By Shandra Hill Smith
If you’re looking to buy a home in the second half of 2010, there’s reason to be encouraged, say some metro Atlanta real estate professionals. That’s despite the reality that recovery in the hard-hit housing sector has been more steady than swift.
“I think the third quarter is going to be on the uptick,” says Weslee Knapp, president and broker, Keller Knapp Realty (www.kellerknapprealty.com). “A lot of people have pulled back and waited to see what the market was going to do. I think people have seen that the market is fairly steady and there’s going to be a strong third quarter.”
The news is particularly good, Knapp says, for the resale market. “It’s easier to buy than it is to sell in this market,” he adds.
Collin Ellingson, senior vice president of sales, Coldwell Banker NRT Development Advisors (www.nrtdevelopmentadvisors.com), drives home that point further. “It’s very much a buyer’s market,” says Ellingson. “Now is still a great time for a smart buyer to purchase a home in Atlanta.”
While both new home sales and new home construction have declined and the market has slowed since the end of the extension on federal tax credits, the latter part of the year “will be better than the same period in 2009,” according to Mike Wright, senior vice president and managing broker for Harry Norman, Realtors Intown Office (www.harrynorman.com).
Wright also believes the market is showing signs of improvement and, he adds, “this momentum should be accelerated with the historically low interest rates that are currently available.”
Homes in Intown neighborhoods, say Wright and Knapp, are faring well. “Home sales in Intown neighborhoods with prices under $400,000 continue to do well as a result of the influx of first-time homebuyers,” Wright adds. “Many of these buyers would have been in the condo market a couple of years ago, but they are finding better value in single-family residences.”
In this buyer’s market, setting the price right, experts advise, is critical. “No seller gets the exact price that they dream of,” says Knapp.
“Both on the buyer and seller side, you have to be realistic about what your three or four wants or needs are,” suggests Ellingson. Buyers, he urges, should take patience with them when looking for a home. They also should be sure to clear up any issues with their credit history before purchasing, adds Wright. After giving consideration to a “reasonable number of properties,” he advises that buyers “be prepared to act quickly when they find the right home.”
For sellers, the advice from Ellingson is to be realistic about what you can expect to capture for your home in this current market.
“Sellers need to keep in mind their end game,” Ellingson says. “If a seller intends to sell their home, but the second part of their equation is that they would like to purchase another home – whether it be a condominium or a vacation home – they may get a little less than they want on the selling side, but they can make it up in value on the buying side.”
Homes that both offer what Wright calls “compelling list prices”  and that are in “great shape” will move more quickly, he says. “Buyers are generally passing on homes that require a lot of work, especially if they do not perceive that they are getting a deal. Properties that have a higher list price than the comparable sales justify or have dated kitchens and baths are sitting on the market much longer and, in many cases, being removed from the market unsold.”
Some in the market can look forward to incentives from certain sellers. These may include closing-cost contributions and prepaid homeowners’ association dues, according to Ellingson.
All in all, even with new home sales having dropped, there are opportunities to be found across the metro area.
“We’re still seeing strong traffic and good sales activity,” says Ellingson. “It’s not all doom and gloom. There’s value in all neighborhoods right now if you’re patient and you understand what you’re looking for.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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