Atlanta Agent (AA): Inventory is low across Metro Atlanta. In what specific markets, though, are you noticing a particular shortage?
Karen Smyth (KS): Inventory shortages have been crippling Atlanta for some time, more specifically in areas like Brookhaven, which have seen an influx in high density housing (apartments and condos) and less availability of single-family home options.
Buildable lots are being sold at exaggerated costs because “ground” is hard to find. That has been a five-year process for Brookhaven, and inventory, both residential as well as commercial, has been especially difficult to acquire because incorporation of the City of Brookhaven.
AA: How is the inventory shortage impacting your business?
KS: As inventory options decline, it becomes increasingly difficult for agents to service their clients properly with properties to view. As a buyer’s agent, we comb through the MLS, previewing properties to provide the best service to clients. When inventory is low, we look to other, more grassroots strategies to assist our clients.
For instance, we drive through specific, identified neighborhoods and look for “For Sale by Owner” listings. These are sometimes listed online as well. We utilize a network of neighborhood-specific agents with whom we have built cooperative relationships. Those agents will disclose “pocket” or coming-soon listings that we might be able to present to our clients before they come on market and have fierce competition.
We will certainly offer our own clients access to our own listings first, as well. Finally, we will send hand-written letters to specific areas our clients have targeted as ideal for their buying purchases.
AA: Do you see the inventory situation improving at all this year? Why or why not?
KS: The inventory situation will likely not improve for the remainder of 2016, but will most likely remain the same. Towards the end of the year, there is an expected cyclical trend for lower inventory going into winter months. It will be especially telling after the election results in late November and December, as the political climate will serve to impact the economy in a potential hike of interest rates.
AA: Finally, the news cycle frequently features reports that the Fed is mulling over further interest rate hikes. How do those whispers impact your clients?
KS: Whispers of such interest rate hikes will impact buyers to move quickly between now and the remainder of 2016. Any hike, at this time, will not be an enormous detriment to purchasing, as we are still going to remain in historically low numbers. But more explanation and patience will be required on the part of the agent to the client, who will need assistance in understanding the larger picture.
Karen Smyth is a real estate consultant with Top Atlanta Real Estate with Keller Williams Peachtree Road. She has been a top producer since 2006, and in 2011, she was the office’s top individual agent. A specialist inside the perimeter of Atlanta, Karen achieved Lifetime Million Dollar Club status in 2010, and she has been on the Keller Williams Agent Leadership council since 2008.