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Tough Real Estate Market Inspires Creativity All Around

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By Tammy Joyner and Rachel Tobin

RISMedia, June 16,2011—(MCT)—The housing market’s continuing funk has metro Atlantans using a grab-bag of creative strategies to buy, sell or just tread water so they can make a career move.

For instance:

• Renting out a property has become the end-run around the market’s chokehold on mobility. More homeowners are turning to real estate agents to keep an eye on their homes, not sell them. Homeowners typically rent out their homes so they can buy or rent somewhere else. This has created a new line of property management work for the real estate industry.

• Home-staging has increased in popularity as a tool—and a necessity—for selling homes now that a yard sign and a quick sweep of the front steps won’t get the job done. Today, clearing clutter and redecorating in neutral hues and designs is key to finding potential buyers.

• Consumers and real estate professionals alike are embracing all sorts of technology. Virtual home tours are de rigueur. A twist on barcodes called QR lets people check out a home on a cell phone or other mobile device. Multiple listing services are not only helping consumers find homes but providing financial help as well.

• With stricter mortgage requirements in place, little-known federal and local programs are emerging as rich uncles for would-be home buyers, and not just for those with low income or first-time home buyers.

“It’s like trying to find buried treasure,” says Rob Chrane, president and founder of Workforce Resources, a 3-year-old Atlanta company that connects people with hard-to-find financial resources.

In metro Atlanta two to three dozen home-buying assistance programs are available, Chrane says. Real estate agents use down-payment assistance programs to market homes. A first-time homebuyer in metro Atlanta could be eligible for help on a home worth up to $300,000. And if you are interested in buying property built with tax breaks, there are deals too.

David Stevenson bought a move-in-ready, three-bedroom, two-bath 1,400-square-foot home in Rex for $55,000 under the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, set up in 2009 to help communities deal with foreclosures.

Stevenson used the $5,000 he got through the program to pay his closing costs.

The program targets educators, medical personnel, police officers, fire fighters and military families and requires at least a $500 down-payment, good credit and other criteria.

“I’ve been so happy. I’ve been telling all my friends about the program and how great it is,” says Stevenson, 51, a quality assurance technician for QuikTrip Kitchens who stumbled upon the NSP program while house-hunting.

To see more of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.ajc.com.

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