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 Katie Belew, the owner of Belew Realty Group of Harry Norman, Realtors in the Atlanta Perimeter. A former vice president of SunTrust Bank, Katie has been the No. 1 agent in the Atlanta Perimeter since 2006, and in addition to being a senior marketing consultant, is an Accredited Buyers Representative and specialist in Relocation, Luxury and Luxury Home Marketing.
Atlanta Agent (AA): In 2013, there was a definite seller’s market in housing, but the market has eased a bit since then; do you still find that consumers are in a seller-market mindset, though?
Katie Belew (KB): Some sellers are still operating under that assumption, and it’s a constant effort to educate them on the changing statistics, because the market really has changed just from the beginning of this year. I had a situation with a client where there was no inventory in his neighborhood, but we were waiting to list his home until his new construction was built; now, though, there are three competing homes for sale in his neighborhood, and they’re all not selling, so I’m finding the market is shifting fairly quickly.
There are a few pocket markets that are still strong seller markets if the home checks all the boxes – if it has everything the buyer wants and is located in a desirable school district and location – and those are still going fairly quickly with multiple offers; I’m finding that is the exception, though, rather than the rule. Sellers need to be educated on their micro-market, as do buyers, though I am finding that buyers are not as ready to jump on anything else, pay full price and give up all their negotiating power on the front end; they’re being more reticent before doing that.
There’s really been a shift. You have to look at the particular market you’re working in, and have a knowledge of how that home stacks up with everything else.
AA: Inventory remains low in Atlanta; is that true in your local market, and if so, what kinds of challenges does that present?
KB: Again, if you’re in a pocket where inventory is still low, sellers are being a bit too ambitious in terms of a list price, so not overreaching is a challenge; when you overreach, it hurts the house and the marketing cycle. From a buyer perspective, it’s them trusting that they’re not going to be the pioneer in pricing in that area, and then being hanged out to dry.
Buyers have to be confident in their decision, and know that this is the best possible choice in this window of time for them; buyers can be a bit nervous at this point, so our job is have knowledge of that inventory and provide them with the information they need to be comfortable with the property and its price. The same is true from the seller’s perspective.
AA: Finally, what are your strategies for lead generation?
KB: I am very much a sphere-based agent. For me, that’s where my strongest leads come from – building on the business I’ve established and staying in contact with my strong clients, and networking with them and building on my existing reputation. That can vary from agent to agent, based on the type of business they want. I want a relationship-based business; that’s what I enjoy about the business, so that will be my focus. Agents that want a higher volume of listings – say 30, 40 or 50 listings – they’ll have a completely different approach than mine, but I like a warm lead over a cold lead any day, and that’s what’s led to my success and my track record, working with relationships in my sphere.
In keeping in touch with my sphere, I send out regular mailings to keep my name present, but it’s really the ongoing personal contact through a phone call or dinners/meetings for coffee that are key. You find that you have certain clients who are lead generators for you; you may have 10 or 12 clients who really pass your name along on a regular basis, and it’s important to take care of those clients in a very personal way through having dinner with them, making phone calls and personal contact.