Changes Is in the Air

I love learning!

Last month I had the pleasure of attending two informative real estate events — the Atlanta Real Estate Summit hosted by the Atlanta Board of Realtors and Atlanta Business Chronicle at the Federal Reserve building and the Midtown Alliance’s Annual Meeting at The Fabulous Fox Theatre. I left both events with renewed excitement. There is so much happening in our neighborhood and in the real estate market in general.

At the real estate summit, we heard a presentation by Dominic Purviance, a senior policy analyst with the Federal Reserve. Overall the news was pretty good. We have recovered. Market growth has slowed to being normalized. Last year we saw an overall 6% appreciation vs. the 20% we saw in 2012 and 2103 at the start of the recovery. The two main economic drivers for our area are employment growth and migration. The good: We have seen job growth and have great housing availability (we still have 100,000 lots available in the metro area). The bad: We are neither seeing wage growth nor building enough affordable housing for the jobs that are being created. Atlanta metro is a huge economy within a 29 county area – an economy larger than the economy of Maryland and Louisiana combined. We have 274K students enrolled in 66 metro universities. We need to work on retaining this talent from these universities and address transportation issues.

While I love hearing the overall state of the market, I’m reminded that we operate in just a small area. I have jokingly called it “my little urban bubble” for years now. The dynamics of this little area operate much differently than the metro area at large. Lifestyle and transportation are the main drivers intown. Supply is scarce and homes at the entry price point of each neighborhood. High demand often results in multiple offers and quick sales. The subject of affordability continues to be a big one here. Values are back and lack of inventory continues to drive prices up. Apartments are being built heavily, and the 7% annual rent appreciation is expected to slip due to this new supply coming on to the market. Financing continues to be tough for developers building condominiums, which is why most of the residential building we see going up are apartments. I understand that there are several that are being built with the intent to convert to condos. Most of the construction of the last boom has been absorbed, so inventory in the intown condominium is incredibly low. (Help – we need condos to sell! We have many buyers that are seeking condos. If you or someone you know has not been in an equity position to sell, you might be surprised with the current value.)

At the annual Midtown Alliance meeting we heard a synopsis of unprecedented development and learned a bit about place making. I’ll admit I’m a little bit partial to Midtown. My home home and business is here. I chose this neighborhood 20 years ago because it offered urban living with a neighborhood feel. When it came time to invest in a location for our business, there was no other choice.

Why is Midtown so popular? It is Atlanta’s defining urban district that caters to a true live, work and play lifestyle. Currently, it is experiencing unprecedented development. There is $3 billion of development with 17 projects under construction today and 20 more in the pipeline past the approval process. The fact that it is on a grid allows for this growth. Much of Midtown’s success comes from the collaboration of The Midtown Alliance and developers following Blueprint Midtown in the late 90s. The Midtown Alliance has just released the Midtown Owners Manual to provide design resources and best practices for further development and better experiences. I love how we are pushing the envelope to be better and are willing to learn from our past to create a better future.

Transportation is a big topic all across the city. At the Midtown Alliance meeting we heard that “transportation is for people, not just cars.” New capital improvements to bridges, wider sidewalks bike lanes and landscaping are fostering this along with development projects like the Colony Square overhaul and the Bank of America Plaza repositioning. Over 800 cyclists a day are using the 10th street bike lanes. Midtown is being transformed into a first class walking experience.  All of these factors are continuing to drive demand for housing. I’ll say it again – we need more listings – especially condos!

And as always, if you have any questions or would like to chat about the market, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 404-307-6634 or I love to share what I learn!

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