Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now’s the Time To List It.

Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now’s the Time To List It. | MyKCM

When you’re selling any item, you usually want to sell it for the greatest profit possible. That happens when there’s a strong demand and a limited supply for that item. In the real estate market, that time is right now. If you’re thinking of selling your house this year, here are two reasons why now’s the time to list.

1. Demand Is Very Strong This Winter

recent article in Inman News explains:

“Spring, the hottest time of year for homebuyers and sellers, has started early, according to economists. . . . ‘Home shopping season appears to already be in full swing!’”

And they aren’t the only ones saying buyers are already out in full force. That claim is backed up with data released last week by ShowingTime. The ShowingTime Showing Index tracks the average number of monthly buyer showings on active residential properties, which is a highly reliable leading indicator of current and future trends for buyer demand. The latest index reveals this December was the most active December in five years (see graph below):

Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now’s the Time To List It. | MyKCM

As the data indicates, buyers are very active this winter. Last December saw even more showings than December of 2020, which was already a stronger-than-usual winter. And remember – you want to sell something when there’s a strong demand for that item. That time is now.

2. Housing Supply Is Extremely Low

Each month, realtor.com releases data on the number of active residential real estate listings (listings currently for sale). Their most recent report reveals the latest monthly number is the lowest we’ve seen in any January since 2017 (see graph below):

Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now’s the Time To List It. | MyKCM

And don’t forget, the best time to sell an item is when there’s a limited supply of it available. This graph clearly shows how extremely low housing supply is today.

Even Though Supply Is at a Historic Low, Home Sales Are at a 15-Year High

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing-home sales totaled 6.12 million in 2021 – the highest annual level since 2006. This means the market is hot and homeowners are in a great place to sell now while sales are so strong.

NAR also reports available listings by calculating the current months’ supply of inventory. They explain:

“Months’ supply refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes on the market to sell given the current sales pace.”

The current 1.8-months’ supply is the lowest ever reported. Here are the December numbers over the last five years (see graph below):

Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now’s the Time To List It. | MyKCM

The ratio of buyers to sellers favors homeowners right now to a greater degree than at any other time in history. Buyer demand is high, and supply is low. That gives sellers like you an incredible opportunity.

Bottom Line

If you agree the best time to sell anything is when demand is high and supply is low, let’s connect to begin discussing the process of listing your house today.

East Cobb New Construction Alert – Lassiter High District!

A 19.9 acre planned development by Ashton Woods Homes just cleared construction site plan reviews last week and initial site clearing just started today. Cobb Development tells me there will be 42 homes on approximately half acre lots – large for East Cobb!

This is so early in the process there is no mention of this development on Ashton Woods Atlanta website. A lot of work including grading, erosion control, and platting must be done before they can even think about building the first home – probably 8 to 12 months out – if nothing unexpected happens.
Garrison Parc New Homes
There is no information on the expected price range of the homes, but I would be surprised if they are not at least $900K – I will post more info as I learn more.

I keep up with new construction in East Cobb and other North Atlanta markets and will stay on top of this project. If you’re thinking about new construction in any of East Cobbs top school systems, reach out to me at 678-585-9691 and let’s talk about this and other new construction opportunities. – Robert Whitfield

RED HOT Pope High Home Coming Soon!

East Cobb Pope High Home


Four Bedroom, Three Bath, Finished Terrace, Back Yard Oasis!

Offered For $395K!

This Extraordinary Fully Renovated Home in East Cobb’s Pope High School District has to be seen and experienced to be believed – it has so many upgrades is is almost like a new home! This very open floor plan home with the extensive hardscaping and large waterfall as seen from nearly every window feels like a resort! The bright open spaces and multiple large windows let in tons of light and all the rooms on the main have views to over $40K in landscaping and hardscaping including winding stone walkways, a large party deck, and multi level water fall! But there is still tons of grassy rear yard for children to play. The rear yard is surrounded by lush landscaping, established trees, bushes, and a stand of bamboo, making it your own very private paradise!

Open Floor Plan


Multi-level Waterfall



The brand new enlarged kitchen includes custom soft close cabinets, granite counters, glass tile backsplash, and stainless appliances. Most of the home including the terrace level has new high end LVP wood grain flooring that looks exactly like wood but is more durable. The huge kitchen island overlooks the vaulted great room with floor to ceiling windows and a stone fireplace. All bedrooms have new carpeting.

Fully Remodeled Kitchen



Huge Drive Under Rear Deck


Rear Hardscaping


Rear View From Waterfall


Rear Yard View

The exterior has HardiPlank Cement siding, a new roof, and new vinyl insulated windows. There is a new redesigned front porch and concrete landing and heavy landscaping in the front including stacked stone retaining walls. This home has a Deep two car garage (enough for full sized trucks) , plus parking under the huge drive under party deck with easy access to the double door terrace level entrance!

Fully Rehabbed East Cobb Home


The terrace has a kitchenette, full bath, a separate private entrance, and is perfect for a fourth bedroom and large media room, or an in-law or teen suite!

Fully Finished In Law Suite

Hurry – In this market I fully expect this special home to be gone before it even reaches the MLS in about 8 days! This was posted on 8-30-2020!

Call Robert Whitfield for more info and a private showing – 678-585-9691.

East Cobb High School SAT Scores

East Cobb High School SAT Scores

East Cobb High School SAT Scores led all Cobb County Schools in 2019! The Cobb County School District released 2019 Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores on Tuesday, and four East Cobb high schools lead the way in 2019.

Walton High (1,288), Pope High  (1,220) and Lassiter High (1,212) the perennial East Cobb favorites which consistently rank the highest all had average class wide scores exceeding 1,200, while Wheeler High (1,196) came close. While all these schools are excellent, it is important to check into a schools programs and not just focus on the highest test scores (especially when they are so close) to assure a good fit for your student as each school will differ somewhat in educational style and special programs offered.

Wheeler’s jump of 49 points was the highest of the 16 high schools in the Cobb County School District.

“Wheeler continues to focus on providing the best overall learning experience for ALL students,” Wheeler Principal Paul Gillihan said in a statement issued by the school district.

“We strongly believe that SAT scores do not define our students nor our school but only provide evidence of the work that is being done daily to prepare our students for college and careers.”

Walton’s score is up 20 points from 2018. Full district scores and details can be found here.

Read more

Looking for more info about East Cobb schools, lifestyles, or homes – reach out to East Cobb resident and veteran East Cobb Realtor and Broker/Owner Robert Whitfield here, or text Robert at 404-561-7546.

New Housing Design Trends Sweeping The Nation – And Atlanta!

In a recent webinar titled Designing Architecture, Interiors, and Landscaping for the New Decade, noted design trend consultant Renee Labbe summarized some of the top new housing design trends for the coming decade. Here are great examples of the most successful and inspirational designs by builders all over the country.

As an Atlanta Broker with a lifelong passion for architecture and home design I keep up with home design trends, and am seeing various iterations of these trends by certain forward thinking custom (and even production) builders in various markets in Intown Atlanta, Marietta, East Cobb, Sandy Springs, and all over North Atlanta.

Modern Farmhouse – Gabled + Boxed
Gabled modern is a beautiful, more traditional take on the modern home. This Southern California home is R. Douglas Mansfield Architect’s take on the modern farmhouse trend that has swept the nation. If you like the modern farmhouse design, I know the builders who are doing modern farmhouses and where to find them in metro Atlanta.

Here are a couple of Modern Farmhouse designs in the Pope High District in East Cobb – New Construction Homes

East Cobb Modern Farmhouse

East Cobb Modern Farmhouse New Construction Home – Source: Robert Whitfield

East Cobb Modern Farmhouse New Construction Home

East Cobb Modern Farmhouse New Construction – Source: Robert Whitfield

Rooftop Patios

Roofline Retreats
This trend provides a balance of modern architecture with roof top decks with more traditional elevations This townhome includes a roof deck that is integrated into the gabled roofline. This preserves the more traditional roofline, while providing outdoor space to enjoy long range views. I am seeing these roof top decks all around town from Aria in Sandy Springs to Abbington at Wildwood in East Cobb!

Box Frame House

The Box Frame
This homes elevation includes a dramatic popped-out box that includes multiple windows. This builders collection has rich modern elevations that mix materials, color, and massing variations like the popped-out box set of windows. In Atlanta this type is mostly used in multifamily.

Linearr Textures

Linear Texture
While this trend is more commonly seen in some of the modern farmhouse homes, this kitchen by Trumark Homes has a unique take on it. Instead of including a horizontal tile backsplash, this California home includes vertical rectangular tiles for a very interesting look.

Bring Nature Indoors

Into the Wilds
It’s hard to tell where the indoors end and the outdoors begin at the clubhouse at the Resort at Playa Vista. The clubhouse integrates natural materials in its elevation and has plentiful windows. Its design creates a seamless division from indoors and out, especially as the fitness center extends to a covered outdoor track and to a landscaped roof seating area. I have seen this trend in a few custom homes but mostly in commercial office buildings in Atlanta.

Random Tiles Are Back

Return of Random
While Renee highlighted the random pattern trend in flooring, this trend can be seen in great back splashes and accent walls as well. The master bathroom in the model for Miraval has a great seemingly random backsplash. While the tiles are the same shape, the color variation in this Southern California project by Pinnacle Residential makes it seem random. This has been cropping up in new construction in Atlanta for a few years.

Bring the Outdoors In with window walls

Outdoors Is In
With the growing integration of bi-fold or stacking doors between the great room and the backyard, a seamless transition between indoors and out has become much more commonplace in production homes. Some builders are furthering this transition by including the same flooring in the great room as on the patio, along with the bi-fold glass doors. Craft Homes had some fun with this trend with glass garage doors off of the great room in their Artisan Series at Laureate Park in Orlando. The glass and ability to open up an entire wall help to provide that seamless transition to the outdoors. Several trendy restaurants in Atlanta use the roll up garage door for a wall of windows look, but I have not seen them in a residential home yet, however there are examples of wall wide bi-fold and slider doors to open a wall and bring the outdoors in!

Shake Siding and Mixed material Designs

The Shake-Up
This home by Infinity Home Collection highlights an example of how shingled siding is finding its way into modern homes. The home has a cottage lake motif with a distinctly modern edge to it as well as a mix of stone, shingled siding, and vertical groove paneling. Another trend I see in Atlanta, mostly in multifamily condos and apartments.

Contemporary Dormers

The Contemporary Dormer
Dormer windows have long been associated with traditional elevation styles. They are now starting to show up on modern homes. This model has a traditional feel with a modern edge and includes a single dormer window. This style can be seen all around Atlanta.

Modern Arch Design

The Modern Arch
As lines continue to blur between modern and traditional, arches are finding their way into modern homes. Casavia by Pardee Homes in San Diego’s Pacific Highlands Ranch has an outstanding mix of modern Spanish-inspired elevations. I have seen little to none of this trend in Atlanta to date, as we have very few Spanish and Mediterranean homes – we do have some though in both East Cobb and Alpharetta.

Statement Floor Designs

Statement Floors
Statement floors are popping up in more and more homes these days, even beyond the higher-end luxury homes. These dramatic flooring designs can be in foyers or even master bathrooms. A few highlights include Toll Brothers’ Alta Vista in Southern California with a cool, black-and-white zig zag pattern on the tile flooring one of the master baths.

Trends travel faster now due to the internet and especially sites like Pinterest and Houzz. So if you’re passionate about design, and especially if you’re a builder/developer or you work with buyers, sellers, builders, and remodelers like I do, it is more important than ever to stay on top of the latest and greatest trends.

If you’re interested in finding New Construction Homes that incorporate these latest design trends, reach out to me anytime – Robert Whitfield  678-585-9691




Article Ideas and Photos Courtesy Burns Consulting’s DesignLens site


Protect Yourself From Wire Fraud in Real Estate

Wire Fraud in Real Estate

Whether by compromised data, cracked passwords, or phishing, real estate is a target for cyber criminals. More and more over the last few years, homebuyers and sellers-and the practitioners who serve them-are reporting theft via wire fraud. Typically criminals gain access to emails, learn of a pending transaction, and then message phony wiring instructions to victims. Bogus DocuSign emails, emails with illegitimate referrals, and ransomware attacks are also on the rise.

Being a victim of wire fraud can be devastating – as your funds are almost always irretrievable once sent. And aside from making off with money, criminals can gain personally identifiable information, through any of a combination of schemes. This can be used for other crimes. Often scammers get initial information on an individual from social media sites – birth dates and photos for example.

Best practices to protect yourself when buying a home:

  1. The first step in protecting yourself from fraud and especially wire fraud, is being aware that you may be a target. By educating yourself on the danger, you’re much more likely to identify suspicious activities and unorthodox changes to procedure that are utilized by hackers.
  2. Be sure that you clearly understand the wiring instructions for your transaction, and ensure that you’re getting that information from a verified source – the attorneys secure portal and if needed, confirm anything you have a question about with a staff member you know for a fact is with the firm. All closing attorneys we use in East Cobb and North Fulton will be using a secured portal to send you instructions about making wire transfers to their designated escrow account – they will never do this by phone or email. We as brokers and agents will not give you wire instructions. Most closing firms will also have their standard procedures posted on their website. As an extra step, make a phone call to a number that’s listed on the closing attorneys’ website to speak with a real person to verify the information you receive in the secure portal.
  3. Take common sense precautions with cell phones and laptops – don’t open links to access secure portals or your bank while using unsecured public Wi-Fi at restaurants, hotels, etc.
  4. Trust your gut – if something seems wrong or fishy, it probably is. If you are sent a message requesting a partial payment, notifying you of a change in the deadline for your transfer, or detailing a new procedure for your wire transfer, don’t do anything without talking to your real estate agent. Your agent likely knows the law firm personnel well and can reach them regarding any odd or last minute changes. Last minutes changes in general – and especially contacts to you regarding wire transfers that are made via phone call, text, fax, signing software like DocuSign, or email are big red flags.

Robert Whitfield is the Broker/Owner of Advantage Realtors, and has over 35 years of multifaceted experience in the Atlanta Real Estate Brokerage, Building Inspection, and New Home Construction Markets.

East Cobb Home Inventory February 2017

East Cobb Market Snapshot – February 2, 2017

As the following slides show, East Cobb Home Inventory February 2017 in the top three high school districts, Walton, Lassiter, and Pope is low in many price ranges – this continues a trend that we have seen over the least several years. It means that buyers will have to compete hard for the best homes. This is a market when you want to hire the best local broker you can find – trying to be your own broker is never smart since buyer brokers are free, but in this market trying the DIY route is the best way to loose out on your dream home to a better equipped buyer – one who has expert representation.

The data can also be used to help you determine the likelihood that you will be able to find a certain priced home in a particular school system – for example homes under $300K in the Walton High District are in very short supply – always. Also, while this graph doesn’t show it, New Construction Homes in the Walton High District are almost non existent under $700K+.

Contact me to get the edge on all East Cobb micro market opportunities –

Robert Whitfield 678-585-9691

East Cobb Inventory By High School February 2017

East Cobb Inventory by Price and School – February 2, 2017


East Cobb Luxury Inventory by Highschool February 2017

East Cobb Luxury Inventory by Price and School – February 2, 2017


East Cobb Sold Homes 90 Days Ending January 31, 2017

East Cobb Sold Homes Volume z- 90 Days Ending January 31, 2017


Prospect Mortgage, Keller Williams, and ReMax Fined For Illegal Kickbacks

Respa ViolationsThis practice is egregious – and so wrong. Consumers are supposed to be able to rely on their agents to be a trusted and non biased advisor – this just goes to show you cannot select an agent simply because they work for a large well known national franchise brokerage firm.

I want all our clients and prospects to know Advantage Realtors, a small specialized boutique brokerage in East Cobb, has never sought or accepted a kickback fee for referring any vendor. We have refused all such offers from vendors – mostly inspectors and home warranty companies. Our referrals of vendors is based strictly on the quality of the vendors service – and we refer several never just one. Our vendor relationships have been developed over time and our vendors are proven, trusted, performers that are tops in their industry. Advantage Realtors provides unmatched and personalized services and we expect the vendors we refer to do the same.

We have encountered a similar questionable practice pointed out in the article among some listing brokers here in Atlanta – namely the requirement in the broker comments section of a listing that buyers must have a pre-qualification from a specific lender in order to make an offer – even if they already have a letter from a reputable lender! This is an absurd practice known as “writing in”, and it reeks of an unhealthy under the table lead generation arrangement. We advocate for our clients that they do NOT need to get a “second pre-qualification” in order to submit an offer, and we have been successful so far.

Like every agent or broker who knows what they’re doing and how to run a business, Advantage Realtors requires all buyer clients we represent to be pre-qualified by a lender at a minimum, or better pre-approved for a loan or we don’t represent them. The resulting “lender letter” is sufficient evidence for all parties, sellers, banks, etc that our buyers are qualified to submit an offer in a certain price range and not a waste of anyone’s time. Moreover, having buyers get what is known in the industry as a “pre-qual” can be done with minimal effort and a brief phone conversation. It is just sound business practice to assure a buyer is actually qualified to look at certain priced homes – especially since we don’t just meet buyers at homes and open doors – we exert a significant amount of extra time performing extra due-diligence to better inform and protect our buyers – services like micro market price trend and valuation checks, free building structural, workmanship, and major system evaluations, and even monitoring of new homes under construction and advocating for our clients with regard to contract, inspection defects, and new construction quality issues – services other agents don’t provide and in most cases are not qualified to provide, and not allowed by their broker to provide.

Robert Whitfield – Broker/Owner Advantage Realtors


RISMedia January 31, 2017

Prospect Mortgage, LLC, a major mortgage lender, and two real estate brokerages have been ordered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to pay more than $3.5 million in civil penalties and consumer compensation for participating in an “illegal kickback scheme” for mortgage business referrals.

Prospect Mortgage, headquartered in Sherman Oaks, CA., Corvallis, OR. based Keller Williams Mid-Willamette and Ventura, CA.-based RE/MAX Gold Coast all three violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), according to the CFPB, which prohibits real estate agents and brokerages from recommending settlement services, such as title insurance, appraisals, inspections, and loan origination, to consumers in exchange for payment from these service providers.

“Today’s action sends a clear message that it is illegal to make or accept payments for mortgage referrals,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement. “We will hold both sides of these improper arrangements accountable for breaking the law, which skews the real estate market to the disadvantage of consumers and honest businesses.”

For More Info…

Atlanta Ranks 3rd Nationally for Failed Buyer Transactions

Atlanta ranks 3rd nationally for failed buyer transactions in 2016

The Risks of Using a Poorly Qualified Real Estate Agent – or No Agent at All!

I live and work in North Atlanta and find it sad that Atlanta ranks third nationally for Failed Buyer Transactions and the total percentage of failed deals for 2016.

The 10.4% quoted in Trulia’s report is an outrageous number of fails – clearly, someone does not know what they’re doing. This report highlights first time buyers as the largest group affected, however the fails also include a significant number of fails by experienced move-up and even luxury home buyers.

I find it interesting that no data was put forth on what percentage of these buyers went into the deal on their own without the help of an experienced buyers agent, but I’ll bet it’s a significant number. Lately I have seen industry reports citing a growing number of buyers (in all price ranges) getting into dual agency situations by trying to buy real estate on their own, often with a poor understanding of what was happening as problems occurred.

Apparently an increasing number of buyers are dealing directly with the builders or sellers listing agent on their own and that is of course risky, but since buyers agents are free, and no money is saved by trying to represent yourself, it’s a pointless undertaking and shows a lack of understanding about basic real estate in general, and especially how Buyers can protect their own best interest!

Too many buyers “do a little online research” and assume they are market experts and can handle a purchase transaction on their own, but in my experience, even experienced buyers lack important skills. A big difference is most experienced buyers recognize that they don’t know what they don’t know, and hire an agent. Those who do try to go it alone, are in my opinion (*and the GA Court Systems opinion) being irresponsible, and bear real risks that they may have little legal recourse when things go wrong – even if “they feel” another party did not enlighten them or look out for them. *Since 2000, GA Courts have held that if you enter into a real estate transaction without adequate representation, you are on your own, and absent provable fraud, most complaint cases will not move forward.

Appraisal issues and home inspection problems have always been two major areas that derail deals. While very few agents know how to spot building and structural issues and warn their buyers, too many agents simply don’t do an adequate job justifying the sellers list price and the result is wasted time and money submitting offers the appraiser can’t justify.

CMA’s (Comparative Market Analysis) can help – if done right – but a better understanding of the appraisal process and how to properly value property would help both sellers and buyers by preventing seriously overpriced properties.

Major issues occur when properties are priced using the wrong square footage, and if you don’t understand how to measure a house and what counts as square footage, you really don’t know what the price should be.

As I have said for almost 20 years, there is no substitute for vetting agents and then hiring the most skilled Buyers Broker you can find.

To view the full report see Trulia

For Atlanta’s most experienced and comprehensive Buyer Representation contact me, Robert Whitfield 678-585-9691, and I will put my over 35 years of experience as a GA Broker/Owner, ICC Certified Building Inspector, and New Home Construction expert to work on your behalf to assure you see the best homes available, make a sound purchase, and get the best possible price and terms. My buyer clients receive more insight and information about three important aspects that facilitate really smart purchase decisions – the properties physical condition, micro-market conditions, and what a realistic price looks like – regardless of the sellers listed price.

I enjoy being able to provide buyers with the extra information necessary so they are empowered to better recognize the best home for them when they see it, and make better informed and confident decisions to purchase one home versus another, including when NOT to purchase a certain home! Part of my industry leading service includes straightforward advice when I identify any property (new or existing) that I suggest you avoid when conditions warrant and that call is in your best interest. There is no fee for any of these elite level services and protections – I accept the standard buyers agent fee all builders and sellers offer to any buyers agent in MLS.

Danger Report – Time To Clean House


Danger Report - Poorly Qualified Agents

The DANGER Report – Poorly Qualified Agents are more the rule than the exception!
In an industry where practitioners (agents and realtors) own actions have increasingly caused concern about the quality and value of agents from the general public’s perspective, it is nice to see that concern has been reported to the major industry trade association – (NAR) the National Association of Realtors. The comprehensive report was recently released and distributed to industry associations, realtor boards, mls systems, and brokers and agents – it allows the industry to take a sobering internal look at present problems and possible future events that can impact and even change the way real estate operates in the future – especially if the industry does not make appropriate changes.

To NAR’s credit, they commissioned the DANGER report which was performed by the independent industry think tank the T-3 Group headed up by Stephan Swanepoel to assess the current state of the real estate industry and develop a list of impending threats to the real estate industry as a whole, and categorized these dangers by the level of impact, the likelihood of the event, and time frame the event might make an impact.

The Number 1 Danger to The Industry – Incompetent Agents!

The report found that a vast number (several sources report up to 80% or more) of typical real estate agents are marginal – only work part-time, are poorly trained, unethical, and/or are incompetent!  This group of substandard agents drags the industry down – this causes agents everywhere including the professional agents to be viewed as less credible.


This is a report for the industry, but buyers and sellers should see it too – view the Danger Report. This huge number of poor quality agents not only pose a danger to the unsuspecting (and in many cases irresponsible) public that hire them – but they tarnish their own industry and harm the image of all agents (the 20% of “good” agents who are competent and caring.) That is why it has become increasingly important for the elite level agents – those who have transcended the role as salesperson/generalist to become true Expert Advisers (a group that number less than 5% of all agents) to articulate their value proposition and DISTINGUISH themselves from the 80% of bottom feeders!

As the report states, this huge percentage of poor quality and incompetent agents threaten the long term viability of the real estate industry itself. Unfortunately, if the buying and selling public don’t begin demanding more, (and that is a problem in itself) internal changes are unlikely, and the status quo will likely remain for a while to the detriment of the public and the industry.

As I see it, several issues drive this industry problem:

Problem 1. The largest by far – the bar to entry into the real estate field to become a licensed agent is and has been far too low – and the industry does not seem interested in improving the educational standards and requirements, because that would eliminate a lot of dues paying members – including those that got in for the wrong reasons and never should have gotten a license. This includes all the bored homemakers, laid off and broke ex employees, restless retirees, and others who get into the business everyday for all the wrong reasons and then leave within 18 months or flounder on. The wrong reasons are: greed – looks like easy money…desperation – I need a job…boredom – I need something to do…no concern for the public – I want a job I can do on the side – part-time, (regardless of how my unavailability impacts my clients and other agents), etc.

People who aren’t passionate about this business and helping other people, who aren’t committed to being their best, and who aren’t properly funded and prepared to make the investments in business systems and training needed to succeed and DIFFERENTIATE themselves from the masses of inept agents are destined to fail. These are the ones who hang in for a year or two or three and call themselves agents, yet barely do a transaction or two or none, and are a definite cancer on the industry!

Significant added requirements are the solution – that would reduce the ridiculous excess of so-so agent/salespersons we have today – (Atlanta has well over 40,000 agents) – but of course that would impact brokerage and association fees at every level and therein lies the problem – that’s why change will come slowly of at all from the industry. It’s so easy for people from all walks of life with no prior experience in real estate at all to become agents. I met a retired Lockheed avionics technician at a recent Negotiation training event, and he became an agent (with a major franchise firm) – simply because the agent who sold him his home suggested he become an agent and join the firm!

The above leads to Problem 2. Membership Fees – brokers and MLS associations push constant recruitment efforts to drive fees and expansion for their firm – and affiliated agents get a bonus for bringing new meat on board their firm. With all due respect, this elderly gentleman was probably great at his job at Lockheed, but I could tell from his questions and general input, even after over 1.5 years of training with (a rapidly growing national franchise firm), a firm who has repeatedly tried to hire me, and IMHO has some of the best training programs out there – he was still a very green and poorly equipped agent with very little to offer a client besides allowing them to use his MLS search system, and getting them into the door of locked homes! To be fair he is not unique – like most agent/realtor events I attend, the same was true of about 80 percent of the class participants present that day who represented a cross section of all the major firms in Atlanta and the US – some of whom had been in real estate for 15 – 25+ years! Some of the real estate 101 questions asked at that stage of the game and years on the job were scary!

The situation is absurd and change is needed! It’s just way too easy to get in – but it’ is not easy to make a living as most people find out – and fortunately many get out – but too many hang in and crowd the sidelines looking for a relative or friend in their “sphere of influence” to become the next victim customer! Considering the size of financial transaction that a home sale or purchase represents, it is egregious to let total green rookies into the business with only a 75 hr course and unleash them on the public – but it happens every day. Even hairdressers and cosmetologists, have more educational and licensing requirements than agents who may “help” someone transact to buy or sell a $500K home!

Problem 3. Agents are independent contractors – and each one is like a mini small business – thus real estate is one of the few industries where there are no consistent standards of service – at any Brokerage! Because of IRS regulations regarding independent contractors, Brokers can’t tell their agents how to do their work – that would classify them as an employee, and that is a big no no. This is the very reason NO Brokerage firm has agent standards of service. Agents are left to design and operate their business how they want to – agents at the same brokerage can provide great service, inconsistent service, or extremely poor and incompetent service!

This is why I have always cautioned buyers and sellers who are looking for an agent – that you never select an agent based on the firm they work for no matter how prestigious or large the firm may seem – not my firm Advantage Realtors, not Keller Williams, not Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s – the agent firm is not a selection criteria – not when you understand how things work: It’s the Agent you hire, that will make or break your deal! The agents firm is not conducting and overseeing your transaction – the agent is! The firm is supposed to review agent paperwork for error and violations, but except to write the agent a commission check after closing, the firm doesn’t get involved at all unless serious things occur which cause a consumer or the other agent to complain – by then irreparable damage may have occurred.

Problem 4. Agents are salespersons – many people and agents themselves attribute much more importance to the skills of an agent than they actually deserve – agents may call themselves anything – neighborhood specialist, market expert, number 1 in sales, blah blah, etc. The facts are, 95% of agents are nothing more than salespersons – that is how they are described on their GA License. There is also the inherent problem created because of the very nature of agents…of course every salespersons goal is to sell – obviously this can become a serious conflict of interest when it comes to putting the buyer or seller clients interest first – ahead of the agents own interests – making the sale and getting to closing. Too many agents push homes, push transactions, and/or don’t disclose everything they know about a transaction – especially things that may change a buyer or sellers decision process if they knew about them.

An agent who fails to disclose things they know that are NOT in the buyer or sellers best interest is a license law violation – but only if the buyer or seller is a client being represented in writing!

Problem 5. Weak and desperate agents who are just scraping by – these financially desperate agents – especially the ones who come into contact with buyers and are so desperate for a customer they won’t even educate buyers on basic agency laws (a license law violation) and won’t ask a buyer to sign a Buyer Brokerage Agreement to become a client – in fear they may scare the buyer away! And if they do try to educate the buyer on agency relationships as required by GA Law, but the buyer refuses to sign a Buyer Brokerage Agreement, weak and desperate agents give in and work with the buyer as a customer rather than as a client – and in doing so the buyer is taking on the full risks for everything that might go wrong with their transaction – and except for provable fraud, they have little to no legal recourse against the agent for the outcome of their transaction! Top quality agents who know what they’re doing (and who care about their reputation) will insist on providing their best service and industry level advice when working with buyers and sellers – and by law, this can only be done when a client level relationship has been formed – which in GA must be spelled out in writing in a Brokerage Representation Agreement! Any agent worth their salt, will tell a buyer who does not want to sign a Buyer Brokerage Agreement, sorry but they are not able to help them!

This takes strength of character to do what is right – and it takes having a degree of success in your business so you can pick who you work with and who you don’t. Desperate agents don’t have success and they have no value proposition so they chase prospects rather than the other way around. They don’t have respect, so they have prospects who don’t listen to them, who research sites like Zillow etc, and who then think they know as much or more than their agent!  What a miserable way to work.

Regardless, at the end of the day, as agents and Brokers, we know (or are supposed to know) the law and are supposed to be the experts, and protect the public – even if that means politely telling a prospect “because you refuse to allow me to give you my best, I simply can’t help you.” These weak and desperate agents are not good for anyone – they will agree to “work” with anyone under any circumstance, including circumstances they know to be bad for their buyer customer. They let uninformed buyers tell them how to run their business, and they pose the most danger to the public in real estate transactions. That type agent is egregious – and what the DANGER report is all about. Buyers who use this kind of agent frankly deserve what they get. There is too much free information on the internet about the difference between being a customer and a client and learning how to protect yourself as a buyer when working with agents, is not rocket science.

Of course far too many buyers start their home search out all wrong – they spend all their time in the MLS ‘candy shop window’, looking at homes on their own, rather than first learning how to find the best expert to assist them in getting a properly targeted home search set up, and making life much easier for themselves. I agree, it’s more fun to look at homes, than it is talking with and vetting a few agents. But in the long run a skilled agent can make their lives so much easier – and an true expert level agent can give invaluable market insights and put them light years ahead in their search process – and give them an edge over their competition – other buyers.

Problem 6. Ubiquitous internet IDX home search portals – most agent IDX systems require log in at some point – but some agents don’t require buyers to log in ever (thinking they will get more “leads”). (What kind of “lead” do you have if the visitor did not leave a real name, email address, and number – nothing?) Are we in business to let the buyer find their home on their own, or are we here to give them direction, help them see all options, and help them find the best home, and get the best deal? If not why don’t we just give the buyer our super key so they can let themselves in too? Being facetious of course!

What these agents are really doing is giving away the store – providing a free services to members of the public who probably won’t reciprocate and have no intention of using them, services which their broker pays multi thousands a year for. (There are things in the works now [November 2015] to stop unfettered distribution of Broker listing data and information, and Brokers will regain total control over who can see listing information and who gets it – this could affect both local MLS systems and third party portals like Zillow – we will see in Q1 2016)

The result of giving a buyer the MLS rather than helping them with it, agents are helping buyers bring a lot of problems on themselves – too many buyers start the home search process completely backwards simply because they can – looking at homes first, rather than finding an expert who could set them up on a much better and more relevant and targeted search and keep them informed them about homes buyers would never find on their own. Instead some agents have taught buyers to be DIY’ers – to spend weeks and months combing the internet on their own looking at and for homes, and meanwhile they miss a lot of opportunities in the process, and take way longer than necessary to learn the market and find homes. Then once these DIY buyers find a home they think they like, at the last minute they try to select an agent often in great haste, to help them move forward on the deal they found before its gone, or worse they become scared or emboldened and take it on themselves to deal directly with the builders agent or listing agent – losing thousands in the process, and who knows what else. February 2017 Update – Trulia reported that Atlanta ranked 3rd in the nation for failed buyer transactions at over 10% of fails for all transaction annually – that’s over 7,000 failed transaction where someone did not know what they were doing!

Problem 7. Most agents don’t have any DIFFERENTIATING value propositions and advantages – thus the vast majority of the public view agents as a commodity – they feel agents are mostly all the same and basically interchangeable (they never saw the Danger Report) – so operating under this flawed assumption too many folks pick their agent simply because they know them from church or they are the neighborhood agent, or because a friend or relative referred the agent – big, big, mistake if you don’t do your own vetting don’t blame anyone else when the wheels fall off!

Problem 8. Most of the public don’t really know how to pick the best agent. Most of the folks who do understand that agents are not the same, and that it’s unwise, even irresponsible to just pick an agent merely because they know them or someone else referred them, often don’t understand how to vet an agent – what criteria to look for and use to determine who really is the best agent…and how to avoid the 80% majority who are so unskilled and incompetent as to be irrelevant, even outright dangerous to your financial health!

Questions? Need an Expert Adviser?  Contact me – Robert Whitfield – 678-585-9691