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 John H. Mason, a Realtor and senior marketing consultant with Harry Norman, Realtors in Atlanta. Part of the Atlanta Board of Realtors Multi-Million Dollar Club, John worked at three Fortune 500 companies – Levi Strauss & Company; The Stride Rite Corporation; and The May Company – before working in real estate full-time. Now, as a Realtor with 35 years of experience, John represents buyers, sellers and investors, and works in such communities as Alpharetta, Buckhead, Dunwoody and Roswell.
Atlanta Agent (AA): Foreclosures in Atlanta have declined drastically the last couple years; are you still see any foreclosures in your markets, or are they pretty much gone?
John H. Mason (JHM): On the north side of Atlanta and primarily the GA400 corridor that I serve, we didn’t have an overwhelming amount of foreclosures to begin with. They were in spots, but not entire subdivisions as we saw in other parts of the Atlanta metro-area. Some subdivisions were definitely impacted more than others and very few neighborhoods were left unscathed, but again, the north side did not experience the level of foreclosures that other parts of the Atlanta region did.
It was a problem, but not to the crippling extent that other areas of the city experienced. We worked through the foreclosures quickly on the north side because we have strong school choices, an abundance of housing options and the strongest employment centers in the Southeast U.S. – Midtown, Buckhead, The Perimeter Center, The Galleria and the Johns Creek Technology area.
AA: What’s your take on asking prices? Do you think they’re rising too quickly in Atlanta, or does that reflect market demand?
JHM: A lot of homeowners on the north side assumed that our market had hit bottom, and for the most part, that is correct. However, not every neighborhood or ZIP code experienced the 19 percent increase in home prices reported last year.
Also, a lot of homeowners reading that they may now be “above water,” according to media reports, decided to tack on another 12 to 15 percent to the 19 percent, and suddenly found their homes overpriced. In the grand scheme of things, very few homes sold at or above list price this spring. That did occur in some very desirable neighborhoods, and for homes that were in near-perfect condition. I’ve seen see a lot of price reductions in the MLS, especially in the past six to eight weeks.
AA: Finally, do you use any of the main syndication sites (Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com) for your business? If so, what are their benefits/disadvantages?
JHM: I have an account and a profile posted with each of them, along with up-and-coming sites not quite as popular with potential buyers. I do use Trulia’s “Featured Listing” option because so many agents on the north side utilize it, being a pay-for-exposure feature. If I did not pay for that option, I fear my client’s listings would more than likely be too far down the line to be seen by potential buyers. I see this expense as an alternative to local newspaper advertising.
On the other hand, Zillow’s sale of agent exposure to my listings on the site is a very disruptive practice, and I believe it sends the wrong message to potential buyers. Loyalty is difficult enough to attain in this market. I dislike the listing of multiple agents who may not have a shred of information on your listing, but pop-up on the site because they paid for the space.
I had a listing this spring in Roswell that was shown 62 times, primarily from agents with a real estate firm that encourages use of the Zillow “pay-for-exposure” approach to other firm’s listings. I did not receive an offer or hint of an offer from those showings. When I reached out for feedback from each of those 62 Agents, I found that most didn’t know a thing about the potential buyer they showed my listing to; didn’t know the areas they really wanted to explore, and didn’t know the correct price-range that the buyer should have been previewing. I strongly believe this experience is a direct result of agents in the “pay-for-exposure” Zillow practice simply grabbing every lead that comes from the site without properly qualifying them first.