By Lori Johnston
For the AJC
Katie Baddour didn't see her house in Atlanta until the weekend before she and husband Michael closed on the home. They were moving from Memphis, Tenn., to Atlanta for Michael's position as a resident at Emory University School of Medicine. Michael searched with Katie's father, Hunter Tison, during the spring while she was still working. The 26-year-old couple chatted about their first home in Atlanta's Woodland Hills neighborhood and the pleasant surprise in Katie's hometown.
Q: Was location an important factor?
Michael: I knew that I would need a location close to Emory just because of traffic and being on call. I wanted to make sure that Katie would be able to get to the highway quickly. I spent like five straight days riding around Atlanta. I saw 22 houses. I figured out quickly neighborhoods we could and couldn't afford. I knew Virginia-Highland would be way out of our price range and drove up to Buckhead, and it was the same. I knew budget-wise what we would be able to do.
Q: What type of features did you want in the home?
Katie: I wanted a yard. The house we were renting in Memphis had a really nice yard. We wanted to have three bedrooms so we could have one, one for Michael's office and another when Michael's parents visit. We wanted two bathrooms. We didn't want a huge fixer-upper.
Michael: I wanted a new roof. I wanted it to be simple upkeep.
Q: How did you feel about not seeing the home until later in the process?
Katie: I'm pretty relaxed about stuff. I gave him the basics of what I wanted and he showed me pictures online.
Michael: When I saw the yard out front and saw that it wasn't very big but it had plants and nice grass, and then when I walked in the front door, I just knew that Katie would like it. We have a huge window in the living room and all hardwood floors. It has a really nice screened-in back porch and deck.
Katie: I loved the yard. I loved the hardwood floors. I loved that there were a lot of windows
Q: What did you learn while negotiating the price? Michael: I would run it by Hannah Beaver (with Harry Norman, Realtors) to see if it was OK or legit to ask for a reduction in price. Hannah let me make the ultimate decision, but she would tell me if it was reasonable or not. My third counteroffer, they accepted. It's kind of difficult because you don't want to go so low so that they don't want to work with you. And you want to make it reasonable so you won't get hosed either.
Q: How much were you able to put down?
Michael: We did a physician loan. With the declining market, it wasn't 100 percent financed, so we had to put down 5 percent. We paid the closing costs.
Q: What tips would you give first-time buyers?
Michael: A home warranty is huge. Try to get the sellers to buy that for you. That was part of our negotiations.
Q: Are you enjoying owning your first place?
Katie: It's really fun. You want to do more with it than a rental because you know you're responsible for it. It's much more of a permanent feeling.
At a Glance
Michael and Katie Baddour's home has three bedrooms, two baths and about 1,246 square feet of livable space. The purchased the home, built in 1950, in May.
Address: 1074 Vista Trail, Atlanta 30324 (See listing information below)
Price range: High $100,000s-high $400,000s
Homes: About 300
Square footage range: About 900-3,000
Lot size: Up to three-quarters of an acre (average is a little less than a third of an acre)
Homeowners association fees: None required, $30 optional
Schools: Briar Vista Elementary, Shamrock Middle, Druid Hills High
More on schools: schools.ajchomefinder.com
Take I-85 north to Exit 89 (North Druid Hills Road), and turn right, traveling east on North Druid. Turn right onto Briarcliff Road. Turn right onto LaVista Road. Turn left onto Woodland Hills.
$249,900: 1074 Vista Trail, Atlanta 30324. A three-bedroom, one-bath home built in 1951 with new windows and a deck off the kitchen.
$345,000: 1041 Vista Trail, Atlanta 30324. A three-bedroom, two-bath home built in 1951 with a renovated kitchen.
$318,000: 1128 Country Lane N.E., Atlanta 30324. A three-bedroom, two-bath home built in 1951 with upgraded kitchen and hardwood floors.
$235,000: 1384 Woodland Hills Drive N.E., Atlanta 30324. A two-bedroom, one-bath home built in 1951 with hardwood floors.