So the answer is “yes”, there is a difference.
The pre-qualifying process is a preemptive information gathering exercise where your lender will ask you to provide the information necessary to get pre-approved for a loan. However, other than pulling your credit from the social security number you’ll provide them with, they won’t actually verify the rest of the information they may ask you for. This includes W-2s, a current pay stub, a summary of your assets and your total monthly expenses, and if you already own real estate, a copy of both your mortgage statement and your homeowners insurance policy.
Based on the information you provide your lender can run some basic calculations and give you an idea of how much of a loan you’ll likely qualify for. However, since they haven’t verified the majority of the information you’ve given them, your pre-qualification won’t be as valuable as a pre-approval.
So the biggest difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification, at least from a lender’s point of view, is validating the information with documents as opposed to just getting verbal information. In a pre-approval the lender isn’t just going to take your word for it, they are going to verify the information you have given them.
From a borrower’s point of view, the difference is the leverage that pre-approval gives you when it comes to purchasing a home since most seller’s agents won’t accept an offer without a pre-approval letter. They want it to say ‘pre-approval’ at the top because they know the lender has done an in-depth analysis on the buyer.
The pre-qualification letter has its place though in the very beginning of your home searching process. It will help you and your buyer’s agent determine what is a good starting price bracket for your property search. But that will only get you so far in the process and you will soon need to take it to the next level and get a pre-approval letter.
Think of it this way. Getting pre-qualified for a loan is like asking for approval from your significant other’s parents before you propose. While it might be nice to get a “yes” from the parents, until you drop to one knee for the ultimate approval, you aren’t really getting anywhere.
Of course, you’ll still have to go through the underwriting process after you submit the application and wait for final approval.
If you need any help getting a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter, let us know. We have some great lenders we work with that can guide you through the process and put you in the right position to take advantage of this incredible market we find ourselves in.
It’s October, which means it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Join in the cause to help women in need today. Together, We can make a difference.
Click the link below to learn more about how you can help in the fight against breast cancer.
When it comes to the best that money has to offer, luxury homes lead the way. So if you are interested in trying to get the best possible ROI on your next home improvement, you’ll want to know what luxury home buyers are looking for most in their next home, and figure out how you can offer similar features at any price point.
Today’s homes need to be a mixture of the newest technology, upgrades, and open space for its owners and their toys.
So let’s take a look at the amenities topping the latest must-have list for the luxury buyers.
#1 on the list is Home Automation and Smart-Tech. Homebuyers today are looking for the same great technology they have come to expect in their smartphones and mobile devices and there are certainly plenty of ways home tech can satisfy.
The ability to control everything from sprinklers and mowers, to inside temperature and lighting, entertainment and security, to appliances and beds, from one device with a voice command or push of a button is what is fast becoming expected to today’s luxury buyer.
For example why settle for a run-of-the-mill media room, when with today’s technology you can have a dedicated home theater room specifically designed with your comfort and entertainment in mind complete with a Hisense 100-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart Dual Color Laser TV, ranked one of the best TV’s for 2019 by PCMag.com https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/256493/the-best-tvs with a MSRP of $10,995.99? If that is a little out of the budget for your dream Gaming/Theater Room you can choose the equally impressive Samsung 65-inch Class Q90R, with an MSRP of $3499.99 or LG’s similarly priced 65-inch OLED dream screen.
Of course, you’ll have to sit through those long three-hour movies in style so why not select Elite Home Theater Seating, https://elitehts.com one of the finest home cinema seating builders in the world, to create you your own sumptuous custom seating experience?
Additional features in your must-have dream theater room to create the perfect ambiance include a chest-pounding surround sound system, mood-setting dimmable lighting, walls painted with a soothing color palette, and finally, a plethora of lavish materials including throw rugs, blankets, and pillows.
You can expect to spend from $5,000 if you are on a shoe-string budget, to upwards of $50,000 building your ideal high-tech, private, cinematic experience depending on your viewing appetite. But of course, if you’re someone like Tyler Perry you might go all out entertaining your guest at home in this Game of Thrones-style home theater, that according to insiders cost well over $500,000.
See our blog post titled Smart Home Tech https://www.themeridianway.com/blog/ for a list of the 2019 Best Smart Home Devices.
#2 would be a little of this and a little of that. That’s right, combining old and new together, recycled and ageless, classic with modern, has become the hottest trend in designing for luxuriousness, and it is an inclination that is likely to stay around for a while.
Incorporating reclaimed materials, like brick and wood and blending them with modern materials, fixtures, and appliances, is a way to create architectural focal points, great topics for interesting conversation and set your property apart from all the others when it’s time to sell.
By blending reclaimed materials such as this 100 year old chandelier, walnut wood and cabinetry and these massive support beams which were saved from the Savanah Harbor and preserved in The Villa De Cielo https://www.themeridianway.com/listing/683-tarpley-road-nw/ pictured here, with state of the art appliances that are available for the modern kitchen, we are actually being kinder to our world and helping our environment which is a huge selling point to the affluent and discerning buyer.
#3 on the list, and certainly a feature most people think about when creating their must-have amenity that they would be willing to pay extra for is, of course, a kitchen a chef would be envious of.
The kitchen is the heart of the home and a must-have kitchen will include high-end cabinetry, chef-grade commercial appliances, and beautiful inviting design.
Sleek or classic look doesn’t matter, open and integrated with other living spaces for entertaining is where it’s at. However, since cooking can be messy, builders are now incorporating a secondary kitchen in their designs. Called a “dirty kitchen” or a “catering kitchen”, these kitchens are usually next to the designer kitchen for ease and efficiency. But having a second kitchen where all the dirty work takes place will leave your designer kitchen nice and clean for entertaining your guests. And of course, no must-have kitchen will be without smart-technology. Today’s modern kitchen technology can include refrigerators that let you know when you are low on groceries, ovens that clean themselves, precision cookers that use Wi-Fi connectivity so you control them from anywhere, even when you’re not home, and steam ovens, coffee makers and microwaves that you can control with your phone or tablet.
#4 on this list would be living a life of luxury outside. And we’re not talking about camping. We are talking about outdoor space so inviting that you may end up spending more time there than inside your home.
Luxury buyers are used to experiencing decadent outdoor environments while traveling around the world so there’s no reason why they wouldn’t want to experience the same while they are home.
Outdoor gourmet kitchens, resort-style pools or water feature, plush comfy seating under the cover of structures like cabanas, verandas, lanais or terraces, cozy fires, and well-stocked bars are among the essentials of a well thought out, well designed outdoor living space. There are also incredible opportunities to have the best of both worlds by engineering space as both an indoor and outdoor living area. This can be done by designing partitions and walls oftentimes made of glass to break away and or fold back so as to open an indoor space to the outdoors.
#5 Last on the list but certainly not least would be a place to keep your collection of toys. That’s right, a grand barn for your modern-day stallions. A garage fitting of the cars that reside in it. And in this case, bigger is usually better. Large garage space has become almost as important as large bedroom closet space when it comes to making decisions on purchasing a home.
A fact not often missed with luxury homebuyers is that when it comes to displaying their items of value, the display case is important. And there is really no limit to what can be done when creating a showroom for a luxury car collection.
One thing you can count on when it comes to luxury homebuyers, they are looking for and willing to pay for the finer things of both indoor and outdoor living, and an excellent agent knows how to help them find or create what they are looking for.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent numbers, metropolitan Atlanta added roughly 58,700 jobs over the past 12 months, a 2.12% bump in employment.
The region has comfortably outpaced the national average for much of the economic expansion since the Great Recession and is projected to continue to do so throughout the rest of this year.
Professional and business services led the way in growth over the past year, as Atlanta added 17,500 jobs in this cohort. Overall, with small net reductions in the financial activities and information sectors, office-using employment grew by 13,800 jobs, or roughly a 1.75% increase.
While Atlanta has seen office-using employment slow, the market is on stable footing. From 2010 to 2018, Atlanta added the sixth-highest number of office-using jobs in the nation on a nominal basis, almost 170,000 high-paying jobs. The region boasted numbers higher than Los Angeles with 159,000, Boston with 140,000 and Washington, D.C., with 100,300.
White-collar employment is expected to continue growing over the next few years, as major corporations add thousands of jobs to the area. Investment firm BlackRock, health insurer Anthem and Norfolk Southern Railway are looking to add thousands of high-paying jobs to midtown, arguably Atlanta’s epicenter of corporate relocations and expansions.
Elsewhere in the region, insurance company State Farm, accounting software company LeaseQuery, and Arby’s owner Inspire Brands are in the process of adding thousands of jobs to Perimeter Center. Thyssenkrupp Elevators is expected to hire 600 employees in Cumberland and Ameris Bancorp plans to add 300 positions in Buckhead.
The addition of tens of thousands of high-paying jobs has been a boon to Atlanta’s office market, particularly for high-end properties in the region’s well-positioned markets. For example, midtown and Buckhead will have absorbed roughly 4.6 million and 2.7 million square feet of high-quality space, respectively, by the end of this year.
The total transaction volume among apartment properties in Atlanta is on track to surpass last year’s numbers, revealing investors’ seemingly insatiable appetite for apartments in the Atlanta Market.
Every year since 2010 has experienced growth in transaction volume in the multifamily sector, and 2012 marked the first year that multifamily sales prevailed as the leading preference for investors.
So far this year, total sales volume is almost at $4.3 billion, compared to just $4.1 billion this time last year. In total, last year saw almost $7.5 billion worth of transactions – an all-time record for the metropolitan Atlanta area. On a trailing 12-month basis, Atlanta ranks third for the most sales volume, only behind New York and Los Angeles.
While apartments have proven more lucrative this expansion across the nation, properties of this cohort in Atlanta are especially enticing as rent growth remains strong and job growth holds comfortably above the national average.
In the chart below, each color corresponds with one of four property types and the amount of sales volume traded in that year. Blue Bars represent apartment complex sales.
Are changing market trends and the growing number of SFR investors hampering the dream of buying a home for 19M millennials who are stuck renting?
Whether or not you are a millennial trying to compete against investors for your starter home, or an investor trying to make a wise investment we can help. www.TheMeridianWay.com
The following is a snippet from the Inman News article, by Steve Cook, entitled “Competition for starter homes will only heat up. Here’s why”
“Many prospective first-time buyers cannot find a home that they can afford, or, even worse, overpay for their first homes, thanks to the legions of investors in single-family rentals (SFRs), whose cash offers often beat out bids from other buyers. Competition with investors is one of the reasons 19 million millennials who want to buy a home and have the income to do so are still renting…
…However, it is true that investors in single-family rentals prefer the same starter-sized homes sought by first-time buyers. According to CoreLogic, the share of starter homes purchased by investors peaked at over 1 in 5 homes over the past two years. “It’s a truism that homebuyers today are more likely to cross paths with investors during an open house than at any other time in the past two decades,” McLaughlin says.
Last year, investor purchases were the highest on record and nearly twice the level before the 2008 housing crash. Through the balance of 2019 and the first half of 2020, conditions for investors will continue to favor them over first-time buyers.
And here’s why:
- Investors are less sensitive to rising prices than homebuyers
- SFR rents are rising as fast or faster than home prices
- SFR Investing is easier today than ever
- Single-family investors have financing sources that are as good or better than those available to first-time buyers
Remember, whether or not you are a millennial trying to compete against investors for your starter home, or an investor trying to make a wise investment we can help. www.TheMeridianWay.com
Recently in our team meeting, The Meridian Real Estate Group discussed the question of whether or not a Real Estate App would ever replace a Real Estate Agent.
We determined that despite the many changes in the real estate industry and all the advances in technology to make the process of buying and selling a property faster and easier, the basic steps of haven’t changed.
No matter how many apps are created to try and take the agent out of the equation entirely in order to eliminate their commission, “true professionalism and expertise will never be replaced by the latest app. Technology can do a lot, but the one thing it can’t deliver is that personal touch that comes with great service.” – from Inman News “Why you should never stop learning”
A great example of this was given in our meeting when I proposed a prevailing concern in the real estate industry that Uber basically put the New York taxi drivers out of business, and asked if anyone on our Team thought it would be possible for one of these startup apps or Do-It-Yourself discount brokerage companies to do the same to real estate agents.
John Rose, our Marketing Director, gave a brilliant response. “Uber may put the taxi drivers out of business but it will have little-to-no effect on the limo drivers.” Wait, what?!?! Drop the mic.
That is one of the best examples I’ve ever heard of why professionalism, service, and expertise matter. People will always pay for quality and superior service.
John continued. “That’s why I’m not worried about losing any of our clients to these new DIY Real Estate Apps or Brokerage Companies. Our clients rely on our expertise when it comes to making one of the, if not the, biggest financial decisions of their lives and helping them build their real estate legacy. Our clients expect the best, get the best, and will always be willing to pay for that type of service. No matter what the price point is.”
The newest and latest technology is important but it won’t replace an agent.
“It’s no secret that venture capital firms are spending billions to upend the real estate industry by investing in technology designed to create more efficiencies and conveniences in the home-buying process.
That’s not a bad thing, but without an agent’s involvement in this technology, investors will never see a return on that money. All industries have to adapt in our increasingly digital-based economy or risk becoming irrelevant. Traditional VC firms and strategic investors place bets on companies they feel have the ability to disrupt an industry. However, my colleagues in this field have once again forgotten the fundamentals of disruption. Technology alone will not solve for customer behavior, human emotion, fear of loss, and simple unit economics.
We have an alternative thesis at Keller Williams. Even as we have transformed into a technology company, we have proven that the agents’ experience and customer service remain valuable to home buyers and sellers. The reason consumers will continue to rely on a licensed agent is that buying and selling a home is not a regular habit. This professional’s advice will guide them through a confusing and intimidating process.
The same is true in other industries – doctors still treat patients, lawyers still argue court cases, and real estate agents will continue to help people buy and sell homes. Technology has improved these professionals’ ability to do their jobs, but it has not replaced them. If you are an individual investor or an institutional fund making investments in technology that intends to significantly reduce or replace the role of the agent, you are throwing your money away.” – from Going all in: Keller Williams invests in bringing its agent-centric technology vision to life, by Mitch Johnson
It’s easy to stay on the cutting edge of technology when you are a part of Keller Williams Realty.
“In the next two years, we will ensure that KW agents become “super agents” powered by using one platform to manage the entire home-buying experience.
From accessing listings and scheduling showings to financing, home repairs and more, agents and consumers will soon be able to efficiently coordinate and manage it all with our app.
Ultimately these proprietary technologies will make agents even smarter, faster and more cost-efficient (again, dare we say “super agents”?) when serving their customers and taking their businesses to new heights.” – from Going all in: Keller Williams invests in bringing its agent-centric technology vision to life, by Mitch Johnson
So, despite the fact that we don’t feel that a real estate app or a do-it-yourself discount broker will ever replace us, The Meridian Real Estate Group does use the most advanced technology available to agents. We look at technology as an aid and not a crutch. It is a tool to make us more efficient and effective for our clients. It assists us in providing them with the best and most accurate information possible. It helps us to provide our clients with a superior experience and the level of service that only “limo” real estate agents can provide.
The Meridian Real Estate Group with Keller Williams Realty Signature Partners worked on behalf of its client, Sanctuary Companies, a Georgia based real-estate development company, to assemble 65 parcels of property located along the Cherokee Street Redevelopment Corridor in Kennesaw, Georgia. Sanctuary Companies along with its partner Varden Properties recently closed on the properties. The $280 million mixed-use development, Eastpark Village, will transform the north gateway to downtown Kennesaw into a vibrant mixed-use community.
Eastpark Village, designed by award-winning architects Miller Architecture, will consist of 850 residential units, approximately 300,000 square feet of commercial, retail, and office space. A Village Green will be surrounded by restaurants, open markets, and residential living. A network of sidewalks and strategically placed parks will connect to Historic Downtown Kennesaw via a 10-foot multi-use trail. Groundbreaking will take place in March 2019 with an estimated three-year completion goal.
City of Kennesaw Zoning Administrator, Darryl Simmons, stated that “this is the largest land assemblage in the history of Kennesaw in terms of the number of parcels with individual owners assembled”. He said the City views this project, along with the Revival on Main in downtown Kennesaw, and the Kennesaw Marketplace at the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Barrett Parkway, as catalyst projects that will change the direction of Kennesaw in a positive way and help to revitalize the entire area.
Mr. Simmons explained that the City identified the area along Cherokee Street stretching from I-75 to downtown Kennesaw as a Redevelopment Corridor Zone, and subsequently adopted an overlay Zoning Ordinance and Form-Based Code to encourage redevelopment of the area. Mr. Simmons has seen significant revitalization efforts along the corridor, including older residential subdivisions and commercial businesses relocating into the area since the adoption of the Ordinance.
“Obviously this is the largest assemblage of residential property that Kennesaw has had; you’re talking over 60 parcels in a small area,” Mr. Simmons said. “There’s a lot of ways it could have gone wrong. There’s a lot of things that could have derailed the project, but because of The Meridian Real Estate Group’s diligent work hitting the bricks every day to keep the project going forward, the assemblage part, which is the heavy lifting, was possible.”
Land assemblages are one of the areas of specialty for The Meridian Real Estate Group. “This one was monumental,” said Tony Morris, Meridian’s founder, “it took us three years to assemble the parcels necessary to put it together, and because of our efforts this will be a legacy project for us, our client, and the community.”
About The Meridian Real Estate Group
The Meridian Real Estate Group is a Keller Williams Signature Partners Team based in Marietta, GA serving clients in both Residential and Commercial Real Estate. The Meridian Real Estate Group is driven by a deep desire to help our clients build wealth through real estate to such a degree that they are able to leave a legacy to their families and loved ones.
Today as we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I want to encourage you to take a moment and reflect on his life and the passion in which he lived it. He had a dream so big that he alone would not be able to accomplish it in his lifetime. He was so passionate about fulfilling his dream that he was willing to give up everything in pursuit of it.
Below are just a few of my favorite quotes from his lifetime. Feel free to add your own. Don’t make this political! If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say it at all here.
“The only reason evil prevails in this world, is because good men and women do nothing.”
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was a dreamer, and as my friend, Leif Hetland so beautifully said, “I believe each of us has a dream inside that originated in the heart of God. His desire is to dream with us and then give us the desires of our heart (Ps.37:4). As a son, I have the opportunity to partner with God to make these dreams a reality.”
Everything MLK did with his life was to pave a way to move his dream from just a dream to a reality… consider your dream and the legacy you are meant to leave.
Are your goals and dreams big enough? Are you willing to give up everything for them? What will your legacy be?
Have you ever considered having your dream home built or buying directly from a builder? Stop and consider that despite builders having their own in-house lenders, contractors, and inspectors, buying a home without your own representation could be a costly mistake.
Contract errors that aren’t in your favor, delayed closings, leaving money on the table in sales price negotiations, and missed opportunities for upgrades are all examples of why you should engage an agent before entering a builders sale’s office.
Here are 3 reasons you should hire a professional real estate agent to represent you.
1) Advice and Opinion: Two of the most important and valuable reasons to engage an agent before buying directly from a builder is their advice and opinion. Any home buying endeavor can be filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and lots of opportunities for things to go sideways. Buying directly from a builder is no different. A professional real estate agent can help you navigate through all the pitfalls that can arise during the home buying and building process. Lot selection, upgrade selections for resale value, inspections, and home plan selection are just a few of the consideration an agent can help you through.
2) Preferred Vendors: A builder will likely have their own preferred vendors including sub-contractors for work outside the scope of what the builder provides such as audio/visual installation, landscaping and sprinklers, etc. as well as their own preferred mortgage lender or title company, however they may not be the best option or offer the best value for you. A real estate professional will have their own vendors and affiliates that they know and trust that you can use to comparison shop to get the best value for you.
3) Expert Negotiations: Despite what they say builder pricing isn’t always set in stone and a professional real estate agent is a trained and skilled negotiator who can potentially help you get a price reduction and or a few extra upgrades thrown in.
By hiring an agent you gain an advocate to fight for you and your best interest from the very first meeting through the day of closing and beyond.
If you are interested in purchasing a new construction home and would like a list of builders in your area or would like to learn more about the new home buying process or are interested in finding the perfect lot to build your dream home on, get in touch with us today. We are here to help!
Eastpark Village: Kennesaw Revitalization Continues with the Largest Land Assemblage in the History of the City
The Meridian Real Estate Group recently closed on a land development deal representing Sanctuary Companies that will transform the area to the north of downtown Kennesaw along Cherokee Street into a vibrant mixed-use community focused on walkability and providing more diverse housing options.
The development called Eastpark Village is being designed by award winning architect Tony Miller, and will consist of 850 residential units along with approximately 300,000 square feet of commercial, retail, and office space. There will be shopping, restaurants, open markets, courtyards, and a network of sidewalks and strategically placed parks connecting the area to historic downtown Kennesaw. It is an estimated three year development project at $280 million with construction starting in January 2019.
A decade ago the City identified the area, that was underperforming economically and high in crime, as prime for redevelopment. The City had to modify zoning ordinances, adopting form based code, to set the stage for redevelopment in the area.
City of Kennesaw Zoning Administrator, Darryl Simmons stated that this is the largest land assemblage in the history of Kennesaw in terms of the number of parcels with individual owners assembled. He views this project, along with the Revival on Main in downtown Kennesaw and the Kennesaw Marketplace at the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Barrett Parkway, as catalyst projects that will change the direction of Kennesaw in a positive way and help to revitalize the entire area.
Tony Morris, of the Meridian Real Estate Group, worked diligently over the last three years to put this deal together and get it to the finish line. Darryl Simmons had this to say about the efforts of the Meridian Real Estate Group: “I think the reason why we were successful in getting this done is because you guys were really on your game as far as getting out there, talking to your clients, and talking to the property owners. Obviously this is the largest residential assemblage Kennesaw has had, you’re talking over 70 parcels in a small area. There’s a lot of ways it could have gone wrong. There’s a lot of things that could have derailed the project, but because of your diligent work and you guys hitting the bricks everyday to keep the project going forward, the assemblage part, which is the heavy lifting, was possible.”
Interested in buying a For Sale By Owner?
Properties being sold as For Sale By Owners or (FSBO’s) are more common than you might think – especially in a Seller’s Market. They account for about 8% of the properties currently on the market for sale. So if you’re currently considering purchasing a property you have, or, will likely come across one of these in your search.
Below are 4 things to keep in mind before purchasing one of these properties.
1. Get Agent Representation: Just because the Seller chose not to get representation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you want to ensure the transaction is handled correctly and legally it’s vital that you get a professional to represent you. Market knowledge, proper Contract preparation, access to preferred vendors such as lenders, inspectors and closing attorney are just a few of the benefits of having a real estate professional represent you.
2. Negotiations: FSBO’s are rarely priced correctly. Almost all Sellers believe their property is worth more than it is and almost all Buyers believe a Seller’s property is worth less than it is. This disparity can often become frustratingly evident when dealing with a For Sale By Owner. This is why an Agent is so valuable in these situations. Having a professional negotiator on your side gives you access to real-time property comparable data to help navigate you through the offer and likely counter-offer process to get to the right price and Terms.
3. Home Inspection: An owner may not know that they are legally required to disclose known issues with their property, and that oversight could mean costly repairs for you down the road. A good home inspector can enlighten you on potential problems with the property while you are still in Due Diligence giving you an opportunity to renegotiate or walk away before its to late.
4. Adding Contingencies: Contingencies can allow you a valid way out of a contract should something come up during the Terms of the Agreement, such as hidden issues with the property arising during the inspection, the property not appraising for the sale’s price, or you not being able to acquire a loan. A real estate professional will have the needed expertise to guide you through these Contingencies and other important Contract items such as Exhibits, Amendments, and Special Stipulations. All of which, if crafted correctly, are designed to protect you and your hard earned money.
Contact us for more information on how we can save you time, money, and heart ache by professionally representing you with your next property purchase.