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Buying a home in 2021 | What to know as the market begins to cool

Demand is dropping, but housing inventory remains an issue, real estate experts say

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The housing market is finally starting to cool off after a buying spree earlier in the pandemic. Realtors say they have been seeing fewer offers on certain homes in Metro Atlanta. 

Ricardo Accioly bought his DeKalb County home last September, but he said he entered his offer before home prices took off in the area. 

“I wish I had held onto mine, maybe rented for a bit before selling. I would have made a lot of money there," Accioly said. “But I think it’s about not rushing, finding the right place and not just saying I have to go and get something and that’s it. Really find the right house that you feel like you connect with it.”

According to real estate marketplace Zillow, Metro Atlanta has the ninth hottest homebuying market. Median home values in the area have jumped 58-percent in the last five years, and median home values went up 20% in the last year. 

"It can be a little bit of a shock," Cheri Benjamin, who owns real estate brokerage Village Premier Collection, said. "Things have cooled down, which is a good thing. So we’re not seeing everyone having to pay $50,000 over and above asking prices. Our interest rates are still at a historic low, which makes it very affordable.”

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Benjamin said new lending guidelines, credits, and grants could help people looking to buy homes. 

But with the competition still fierce for buyers, scammers are continuing to target people rushing through the homebuying process, the elderly, and the uneducated. Benjamin recommended taking the time to do proper research.

"Scammers tend to target renters who can’t qualify and they target sellers a lot, especially our older community," Benjamin said. 

Benjamin said common scams include unsolicited text messages and letters sent to prospective buyers. She said to beware of people selling homes who don't actually own them and to be suspicious about sellers who can't meet in person but ask for money in the form of a down payment or deposit. Any payment should be done via check or cashier's check, Benjamin said. When in doubt, she said to talk to a trusted realtor. 

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Benjamin said burnout over the summer will negatively impact home prices overall, as fewer people enter the market. She said the rest of 2021 should pay off for persistent prospective homebuyers looking to score a place of their own.

"Now is a really good time to start to enter back into the market, since things have started to level off a little bit," Benjamin said. “I think there might be a slightly less urgency, which could be good news for buyers. I think we’re going to see more listings coming on the market and I think our market will start to stabilize in 2022.”