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Viewpoints: Shirley Horah, Branch Manager, Coldwell Banker, Cumming

by Atlanta Agent

shirley-horah-coldwell-banker-cumming

Shirley Horah is a branch manager for Coldwell Banker in Cumming.

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 Shirley Horah, the branch manager for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Cumming. In addition to her accomplishments as a broker, Shirley is also a multimillion-dollar producer, and is a Certified Negotiation Specialist, a Relocation Specialist and an eAssociate Certified Specialist.

Atlanta Agent (AA): Home sales in the 11-county Atlanta area stumbled a bit lately; how have sales been in your respective markets, though?

Shirley Horah (SH): A lot of that is seasonality, even though you do need to level out a little bit in my opinion, because with inventory being so low and time on market being relatively low, that’s not a normal market; so, there will be some times when things slow down. The market is correcting itself a little bit at a time.

Now, I do think the hairpin change in the market, from 2012 through 2013, happened a bit too quickly. In September and October of 2012, I was actually helping my daughter purchase a home, and it became very apparent to me that we were having a quick change. There was a lot of pent-up buyer demand out there, especially from first-time homebuyers, and they all seemed to flood the market simultaneously, along with all those investors who entered the market. Those investors scooped up many properties that our first-time buyers would have purchased, so we were seeing quite a bit of competition.

HUD, though, does have some good regulations in place to protect those first-time homebuyers, and they don’t allow investors to purchase homes straight off the open market for a period of time.

AA: What’s the status of new construction in your markets? Is it still low, or are more new homes reaching the market?

SH: When building stopped, everything fell apart in 2008, but everything that had fallen apart has come back strong here. This is where it ended – here in our neck of the woods is where everything sat dormant, with all the utilities lined up; we just needed builders who could afford to build. A lot of those builders were weeded out of the marketplace, but now we have the big guys coming back to the market, and we even had smaller investor types buying up a few lots here and there.

Land has become a premium, though, especially now that builders are able to market their property and sell it. They’re coming back strong, but it’s going to be interesting to see what happens. In the spring of 2013, we actually had lotteries taking place for the lots, because people wanted new homes so badly; we’re not seeing that now, though, and builders are once again offering invectives for consumers and agents alike. So again, things are not as hot as they were before, and it’ll be interesting seeing how things develop.

AA: Finally, what advice to you give agents who are looking to market their properties on the Internet?

SH: They have no choice! The more exposure you can get, the better your odds are going to be. We still have a few print ads that we do, but we know what the reality is – at least 90 percent of buyers are online, so if you’re not advertising yourself well online, and you don’t have portals that direct consumers to those listings, then you’re losing out in your marketplace, because your sales depend on that.

On a more personal basis, I make sure my agents are gathering good statistics. We’ve got Zillow and Trulia now, which offer quite a bit of data gathering. Buying up the ZIP codes on those sites, though, can be really expensive. The theory is, if I get one good lead every month that becomes a sale, and I’m paying for 30097, that’s an $800 deal for an agent – and then they’re in competition with agents who also show up on listings in that ZIP. The key for agents is to be branded; be as branded as much as you can.

When it comes to spending that money, you have to look at yourself as one individual agent, and you have to weigh your options – what are you going to do with those leads? Do you have the resources to put into those leads? There’s a whole lot of ways to make money in this marketplace that won’t cost any money, but they will require quite a bit of work. I would never deter agents from using those external online opportunities, but on an individual level, they need to weigh out whether or not they will take advantage of it enough to justify the cost.

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