Atlanta Agent (AA): How has your 2016 business been, so far?
Hilary Walker (HW): My business has been going very well. The market has been very good in terms of prices, which have been rising throughout the year. Homeowners are still sitting on the fence with regard to listing their home though, and there are a number of reasons behind that: it could be political, meaning they are waiting until the election is over; they could may think a bigger wave is coming that will push their prices up; or they could have moved within the last five to seven years, and are not yet ready to move again. Because of that, we still have a very low inventory of homes.
The buyers are out there. Interest rates are still available below 4 percent. However, we are also seeing many potential buyers having to work their way out of the damage of the downturn, either their credit is not ready, or they do not have enough savings for a down payment; so, there is quite a bit of work to get buyers to the right stage before they can get a home loan.
AA: We recently reported that across all of Metro Atlanta’s counties, home prices growing far faster than wages. Are you finding any disconnect between what your clients can afford and how fast the market is changing?
HW: That’s difficult to answer, because often when I’m working with buyers, with the help of their Lender they know what they want to spend on their monthly mortgage, so whether or not their wages have grown, they have set their budget and/or adjusted it to the marketplace.
However, as I say that, I think about a client I recently closed on. We started working together a year ago, as we progressed to an offer the Lender informed them that they could not get funded, and that they needed a year to repair. As we looked at properties this year, I had to remind them that prices had increased, so what they saw a year ago in their price range was not necessarily available now. Condition and location, then, became big factors – the clients had to reevaluate what they could purchase, and ultimately, they purchased a home in a great subdivision, that needed work. While not directly related to the wage trend you mention, this example does deal with the clients’ affordability in a fast changing market.
AA: Much of the year’s housing activity takes place in the summer months. What are you focusing on right now, as business activity moderates and you plan for 2017?
HW: There are many things to consider! Most important for me is marketing – I’ve already thought about where I am going to put my marketing dollars. I have been considering that for the last couple months, where my money will go come January and onward.
In line with that is how I will increase my online presence, because my clients are coming from the Internet more than they are from brochures and flyers. Direct mail still works for some agents and in certain situations, but I feel that I need a bigger Internet presence, therefore I am focusing on finding sellers within that space.