Every week, we ask an Atlanta real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Atlanta real estate.
This week, we talked with Lane Tharpe, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker in Dunwoody. A 25-year veteran of the real estate industry, Lane is a senior real estate specialist, and has her CSA and CAPS designations. A native Atlantan, Lane is also a professional interior designer and member of the American Society of Interior Designers.
Atlanta Agent (AA): One recent story on our site that has garnered quite a bit of attention focused on home seller preferences, and what they want from their real estate agents. Have you been noticing any interesting trends on that front?
Lane Tharpe (LT): One thing that’s really come along in the past couple years is staging. Sellers are appreciating the value of staging more and more, and I’m noticing that more sellers are bringing it up without having to be prompted to consider some sort of staging for their house – because it does make a difference, particularly in a competitive market like today, with low inventory. So every bit of edge that you can get is important.
That’s one of the real trends that sellers are picking up on. They’re hearing more about staging, and it’s being featured more in the Atlanta newspapers and articles; they run many pictures, so you can see what a staged home looks like. Also, sellers go online to realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia, and all those listings have multiple pictures – so a home that has been staged will certainly be more appealing than an empty house.
AA: Going forward in 2014, what trends are you paying the closest attention to with Atlanta’s broader housing market.
LT: What we’re facing right now is a shortage of inventory, but we’re expecting that when spring comes, there is going to be more inventory, because people who have been waiting to put their house on the market will be doing that. And, we also have more new homebuilding – that was just dead in the water for several years, but now, the local builders are starting to build again. One of the exceptions to that has been the 55+ plus market; those builders have weathered the storm and have done well.
For sellers who have their homes listed now, if they don’t sell in a couple of weeks, there’s something wrong, because homes in good areas, that are in good shape and well-priced, seem to sell right away. Also, we’re not seeing so many multiple offers that drive the price up. People are making offers at or below the asking price. Last spring, we were seeing multiple offers for over the list price, but that seems to have calmed down.
AA: We recently reported, using data that CoreLogic provided us, that a third of Atlanta’s home sales are completed with all-cash financing; is that consistent with what you’re seeing in your local market?
LT: Most of my deals have some sort of financing, but the 50+ buyer typically sells a house that’s paid off, so they have cash. Also, many of those all-cash deals are from companies that have been coming in and buying foreclosures. We’ve had two or three big companies that have come in and bought many properties.
But like I said, the sellers who have been sitting on a house and waiting to sell it, who have been waiting for prices to start rising – now they can sell their house for a reasonable price, and they have the cash. They’ve probably been looking around, and when the time comes, they’re ready to go and move on. There are still investors, but the foreclosure rate has gone way down from last year.