Atlanta Still is one of the Most Affordable Cities

We’re blessed in many ways living in Atlanta and one of the most important is affordable housing.   More and more we’re seeing the increased demand in urban areas pushing up prices beyond the reach of the middle class.  But in Atlanta we’re still very affordable.  For comparison


In Atlanta the median income is $55,000 and that income would qualify you for nearly 3 out of 4 houses currently on the market.  That’s much cheaper than San Francisco or Denver.  In fact it puts us at the most affordable range.  It’s one more reason real estate is still a great value in Atlanta.   I got this info from the always great ‘Trulia Trends’ and if you want to read the full article you can check it out here.

Can Atlanta Go All in on the Beltline?

EastsideTrail You know we’re big fans of the Beltline at ‘homesinatlanta’ and we’re big fans of Atlantic Cities.  Here’s a new article from Atlanta’s own Rebecca Burns about the Beltline and it touches on some great points so we thought we’d share it with you here.  One pararagraph for us really stood out explaining the popularity of the Beltline and The Eastside Trail….

       “This year the Eastside Trail will attract a million visitors, the same number who come to the Georgia Aquarium. On weekends, the trail is so crowded that local media outlets have published etiquette tips and user guides. People drive in from the suburbs to walk the Eastside Trail. You can order a fancy $13 BeltLine Burger or rent a two-wheeler from Atlanta Beltline Bicycle. “BeltLine” is plastered across for-sale signs in the yards of aging bungalows and on banners promoting new apartment buildings. Over the past six months, townhouses sprouted like mushrooms along the Eastside Trail.”

Check out the entire article here.

Millennials want Walkability and Cities are trying to Provide it

We’ve talked in the past about how important it is for cities to re-engineer for more and better walkable neighborhoods.  This is a trend that’s emerged from retirees and millennials demands.  Now there’s a new study out once again reinforcing that the young generation really values a lifestyle that is less dependent on the car.  And a great accompanying article from Atlantic Cities.  From the article:

They found that 54 percent of Millennials surveyed would consider moving to another city if it had more or better options for getting around, and 66 percent said access to high quality transportation is one of the top three criteria they would weigh when deciding where to live. Nearly half of those who owned a car said they would consider giving it up if they could count on public transportation options. Up to 86 percent said it was important for their city to offer opportunities to live and work without relying on a car.

We’re keeping a close eye on this trend and particularly how Atlanta is preparing for this and which of our neighborhoods will benefit from this.


Peoplestown Real Estate Market Update – Homes Sold in 2013 vs 2012

In 2012 there were 47 homes sold in Peoplestown. In 2013 that increased to 52. 2012’s avg price was $91,000, a number heavily influenced by the fact 17 of those sales were for under $50,000. In 2013 the average sale price here increased to $102,000 and only 11 sales were under $50,000. In 2012 homes in Peoplestown sat on the market an average of 190 days but this past year that number dropped to only 83 days. Pretty significant improvement across the board.  The most surprising number here is that more homes sold in 2013 vs 2012.  That is a pleasantly surprising number since there were fewer homes on the market in 2013.  Click on the links to see specifics about each year.

2012 Peoplestown Sales – PDF

2013 Peoplestown Sales – PDF

So if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Southeast Atlanta, whether it’s Peolestown, Grant Park, Cabbagetown, Summerhill or wherever give us a call today!  You need a local expert.


SW Atlanta Beltline Gets a Tiger V Grant (Update)

Beltline    If you’re a regular reader of this blog (if not, you’ve wasted your life) then you know we’re big believers in the value of SouthWest Atlanta.  It’s close to downtown and many of the neighborhoods have a great inventory of Craftsman Bungalows.  And it’s super cheap over there.  Now comes news that the SW portion of the Beltline is beginning construction and should be completed next year.  This is due to an $18 million dollar Tiger V grant. It’s a huge positive development for this area because there aren’t the types of businesses in the area that can help with private money like the Eastside Trail.    You can read all the details here at the Beltline site.

UPDATE:  More good news is that this grant will allow the Beltline to go ahead and be completed all the way to University Avenue!

UPDATE 2:  Well gentle reader, Nicole Knox who works in media relations for the Beltline reached out to us to let us know we had erred in our writing.  We said the SW section would be completed in one year but the actual completion time is expected to be 3 years.  HomesInAtlanta thanks the Beltline for the information and thanks for all the great work you guys are doing.

Bam! Just Like that Mortgage Rates are Back Down

Mortgage rates dropped to levels not seen since June this week.  The government re-start and a weak jobs report means the Fed will keep pumping money into the economy and this should keep interest rates low.  Fear of rising interest rates pushed people into buying mode in the Spring but then as they inched up we saw demand slow in August and September.  The shutdown hurt demand as well as buyers decided to take a wait-and-see approach.  Now with the dust settled for the moment in Washington and lower rates coming we’re already seeing business pick up.

The rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.13 percent this week, down from last week’s 4.28 percent and the 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.24 percent, down from 3.33 percent last week.

Thinking if buying or selling?  Then you need to be talking to your agent to find out what your best strategy should be in this quickly changing market.  Give us a call or shoot us an email and we’ll be happy to help you out.

If you’d like more info on rates then check out this article from USA Today.

Will New Loan Limits Affect Atlanta’s Real Estate Market?

     Government officials are reviewing reducing loan limits for conforming mortgages, a change which could affect Atlanta.  From a report from NAR;

In early September, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the entity that oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, gave notice that it would revise the conforming loans limits in an attempt to stimulate the private sector, specifically the private mortgage securitization (PLS) market. Though any reduction in the loan limits is expected to be relatively modest, it could have more far reaching impacts at the local level and for the affected borrowers.

Each year, the FHFA adjusts the national conforming loan limit which defines the space within which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can finance mortgage. The national limit is $417,000, but that varies by county and can increase to $625,500 in high cost markets. The FHA’s limits, which range from $261,050 to $725,750, are based off of the conforming limit so the FHFA’s actions would impact FHA borrowers as well.

NAR Research estimates that if the national conforming limit were lowered to $400,000, roughly 145,000 total conforming mortgages and 49,000 conforming purchase mortgages would have been impacted in 2012 [1]. If the FHA limits were also revised, the impact would be larger by roughly 15,000 and 7,000 borrowers, respectively. The total number was inflated due to the refinance boom in 2012. However, strong price growth in 2013 has likely pushed more home buyers toward the conforming limits. Most estimates have the impacted volume at roughly 2-5% nationally.


While the estimate of the national impact may appear relatively small, the change could have a significant effect at the local level. As depicted in the map below, the impact goes beyond the high priced markets on the coasts and would affect some smaller communities in the Midwest and South. Furthermore, several of the markets in the top 25 most impacted are in formerly distressed areas (e.g. Atlanta, Sacramento, Riverside-San Bernadine, Oakland, Tampa, and Phoenix). These are areas where FICO scores declined in recent years as a result of the economic and housing downturn and where investors have played an important role in their recovery. As prices rise and rent growth flattens, investors will pull back and it is not clear that the PLS industry is currently ready to provide financing for the nascent volume of home buyers needed to fill the void. Some private mortgage insurers recently announced willingness to underwrite mortgages with FICOs between 620 and 680. It will be particularly interesting and instructive to see how lenders respond to this change. But requirements at jumbo lenders and PLS remain significantly higher with minimum FICO scores above 720, down payments of 20% or more, and cash reserves of nine months or more. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the FHA have new programs to help borrowers in these distressed areas, but they are less potent if reduced limits disqualify borrowers.

Beyond the distressed areas, borrowers pushed into the non-conforming space or from FHA to convention-conforming market may not have the same access to credit due to higher FICO, down payment, and reserve requirements. Since mortgage rates are already at parity or better in the jumbo space and part of the conforming-conventional, if a borrower had sufficient credit quality, the down payment, and the reserve requirements they likely would have already migrated to the private sector. Similarly, the FHA has been underpriced by the private MIs at the middle and upper price echelons since the fall of 2012. Lowering the limits could create a binding equity or credit constraint for the remaining borrowers in this space.

Finally, it isn’t clear that lowering the limits will stimulate the PLS market. There are still a number of issues hindering the PLS market including representation and warrants risk, the unfinished QRM rule, concerns about the implementation and ramifications of the qualified mortgage (QM) rule, secondary market reform and lingering negative investor sentiment. Nor is it clear that bank portfolios will expand to sustain these borrowers. The FHFA might accomplish its goal of expanding the private sector’s market share, but this feat would be accomplished by reducing the total number of borrowers, not by pushing borrowers into the private space.

Though well intended, a reduction in loan limits could crowd out many otherwise qualified and sustainable borrowers. There may be a time when the PLS sector is ready, but it isn’t clear that PLS issuers are ready to take up the baton of borrowers impacted by lowering the limits.

[1] Based on analysis of 2012 HMDA dataset

$2 Million Under Budget and on Time, it’s the Atlanta Streetcar

streetcar    According to a recent update from Atlanta Streetcar’s executive director, Tim Borchers, the streetcar is now on schedule for completion this Spring.  And to encourage people to give it a try they’re going to let you ride for free for the for the first 3 months.  How about them apples!  There were some early unexpected delays but the project is now on time AND is coming in $2 million under budget.  The streetcar loop is about 3 miles long and will travel between Centennial Park and the King Historic District.  This should really help the businesses on Auburn Avenue and Edgewood Avenue to thrive.  We’re excited about this new development.  Bring on that Beltline rail.

Woodstock Gets a Shout Out from CNBC on Walkability

woodstock       Here at homesinatlanta we love to babble incessantly about walkable neighborhoods.  Why?  Because this is the future of real estate.  We like to focus on the Intown market and all the great areas like Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward and projects like the Beltline and the Downtown Streetcar.  But walking neighborhoods aren’t just for urban Atlanta.  We’ve talked about Dunwoody making strides and the success of town centers/squares in Marietta and Lawrenceville.  Now Woodstock is getting noticed for it’s efforts to create a walkable center for it’s town.  Woodstock’s leaders back in 2002 had some amazing foresight and applied for a grant to change traffic patterns and build bulb outs to aid pedestrians and control automobile traffic in the square.  And it’s worked.  Instead of having a decaying town center Woodstock has been thriving.  And now CNBC has noticed Woodstock’s accomplishments. You can read the fantastic story here.

I have to admit I wasn’t aware of what Woodstock had done.  I’m impressed with city leaders spotting this trend early and doing the things that will help Woodstock succeed for years to come.  Good job!

A Little More Info on Atlanta’s Walkability

leinberger          We read Chris Leinberger’s and the ARC’s report on where development is happening in Atlanta now.  Leinberger has studied Atlanta’s real estate market for years.  We wrote about the study recently here.   One of the surprising facts is how much development  is happening in what Leinberger rates as ‘walkable’ neighborhoods.  His study showed that 60% of all development since 2008 had taken place in walkable neighborhoods.  We found this really surprising.  We’ve written extensively how a new urbanism is causing people to move to more urban areas and how those same people were willing to pay significant premiums to live in these neighborhoods.

But we dug further into the study and it’s even more surprising.  When we look at the neighborhoods that were considered walkable, they are only a small portion of the Atlanta area.  In fact if you add up all the area that these walkable neighborhoods include they only add up to about 1% of all the area of Atlanta!  That’s an amazing statistic and it has huge implications for our city and for you.  If you’re thinking of buying you need to be considering walkable of future walkable areas.  It could have a tremendous impact on future value.

While it’s not perfect this site, Walkscore , is a good way to rate neighborhoods that you’re not familiar with.  And stay tuned as we’re still researching this report and we’ll have more on it.  Need more info?  Give us a call today or shoot us an email. We’d love to help.