Do I Really Need a Home Stager to Sell My Home?

It happens time and time again on listing appointments. The homeowner, wanting to sell for top dollar in a hot market is met by the listing agent, armed and ready with a “to do” list a mile long of items to tackle before putting the house on the market.

“Before listing, I think its imperative to take down your popcorn ceiling, replace all of your carpet, replace all the sod, install an irrigation system, and repaint the entire exterior of the home.” You can essentially HEAR the homeowner’s blood start to boil, tension builds as the owner shoots death stares at the agent across the room… Continue reading


Creative Ideas for Getting the Most Out of Your Open House

Ahh, springtime. Can’t you just smell the sweet sweet gardenias and jasmine in bloom? Oh wait. That’s the warm cookie and coffee smell aroma from the five open houses on your block!


Springtime and early summer are by far the best time of the year to showcase your home for potential buyers.  Not only will the weather typically be more cooperative down here in Atlanta but also it’s a great time of year to showcase the lifestyle your condo’s location offers (Piedmont Park or Beltline access, anyone?). If you have townhome or single family home, it’s THE time to accentuate the benefits your deck or yard bring to your busy ATL lifestyle!

I am a big believer in the Open House.   It is a great way to get neighbors, other Realtors, “looky-loos,” and local business owners into your home. The more eyes on your home the better. Especially once the home has been properly de-cluttered and staged. Continue reading

Catch These Condos….if you Can!

Today I decided to get a bit more comfortable with the condo inventory around my digs in Collier Hills. Not wanting to stray too far from home in the rain, I chose to view three very different homes that ranged from a total fixer two bedroom with 800 sf listed at 105k to a three bedroom with approximately 1100 sf at 199k. All in mid-century styled apartments turned condo! It’s indeed a mod, mod world!

The style of these condos took me back. I imagined Frank Abagnale, Jr. (portrayed by Leo) dressed as a pilot in ‘Catch Me If You Can’ living it up, bouncing among these apartments that have now turned condo.  Alas, after a Google search, I quickly found that the Riverbend Apartments were the plot setting in Atlanta for the 2002 blockbuster, NOT the serene Brookwood setting I experienced today. SIDENOTE: Those with inquiring minds might like to know that, according to Wikipedia, Riverbed Apartments was “named by Playboy as ground zero of the Sexual Revolution, due to its clubhouse keggers and nude pool parties.” You are welcome for this useless bit of Atlanta 1970’s trivia! Now on with the tour!

My hands down favorite of the day was the Alden House community. There are only 16 units in the building. I met one of the neighbors who is currently renovating his home here. He mentioned that an architect designed his house to front on Alden with 15 apartments behind him running to the border of Tanyard Creek. The condo I saw here was surprisingly awesome and (not surprisingly) already under contract (listing price $152k with taxes of only $178/year — NO JOKE). I was really a bit floored by how great the location plus finish level plus reasonable the HOA fees were ($221/mo for a 1 BR) for this condo. There have been two recent sales in this community at asking or above and the community felt very clean and well-maintained. All good signs for a healthy condo community!

The other homes sadly paled in comparison to this home. Although the home over on Ardmore Place has definite potential. The 1954 community here in BuckTown (my hybrid for South Buckhead and North Midtown) is made up of at least 6 different buildings that are well-landscaped but something about the place did not feel cohesive — almost like they were waiting to be swallowed up by a larger development. Each unit does offer a full oversized garage with room for a car as well as storage. Sales have been swift this spring with three homes selling at Ardmore Sheryl within 2 weeks or less.

The Ardmore Sheryl in BuckTown

The grounds were well-maintained at the Ardmore Sheryl but I did notice a broken window in the front of the building and a garage door that “just won’t operate,” according to another agent I spoke with. Those sort of details indicate to me either a weak home owner association or an abundance of renters who may not report such issues to the owner. Either way, even for the price of 105k (needed mega work), I do not think I could recommend this community to a buyer unless I was able to look at the budget and find out more about how many homes are being leased out. Especially when the HOA is $355/month.

Next up was the largest home on the preview – Brookwood Forest Condo off Alden Avenue. This three bedroom offered a lot of space,storage, real hardwoods throughout, and a wonderful updated kitchen. The downside is there is a half flight of stairs to walk down to get to the home (there is an elevator should you need it) and not as much light.

Throwing shade….over at Brookwood Forest Condos in BuckTown

I am a big fan of the use of patterned shade screen but because of this home’s location one level down in the community, the screening really prevents light from getting into the bedroom areas. This home appears to be investor-owned as indicated by the listing agent which may explain the 30k recent price drop.

I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw today over in BuckTown. These homes priced around $150-$170k will continue to be the sweet spot for first time homeowners, folks wanting a city pad, and folks downsizing. Demand for homes in this location will remain constant. I would consider this area of mid-century marvels tucked amongst the historic Brookwood beauties to be one of Atlanta’s hidden gems.

By the Numbers: Gallery vs. The Brookwood

What makes a building “hot?” Is it always the location (location, LOCATION!) or could it be the amenities, average size of floor plan offering, or perhaps the restaurant or services nearby on the ground floor?


For my first installation of By the Numbers, I knew I wanted to look at Gallery, a Novare Group project that (as its name suggests), has an amazing offering of fine art located on the ground floor lobby. In keeping with the 2007 signature Novare look popularized, Gallery focused on utilizing floor-to-ceiling glass and focused on larger floor plans with finer finishes than their entry-levels homes at Metropolis and Eclipse. If I remember correctly, Gallery was pitched as a “step up” to the more discerning buyer.  The typical elevated pool and clubhouse amenity package was enhanced at Gallery by adding an-adjoining tennis court. rotating offering of fine art in the lobby also helps to distinguish this building from earlier Novare product.

Gallery does not disappoint. It has gone  through a recent interior renovation – the Greek key blocked grasscloth on the walls pairs nicely with new lighting in the lobby and elevator vestibules. The building has taken on an effortless classic yet modern look. A fellow agent I was previewing homes with kept saying how much he liked the entry vestibules at Gallery — and how he wished The Brookwood homes had that feature. The only downside to Gallery IMHO is that there are no services on site. You are situated right on “God’s corner” so the nearest shopping is the Publix at The Peach (.3 mi north on Peachtree) unless you count the Farmer’s Market at St. Phillip’s on Wednesday and Saturday or Fellini’s Pizza across Rumson.

After eating at Watershed last week (try their artichoke heart spread is amazing!),  I thought The Brookwood would be a good project to hold against Gallery. The Brookwood was complete in 2010 and also located in the south Buckhead neighborhood. However, The Brookwood has a different exterior design outlook, taking a much more traditional approach to the high-rise aesthetic (perhaps taking cues from the historic design elements of historic Ardmore Park?), is a certified LEED building, and pushes the finish-level up a notch as well (think Viking ranges and 5′, Carrara marble, and rare hardwoods).

Lets look at the statistics, shall we?  To be clear, all data is from the last 6 months.

Total number of homes in community: Gallery – 203, The Brookwood – 219

Units sold:  Gallery – 6 (3%), The Brookwood – 8 (3.5%)

Average Days on Market: Gallery – 98, The Brookwood – 63

Size Matters: Gallery – `2 Bedrooms 2.5 Baths with 1591 square feet.,The Brookwood – 3 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths with 1,777 square feet

Average home sale price: Gallery – $561,250, The Brookwood -$664,375

Percentage ale price over original list price: Gallery – 92%, The Brookwood – 96%

Average price / sf: Gallery – $353, The Brookwood – $374

Active now: Gallery – 4, The Brookwood – 11

Withdrawn or Expired: Gallery – 6, The Brookwood – 2

By the numbers, I have to say that it appears that The Brookwood is currently the winner. A higher percentage of original listing price, higher price / sf, and a faster turnover in sales help me interpret this. However, based on current listing information, what does it mean that there are currently almost 3 times as many homes listed at The Brookwood? Is this a direct result of the higher pricing of recent sales? Or is it something else?

View North up Peachtree from Gallery shows the lack of immediate dining and retail options

Gallery enjoys an almost isolated sophistication on Peachtree Road with no amenities or restaurants on site. There are some stores and restaurants that I would consider walkable from this location, but its nothing like The Brookwood’s location (at least 5 hairdressers, The Saltyard, Watershed, and Egg Harbor Cafe inside the building and also within a stone’s throw of at least 6 other restaurants). I believe having these lifestyle amenities within walking distance is proving to become more and more attractive as Atlanta’s traffic increases on surface streets.  Which may be why sales prices have been higher and at a faster clip at The Brookwood.

I would love to hear your take on what drives sales in communities. Feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!



Chihuly is Back!

Atlanta art and cultural aficionados rejoice! Internationally acclaimed artist, Dale Chihuly, is back in the Atlanta Botanical Garden for a follow up to his 2004 show.

Chihuly in the Garden includes 19 installation sites set in and among the garden’s beautiful grounds as well as inside the magnificent Orchid Center.  The signature vibrant colors absolutely POP! especially at night.  I originally experienced the exhibit at night when the garden has extended hours – this is a great way to wind down after the work week on Friday, especially if you intend on trying out the delicious fares at The Café at Linton’s.

The return of Chihuly marks the 40th anniversary of the gardens and is showcasing how much the garden has grown since I first the same event back in 2004. “Roughly a third of “Chihuly in the Garden” is being created uniquely for Atlanta. The works will be on view amid plantings, floating in pools and suspended in air,” (AJC article). If you plan on going- especially at night-I can tell you this one thing — EXPECT MAGIC!


Getting the most out of your open house

Ahh, springtime. Can’t you just smell the sweet sweet gardenias and jasmine in bloom? Oh wait. That’s the warm cookie and coffee smell aroma from the five open houses on your block!

Springtime is by far the best time of the year to showcase your home for potential buyers. Not only will the Atlanta weather be more cooperative but it’s a great time of year to showcase the lifestyle your home offers (Piedmont Park or Beltline access, anyone?). If you have a townhome or single family home, it’s THE time to accentuate the benefits your deck or yard bring to your busy ATL lifestyle!


I am a big believer in the Open House.  It is a great way to get neighbors, other Realtors, “looky-loos,” and local business owners into your home. The more eyes on your home the better. Especially once the home has been properly de-cluttered and staged.

Here are a few tips to make sure you have a successful open house:

  1. Be sure to have plenty of well-crafted handouts and information for guests to walk away with. Often people are seeing several homes in a day, so give them something tangible to refer to at the end of their tour when properties might be getting muddled in their minds. Your Realtor should prepare this material for you.
  2. Give people a reason to attend. Yes, your home is fabulous. But make your home memorable by offering a giveaway from a local business (HINT: hit up your favorite local restaurant for a coupon for all attendees and see if they will donate a gift card to raffle).
  3. The tried and true – serve cookies and coffee. Gives attendees something to linger and chat over. It also showcases the kitchen and will mimic an entertaining scenario in the home
  4. Keep kids busy. If you are showcasing your 2 BR+ sized home, make sure to create an area for kids to hang out so parents can browse freely. Create a coloring page of your house (done simply by tracing a photo) and give to the children of potential buyers with a small packet of crayons. Be sure to put the home’s address on the page and pertinent listing information. Again, your Realtor should be able to help you with this.
  5. If you are in a condominium building with a concierge or doormen, make sure to invite them to attend or to preview your home ahead of time. Perhaps give them a small token of thanks for popping up. This may or may not entice them to mention your open house to folks walking into the lobby. However,  we think it helps tremendously to drive attendance!
  1. Write a love letter to your house and frame it. Put this in a prominent location near the listing material. Explain why you loved living here and be specific (is it the birds at the bird feeder that greet you every morning you will miss the most? How about how the towel warmer melts your heart every time you get out of the shower in the winter? PEOPLE LOVE THESE DETAILS). Potential buyers will see an entirely different aspect of the house and it will help them remember the home.

Open houses might not be the “be all and end all” of marketing your home. But they do serve a unique purpose once you know what to expect and how to prepare. Make the most of yours by properly preparing with some of our creative tips which will get as many eyes on your home as possible and set your home apart.


Here I go (again)

After 8 years away from Atlanta, I have come back to where I grew up, went to high school, the North Avenue Trade School, and started my career in preservation and real estate!

I have been rediscovering the ATL, its neighborhoods, and really ME! Its been a lot of fun getting together with old Henderson High Schoo, Davidson, and friends from Novare, seeing how much the city has evolved, and also taking the time to see more of what life is like outside on the Chattahoochee.

This blog will be about my perspective on Atlanta condo and historic communities, tips on renovating historic Atlanta homes, my interests in the Atlanta tiny house movement and all things outdoorsy!