The opportunity for her husband to work from home opened the door for lifelong New Yorker Judy Chung and her family to move to Georgia.
The Internet helped Chung and her husband, Jason Levi, connect with a real estate agent, Frances Lee of Solid Source Realty GA, and find a home to put an offer on before seeing it in person.
The high cost of living, including property taxes and auto insurance, and cold weather in the Northeast caused them to look south.Chung and Levi, who owns RTM Pharmaceuticals, and their children, Jake Levi, 11, and Jared Levi, 9, and their dog, Eddie, moved from Commack, N.Y.
“We were raised on Long Island. I’ve had enough with the taxes and the weather,” Chung said. “I told (my husband), ‘Whenever you are ready, when you’re working from home, I would like for us to move.’”
Putting down roots
The couple listed their New York home in January and had a buyer by the end of February. They specifically were looking for homes on a cul-de-sac and focused on the Alpharetta/Johns Creek area, due to the reputation of the schools. By reading Korean newspapers and talking to friends’ family members who live in Atlanta, Chung learned which areas of metro Atlanta, such as Duluth and Johns Creek, have a large Korean population.
“I needed my Korean food, my Korean markets,” she said.
She relied on sites such as Zillow.com to view active listings, pending sales and foreclosures, and Google maps. Lee would regularly email listings, and she noticed that inventory in north Fulton County was low.
“Thursday morning I happened to check my email. There were maybe a few new listings. My home happened to be one of them,” Chung said.
The real estate agent took photos of the Alpharetta home — a foreclosure that an investor had renovated — so Chung could make sure the listing was accurate. They submitted the first offer at noon, but a bidding war ensued. They submitted their best and highest offer a couple of hours later, and they found out at the end of the day that their offer - above the $524,999 asking price - was accepted. Chung already had planned to visit schools in Atlanta that weekend, so she drove to the home in the Seven Oaks neighborhood.
“I was so scared that I was going to hate this house. But we drove up and fell in love,” she said. “(Lee) showed us another home as a price comparison. I was like, ‘I don’t need to see any other home. I love this home, this is it.’”
Levi and Chung closed in April on the Tudor-style home, which was built in 1990 and has seven bedrooms, four full and two half baths and about 4,500 square feet, plus a finished basement. The neighborhood has a pool, tennis courts and lakes. Their New York home had four bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths and about 2,000 square feet, but the family expects to save about 40 percent on their property taxes for the larger home in Georgia.
“I can’t say one bad thing about this home. It’s like my dream home,” Chung said.
Find the right real estate agent for you. Another agent they originally contacted didn’t appear to be giving them attention since they were searching while out of state, Chung said. “(Lee) really deserves the credit. I just picked him off the Internet,” she said. “I know he is my friend for life.”
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