Written by Olivia Putnal Tuesday, August 21 2012
Snapshot: Brandi Hunter, Owner of Brandi Hunter and Associates
In today's uncertain economic climate, we want to be more careful than ever when it comes to investments, but it's also one of the most buyer-friendly real estate markets we've experienced in recent history. Keller Williams realtor Brandi Hunter shares strategies for making sure your home purchase will be conducive to your financial future.
Hunter, an Atlanta-based mother of three, is no stranger to success. She began her accomplishments in college at The University of Georgia, where she was a member of the SEC Championship-winning women’s basketball team. After college, Hunter made her mark in her hometown of Chicago, where she received Million Dollar status with Coldwell Banker in the very first year of her career. Now, back in Atlanta since 2006, Hunter works extremely hard for her two sons. She experienced the passing of her husband in 2004, and that’s forced her to take a step back and evaluate. “I was determined not to let those things [death of her spouse and single parenthood] hinder my growth, but rather inspire me to do what I needed to do for my sons.”
Womenetics: What are some of the things homebuyers should take into consideration when purchasing or renting a home?
Brandi Hunter: Location, location, location are three words that will always resonate with real estate. The school district is always a driving force, especially for families with children. Most homeowners, on average, don’t keep a home for longer than five years, so you definitely want to consider those factors when purchasing. If you are able to purchase for less than fair market value (which is definitely an option considering the amount of distressed homes that are on the market), you shouldn’t have any problems in reference to resale.
Womenetics: When meeting with a realtor for the first time, what are some things homebuyers need to ask or know?
Hunter: Do they practice real estate full-time? What designations do they have? Do they have a website? Do they have an assistant or a team? How many transactions did they close within the last 12 months? Can you call past clients for testimonials?
For sellers: What’s their average day/time spent on the market? What is their list to sales price ratio?
For buyers: Do you offer a buyer’s consultation?
Womenetics: Ideally, how much do homebuyers want to put down on a house?
Hunter: For a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, the minimum down payment is 3.5 percent. There are down payment assistance programs available to those that qualify as well. With a conventional loan, you’re looking at putting down anywhere from 5-20 percent.
Womenetics: How much should a mortgage be?
Hunter: Depending on the price of the home, your mortgage can vary. With interest rates being as little as 3.25 percent, now is definitely the time to take advantage of being a homeowner!
Womenetics: How can homeowners avoid debt when it comes to their homes?
Hunter: The most important thing to remember is to not get in over your head. Due to very stringent lending practices, it’s not as easy to qualify for a home loan. You must be able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that you can afford the home you’re purchasing, and that your debt to income ratio is manageable. It’s wise not to assume any new debt, like cars or credit cards, or make any large purchases when trying to purchase a home.
Womenetics: What are some common mistakes you see during the home buying process?
Hunter: All realtors and loan officers are not created equal. You definitely want to qualify the person you choose to do business with. This is the largest asset you will ever purchase, and it should not be taken lightly! Having the right person working for you makes all the difference in the world during a real estate transaction.
Womenetics: Tell us about your first home. What were some of the decisions you made before buying?
Hunter: My first home was the perfect starter home for my family. Location and schools were important as I had small children at the time. By shopping with a few different loan officers, I was able to get a great interest rate and low closing costs. It was a very good experience overall, and it also prepped me for what to do for my clients when I became a realtor.
Womenetics: Who or what was your inspiration for becoming a realtor?
Hunter: I’d been in sales most of my career since graduating from college. I was always intrigued with real estate, but after my husband passed in 2004, I knew as a single mother of three young boys I needed a career that would allow me more flexibility with my work hours. That’s what prompted me to get my real estate license.
Womenetics: Were there any obstacles you faced when you first began? If so, what?
Hunter: Absolutely. There were so many personal things I had to deal with, like the death of my spouse and grasping single parenthood. I was determined not to let those things hinder my growth, but rather inspire me to do what I needed to do for my sons. I felt an overwhelming sense of obligation to honor my husband by being the best realtor and mother I could be.
Womenetics: How did your time spent as a player on UGA’s championship women’s basketball team help you in your current career?
Hunter: The work ethic that was instilled in me as a student athlete at UGA prepared me on so many levels for my current career and lifestyle in general. I have to be able to multi-task to no end, and the tools I was equipped with there have set the stage for my career and life. In the competitive industry of real estate, you must be self-motivated and have a rigorous work ethic in order to be successful. I definitely give credit to my coaching staff and attribute my experience at UGA for my current success as a realtor and single mother.
Womenetics: What was it like when you achieved Million Dollar status in your first year at Coldwell Banker in Chicago?
Hunter: It was surprising, but not unexpected. Having to balance being recently widowed, it was somewhat of an adjustment. I had always been one of the top sales reps in the previous company I worked for (AT&T), so the expectation was set for me to do the same thing in real estate.
Womenetics: Tell us about the organizations you’re a part of and how they’ve helped you in your career.
Hunter: I’m a Life Member of UGA’s Alumni Association; a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.; a board member of Project Karma, which aids children and teens dealing with the loss of a parent or sibling; and I’m also a member of Beyond the Game, a nonprofit organization that aids the widows and orphans of Swaziland, Africa. Being active in these organizations is part of the reason that I’ve achieved such a high level of success in my business. The measure in which you give is the measure that you will receive – I’m firm believer in that. God has graced me to manage all the things I’m involved in – from my children’s activities, to the organizations and to running a successful real estate business.
Womenetics: What do you enjoy doing during your time off?
Hunter: I am the ultimate soccer mom! My sons all participate in multiple sports, so when I’m not selling real estate, I’m likely at either a baseball, football or basketball game. I’m the biggest UGA fan in the world. I love my alma mater with every fiber in my being, so I enjoy catching a Lady Dawg basketball game and, in the fall, a football game when I can. I enjoy concerts at Chastain Park and spending time with the people that are near and dear to me. Life is to be lived! By the grace of God, I do that to the fullest.
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Olivia Putnal is a writer and editor in Atlanta. She formerly wrote web articles and blogs for WomansDay.com in the areas of health, fitness, beauty, fashion, entertainment, news and food.