Welcome to the Good Life

Ann Marie is your real estate expert! With a career spanning over 30 years Ann Marie knows what it takes to deliver results! Check out her videos below for some valuable information on buying and selling a home!


Happy Thanksgiving From Our Family to Yours

Here’s my message of heartfelt gratitude during this holiday season.

Today I want to simply give thanks. This is one of my favorite times of the year, and even though it’s been a tough one, we are so thankful for our health, our family’s health, and more. This year, I gained two children, as two of my children got married. I have so much to look forward to for many years to come, and for that, I’m very grateful.

I want to leave you with my twist on a popular Irish poem for this Thanksgiving: May your turkey be plump, may your gravy have nary a lump, may your pies win the prize, and may your dinner stay off your thighs.

If you have any questions for me or real estate needs I can assist with, don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email. I look forward to hearing from you.


How Do You Know Which Offer to Choose?

Here’s why selecting the best offer isn’t as easy as glancing at the price.

If you’re a seller faced with the pleasant problem of having to sort through multiple offers on your home, there are a few considerations that will help make the decision process easier. The first consideration is, of course, price, but a close second should be the likelihood of closing. In the other words, can the buyer prove that they actually have the funds or financing to back up their offer, and are they working with a competent agent? 

The strength of a given buyer’s financing is of utmost importance. Here in Augusta, we have many VA buyers, and it’s likely that an offer from one of them may very well be the best offer you receive. That said, not all VA loans and VA buyers are the same; whether you have three VA buyers bidding for your home or just one, it doesn’t matter—you’ll still need to ask yourself questions like these before proceeding: Are they working with a local lender? Is this someone who I can trust to close on the loan? Do they have a track record of successful, timely closings? 

If your buyer is working with a national lender, remember that lending giant doesn’t care if your moving van is all packed up. If it’s 5 p.m. in their time zone, they’ll be out of the office, and your transaction becomes tomorrow’s problem. 

For those buyers financing their purchase via conventional loan, remember that the more money they put down, the stronger their offer becomes. Of course, cash is still king, so you may opt for a cash offer that’s slightly less than the rest simply because its likelihood of closing would be highest. 

Now, price isn’t the only thing that matters. You must be willing and able to look at all the other important factors of an offer, like the timeframe for closing. Would that buyer’s possession date be helpful to you, or would it be highly inconvenient? In the negotiations, could you push for a possession date that’s after the closing date? Some sellers like the assurance of seeing the proceeds from the sale hit their bank account before they move on to their next property; oftentimes, such an approach would be impractical (if not circumstantially impossible), but sellers with multiple offers to choose from are in the driver’s seat. 

You may opt for a cash offer that’s slightly lower than the rest simply because it has a higher likelihood of closing.

Also, consider opting for the cleanest contract possible—that is, the one with the fewest contingencies. In any transaction, contingencies equal uncertainty, and if you’re taking your home off the market and tying it up in a contract, you simply can’t tolerate too many “what ifs.” What if your buyer’s home doesn’t sell? What if their lender won’t give them final approval? What if they back out during the inspection period? 

I often recommend that sellers get their homes inspected prior to listing so that they can take any potential leverage away from the buyer and request a shorter due diligence period; even if you don’t repair every little foible in the home, you’re at least aware of its issues and can use that knowledge to your advantage when negotiating repairs. In our area, the due diligence period is usually about 10 to 14 days, depending on the availability of the inspectors. The shorter the period, the better, as you’ll be able to close that much sooner. 

Lastly, pay attention to the amount of earnest money a buyer is depositing. Some agents feel like earnest money isn’t all that important, but it’s indisputable that buyers who put up more earnest money have more skin in the game and are therefore more likely to close

So, there you have it: Financing, contract terms (e.g., possession date), “cleanliness” of the offer, and earnest money—four simple items that make a world of difference for a seller who’s wading through multiple offers. If you have further questions regarding any of the four, or want more information on another real estate topic, please give me a call or send an email. I’m always here to be a resource for you!


What Do the Stats Say About Our Augusta Market?

You have to see our latest Augusta market numbers to believe them.

I almost feel like I need to put on my glasses to read the latest real estate figures from our Augusta market. In my 36 years of selling homes, I’ve never seen anything like it. 

As we ended September, our average sales price stood at $241,632. While that does constitute a 17% increase year over year, our homes are still very affordable compared to the rest of the world. There were 808 closed sales and 880 new listings, but the slightly troubling stat is the 1,028 pending sales, which was a 40.6% increase compared to September 2019. 

“We expect continued growth, but we’ll eventually see the effects of a slowdown.”

The only thing we’re missing in Augusta is homes to sell. Since prices continue to rise, it’s a great time to put your home on the market. You may have received a letter from me a few weeks ago discussing the national market and putting things into perspective for what to expect from our Augusta market, but to reiterate: We expect continued growth, but we’ll eventually see the effects of a slowdown. 

We’re very optimistic about what’s happening now, though, and I want you to be prepared. In all my years in the business, I’ve seen many ups and downs—I was there in 2005 and 2007—and I can tell you that now is an excellent time to consider downsizing. 

If you’d like to take advantage of this market and list your home or have any real estate questions at all, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to speak with you.


What Should I Consider When Buying a Home?

Here’s what you need to know to buy a home in our current market.

Now is an exciting time to buy a home because interest rates are wonderful. However, there are things to keep in mind because inventory is low. 

At 0:34 in the video above, you can see a diagram of a triangle that illustrates how you need to choose two of the following to prioritize: location, condition, and price. Consider which two of these are most crucial to you. For example, if it’s in the right location and the right price, are you willing to upgrade its condition? Of course, the well-known adage is ‘location, location, location’ but because of the rising prices, there are many areas in Augusta that are great locations to consider. 

If you have any specific questions about locations, schools, or pricing, call me at (706) 481-3800 or email me, and I’ll be delighted to help you!


How Buyers Can Win in a Multiple-Offer Situation

There are a few ways buyers can win in a multiple-offer situation.

How can buyers win in a multiple-offer situation? Inventory is very low, so it’s critical to have a strategy in place to get your offer accepted over another.

Of course, price is the largest consideration, but the financing, or how you go about purchasing the home, has a big impact. Cash is the strongest thing to offer, and a cash exhibit proves you’re able to get financing if needed. Also, a pre-qualification letter is crucial, as it will give you a head start on buying a house. I recommend going to a local lender so the other party will immediately recognize them. 

You want to make sure you have strong earnest money. Some real estate agents say this isn’t essential, but it’s a huge deal when it comes to multiple offers because it shows how committed you are. Additionally, if possible, have a shorter due diligence period; this is the number of days you’ll take to inspect the property to ensure it’s a solid deal. We sometimes have inspectors lined up in advance of finding a property to keep the due diligence period shorter, which makes your offer stronger. We try to keep this period to 10 days, when possible. 

It’s critical to have a strategy in place to get your offer accepted over another.

Often the tie-breaker is possession; I’ve had sellers choose an offer with this stipulation, even when another offer had a higher price. Consider what you need, then find out what will best suit the seller. For example, sometimes the seller needs to stay in the home a bit longer after closing for various reasons. 

If you have any specific questions about multiple offers or real estate in general, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send an email. I would love to help you.


What Did May Bring for Our Augusta Market?

Our latest market stats prove Augusta has a lot to feel good about.

I can honestly say that in my 36 years of studying homes and prices in the real estate market daily, this has been one of the most interesting times to track data. Our inventory shortage only worsened in May, dropping 20% over last May. This has caused our prices to rise by 10% amid an economic downturn and worldwide health crisis. In this sense, Augusta has a tremendous amount to be grateful for. Thanks to the housing shortage, we’ve been seeing the average list-to-sale price ratio reach beyond 100%, meaning that the average seller is fetching more than their asking price.  

Something I have seen before here in Augusta—and I’m seeing again now—is that certain sellers have opted to overprice their homes, which has caused them to stagnate on the market. It’s still important to remember that each price range and neighborhood has an individual strategy that needs to be employed, so if I can help you with that, please let me know. If you’re thinking of making a move, whether to downsize or upgrade, this is an excellent time to do so because your return will be very good. 

Reach out by phone or email if you have questions, want more information on a given real estate topic, or are ready to start the home selling process. I’m here to be a resource for you.


Is it Better to Downsize Now or Later?

Is now still a good time to downsize? Yes, and today I’ll tell you why.

With the recent economic downturn and all of the uncertainty in the air, are you better off downsizing now or waiting? Each seller’s situation is different, but you should know that economic downturns and upturns are nothing new.

If you were thinking of making a move before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and are already committed to buying a smaller house and reducing expenses, I say do it now. To learn more about why now is still a great time to downsize in our marketplace, watch this short video.


We’re on the Lookout for a New Executive Assistant

I’m looking for a new executive assistant to join my staff.

We’ve renovated our offices, upgraded our suite, and reorganized our computer network, but what my team and I are most excited about is the next step: hiring a new team member. Specifically, we’re looking for a special person to fill the executive assistant role. 

Responsibilities include but are not limited to: 

  • Handle client needs
  • Schedule and manage the owner’s time
  • Prepare packets and marketing materials
  • Follow up on outstanding items
  • Manage email
  • Keep vision board updated and organized
  • Prepare team meeting weekly agenda
  • Work with the owner to develop, track, and manage team budget for marketing, etc.
  • Coordinate their purchasing of any office equipment, marketing materials, and other business-related supplies and materials
  • Ensure all contacts and leads are in Lead Tracking System
  • Create and manage all systems for sellers, buyers, client database management, lead generation tracking, lead follow up, and all office administration

Key characteristics:

  • Motivated and takes initiative
  • Organized
  • Efficient
  • Forward-thinking
  • Positive
  • Thrives on action and a fast-paced environment

Requirements: 

  • Bachelor’s degree preferred (business, marketing, or communications-related degree)
  • Real estate experience (three to five years) and a license (GA/SC a plus)
  • Computer literate

If you’re interested in this opportunity, click here to fill out your application. If you have any questions, please call or email us. We look forward to hearing from you!


How Are We Getting Buyers and Sellers Together Digitally?

We’re doing a lot more things digitally these days, but we’re still helping buyers and sellers effectively. Here are some of the tools we’ve been implementing that help us do that.

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we’re implementing a lot of new tools to get buyers and sellers together. We’re using virtual tours, 3D walk-throughs, and more to help buyers find sellers and sellers find buyers.

We’ve hired a “virtual staging” company to help highlight our sellers’ homes, and we’re innovating with our attorneys, inspectors, and appraisers to keep people safe and healthy. To learn more about how we’re keeping real estate strong during this time, watch this short video. 

2739 Walton Way Virtual Tour

861 Deerwood Circle Virtual Staging (Take note of the kitchen floors- 4th picture in!)

5016 Congressional Drive 3D Matterport Tour


Lending Guidelines Are Tightening

As banks nationwide adopt more stringent guidelines, there’s no reason to panic. There is, however, cause to be more careful.

One of our local mortgage bankers confirmed that there’s going to be an increase in the required credit score to qualify for a mortgage—632 will jump to 680. Some banks have even moved their requirement to 700. There’s never been a more critical time to guard your credit and resolve any issues. If you don’t know where you stand, take the time to check; are you noticing any erroneous things in your credit history?

Speaking of credit cautiousness, I want to discuss mortgage forbearance. Under the CARES Act, mortgage companies are allowing you to forego payments for a certain period, but you must be in close contact with your servicer and understand exactly what their guidelines are. To hear my full message, watch this short video above.