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 Melissa Agosto, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty First Atlanta, the No. 1 real estate office in Georgia. A native of Miami, Melissa has been a Realtor in Atlanta for five years, and works as a buyers specialist for the Archer-Davie Team. A military mom, Melissa is also fluent in Spanish, and is a proud member of NAHREP.
Atlanta Agent (AA): Home flipping was a pretty big deal during both the housing boom years and the downturn, given all the distressed properties that were on the market; do you see any flipping in your markets, or is it pretty much gone?
Melissa Agosto (MA): It’s not completely gone, but it’s also not prevalent. What I’m seeing instead is a different kind of flipper. We’re in a market right now where inventory is low, and it’s extremely low in certain areas. Because of that, the flipper that we’re seeing now is a higher-end flipper – so not someone who is buying the $10,000 house and turning it into a $60,000 house, but rather, a $250,000 to $400,000 flipper who is in the mid-range market, and is a professional builder, not someone off the street.
We also have tear-downs, which are very popular right now and are the other side of the flipper network. They’re either taking that 1960s/1970s brick ranch with a basement and completely gutting it, renovating it and bringing it up to spec, or you have the investor/builder who completely tears down the house and builds something gorgeous in its place – they maybe got it for $250,000, and then sell it from $350,000 to $450,000, depending on the market. To even call them “flippers,” really, is a term from the past.
AA: How have appraisals been for your listings? Are they improving, or still a hassle?
MA: In this improving market, appraisals can lag on at times and be a little stressful, but they’re not too big of an issue in my business. Instead, there’s a problem with the supply of appraisers. Because the market is booming for sellers right now, and because inventory is so low and driving the prices and creating multiple offers, you’ll sometimes find an appraiser who is not so savvy with the community where they are actually doing the appraisal.
The market that we just came out of purged many appraisers from the industry, so we’re dealing with less appraisers. At the same time, though, this market is so active when it comes to selling, and at times, these appraisers have to appraise a home without knowledge of the community, and inaccurate comps result. So sometimes the data can be inaccurate, especially if not many homes have sold in that area recently.
One thing I do is, when I know there is going to be an appraiser, I meet with them at the property and develop a rapport with them, especially if it’s someone I’m not familiar with. I then provide them with a hard copy of the contract with the purchase price highlighted, and a CMA; the end result will be that much seamless, and will work that much better for both the buyer and the seller.
AA: And finally, how do you handle a tough negotiation?
MA: At times, you need to just step away, clear your mind and take control of your emotions. For me, sometimes it’s something as simple as praying, reading scripture or doing breathing exercises. Also, I like to focus on something that makes me happy, such as a vision board, which helps me focus on my “Why” – why am I doing this? Whether it’s retirement, college funds, family, all of that is on my vision board.
So stepping away and recalibrating is crucial. I’m a buyer’s specialist on my team, and I am dealing with a lot of emotions, because inventory is small and dreams are big. Budgets can be small, but visions are big. So I deal with many emotions, and if my focus can be in the right place, I can help my clients stay focused, also.
I need to remember that my responsibility is ultimately to my client, and keep their best interest at hand. Also, you must remember that the client will purchase their home and time will go by, but my relationship with my co-op is vital – that may be the same agent that I’m co-oping with a day later; if my emotions are in check, though, and I’m focused on my client’s best interest, it makes it a win-win situation.