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September
28

The real estate market continues to shift. The market is shifting from a seller's market to a more neutral market. We are seeing homes listed take much longer to sell. There are more sellers reducing their list prices. The real estate market was so strong in the spring of 2022 that you were rarely seeing price reductions. Things have changed.

We are seeing an increase in properties listed for sale. At the time I am writing this, there are 398 residential listings for sale in Coweta County. We were typically dealing with only 140 listings for sale just a few months ago. At the same time, mortgage rates have increased dramatically. Mortgage rates nearly touched seven percent during the week of September 19th, 2022. This is the highest rates have been in years. The mortgage rates increase curbed buyer enthusiasm as we are seeing less buyers with less buying power. So, all of this should decrease property prices, right? This is not the case at all right now.

Per the Georgia Multiple Listing Service (GAMLS), the average sales price in Coweta County in August 2021 was $383,732. In August of 2022 the average sales price jumped over 17% to $451,410. Despite an increase in supply (listings) and decrease in demand (less buyers), the price has increased. This is quite an unusual real estate market. This does show the value in Coweta County real estate right now.

So, what does the future hold? We are entering our seasonally "slow" time of the year in real estate. We sell less houses in the fall and winter than the spring and summer. I do expect prices to simmer down. Regarding mortgage rates, The Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae, and The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, known as Freddie Mac, both have predicted that mortgage rates will decrease closer to 4% in 2023. This should increase the number of buyers and strengthen their buying power (they can afford more). The real estate market is more volatile now than it has been in a very long time but prices continue to stay strong here in Coweta County.

September
15

Common Real Estate Scams

 

The most common forms of scams I see in my real estate business are rental scams involving deposits and earnest money and wire fraud. I have had the local Sherriff's Department contact me looking to track a rental scam prospect down. 

One of our agents recently had his father in law's residential property listed for sale. He was online and saw where someone took the pictures of the house and posted that the home was available for lease when it in fact was not. The scam artist was cold calling prospects to rent the property. He just happened to contact our agent's friend, so she called our agent and made him aware of the scam. The scam artist was using the money payment application, "Zelle", and asking the prospective renters to put both a security deposit and first month's rent down. He created urgency by telling people they had to put the money down as soon as possible or someone else would lease the property. The scam artist took $3,000 from someone. He used the payment application Zelle because it is harder to trace. 

People need to do their due diligence when looking at properties to lease or buy. I would recommend using a trusted Realtor to represent to help avoid these type scams. 

Another type of fraud I commonly see is wire fraud. Buyers typically wire in their earnest money as part of a contract. Buyers need to make sure that they have the correct wiring instructions from the earnest money holder. Do not open suspicious e-mails from people you do not know. Real Estate closing attorneys, that typically hold earnest money as part of contracts, can call you or e-mail you with correct wiring instructions. We see scam artists create e-mail addresses and pose as the closing attorney asking for the earnest money or funds to purchase a home. They will change a letter off of the closing attorney's e-mail address and hope their target does not notice. The scammer will then try to get their target to wire the money to the scammer's account instead of the real estate closing attorney. With home purchases, we are talking about losing a significant amount of money. 

My suggestion here would be to close with a trusted real estate attorney and have your realtor double check everything, including wiring instructions, before you send. You could also call the closing attorney before you send the wire to make sure the wiring instructions are correct. Wire fraud is very common. 

July
28

As the real estate market begins to shift and cool down, it is more important than ever to have the correct approach when selling your property. An imperative part of our job as Realtors is consulting with clients and preparing them to list their home. Market value analysis, condition of the home and attention to detail all matter. There are several common mistakes that I see property owners make. I will cover some of those below.

Perhaps the most essential part of putting a property on the market is value analysis. There needs to be data behind the list price. Recent sales of similar properties in the vicinity of the subject property should be considered. Even in a great market, you cannot just throw a price out there. You need comparable sales to support the value. Many homeowners take pride in their home which is a great thing. However, when it comes to pricing, you need an objective approach. Many buyers will not see the same value in an aspect of the home that you will. For example, a pool that you spent a significant amount of money on, may be viewed as an expense or liability to a prospective buyer, especially one with children or pets. Another example is a very custom renovation. You may love the purple color of the walls but most buyers would like something more neutral like a grey or white. Price is the most important part of listing a property. Many sellers forget this. You do not want your listing to sit with no activity. A pre-listing appraisal is a great idea.

Just like selling a car, a home needs to be in tip top shape when listed on the market. All aspects of the home need to be in good working order as well as a clean home. I advise my clients to have a pre-listing home inspection to ensure this. It is better to be proactive with real estate than reactive. Handle issues upfront and do not wait for the buyer to find them while under contract. If you cannot handle these issues, then the price needs to reflect the expense to handle these items

A first impression in real estate is everything. Once the property hits the market and the internet, presentation is everything. Professional photography, including drone photography when appropriate is a must. A detail-oriented approach is vital. Detailed remarks that showcase the property's strengths and potential is essential. You want to grab potential buyers' attention while making them comfortable with the home.

A Realtor can handle and should handle all of this for you. They should be your guide through the home selling process. Take your time with listing preparation and pay attention to details, it will pay off for you!

July
12

Growing up in Newnan if it was your time to take the midnight train to glory, not Georgia (sorry Glady's and pass my apology along to the Pip's, won't you) your choice was clear. Hillcrest or Mckoon's funeral home. Both establishments were known for their high quality of service and were housed in some of the most iconic homes the region had to offer. In fact, some would say, at night if the moon was full, you could see on their porches Rhett, Scarlett, and even Miss Daisy if Hoke had not picked her up yet for a drive, rocking in their chairs, drinking sweet tea, and talking about the recent unpleasantries.

Well, at 13 years of age, for a summer job, I was hired on at Hillcrest to do a little of this, that, and the other. During that summer I also played on a little league baseball team sponsored by Lindsey Realty. I played catcher because I was short, chubby, and not the quickest of humans. All you have to do as a catcher, my coach said, was stop the pitch with your open glove as the ball comes over the plate. I learned from experience you could also stop the pitch with your chest protector, mask, shin guard and protective cup. The latter is not highly recommended.

One Saturday with our baseball coach out of town, I invited our Lindsey's baseball team to practice on the sprawling front lawn of Hillcrest Funeral Home. Permission was given and at the appointed time nine of us showed up to play. A mix-up meant we only had one baseball to use but we were excited about the day and proceeded to rearrange the lawn of Hillcrest into a baseball diamond that would make the groundkeeper at Ponce de Leon Park weep. Without permission we borrowed 3 pillows from the couch in viewing room number 3 to be used as bases. Took the yellow cushion off the chapel organ stool Ms. Mills sat upon to play "In the Garden" hundreds of times a year to be used as home plate. Then carefully removed the small shelf in the entry way which held the "Burning Candle of Perpetual Light" so we could use the shelf for a pitching rubber. All was set. Play ball!

The first batter fouled a pitch sending our only ball bouncing up the driveway where it eventually rolled into the casket barn whose door had been left slightly ajar in anticipation of a delivery later that day. Immediately, the team began running after the ball because to lose it meant we were through. Weighted down by a chest protector, mask, shin guards and cup along with a genetic disposition towards heaviness I was the last to arrive at the barn. Aristotle once said, "We become brave by doing brave acts." But I bet Aristotle was never faced with the challenge of having to go inside a dark barn full of caskets to retrieve a baseball.

Channeling my experienced mortuary employee side, I said, "okay, I need 3 volunteers to go with me to get the ball. " They were not familiar with Aristotle, so no one wanted to go. After a good minute of silence one teammate said, "I'll go if you let me wear your mask". Another, 'I will go if I can wear the chest protector". "If I can wear the shin guards" another said, "I will go as well". So now armored up, and me with a cup, the four of us entered the dark barn in single file line like a stack of Navy Seal's from the movie, Zero Dark Thirty.

As the darkness enveloped us and our hearts relocated to our throats the mask one yelled "lets crawl in case there are bat's." Shin guard responded, "what if there are snakes"? Chest protector screamed "lets duck walk." So that's what we did. And it was a decision which would prove to be a disaster. For in order to duck walk we had to utilize the caskets as handles to help push our way through. The problem was each casket was sitting atop a four wheeled dolly meaning every time we touched them, they would begin to roll.

Well, it didn't take long as we pushed through for all the caskets to begin moving like a wave from a Tsunami. Fearing we would be crushed I yelled to the boys outside, "open the door"! The good news is the door to the barn was immediately opened. The bad news is that when it opened a casket in full roll caught the threshold of the barn and rolled right on out, catching the downslope of the driveway and took off down the dogwood lined lane.

Hastily emerging from the barn, we armored ones witnessed the horrific scene firsthand. Five frantic 13-year-old boys in pursuit of a casket rolling down the driveway of Hillcrest Funeral Home.

Fortunately, the casket missed the mailbox, skirted a magnolia, and rolled over a pothole which slowed its momentum just enough for the boys to catch up with it and stop its roll. I was the last to arrive at the bottom of the driveway because my husky pants had actually ripped during the duck walk in the barn and I had to hold them together while running.

All of us were panting now. Breaths were hard to come by while the ramifications of what we had done began to slowly overwhelm us. I said, "Guys, we have to put everything back or I am in real trouble."

Now, they all could have scattered at that point. They all could have left me alone to take the heat for what had taken place. But they didn't leave. In fact, not one of the 8 budged.

They all stayed.

"Let's get to work" the one with the mask said and so we did. Choosing to work together, the pillows were returned to viewing room number 3. Ms. Mills cushion found its way back to the organ while I personally returned the small shelf to the entry way and placed the "Burning Candle of Perpetual Light" back in its sacred position. We then rolled the runaway casket back up the drive to the barn and placed it inside with its other caged friends. So, after all that, you may be wondering if we ever found the baseball. No, we did not, we actually found something far more valuable. We found out what true friendship meant. We found that being honest and admitting we contributed to a mess was freeing. We also found that choosing not to blame, point an accusatory finger, or yell with toxic venom directed at another was life sustaining. Sure, it didn't turn out perfect and we did get in trouble. There was a big scratch on the casket, more than a few grass stains on the pillows from viewing room number 3 and the inseam of my husky pants was blown. But no one walked out on the others. Took the cowardly road home. We faced the situation together and made it through. Now, I happen to believe, that the lesson we learned 53 years ago in the driveway of Hillcrest Funeral Home is a lesson that would still be beneficial for us to remember today as we face division, discord, and toxic rhetoric all around. For the truth is, like those mortuary boys of days gone by we have all contributed to this mess we are experiencing right now in some way. And we can't' abandon each other at the bottom of the driveway. We can't simply blame the other for believing differently, or looking different, or having a more progressive or conservative view of important issues and then run. We are all better than that. We need to find a way to stay to together, united, caring for one another, having each other's back, because that very well may be the only way for us to make it through.

So, thanks Lindsey Realty teammates for teaching me this lesson years ago. Thanks for not leaving me to face the circumstances of a runaway casket all by myself. Thanks for being my friends. I hope you remember what we learned that day also and it has served you spiritually and emotionally down through the years as well..And if I may ask one more thing. Since I don't live in Newnan anymore. If one of you Lindsey Realty sluggers happens to be passing Hillcrest in the next few days, would you run in and make sure I re-lit the "Burning Candle of Perpetual Light" when I put it back in 1968. Because for the life of me, I cannot remember if I did. And one more thing. While there if you do decide to go into the casket barn, don't duck walk! For you will split your pants and all manner of problem will rain down upon you. Trust me. I know!

July
12

We have also noticed that the number of buyers in the marketplace has decreased. Prices are staying strong, but the showing traffic and the volume of offers are not what they once were. As recently as this year I would receive 20-plus offers on a property but those days seem to be gone.

A significant reason for this sudden change is the increase in rates. In late June, mortgage rates rose above six percent. The Federal Reserve announced a large 3/4 percent raise of interest rates in June. The Federal Reserve has also stated that they expect to raise the rates several times this year and next to combat rising inflation in our country. All this seems to have cooled real estate buyer activity. As mortgage rates rise, a mortgage payment becomes higher and higher. An article I read recently from Lawrence Yun, from the National Association of Realtors, stated that the payment on a $300,000 mortgage went from $1,265 in December of 2021 to over $1,800 in June of 2022 because of the mortgage rate increase. This is pricing many buyers out of the market. 

Another reason buyers are leaving the market is how competitive the market is. I wrote about this in a recent article as we are seeing home buying fatigue. Some buyers are tired of losing multiple offer situations over and over. We are seeing large institutional cash investors frequently out bid occupant buyers obtaining a mortgage. Many buyers are simply waiting for the market to cool down.

In fact, this "cool down" could be a good thing for the real estate market and economy in the long run. Jerome Powell, the chairman for the Federal Reserve, has stated that the housing market needs a "reset," particularly for young homebuyers. Prices have kept increasing despite an increase in listings and a decrease in buyer traffic. It is still a seller's market in Coweta County, just not as strong as it once was. While the market is shifting, I do not think prices will cool down as quickly as many buyers hope they will. 

Jess Barron is an Associate Broker with Lindseys, Inc. Realtors and former President of the Newnan-Coweta Board of Realtors.

April
29

Finding A House To Buy in 2022

What is it like finding a house to purchase in 2022? You have probably heard through someone you know how competitive it is. Maybe you know from your own experience. With a low supply of listed properties and high demand to purchase, it's a battle to find the right house for you.

Finding the right house is a fight all in itself. At the time I writing this, there are only 165 homes listed for sale in Coweta County. If you are interested in any of the properties, you can expect to compete with other buyers for the same home. I have had as many as 21, 22 and 30 offers on the same house recently. In these situations, a strong cash offer with no contingencies usually wins out the bidding war. Competing with this many buyers is a not typically a formula for success. This is where your Realtor should come in.

A good Realtor, that is connected to the local market, should know of opportunities off the market. In other words, an experienced Realtor should know of homes for sale that are not listed in the Georgia Multiple Listing Service (GAMLS) or Zillow. This is key for buyers looking to purchase in this crazy market. You may need your Realtor to contact homeowners and send letters to properties that are not listed that interest you.

So how "bad" is it out there? Per GAMLS, new listings were down almost six percent from March 2021 to March 2022. Active listings were down over 20 percent. Average days on market were down to 20 days from 31 days. Sales price increased by over 13 percent year over year. The supply of listings is decreasing and demand seems to remain steady. This is causing the prices to increase.

If you can locate a property before it is actively listed on MLS or Zillow, you are essentially eliminating your competition for the property. This should prevent a bidding war and drastic price increases caused by that. Most property owners are aware of how strong a seller's market we are in, and will still want top dollar for their home, even in an off-market situation.

As interest rates rise, many experts expect the housing market to cool. In theory, this makes perfect sense. I am just not seeing a drastic difference here in Coweta yet. It is still highly competitive for buyers. Having a good Realtor guide you through a market like this is as important as ever.

February
21

There is a growing concern in the real estate community regarding rising interest rates, which mortgage rates typically follow. Many potential buyers have been waiting for the real estate market to cool and prices to lower before they purchase a home. That does not seem to be happening anytime soon. As interest rates rise, many buyers will not be able to afford purchasing a home and will be priced out of the current market. Increased inflation is a driving force for the interest rates to be raised by the Federal Reserve. According to Bloomberg, in January of 2021, the year over year inflation rate for the United States was 7%. As of January 26th, 2022, mortgage rates are pushing 4%. This may not seem like a high rate, but mortgage rates were as low as 2.68% just 13 months ago, according to Rocket Mortgage. The rates have steadily increased since December 2020.

This example, from Rocket Mortgage, of a one percent increase in a mortgage rate shows you the difference a percentage can make. This will prevent many "fringe buyers" from purchasing: By way of example, say that Taylor, a 30-year-old woman who is a first-time home buyer, wishes to obtain a 30-year fixed FHA loan on a new home with a 20% down payment. Below, you can get a sense of just how much she stands to save, given a 1% difference in interest savings on her 30-year mortgage.

30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate

Monthly Payment*

Principal And Interest

[2.99%]

$1,073

$842

[3.99%]

$1,184

$953

 

On January 26th, 2022, the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, strongly hinted at raising the interest rates. The Reserve said with inflation rates well above two percent, it could start raising interest rates as early as March of this year. Many experts believe this is the first of several rate increases this year. This will cause mortgage rates to rise. With increasing home value and prices, as well as rising mortgage rates, purchasing a home will become more difficult.

Now is a good time to buy before the rates and prices rise any higher. We are also seeing a large increase in the supply of listings here in Coweta County. We are at the very start of our listing season. It is a good time to start looking at property if you are not already.

January
12

 

Realtors have seen buyers battle it out in multiple offer situations during this current real estate boom. A low supply of homes for sale only increases the competition between buyers. More specifically, a low supply of "smaller" homes has significantly increased the value of homes that baby boomers (our older population) and first-time buyers would like to purchase. These two groups of the population, while very different, are competing over the same type of home in many situations. 

Many younger buyers are looking for a smaller first home that fits their budget. At the same time, our older population is looking to downsize, decrease their budget, and have less to maintain at their residence.

Most new construction is outpriced for these buyers. Of the 71 new construction homes for sale in Coweta County at the time this article is being written (according to GAMLS), the lowest priced is $334,900. 63 of the 71 new construction homes are priced over $400,000. This leaves a significant portion of the two groups of the population to battle it out over residential re-sales.

Contributing to this low supply of smaller homes, is the fact that "they just do not build them that small anymore". The minimum square footage for a new home in Coweta County is 1725 square feet. I see re-sale homes under this size go for well over $150 a square foot and some of the nicer ones push $200 a square foot.

So, who is winning these bidding wars? Typically, it is the cash buyer. With less contingencies and quicker closing times, the cash buyers will win the bidding over financing offers, even if their offer is less sometimes. These means that the baby boomers are often winning the bid and closing on the home since they typically have more cash than the younger buyers. Our baby boomers are often able to take the equity out of their current home, savings, 401k, etc. and pay cash. The younger first-time buyers, usually having a heavy amount of financing, are having to go find another home to bid on. This can be very frustrating.

Being cyclical, the real estate market will eventually turn and favor the buyers at some point. But right now, it is a very competitive time to purchase a home, particularly for someone looking to downsize or purchase their first home. Seems like it is a good time to build a small, affordable home.