Alan Atchley has been working as a real estate agent for over 25 years. He’s currently the Broker of the 6710 N. West Avenue branch at Guarantee Real Estate. As a residential real estate broker, finding the proper value of a home is essential to maintain a high level of success. I was fortunate enough to interview Mr. Atchley about valuing homes in Fresno and his thoughts on the current decline of the real estate market.
Q. What made you decide to become a real estate broker?
A. Before getting my license, I was a Fresno police officer for nearly 15 years. I got injured on the job and was forced into early retirement. I was too young to just sit around and decided to pursue another career. I chose a career in real estate because I wanted to work in a service industry where I could deal with people. I also was intrigued by the idea that every day had a different outcome. Knowing that each day would be different reminded me of my previous career as a policeman.
Q. What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
A. As I mentioned before, each day brings new tasks and challenges, which is part of the reason why I enjoy it so much. With that said, I’m the head broker in charge of this office so I’m responsible for every other realtor working under me, which includes overseeing every legal document or form that comes through the office. Along with handling legal matters, I also deal with my own clients so I’m constantly looking for new listing that best fit my clients wants and needs and I’m working as hard as I can to stay on top of the latest market information.
Q. What do you use to determine the value of a home or property?
A. The market is the ultimate determinate of a homes value. As the market goes up, a homes value will go up with it and vise versa. The market alone, however, isn’t the only thing needed to determine the value of a specific home. Using a Competitive Market Analysis or CMA helps us compare a specific house to other similar houses in that area.
Q. Are there any appraisal skills that you find helpful when valuing a home?
A. The best way for us to find the value of a specific home is by comparing it to other similar properties. The same is done through the sales comparison approach. We might also use a replacement cost if no comparable homes are found in that area.
Q. Has the recent decline of the housing market made your job more challenging?
A. It’s made it much harder. We still get a large number of people who would like to own a home. The problem, however, is finding lenders for them. Since the initial downfall of the market, lenders have dramatically tightened up, making it much harder for the average person to get a loan. It makes it very frustrating to all parties involved.
Q. Did you have to change anything (work habits/ techniques etc) since the recent decline in the housing market?
A. Because both the demand and supply of foreclosed homes have significantly increased, much more of my transactions center on that. Before the crash, we were selling many more homes and primarily dealing with a homeowner instead of a bank. It’s also much more important to stay on top of the market now. Before the decline, a monkey could sell a house. Recently, however, only the most knowledgeable have been able to maintain a high level of success.
Q. What are the primary reasons for the housing decline?
A. The decline in the housing market is due to horrible decisions made in recent years made by, both, banks who gave them out, and buyers who took these risky loans on. There were three loans, in particular, that were the main causes. These loans include: Sub-Prime, Alt-A, and Option Arm.
Q. How do u feel about the direction of home values in the near future?
A. Home values definitely aren’t going up in the next couple years. In fact, there’s a good chance of them decreasing further. The first big dip in the market was primarily from sub-prime loans. Alt-A and Option Arm loans have yet to see any dramatic foreclosure effects because banks are releasing foreclosed homes little at a time. The problem with the Alt-A and Option Arm loans is that both the mortgage and interest rates are adjustable and will soon be adjusting to higher levels that many of the buyers can’t afford.
Q. How long do you think it will take for the market to increase back to its previous level?
A. I don’t see an increase in the real estate market for a number of years. The next couple years are going to be critical times for the industry. If predictions are right and another wave of foreclosures hit in the future, it might take 8 to 10 years to fully recover.
Q. What are the main reasons that values differ in different areas throughout Fresno?
A. Values of homes differ throughout areas of Fresno because of simple economics. Homes that are in higher demand will obviously sell at a higher price. Schools play a huge roll in this. Homes in Clovis Unified School District, for example, can add $10-20,000 to a home alone. Another key factor is the homes surroundings. People want to be near basic amenities like grocery stores and shopping malls. They also want to make sure the neighborhoods around the home are safe. A common trend is for newer areas to typically be safer than older areas. With all this factored in, demand for homes typically are higher in the North Fresno/Clovis areas as opposed to the South West and East Fresno/Clovis areas. Because demand is higher, the cost to live in that area increases. This also explains the reason why homes in cities such as San Francisco and San Diego cost much more than the same home here in Fresno.