrease may seem drastic, but it’s...

2016’s Most Expensive Homes Sold In Metro Atlanta

A gorgeous luxury Atlanta mansion at night.

When it comes to luxury houses, Atlanta has some of the largest and most unique homes in the southeast. Many of them located on private estates, these mansions offer nearly everything a buyer could desire. From historic properties to celebrity homes, this year we saw a little bit of everything. The only question is... which one is your favorite?

Note: The sale data in this article was obtained from county tax records and the First Multiple Listing Service. The homes shown here were listed and sold by brokerage firms other than the owner of this website. The information presented here is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.

4110 Paces Ferry Road NW - $17,500,000

An aerial image of the mansion located at 4110 Paces Ferry Road NW.Beds: 7 / Full Baths: 9 / Half Baths: 5
Community: Buckhead (Atlanta)
Sq/Ft: 34,688 (Builder)
Lot Size: 16.99 Acres (Tax Record)
Sale Date: April 29, 2016

A European villa nestled in the heart of Atlanta – this stately 7 bedroom, 9 bath home is a dream. Enter by one of two private, secured entrances; the main drive welcomes you and your guests with gorgeous brick pavers and a fountain.

Custom, double wrought-iron doors lead you into the grand foyer with marble floors,...

November 2016 Atlanta Real Estate Market Update

A summary of the Atlanta housing market trends for November of 2016.

In general, Atlanta’s real estate market has remained pretty steady recently. Average sale prices continued their YOY increase, rising 6.9% from where they were last year, while the number of closed transactions also saw moderate gains. One exception was the average list price, which reversed its downward course in August, and has continued to climb higher ever since. However, this month’s market trends reflect housing sales prior to the election; so it will be interesting to see how the results impact the market in the coming months. We’ve already seen mortgage rates jump up, so that could put a damper on home sales during the slower winter months.

Atlanta Housing Market Tidbits:

Highest price home sold: $3,235,000
Lowest price home sold: $9,100
Most total days on market: 1,177
Largest home sold: 14,500 sq/ft
Total dollar volume sold: $1,695,188,388
Average estimated home value: $171,400
One year price forecast: $179,970

 ...

Trended Credit Data: Fannie Mae’s New Credit Scoring Model

What is trended credit data?

One of the first things most credit challenged homebuyers ask me when beginning their home search is: “What credit score do I need to have to get a loan?”. I’m not a mortgage broker, so my typical response is: “it depends on many different factors” and “typically, at least a 600-620 credit score”. For many of them, this is music to their ears. You see, there are many potential buyers right on the cusp of being able to qualify, and they’ve been monitoring their credit for months while attempting to increase it.

In the past, a credit score was one of the major deciding factors for determining whether or not a homebuyer can get a loan. Either you meet the credit requirement for the type of loan you’re seeking, or you don’t get the loan. However, the future of the lone credit score in determining a borrower’s eligibility for financing appears to be fading. In comes trended credit data, a more in-depth approach to evaluating a borrower’s past challenges, and future ability, to repay a loan & manage credit.

Trended Data F.A.Q. (VIDEO)

 


What Is Trended Credit Data?

Trended credit data is an expanded explanation of a borrower’s...

October 2016 Atlanta Real Estate Market Update

Real estate market trends summary and header image.

This month's newly redesigned market update report includes nearly all the essential housing market statistics I could get my hands on. In the article, I cover average sale prices, number of closed sales, active listing count, list prices, days on market and more. I've also included mortgage rates, distressed property sales and unemployment rates. Finally, I put together a brief housing market summary for each of my featured communities. Also, you'll find the information presented in the video is different from what's covered in the article, so make sure to watch it!

Atlanta Housing Market Tidbits

- Highest price home sold: $7,200,000
- Lowest price home sold: $10,500
- Most total days on market: 1,030
- Largest home sold: 14,755 sq/ft
- Total dollar volume sold: $1,231,351,939
- Average estimated home value: $169,600
- One-year price forecast: $178,400

 

Video Summary - Length: 06:25 - The median sale price in Metro Atlanta increased 7.7% year over year, along with the...

23 Essential Things To Do During Due Diligence

A list of items a buyer may need to complete during their due diligence period.

Buying a home can be a pretty stressful process. Many buyers falsely assume that once they’ve found the right home and negotiated a contract, the rest is a walk in the park. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In my experience, getting the home under contract is usually the easiest part; something most buyers enjoy. After all, going out and looking at homes is fun, and hearing back from the seller that your offer has been accepted, is exciting.

Once you’re under contract, the work begins… and so does the stress. In Georgia, homebuyers are customarily given an opportunity to thoroughly inspect the property, research the neighborhood, and decide whether they want to move forward with the purchase. This opportunity is known as due diligence, and it gives the buyer the option to terminate the agreement within a designated timeframe, usually without any repercussions (such as loss of earnest money).

In this article, I’m going to cover some of the most important things you’ll want to do during your due diligence period to help ensure your next home purchase is a success.

How To Dominate Due Diligence (Video)

 


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September 2016 Atlanta Real Estate Market Update

Image of market trends and graphs.

Overall, Atlanta’s real estate market continues to show mostly positive signs as we head into the fall and winter months. High buyer demand and limited inventory of homes for sale has continued to push sale prices higher. The number of pending sales has continued to climb, bringing the number of closed sales up with it. We’re still adding more new listings than we did last year, but with more and more homes selling, the available inventory is down compared to last year.

Mortgage rates remained low throughout the entire summer, helping fuel buyer demand. Despite some occasional fluctuations, the national average for conventional loans hovered around 3.4% from June through most of August. We have seen mortgage rates climb this month, but they still haven’t surpassed 3.6%. It’s hard to say where rates will go from here, but I anticipate some volatility due to the upcoming presidential election and the economic uncertainty it creates.

Metro Atlanta Real Estate Trends

The following market trends come from FMLS single family attached and detached listing activity. This month’s market report includes active, pending and sold data through August 31st, 2016.

Closed Transactions Up 2.3% Year Over Year

Last month, the overall number of closed sales in Atlanta increased 2.3%, to 7,381. This includes 6,226 detached homes (up 0.8% YOY), 657 townhomes (up 13.7% YOY), and 497 condos (up 9% YOY). After a sharp decline in July, the number of closed transactions in August remained consistent with historical trends for this time of year. However, bank-mediated...

Student Loan Debt: A Hurdle For Many First-Time Buyers

College students at graduation with student loan amount on their caps.

It’s the American Dream – graduate from college, get a job, get married, and buy a house. What the dream doesn’t take into account, however, is the increasing amount of student loan debt that many young graduates are faced with. How does this kind of large loan affect first-time homebuyers that are necessary in the real estate world?

Most recently, first-time homebuyers have composed a smaller percentage of the housing market in recent years; the National Association of Realtors (NAR) counted first-time homebuyers as only 1-in-3 of properties sold in the United States. In fact, many potential homebuyers aren’t even entertaining the thought of buying, because of near-impossible debt.

In addition, recent changes to underwriting guidelines have made it even more challenging for those with student loan debt to obtain a mortgage. However, despite these disheartening statistics, student loan debt doesn’t mean home ownership is out of the question.

Favorable Financing & Down Payments Options

For starters, mortgage rates are at an all-time low, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Furthermore, there are a number of programs and loans available for first-time homebuyers; most require a very low down payment and some require none at all.

Let’s start at the beginning. Mortgages are approved because of three main things: a down payment amount, a credit score, and income. Student loans affect a person’s debt to income ratio (DTI), which makes many believe that they simply can’t afford both student loan payments and a house payment. Generally, a DTI must be 43% or less to get approved for a mortgage;...

July 2016 Atlanta Real Estate Market Update

Market statistics for Atlanta including sales volume, average price and more.

As we approach the end of the summer, the Atlanta real estate market continues to favor sellers. Sale prices have continued to increase, days on market is at a record low, and the active inventory of homes for sale is still relatively low. More sellers are looking to cash in on the increase in their home’s value, and the increase in new listings has yet to overtake the demand from buyers. If demand continues to outweigh supply, the seller’s market will likely persist.

Oddly enough, pending home sales remain abnormally high, despite the lack of inventory for sale. Normally, the abundance of pending sales would result in a much higher number of closed sales, but that wasn't the case. Although the number of closed sales has rebounded from drops in previous months, they’re still not where they should be based on pending sale data. I believe the pressure on buyers to win bidding wars, along with the unrealistic time frames negotiated in many contracts, have caused countless deals to fall apart; hurting both buyers and sellers.

Metro Atlanta Housing Trends

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Popular Neighborhood Research Tools For Homebuyers

City buildings with map markers and search icons.

Whether you’re moving across the city or across the country, researching your ideal location is a vital component that many homebuyers overlook. Imagine finding your dream home, but come move-in day you realize that your new home is 20 miles away from your favorite grocery store. Or think of bringing your family into a high crime area, or being an outdoorsy person whose new home is nowhere near any parks or trails.

Valuable Apps & Websites For Buyers

Buying a new home is far more than just four walls and a roof. The following websites are excellent resources, whether you’re ensuring that your new neighborhood is in a top-rated school district or within walking distance to popular restaurants.

Foursquare.com

Arguably one of the most popular social website, Foursquare features user reviews of local restaurants, retail establishments, and other city-specific attractions. Many of these companies provide discounts when a potential customer checks into their location on the mobile app. Around 50 million people use Foursquare and its sister company, Swarm, each month, and platforms include desktop, mobile web, and mobile apps.

StreetAdvisor.com

Street Advisor, literally, allows you to “discover and explore the best places to live.” Users can search a specific place or browse different cities and neighborhoods, and with search options including type of people, price, place personality, and things...

June 2016 Atlanta Real Estate Market Update

June market trends summary with a Buckhead condo in the background.

Despite skyrocketing pending sales, Atlanta home buyers continue to struggle finding available properties to buy. There’s no shortage of properties under contract, but it’s obvious that many of these pending sales are failing to close. Demand from buyers appears to have increased, but the availability of homes for sale has not. This imbalance has kept home prices on the rise, shrinking the affordability factor for many of today’s buyers. Pressure from investors and the declining inventory of REO/distressed properties has left a void in the entry-level price range.

Properties are going under contract quicker than they have in years, yet the days to closing is only down slightly. Speaking with my lender partners, it’s apparent that the current volume of real estate transactions has exceeded the capacity of many mortgage processing and underwriting departments. In addition to financing hurdles, multiple offer situations are still putting undue pressure on today’s buyers.

Home Sales Remain Down

As it has the past couple months, the number of homes sold in Atlanta remains considerably lower than last year’s numbers. At 6,109 sold listings, home sales in May 2016 were 17.7% lower than they were last year, even though they were up 17.3% compared to a month prior. Despite the red hot market and under contract signs everywhere, sales volume still does not reflect the flurry of activity.

Monthly Closed Transactions In Metro Atlanta

A chart of total closed sales in Metro Atlanta dating back two years....

FMLS vs GAMLS - Which Listing Service Is Better?

FMLS vs GAMLS logos in front of a businessman with boxing gloves.

Unless you’re a real estate agent, you may not have heard of the MLS (pertaining to real estate, not soccer), much less know what it stands for. Even if you do, you probably don't know there are two different Multiple Listing Services (MLS) serving Metro Atlanta; FMLS and GAMLS. However, if you’re in the market to purchase or sell real estate, it’s worth learning just a little bit about them to become a more educated home buyer or seller.

For consumers, understanding the characteristics of each MLS can help you determine the website(s) you should use to search properties, and may even play a role in which REALTOR® you decide to hire. In this article, I’m going to cover some differences & similarities between the two MLS providers and discuss what consumers may want to consider when searching homes for sale online.

FMLS vs GAMLS Comparison & User Tips

 

CLICK HERE to search FMLS & GAMLS listings all on one site.

A Note...

May 2016 Atlanta Real Estate Market Update

Metro Atlanta real estate market trends summary for May of 2016.

The big story this month has to be the massive drop in closed sales during the month of April. Not only was this uncharacteristic for this time of year, but definitely unexpected given the massive jump in pending sales the past three months. There is obviously something going on that is preventing all these under contract properties from making it to the closing table.

Other than closed sales being way down, all other market trends indicate we are in one of the strongest seller’s markets we’ve seen in nearly a decade. However, I think this seller’s market is so strong that, it’s actually preventing homes from selling. In a blog post I wrote a couple weeks ago, I explain how bidding wars can actually hurt home sellers.

Market Update Video

 


Closed Transactions Down 24.6%

In a market where seemingly every property goes under contract in days, it’s hard to believe that closed sales are down nearly 25% from where they were last year. We saw signs in March that closed sales were declining (down 3.6% YOY), but the huge drop in April was unexpected. Some will...

Are Bidding Wars Hurting Home Sellers?

Dozens of buyers bidding on a home for sale.

Thomas owned a home in Sandy Springs, he bought it in the mid 90s and had taken great care of it. Thinking he’d be there for another 20 years, Thomas updated the kitchen & bathrooms, and did some landscaping. However, a couple months later, Thomas found out his job would be taking him out of state. He needed to sell his beloved home, and luckily, his friend Jane is a REALTOR®. She assures him it’s a seller’s market, and it couldn’t be a better time to list his home for sale.

After spending weeks preparing his home to sell, they finally put it on the market. Within three days they received seven solid offers, and one of them was $10,000 over list price! Thomas decided to accept the offer that was $10K over asking, and just like that, his home was under contract. However, a week into it, Thomas began to get an unsettling feeling. They hadn’t heard a word from the buyer since going under contract. No inspection, no appraisal, nothing.

Suddenly, on day nine of their ten day due diligence, the buyer’s agent sends over a termination form… without any explanation. What just happened? Unfortunately, this same scenario plays out more than you might think!

A Product Of The Market

Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, bidding wars are great news for sellers. In a market where buyers are plentiful and available homes for sale are not, the bidding war has become an all too common occurrence. In this market, sellers seem to be in total control when it comes to negotiating terms of the sale. Most sellers are using this leverage to their advantage; simply naming their price, then sitting back and watching the offers...

How Reality TV Shows Often Distort The Home Buying Process

A woman being filmed for a popular home buying reality television show.

We’ve all seen them. You know, those “reality TV" shows on HGTV, detailing the journey of a first-time home buyer or an investor flipping a property. The most ubiquitous of these, however, is House Hunters. The show originally aired in 1999 and has since expanded to include House Hunters International, House Hunters: Where Are They Now, and House Hunters Renovation.

For years, these shows have often painted a less than accurate picture of the home buying process. Among the many represented falsehoods, there are a few things viewers should keep in mind when watching these shows:

Finding An Agent Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought

In House Hunters, buyers seem to magically have a trusted REALTOR® in their back pocket – since the process of finding one is never broached. In reality, interviewing several agents for the job of helping you buy a house is a vital component of the home buying process. In fact, it is estimated that about 40% of home buyers begin their real estate search by looking at homes online, instead of securing a licensed REALTOR® to help them find a place.

Many buyers will spend months searching homes for sale on their own, before ever contacting an agent. Unfortunately, they’re often times looking at properties that aren’t even for sale, giving them a false sense of the market.

Properly Searching Homes For Sale Online

Most real estate agents set up online searches for their clients; providing up-to-date listings, fed directly from the local MLS. In fact, 89% of buyers and 93% of Millennials...

April 2016 Atlanta Real Estate Market Update

Atlanta market trends summary, including pending sales, closed sales, average price & more.

About two weeks ago, a guy called me out of the blue and asks if I can help him find a short sale or foreclosure to buy in the Atlanta area. He explains to me that he is looking to get a great deal on a home and that he is also very handy, so he can do most of the renovations himself. My initial reaction was to tell him that he missed the boat by a couple years… that ship done set sail! But I thought to myself, distressed properties are still out there, we’ll just have to jump on them quickly and make a very strong offers if we’re going to be successful.

So I started searching, and… my gut was right, there wasn’t much out there. After about twenty minutes of scouring the MLS, I decided I wanted to dive a little deeper into the numbers for my monthly market update. So, I put together the video below and wrote the following article with some additional insight on the Atlanta real estate market using FMLS data through March 2016.

 


New Listings - Distressed Properties

It’s been a few years since foreclosures and short sales dominated the market, so I was worried my market data wouldn’t...

The Truth About Online Reviews Of Real Estate Agents

People with speech bubbles containing stars for online reviews.

Does this story sound familiar? Joesph and Suzette McKinney are heading out for their weekly dinner date. Before leaving, they decide they’d like to try something different this week. Having been to nearly all of the restaurants in their immediate area, they go online to search for the best Italian restaurants within 10 miles; looking for something that isn’t too pricey.

With just a few clicks, they find a place on a popular website that has a perfect five star rating and is at the top of the list. It looks like an easy decision, so they plug the address into their navigation and head that way. Two hours later, after finishing their less than appetizing meals, the couple heads home.

On the way, they can’t help but talk about their poor experience, and they both wonder how others thought the food and service were so great. They run another search from their smartphone to check out a different review site. The feedback on the second website paints a much different picture. These reviews mirror the McKinney’s experience. They’re immediately skeptical of all the positive reviews on the first site they visited.

An online ad for a five star Italian restaurant.

Then they spot it… the “Ad” that appears in small text next to the restaurant name on the first site. This might explain the premium placement and all the great reviews! Unfortunately, this same scenario plays out with businesses in other industries as well… including real estate.

Before I Begin

Let...

How To Sell Your Home By Owner - Georgia FSBO Guide

A for sale by owner yard sign with sky background.

I know what you’re thinking. Why would a real estate agent give homeowners (potential clients) advice on how to sell a house without a REALTOR®? Isn’t it my job to convince them that selling with an agent will net them more money and a quicker sale? Shouldn’t I be warning them of all the pitfalls of going it alone, and telling horror stories of for sale by owner (FSBO) transactions gone wrong? After all, how do I make money if homeowners are doing it themselves? Great questions, so let me explain.

There Will Always Be FSBO Sellers

It’s a fact, some people just refuse to hire a real estate agent, and nothing I say will convince them otherwise. I’ve come to accept that, and I understand that it is just part of the business. Most of the time, these are folks looking to save the five to seven percent brokerage fee most agents in Georgia charge to facilitate the transaction. Others may not trust real estate agents… or maybe they’re just the do-it-yourself type.

Whatever the case, I believe they should all have access to the proper resources that will give them the best chance of successfully selling their home. If they’re unsuccessful in doing it on their own, hopefully they’ll remember me when they do decide to hire a real estate agent. Anyway, let’s get started with the for sale by owner guide!

Step 1 - Do Your Homework!

A top selling for sale by owner book written by a successful Realtor.Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home yourself, you...