People’s Court: First Time Homebuyer Edition

The guest blogger today is a very good friend of mine and sold us the current home we live in. He is the #1 Zillow agent in the Atlanta West End area and has been selling homes left and right. He was gracious enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to help inform first time home buyers. For other lessons my wife and I learned click here, other than enjoy!

I remember being in college. Living in a 1000sq ft, 2 Bedroom 1 bathroom apartment, and having a conversation with the neighbor in the Single Family Detached home next door. He had the house, the Range Rover, and was married. I remember thinking about the process of becoming a homeowner. What did I know? Oh yeah, that’s right, not the first clue on what to do. So like the typical millennial, I went online, found out how much house can I afford with my income calculator on a mortgage lender website, and realized that I couldn’t afford an ant hill in the neighborhood. Those were the days!


Times have definitely changed. Real Estate is now what I do for a living. In the last 12 months I have sold 40+ homes in the in-town Atlanta area, I am the highest ranked Zillow Agent in one of the hottest neighborhoods in that Atlanta area, voted by several magazine publications. I love Real Estate, I love selling homes, and I have successfully worked with everything from the first time home buyer to the seasoned investor doing their next fix and flip of a property. Along the way I have spoken with a lot of customers and some clients that have made some errors along the way.

Now let’s get to the court cases


Assailant #1: Customer calls me asking wanting to move to a house. When I ask what neighborhood they are looking to live, they say the Atlanta area. I compare this to a client asking me to get them groceries, and dropping me in front of Super Wal-Mart. There are 1000’s homes in Atlanta. Not narrowing down your search will get you stressed out before you even begin the process.


Ways to fix this: This is the part where you don’t need an agent. Explore neighborhoods that you like. Go to open houses. Walk the neighborhood. Get familiar with the inventory. Pick 1-2 parts of town and stick with it. This will enable you to compare properties. You can thank me later for the stress I saved you from.


Assailant #2: I get a phone call from a customer that is frustrated to whits end. Her agent isn’t knowledgeable about the area. Her agent lives 25 miles away from the neighborhood that person is looking for a home in. They keep on losing out on deals, and they don’t know what to do. Then she drops the whopper! They have been looking for the last 6 months.


Ways to fix this: It’s time to get another agent. You don’t only need another agent, but you need a knowledgeable agent that focuses on the area you are seeking. The assumption that all agents are the same is simply UNTRUE. Agents that specialize in an area will know about properties before they even hit the market. Agents that specialize in an area have pocket listings (off-market properties) that another agent knows nothing about. Agents that specialize in an area have a greater chance of knowing the other agent on the listing in the area. This means a lot when there are multiple offers on a property, and the listing agent knows that the other agent gets deals closed.


Assailant 3: Client refuses to change mortgage lender. After not listening to their agent, the loan that a traditional lender takes about 30 days to close, ends up taking 60 days to close, if it closes at all


Ways to fix this: It’s perfectly fine to be pre-approved before speaking to an agent. I recommend my clients to speak to more than one mortgage lender, if for nothing but comparison’s sake. Personally, I recommend local banks that don’t see you as a number. I have seen Big Banks be the reason an offer was not accepted, I have seen the Big Bank as the reason the closing was delayed, and I have seen a Big Bank as the reason the contract ended up being terminated. Ask the agent to refer you to several Mortgage Lenders to speak to. This can be the reason between getting your offer accepted or continuing the home search process.


Assailant 4: Has watched a lot of HGTV, so they know how to put offers on homes.


Ways to fix this: Realizing that nothing is what it seems. That’s right! Homes are not built in 30 minutes. Homes aren’t sold in 30 minutes! I really hate to burst you bubble. Come with an open mind. Be ready to learn. Realize that it takes two to tango (buyer and seller), but there is a TV crew in the background making sure the lighting is correct, the camera is at the right angle, and the show is being televised.


Enjoy the home search, and remember no two closings are ever the same!

 Julian Jackson and Real Estate is his way of life!   He is currently the #1 Zillow Agent for 30310 Zip Code, the #1 Zillow Agent for West End, Atlanta, GA Neighborhood and #1 Zillow Agent for Oakland City, Atlanta, GA.

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  1. Hi Andre. I enjoy reading your blogs when I get a chance. I don’t normally comment but I figure I will give it a try today. My comment is about the assailant #1 case. I have been living in Memphis for almost three years now and I can see myself here at least for another year. I have been contemplating settling down here in Memphis or in the surrounding areas but I have no idea which neighborhoods are affordable or not, even when I am driving around. What would be a suggestion if you are not driven as much by location as you are by cost? Don’t get me wrong – I want to live in a decent neighborhood. But I am not drawn to the trendiest spots.

    1. Howdy! Thanks for the comment. Affordable is like the word safety. It means different things to different people. In your case, I would recommend speaking with a mortgage lender, so you can get preapproved. After you get preapproved, it will be much easier to schedule a conversation with a local real estate agent. Most agent’s don’t meet with customers until they have been preapproved.

      I caution you to not use cost as a driving factor. I have seen it many times. you will end with hundreds of properties, all over town, and will be very frustrated. Also, please keep in mind, your home is an investment. Focus on areas that are moving up in values, as opposed to affordable areas with stagnant values. I don’t want you to end up selling your affordable home, and finding out that you are under water.

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