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A graphic look at 30 year fixed mortgage rates since 1971

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Freddie Mac publishes this on their website. Rate tables going back to 1971. Highest year and month – July 1981 16.83% Lowest year and month – November and December 2012 3.35% Average over the past decade – just 5.6%. That’s a photo of my kitchen, looking as it did circa 1972 with it’s cocoa two-tone Hotpoint appliances, goldenrod wallpaper and nasty green linoleum. Great era for style, huh? Rates were 7.4% in the month of July 1972. Anyone fretting over a rise in rates recently needs to study history and feel a whole lot better about this week’s 4.51%… … [Read more...]

For $400k – $450k is Kirkwood or Ormewood Park a better long-term investment?

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This question surfaced on Trulia Voices today. Here’s my answer: Two big police beats per neighborhood. If you want to really dissect things, draw lines at the major commercial/retail borders and the railroad borders, and look at all 4 of the beat books. From there, look where the $400-450s consistently sell. As examples, Hawthorn Park is coming back in Kirkwood - back to prices above 2003-2004 new builder sales prices with unfinished basements and attics around $400ish... Same with Stoney River, Greystone, or Springdale builds on nice lots in Ormewood Park. Both have active neighborhood organizations and some streets are generally better than others for "quiet, tree lined" living. Both neighborhoods still have a few gravel roads left too. Old school. For $400-450K, without factoring in a specific need for one particular school district over the other, and without factoring in a particular commute or convenience requirement, it's a toss up based on the … [Read more...]

Questions to ask your listing agent

My good friend Jon Effron is the best real estate blogger in Georgia. Jon always encourages me, and I always encourage Jon. Jon knows that I’ve answered 1598 questions on the internet about real estate in less than 6 years. He knows that I’ve made 26 internet contributions about real estate in the past 30 days. He knows that I have accumulated 32,352 points on Trulia as of this morning and that a number like that places me in the top 1% of Trulia contributors, worldwide. Jon also knows that I’m lazy about blogging, however if I simply used my frequent Trulia content here at The Intown Insider, I would have way more blog power. So, I’m resolving to increase my blog power this year – here goes… This question arose on Trulia.com’s “Trulia Voices” forum yesterday: “Which questions should you ask your agent about selling your house?” I answered with the following list… What's the current absorption rate in my submarket? How does my house compare with my 2 … [Read more...]

Lockbox or by appointment only?

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A seller on Trulia asked me: What is your opinion regarding the use of a lock box vs. showing by appointment only? “Lockbox, but... How long do you plan for your house to be on the market? This is all about price, and your non-negotiable terms, and making those very simple for buyers to understand. At a take it or leave it price, you will attract 8-10 showings and your Realtor will line them up over like 2 or three days. You probably have a reasonable take it or leave it price in mind - use that. It's your market in almost every submarket across Atlanta because there are probably buyers clamoring for exactly what you have to sell. Take offers - call for highest and best - don't accept a single one if they are not a win-win. Plan B starts if it's not under contract after three days on market. Better than implementing plan B next season. Plan B should start with a lockbox, 95% of the time. But first, reconsider plan A. There is tremendous certainty in this market for savvy … [Read more...]

Dekalb ain’t no Clayton

That’s Dekalb’s esteemed CEO, Burrell Ellis. That’s Clayton County Commissioner Shana Rooks and Commission Chairman Jeff Turner This question arose on Trulia Voices today. “Given recent news about Dekalb county school system and its mismanagement, have we seen bottom yet for real estate values in our Doraville neighborhood? How much more drop could we see in next 2-5 years? Will prices stabilize if the school board is removed? Not removed? Is the Clayton market a good proxy?” I answered: Is the Clayton market a good proxy? No. The good ESDs, MSDs and HSDs will remain remain stable, in Clayton and in Dekalb. I don't know enough about Clayton schools to even know if a school like Vanderlyn or Fernbank is down there. Clayton doesn't have a Dunwoody or a Druid Hills. Across Dekalb - the market is simply too broad to judge things. So, in Evansdale, there were 22, 2011 sales total in FMLS - average sold price $223K. In 2012 there were 37 sales total in FMLS - average … [Read more...]

Jon Effron and I are your local economists of choice in Intown Atlanta

Jon Effron wrote this insightful article entitled “WHERE ARE ALL THE ATLANTA FORECLOSURES? on January 8 and he asked me to comment on it. He wrote: “Healthiest” Areas (aka lowest % distressed sales): 121,131,132,21,23,51 (Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Buckhead, Brookhaven, Ansley Park, Virginia Highland, Morningside, Inman Park) Most “Distressed” Areas (aka highest % distressed sales): 66,53,42,33 (Exurbian Gwinnett County, Southeast Dekalb County, South Fulton County). Note that Clayton County is not included on this chart. This chart is, of course, just one way to evaluate a housing market, and a very broad approach at that. FMLS Area 52 is a perfect example- it covers the area spanning east of Emory, Inside The Perimeter, north of I-20 and south of I-85.  Not exactly what I’d refer to as a single sub market, and certainly one that has some very hot pockets (it doesn’t get much hotter than Decatur).  Generalities aside, I think you get the picture. As a … [Read more...]