Buyers that allow sellers to rent back and remain in a home after closing often enjoy a significant advantage over the competition. But few buyers (or agents) fully understand what’s involved should home buyers allow sellers to rent back. This is not a decision to be taken lightly; if/when things go wrong the ramifications can be serious, especially to the buyer/now landlord. There are a number of legal and tax concerns that most fail to think about when in the heat of competition. A few obvious things to consider if a buyer is allowing a seller post closing occupancy – and this list is far from comprehensive.

Are Rent Backs Allowed?
Is a rent back noted in the contract? Is a copy given to the lender or is this done with a wink-wink? What will the…

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Home prices continue to push higher than any time in history; yet real estate appraisals continue to be a problem. Low appraisals despite record appreciation? How is this possible with next to no low inventory, ravenous buyers and bidding wars? As it was just over a decade ago, the disconnect between appraisers, agents and the public remains. This time the economic conditions are different and the public has more exposure to data but the appraisal process remains a mystery.

The Role of the Appraiser

The appraiser represents the buyer’s lender; they do not work for the buyer, the seller or any agent. Their job is to ensure that if the lender has to foreclose on the property, the amount they lent to the buyer can be recovered. Appraisers follow…

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Few will argue that the last 18-24 months in the real estate world have been bonkers (mid '19 to mid '21). Prices skyrocketed and inventory disappeared; no one saw this coming. However, few seem to abide by the three rules of real estate: location-location-location. National housing market reports from outlets like Case-Shiller, Redfin and Zillow are taken literally; they shouldn't be. Rapid appreciation is exactly what everyone wants, so for now, buyers and sellers line up and spew Zillow stats like gospel. Except it doesn't work that way. Real estate isn't a share of Amazon; every home is unique physically and locationally. National reports are meaningless; state reports are meaningless; local reports get a little closer but are still largely dubious.…

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That gorgeous big old spreading oak has been there a good hundred years, everyone loves it, now. But what happens if that tree becomes an issue among neighbors? When a storm sends half of it through the roof or winds blow it over? If a big limb falls and crushes a car or worse? Tree liability in Georgia can get tricky because the answer may not be so clear cut. Liability depends on three factors: (1) who owns the tree (2) why the tree fell and (3) whether the landowner knew or should have known that the tree was unsafe.

If a tree falls and the fall could not be foreseen by a “reasonable person,” the general rule in Georgia is that the tree owner is not negligent, and, therefore, is not liable for either property damage or injuries to someone. Cleanup…

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The “yeah but they said...” chorus is robust as unrepresented new home buyers learn hard lessons during construction. The value of an experienced buyer’s agent as an advocate when building a home cannot be understated. Especially now, and especially since the cost of representation is borne by the builder. Remember, the agent on site works for the builder only. Builders sign contracts with the site broker, they pay a set percentage on every sale. Need to verify that? Ask the site agent to show where the credit for not using a buyer’s agent is specifically written on the contract.

Speaking of contracts, know that builder contracts are written to protect them solely and allow them complete latitude at every stage of the build.  The majority of new home…

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Some intelligent and otherwise very successful people do epically dumb things when it comes to buying and/or selling real estate. Failing to completely understand dual agency in Georgia and permitting it is at or near the top of the list. Simply put, dual agency is allowing the same agent to represent both buyer and seller in a real estate transaction. The agent or broker has a client relationship with all parties to the transaction without acting in a designated agency capacity. In these situations, neither party is exclusively represented by a designated real estate agent. Buyers want to pay as little as possible, sellers want the most possible. Consider the easy questions; how are appraisal and inspection issues resolved? How can one agent be an…

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The current Atlanta area real estate market is about as fluid as we’ve seen over the last thirty years. The need to dig deep into the data cannot be overemphasized; things look one way when viewed as a block but often look an entirely different way when boiled down into micro markets. When that’s done, buyers and sellers will see that looking at data broadly by county, city or zip code is often different when looking at it narrowed by price range, school district or physical characteristics.

1st QTR 2021 vs 2nd QTR 2021

“Shifting Markets” are routinely talked about, comparing the first and second quarters of the 2021 Atlanta area real estate market is a text book demonstration of that. The posts below were written as it happened; we saw it…

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The tax man cometh...If you haven’t already, Georgia homeowners will be receiving a “notice of assessment” from the county you reside in. This love letter advises you of the value that the county assessor will use to determine your property tax. Needless to say, the current real estate market is chaotic, it would be prudent to check your assessment and appeal if warranted.

Here’s what you need to know:

* Each year the county tax assessor states a property value for your home which they will use to calculate property taxes.

* Current values for properties in Georgia can be researched off the county assessor site. For convenience, here’s the aggregate site for Georgia -

*You may obtain appeal…

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The tragic disaster and loss of life at the Champlain Towers South in Seaside, FL brings to the forefront the challenge of special assessments for condominiums and attached homes. Much remains to be investigated in that case; but at this point it’s clear that major structural problems were known to have existed for several years. The current repair estimate was $15M; with 135 units in the building, that special assessment would be a staggering $111K+- each. The calamity however, is a vivid reminder of the cost of not doing required work. It’s also a warning to any buyer considering units in “apartment style” buildings and even town homes; it is critical to evaluate the health of the community.

How Does the HOA Function?

Being a board member of any…

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The north Atlanta housing market is cooling just a bit, this is supported both anecdotally and by the data. The pent up buyer demand is being offset by increasing inventory. It's still a seller's market; but it seems to be slowly trending toward balance as the year unfolds. The challenge of "easy to sell, hard to buy" remains; after a year of updating and enhancing homes, owners seemed content to stay put. But some may be getting restless because inventory is growing. Homes under contract in many Atlanta markets have been in decline (nationally as well), buyer demand easing...increasing inventory...maybe a move toward balance?

Below we look at a couple of sample markets north of Atlanta; Cobb County and the combination of Cherokee and Forsyth Counties.…

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