07 Jan Stabilizing Market: Intown real estate agents discuss housing trends for 2019
The real estate market in Atlanta’s Intown neighborhoods may have seemed to cool at the end of last year — at least from a seller’s perspective. But if you ask homebuyers, they’re likely to say it was all getting a bit too hot to handle.
We checked with some of the city’s top real estate professionals to get a clearer view of what to expect in 2019. They reported that things are stabilizing while staying strong.
“The market has been self-correcting for the past few months — returning to more normal price/value conditions,” said Christopher Burell, Managing Broker and Chief Motivation Officer, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, “and we anticipate the wild spikes in home values we’ve seen to continue to level out in 2019.”
He explained that while some Intown neighborhoods have still experienced 8 to 12 percent increases, the metro Atlanta area overall has experienced an 8.7 percent increase in sales price, according to the November numbers provided by the Atlanta Realtors Association.
As far as inventory goes, Burell said, “A steady stream of new condominium developments around the BeltLine corridor will certainly help fill the inventory void in the coming months.”
However, he said he feels there will continue to be inventory challenges in many Intown neighborhoods through the beginning of 2020, though some suburban metro markets probably will see a quicker increase in supply to meet the market’s demands by the end of 2019.
“I think inventory is going to level off, which may sound like a negative, but this is not a bad thing to have happen. It means we’re getting back to a balanced market,” said Lisa Johnson, Senior Vice President and Managing Broker, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, Intown Office.
“We can expect to see properties staying on the market longer than we have in the last few years,” she continued. “Although it’s a change from what we’ve experienced of late, we’re simply returning to what we consider a normal market and not such a robust market.”
She noted that people had gotten used to a home selling immediately or within days of being listed on the open market. “That’s simply not a sustainable market in the long term,” Lisa Johnson said, adding that she expects 2019 will bring a balanced market with the potential to see a small increase in property values.
Valerie Levin, Managing Broker, Senior Vice President, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Georgia Properties, Midtown Office, is optimistic, too. “I think 2019 will be an outstanding year in home sales. That being said, the market is normalizing, and well-priced, staged homes will sell in a reasonable time frame…30 to 60 days.” She also stressed that what had been “normal” the last few years for Intown homes — three offers in one day — is not a normal market.
“Over the next year, 2019 will probably remain a seller’s market in most segments,” said Leslie Johnson, Managing Broker, Harry Norman Intown Office. Intown neighborhoods and properties nearest to suburban town centers are well positioned, he added, because there’s such a strong preference to be in walkable neighborhoods.
“Demand will remain high in core Intown neighborhoods,” he said, though he expects that inventory will remain on the low side. “Condo conversions would put a lot of inventory on the market at once, which will help to normalize the market.”
Scott Askew, Owner, Engel & Volkers Intown Atlanta and Engel & Volkers Brookhaven Atlanta said that in the late summer and early fall of 2018, the market saw a slight decline in number of sales as compared to the same period a year earlier, and a bit of softening of prices. “But do not mistake this ‘softening of prices’ as sellers losing money on their investments,” he said. “They’re just making less of a positive return.”
He believes there’ll be a leveling of many price ranges, especially for the $1.2 million and higher properties. “Sellers need to decrease their expectations…but again, they’ll still be making money, just, perhaps, a bit less than hoped for,” Askew said. Homes in the $200,000s to $700,000s will continue to rise at a good pace, he predicted, with homes in the $800,000s to $1.2 million range experiencing an increase, but slightly less than last year’s increases.
There’s good news after all — Intown homeowners can still expect their properties to increase in value. Of course, some locations attract more homebuyers than others, and the growing BeltLine and planned park on the Westside continue to be big draws.
Askew said that properties along the BeltLine continue to be well received. “Decatur, Lake Claire, Candler Park, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Grant Park and Morningside have been — and should continue to be — crowd favorites,” he said. “Midtown, Kirkwood, Adair Park, Ormewood Park and the Westside — especially within close proximity of the old quarry that will soon be home to a large, beautiful park — should be hot for 2019.”
He also believes that for many Intown communities, inventory this year will be greater than what was seen in 2018. The reason is that single-family new construction is increasing, Askew said. Also, sellers who’d been sitting on their homes because they couldn’t find their perfect replacement home up to now, are placing their properties on the market.
“Additionally, there are a ton of cranes filing the Midtown airspace,” Askew said. “As units in newly constructed high-rise buildings become available, we’ll see sellers of units in ‘older’ buildings want to move into the shiny new buildings and, therefore, become more aggressive with offering good values.” And that, he explained, will lead to the rather hot market in the attached home market continuing.
“Neighborhoods around the BeltLine will continue to resonate with buyers, but I also anticipate areas on the Westside to grow in popularity,” said Lisa Johnson. She noted that the up-and-coming neighborhoods of the Westside offer affordability and an endless opportunity to renovate, along with “that great Intown vibe and a location convenient to everything you need.”
The need for townhomes is increasing, Lisa Johnson explained, and pointed to two communities in Druid Hills that she predicts will be hot this year. The first is 1200 Ponce, with 51 distinctive flats and condos at the intersection of Briarcliff Road and Ponce de Leon Avenue.
The other, Sophia, offers 12 flats and 12 townhomes on Briarcliff Road. “The flats are a cool, unique concept and this project is generating a lot of interest, especially now that you can walk in and see it coming to life,” she said.
With the BeltLine’s new Southside Trail on the horizon, “we anticipate a surge in activity and interest in the south Atlanta neighborhoods adjacent to the trail, similar to the wave of development Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods are experiencing,” Burell said. He noted that there’s already healthy activity occurring in some historic neighborhoods, like West End, Adair Park, Pittsburgh and areas around the future Westend Reservoir Park.
“Many home renovators are already bringing newly renovated properties online in these neighborhoods,” he said. “I also believe Summerhill will be a neighborhood to continue to watch in 2019.”
Georgia State University is continuing their projects in the area and private development is starting to take shape as well, he said. He predicts that this neighborhood will be a vital piece, joining the historic neighborhoods of Grant Park and East Atlanta with neighborhoods like Pittsburgh and Adair Park.
Burell also expects more townhome projects to develop in both the east and west Intown neighborhoods. “This product seems to meet consumer needs and is oftentimes the highest and best use of land for Intown neighborhoods,” he said. “I also believe you will begin to see more single-family homes being built in some of our Intown neighborhoods both south and west of downtown Atlanta.”
Leslie Johnson foresees BeltLine neighborhoods continuing to develop along with BeltLine progress, not only because it’s a desirable park amenity, but it’s also taking shape as a real transportation alternative. “Transit plans are solidifying for the BeltLine, and there is a funding source,” he said. “People realize that the BeltLine will be an important option as the city becomes more dense.”
He also predicted that historic home renovation and increasing home values will continue in neighborhoods further south and west, such as Grant Park to the south and eventually Grove Park to the west. “Over the next few years we’ll see these neighborhoods becoming luxury markets,” he said, “because they have the same fundamentals as Ansley Park, Morningside and Virginia Highland: historic housing stock and good street layout.”
While the beginning of 2018 saw hot demand for condos, it has slowed a bit, probably due to the rise in interest rates last fall, Leslie Johnson reported. “There is some new condo inventory under construction, and we may see some apartment buildings convert to condos in 2019,” he added, noting that an increase in inventory will provide more options and reduce the pressure on buyers.
Levin anticipates Glenwood Park, Edgewood, West End and Cabbagetown to be the up-and-coming neighborhoods. While the single-family bungalow and cottages were the properties most in demand last year, “we sell a large volume of condos in the in-town market and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon,” she said. In fact, she believes luxury high-rises with rare air concierge services like Opus will be the product in demand in 2019.
Burell predicts a bright future. “Atlanta continues to attract companies to the metro area,” he said. “As those companies move their employees here and current companies expand their staffing, we’ll continue to see an increase in population.”
With the increase in population, there’s an increase in the need for housing, he explained. “Even with pockets of increased home availability, overall demand continues to outpace inventory, keeping most Intown neighborhoods firmly in a sellers’ market,” Burell said.
Levin agreed. “The market is normalizing which will free up some inventory.” But sellers shouldn’t worry, because, as she said, “Great homes in great locations will always appreciate!”