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Renovating Old Savannah Homes

 I apologize for being away from the blog for so long. I've been busy renovating a duplex I've owned for awhile -- I worked on it when I first bought it, then got busy with real estate and just life in general, and now I'm back at it. I love renovating old homes. I don't know how to do everything, but I know what I can do and do it well.

Savannah is a good real estate town for anyone who wants to buy an old home at a bargain and fix it up. There are still investors flipping homes in Savannah, although that market is not as hot as it was around 2005. There are some builders who make their living in Savannah by rebuilding old homes. It's amazing how the Victorian era homes transform and come back to life with a lot of sweat and care. There are also a lot Craftsman style homes around Ardsley Park that people restore to their original detail.

Through the years, I've put together a list of plumbers, electricians, carpenters and general contractors who work on old homes. It's an art to do it right, although many people don't restore, they update. But for anyone who wants to restore an old home, feel free to give me a call and I will share my list with you. If you are in the market to buy an old home, Savannah is a great town in which to do it. From Victory to around Gaston there are still many, many old homes waiting to be renovated or restored. It's good to watch the area change and the older homes come to life.

Savannah real estate market in 2013

I've been away from this blog for quite awhile. I had another website from which I wrote blog posts. I'm starting back here at my main website, though, and will post on a consistent basis. Real estate has been bumpy in Savannah like it has been all over, but 2012 was a good year. Interest rates are incredibly low, and prices are starting to rise, so it probably means we've seen the bottom regarding reductions in prices. The Fed has made it easier for banks to make loans, so real estate sales in 2013 should be brisk. In Savannah there were more sales in 2012 than in 2011, and prices rose about 10%. Going forward I will post statistics to keep you informed. Savannah real estate looks promising. The economy is going okay in Savannah, and when the Afghanistan War ends, a lot of soldiers will be coming back to Savannah. I know they are ready to get back, buy a home and settle in for awhile.

Savannah real estate in 2010

I haven't written a blog post here in a long time. I have another blog website where I've been posting ariticles about Savannah real estate -- www.MikeFromSavannah.com. But I will start back posting here to let my website visitors know what's going on in Savannah. Like most of the country, Savannah real estate has slowed down significantly, although our prices haven't fallen as drastically as other areas.

Recently I transitioned my business to exclusive buyer agency, which means I no longer take listings. I started out in real estate in 1996 as an exclusive buyer agent and felt like I needed to return to my roots. Buyers are still lacking good representation, and in this market, good information is vital to making a successful, informed transaction. Plus, much of the real estate business in Savannah is from out of town buyers who aren't familiar with the area.

I will be posting here at least once a week, explaining buyer agent services and providing information about the Savannah real estate market.

Ardsley Park Video

For those you from out of town interested in Ardsley Park, a centralized subdivision in Savannah Ga close to downtown, I put together a video showing the styles of homes in the area.

Video Message
Click on the video frames below to play the video message I have created for you. If you have trouble viewing, please select "Viewer Help" on the view page.
A Ride Through Ardsley Park

Single Story For Sale in Ardsley Park

523 e 53rd - Ardsley 009
Perfect layout for stylish renovation

• 2,126 sq. ft., 2 bath, 3 bdrm single story - $285,000 - Priced to sell

 -  This is a perfect layout for a stylish Ardsley Park renovation -- needs updating. Plenty of space with the possibility of adding 800 square feet in attic which is accessed by stairs. It has a large kitchen, large dining room and very large master bedroom. The backyard is perfect for a beautiful couryard and flower garden. This home has a lot of potential -- homes this size, once renovated are selling at much higher prices. This home is generously priced to take into account the updating needs -- but it's mostly cosmetic work. It's located in a great midtown neighborhood that's one of Savannah's most popular places to live. A sloid brick home built in 1946 with very strong bones.

Property information

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Price Reduced on 2234-2234 Whitemarsh Way in Merritt at Whitemarsh

Merritt at Whitemarsh, Whitemarsh Island  -  Announcing a price reduction on 2234-2234 Whitemarsh Way, a 1,100 sq. ft., 2 bath, 2 bdrm single story. Now MLS® $194,500 - .

Property information

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Horse farm in Effingham County, one hour from Savannah GA

Effingham County, Georgia  -  Announcing 6116 Old Dixie hwy, Rincon Ga, a 4,322 sq. ft., 4 bath, 5 bdrm 2 story. Now $4,000,000 - .

Property information

Posted by Mike Farmer | 0 Comments
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What is so difficult to understand about buyer agency?

Here in the Savannah real estate market, and I will presume everywhere else, when a seller wants to sell a house and use a listing agent to market and sell the homes, the seller sits down to come up with a price. The seller factors in the marketing cost the listing agent charges, usually 6% of the sales price. If the listing agent is doing their job, they will spend a lot of time and money marketing this home -- There is the cost of a sign, cost of marketing in papers and magazines, cost of a website presence, cost of paperwork, cost of gas, cost in time and effort that could be spent doing something else, cost of insurance, cost of office space, cost of license fees, cost of education, etc.

Usually, the seller and agent decide what split in the commission is offered to a buyer agent who brings a buyer -- in Savannah, this is usually a 60/40 split with 60% going to the listing agent and 40% going to the buyer agent. The buyer agent represents the buyer and contracts to represent the buyer's interest in buying a home -- that basically means helping the buyer find the best home, at the best price with the best conditions, and providing the buyer with all the information they need to make an informed decsion, while keeping personal information about the buyer from the seller or selling agent -- maintaining confidentiality.

If a seller of a home decides to sell the home without an agent, the seller has less marketing costs involved and every buyer knows this, or should, so the seller should be able to sell the home for less than the seller who has to pay an agent a commission. What usually happens, though, is the seller does not market the home correctly and does not respond to buyers in a professional way, so in a competitive market the seller usually winds up not selling the home and forced to go with a listing agent and adjusting the price to entail the listing agent's marketing costs.

Marketing costs are a part of a home's sale's price. Who pays this marketing cost? Well, no one gets paid anything until a buyer buys. Since marketing costs are traditional and have come to be accepted as a cost of doing business they are added in the sale's price and factored into the average cost of homes. If sellers selling their own homes were successful and agents weren't needed, the average cost of homes would be lower. But agents are needed, because professional marketing is needed in competiive markets. Plus sellers don't have the time and patience to do all the work that an agent specializes in.

When a buyer buys, they are paying the marketing cost that is in the sale's price, and actually they have benfitted from the marketing cost because it allowed them to easily be aware of the home without looking for a needle in a haystack. But, the fact is that the buyer is paying the marketing costs.

Some people in the real estate industry believe that the buyer should pay the buyer agent's commision. This would be fine if the seller lowered the cost of their home by 3% or so to account for the split in commission. The reason these people give for promoting a split where the seller pays the listing agent and the buyer pays the buyer agent is that some believe the buyer agent doesn't earn their commission or that there is a conflict of interest if it appears the seller is paying the buyer agent. A good buyer agent, just like a good listing agent, earns their commission -- either can do a poor job whereby an argument can be made that the commission hasn't been earned, but that's another topic -- we'll assume we are talking about experienced, competent agents. Also, there is no conflict of interest since it doesn't matter to the buyer agent which home a buyer buys -- they just want to find the best home for the buyer at the best price and with the best conditions.

But, then there is the argument of why a buyer agent would negotiate for a lower price if it means the buyer agent will get less commission. It's not complicated. The buyer agent wants to satisfy the buyer so that the buyer will refer business in the future. This is the marketing cost of the buyer agent, plain and simple. When you develop a reputation for fighting for the buyer, you succeed. Not complicated at all. As a buyer agent, if I can show where I've saved buyer's money, then I have something to advertise and I can be trusted.

Even if the commission was divorced and seller pays selling agent and buyer pays buyer agent, it would still be negotiated in price and special stipulations, so it's an unnecessary complication of the commission structure. If everyone is doing their job it works just fine. I'm not sure if some agents don't like the fact that buyers have representation, or they really believe a divorce in commissions would be good for consumers, but I fail to see how it would be good good for buyers, and as a buyer agent, that is my concern. Even the few times I work as a listing agent, I still think the present set-up is best for both buyer and seller -- IF agents are doing their job.

Great news for Savannah!

I received this email from and ex-client and friend, Fred, which shows Savannah getting some pretty heady recognition. For all those interested in Savannah real estate, follow these links:


According to Inc. Magazine’s Best Cities 2008, Savannah ranks as the number three mid-sized city in America to do business and number fifteen city all-around. T


Savannah ranked ahead of neighboring Charleston, mountainous Asheville and both Columbia and Greenville. Overall, we placed in advance of Charlottesville, Salt Lake City, Durham, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, New York City, Washington, Miami, San Francisco and, yes, Atlanta as a preferable place to do business. Go ahead and read through that one more time…

Something worth finding more information ,,,

But this is an interesting rating for Savannah.



Tybee Island rentals: Great location

Tybee Island has a lot of beachfront locations to get a full view of the ocean, but there are other good locations to consider. One such location is on the back river where you have access to docks. Along Chatham Avenue there are properties where you have docks to go out boating, and you are at the entrance into the ocean.

1317 Chatham Ave is one such location and it is for sale or lease. Right next to RJs Restaurant, it is in a great location. This property has its own private dock, and you can go out at any time with most boats. It has an incredible view and is only blocks from the beach on the south end of Tybee Island. It's available for short term rent or a long term lease. And like I said, it's also for sale. It's recently been renovated and I will be posting new photos. The price was reduced last week to 1.2 million.

Call Mike at 912-429-3431 for rental rates. A perfect private getaway for boating enthusiasts, or anyone who loves a great view.

Speaking directly to a homebuyer about buyer agents

I would like to make a case why you will be best served using a buyer agent. Most homes for sale are sold through a real estate broker. This broker is representing the seller and has contracted with the seller to obtain the best price and the best conditions. If you are a savvy buyer and have the time to go from listing agent to listing agent and research each home that interests you in the context of overall market trends and prices, then you might not need a buyer agent; however, if you don't have the time or you are not up to date with the latest information, then you will do good to obtain a buyer agent.

When a home is listed the seller agrees to pay a commission to the listing agent and offers a split in that commission to any agent who brings a buyer, understanding that the other agent may be representing the buyer. So, in essence, the seller is stating they don't mind if the other agent is representing the buyer as long as a satisfactory purchase agreement is reached. So, in this manner, you, the buyer, receive representation and out of the money you pay to purchase the home, a portion of that goes to the buyer agent through the commission split and you don't have to pay anything extra for representation. If you went straight through the listing agent, you would not have any representation and, in a sense, you would be paying the seller the amount by which the whole commission goes to the listing agent who is representing the seller. This doesn't make sense. It makes sense to have representation.

You have a life and your time is valuable, and home-hunting is a cumbersome process. A buyer agent can handle all the home-search and home-showing details to save you the hassle and time it takes to set all this up. The buyer agent can also research market conditions and changes in certain areas of interest. A profession buyer agent makes it his/her business to understand the market and the trends. A good buyer agent will also have a database of the best vendors needed to complete a successful transactions: lenders, inspectors, attorneys, repair-people, surveyors, etc.

Having a buyer agent who is managing the process allows you to relax and look at homes without the worry of details and without the pressure of a salesperson. When you need vital information, you only need ask the agent and the agent will provide it. While you are working or enjoying your family and free time, the agent is working to manage the home-buying process and informing you of the progress, making suggestions to help the process along, reminding you of the next step to take. It's like having a very proficient assistant. The buyer agent is using specialized knowledge to create a profitable transactions and to remove all the hassle.

The buyer agent can also give you information that provides a different perspective than the marketing information of the listing agent who is representing the seller. Removing the positive marketing spin, a good agent can provide objective information that takes the cons into account along with the pros. Once a home is under contract, the agent can ensure that the terms of the contract are carried out in a timely fashion by following up with inspections, financing, title searches and such.

The big difference is in representation. Many times buyers who go directly through the listing agent will grow to like the listing agent because the agent may be courteous and professional, very likable, and grow comfortable talking openly to the agent, never realizing that confidential information will be reported to the seller, strengthening the seller's position and weaking the buyer's position. This is not underhanded on the listing agent's part, they are doing their job which is representing the seller. The listing agent is also going to do everything they possibily can to hold the deal together for the seller. Again, the listing agent is not being unethical -- the agent merely has an incentive to put all new information in the best light to make the transaction happen because their job is to sell that particular house, and if you, the buyer, leave that deal it might be a long time before a another qualified buyer comes along.

On the other hand, a buyer agent who is representing you will not relay to the seller any information that will hurt your position -- the buyer agent will keep your information confidential unless you expressly state you want the information given to the seller. The buyer agent will also look at all new information objectively and will not be driven to hold that particular deal together if it becomes evident it is not the best deal. Oh, it will be some trouble to the buyer agent to start over, but they know they will be involved in any house you buy, not just that one. And the buyer agent wants you to be pleased because you will tell others what a good job he/she did in representing your best interests.

All in all, it only makes good business sense to use a buyer agent so that you can comfortably discuss buying strategies without the worry of information getting back to the seller, and without the worry of the agent having an incentive to sell a particular home. By developing a good, honest relationship with one buyer agent, you avoid the hassle of being pressured by each listing agent you would have to deal with. Also, you wouldn't go to court and use the other side's attorney. Do yourself a favor and obtain a good buyer agent -- you'll be glad you did. The Savannah real estate market has many options, and changes are happening in areas all over Savannah -- a good buyer agent will be on top it.

Townhomes and Condos

I am seeing more buyers looking for condos and townhomes that in the past. I don't know if this is unique to Savannah real estate or if others across the country are experiencing this trend. Most of the buyers looking for townhomes or condos are baby boomers who are downsizing and looking for properties with less maintenance needs.

I think the complexes and amenities play a part, too. Being in a close knit community seems to be more important than isolation and privacy. Another motivating factor here in Savannah is being close to downtown. It's easier to find something affordable downtown in the form of a condo or townhome. It's also easier to leave and travel if you have a townhome/condo -- just lock and leave.

This need was obviously anticipated by investors/builders because there are plenty of options available in Savannah at this point. Many of the older buildings are being converted to condos and a lot of the new construction is townhome construction. Just about every new development around Savannah has a townhome component, a section of the development dedicated to less pricey townhomes.

I have to say there are appealing aspects to townhome/condo living. It's less trouble and maintenace free lifestyle is attractive. Being close to downtown Savannah is also appealing now that the downton area has begun to offer so much entertainment, enjoyment and interesting scenery. I suspect this trend will increase as baby boomer movement increases.

Paris, London, Manhattan - Savannah?

Here is a good article that mentions Savannah with these other great places -- talking about human scale. The layout of Savannah IS unique and makes it a great place to visit and live.


Savannah Ga Homes for Rent

It seems more and more people are renting in Savannah Ga now that financing has gotten tighter and buyers are unsure which way the market is going. I've talked with several people lately who have called me about rentals and their stories are similar "I'm waiting to see what the market does."

I can understand this but I'm not sure I agree that waiting until prices go up is a good strategy. I manage rentals so I'm busy with property management right now. And, surprisingly, there aren't a lot of rentals on the market. Homes are still selling here, although the market is much slower than in the past 4 ot 5 years.

I think many buyers have been scared by all the news of the housing crisis. It helps to put things in perspective, and I am not a clairvoyant, so I don't know for sure what is going to happen in the Savannah real estate market -- however, if someone is going to buy a home to live in for five years, I'm not certain that waiting another year to buy is a good strategy. There is a strong possibility that after the elections in November, the national news is going to become more positive and the country is going to settle down to take an objective look at our economy.

In the west, home prices rose so quickly that a downturn was inevitable. This downturn has affected the whole country, but the economy here in Savannah is stable and the home prices here in Savannah are not exorbitant. What many people may discover in the coming months is that there is value in the Savannah home market and buyers will start entering the market in large numbers which will cause prices to start rising again. Those people locked into a year lease may be entering the market as prices are on the way up.

The problem is that it's impossible to time the market and buy at exactly the right time. I have a feeling that the buyers who are buying right now and are negotiating 5-10% off the list price are going to be glad they bought when they did, because it's unlikely prices will fall much more -- maybe 2-3%. There's a good chance prices will merely stay flat for a few more months.

If our local enconmy was depressed, I'd say waiting a year might be a good idea, but since we are fairly healthy and diverse economically, I don't see any huge drops in prices. I might be wrong and everyone has to follow what they think is best, but my best guess is that prices are as low as they are going to get. Now, for the would-be buyers who just can't get a loan, there is no option, they must rent -- but for the buyers who can buy, you might want to talk to a finance professional and get some advice rather than rely on news reports.

If you buy now at a low point and live in the home for at least 4 to 5 years, it is highly unlikely you will lose money, and you can start getting the tax break that home ownership offers -- not to mention living in the house you really want to live in rather than having to choose from the limited rentals available and paying for someone else's mortgage.

Savannah Real Estate -- Another Look

Downtown%20Historic%20Savannah%20and%20The%20Victorian%20District%20076.JPG   On of the biggest concerns on the minds of buyers considering Savannah real estate is -- What's going to happen to prices? will prices go down? will they go up? will they remain stable?

I think Savannah has a bright future. We are economically diversified and there are no good reasons why Savannah will not grow in the years to come. The biggest factor to help calm fears about the national housing situation is good old perspective. As a buyer, it can be misleading to focus on a short-term situational downturn in a market. However, if the downturn is fundamental and an area is going through long term depression where industry is leaving and many jobs are being lost, then that's another story. Michigan and Ohio are experiencing fundamental, long term problems -- Savannah is experiencing the effects of a national slow down and the slowdown is situational and relatively short-term compared to problems in other areas.

Another question a buyer needs to answer is -- How long will I live in the home I buy? If you are only going to be in a home for a year, then I suggest renting, but if you are buying a home to live in for five years or more, then you should do well over time. The days of buying a home and living there one year then selling for a profit are over.

However, if you are buying as home to be a home, a place to live in and design to meet your personality, to make as an extension of your personality and lifestyle, a real home, then the ups and downs of the market are less important -- over time in a popular area like Savannah, real estate will gradually go up and your investment should be protected.

More people will begin looking at their home as a place to live rather than a cash flow investment. This is how it should be. So if you are thinking about buying in Savannah, and you are planning to live here for a good period of time, getting the home now while prices are stable is probably going to be a good decision. No one knows what the future will bring, but using common sense should tell you that an area like Savannah will be in demand for some time. If Savannah didn't have a bright future, you wouldn't see as much development going on as you see around town. These developers are not building because they think Savannah will be a depressed region -- they are building because they see a future here.

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