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April/May 2008

Atlanta's Hot Housing Market
Why Now is the Time to Buy a Home
by Whitney Brennan

Hillside at Chastain’s traditional brick homes are situated near historic
Chastain Park.
You’ve picked a great time to relocate to Atlanta. If there were ever a time to move to the ATL and buy a home, now is it. The area is experiencing phenomenal growth, and Metro Atlanta has become one of the top job producers in the nation—by 2020, another 2 million people are expected to move to Atlanta, which is the largest population increase expected in the nation. Because of the current home buying market, some of these 2 million people may want to consider moving now. With builder incentives and great prices, interest rates at historic lows, a healthy supply of homes, and the fact that buyers get more for their money in Metro Atlanta, the home buying market in Atlanta is as good as it gets. Right now is truly the time to buy.

“The number of homes available in Metro Atlanta was at an all-time high in the last quarter of 2007,” says Steve Palm, president of SmartNumbers, a service providing analysis and forecasting for the real estate business. As a result of these high inventories of homes, builders and developers are offering some of the best deals the area has ever seen to eliminate some of this inventory. From Jan. 25 through Feb. 17 this year, in what was aptly called the Sale of a Lifetime, John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods offered a life-time structural warranty on new homes, as well as between $10,000 and $100,000 in bonus dollars on every home. Buyers could spend their bonus dollars in three ways: on price reduction, upgrades or financing. For example, a buyer could use some of the money to reduce the total price of the home, another part to have the basement finished and the remainder to buy down the mortgage for the first two years.

Founder John Wieland says, “I started the Sale of a Lifetime, because I realized that a lot of people were sitting on the sidelines, not buying. We had every home marked down. The sale was to accommodate those who were on the fence, still in the decision-making stage.”

A luxurious kitchen at the eco-friendly condo development eon at Lindbergh.
The sale was certainly a success—during the first six days, John Wieland Homes experienced a 100 percent increase in sales. Other builders and developers are seeking the same success. The Providence Group is offering no payments for six months—the company will pay new buyers’ principal and interest payments for the first six months of ownership. All Season Homes recently offered an incredible incentive to buyers in its Brickell community. The company would either pay the principal, interest, tax and insurance on a buyer’s new home in the community, or buyers could choose a free two-year lease on a BMW Z4. Monte Hewett Homes promises significantly discounted homes in all its neighborhoods, and Centex Homes also offers discounted homes, as well as its ongoing Hometown Heroes program, which provides a 2 percent discount on new homes to teachers, firefighters and police officers.

In addition, buyers at The Gramercy Townhomes, a “walking neighborhood,” receive 7 percent of the home price to spend as they want, such as on upgrades, price reduction, closing costs and more. New buyers at Paces 325, a community of luxury condos in Buckhead, receive 2 percent toward closing costs and one year of paid homeowners’ association fees. The Marketing Directors, known for its tremendous success in the sales and marketing of residential real estate, is selling the condos. David Tufts, president and founder of the Southeast division of the company, says, “Right now, there’s a healthy selection of homes available, and interest rates are very compelling. Rates continue to decline, and there is a broad range of programs available for financing. Prices and incentives in the marketplace are great.”

Although overall price is certainly important to home buyers, many have a greater concern. David Ellis, executive vice president of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, explains, “Price is important, but what many buyers worry about is the monthly payment. How much is this going to cost me? This is a big deciding factor, and of course, this relates to interest rates, which are near record lows.” The GAHBA has launched its own campaign, Get Home Atlanta, to inform buyers about the incredible opportunities available in the housing market, including the low interest rates, great prices and builder promotions. Three other builders’ associations, Barrow County, Midwest Georgia and Westside, have joined the GAHBA for the 2008 Spring Parade of Homes Apr. 19-20 and Apr. 26-27. The event is free and open to the public—prospective home buyers will be able to view hundreds of new homes throughout the Atlanta region and choose the neighborhood that is right for them. This year’s event comes at a good time—because with the deals being offered in the marketplace, now is certainly the time to buy.

The wellness-inspired condo development Mezzo features luxurious master baths

Many of these incentives and great prices may be short-lived, but buyers should certainly keep their eyes open—while builders’ inventories are high, buyers’ incentives will remain a constant. “The amount of product available in the market is very high, so builders are willing to negotiate prices—John Wieland Homes is certainly willing to negotiate,” says Wieland.

In addition to the builder incentives and great prices, the housing market in Metro Atlanta offers plenty of choices. Indeed, the supply of homes is high, but the types of living options in the area are nearly limitless. Whether a buyer wants a single-family home, townhome, condo or loft in a petfriendly, eco-friendly, recreational, active adult, mixed-use or masterplanned community, Metro Atlanta has it. There’s even a wellnessinspired condo development. Mezzo, a boutique condo with only 94 unique residences, features spainspired elements and organic features designed to soothe, including Zen-style gardens, a eucalyptus steam room and a massage room. A climate-controlled pet respite, complete with a private bathing area, will certainly appeal to pet lovers.

Another noteworthy condo development is 1010 Midtown. The 35-story mixed-use tower features 443 one-, two- and three-bedroom signature residences and up to 50,000 square feet of retail space. Home owners will enjoy state-of-the-art amenities and features, such as stainless steel appliances, stone baths, expansive balconies, fitness center and multi-level clubroom with private deck overlooking Peachtree Street. A “Park in the Sky,” with swimming pool, cabanas and manicured gardens, completes the package. Jason Winburn, vice president of residential sales and marketing at Daniel Corporation, one of the property’s developers, says, “In addition to its prime location, buyers will appreciate the attention to detail. We took great care in making sure that the community offers incredible floor plans—what are upgrades at other developments are standard at 1010.”

Buyers looking for eco-friendly communities also will be pleased with the options in Metro Atlanta. Many of the area’s builders and developers are going green, producing homes designed to reduce energy costs and promote conservation. For example, both Monte Hewett Homes and Haven Properties ensure that every home they build is EarthCraft House and Energy Star certified. Monte Hewett’s West Village, a pedestrian-friendly community of townhomes and single-family homes, was recognized by the Atlanta Regional Commission as the 2007 Development of Excellence, and Monte Hewett’s Hillside at Chastain, a community of 11 luxury estate homes, features an underground storm water detention pond with a community park above. Haven Properties’ homes, such as those at recreational community Chapel Hills Golf & Country Club, are 30 percent more energy efficient than homes built using standard construction. (For more information about recreational communities, turn to page 20.) Another green community of note is eon at Lindbergh, a Dawson Company and Lane Company development featuring 352 one- and two-bedroom EarthCraft-certified condos—free recycling is offered to all residents. For those seeking environmentally-friendly loft living, Chamblee’s Eco Lofts is Atlanta’s first-ever eco-friendly condominium development powered by 100 percent clean, renewable wind energy.

Home buyers seeking communities with a master plan will certainly not be disappointed by the options in Metro Atlanta. Indeed, master-planned communities are a growing trend in Metro Atlanta real estate. These types of communities generally encompass a large amount of land and include a tremendous amount of recreational amenities such as lakes, golf courses, bike paths, jogging trails and parks. Builders and developers of master-planned communities anticipate the future needs of residents and include these amenities in the original plans. Laurel Canyon, a master-planned mountain-golf community in Canton, features amenities such as a fitness center, children’s play park, water park, a party deck overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and an all-sports court. Laurel Canyon comprises four neighborhoods—Longleaf, High Point, Horizons and Seasons, an active adult community—and many of the homes offer breathtaking golf course or mountain views. A truly unique master-planned community is Le Jardin in Fairburn. Inspired by nature and the arts, the community will feature spa services, sculpture gardens, internationally commissioned art and the first-ever American replica of Monet’s Water Garden.

In addition to great deals and prices, low interest rates and a healthy selection of living options, Metro Atlanta—when compared to other metro areas—offers home buyers more for their money. David Tufts of The Marketing Directors explains, “Home buyers need to know how reasonably priced homes in Metro Atlanta are, as compared to the global marketplace. In New York City, homes are roughly $1,500 a square foot, while homes in Metro Atlanta are about $300 a square foot. So, in the grand scheme of the marketplace, Metro Atlanta is very affordable.” John Wieland agrees. “John Wieland Homes builds in four other major cities, and what buyers get right now in Atlanta is really terrific. They get a lot of house, a lot of features and a lot of quality for their money.”

1010 Midtown, a 35-story mixed-use condo development, will feature up to 50,000 square feet of retail space.


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