Viewpoints: Cheri Riley, Founding Partner, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty

by Peter Thomas Ricci


Cheri Riley is a founding partner with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty.

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 Cheri Riley, a founding partner with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty and the broker associate of The Cheri Riley Group. With more than 20 years of experience in residential real estate, Cheri has either personally sold or directly supervised more than $2 billion, and has consistently been a top-producing agent for Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty since its inception in 2007.

Atlanta Agent (AA): We recently reported on how both asking prices and asking rents continue to increase in the Atlanta area; are you seeing prices rise in your specific markets?

Cheri Riley (CR): Everybody is excited about the fact that there appears to be an uptick in activity, and they’re hearing all these stories about multiple offers, so they’re tempted to raise their prices. We’ve also seen some people laying back before deciding to list their home, waiting to see if things were going to pick up like they did in 2013; last year, we weren’t anticipating things to pick up like they did.

Of course, beginning of 2013, the wheels got underneath the market, and it really got some traction, and people started to see a lot more activity – and prices, then, reflected that activity. Now in 2014, though, people are looking at last year’s activity and think we’re going to see even more this year, so they want to wait and see where the market heads; as a result, I have trouble getting people to make a commitment on pricing, or even putting their homes on the market. It’s been very interesting, dealing with that.

AA: Even with those price increases, though, Atlanta’s market remains quite undervalued  what markets would you say hold the most potential for prospective homebuyers?

CR: You have to look at what the client’s appetite for risk is, and what they’re ultimate goal is. For instance, is liquidity important to them? Is it a corporate relocation, and they’ll only be there for three years? In that case, you’ll want to play it really safe and go for those properties that have all the checks in the right boxes. You may pay more for them, but you’ll be in safer territory.

Now, if you’re more of a risk taker, in terms of emerging areas where you could see higher appreciation, that still depends. Are you looking at a luxury property? Or a lower-end, more affordable property? If I were going to recommend that someone keep an eye on something, I’d say “high performance” homes, which is a new way of saying “green.” Just as you see what’s happening with cars and hybrid cars, where people are concerned with energy prices and sustainability, I see that as something that’s moving a little bit more into the mainstream. You may see people avoiding the word “green,” because we’ve heard it so often, but I’d definitely noticed more builders starting to tout “high performance” homes, and placing more emphasis on that.

AA: We’ll end with a business-related question – what kinds of things do you like to focus on when first meeting with clients?

CR: I learned this early on in my career – we may feel like we have the right answer, or that we know the exact property for someone, but it’s very important to listen more than you talk. A good agent will listen aggressively, tease out some real priorities that may or may not be the first things a client says is important to them and then, once you have listened to them, honor their requests; show them the things that they wanted you to show them, and be respectful of their requests. If you really know what you’re doing, though, you will throw in a few surprises that were in between the words of the client.

And of course, you’ll want to make sure that they’ve done their homework, that they’re pre-qualified and that they know what they can afford.

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