Intown Atlanta Real Estate Blog

7 Mistakes to Avoid when Pricing your Home to Sell

In our experience selling homes, we often find that a person's perception of their home's value often differs from the reality of the marketplace. There are number of reasons for this, from psychological factors to simple misconceptions about market value. In this article we will discuss these issues as well as how best to determine an accurate selling price.

Home Seller's Top 7 Pricing Mistakes:

 
1.) Not being objective

One of the first explanations of the disconnect between real and perceived value is simply human nature. Outside of family, friends and pets, our home is quite possibly the most difficult thing in our lives to be objective about. We likely have more emotional connection to our home than only other inanimate object. Sure, some guys might claim it would be their car, truck, motorcycle, boat or flat-screen HDTV. But when you factor in the monetary investment that the home represents, that usually bumps the home into the number one position in importance. When looking at our own homes we tend to play up the positives and overlook the negatives. When looking at other people's homes, whether they be recently sold comparables, competing homes on the market, or homes one is considering purchasing, we tend to do the opposite. The goal is to try to view your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer. This is very difficult to do, so it's best to just look at the cold hard facts, i.e. the numbers. But what numbers? Where do you get them? How are they derived? We'll get more into that later.

 

2.) Depending on online home valuations

Previously we wrote about online home valuations, and how misleading they can be. They can be fun to play with, but they're simply not accurate. They can be off 25-30% or more, easily skewing the real value by hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases. They're brain-dead number-crunching computers that don't know the Intown Atlanta market. You can...

Atlanta Skyline Building Guide

We've received a number of complements on our recent website makeover, and we're flattered to hear that it's been so well received. A number of you have asked about the stylized skyline outline in the website header, and whether it really represents Atlanta. It does, in fact, and it was inspired by the photo below. This spawned questions about this building and that, which got us thinking - maybe we should put together a guide to the buildings of the Atlanta skyline. So here goes!

Bank of America Plaza AT&T Midtown Center 2 Peachtree Street 1180 Peachtree 1100 Peachtree Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta Promenade II...

Online Home Valuations - Are They Any Good?

When it comes to selling your home, there are many facets to consider. The timing of your move, prepping your home, how to market your home and countless other considerations. One might say, however, that the most important consideration is setting the listing price. In our experience, we have found that many sellers use flawed assumptions when determining their listing price. WIth this post, we begin a series of articles on the topic of pricing your home for sale.

There are many options one can use to help determine the value of a home. One option that has become more popular lately is the so-called "online valuation." There are several websites, (such as Zillow, HouseValues, etc.) which claim the ability to determine the value of your home. So, how do they work, and are they any good?

These online valuation sites fall into two basic categories. The first category of sites are those that use a mathematic algorithm to calculate a value for your property. The problem with this method can be distilled into an acronym well-known in the computer industry: GIGO, or Garbage In, Garbage Out. This means that incorrect or poor quality input will always produce a faulty result. The "garbage in" stems from the data that is used in the calculations. Where do they get this information? Well, typically they use publicly-available information, such as tax records. The problem with that is, tax records are notoriously outdated and inaccurate, especially in Atlanta. 

Another problem is that the homes in Intown Atlanta neighborhoods are not homogeneous. These are not the cookie-cutter neighborhoods of the suburbs, where many houses are virtually identical. It's fairly easy to...

Ansley Park Tour of Homes this weekend

Atlanta’s historic Ansley Park neighborhood, known for its winding streets, beautiful parks and stunning architecture, kicks off its tour of homes this weekend. Developed in 1904, Ansley Park is one of Atlanta’s first suburban neighborhoods and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ansley Park neighborhood Ansley Park Neighborhood Entrance Marker This year’s tour will celebrate J. Neel Reid (1885-1926), one of the South’s premier architects. Reid played an instrumental role in the design and development of many Ansley Park residences. Six single-family homes and two condominium buildings designed by Reid will be featured on the tour. Showcased on the tour will be unit #3 at One South Prado. This is where Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, lived the last 10 years of her life. Legend has it that Mitchell ordered the original manuscript for Gone with the Wind burned in the boiler room of One South Prado upon her death. The Ansley Park Tour of Homes will kickoff with a party on Friday, October 1, at the Piedmont Driving Club. Tickets are $125 per person. Guests will enjoy cocktails, a tour of the Driving club, a viewing of Ansley Park home portraits by artist Gilbert Young and a chance to meet William R. Mitchell, Jr., author of the book J. Neel Reid Architect of Hentz, Reid & Adler. The Tour of Homes will take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 2nd and 3rd, from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Tickets are $20 in advance, and $25 on the day of the Tour. In addition to the Tour of Homes, “A Cultural Landscape Tour,” will be directed by landscape architect, Spencer Tunnell, a key principal in the restoration of the Olmsted Parks in Atlanta’s...

Square footage and Atlanta real estate

One of the most popular criteria home buyers have traditionally used when searching for a home is square footage. Until very recently, out-of-state or new-in-town home buyers looking for homes in Atlanta found themselves dismayed at the inability to search by square footage.

Yes, as absurd as it seems, it had been a long-standing policy of the local Multiple Listings Service (MLS) in Atlanta to prohibit the quoting of square footage in property listings. It was explained to me that this was to protect the agents from liability. Sure, there have been cases in the past where the buyer found out later that the square footage was not as quoted in the listing, and sued the agent. However, most markets throughout the country easily solved this with a simple disclaimer, something like "Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed." Also, most Purchase and Sale Agreements are written such that it's the buyer's responsibility to inspect, survey, appraise and measure the property during the Due Diligence period. (The measurement is usually done by the appraiser.) But even though the local MLS's implemented such disclaimers on general listing information, they still persisted with the ban of square footage information. Until now. Recently, the primary Multiple Listing Service used by Intown Atlanta real estate agents, FMLS, began to allow square footage information. For whatever reason, they did this initially on condos only, but now they have finally allowed it on single-family homes as well.

Still wary of a litigious society, they require that the source for the square footage information is included in the listing. Only three approved sources are allowed: tax records, appraisal, or the builder. Keep in mind, that tax records are not always...

Atlanta Lingo - How to Speak Like a Local

New to Atlanta?  Don't worry...it seems like almost everyone in Atlanta is from somewhere else!  This diversity of backgrounds is one of the things that makes Atlanta great.  If you don't want everyone to know you're new in town, you may want to familiarize yourself with some of the terms below.

Midtown Atlanta

Traffic Terms:

Brookwood Split: Where I-75 and I-85 split heading northbound, in the vicinity of the neighborhoods of Brookwood and Brookwood Hills, forming the south boundary of Buckhead.

Cobb Cloverleaf: Intersection of I-75 and I-285 on the northwest side of town, in Cobb County.

Downtown Connector: The section of highway where I-75 and I-85 join as one and pass through downtown.  Often shortened to simply, "The Connector."

East Freeway: Another name for I-20 from downtown through the east side of metro Atlanta.

Financial Center Tunnel: Section of Georgia 400 that passes under the Atlanta Financial Center, in Buckhead.

Freedom Parkway: Parkway running from the Downtown Connector to Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Friday 500: A reference to Friday's worse-than-usual evening rush hour which seems resemble a NASCAR race.

Grady Curve: Giant curve in the Downtown Connector, near Grady Hospital, tends to slow traffic when heavy.

Inner Loop: The inside...

Virginia-Highland Summerfest this weekend

Well, we've had a fun bunch of festivals this spring, and now the Spring Festivals are over.  But don't despair,  now it's time to celebrate the beginning of summer at this weekend's Virginia-Highland Summerfest!  This is one of Intown Atlanta's best festivals, and includes a little something for everyone.

Virginia-Highland There will be the usual juried artist market featuring works from over 200 artists in various media, as well as lots of live music. Runners can enter a 5K race on Saturday morning, after which parents can bring their 5-and-under kids to the "Tot Trot" at the Inman Middle School field.

The festival is held on Virginia Avenue between North Highland Avenue and Park Drive in the popular Virginia-Highland neighborhood of Intown Atlanta. Admission is free and open to the public for the events on Saturday and Sunday, but there are some festivities on Friday that are reserved exclusively for Virginia-Highland residents.  These include a quirky parade (6:30pm) where residents dress up as their favorite movie character, followed by a dinner and an outdoor movie (8:30pm).

Another great attraction is the Neighborhood Acoustic Street Party at "Virginia-Highland Island" (Virginia Ave & N.Highland Ave) on Friday (8 to 11pm) and Saturday, June 5 (9 to 11pm).  For a break-down of all the events and activities, click here.

Be safe and have fun!

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Another Four Intown Atlanta Festivals this weekend

The Spring Festival season is not over yet, with more coming this weekend.  Several Intown Atlanta neighborhoods are holding events this weekend, including Brookhaven, Downtown, Kirkwood and Virginia-Highland.

The event in Brookhaven this weekend is not a festival per-se, but a 5k run/walk/stroll through beautiful Ashford Park.  Dubbed the Brookhaven Bolt, the $20 entry fee gets you a commemorative T-Shirt, and the proceeds go to help the Ashfor Park Elementary School.  Also part of the event is the Kids Fun Run, a 1/2 mile run/walk for children 13 and under.

Downtown Atlanta hosts the Georgia Kite Festival in Centennial Olympic Park.  In addition to the attraction of a myriad of fun kite designs flying over the park, there is also a Sound Stage with performances by musicians of various genres.  The free festival also features is The Kidz Zone, where kids 3 to 12 can enjoy face painting, clowns, kite coloring and other games, and The Kite Construction Corner where children...

More festivals this weekend

There are more festivals in Intown Atlanta this weekend. Today and tomorrow is the Sweet Auburn Springfest celebrating this historic district in Downtown Atlanta. In the 1940s, '50s and '60s, successful African-American-owned businesses and entertainment venues thrived on Auburn Avenue.

The festival is produced to support the business development, branding and marketing of the district. Major projects are envisioned, including transforming the Auburn Avenue viaduct into an outdoor international music café and arts and craft market, and establishing Auburn Avenue as the Beale Street / Bourbon Street / Church Street Station of Atlanta.

Festival attendees can enjoy several attractions including an Artist Market, Business and Technology Expo, a Health and Fitness Fair, an Active Senior's Pavilion, Sports Carnival, a Literary Marketplace, Just For Women’s EXPO and the Kids Fantastic Fun Zone. Live music performances will be held on eight different stages.

Another celebration of a different historic district is the Atlanta West Fest, in the West End. Attractions include a benefit concert at the Wren's Nest, a festival in Gordon-White park, and West Fest's first annual dog parade. For those of us with real estate on our minds, there is a tour of 10 historic homes, many of which are over 100 years old.

Tonight and tomorrow night are the last nights to catch Georgia Shakespeare's popular "Shake at the Lake". "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be presented overlooking Lake Clara Meer in Piedmont Park in Midtown.

The performance is free, but you'll need tickets (well, actually wristbands). Around 900 wristbandswill...

Living in Intown Atlanta is Green

Today is Earth Day, which seems like a fitting day to discuss ways to "be Green".  Well, one of the simplest ways to do this is to live closer to the core of a city.  Yes, living Intown is Green, in several ways.

The most obvious reason is that urban sprawl leads to long daily commutes, which leads to more automobile exhaust.  Even though we make a living by putting people in our cars to show them properties for sale, our suburban friends are shocked out how few miles we put on our cars compared to theirs.  The fact is, the overwhelming majority of our trips are well within a 5-mile radius of home.

Though you might think that a green oasis should be just that, lush with greenery, Manhattan may be one of the greenest places in the country, as ironic as that may sound.  The carbon footprint of the average Manhattanite is thirty percent smaller than that of the average American.  With nearly two-thirds of the population walking, biking or riding mass transit to work, the rate of car ownership in Manhattan is the lowest in the country.

Of course, with Atlanta's limited mass transit system, it's hard to compare us with New York City.  However, if you live and work in Intown Atlanta you'll use your car less without even thinking about it.  We can walk to grocery stores and restaurants from our home.  Even if we decided to drive everywhere we went, everything is so close and convenient that we drive far fewer miles than our friends who live in the suburbs.

Also, large apartment or condo buildings are more efficient to heat and cool than single-family homes.  There are tons of ...

Inman Park Festival and Tour of Homes

Well, we had a blast at last weekend's festivals, but there are still more to come.  This weekend brings us the Inman Park Festival.  A preview of the Inman Park Tour of Homes begins on Friday, while the festival proper is Saturday and Sunday.

Inman Park neighborhood in Intown Atlanta Inman Park neighborhood in Intown Atlanta As in year's past, there will be live bands and entertainment under the tent on Euclid Avenue, in Delta Park and Poplar Circle.  Other popular attractions include the Dance Festival in the Trolley Barn as well as the Arts & Crafts Show / Street Market in various booths along the streets of Inman Park.  

But the biggest draw of them all must be the parade, featuring a notorious selection of Atlanta’s craziest groups, including the the "Trash Monarch" and "Inman Park Precision Attaché Drill Team." After whetting your appetite on the Tour of Homes, be sure to come back and visit our Inman Park neighborhood page to see all the Inman Park homes for sale.  Hope to see you there!

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Intown Atlanta Spring Festivals

Well, what seemed like Atlanta's worst winter in over 20 years is over, and spring has finally sprung.  That means, among other things, that spring festivals are just around the corner in many Intown Atlanta neighborhoods.  The first four major events kick off this weekend.

The biggest event this weekend is the popular Atlanta Dogwood Festival.  Held at Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta, this annual celebration of the blooming of the Dogwood trees has been a perennial favorite in Atlanta for over 70 years.  In the 1970s an art show was introduced to the festival, and the juried Fine Art Market has played a big part in the festival ever since.   The 1980s saw the tradition of live music begin at the Dogwood Festival, and this year is no exception with well over a dozen acts playing this weekend.

Another fun even this weekend is the 6th annual Sweetwater 420 Festival, a two-day music and arts festival.  It's free to attend and enjoy live music and activities, and $5 gets you a wrist band that allows you to buy all the wine and Sweetwater beer you can "responsibly enjoy."  A portion of the proceeds go to back to the Candler Park neighborhood which hosts the event.  A big part of the event is "Planet 420", which sponsors local, regional and national non-profits and environmental organizations.  Exhibits and forums will be presented including diesel to grease demonstrations, sustainable living...

Brookwood Hills - Featured Buckhead neighborhood

This month's Buckhead neighborhood profile is Brookwood Hills. Developed in the early 1920s, historic Brookwood Hills is located near the dividing line between Buckhead and Midtown, just north of the "Brookwood Split". Like many of the neighborhoods in this area, The Battle of Peachtree Creek occurred on part of the grounds of Brookwood Hills. The area was later named after the estate of Joseph and Emma Thompson, known as "Brookwood", which was located near where Brookwood Station is today.

The developers hired engineer O.F. Kauffman, who had previously worked with Frederick Law Olmsted in the design of an earlier Intown Atlanta neighborhoodDruid Hills. Olmsted preferred wide, wandering, curvy roads versus the more planned grid layout of some neighborhoods. Olmsted's influence can be seen in other area neighborhoods including Ansley Park, and Morningside in Intown Atlanta as well as Garden Hills and ...

The streets of Atlanta and their special annoyances

House hunting can be fun and exciting, but it can also be frustrating at times, especially if you're in a strange new city. We love Atlanta, but if you're new to town, you'll have some special annoyances to get used to as you drive around the various Intown Atlanta neighborhoods shopping for homes.

Getting to know Atlanta can be difficult to the newcomer for a number of reasons. One of the first things you'll notice is that it's very common for the street that you're driving on to change names without notice. There are examples of this all over Atlanta; Monroe becomes Boulevard, Briarcliff becomes Moreland and E. Rock Springs becomes N. Decatur.

It can get even more confusing. In Midtown, Spring Street is one-way southbound, but in Downtown, Spring Street is one-way northbound! Don't worry, you don't have people crashing into each other, because Spring Street in Midtown isn't even the same street as Spring Street in Downtown. The southbound Spring Street in Midtown becomes Centennial Olympic Park Drive in Downtown. The northbound Spring Street in Downtown turns into West Peachtree in Midtown.

That segues nicely into our next pet-peeve: multiple roads with variations of the same name. And "Peachtree" is the most common example. According to Wikipedia, there are 71 streets in Atlanta with some version of "Peachtree" in their name. There's Peachtree Street, West Peachtree Street, Peachtree Road, Peachtree Drive, Peachtree Park Drive, Peachtree Circle, Peachtree Lane, Peachtree Walk, Peachtree-Dunwoody Road, and ... we'll, you get the idea. Peachtree is guilty of the previous annoyance...

Morningside - Featured Intown Atlanta Neighborhood

This month, we're featuring with the Intown Atlanta neighborhood of Morningside/Lenox Park, most commonly referred to as "Mornginside".

Morningside homes for sale Morningside  is one of Intown Atlanta's most beautiful neighborhoods with curving tree-lined roads, multiple parks and well-kept homes.  The neighborhood is highly-sought after not only for it's beauty and convenient location, but also for it's school district.  Most childern in Morningside go to Moringside Elementary, an award-winning public school.

The homes in Morningside are bursting with character, with a various styles represented.  The neighborhood boasts one of the city's largest collections of Tudor Revival style homes (along with Druid Hills), as well as numerous Spanish and Mediterranean style homes.  In addition to the large number of 1920s to 1940s homes, Morningside also has some stunning Contemporary homes, and mid-century ranches, the latter of which are common in the Johnson Estates and Noble Park areas.

As of this writing, there are currently 86 single-family homes active on the market in Morningside.  Prices range from a low in the $200s to a high around $2 million, with an average in the high $700s.  Last year 105 single-family homes sold with an average sale price in the $600s.  For more detailed information and to see all the homes for sale in the neighborhood,...

Intown Atlanta Foreclosures

Our Intown Atlanta home buyers are often asking about foreclosures, many times because they assume that a foreclosure automatically equals a good deal.  Well, that's not always true.  There are some great deals on foreclosures out there, but not all foreclosures are great deals.  Also, due to current market conditions, buyers can often find great deals on conventional sales.  So, the important thing is to assess each property for it's own value, and not assume that a listing is a deal or not based on whether it's bank-owned or not. Intown Atlanta ForeclosuresWhat exactly is a foreclosure listing?  In Georgia, banks can foreclose on a home without a judicial process if the loan is in default.  A clause in the deed to secure debt (mortgage note) gives the banks this power.  You agree to this language when you sign your mortgage loan papers at closing. Using this "power of sale", banks will attempt an auction to sell the property.  These auctions happen the first Tuesday of every month on the steps of the county courthouse where the property is located.  Anyone can bid on these properties, but if you win the bid, you must pay cash on the spot, and there is no right of inspection or other opportunity for due diligence.  Quite often, the bank's opening bid price is higher than what any bidder is willing to pay.  At that point, the property becomes "REO", meaning "Real Estate Owned." At that point, the bank will list the property for sale on the open market.  Listings you can find on this site are these REO or bank-owned properties.  Sometimes the bank will list a property a low price right off the bat, hoping to stir up multiple offers and unload the property quickly.  Other times the bank will list the property at a high price, and slowly reduce the price over time.  This is why you need to asses...

Atlanta Green Homes

Whether it's environmental concerns, an interest in national energy independence, or just personal economic motivations, more and more home buyers are asking about "going green."  But in real estate, what does "going green" really mean?  There is talk of "green homes," but how do you know which homes are actually green?

Atlanta Green Real EstateThere are a number of local and national green building certification programs to help the home buyer make that determination, including EarthCraft House, Energy Star Homes, LEED for Homes and NAHB National Green Building Program.  For more information, our Atlanta Green real estate page gives an overview of each of these green building programs. But how does one put all this information to work in their home search?  Well, on most home search web sites, you're out of luck.  But here at Intown Elite, our property search engine is actually empowered to help you to find green homes. 

Our Atlanta Green homes page displays all the listings in the Atlanta area that are certified in at least one of the above mentioned green building programs. Our web site also shows the WalkScore(TM) of every property, displayed on the upper right of each listing.  WalkScore(TM) helps home buyers find a walkable, car-lite place to live. It works by measuring the distance from a particular residence to nearby amenities, such as grocery stores, restaurants, parks, libraries, shops, etc. Living in a walkable location promotes better health, a reduction in greenhouse gas, more transportation...

New year, new web site features

We always swell with pride when our new clients tell us that they "love" our web site.  We pride ourselves in having the most user-friendly website for Atlanta real estate.  To maintain that mantle, we're not resting on our laurels.  Don't worry, we're not changing our popular Intown Atlanta Neighborhood Guide and Buckhead Neighborhood Guide, both of which are client  favorites.  We have, however, added an Atlanta Zip Code Guide, as well as completely upgraded our property search and display functionality.

Finding the perfect Intown Atlanta home has never been so easy, and with such an intuitive interface.  While other real estate web sites overwhelm visitors with a sea of textboxes, checkboxes and city selection dropdowns, we instead choose to keep things simple yet powerful.

Now, if you're one of those "technology doesn't work for me" types, don't worry.  Feel free to call or email us and we can set up a custom search for you.  You'll be the first to see new properties as they come on the market and be notified of price changes as soon as they happen via email alerts.

So whether you want to search all on your own, have it all done for you, or anywhere in between, we can help you. Happy house-hunting!

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Good News Week for Atlanta Real Estate

This week brought a couple pieces of good news about the Atlanta real estate market. First, a report released by Metrostudy shows that Atlanta's housing market has hit bottom, with primary indicators having reversed and now trending to the positive.  Although the trend is positive for sellers, we at Intown Elite believe that buyers continue to maintain the power in negotiations, since there’s still nearly 13 months of inventory on the market.

The other good news for the real estate market is the extension of the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers until May 1, 2010. In addition, a credit up to $6,500 is available for other home buyers who have owned their current homes for at least 5 years. This opens tax incentives to "move-up" buyers who are purchasing a primary residence.

As always, there are limits to these credits, so please contact your real estate professional for the details.   These tax credits are not likely to be further extended, so if you are considering buying a home, now is the time.

Please feel free to contact us here at Intown Elite with any questions you have about the new tax credits. Thank you and happy house-hunting! 

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Looking for a deal?

"I'm looking for a really good deal." That's what just about every buyer says when they first speak with us about buying a home.    Not that they're looking for a particular style of home with a specific number of bedrooms or baths, a specified location or even whether it's a condo, townhome or single-family home. We’re finding that buyers are focusing more on the type of deal they can get rather than what attributes they really want in a home.

Of course, everyone wants a good deal, but it's important not to get so tunnel-visioned that you miss out on the perfect home for you, because you're holding out for the deal of the century.   Do you want a good deal on a home you love, or a great deal on a home that's just OK? You have to live there. If you don't love it, is it really that great of a deal?

Waiting for the bottom? Many folks are sitting on the sidelines,  waiting for the bottom of the market before they’ll  jump in.  If that sounds like you, how will you know when  the market has bottomed out?  Market timing is a tricky game to play.  Check out the graphic below:

Let's say the graphic represents the housing market.  Although the market is cyclical, with ebbs and flows,, most people tend to think in a straight line. Point A was near the peak of the market. Although the market was overinflated, many people thought that prices would continue to climb. This was a contributing factor to the "bubble" that occurred in some markets.

Then, the market began to take a turn in the opposite direction.. Let’s say that now we're at the other end of the spectrum (point B). The market has turned downward and people wonder if we’re near the bottom. The big question on everyone’s minds: When will we know that we’ve hit the bottom and...