While Isaac and I once loved our current house, it was so convenient to work at less than 8 miles, there was never any traffic. It is near enough to downtown Atlanta to have plenty of restaurant and entertainment options within a 15-20 minute drive. Linda and Mei were about the same distance away. The house was plenty large enough for the two of us.
Well, two years and two kids, and two more extended family members later, the house has shrunk considerably. We could use an extra bathroom, a larger kitchen, and a little more space for everyone to spread out. Ike needs a yard, since he is shaping up to be quite an outdoorsman. Isaac needs a man cave since we women out-number him 4:1 at present and Ike generally takes mommy’s side. My baby sister Ivanal needs a place to get out from under our mother. Gabby needs a place to park her car out of the street. Isaac and I want to be in a better public school district when Ike goes to kindergarten. In short, we needed to move.
Ivanal will be starting high school this Fall and Gabby will be moving into the dorms, so this summer is our optimal time to move. This sounded like a reasonable timeline when Isaac and I decided on it back in December.
We started out with a realtor from in-town Atlanta. Although we decided a while ago that the ‘burbs were best for our family. The southern ‘burbs ultimately. The schools are excellent, the commute is reasonable, the towns are safer, and the property is much more reasonable than Atlanta proper.
We dawdled around with our first realtor for several months, not exceptionally happy, but also not really upset by anything in particular. He didn’t really know the area, he rarely sent us places to look at, he gave very little input on maximizing our current home’s curb appeal. He just sort of took cues from us. He did refer us to a lender, which was a clear disappointment, but that is a story for another time.
At the end of April we met with a different realtor, this one was referred to us by someone who lives in the area we are looking at, because well duh. We don’t live in the area and while we love it, we really don’t know much about it other than what we can read online and glean from friends who live there.
What a difference a good realtor makes! Ten days after meeting her we had:
- Made an offer on a new house at an unbelievable deal
- Listed our home
- Juggled multiple offers and accepted one on our current place
These are some tips for spotting a really good realtor:
- They know the area that you are shopping in. They can tell you about the schools, the nearby entertainment options, the age of the neighborhood, the market climate in the area.
- They ask you your price range and they stay within it. We gave our realtor a price range and a short wish list of amenities that we wanted. She sent us 10 properties and every single one was within the range or negotiable to our range. They all had everything we asked for.
- They know how to do market research. Our home is not in the area that our realtor typically works. But she took only two days to provide us helpful comparable sales and gave us good advice on what is and isn’t worth putting into the home before we list it. She priced it spot on and it had offers within 48hours. Offers with an S.
- They make time for you. Both our realtors really met this, but it’s important. We called the new realtor on a Saturday morning about a property that had just listed the night before. I was leaving town that afternoon but we really wanted to visit the home before I left. She squeezed us between her two existing appointments and although late and a bit disheveled, she was there and able to give us some very good advice on the home. We made an offer that evening.
- They help you with an offer. This one is key. We found a property with our first realtor that we wanted to make an offer on. But we felt that the ask was way high. He pulled comps in the area, but he gave us no advice or opinion about the real value of the home or any indication that we should offer more or less than our very uneducated guess. We didn’t make the offer because we felt too uninformed. The new realtor provided comps and information for the neighborhood and the area just a few hours after we visited the house. She called us and gave us an actual number for our offer. She talked to the listing agent and told us what she could about the probability of acceptance and negotiation. Isaac turned in the letter as I boarded my flight.
We are currently under contract on both homes and are busily making plans for the big Moving Day. I am so happy that we chose to go with the new realtor. She really made all the difference in the world. If you happen to be shopping for a home in the south atlanta suburbs, I have a phenomenal realtor for you!