Real estate has always held a special interest for me. Both my mom and my grandmother are real estate agents. From times before I could even walk I’ve been involved in the business, helping to show houses and put listing up on the market. As young as an infant, I made clients laugh as I mimed showing the house while my grandmother held me.
Perhaps this is why I enjoyed speaking so much with Gary Ward of Advantage Chatuge Realty, a real estate agent who decided to set up shop in the mountains of Georgia. He focuses on selling property on Lake Chatuge in the mountains of North Georgia and western North Carolina. Under the heading Georgia mountain lake property you can see all the current MLS listing in Georgia he has – over three hundred! We spoke about a few different topics as I tried to get an idea of what the real estate business is like in this area of the Georgia and North Carolina mountains. There is no better source for info than a real estate agent. After all, 78% of recent buyers found their real estate agent to be a very useful information source.
Why the Georgia Mountains and Lake Chatuge?
First of all, I had to ask Mr. Ward why he chose the area he did. I’m from the north side of Indianapolis, an area that is rapidly growing. From conversations with my mom and grandmother, I know that the real estate market near us is hot. Really hot. In fact, the only time I’ve ever heard of it not being on fire was right after the housing bubble burst, but of course the real estate market everywhere was poor then.
Why did Gary decide to set up shop a ways out from any major cities? The answer was personal – he and his wife wanted their kids to grow up in the country and get to experience the mountains of Georgia and the wonderful lakes and hiking trails. Sometimes the intangibles outweigh the purely financial concerns, as they should. Still, there is no shortage of high dollar mountain homes in the area Gary services. Discussing the market with him I learned that most of the home buyers here are looking for a second home, often somewhere to retire. These are usually people that have spent more time in the city than they wanted to and are seeking somewhere quiet with natural beauty and lots of nature for their next move.
Between the North Carolina and Georgia mountains in their area there are over seven lakes and hundreds of miles of coastline. Lake Chatuge is one of the largest, but Gary sells property on all of them. Just looking at the homes listed on his site you can tell this is often a luxury market. Needless to say, that changes how you do business.
Selling in the mountains
The biggest difference for real estate agents selling luxury homes is the number of clients. In my area, it is often a volume business. There are a lot of people moving in for economic reasons, so real estate agents want to tend to as many of them as possible in order to earn as much in commission as possible. After all, the average American moved 11.7 times throughout their life. For real estate agents serving higher end markets, things can be slightly different. All the foundations are the same, but you will often have less clients overall.
Of course real estate is a commission industry, so selling fewer houses at a higher price can equal out with selling lots of homes at a lower price. Still, home buyers in Gary’s area are often not moving for economic reasons. There usually isn’t the rush to find something and settle in that comes with moving for a job. And of course with the higher sticker prices, mountain home buyers expect to be treated well and shown many different options before they finally settle on one.
They may also be coming from a number of different areas, sometimes other ends of the country, looking to escape where they made their careers. All of this feeds into the negotiation process as well, which can be more involved and intense than it is with smaller homes in the city. Of course there are no universals in real estate, but the different markets do have their different flavors.
The three rules of real estate are of course location, location, and location. This determines desirability, price, and so much more for a property. Lake Chatuge traversing Hiawasee Georgia and Hayesville NC is a very desirable location with lots of opportunities for real estate agents to pursue. It was interesting getting to speak with Gary about all this and getting to see how it is different from the sort of real estate business I grew up around. I’ve been told by many family members that if my marketing career doesn’t work out I should earn my real estate license and try to start selling. After speaking with Gary about his real estate business I just might have to find a place in the Georgia mountains and start selling around Lake Chatuge myself!