2020 Vision: Intown real estate professionals look forward to a strong market

The real estate market in Atlanta’s Intown neighborhoods has seen a lot of changes over the last decade. Overall, they’ve been positive. Since 2010, home prices have skyrocketed. Sales are up dramatically, and houses are selling more quickly than ever.

Over the last two years or so, however, things have leveled off a bit.

Alison Sternfels

2019 overview

According to Alison Sternfels, Compass Atlanta—Team 360° ATL, while the market is still going great, the Intown market didn’t see as much appreciation from 2018 to 2019 as it did from 2017 to 2018. “Homes are selling an average of 2% to 3% below list price, which is a fantastic statistic, but many properties had a price reduction prior to going under contract,” she said.

Six months of inventory indicates a normal market regarding supply, she explained, and “we’re still below six months of inventory in all price ranges except $2 million and above. This is good news for sellers, and the moral of this story is to price right from the beginning.”

Rodney Hinote, Associate Broker, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, reported that while there is more inventory than last year, the amount of time it takes to sell that inventory has also increased. “The average days on the market for single family homes and condominiums increased to 41 days compared to 34 days in 2018,” he said, adding that the market has experienced a healthy appreciation in home value.

“The average sales price for single family homes jumped to $524,000, up from $495,000 in 2018,” Hinote said. “Condominium prices have also increased from an average of $339,500 in 2018 to $365,600 in 2019.”

The Intown real estate market had been relatively strong in 2019, noted Erin Yabroudy, Realtor with Harry Norman Realtors. “While the number of sales has cooled, the home values continue to appreciate,” she said.

Rodney Hinote

“We’ve found the demand for housing remains strong and that buyers are attracted to the vibrant urban lifestyle that our restaurants, shops, parks and schools provide,” explained her colleague Kevin McGlynn, Realtor with Harry Norman Realtors.

He added that, for buyers, there has never been a better time, since interest rates have remained low and lending requirements and options have become more flexible.

These days, Intown buyers don’t make low offers, according to Ken Covers, Realtor and luxury home specialist in the Intown Market with Engel & Völkers Atlanta. “When I talk to homeowners who are renovating, I advise them not to water it down, but to ‘water it up.’ The nicer the homes are, the faster they sell.”

He sold five of the top 12 home sales in Morningside, and “one of the nicest went for $1,849,000,” Covers said. “Another went for $750,000 over the asking price—and it sold in a day-and-a-half!”

Often, well-finished homes sell at full price within two days, he said. “Of course, that’s when everything about the house is done. Then it’s received extremely well. It’s almost a phenomenon,” he continued. “Listings are going for full price and in cash.”

Looking ahead

As for challenges in the Intown market, Covers expects to face the same things in the coming year as he did in 2019. “While it’s never been more desirable to live Intown, there’s just not enough premium product,” he said. “There’s a strong desire to be Intown among the more premium buyers.”

He reported working with one client who had $2.5 million to spend and was struggling to find the home they wanted.

While scarcity of deliverable product is driving up the value, Covers said that the price still has to be in the range of the value. And he predicted that values will continue to increase in 2020.

Ken Covers

“I’m often asked, “How long will this last?” There’s no way to know for sure, but this is the sixth year in a row. It’s ferocious. It’s the most active time in the city,” Covers said. “There are more buyers than properties available, and prices are up 3 to 5% for sellers.”

Sternfels agreed that there’s no reliable way to predict the future. “A crystal ball would be fantastic to have! I do see the market continuing in a similar path as 2019, with pricing appreciating a little to holding steady with inventory remaining on the lower level.”

All signs point to 2020 being very similar to 2019, with steady growth and increased home values, according to Hinote. “Have you seen the cranes in Midtown lately? Job growth is happening, and all the people moving to Atlanta need a place to live,” he said. “A few years ago, many buyers were experiencing ‘buyer fatigue,’ losing out on multiple buyer situations, only to end up renting out of frustration. I do foresee an increase in inventory next year, which is great news for buyers!”

Yabroudy and McGlynn said they’re excited about the 2020 housing market and look forward to another record-setting year. “Our city’s booming economy and strong job growth in Midtown are encouraging factors for the Intown market,” Yabroudy said. “There are lots of choices available for today’s buyers, from high rise condos to traditional homes in our beautiful neighborhoods.”

Kevin McGlynn

BeltLine properties still hot

Of course, there’s one area that continues to be a big draw for Intown homebuyers.

“The Atlanta BeltLine has greatly contributed to the success of the Intown market,” McGlynn explained. “We see lots of great things happening in neighborhoods in and around the BeltLine.”

Hinote said that anything that’s sleek in design and BeltLine adjacent is generating a lot of interest and demand. “I’m excited about what’s happening with the Memorial Drive corridor and the Summerhill/Georgia State stadium area,” he said. “Both of those areas include all the necessary elements to provide a true neighborhood experience, including walkability to restaurants, shops and nightlife.”

Covers expects that what has been popular will continue to be desirable in 2020—and that means beautiful condos and anything near the BeltLine. “The BeltLine is the ‘waterfront’ property of Atlanta,” he said.

He pointed to a townhome overlooking the BeltLine that’s priced at $1.6 million. “The quality is stellar, with four floors, a full two-car garage, outdoor kitchen and wine cellar,” Covers said. And it appeals to two groups of buyers flocking to Intown.

“There are the millennials, who want what they want, and the baby boomers who are coming Intown in record numbers,” he reported. “They want to be close to the BeltLine and where the activity and action is.”

Luxury and convenience

As a rule, boomers are looking for a flat level home, Covers said, and want to be able to walk from their garage into their kitchen. “And they want it fully finished,” Covers noted. “They want it well done and high end. It needs to be turn-key; they don’t want any work to do on it.”

Erin Yabroudy

Open floor plans, as well as high-end kitchens and baths, continue to be popular, “but if I can put my finger on any one feature that’s really bringing in the buyers, it’s the master closet,” Covers said.

He explained that people have substantial wardrobes and want a house with a large closet—almost the size of a bedroom—to showcase their expensive clothes, handbags and shoes, rather than just a small room to hang their clothing.

“The home with the large, well-designed master closet will sell very well,” Covers said. “In the next one to two years, I think we’ll see a lot of development in that area.”

One of the areas of the housing market that excites Yabroudy and McGlynn is the emergence of smaller but more luxurious homes. “Many boomers are looking to downsize and move into town from the suburbs and want a smaller home, but they also want it nicely appointed,” Yabroudy said.

A need for more Intown housing

With the influx of boomers, Yabroudy said she’d like to see more homes with a master bedroom on the main floor. “New home starts are up Intown and new construction tends to sell quickly, so we’d love to continue to see speculative builders and renovators choose to work Intown,” she said. “We always appreciate builders who design appropriately designed homes that fit the existing style of our historic neighborhoods.”

As far as what Intown real estate needs, Hinote added that he does hope to see more affordable housing options that will appeal to first-time homebuyers in 2020. “That’s one segment of the housing market that is lagging behind in Atlanta, and I’d like to see a bigger initiative by the city and developers to fill this need,” he said.

Sternfels agreed. “Without question, Atlanta is in need of affordable housing throughout the Intown neighborhoods.”

 

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