The good news is that in metro Atlanta, buyers are buying and sellers are selling! Don't let anyone tell you that this is a flat market - 2007 was one of the busiest years I've experienced in over 20 years of full time residential real estate.
Because of the subprime lending debacle and years of mortgage fraud, it's true that we have a little more inventory than we would like to have. However, Atlanta's industry is mostly service based, and people will always be moving in and out of metro Atlanta. When you watch the 6:00 news, remember that it's all LOCAL. We did not experience double digit inflation of housing prices, and we do not have a bursting bubble!
IF YOU ARE A HOME SELLER
Don't get discouraged! There are buyers out there! If your home is PRICED RIGHT, in GOOD CONDITION, and STAGED PROPERLY, it should compete well in the market. In today's climate, no amount of marketing can overcome the above. REPAIR or REPLACE anything that you know is worn out or not working properly.
If you have a home that is ten years or older, it might be a good investment to have an independent home inspection. The cost is about $300-$450 for most homes. Keep in mind that the purpose is to identify defects, so be prepared to repair, replace or disclose to prospective buyers.Particularly if your home was built from the mid-80's through the mid-90's, it may have pressed wood siding, synthetic stucco, and/or polybutelene plumbing.
For prospective buyers and their agents, it's VERY important to have these items inspected and corrected before listing. If your home has a Septic System, and if you haven't had it pumped in the last three years, expect to have it pumped and inspected. Buyers who are unfamiliar with septic systems will be encouraged, knowing that it is in good maintenance and repair. Remember, from an inspector's point of view, there is a difference between normal wear and tear and deferred maintenance.
PACK, PAINT AND CLEAN. Agents and buyers use the Internet to search for homes, and a home that is filled with color and accessories may just look cluttered in photographs. Minimize plants, wall hangings, and knick knacks. Store or get rid of extra furniture, and arrange remaining furniture in an attractive and sensible patter.If you have a lot of wall color, paint in a warm neutral color (cream to light gold). If you are planning to buy new bed linens for your next home, think about doing it now. It may help to sell your home, and you can take them with you!Clear off kitchen and bath counter tops to make the rooms look brighter and more spacious.
Turn on lights and open the blinds!!!!! This is not a good time to be stingy with light bulbs and utility bills. Replace burned out bulbs, and add lighting to dark rooms. Buyers like to see a bright, cheerful home when they walk through the door. If your home is going to be vacant, consider spending $100 or so to add just a few colorful towels, kitchen and mantle accessories.
Photograph your home from the curb, and compare it to photographs of other homes listed in your area. If the home is obscured by trees, consider removing one or two. If the lawn is not crisp and clean, have it professionally maintained, edged, and leaves blown off. If at all possible, park in the garage with the doors closed. If the trim, gutters, or front door area look worn, it's time to paint. For a buyer looking at hundreds of homes, the first impression may be the only shot you'll get.