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 Karen Gaccetta, an associate broker with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage Services in Marietta. Specializing in resale property, new home on-site sales, luxury property, short sale/REO and investment properties, Karen further distinguishes herself with detailed marketing plans, which utilize multiple websites and digital publishing programs.
Atlanta Agent (AA): We recently reported on a study that a surprising number of homeowners suffer from buyer’s remorse; how can agents make sure that never happens to their clients?
Karen Gaccetta (KG): The most important thing that an agent can do today is make sure that they are doing their homework upfront. I have a couple of steps that I go through when I’m working with a buyer. The first thing that I do is “qualify” the buyer, and by that I mean knowing upfront what their motivation is, and what their big “why” is for purchasing a home. Once that’s established, I figure out their “wants” and “needs” list, which is what really makes them sparkle when they find a house. What are they actually looking for?
And of course, when you find out those things, you want to make sure that they’re finally qualified to buy, because what I often find is, consumers hear that it’s a great time to buy, but many of them are newbies to the whole process, and they’ve never really gotten qualified financially. So they think they can afford “X” amount, but I tell them, they can’t simply rely on what the mortgage professional tells them they can afford. They need to know what they can afford on a monthly basis; that’s totally different from the grand scheme that people are often presented with. Many people, on paper, can qualify for a larger amount than what they can afford on a monthly basis.
AA: What are some of the biggest challenges that your clients face in today’s housing market?
KG: In my estimation, there are two big things. Lack of inventory is by far the biggest obstacle to overcome; the second is the buyers still think they’re in the driver’s seat, that the steals of the day are still out there and that they can get a $400,000 house for $150,000.
Now, I truly do like the market that we’re in right now. It’s challenging, because you are dealing with unrealistic expectations from both buyers and sellers, but it is a much more balanced market, which I love; I really don’t like it when it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. When it’s a balanced market, it really works out into a win-win situation. If you can keep all the people involved in the negotiation calm, everybody comes out a winner; you may not get everything that you wanted, but they won’t either, and it’ll be what’s best for everybody.
AA: Finally, what are your main strategies when showing homes?
KG: Before I ever show a property, I need to know what the client wants. What I usually offer all my buyers is, if it’s their first time working with me, I go out once without them having to sign the buyer-broker agreement. They write out their wants and needs, and then out of that list, they tell me what their deal breakers are. With that information, I start searching the MLS and sending them properties, and I have them call me with the ones they want to see – and then, we go out once before signing the buyer-broker agreement. I do that to see if I can work with them, and to see if they’re going to like working with me. Not everyone’s personalities mesh together, so I give them that one-out.
After that one time, by seeing the houses that the clients picked out, I know whether or not that’s what they really want. I pay attention to their body language, how they react when they walk in the door. Basically, I shut up and watch, and learn a lot about them; you can learn so much about people by not saying a word. For instance, if the house has everything everything they wanted, and everything they needed, yet they’re not wowed by it, it’s clear that what they think they want and what they really want are two different things. And I’ll usually bring that up to them; I’ll ask them why they did not get excited about the house, and how I misread their wants and needs.