Interview conducted in February 2022
In 2019, two of Atlanta's largest multi-inspector firms, the Cornerstone Group and Building Knowledge LLC, merged under the umbrella of Cingo, Inc. Although retired from inspecting and the day-to-day management of their firms, the original company founders, Greg Spencer of Building Knowledge LLC and Chuck LeCraw of the Cornerstone Group, remain involved in the real estate field, as well as ongoing sources of knowledge and mentorship to those at Cingo. I recently spoke with both founders to explore their perspectives on the current real estate market in the Atlanta Metro Area.
What are your memories of previous seller's markets? Have you ever experienced a market like this?
Greg Spencer: 100% no. I can remember several ups and downs, like when the dot com went to the dot bomb. The late 90s were a heady time for sellers, having realized significant appreciation. But last night, I was looking online at properties I used to own in Virginia Highlands and Brookhaven, and it's just unbelievable. It's crazy. I work a little as an agent these days, and a client and I are looking at a home that sold just last year, has experienced no changes, but the listing price is 67% higher. This market is completely different from anything I've seen in my entire 30-40 years in the industry.
Chuck LeCraw: No. Not like this. Any seller's market, and especially this one, presents challenges for buyers, realtors, and everyone else involved. Due diligence time frames are being compressed, and schedules for inspectors are typically in turmoil due to cancellations or the need to get it done immediately. There is also a tendency for buyers and realtors to "jump the gun" for getting a house under contract immediately before a careful thought process is undertaken to assess the concerns and risks for the buyer. We are seeing many buyers forgoing the inspection process altogether to make sure they don't lose the house.
What would you advise anyone considering waiving an inspection?
Greg: As an agent, it's not worth it to waive an inspection to get under contract. The repercussions may come back with major, major aggression if something goes sideways. The buyer forgets when bad things happen that it was the tight market, and we had to move quickly, etc. I don't think that's prudent. Not at all.
Chuck: I think that's crazy, unless they're going to tear the house down. It increases the chances of overlooking possible major defects with the house or purchasers having "buyers' remorse" after the dust settles. Some of these house flippers are the most egregious offenders in these markets. They'll buy a wrecked house and make it look truly beautiful. I've seen flippers hide more stuff than anything! You should always have an inspection regardless of how good you think the house looks. Additionally, an inspection is not all about identifying current issues that you might want the seller to address -- it is also about learning about your home and how to take care of it. Your home inspection report will have a lot of data on the age and typical life of equipment or things that you will need to consider for maintenance and management.
Chuck: We are also recognizing that a lot of buyers get tired of looking and not finding anything, and they just quit. A lot of potential sellers are choosing to hunker down because they have nowhere to go. It's a good time to consider inspections for existing conditions to understand how to prioritize maintenance and ensure a healthy, efficient home.
If you are buying under these conditions, here are three critical reasons why you should still have a home inspection, and why Cingo should be your call: https://cingohome.com/blog/buying-as-is.
About Cingo: The name Cingo means to surround and secure, conveying the company's commitment to home protection. The company has been protecting families in the Southeast since 1974. It provides home protection services throughout Georgia and South Carolina, including Atlanta, Augusta, Charleston, Douglas, Dublin, Milledgeville, Savannah, Vidalia, Waycross and all points in between. Cingo was named a Best Place to Work in Georgia by Georgia Trend Magazine and listed as a National Best & Brightest Company to Work For. Learn more at www.cingohome.com.