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 Russell Barber, a real estate consultant with Barber Realty Consultants in Alpharetta and an associate broker with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty. A 13-year veteran of the industry, Russell has worked in all stages of the buying and selling process, including agent, broker and even mortgage loan originator. Also, he is the president of the Pope Junior Football program, and actively participates in Pope football and lacrosse with his sons. He volunteers for Lighthouse Family Retreat helping families afflicted with childhood cancer.
Atlanta Agent (AA): One of our recent stories looked at how accessible Atlanta’s market remains for the middle class; we know you work with a more luxury clientele, but would you say that Atlanta offers greater housing opportunities even for those clients?
Russell Barber (RB): The great thing about Atlanta is, we’ve got lots of possibilities for our clients. So for a family that is moving to Atlanta, or for a family who is looking to move-up to their next home, we are finding that they are able to do that. There was a period of time, during the 2010/2011 period, when there was a shortage in that price range, but we’re now starting to see the re-sells hit the market in that price range, and that’s been great for us.
Also, like the national housing market, those upper-tier consumers are really driving Atlanta’s market. When you look at it, you have to think back to 2008, when the market crashed. Back then, the upper-priced tier was the last to go down with the ship, but it was also the first to recover, because they didn’t fall as far. And right now, we’re not only driving the market, but setting month-to-month records.
AA: Our most recent cover story looked at marketing, and how agents can go about developing their own unique brand; what kinds of things have you focused on, when marketing your business?
RB: The conventional wisdom is, it doesn’t really matter what the name is on the door where you work, but the great thing about Atlanta Fine Homes is, they stand by you. They want you to be your own individual person and company. And so with my marketing, the focus is, I want to be a resource for someone. When I’m thinking of myself as “Russell Barber, the Realtor,” I want to make sure I’m the resource in the area, which is East Cobb. I’m the guy who everyone can turn to for their answers.
So when it comes to the marketing, you want to keep your name out there, and whether through social media or word of mouth, everyone knows who you are and what you’ve done.
AA: Finally, can you tell us what your process is when making an offer on a home for buyer clients?
RB: When I sit down with a client and discuss our offer, we do an assessment to see if the offer meets their needs – not their wants, but their needs. Then, as we prepare the offer, we’re going to look at what area the home is in; what condition it’s in; and certainly, what the comparables are, and whether or not our offer makes sense. It’s sitting with them, walking them through the process and then finishing the contract and sending the offer.
Then, I write a cover letter to the listing agent, and let them know a little bit about my client and my offer without getting into too much detail. Chances are, that will be forwarded to the seller, and that’ll automatically set us off on the right foot and let them know that we’re in this together. As the competition has heated up, and as inventory is still low and multiple-offer situations common, cover letters are a great personal touch that may give us a little bit of an edge, and the seller more comfort with my client.