March 21, 2014

Carpet Capital Association of Realtors

Carolyn Roan: Do your homework before house hunting

 Uh-oh! Another prospective buyer upset with me again! Our phone conversation didn’t go very well. He didn’t like the questions I asked, or the advice I offered. Wait, the phone’s ringing ...

This time it’s someone just thinking (she says) of moving. I do my best to explain the home selling process, but she’s not ready to sell right now. I can tell. She’s stuck in the past. Maybe (I hope) I’ll hear from her again.

My office phone duty consists of answering calls from people looking to rent a house in this or that school zone, and answering inquiries about specific properties in a variety of price ranges and locations. Nearly every single call about a specific property reveals that the caller either hasn’t investigated their financing opportunities, or the property doesn’t match the loan program the caller is qualified for. It’s not turning out to be a memorable day.

My phone bleeps with calls and texts from other Realtors who want to know if my listing at such-n-such address is available.

 “Sorry, it just went under contract.”

“But, my buyer says it’s still showing up online on this-n-that website. They want to put in an offer.”

“That may be true, but any offer you bring me will have to be a backup.” Another Realtor ticked off that they didn’t call before showing the house.

How in the world do I have so many people upset with me when all I’m doing is telling them the truth?

Today, the real estate market in the Dalton/Whitfield County/Murray County area has made a nearly 180 degree turn from just a few months ago. As late as mid 2013 we were still dealing with the after-effects of the Great Recession and the foreclosure crisis. Foreclosures were still being released at a fairly brisk pace by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD and individual banks. Our housing outlook was somewhat grim and that seemed to keep the psychological lid on our local economic recovery.

Fast forward to 2014. Our business climate has improved, unemployment has dropped. Today, foreclosures are hard to find. Most of the previous foreclosed properties have sold and comparatively few new foreclosures are coming to market. Homeowners have begun to see activity on their homes that have previously sat on the market for months.

The pent-up demand for housing in our area has reached a feverish pitch and we have a shortage of available properties in most areas of Dalton/Whitfield County/Murray County. It’s now a sellers’ market. But wait! Buyers are still expecting to purchase something at foreclosure-driven prices and sellers still want pre-foreclosure prices for their homes. Complicating that, lenders have new regulations with which to qualify buyers. Buyers have to be able to prove they have the money to buy a home, prove where their money came from, and prove that they can pay back the loan.

What does all this mean? It means if you are a buyer, do yourself and your Realtor a favor and consult a lender before you ever set foot inside a house. Sure, peruse the Internet to see what you can expect to find in your intended price range. Visit an open house on the weekend. See how big the houses are. But please don’t ask your Realtor to show you something you can’t afford. Provide your Realtor with a pre-approval letter (if you are getting a loan) or proof-of-funds letter (if you are paying cash). You don’t want your spouse to fall in love with the house of their dreams and later find out you can’t qualify for the loan. We want you to be able to afford what you fall in love with.

You need this letter now because if you decide to purchase the house, you’ll need to quickly draw up an offer and prove you can afford the house. Other buyers who are competing for the same property will have their own letter. Multiple offers on the same property are common. Unless you want to miss out, you need to position yourself as the best, most qualified buyer for the property.

If you are a seller, the effect of the foreclosure market has been to drive prices down across the board. Homes similar to yours that have sold within the past six months or so will be used to establish your home’s value. But if you are serious about selling your home, remember there is a shortage of property from which buyers can choose. Qualified buyers have been waiting for just the right home to come on the market. Even if you think your property is less than perfect, pricing it appropriately will position it to compete with similar properties. Follow my recommendations and your home will receive the highest possible exposure. And you’ll be able to sell your property in the shortest amount of time.

Carolyn Roan, the 2014 Carpet Capital Association of Realtors president, has been a Realtor with Coldwell Banker-Kinard Realty since 1991. If you have any questions about CCAR or Dalton-area real estate, you can reach her at

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