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6 Steps to Buy a House and Enter the Georgia Real Estate Market

Georgia – also known as “The Empire State of the South”, “The Peach State”, and “The Goober State” – is known for its natural beauty, its influence on the civil rights movement, and African American historical figures. Other than a major tourist destination, Georgia has become an increasingly desirable location for individuals looking to become homeowners. With its beautiful weather, thriving cities, diverse landscapes, moderate home prices, and reasonable living costs, Georgia real estate is a growing market and continues to be on the radar of many prospective homebuyers looking for an ideal place to call home.

As Georgia real estate continues to grow and experience high demand, buying a home doesn’t have to be that difficult. Purchasing a property in the state follows a similar pattern to the rest of the country, making it relatively straightforward. By following key procedures, you can ensure a smooth, simple, and even enjoyable experience.

Georgia Real Estate Market Overview

In 2023, the housing market in Georgia remained strong, driven by a confluence of factors including robust demand, limited inventory, and a steady upward trend in house prices. According to Zillow, the average home value is $318,919 but the median listing price of a home according to Redfin is at $376,100 as of June, 2023. This means that houses for sale in Georgia are being sold around 17% more than their actual value. This is 1.3% higher as compared to the home prices last year. 

In the past decade, Georgia has experienced remarkable population growth attributed to various factors, including a strong economy, a comparatively affordable cost of living, and a pleasant climate. The state boasts a thriving and diverse economy with flourishing industries like logistics, film, and technology, which have witnessed rapid expansion in recent years. Consequently, Georgia has seen an increase in the number of young professionals and retirees, each with distinct housing preferences. 

This surge in population has placed significant pressure on the housing market, particularly in cities like Atlanta and Savannah. The influx of new residents translates to increased housing demand, resulting in rising prices and a scarcity of affordable housing choices. The housing market in Georgia has witnessed these effects as more people choose to make the state their home, necessitating the exploration of solutions to address the need for adequate and affordable housing options.

Trends in Georgia Real Estate Market

The Georgia housing market has seen unprecedented price growth over the last two years. Here’s an overview of the Georgia real estate market.

Preferred data to highlight:

  • Total housing units (July 1, 2022): 4,539,156 – 64.5% is owner occupied
  • Most common housing characteristics
    • 1 unit structures – 73.0%
    • 2 or more unit structures – 19.6%
    • Mobile homes and all other types of units: 7.4%
  • Mortgage status: With a mortgage and either a second mortgage or home equity loan – 130,287
  • Only second mortgage – 26,168
  • Only home equity loan – 130,287
  • Both second mortgage and home equity loan – 3,578
  • Home equity loan without a primary mortgage – 30,988
  • Average monthly housing costs: Based on the most recent ACS 5-year survey conducted in 2021, the median household income in Georgia stands at $65,030.00.
  • Number of bedrooms
  • No bedroom – 50,936
  • 1 bedroom – 280,511
  • 2 or 3 bedroom – 2,450,280
  • 4 or more bedrooms – 1,219,382

Take note that the reports provided may be subject to a margin of error

Finding an Affordable Home in Georgia

The rising prices of houses for sale in Georgia have presented a challenge for buyers, particularly those with lower incomes, in their search for suitable housing. However, despite this trend, purchasing an affordable home in Georgia remains feasible, even for first-time buyers.

So, whether the market is experiencing ups or downs, this guide will provide you with the essential information and tools to approach Georgia real estate with assurance and make informed decisions in purchasing a house.

Seek Professional Help

Engaging the services of a local real estate agent in Georgia can greatly simplify the home-buying process and provide valuable insights into effective strategies. With their years of experience in the market of Georgia real estate, these agents possess a deep understanding of normal price ranges for specific areas and can advise on when to negotiate for a lower offer.

A real estate agent is motivated by your best interests. While the seller’s agent may prioritize securing a higher price, your own agent is dedicated solely to your needs and objectives. They will work tirelessly to ensure you get a favorable deal.

Finding a suitable real estate agent in Georgia is often as easy as conducting a quick online search. Reviewing their ratings, testimonials, and reviews can help you gauge their reputation and credibility. You can also seek recommendations from neighbors, friends, and family members to assist you in finding a reliable agent. Having an agent by your side significantly enhances your chances of a smoother transaction.

Determine Your Home Requirements

Before looking for houses for sale in Georgia, start by making a list of essential features and characteristics you desire in a home. This could include the desired number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, layout, and any specific amenities or features that are important to you, such as a backyard, garage, or a specific architectural style.

Consider your long-term goals and whether you require room for expansion or flexibility like if you have a growing family. Decide if you want to check move-in-ready homes for sale or you’re willing to wait to conduct renovations and repairs. 

Understanding your needs and preferences will help guide your search and ensure you find a property that aligns with your lifestyle and priorities.

Choose a Location

When choosing a location, think about proximity to work, schools, healthcare facilities, and other amenities you value. Evaluate the neighborhood’s safety, access to public transportation, local lifestyle, and the overall vibe that suits your lifestyle.

If you have not yet decided the specific location in Georgia, Hummel Group can assist you in finding the right home for you in Marietta and Metro Atlanta, Georgia. We can walk you through the neighborhood to gain a sense of each location.

Know How Much You can Afford

Prior to purchasing a home, it is usually necessary to save enough money to meet the required down payment ranging from 3 to 20% of the home price, as well as closing and relocation costs. Furthermore, it is good to have an additional financial cushion to cover unforeseen house repair needs.

It is critical to assess your financial condition in order to evaluate whether you are now equipped to purchase a home. Your credit score should ideally be 620 or better, and your monthly debt payments should not exceed 36% of your monthly income. You can evaluate your debt-to-income ratio by adding up your recurring monthly debt payments and estimated mortgage payment, and dividing that sum by your pre-tax monthly income.

Get a Mortgage Prequalification Letter

Prequalification entails a brief financial assessment based on the information you provide to a lender. It is different from pre-approval where it is the conditional commitment to grant you the mortgage.

To get pre-qualified, you need to provide a bank or lender with a complete financial snapshot. This includes information about your debts, income, and assets. The lender will carefully review these details and offer an estimate of the loan amount you can anticipate. Pre-qualification can be easily done over the phone or through online channels, usually at no cost, and can be done in a few minutes.

Receiving a prequalification letter demonstrates your commitment to buying and it can also potentially give you an advantage in a competitive bidding scenario.

Finalize Your Goal Statement

You can effectively communicate your needs to homebuilders and other relevant parties if you have a prequalification letter in hand, along with information about your affordable price range. This will serve as a conversation starter with homebuilders and real estate professionals. At the same time, it will be a constant reminder to remain focused on finding the right and affordable home for your family. Here’s an example of a goal statement:

“We are currently seeking a single-story, move in ready homes for sale, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms in close proximity to Atlanta, Georgia. Our prequalification status assures us that we can afford a home priced between [insert your price range]. Our intention is to relocate as soon as possible.”

Buying a New Construction House vs. Existing House

Among the many decisions homebuyers must make is whether buying a new construction home vs. existing home is right for them. Choosing between buying new construction homes in GA or an existing one is an important decision in the home buying process. Consider the following factors when weighing your options in Georgia real estate:

Pros of Buying a New Construction House:

  • New construction homes often offer the opportunity to personalize certain features and select finishes according to your preferences.
  • New homes are typically equipped with the latest technologies, energy-efficient systems, and contemporary amenities.
  • You can expect fewer immediate repairs and maintenance issues since everything is brand new.
  • Builders often provide warranties that cover structural elements and major systems, offering peace of mind.
  • New construction homes are built to comply with current building codes, ensuring higher safety standards.

Cons of Buying a New Construction House:

  • New construction homes tend to have a higher price tag compared to existing houses, primarily due to the inclusion of modern features and materials.
  • Building a new home can come with unexpected delays, such as weather conditions or construction issues, which may postpone your move-in date.
  • New construction developments are typically located on the outskirts of cities or in newly developed areas, which may limit your choice of established neighborhoods or preferred locations.
  • Most newly-built homes, unless custom-built, are typically part of an HOA. While many existing homes are also part of an HOA, it’s important to note that not all homes fall under this arrangement.

Pros of Buying an Existing House:

  • Existing homes are often located in established neighborhoods with mature landscaping, amenities, and a sense of community.
  • There is more room for negotiation on the purchase price, especially for homes that require updates or repairs.
  • Older homes often boast unique architectural styles, character, and historical significance.
  • Existing homes are usually ready to move in homes for sale and are ready for occupancy. This allows you to move in sooner than waiting for a new construction home to be completed.
  • You have the  flexibility to renovate and remodel according to your preferences and budget with an existing house.

Cons of Buying an Existing House:

  • Older homes often require more frequent repairs and maintenance compared to new construction, potentially resulting in higher ongoing expenses.
  • Existing houses may have outdated features, appliances, and systems that may require updates or replacement.
  • Existing houses may have limitations when it comes to customization and personalization, unless you plan to invest in renovations.
  • Older homes may not be as energy-efficient as new construction, leading to higher utility bills.

Georgia Real Estate FAQs

What is a good credit score to buy a house?

Credit scores can vary within a range of 300 to 850, with 850 being a perfect score. While creditors may have slight variations in their definitions of good or excellent scores, generally, a credit score between 750 and 850 is considered excellent. A score ranging from 700 to 749 is typically classified as good, while a score between 650 and 699 is considered fair. A credit score below 650 is generally considered poor, indicating a history with some credit difficulties.

Can I get a mortgage with a bad credit?

Obtaining a mortgage with bad credit can be challenging, but it is not impossible. Government-backed loan programs, such as FHA loans, are designed to help individuals with lower credit scores or limited down payment capabilities to become homeowners. These programs have more flexible requirements compared to conventional loans. Some alternative options available are specialized lenders working with individuals who have less than perfect credit. taking steps to improve your credit score, save for a larger down payment, and consider a co-signer.

What are the things I need to know before buying a house?

Before buying a house, consider the following factors:

  • Determine your budget and calculate what you can comfortably afford for a monthly mortgage payment. 
  • Check your credit score and aim to improve it if necessary. 
  • Research and explore different neighborhoods based on your preferences, including proximity to work, schools, amenities, safety, and future growth potential.
  • Decide on the type of home you want.
  • Choose a reputable real estate agent who understands your needs, has experience in the local market, and can guide you through the buying process.
  • Familiarize yourself with the available tax credit options.

Transform your home-buying dreams into reality!

Are you ready to start your journey in Georgia real estate?

The first step is to partner with a top-notch local Realtor who is an expert negotiator and has a proven track record in your specific market. At Hummel Group, we have a team of dedicated professionals ready to guide you through the entire process. Let us be your trusted advisors and help you find the home that perfectly fits your needs and desires in Metro Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia.

Contact us today and let’s make your dream home a reality!