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The Difference Between a real estate Broker and an Advisor

We are frequently asked what makes Atlas Real Estate Advisors different than a “normal” real estate brokerage. In one sentence, the answer is that we offer services outside the scope of buyer/seller representation in a real estate sales transaction.  

Good advice is hard to come by for investors with complex real estate questions, but traditional real estate brokers get paid a commission as a percentage of the sales price only if a buy/sale transaction takes place; but, who helps when you need professional assistance with appealing a property tax assessment, selecting a site for your new business, preparing a development/project proforma, negotiating financing terms with a lender, restructuring a portfolio to maximize return, etc?  These are just a few examples where Atlas fills this void by offering professional consulting services on a fee-basis, in addition to traditional brokerage.  

With over 50 years of combined experience in every product class, Atlas seeks to identify and understand a client’s goals and objectives. From there, we develop formalized and disciplined strategy to achieve those goals. We use our experience, skills, relationships, and knowledge to creating value far beyond what is achievable absent Atlas involvement in the operation, development, or transaction of real estate. Our principals bring the experience of institutional discipline and entrepreneurial thinking together to provide solutions that other traditional brokerages do not offer.

Property Management Is Complicated

Property management services are ideal for out-of-state owners or large investors; however, the value of a property management service is not contingent upon the size or location of your real estate portfolio.  You can add value to your investment by hiring a property manager if you have 1 or 1000 rental units and if you live next-door or hundreds of miles away.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.   Local laws are complicated

Becoming a property owner and leasing a unit opens the door for many legal concerns. The housing industry is one of the most regulated. A property manager eats, breathes, and lives local ordinances and will assist in protecting you and your asset(s) against legal issues. Knowing local, state and federal fair housing laws is a must.

2.   Real estate is not your primary business

Most property owners have a family they like to spend time with and a primary job that is not real estate.  It is not a pleasant experience to be disrupted during your work-day or woken up at 2am when there is a leak or a tenant gets locked out of their home. Good property management firms have 24-hour emergency service so that you don’t have to deal with this problem and others like it.

3.   Reliable contractors are hard to find

Property managers with experience have an established list of preferred vendors and get better rates and response time on maintenance calls than an individual.  This is due to the amount of business they provide the contractors and the fact that they’ve spent years identifying reputable and reliable vendors with the best prices.  .

4.   There’s more to it than collecting rent and paying the mortgage

Property management firms have access to market trends and comps that allow them to achieve the maximum monthly income for the owner. But, many owners of investment property forget to budget for tenant turnover, eventual replacement of mechanical systems, potential increases in HOA dues/taxes and other miscellaneous expenses that impact the bottom-line.  As professionals, experienced property managers can help you project the long-term viability of your investment over time and plan accordingly.

If you have questions about property management or would like to discuss management of your residential or commercial real estate investment(s), please call our sister company, Rent Athens LLC, at 706-389-1700 or email us at anytime.

New To Real Estate Investment?

The secret to building a successful real estate portfolio lies in an understanding of the fundamentals of real estate and remaining focused on buying only properties that meet those criteria. If you’re a new investor that’s just starting to consider real estate as an investment tool, below are a few tips to get you started:

Are You Financially Prepared?                      

It’s important that you have a firm grasp on your personal finances before investing in real estate. If you do not have adequate savings earmarked for investment real estate, do this first.  Real estate investing is not a “get rich quick” scheme –the most successful investors use real estate over time to build wealth.

What Kind of Property Should I Buy?

Real estate investing is an exciting field because of the many different niches and strategies you can use to customize your plan to fit your personality and position in life. There are literally hundreds of ways to invest in real estate, so find the strategy that best fits your lifestyle.

What are the Expenses Involved?

In addition to those expenses that are obvious (i.e. debt service, taxes, utilities, etc), many first-time real estate investors underestimate the unknown expenses.  As Dave Ramsey, the popular financial coach says: “you should expect the unexpected”.  Leave yourself some margin in your proforma for irregular expenses that might not appear on a profit & loss statement.

How do I Pay for the Property?

If you have the money, you can pay all cash and not deal with banks or loans.  Another option is to supply just the down payment and take out a mortgage to cover the remaining cost.  The terms of financing can be vital to your investments success and should be carefully considered.

Assembling a Real Estate Investment Team

Good property managers, accountants, legal advisors, etc will add value to your investment and should be seen as an asset to the process.


Atlas Real Estate Advisors is experienced with all facets of real estate investment, from single-unit purchases to portfolio management for institutions.  We would be happy to setup a consultation with you to help you develop your own personal investment strategy.


One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Over the past few years, we’ve all witnessed the meteoric rise of real estate, followed by an inevitable crash.  And, now the housing market is slowly recovering and trying to find a more stable middle-ground.

During the past 10+ years as an active real estate professional, one trend that I’ve observed is that real estate investors are active in both up and down cycles, regardless of whether housing in general is thriving or failing.  The buyers and sellers change, the pricing metrics change, the banks change their financing options, and the statistics on overall inventory will certainly adjust. But, investors never stop buying and selling.

Regardless of whether you’re an active real estate investor or just a spectator, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone in the past few years advertise a real estate listing as a “great investment”.  Phrases like “perfect for investors” and “what a steal” are commonly used by Realtors and owners to advertise their properties.  But, a closer look will tell you that one size doesn’t fit all in real estate investment, and these marketing slogans are often misleading.

Try this 5-question test to determine if you’re applying the property gauges on real estate as an investment:

1)  If a property that sold for $500,000 in 2007 is listed for sale at $150,000 today, is that a bargain price?

2) If the tax assessors office has a property valued at $300,000 and the seller offers it to you for $200,000, does that mean you have $100,000 instant-equity?

3) If you’re offered a property at $250,000, and a professional builder tells you the same property would cost $400,000 to rebuild, should you buy it rather than build it?

4) If a seller paid $100,000 for a property last week and has offered it to you for $300,000 today, does that mean it’s overpriced?

5) If your Realtor, appraiser, lender, attorney, “real estate friend”, etc advises you to buy a property, should you accept their advice?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you should reconsider your approach.  Sadly, most novice investors calculate value as the difference between what they buy a property for compared to the price the seller was asking, or the amount some third-party (i.e. tax assessor, Realtor, etc) says it’s worth.  These criteria should never be used solely as a reason for buying.  How much the seller paid for (or owes on) a property has no bearing on its value.  The same applies to how much it would cost to rebuild it, how much it sold for a few years ago or how much you think it will appreciate.

Real estate purchase decisions should be based on your personal financial situation.  If you need real estate in your portfolio for monthly cash-flow, your investment decisions will be very different than the person who buys real estate to offset their tax liability.  An investor who is investing their only $100,000 would approach an investment much differently than a billionaire investing $100,000.

Use caution when buying:  The property that’s a “great deal” for one person is not always a “great deal” for everyone as the headline on the flyer might say.