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“Geo-centric”…a fancy name for neighborhood specialist!

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Our team of agents at Red Robin REALTORS®, as well as our parent company Keller Knapp Realty, have always supported the importance of being local.  Our agents tend to live, work and play in the communities where they do business.  We’re a boutique firm, specializing in intown Atlanta neighborhoods.  We’re generally involved and knowledgeable about the areas where we work with buyers and sellers.  Keller Knapp agent Jonathan Rich summed it up nicely in a recent article on The Importance of Being Local in Atlanta Agent Magazine, giving the following advice to real estate agents:  “Jonathan is a proponent of living in the community where you work. He said this “geo-centric philosophy” will help agents learn firsthand everything a potential buyer will want to know. If living in the area is not possible, Rich suggests agents gain an understanding of the neighborhood they’re working in by doing as much business in one place as they can. ‘Try to understand who you are and where you fit, as far as your brand and relational presence in that community,’ he said.”

This article brought up an interesting point — agents often promote the fact that they are a neighborhood specialist.  They often market themselves heavily in a particular area (called “farming”).  They tend to get involved in the neighborhoods where they want to do more business.  Red Robin has definitely done that in the Grant Park, Ormewood Park, East Atlanta community.  If Rich’s statement holds true (and I think it does), it makes us better agents for buyers and sellers in those neighborhoods.

But, digging a little deeper, why does it matter?  As a buyer or seller, what are the specific benefits you get from using a “local” agent?  Why would you use a neighborhood specialist, instead of your friend who lives in, say, Dunwoody?  Why might you want shy away from using your cousin, who sells a lot of houses in Douglasville?  I mean, your cousin sells a lot of houses — shouldn’t that be enough?  These are great questions, and while some of the reasons to use a local agent may seem obvious, some are reasons that you may not have considered.

  1. For sellers, one of the most important things your agent does is provide a pricing evaluation and recommended list price.  And, it’s easy enough to pull comps, look at photos, and come up with a price.  However, an agent who sells a lot of homes in an area will have their finger on the pulse of the details of the neighborhood that may increase or decrease the value of a home.  Is it on the best street in the neighborhood?  Is there a “busy” house next door?  What are the perceptual barriers, where there is a difference in price?  For example, when I bought my home in Ormewood Park in 1996, you did not want to buy a home south of Confederate Ave, now United Ave.   How much do you adjust the price for these “emotional” features of a home?  How much do you reduce the list price for a house on Moreland Ave?  Well, that depends…and an agent with intimate knowledge of a community will have a better sense of the impact.
  2. It’s also important that an agent has been inside homes in the neighborhood — it’s one thing to look at photos online.  It’s another to have the full exposure to the floor plan, decor, and condition of competing homes.  Someone who lives, or sells a lot, in a particular neighborhood is naturally going to be more familiar with the subtle nuances of pricing.
  3. Also for sellers, good neighborhood agents may be more familiar with the appraisal process, whether it’s features that might increase an appraisal, or issues that may decrease value.  While I don’t price a home based on what I think the appraisal might be, I do have a strong knowledge of the factors in a particular neighborhood (and for the specific property compared to other homes in the neighborhood) that affect value.  Discussing these in advance with a seller, and having them on the radar when negotiating a contract is important.
  4. For buyers, knowledge of the neighborhood is particularly helpful.  While it’s the buyer’s responsibility to do their due diligence, a knowledgeable agent will have resources at their fingertips about what the neighborhood has to offer, as well as possible issues to consider.  For example, if a buyer really liked the idea of buying a home close to East Atlanta Village so they could walk to the restaurants, a knowledgeable agent might be able to guide them which streets are busy with people parking on the weekend.  This may or may not bother a particular buyer, but if it was something that was a consideration, an agent with intimate knowledge would be able to better guide the buyer to which streets may be less crowded.
  5. Schools are often a really key factor in a home purchase for families. While it’s not a requirement that a great agent have kids in the local schools, an agent who is involved in the community and knows the schools, parents and programs can help guide prospective buyers in finding a school that works for their family.  A great agent who is plugged into a neighborhood will also have references from parents with kids in the local schools — so buyers can ask firsthand.
  6. Generally speaking, one of the most common questions people ask in the market right now is, “Are we in a bubble?  Is there going to be a correction?  Should I sell or buy now, or wait?”  While none of us have a crystal ball, there is, without a doubt, great benefit to knowing the details about what is happening in a particular neighborhood.  My answer to this question could be a global answer for the Atlanta market in general. But, my answer would be different if I were talking about a particular neighborhood, like Ormewood Park or East Atlanta, where I have intimate neighborhood knowledge.

These are just a few of the reasons that many agents in the REALTOR® community believe in “Being Local”.  Sure someone else can sell your home, or help you buy a house. But, at Red Robin, we believe that the decision of a REALTOR is an important one, and we don’t take it lightly.

We hope we’ll have the opportunity to talk to you soon!  If you or someone you know is planning to buy or sell a home in one of Atlanta’s fine intown neighborhoods, call Managing Broker, Melissa Wakamo to schedule a Meet & Greet with one of our Neighborhood Specialists.  404-729-1133.

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About The Author
Melissa Wakamo

When Melissa Wakamo began her real estate career in 2004, her goal was to focus on her immediate area and get to know her neighbors. "I've had a lot of fun over the years helping my neighbors sell their homes and helping newcomers become a part of our community." Melissa quickly became one of metro Atlanta’s top producing agents and consistently performed in the top 1% of all Atlanta agents. By 2009, Melissa’s real estate team had grown to include several agents and support staff, providing exceptional service to buyers and sellers in Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods. In her role as Managing Broker, Melissa provides agent training, marketing and strategic oversight for Keller Knapp Realty, and continues to provide exceptional real estate services to Atlanta buyers and sellers. "If you're thinking of buying or selling a home, or are considering a career as a real estate agent, let's talk soon!"