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 Andrew Malone, a sales associate with RE/MAX Around Atlanta. One of Georgia’s top agents, Andrew is a President’s Club honoree and was the No. 1 agent in his office in 2007 and 2008. Additionally, he was recognized in Jezebel Magazine’s Who’s Who in Atlanta 2010, and received the ‘Charitable Services’ award in our very first ever Agents’ Choice Awards.
Atlanta Agent (AA): We recently reported that real estate brokerages across the nation are expecting business to improve. Are you similarly optimistic about your business?
Andrew Malone (AM): For the most part, I am optimistic about the market. The last couple years, my fourth quarter business has actually been larger than the first two quarters. One of the misconceptions of the Atlanta market is that it is seasonal. True, we do have a predominate number of sales between March and August, and that is related directly to the school system. Yet, for the third and fourth quarter, there are still buyers, albeit a different kind. I work with many relocation clients around that timeframe, and the inventory normally dwindles a little bit, so the buyers out there are ready to act quickly. So, my business ends up continuing until Christmas.
My business, from the get go, has been based on relationship building, so it’s about treating people the way I want to be treated. Eighty percent of my business comes from past client referrals. It’s one of those self-perpetuating things where the longer you are in business, the more people you contact, the more people you sell homes to. So rather than target specific sections of the market – say, cold calling for sale by owners, or open houses – I always feed the pipeline through the growing needs and families of my past clients, so I do not have any lulls.
AA: Are there any challenges you’re facing in Atlanta’s housing market?
AM: The biggest challenge over the last couple years has been the complete shift from an over-supplied, distressed market to an under-supplied, tight market, and we now have buyers in the market at a 10:1 ratio. There is just not enough inventory, and we agents have to be creative; we cannot wait for the signs to appear in front of homes.
So for instance, it comes down to pocket listings, and having relationships with agents who will tell you the moment their listings hit the market. I even do things like send hand-written notes to members of a specific community, where I inform them that I have a client who is interested in the neighborhood; you’d be amazed at the number of calls I get from that strategy.
When you have a buyer inventory that is large, and you know there is a shortage of homes out there, you have to get creative. Being complacent and passive with it will not help your buyers.
AA: Finally, what is your view on real estate syndication sites, like Zillow and Trulia? Do you use them for your business?
AM: Zillow and Trulia have done an amazing job of taking over the marketplace as the Internet source for buyers looking for inventory, and their interface is fantastic. For me running my business, however, I do not do any additional advertising on the sites for premium placing. When my listings go live, they automatically appear on the sites, so I still get exposure; I’m just not using them as lead-generating sources.
The one thing I do not like about them is they are just not up to date with any regularity, because they are not synced with the MLS. So many buyers will go to the sites and find properties, but with how quickly inventory is moving, many of the homes end up not being available.