Dealing with Your Real Estate

Dealing with Your Real Estate doesn’t have to be difficult!

Dealing with Your Real Estate

Trusted Advisor is the first phrase I think of whenever it comes time to sell real estate.  That is especially true when it comes to a life’s worth of accumulated real estate and the process of simplifying life in later years. Even if the “real estate” is just one house.

Is This You?

Typical scenarios:

  • People at retirement age who want to “right size” for their current lifestyle
  • People at retirement age who want to divest themselves of investment real estate to redirect the liquidity somewhere else
  • Seniors moving into an assisted care facility on their own to simplify their lifestyle and say goodbye to their home maintenance days
  • Estate situations where the property needs to be cleared out and sold

We believe ALL of the above situations require leadership, trust, compassion, and patience. That is why these are the hallmarks of how we do business.

Selling Off Real Estate – to use the cash somewhere else

If we are hired as a part of a retirement income strategy,  the goal is usually to convert the real estate over to cash so that it can be used for something else. In those cases we usually have some timing flexibility to work for the highest price possible. We just recently worked with a client who lives out of state and owned three properties in the metro Atlanta area. One was a $250k condo in midtown, one was a $150k house in Tucker and the other was a $700k house in Cumming.  All three of those properties had tenants to work around. In each case we tailored a custom plan around the tenant leases to prepare, show and sell the property. The biggest lesson we learned was that working around tenants is a recipe for constant frustration and drama.  In the end, all the tenants were given notice and once they vacated our crews went to work getting the properties show ready. Having total control over the property was crucial for the seller to be able to make decisions and agree to a contract with prospective buyers.

Senior Situations

When we are hired to assist Seniors with their real estate needs, it is a very vulnerable time.  Many times their immediate family is not located in the same city. It becomes a team effort regardless – even if the family is in the same location. In cases of failing health or capacity, time may be limited so we need to draw up a strategy that moves things forward with a definite end in mind.  That doesn’t mean “fire sale” – is just means we pull in more resources to help keep the process moving.  We also understand that part of this reality is that we will have to take what the market will give us now with regards to a sale price.  Waiting for “what might be” is not usually an option.

Rest assured, we provide full marketing no matter what. Here are some posts from past client successes:

Friends and Relatives

Friends and relatives may come out of the woodwork when it comes time for you to deal with your real estate. You will have to be strong and you may be best served by a neutral third party because you are going to need wise – objective – counsel – Here’s Why.

What is Your Next Step?

If we are not related (see previous paragraph), please give us a call on our main number at 404-939-3202 or email us at to set up an initial consultation.  We will give you our very best counsel. Straightforward, objective and Honest.

Top 10 Things Atlanta Luxury Home Sellers Should Consider!

Thinking about selling your luxury home in Atlanta? Here is our “Top 10 Things Atlanta Luxury Home Sellers Should Consider” checklist.  Check it out!

Top 10 Checklist for Atlanta Luxury Home Sellers

After nearly 20 years in Atlanta’s residential real estate trenches, we continue to see 80% of the homes struggle to sell in the Luxury niche.  Most people write that off to the uniquenesses of the homes in the most prestigious neighborhoods.  It is true.  When home automation systems and customized cabinets can each run $250,000, personal preferences can add up fast! Not to mention raw land value, stunning terrace levels and outdoor entertainment amenities.

So, we decided to use our insider perspective from previewing and selling these homes over the years to create a Top 10 Things Atlanta Luxury Home Sellers Should Consider checklist.  Our goal was to create a tool to use in interviewing various real estate professionals for the job of managing the sale if we were selling a luxury property in Atlanta today. Most real estate professionals can talk a good game and flatter your house.  They can also let you drive the process.  Why? Because getting their sign in your yard carries prestige and generates leads – whether your house sells or not.  That brings us to the difference between “Listing” your house and “Selling” it. We wanted to create a checklist that actually sells the house.

Here are our basic assumptions:

  1. The house is occupied and filled with personal furnishings.
  2. There is no financial pressure to sell fast – Selling is a lifestyle choice.
  3. In addition to this being our home, it is a large asset. We want an aggressive Realtor to manage the sale so that we know we got the highest price possible.

To get started, we used the basic categories for selling any home – Pricing, Condition, Marketing, Negotiations and Systems.


1. Get a SOLID Pricing Plan based on objective market data.  Forget the slick real estate company marketing pieces and polished agent resume’s.  Everyone in real estate sales can cook their numbers to make themselves look good.  What really matters most is what someone is going to do for YOU.  Get a pricing strategy that looks like a well thought-out business plan – customized for your house.  The reality is that for the third quarter in 2014, 34% of luxury properties went thru multiple listing periods with 50% going through at least one price reduction.  So, your pricing plan also needs contingencies when life does not go exactly as planned. The odds for outright failure with homes listed above $1.5M stands at 57%!   Only 1 in 5 sellers get the strategy right from the start. You want to be one of those sellers. The key is market awareness and optimum price positioning.


2. Listen to the staging experts. We believe Sun Tzu made a great point when he a wrote “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”  Preparation is a HUGE part of the success formula when selling homes for the highest price in a reasonable period of time without major league hassles.  If you really are planning to move, start now! No one lives in a model home environment because model homes are set up to show the house in the best light – even if it is not functional for real life.  Sort of like airbrushing a magazine model or digitally altering a photograph to make it more flattering. Captivating the buyers takes effort and skill. We even use a 2-Step Process for Staging our listings.

3. Form a team so you can make things happen in a timely manner.  Most people do not have a list of contractors at their fingertips.  There are various sources for vendor  recommendations but do you really want to conduct multiple interviews ro get your house ready to sell? You need a list (or a person with a list) of good contractors who are reasonable AND trustworthy. You need contractors that will do a good job and stand behind their work because they may be called on something comes up on your Buyer’s home inspection.  These days, contractors are busier than ever.  Getting contractors out for small jobs can be a challenge because anyone who does good work is booked.  Your best bet is to hire a real estate professional who has people they use all the time so you can knock the to-do’s out on your schedule.  DO NOT WAIT until the items show up on an inspection report when you are under contract with the clock running.


4. Your marketing plan HAS to be geared towards lifestyle rather than facts and features. Most full-time real estate professionals will have broad-spectrum internet syndication channels for marketing your home.  There is no need in getting too worked up about any particular website.  Try it out for yourself.  Where would you look for houses in a particular area? Zillow, Trulia,, Redfin?? National real estate websites like Zillow have spoiled us all with the ease of access to listed properties.  They have revolutionized the initial phase of the house shopping process.  The result? Digging through printed magazines, newspapers and smaller niche websites feels like a real pain in comparison. So, people don’t do that much anymore.  Don’t worry, your house will get found.  What you should worry about is your story and your photos! MAKE SURE YOUR AGENT TELLS A STORY about your house THAT CAPTIVATES THE AUDIENCE.  In our view Staging is a given.  Professional photography is also a given. Storytelling, though, is an art. In the luxury realm, you do not need a book of features for a Buyer to labor through.  You need a story that they can’t stop reading.

5. Make SURE you get high quality photos. Today’s buyers are flooded with images from websites like Houzz and Pinterest.  Most of those images are painstakingly crafted to produce energy and emotion thus sparking some sort of dream.  An an example, some of our projects can be viewed on our YouTube Channel.  When it comes time to sell a house, home seller’s can easily underestimate the playing field because they are emotionally involved.  The tables get turned as sellers go from “being” the consumer to “having to appeal to” the consumer.  After reviewing countless photos, we have found that not all professional photographers have the same eye when it comes to capturing the strengths of a home.  Some photographers have a consistent hue on the coloring.  Some photographers do better with features and lighting.  Some make you just shake your head… The key again is to look at previous projects – that is how we found the photographer we use and we could not be happier!

6. Use special events, deadlines and timing to your advantage.  There is a reason companies like Sotheby’s use auctions to sell luxury items like art.  Buying luxury art involves discretionary spending.  Beauty and value are in the eye of the beholder.  In an Auction Environment, the pending sale deadline and competition drive the prices higher than they would get if simply advertised for sale with no specific sense of urgency.  The typical concern with real estate auctions is that they can come off sometimes looking like a bit of a cheap circus.   However with a known luxury auction service like our partner, Supreme Auctions, the luxury real estate auction experience has been redefined – not unlike how Cirque du Soleil approached the circus 🙂  Crisp, professional, exciting and well worth the price of admission.  Make sure your marketing plan includes some innovative steps to create auction environments.  You will net more money!

7. Video can only take you so far.  We have seen some really impressive video productions for houses that did not ever sell.  With most of these videos, the objective is image branding for the real estate agent rather than a high percentage shot for selling the house.  Why? Because time after time houses stand on their own.  Location, pricing and condition prevail.  The luxury buyer is well-educated in the market.  Some times even more so than most agents because the buyers are hyper focused on a market niche where they want to live.  Luxury buyers who are seriously in the market to buy spend their leisure time browsing and comparing properties on their tablet, phone or laptop.  They generally know when a house is out-of-bounds on pricing.  They may watch the slick video (if it is under 3 minutes), but they are not going to overpay for a house because of it.  If the photography is really good, the video is just a curiosity that may take too long to download on a mobile device.


8. Rehearse the contract negotiations in advance.  Make sure you hire a real estate professional who ACTIVELY previews properties in your price range and in your area.  There is no substitute for first hand knowledge when it comes to contract negotiations. Your Realtor also needs to have professional negotiation training and the poise to hold firm when necessary. If you are interviewing agents, go through some scenarios and role play to see how they would respond under pressure.  If you are not interviewing agents and already have one in mind to use,go through some scenarios and role play to see how they would respond under pressure 🙂  How would they defend your house? You may end up interviewing other agents after all… Tens of thousands of dollars are at stake here and you need someone who can manage the negotiations with confidence and skill.


9. Make sure you have an established routine for gathering information and follow-up.  Speaking of checklists… Make sure you have checklists throughout the process for monitoring your competition, following up on showings, sustaining the marketing campaign and promoting your property.  Top agents will have documented systems that they use routinely because predictable results come from systematic behaviors.   This is where the details matter.  Yes, your house could “fly off the shelf” with multiple offers and in that case, all the preparation and strategy worked to perfection.  That is just not very common in the luxury realm.  So, it is better to plan thoroughly so you can win the sale under average market conditions with other luxury sellers who have prepared well and have solid marketing strategies.  Real estate agents are usually very personable.  For the most part though, they are not naturally gifted with details.  Ask to see the checklists and systems! You do not want someone managing your sale who just wings it.


10.  Google can reveal A LOT.  One thing people may not think of when interviewing real estate agents is to Google the agent’s name to see what comes up.  You might be surprised. Results vary from nothing, to mug shots, to social media posts to professional websites and blogs.  If nothing comes up, the agent is not very active online so they may have limited influence with organic marketing efforts.  If mug shots come up – well, you know what to do with that.  Usually, some sampling of the agent’s professional endeavors comes up and you can get a feel for who the agent is, how they approach their own marketing and whether or not you are impressed with that.  Can you lick up on the agent’s personality? Does it  feel generic (like some service is producing the content)? Chances are they will market your house with the same level of professionalism that they market themselves. Don’t expect them to change their approach just for you – while your sale hangs in the balance.


11. Proactive Prospecting Increases Your Chances of Selling.  If you are looking for the X-Factor when is comes to selling houses it is probably prospecting.  If you are selling your house on your own, you will be faced with doing this and if you are not in the habit of prospecting it probably will not get done.  Hiring a real estate agent who has a daily routine for calling people they know to proactively prospects for buyers will give you an advantage over marketing plans that do not include prospecting.  THIS can be an interesting question to pose to a real estate agent in an interview – especially if they got into real estate for unlimited income and a flexible schedule.  Those notions fight against daily prospecting habits and systematized selling procedures.  We have found the most successful real estate agents manage their schedules well and thus can in turn manage your sale well too.

On second thought… this applies to just about any property!

Chastain Park Home Sales in 2013

It’s a wrap for Chastain Park Home Sales in 2013!

We saw 85 homes sell in 2013 in Chastain Park which was right at the record number of 86 sales recorded in 2012.  The available homes inventory (actively listed homes)  is still running low at just under 5 months. So technically Chastain park (on average) is in a Seller’s Market and have been for most of the year.  As you can see from the chart below, homes sales exploded early in the year in March and April and then leveled out for the rest of 2013.

Chastain Park Home Sales in 2013

As you might expect from a recovering market the Average Sale Price rose in 2013 to $975,041.  That was over $80,000 higher than the average in 2012 of $893,475.  The Average Days on Market also plummeted from 150 in 2012 down to 90.

Here’s a breakdown by price point of what was selling.  This data shows that even though it is a Seller’s Market for homes priced under $1M, we are still experiencing Buyer’s Market conditions over $1M.  Subtle market nuances like this are key factors that many agents will not pick up on so it definitely pays to hire a local expert to position your pricing maximize your net when you sell.  Or, support a lower offer when everyone is hearing that inventory is low and we are back in a Seller’s Market.  While that is true – it is not true everywhere.

Chastain Park Home Sales in 2013

Lastly, let’s take a look at the available homes for sale or “Inventory”. The number of homes on the market  remained near record lows throughout 2013.  We are also now seeing older homes being torn down again for new construction.  While most of these are still custom homes for residents, some builders are building spec homes again.

Chastain Park Home Sales in 2013

If you or someone you know has questions about Buying or Selling a home in Chastain Park, we believe they owe it to themselves to get as much information as possible.  We are always happy to discuss the market, what is selling, what is NOT selling and how we are helping people make the best moves in Chastain Park.  Call us at 404.939.3202 or email me at 


Sure, you can borrow my Ferrari

Can you imagine saying “Sure, you can borrow my Ferrari” ?

FerrariMy guess is that when it comes to your own Ferrari, you think twice before tossing the keys to a friend or family member so they can take it for a spin.  My thoughts go to… I know you have a car – but this is not just any car. Do you know how to drive a manual transmission?  Can you take off on a hill? Have you ever driven a car this powerful before? Are you an aggressive driver? Are you a careful driver?

The reason I chose this analogy is that Ferrari’s cost as much as houses in some cases and even minor accidents result in costly repairs. In the case of a Ferrari, the repair cost for even minor damage can make your head spin. In the case of a selling a house, a lack of skill and experience can cause accidents too. In either case, you hope for minor accidents if you have any. Real estate licenses are relatively easy to obtain so many people have them even though real estate is not their full-time profession. That means we all probably have friends with real estate licenses. That does not mean they need to be “driving” our real estate moves though. Especially since the road to selling a house today is getting more and more complicated.  I am not talking about getting it under contract… I am talking about getting it closed.  And, without costly and stress-ridden surprises.

Look at it this way: While all of us have friends with a real estate license, very few of us have friends who are Ferrari experts. When it comes time to sell your house, treat it like a Ferrari! Get it detailed. Get it inspected. Get it appraised. And then toss the keys to a Ferrari expert so they can go get you the most money possible for it. You will be glad you did!

When I read this testimonial, all I could say was “Wow”

When I read this testimonial, all I could say was “Wow”!  Do you have a dream that seems to keep getting so bombarded by life events to the point where you wonder if you should just back off?

Committed to QualityThis recent client testimonial did not just touch our hearts – it showed us our dream has come true!  So we are sharing it here not to brag for we are deeply humbled by it and know all too well how fragile great service can be. But rather because we are amazed at how well it articulates what we want every one of our clients to experience.  

We also understand many people are not on LinkedIn where this was published.  So here it is:

“Michael listed and sold my house in the Atlanta area. Given the current housing market conditions, it was amazing that he got it done in a little over 6 months. The reasons he was able to get it done and at a selling price that worked for me, are many:

  1. Integrity personified. Michael ensured we understood the challenges we would be facing trying to sell an upper-scale home in the current housing market (mid to late 2012). He never misrepresented anything and we went into it with eyes wide open. He handled all communications with prospective buyers in the same professional manner and was able to convey our terms to the prospects effectively.
  2. Superior communications skills. One of the things that impressed me the most about Michael is his ability to communicate clearly, completely, yet concisely both orally and in writing. When I spoke with Michael I always felt as if I were speaking to the CEO of a Fortune 100 corporation.
  3. Market knowledge. Michael knows the Atlanta real estate market better than anyone I know. He knew intricate details about recent comparable sales in my competitive area and was able to successfully position the listing price we selected to prospective buyers.
  4. Leadership. Michael’s team is truly top notch, undoubtedly due to his excellent leadership skills. Every member of his team did an absolutely wonderful job: The “stager”, the photographer and his office team, especially Mr. Bernie Sotola. Michael ensured that Bernie would follow up with every prospect who looked at my house and provided invaluable feedback to us so we always knew where we stood with each prospect.

I wholeheartedly recommend Michael Bunch and his team. I only wish I had him to assist us as we look for a new home in our new location!”

Here is the property: