Size Matters – Even in the Atlanta Real Estate Market

Size matters when you are comparing homes and pricing. But size is not the only factor. Sometimes, size is not even the primary factor. The most trustworthy source for square foot measurements in the Atlanta residential real estate market is the sketch from an actual appraisal. The second best source is the county tax assessor sketches but those records are not always up to date with renovations. Tax Assessor sketches are also not easy to find… Bottom Line: We have to compare multiple sources as a real estate professional when we are advising clients. So we created this cheatsheet!

Links to County Tax Assessor Sketches:


Cobb County

Dekalb County

Forsyth County

Fulton County

Gwinnett County

2017 Disclosure Forms for Buying Real Estate in Georgia

Download a Copy:

2017 Protect Yourself When Buying a Home

2017 What Buyers Should Know about Flood Zones

2017 Protect Yourself When Buying a Home to be Constructed

2017 Protect Yourself When Buying a Condo

2017 What to Know When Buying in an HOA

2017 What Buyers Need to Know about Short Sales

2017 ABCs of Agency – Representation

2017 Mold Pamphlet

39 Traits of Likable People – Are You Breaking any of these Rules?

Traits of likable people

These will probably not surprise you at all. But if some of these catch your attention, you may have a little work to do… Don’t worry, we ALL do!

Here they are:

  1. They actively listen
  2. They make a great first impression
  3. They’re accountable for their mistakes
  4. They do what they say they’ll do
  5. They treat everyone with respect
  6. They ask questions instead of making assumptions
  7. They laugh
  8. They live their own life – not one that is held hostage by the opinions of others
  9. They follow-up
  10. They smile
  11. They remember your name
  12. They offer to help
  13. They aren’t afraid to make mistakes
  14. They send Thank You notes
  15. They encourage others
  16. They speak slowly and confidently
  17. They don’t judge you
  18. They apologize
  19. The forgive and don’t keep score
  20. They don’t speak for you
  21. They know how to give a compliment
  22. They know how to receive a compliment
  23. They tell the truth
  24. They celebrate others
  25. They have good body language
  26. They don’t criticize others
  27. They give you their undivided attention
  28. They don’t make you feel defensive
  29. They don’t take credit for other people’s successes
  30. They maintain good eye contact
  31. They let you do most of the talking
  32. They know how to have a tough conversation
  33. They admit when they are wrong
  34. They are consistent
  35. They don’t interrupt
  36. They are not afraid to be vulnerable
  37. They don’t exaggerate
  38. They can laugh at themselves
  39. They are optimistic without being unrealistic

Take notice that these behaviors are not tricks or tactics. They are genuine, admirable traits that breathe life into relationships. Think of some more? Comment below – We would be happy to add them to the list!

Paint Cans – A Real Estate Hot Potato

Want me to leave the touch up paint?

Paint Cans

Paint cans can be a bit of a hot potato leading up to a real estate closing. Emotions range from big hassle to huge favor. Environmental regulations can make disposing of paint cans expensive and difficult. On the other hand, the buyer may really want the paint for post-move touch up IF it is fairly fresh and matches the current trim and wall colors. The problem arises in the between those two and real life almost always lies in the middle.

The Best Scenario

The best scenario occurs when the seller has partially empty paint cans with notes of what was painted with it and the date. There are less than 6 cans and they are neatly stored with a few spare rollers and pans. Nice and tidy and organized.

The Worst Scenario

Cans are left from two to three generations of paint schemes (and all are still liquid) with various other project supplies that have all probably dried out by now. Now, if the paint has solidified, that is a great thing! Then it just becomes a household waste nuisance instead of something that requires special handling for disposal.

Leave Things Better Than You Found Them

I have found that living by this rule pays off for me every time. With camping, its “leave no trace”. That way nature is preserved for the next person. When it comes to turning your house over to a new buyer, leaving behind any helpful tips on how to maximize their enjoyment of it will be a blessing that cannot be calculated. Yes, it might take work. Yes, the buyer may have been a pain in the neck along the way and not appreciate it. But they don’t define who you are do they? Leave the legacy you want to leave and be proud of your reputation. You never know how small the world is. That buyer could very well end up being in position to return the favor some day.

Real Estate Sales is not Rocket Surgery

But you had better handle the emergencies well.

real estate

I just finished watching the movie Sully and it gave the audience a glimpse into the responsibility someone can feel for people under their care. It also highlighted the scrutiny that can follow when events don’t go as planned. What made me want to see this movie was the fact that this was a real life event that thrust normal people into an emergency situation. Captain Sullenberger had been quietly mastering his craft for 40 years. Then came a bird strike out of the blue and the emergency landing… His character in the movie remarked: “I’ve delivered a million passengers over 40 years yet in the end I’m going to be judged on 208 seconds.” Real Estate Sales is a LOT like that! EVERYTHING is colored by the last few days leading into the closing.

How Hard Could it Be?

Buying or selling a house could be straightforward IF… the seller is honest, the house is in tip-top shape, seller continues to maintain the house, the buyer is honest, the buyer behaves at work, the buyer stops buying other things,  the buyer has plenty of money, the buyer chooses a lender who is able to get things done early, the inspector is not an alarmist, reasonable people are involved and they work through the inspection issues, the appraiser actually knows the market where the house is located, the neighbors do not accost the buyer with accusations, the closing attorney has a good staff, the HOA cooperates in a timely manner and mother nature holds off on the surprises. If there are agents involved, they also need to help move the sale forward smoothly rather than introducing drama by suggesting ill will and ulterior motives on the part of the other side.

But real estate sales are rarely free from all of those. Agents joke that real estate sales would be easy if it just weren’t for the people. What they mean is that people come with agendas, motives and selfishness. That mixture can bring drama and it is the drama that takes all the fun out of buying and selling homes. Delivering great service is tough enough. Delivering great service with competing agendas, personal drama and raging emotions can be downright complicated. At times it can feel like rocket surgery.

It is not Life or Death

In the end, it is still just buying or selling house. It is not real surgery on a living person. It is not life or death. No one ever died because a closing did not happen – at least not directly – that I know of. A house is not going to burn down because a deadline is missed or a text is misinterpreted. But houses can burn down – the night before the closing. Movers can drop huge wardrobes off a second story catwalk resulting in a furniture explosion. Washing machine hoses can burst.

Still, we are dealing with stuff – stuff that is most likely insured. Yes, dreams are wrapped up in that stuff and the loss of a dream is stressful. This is when we find out who people really are. Character is not made during a crisis – it is just revealed.

There is No Referee

There is no referee in the game of real estate sales. Selling a property is the equivalent of two countries negotiating a trade agreement. Yes, there are brokers involved above the agents but brokers are biased. There are laws and contracts in place but in the end, there is no ultimate authority watching over the process. No one to rule on an issue. No one who can call a penalty or eject a player. The parties involved just have to work it out. The parties have to work everything out. That means they even have to work out how they are NOT going to proceed if the contract is to be terminated.

Twenty one years down the road, I think what surprises people the most (agents included) is that contract language is not always black and white. The best route is communicate well and work together to address any bumps in the road.

Smooth Landings

As with any profession, witnessing the desired and typical outcome can seem routine. That does not mean it was easy. That means that the professionals involved have practiced enough to be able to achieve the desired outcome even if the unexpected arises.

I believe most people want things to go smoothly once a house goes under contract. Most of the time, everyone on both sides does their part and things fall into place like they are supposed to. As an experienced Realtor, I can tell you that I never relax until a couple of days after a closing. Passing deadlines and milestones is more of a relief than a celebration. There are so many moving parts to a transaction! We know that we can get everything right up to the week of closing and if there is some last-minute drama, we will still be judged. Its human nature. The only way to win is to nail the landing.



My Listing Just Expired – Now What?

expiredFind a Real Estate Agent who can Solve Your Puzzle.


Selling your home can be hard work! The reality is that homes have to be “sold” 4 times before they close. In fact, if you consider cold feet or buyer’s remorse, the Buyers may have to re-buy it a couple of times throughout the process themselves. So, who has to be sold? Here are the usual ones:

  1. The Real Estate Agents
  2. The Buyers
  3. The Buyer’s Inspector
  4. The Buyer’s Lender’s Appraiser

You’re Not Alone

expired listing

Atlanta Single Family Home Sellers in Q2 2016

If your home’s listing just expired, you will fall into one of the red columns below. It may surprise most people but even in great markets, 1 out of 5 listed homes still fails to sell. The higher the price point, the higher the failure rate. The higher price points command fewer buyers with higher expectations. We analyze a lot of Expired Listings and the issues usually fall into three main categories: Price, Condition and Marketing. So, let’s take those in reverse order.


Most houses have strengths that can be used to edge out their competition. In a uniform subdivision where there are no significant advantages versus the neighboring homes, price and condition will be the driving forces. The goal of the Marketing is to tell a story that highlights the strengths. With Expired Listings, it should be fairly easy to evaluate the marketing – it is probably still on the online marketing channels like Zillow. Sometimes there are obvious things you can address.

You must stand out in the crowd in a classy way that compels someone to want to come visit your house in person! Staging. Lighting. Professional photos. Lifestyle angles. Story-telling. Social Media sharing. Videos. Events. Email campaigns. Upbeat energy. It ALL comes into play!

Here are some video examples of our marketing.


Initially, condition shows up through the decor and interior finish materials in the online photos. Even if you get an “A” for staging, poor lighting in the photos can be a show stopper with the online viewing experience! Once the buyer’s decide to view your house, curb appeal and home maintenance come into play the moment they arrive. Landscaping plays into the mix more than most people realize. Even the slightest sign of deferred maintenance, mildew or peeling paint sets off alarms in the mind of the buyer.

But there are two other senses at play as well: detecting sounds and smells. When your house is on the market, you don’t want either one of these to be a factor. Background music and fountains usually mean there is road noise. Plug in air fresheners usually mean there is stale or musty air that must be overcome.

Bottom line with Condition: You need a strong, objective agent to tell you the things others are afraid to say. Everyone has blindspots. You could even be “noseblind“.

Take a look at our “Staging for Sale” folder on Pinterest.


Sometimes pricing is straight-forward. Many times it is not. Judgement calls have to be made as to the financial trade-off for a busy road, a steep driveway, no backyard, synthetic stucco, etc. In fact, we have a lengthy list of resale issues that come into play as Buyers compare properties. We do not treat this lightly. We do not swag it. We do not use averages and percentages. We start with the appraisal methodology and work backwards. We build pricing from the ground up with specific comparable properties. We gather multiple opinions from other top agents. We crunch numbers – exhaustively!

Holding it Together

This comes back to selling the house throughout the entire process. We prepare for that. We help our sellers get their house in show ready condition with our stagers. We help our sellers prepare for the inspection with our pre-listing walk through process. We do our homework on pricing so we are ready for the appraiser from the beginning. We know the contracts inside and out so we are prepared to defend your rights. We will not rest until you are closed.

Solving Puzzles is What We Do

If your listing expired recently, you owe it to yourself to find out why. We can help – solving home sale puzzles is what we do! You can reach us through our direct office number 404-939-3202 OR via email at

expired listing

Top 10 Reasons FSBO’s Fail

“Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail”FSBO

There can be multiple reasons why homes don’t sell. Even the professional real estate agents make some of these mistakes. Selling a house is usually HARD work! If you are doing it as a part-time job, I know there is a chance it could go right. But, statistics show that it almost always doesn’t go as well as it could. Here are a number of reasons why FSBO’s fail to sell:

Top 10:

  1. Did not have a process to screen the buyers (and their lender) to make sure they diligently pursued the loan and could actually close the deal
  2. Did not use a professional stager to get the house ready
  3. Did not use a professional photographer and their photos were just not compelling
  4. Did not have enough time to prospect for buyers every day
  5. Buyer prospects knew the inventory better than they did so they had the upper hand in the negotiations
  6. Other sellers with competing houses were better prepared and better positioned in the market
  7. Missed the mark on pricing initially and could not recover
  8. Did not know how to manage home inspection issues without giving away the farm
  9. Talked too much when showing their house and turned off the buyers by hovering over them the whole time
  10. Had trouble coordinating showings with prospective buyers

5 More:

  1. Did not have court-tested contract forms and experience enforcing them
  2. Had no professional sales language and negotiation training
  3. Started out objective but lost sight of the whole reason they were moving when their emotional attachment flared up.
  4. Did not know which marketing techniques mattered most and wasted resources chasing dead-ends.
  5. Buyer found something during the inspection that should have been disclosed up front and terminated the contract.

Painting the Brick could give You the Edge You Need

When it comes to selling your home, competition can be fierce! Painting the brick could give you the edge you need.

painting the brick

Original version with red brick

Figuring out how to maximize your house’s sale price can be a daunting task. Just about EVERYONE has an opinion. Our goal is to help our clients make the absolute most of what they have! That requires seeing the impact of various ideas up front.

painting the brick

Version where the red brick was painted

The photos above show two similar homes that both started out with red brick. The brick on the house in the lower photo was actually even a deeper red than the one above. The problem? One recent trend in the Atlanta marketplace with new home construction has been the use of painted brick. The result? That creates a style gap between the new homes and older homes with more traditional styling.  It exposes their age and that affects their attractiveness to current buyers.

So, one way to make a home feel newer is to close that style gap by neutralizing the brick color. Hopefully the photos above show the impact of that.