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 Tonya Marlatt, an associate broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Inman Park/Old Fourth Ward markets. Tonya has called Atlanta home since 1993, and as a trained real estate professional, her expertise includes the marketing and sales of homes and assisting buyers with finding their perfect home.
Atlanta Agent (AA): Surveys suggest that Americans are more confident about both housing and the general economy; are you sensing a greater confidence in your clients?
Tonya Marlatt (TM): We’re definitely sensing confidence returning in a couple of ways: first, people are investing much more cash in their properties than before; we’ve seen so many more cash purchases, which tells me that consumers are investing in something they trust.
Second, people who put their search on the back-burner last year are really coming out of the woodwork this year. There were a fair number of people who dropped off near the end of last year, but in the last six months, they’ve really come back. They felt, back in 2014, that they were being pushed into the market by low inventory, and that they would either make decisions too quickly or spend more than they initially meant to; now, though, they’ve gotten their head around the fact that the market will only go up from here, so they’ve broadened their geographic search and increased their purchase price.
AA: That said, are there any big obstacles that some of your clients still encounter, when it comes to buying a home?
TM: Our biggest thing, honestly, is inventory, and getting clients’ head around the fact that as buyers, they are not in control of the process. It’s very much a seller’s market where I work, and buyers have to understand both the sense of urgency (when it comes to moving on good listings) and that there is not much negotiation room; we’re selling very close to listing price.
I had a client who dropped off in late 2014 but is now back looking at homes, and he sent me a couple properties that he “had to” look at that afternoon – the problem was, both properties had already gone under contract the day before.
AA: Finally, what kinds of things do you keep in mind when networking?
TM: I actually hired a life coach several months ago, and one of the things we’re working on is how to define who the “perfect” client and colleague are, and what they look like. Then, the goal is to project those things out.
So one of the things I’m very cautious about is – because we know there are many real estate agents out there – is being very specific about the geographic area where I work, and the types of clients I want to work with. There are many agents who, when they are networking, they’re looking for any slice of business they can get. For me, whether it’s through an elevator speech or basic conversation, it’s reinforcing the things I’m an expert at doing, which are intown markets and first-time buyers. So I think it’s about identifying the kinds of clients you want and then projecting it to the people you’re networking.
And because of that, I’ve actually referred out more business recently than I ever have in 12 years, because if it’s a client who wants to look outside of my geographic area, I will refer them to someone else.