Every week, we ask an Atlanta real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Atlanta real estate.
This week, we talked Eydie Koonin, a top-producing Realtor who achieved the Atlanta Board of Realtors Multi-Million Dollar Sales Club status in her first full year in real estate in 2008. Focusing on the Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and East Cobb markets, Eydie assists anyone from first-time homebuyers, to corporate executives, to athletes, to entertainers, to musicians.
Atlanta Agent (AA): What features have been most popular with luxury homebuyers, in recent months?
Eydie Koonin (EK): A top feature continues to be sleek kitchens that open to a family room or a keeping room, because that’s still the essential meeting point in all homes. Now, I do not pay particular attention to trends in kitchens, because everything is cyclical – white kitchens are in, then they’re out, then they’re back in; granite is out, granite is in; marble is in, marble is out. To me, it all comes down to personal preference.
That said, if I’m selling a home that lacks modern, in-demand features, I’m very upfront and honest with my clients – if their home does not have features that, in 2014, are trending in new construction properties, then you cannot price your home in a retail fashion, and instead have to price it at less money, because somebody coming in will have to purchase the home and spend the necessary funds to bring the property up to date.
I cannot tell you how many luxury listings I’ve had where, before we listed the home, we replaced Corian countertops with granite. My clients may have told me how much they loved Corian, but I had to be honest and explain to them that though Corian is a beautiful look, the buyer today has an expectation – and not just in luxury properties – for granite countertops. So if I’m trying to sell my client’s home for the highest price in the quickest amount of time, we need to do whatever we can to get it ready for retail.
AA: We hear varying accounts on appraisals; are you still having problems with appraisals, or are those days long gone?
EK: I still encounter issues, and that’s why I work very hard to prepare the data. I meet the appraiser at the property to provide any essential comparable information and/or upgrades to the property that may not be obvious to the appraiser. I don’t want to tell the appraiser how to do their job; that’s not my job, I’m not an appraiser. But it is my job to, while selling the home, make their job a little bit easier.
For instance, in high-end condo buildings, sometimes there are storage units, garages or deeded parking spaces that are at a premium, because the buildings do not have enough of them for everybody. Residents can sell those features to other residents, and therefore, there’s a monetary value that needs to be added to that property. An appraiser would not know that. I recently had a sale where there was more than $350,000 added to the property, and it all came from things outside the residence’s square footage. The most important part of the appraisal process is that the agent meet the appraiser at the property. I’ve always done that.
AA: Finally, what advice would you give buyer agents who are looking to make their mark in luxury real estate?
EK: When agents are working with buyers in luxury real estate, they need to have a true understanding of who that buyer is, because in the high-end market, there are fraudulent buyers – I’ve dealt with two in the last two months who attempted to purchase my listings.
When you show high-end listings, you should require proof of funds, and with one of those buyers, I could tell right away that the funds were fraudulent. The funds were from a European bank in euros, yet the gentlemen was supposedly from Georgia. It made no sense. So I asked if I could speak with the buyer, and when I did, I asked him what he did professionally. He said he was a CEO, but when I asked him what his company was, he replied he was a “business consultant,” and wouldn’t tell me the name of his company. So I did some Internet research, and quickly found that he had been arrested for money laundering. You really have to do you homework and understand who your buyer is – so many agents only see the commission at the end.