Across the world, people are stuck at home fixating on what they like and don’t like about their current spaces. In many cities, they’re restlessly exploring available homes for sale online, impatient to make a change but unsure of where to start. Here in Atlanta, that restlessness has created a real estate market that’s hotter than a Georgia summer.
Now is the perfect time to buy a home
With mortgage interest rates at an all-time low – hovering around 2-3% for qualified homebuyers – and property values steadily increasing, now is the perfect time to buy a house in the metro-Atlanta area. Interested homebuyers are scouring daily listings and moving quickly – and they’re paying over the asking price for the homes of their dreams.
“The Atlanta real estate market is strong, and it’s extremely competitive right now,” explains Ken Liberty, Realtor with Keller Williams Buckhead. “Property values are holding, but the inventory of homes for sale is down from 3.3 months last year to 2.5 months this year, resulting in fewer homes to choose from. If you have your eye on a house in the Atlanta market, it’s not going to be available for long with the average Days on the Market being 18 days and increasing prices, acting sooner allows you to buy more house for your money, so acting quickly is really important to maximize your investment dollars.”
Despite economic uncertainty, people are prioritizing new home purchases. “I’m starting my day at 3 AM just to keep up with inquiries from motivated homebuyers,” says Amy Buynoski, VP Builder Service Manager at CenterState Bank Mortgage. “We have a lot of people getting prequalified for mortgages right now, and we’re closing sales quicker than ever – sometimes in as little as 18 days.”
Real estate experts like Liberty and Buynoski agree – the Atlanta market is hot, and demand continues to outpace supply. In most cases, serious homebuyers have already secured their financing and are snatching up properties within three weeks of listing.
Lower interest rates make your dollar go farther
Buynoski encourages homebuyers to take advantage of the low interest rates that increase their purchasing power for existing homes – and open them up to unexpected opportunities in new construction. “Even if you just prequalified for a mortgage in January, your interest rate is probably a full point lower today,” Buynoski explains. “That can make a huge difference in your monthly payments, what price range you can qualify for and the upgrades you can put in your new home. It gives homebuyers more opportunities to build the home they want with the things they want in it.”
The Dos and Don’ts for serious homebuyers
Buynoski offers one word of advice for homebuyers who want to increase their chances of securing financing for the home of their dreams: stability.
“Stability is extremely important,” she advises. “Don’t make any life changes until you’ve purchased a home. Don’t make employment changes; don’t change fields. Don’t open new credit. Keep your balances low and continue to make on-time payments.”
Once homebuyers are confident in their financial stability, Buynoski suggests engaging a professional to successfully guide them through the homebuying process. “Follow the advice of your loan officer and provide all of the requested documents as specified – don’t just hand over what you think is needed,” she says.
While the impacts of COVID-19 require applicants to provide more documentation than usual for a mortgage application, it’s not a prohibitive process. Homebuyers must provide proof of employment and income through the closing date – including disclosure of any termination, furlough or change in work hours. They will also need to prove that a current mortgage is not in forbearance. Those who are self-employed also need to prepare a profit and loss statement.
Many aspiring homebuyers are currently uncertain of their finances and job stability, but they’re eager to make progress on their goal to buy a home. For those who are anticipating a positive change to their finances, they can still take steps now to increase their chances of securing a home in the future. “Contact a lender now to determine the steps you need to take when you get back on your feet financially,” Liberty advises. “When your economic situation improves, you’ll be in a better position to purchase quickly.”
Amy Buynoski, VP, Builder Service Manager at CenterState Mortgage Bank in Roswell, GA, is recognized as one of the state’s top producing loan officers. She works with homebuyers to secure competitive financing for their dream Brock Built Home in the metro Atlanta area. Amy was named the 2019 lender of the year by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders.
Ken Liberty is a Top Producing Realtor with Keller Williams Buckhead and the Owner of Liberty Properties. He helps make the home buying and selling process SIMPLE for families in the metro Atlanta area.