Buying More Home For the Money
Navigating Atlanta’s Residential Resale Market
By Michelle Bourg
Do you envision purchasing a “vintage” home with unique character,set in an established neighborhood with mature landscaping, attractions such as shopping and nightlife nearby, and a community made up of a diverse mix of neighbors? If so, you have moved to the right place. There are many reasons why an existing home is an appealing and practical choice, and the Atlanta metro area has beautiful, quality resale homes in all areas at a range of price points.
Advantages of Resale Homes
A big reason to consider a resale home is that there are simply more of them available. Atlanta’s housing market is currently extremely tight, and existing homes make up the vast majority of inventory. Vic Miller, managing broker with Coldwell Banker, reports that the city’s new home starts are “currently far below normal levels,” and Bill Rawlings, managing broker of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, agrees: “In most areas, there will be more resale homes on the market than new construction.”
For Pricing, Think Location
Atlanta has been called a city of many neighborhoods, and it seems almost as if the adage “location, location, location” was coined with the city in mind. “Real estate in Atlanta is a hyper-local business,” says Miller. “Even neighborhood to neighborhood can be different.”
Lane McCormack, president of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, agrees: “As a rule, the prices are less the further one goes from Atlanta. That being said, there are multi-million-dollar properties throughout the area.”
Jamie Walzer, team leader with Nest Atlanta Real Estate, offers some examples: “For $500k to $700k, your money will go the furthest in Milton. There you could get a traditional home of 2800 square feet or more with four bedrooms and a two-car garage on a decent-sized lot. In Decatur, you’d average three or four bedrooms, approximately 1600-2800 square feet on a small lot; it may or may not have a garage. In Buckhead, it would be a ranch or traditional averaging 2000 square feet, in need of some updates on a small lot, garage optional.”
But price is just one thing to consider when choosing a home: factors like commute times, school districts and recreational opportunities all play a part as well. A quick survey of Atlanta communities can help you get started in identifying which areas might meet your needs.
In-Town Options to Consider
Atlanta’s premier luxury address is the Buckhead district, situated at the city’s northern end and home to some of the most exclusive shopping and nightlife in the country. High-rise condos along Peachtree that offer a sweeping view sell for $500,000 to upward of $5 million. Surrounding the glitz and glamour are 45 wooded neighborhoods, each with a unique character. In Tuxedo Park, imposing European-style estates set on two acres of rolling lawn range from $1.5 to $12 million, while Peachtree Hills to the south offers a mix of styles including Georgian and Tudor along with Craftsman bungalows from about $430,000 to $1 million. With such an expansive area, there’s much to choose from.
Located six miles to the south on Peachtree is Midtown. Like Buckhead, its glamorous steel-and-glass business district is lined with shopping, dining and high-rise condos with prices ranging from the high $300s to over $2.5 million. Just a few blocks to the east is historic Piedmont Park, bordered on its southern end by massive single-family homes dating to the 1920s. The surrounding areas feature a mix of traditional, Tudor, European-style and French Provincial homes at prices from $700,000 to $1.7 million. Adjacent communities with similar price points include Ansley Park, with its winding, tree-lined streets, and Virginia-Highland, a walkable, family-friendly community filled with charming boutiques and restaurants.
To feel outside the city but stay (just) inside the Perimeter, try Vinings, an unincorporated community nestled between I-75 and I-285 in Cobb County and easily accessible to attractions like the Cobb Center for the Performing Arts, the Silver Comet Trail, and SunTrust Park, the new home of the Atlanta Braves. Residents come home to quiet neighborhoods of predominately traditional, Georgian or Colonial-style homes priced from about $300,000 to $1.6 million, with an average price of around $600,000. Townhomes and condos at a wide range of prices can also be found.
Choices Outside the Perimeter
Going outside the Perimeter opens up entirely different possibilities, and the area north of the city has been on a consistent growth trend for several years. Part of the appeal, says Vic Miller, is that “Outlying areas offer larger homes and land for golf, equestrian and lake or river activities.”
Located about 30 miles north of Atlanta, the cities of Alpharetta and Milton are home to more than 600 technology companies and numerous corporate headquarters. There’s plenty of recreation available too, including several world-class championship golf courses. Homes here are newer, so you’ll find contemporary features such as open floor plans, main floor master bedrooms and multi-car garages. Brad Weiner, managing broker for ReMax on Main, says, “The market here has been very positive, with a lot of movement in the $300,000-$700,000 range.” Homes in this price range offer three to four bedrooms, but properties from one-bedroom condos for $200,000 to palatial gated estates on 20 acres for $7 million.
Just seven miles east of Atlanta, the historic City of Decatur combines small-town charm with accessibility to the city. Jamie Walzer says: “Decatur is as hot as can be right now. It offers the perfect blend of strong public schools, great walkability to restaurants and shops, and diverse community-based neighborhoods.” Craftsman, traditional, bungalows and Modern Prairie are the dominant home styles and are available at prices averaging from $700,000 to $1.3 million, with some mid-rise condos in the $500,000-$700,000 range located near the square.
Fascinating Search Ahead
Anyone new to the Atlanta area owes it to themselves to research the home resale market. Finding the perfect house in Atlanta does take some planning, flexibility and patience, especially in the current market. But the search will be fascinating, and once you’ve found your dream home, it’s time to put your stamp on it and make it truly your own.