Ashley Clarke offers this advice for first-time homebuyers: Ask questions.
Rather than fear asking a question, she learned it is beneficial to say, “I don’t understand this,” or “What’s next?” during her home search and in the days leading up to buying a renovated townhome in Atlanta’s west Midtown area.
Clarke, 28, a senior financial analyst at Turner, chatted about her three-bedroom townhome in the Lincoln Homes neighborhood, located minutes from Buckhead and downtown Atlanta.
Q: Why did you decide to buy in west Midtown?
A: When I first moved here, I lived on the west side of town, so that was the driver for looking in this area. I’ve lived in Atlanta for two years now, and I was just getting to the point where the cost of renting is considerably higher than the cost of mortgages.
Q: Was there anything unique you were looking for?
A: I was looking for a garage, because I like covered parking. Also, a big thing for me was a separate bath and shower. If the house didn’t have that, I wasn’t going to be interested in the cost to create that.
Q: Did anything come as a surprise during the buying process?
A: Just the process itself. I didn’t know anything to expect, so when we got to the signing table, all of the paperwork was a little overwhelming, even though they explain it all.
Q: Did you like working with your real estate agent?
A: Yes, I actually had an interesting experience. I started out with one agent and ended up letting that one go and getting another. The new agent (David Bascoe with Engel and Volkers, Buckhead Atlanta) and I worked very well together, and we were very much in sync.
Q: How was the closing process?
A: My Realtor was able to close in about 30 days. There’s a time where you are getting a lot of emails and paperwork about the houses, and then there comes this quiet moment where you’re just waiting for them to give you the go-ahead. But, it really was not a stressful moment.
Q: What sold you on your townhome?
A: The previous owners did upgrades. The kitchen looks brand new. The separate bath and shower was really appealing and the tile floors in the bathrooms were the big things that caught my eye.
Q: Do you have any tips for other first-time homebuyers?
A: Get on Zillow and Trulia. They have a tracker that can email you as frequently or infrequently as you want. Also, the FMLS website is helpful (her agent provided listings). The Georgia MLS has an app that updates quickly. They were a lifesaver.
At a Glance
Ashley Clarke’s townhome, built in 2002, has three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and about 1,594 square feet. She purchased it in December 2015. Similar-sized townhomes in the west Midtown area in Fulton County range from $115,000 to the mid-$300,000s.
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