Selling a home presents a range of challenges, especially for a first-timer. There is a lot of paperwork you’ll have to go through and a wealth of factors to take into consideration, from the state of the local market to the state of the property itself.
That said, it’s an exciting time to be a seller in the Atlanta, Georgia real estate market. This guide will help you understand the housing market as it is today; furthermore, it will help you navigate the entire home selling journey (and find the best buyer in the process.)
This seller’s guide is divided into the following parts:
What should you expect in Atlanta’s housing market?
The Atlanta, Georgia real estate market has experienced tremendous growth over the recent years after overcoming a steep decline in 2012. As a result, you have one of the hottest housing markets in the country today with no signs of it slowing down.
In fact, Forbes named the Metro Atlanta area as one of the 20 housing markets to invest in 2018. According to the report, the markets included in the list showed the most sustainable growth over the long term. While the forecasted growth for home prices in Atlanta within a three-year period is at 24 percent, steady job growth allows buyers to keep up with the increases.
Metro Atlanta’s relative affordability in terms of home prices and cost of living continuously attract many buyers to the area. With these conditions, you might be wondering whether it’s a good time to sell your home. The reality is there is no better time to sell.
Atlanta as a seller’s market
One factor that plays to your advantage is Atlanta being a seller’s market.
A seller’s market is generally defined as a market “where there are more home buyers than sellers,” according to Realtor. In case of the Atlanta, Georgia real estate market, there are more buyers than there are homes for sale in Decatur, GA.
Due to the high demand and the relatively low housing supply, properties have the tendency tosell fast. Additionally, the competition also causes for some homes to sell for morethan asking price.
What does this mean for you? A lot of things.
For one, you may be able to sell your property as is. As mentioned earlier, competition can also drive up your home’s price, which can mean more profit for you. That said, selling in a seller’s market also means dealing with shorter deadlines and the expectations of fast money. The key here is to strategize well.
Who’s buying homes in Atlanta?
Understanding the buying market helps to gain advantage over your competition in a hot seller’s market like Atlanta.These are the markets that are making a significant impact on Atlanta GA real estate:
- Millennials – Contrary to popular belief, millennials are actually buying properties all over the country. In fact, they’re the leading home buying market, according to the National Association of Realtors. About 15 percent of Atlanta’s total population is made up of millennials, and this is expected to increase in the near future.
- Generation Z – Although it might take a while for this group (born roughly between 1995 and 2001) to purchase single-family homes and luxury properties, Generation Z might still have impact on other areas of Atlanta GA real estate.
- Baby boomers – This generation remains a sizable force in the home buying market. They are either down-sizing or moving to the city center to be closer to services and amenities.
Everything you need to know about selling a home
Now that you are aware of Atlanta GA real estate’s current market condition, it is time to dive into the home selling process. I’ve divided it into five stages to make the procedure easier to understand. Let’s get started.
First stage: Preparing your home for sale
Before you place a “for sale” sign on the lawn and upload the listing online, take time to prepare your home for the sale.Timing your sale
The timing of your sale can depend on a variety of factors. These include seasonality, current market conditions, and interest rates. But since Atlanta, Georgia real estate is currently a seller’s market, you will find the conditions optimal for your venture.
The truth is there is no such thing as the “perfect” time to list your property on one of the homes for sale in Atlanta, GA. Although the aforementioned factors are important things to consider, they do not trump your readiness to sell a home.
To gauge this, consider your main motivation for selling. Has your property gained enough equity to give you substantial returns on your investment? Did a major lifestyle change occur? Or do you simply feel like you’ve outgrown your home? All reasons are valid, as long as you feel ready to move on.
If you are planning on selling your home and buying a new one at the same time, this article might help.
Finding the ideal real estate agent
In a real estate market as hot and sizzling as Atlanta, it is highly recommended to hire a local real estate agent, preferably one that specializes in your area.Here are the factors to consider as you look for top Atlanta real estate agents:
- Experience in selling homes (ask about their most recent sales)
- Marketing know-how
- Area and market expertise
- Work style (do they work individually or with a team?)
- Current work load (how many homes are they selling at present?)
Hiring a real estate agent who specializes in your market is integral. If you’re selling a luxury home, find a luxury real estate specialist. If your goal is to sell to seniors, hire somebody who’s an expert in that market.
Making updates and renovations
In a seller’s market like the Atlanta, Georgia real estate, it is fully possible to sell your property as is. It is recommended to make repairs, however. Invite a home inspector to identify key issues so you can address them accordingly.
Making a number of improvements will help you gain an advantage in the market. It might even increase the value of your property. These updates range from minor projects to major upgrades. Changing door knobs and fixing doors and windows can mean as much as finishing the basement.
If you would also like to increase your home’s value (and, therefore, the asking price), consider these renovation projects.
Second stage: Getting the price rightOne of the most important aspects of selling in a seller’s market is to get the right price for your property.
Finding the ballpark price
Having a ballpark price helps in determining your final listing price. You can get this by doing the following:
- Have your home appraised – Getting your home appraised informs you of your home’s fair market value based on its condition, location, and similar properties in the neighborhood.
A home appraisal usually occurs when a buyer’s lender sends an appraiser to your property. You can, however, invite a licensed appraiser to your home before the sale starts.
- Ask your agent for a comparative market analysis – A comparative market analysis (CMA) takes a look at comps (similar properties in the area that were recently sold) to give you a ballpark listing price. This is service generally offered free by real estate agents. To request for a CMA from us today, click here.
Pricing competitively in a seller’s market
Setting the price for your home in a seller’s market can be a tricky pursuit. Pricing too low can lead to too many offers, which can be challenging to sift. Pricing too high might alienate other interested buyers. It might even cause your home to stay in the market for a longer period of time.
One of the best ways to get full-price offers fast in a hot seller’s market is to list your home at fair market value. The CMA you asked your agent to prepare, as well as the report from the licensed appraiser, will definitely help.
Third stage: Standing out in the market
With your home prepared and the listing price already determined, it’s time to list your property for sale.
The secrets to an enticing online listing
Majority of home buyers nowadays start their search by scanning real estate listings online. Popular go-to websites include Realtor, Trulia, and Zillow. But with these sites saturated with listings, making yours a standout is key.
- Hire a professional to take photos of your property – Listing photos help grab the attention of home buyers. Consider hiring a professional photographer to take outstanding pictures of the property. If you don’t want the additional expense, take the photos yourself using a real camera and a tripod. Here’s how you can take beautiful pictures worth more than a thousand words.
- Include a compelling and informative write-up – Complement gorgeous pictures with an equally captivating property description. Tell a story, all while adding important bits of information about the home, such as the size, location, and other key features.
- Add a virtual walkthrough – Short video walkthroughs are another way to generate buyer interest. It also helps to entice long-distance buyers. You can do it on your own using apps or hire a professional.
Open houses are going to be a part of the process as soon as you list your home for sale. First impressions matter at this stage, so make sure your property has its best foot forward.Aside from cleaning and de-personalizing the property, have it staged. Home staging allows interested home buyers to imagine themselves living in the space. It can also be helpful in highlighting the house’s best features. Additionally, research shows that home staging can even result in higher offers.
The National Association of Realtor further details the effectiveness of home staging in this infographic.
Fourth stage: Accepting offers and making counteroffers
Deeper into the home selling process, you’ll start receiving offers. How do you sift through these to find the best deal?Finding the best offer in the pile
The first offer, as you will come to know, is not always the best. Assuming you’ve received a couple of offers for your property, watch out for these elements:
- Earnest money deposit – The most serious home buyers often include an earnest money check, which then becomes part of the down payment come escrow.
- Pre-approval letter – A pre-approval letter gives you an idea of how much the buyer can afford. Having one can also speed up the buyer’s whole application process. Should you receive an all-cash offer, kindly request for documentation that proves the cash is indeed available for the purchase.
- A personal letter – Some buyers include a personal note in hopes of appealing to the seller’s emotions. It will help you get to know the buyer and get an idea of what their plans are for the home.
But what happens if you have multiple offers, which then sparks a bidding war? Here’s some advice to help you pick the most favorable offer.
“This offer is great, but…”While going through offers, you might come across one or two that holds great potential but aren’t quite there. In such cases, don’t hesitate to make a counteroffer. Your real estate agent will step in to negotiate a deal that works for both parties. Here are a couple of strategies you might want to try.
Aside from asking for a higher price, you can also include items you want to part within the sale. If you’re looking for a new home while selling, asking for a longer closing process is reasonable.
If the buyer doesn’t accept your terms and no agreement was reached, move on to the next best offer that you think warrants a counteroffer. You can, however, avoid such a fate with an offer you really want to push through by following these tips.
Fifth stage: Closing
Congratulations on accepting an offer. We now move on to the closing process. It officially begins when a purchase and sales agreement have been signed by you and your buyer.
A neutral third party, often an escrow agent, will hold the earnest money deposit and other important documents until all contingencies and duties are satisfied. If the sale fails to push through, the earnest money deposit will be returned to the buyer.
Generally, the closing process takes between four to six weeks. This can depend, however, on the terms agreed during the negotiations.
The responsibility checklistBefore closing day, you are expected to fulfill the following tasks:
- Make and finish repairs that were agreed upon during the negotiations
- Keep the house in proper condition
- Notify friends, family, business contacts, and utilities about your impending change of address
- Inform service providers of a final service date
- Start packing and moving
- Prepare all items to be handed over, including documents, keys, warranties of appliances, and manuals
Also, the day before closing, be prepared for the buyer to perform a final walkthrough of the property with his/her agent.
Property disclosure is importantAs a seller, you have a number of responsibilities to fulfill before closing day. This includes giving the buyer a full disclosure about your property.
Home sellers in Georgia are not required to fulfill a specific disclosure form. You are, however, mandated by state law to fully disclose any important defects in the property. Major defects you were unaware of but were discovered during home inspection can lead to further negotiations, usually at the buyer’s advantage.
You are also required to honestly answer questions should your buyer ask about repairs done in the past and how they turned out.
This article comprehensively discusses what you need and don’t need to disclose. You will also find federal disclosure requirements there. To avoid any legal mishaps in the future, it’s highly recommended to abide by state and federal disclosure responsibilities.
What happens on closing day?
Closing day marks the end of the home selling journey. On this day, you will meet with all parties involved, including the escrow agent, to finalize the transaction.
Aside from going over the contract one last time to make sure everything is according to plan, you will also be made to sign some paperwork. These include the following documents:
- HUD-1 settlement statement
- Certificate of title
- Bill of sale
- The deed of the property
- Statement of closing costs
Afterwards, payments will be made. Home buyers usually shoulder the bulk of the closing costs, including the appraisal fee, notary fee, and origination fee. Meanwhile, sellers pay the real estate commission.
Once everything is signed and paid, hand all the property documents (as well as the house keys) to the new homeowner. You can even include a housewarming gift as a nice gesture. Congratulations on the successful sale!