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 Michelle Pettway, a Realtor with The Beneficial Team of Keller Williams Realty, Atlanta Partners in Snellville. Licensed since 2001, Michelle is a member of the DeKalb Association of Realtors and the secretary for the DeKalb Chapter of WCR; she is the owner/director/instructor of her own real estate school, Real Estate Systems Training Institute (which specializes in pre-license/post-license courses), and she specializes in short sales, REO, traditional sales and luxury homes in Gwinnett and DeKalb County.
Atlanta Agent (AA): We report on lending quite often; do you think lending standards are still too tight, or have they eased up at all?
Michelle Pettway (MP): I do not think that lending standards are too tight, and I do not expect them to ease up. With all of the fallout that we’ve had from 2008, I think the standards are just where they need to be.
Buying a home is probably the largest investment in a consumer’s life, and it should not be taken lightly. If you’re asking someone to loan you hundreds of thousands of dollars, then the process should be scrutinized to make sure you can pay that money back. And let’s face it, nobody wants to go to foreclosure.
AA: Many young consumers (aka first-time buyers) are still interested in owning a home; what key things do you keep in mind, when working with first-time buyers?
MP: I own a real estate school where I teach a pre-license class, and when I’m talking to my students, I always tell them that when working with young consumers or first-time buyers, it’s important that the consumer understand all the costs associated with the purchase of the home.
I don’t think young people know everything that goes into a home’s cost, and I was just telling a class the other day how much I dislike advertisements that describe “no money down” offers to buy a home. For someone who does not understand the process, they will see that advertisement and not understand that it does not mean no money at all. They may have a downpayment-assistance program, but there are still all the costs associated with buying and maintaining the home; so, it’s key for agents to educate their clients on what they realistically need to purchase a home, from earnest money, to inspections, to appraisals, to all the unexpected costs that come from buying an existing home.
AA: Finally, what will you be focusing on in the marketplace, as 2014 comes to a close?
MP: For me, it’s definitely going to be listings. Your New Year is predicted by how you end your old year, so my focus will be on getting as many homes on the market as I can; that way, the inventory is out there on the first of the year when, after the holidays, consumers are ready to purchase homes.
In the end, your listing volume determines where your business goes, so you should focus your efforts in marketing and advertising on driving more listings to your portfolio. When I first started in real estate in 2001, I only worked with buyers, because through word of mouth I assisted quite a few friends who were ready to buy. But then, with Keller Williams Realty, they helped me focus on not only getting in business, but staying in business as well, and the key to that was encouraging us to strive for listings. So I learned early on about the leverage and time management that listing volume gives you. As my broker would say, “You can work with 30 listings at one time, but it would be nearly impossible to work with 30 buyers at one time.”