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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What Does It Really Take to Downsize?


Downsizing may be a natural and smart choice to make, but that doesn’t make it easy. There are a lot of things to think about. 
 
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Today I want to talk about the topic of downsizing. When the kids leave the nest and it’s just you and your partner left, you may start wondering why you’re still staying in such a big space. When you no longer need a large home, the natural option is to downsize. However, even once people no longer have a need for such a large space or so many items, it can still be hard to adjust to change. People grow used to living a certain way, which makes downsizing difficult. Going from a 4,000 square foot house to one of half that size means that half of your personal items will have to go as well. This is something a lot of people have difficulty with. It’s important to realize that these are the kinds of things you’ll need to be thinking about. The idea of downsizing is good and smart, especially since it sometimes helps people to become debt-free, but it isn’t as easy as many people think.

When you no longer need a large home, the natural option is to downsize.

Another thing that often takes people by surprise is the change in amenities. In a downsized home, the kitchen may not be quite as nice as the one in the previous house. This is just one example. It really depends on what you buy, but it is possible to find a nice, smaller home in a lower price point. If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

We’re Happy to Answer Any Question, Anytime


We just wanted to remind you that if you have a question about real estate, we are happy to answer it.
Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation

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We’ve been fortunate enough to have a very busy year helping a lot of families buy and sell homes in Athens. Although our free time is somewhat limited these days, we always have enough free time to answer any of your questions. We want to be known as the Athens real estate experts, but we also want to be known as consumer advocates. If you have any questions regarding any part of real estate or real estate transactions, let us know. Whether you have a question about buying, selling, investing, appraisals, inspections, or any other real estate-related topic, we’d love to hear it.


We’re always here to answer your questions.


You can give us a call, send us an email, or just come visit us. No matter the question, we will do our best to answer it in a thorough and timely manner. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How Is the Market Affecting the Appraisals of Homes?


We continue to be in a seller’s market, which is affecting how appraisals come in for homes under contract. I’ll explain everything in today’s video.
Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation

Looking to buy a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here to perform a full home search

Today I wanted to talk to you about what’s going on with appraisals in the current market. In our last video, we gave you a snapshot of what the market currently looks like from a supply and demand perspective. Currently in our market, we have high demand and a low supply of homes, which is causing home prices to increase. So how is this affecting appraisals for the sellers that we work with? We’ve had more instances this year than in recent memory where we get a home under contract for a certain value, and the appraisal comes in lower than that value. This is a problem. Why are we seeing lower appraisals? Appraisers are looking back over the last three to six months of sales in the area, comparing similar homes to the seller’s, and coming up with their opinion of the value of the home based on those factors, as well as any improvements or updates done to the home.


Currently in our market we have a high demand and a low supply of homes.


In my opinion, the true market value of a home is what the seller and buyer agree on, but the banks have to protect themselves. Because of this, we’re seeing these low appraisals. I still continue to encourage sellers to list their home at a price that is a little higher than the homes that sold recently in the area, especially in this current market. If you find yourself in that situation where the home appraisal is lower than the purchase price, you have a few options to take care of that problem. You can reduce the price down to the appraised value, the buyer can pay that difference in cash, or you can meet somewhere in the middle. Some buyers aren’t willing to pay the extra money, and the low appraisal can kill your deal. If you get a cash offer for your home, it might be worth it to really consider taking that deal. Most cash buyers don’t spend the extra money on the appraisal, so you don’t have to worry about it. If you have any other questions about this topic or there is anything we can do for you, a friend, or a coworker, give us a call. We’d be happy to help!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What Do the Latest Numbers Say About Our Athens Market?


With how our market’s been acting lately, there’s no better time to be a seller in one of the median price points.
Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation

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As I’m sure you’ve probably heard, the market has been going gangbusters lately, and I want to share some numbers to help you get a sense of what’s happening. When you hear news about the market going crazy and prices rising, that’s usually referring to what’s happening in the median price points. Homes in higher price points aren’t selling as quickly, however, and prices at those higher price points aren’t rising as dramatically either. This is because demand isn’t the same for higher-end homes. These latest numbers, then, represent the activity in our market’s median price point. In East Athens, there are only 31 single-family homes currently for sale under $200,000, which is a little over one month’s supply of inventory. In the last 12 months, 293 homes have sold in this area. With supply this low and demand still high, it’s naturally caused prices to rise. In West Athens, there are only 27 single-family homes for sale under $200,000. These homes encompass all age ranges and sizes, too—some are new, some are old, some are large, and some are small. In the last 12 months, 238 homes have sold in this area.


Now might be the best time ever to sell your home in the median price points.


In Oconee County, there are only 11 single-family homes for sale under $200,000. In the last 12 months, 84 homes have sold in this area. I believe there would be more sales in this area if there were more homes on the market. In addition to making prices rise, this low inventory is almost stifling sales. If you’re thinking about selling your house in this price range, now’s the best time to do it in the last 10 years—maybe even ever. If you’re a buyer, you have to be ready to act fast and make a strong offer if you see something you like. With inventory as it is, many homes are receiving multiple bids and flying off the shelves quickly. Times may be tough, but if prices continue to rise, you’re much better off acting now. If you have any questions or are interested in buying or selling a home, don’t hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an email. I’d be glad to help you.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Three Home Buyer Mistakes That Could Cost You Thousands!


There are a ton of mistakes that can happen when buying a home for the first time. Here are the three most common.
Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation

Looking to buy a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here to perform a full home search

I wanted to reach out to you today and discuss some bad buying habits I’ve been noticing. It’s typically the first-time homebuyers making these mistakes so if you are one of those buyers or know someone who is, we have some advice to share. Avoid these mistakes at all cost:

1. Not getting pre-approved before looking at homes. It can be tempting to just head right out to a home or start searching online, but know this: if you plan on buying a home with a mortgage, you’re going to need a loan. The only way you will then know what kind of loan (and home) you can afford is by meeting with a lender and getting pre-approved. Skipping this step will only lead to heartache, as you could fall in love with a home that’s way out of your price range without even realizing it.

2. Choosing the wrong lender. We always align ourselves with great local lenders and we want our buyers to do the same. The problem with a national or Internet lender is that if they drop the ball in one area and the closing is delayed, they will end up costing you a lot more than they initially saved you. A respected local lender won’t let your closing get delayed.


You need a market expert as an agent.
3. Choosing the wrong agent. You need someone who is an expert on your specific market. I couldn’t sell homes in Atlanta. I sell homes in Athens because I know exactly how things work here. I’ve been helping people buy and sell homes for years in this market and there is no replacement for that kind of knowledge and experience. You need an agent who can find you homes as soon as they come on the market—sometimes even before they are listed.

If you avoid these mistakes, you’ll be starting off on the right foot and be one step closer to a smooth closing. If you have any questions for me or want to know how we can help you avoid these mistakes and more, give us a call or send us an email. We would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

We Have Exciting News To Share With You!


Are the rumors true? Have we decided to branch out into property management? Well, I’ve got some exciting news to share with you.
Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation

Looking to buy a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here to perform a full home search

You may have been wondering—are the rumors true? Are we doing property management? I’m excited to announce that we have opened up a second brokerage that will focus on strictly managing rental properties for clients. We’ve named our sister company Iron Horse Property Management.


I had clients come to me for years asking me to branch out into property management, and I was always hesitant because my main focus was on sales. I wanted to be great at sales and make that the main focus of Woodall Realty Group.


Now I feel like the timing is better than it was in the past. The reason for this is our sales team is staffed with four full-time agents in addition to myself, our systems and processes are really dialed in, and we helped over 200 families last year. We expect to help even more families this year, and our business is steady enough that I felt we could finally branch out into property management.


A big concern that I've had was that I didn’t have the time during the day to focus on the daily aspects of moving tenants in, handling repairs, moving tenants out, and all the things that come along with property management. My solution was to find and hire a great property manager who has years of experience and, in my opinion, is one of the best in Athens, Jennifer McMahon.

You'll get the same great service through Iron Horse Property Management that you get through Woodall Realty Group.

Jennifer has worked with two other property managers in Athens over the years and has done a great job. She’s a go-getter, a hard worker, and she will be handling the day-to-day aspects of the property management. She’ll be taking care of all of the things that you as a landlord don’t want to do and help things run more smoothly.


So, now we will be able to offer the same great service through Iron Horse Property Management that you get through Woodall Realty Group. If you have rental property that you’re managing yourself, or you’re dissatisfied with your current property management, give me or Jennifer a call.


Our goal with Iron Horse Property Management is to give you peace of mind while maximizing the return on your investment. We want to make owning rental property a completely passive investment for you so that you just receive income each month and not have to worry about it.

If you or someone you know has questions about Iron Horse Property Management or any other concerns, give us a call. We would love to be here for you.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How to Stop Paying PMI Today


If you put less than 20% down on your home purchase, you are paying private mortgage insurance. However, there is a way to get rid of it.
Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation

Looking to buy a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here to perform a full home search

I’ve got a tip to share with you today that will potentially save you thousands of dollars on your mortgage payments.

If you’ve bought your house in the last decade but put less than 20% down on it, you’re probably paying private mortgage insurance, or PMI. At this point, you’re probably not even thinking about it, as it is rolled up into your monthly payment. It costs you $100, maybe $150 per month.
However, once you pay down the balance on your mortgage to a 78% loan-to-value ratio or once the value of your home increases enough to cross that threshold, you can eliminate having to pay PMI for the remainder of your loan term.
It’s a smart idea to have your home re-appraised.
How do you do this? Just contact your mortgage lender and ask them to have the home appraised once again to eliminate your PMI. If you bought your home in the last 10 years, especially around 2011 or 2012, it has risen significantly in value. If you’re currently paying PMI, you should look into eliminating it. It will save you thousands of dollars over the loan’s term.
If you have any questions for us or we can do anything for you or anyone you know, give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for the Market

Today I have five quick, easy tips that will ensure your home sells successfully.
Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation

Looking to buy a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here to perform a full home search



If you’re thinking about selling your home, I want to give you five quick, easy tips on how to prepare your home for the market.
  1. Clean up and clean out. Wipe down your trim, blinds, ceiling fans, etc. Make sure all of your surfaces are spic and span. Also, if a room has too much furniture, move it out before you show the home. When selling, less is more.
  2. Improve your curb appeal. Trim your bushes, cut your grass, paint your shutters, and put out fresh mulch or pine straw. A buyer’s first impression is of the outside of your home, so take the time to make it look neat and well taken care of.
  3. Get professional photos taken. Buyers will see various qualities of photos when searching for homes online. Professional photos make a home stand out online and are more likely to convince a buyer to see your home in person.
  4. If a buyer can’t get in to see your home, they’ll just move on to the next.
  5. Be willing to accommodate showings. Your home needs to be show-ready at all times, and if a buyer calls, you need to let them see it when they request to. The market is very active right now, so if a buyer can’t get in to see your home, they’ll just move on to the next.
  6. Price your home properly. Don’t price it too low or too high. Find a good agent, do your research, and make sure you know what the market is doing. Prices are rising rapidly in our area, so you need to make sure you get a professional opinion on what the value of your home is in the current market. This will keep you from selling yourself short and from pricing yourself out of the market.

If you or anyone you know is looking to buy or sell a home or you have any other real estate questions, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, February 24, 2017

What Happens If the Appraisal Comes in Low?

If for whatever reason a home doesn’t appraise, here are each side’s options in how to proceed.
Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation
Looking to buy a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here to perform a full home search
What happens when a home doesn’t appraise?  
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, the first order of business is to make sure the appraisal was done correctly. Our local appraisers do a good job, but occasionally we’ll get an out-of-town appraiser who doesn’t know the market or just does a bad job. However, if it’s determined that the appraisal was legitimate, what are each side’s options?

If you’re a homebuyer, as long as you’re still in your appraisal contingency, you have three options:
  1. Ask the seller to adjust the price down to the appraised value. If they agree to that, we adjust the price and you buy the house for less than what you thought you were going to.
  2. Terminate the contract if the seller doesn’t agree to lower the price.
  3. Bring additional cash to closing and purchase the house at a higher price. The lender will only loan on the appraised value or the purchase price—whichever is less. Say you’re under contract for $210,000 and the appraisal comes back at $205,000. On top of your down payment, you’d also have to bring in an additional $5,000 to bridge that gap between $205,000 and $210,000 because your loan will be based off $205,000.
Whether you’re the buyer or the seller, everything is open to negotiation.
If you’re a seller and the buyer is still in their appraisal contingency, you also have three options, but they’re the inverse of what the buyer is facing:

  1. Reduce the purchase price down to the appraised price.
  2. Refuse to lower the purchase price, in which case the buyer has the option to either walk away or pay extra.
  3. Negotiate between the appraised price and the purchase price and end up somewhere in the middle. Remember—everything is open to negotiation.
We work with good, local appraisers and lenders, so most of the time this situation doesn’t happen. If we do have a problem, though, we know how to work through it and resolve the situation for both parties.
If you have any questions about this topic or there is anything I can do for you whether you’re a buyer or a seller, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to speak with you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Do Rising Prices Affect Appraisals?

Home values are on the rise in the Athens market, but rising values can often signal appraisal issues. Here's where our market currently stands on that issue. Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation
Looking to buy a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here to perform a full home search
The Athens market is improving and prices are on the rise. However, rising prices can cause issues with appraisals. Any time a property changes ownership and the buyer gets a loan, the lender will require an appraisal. So are properties appraising now that values are going up? Our experience has been that properties aren't having appraisal issues on either the buyer's or seller's side. Of course, you want a house to appraise because you want the deal to work out.
Sometimes, sellers are concerned when I tell them that they can price their home above what past sales show due to low inventory. The concern is that the house won't appraise at a value above recent sales even if it sells at that price. So how does that work?
An appraiser's job is to justify a home's sale price to the bank.
The appraiser knows the purchase price of the contract before they perform the appraisal. It sounds crazy, but what it boils down to is that when a bank hires an appraiser, their job is not to determine the value of the property (the market determines value), but to justify that price and value for the bank. The bank wants to be sure they don't lend more money on the house than it's actually worth. When the appraiser knows the purchase price, their job is to pull sales and make adjustments to show that the purchase price is a realistic, fair market price that the bank won't be overpaying for. Most of the time, as long as an appraiser can do this within the appraisal guidelines, they will. Most of the time, we've been coming out OK.
Next time, we'll discuss exactly what happens for buyers and sellers if a house appraises low. In the meantime, if you haven any questions or you're thinking of buying or selling a home in the Athens area, give me a call or send me an email. I'd be happy to help you!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Looking Back at Important Stats From the 2016 Market

Today we're taking a look back at the Athens area market statistics from 2016 to try and get a feel for where our market is and where it might be headed in 2017.


Looking to sell a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here for a Home Price  Evaluation

Looking to buy a home in Athens, Georgia? Click here to perform a full home search


As we head into 2017, I wanted to take a moment to look back at the most important statistics from the Athens market in 2016. Now, a lot of agents can be procrastinators and haven't yet entered all their year-end data into the MLS, so this data might not be perfect yet.
As of early January, these numbers won't change much even as agents add in late sales data from 2016.
In Clarke County, the average sales price went up 9.8% to about $202,000. Almost 1,500 units sold in 2016, roughly 8% more homes sold than in 2015. In Oconee County, we didn't see as many sales simply because the population is smaller. Prices rose about 6.8%, from an average of $312,000 to $333,000 in 2016.
If you've been thinking about making a move in the Athens area, the time is now.
When you look at the Athens area as a whole, it was a good year with the average sales price rising 8.4% to $225,000. Overall, we're seeing prices rise, and that's a great thing. We've certainly needed it after being in a slump for a bit.
We're also seeing good appreciation, so if you're thinking about buying a house, you probably should have already done so. It's time to stop waiting.
If you've thought about selling, this time is the best time in nearly the last 10 years. We hope prices will continue to rise, but we really don't know what 2017 and 2018 will bring. As of now, things are looking up with the economy improving.
If you've been thinking about making a move in the Athens area, the time is now. Give us a call or send us an email today. We'd be glad to help.