Posts Tagged ‘atlanta business chronicle’

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Sustainable Homes No Longer Seen As Just A Fad

August 25, 2010

Carson Matthews, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

While Atlanta’s housing market remains stuck in low gear, the trend toward certified green or “sustainable” homes has been growing.

More builders are adopting sustainable practices and more buyers are weighing the economic benefit of paying a little extra up front for a house featuring environmentally sound design, construction standards and materials.

“Even if the economy had not gone sour, people are looking at sustainable practices and materials, not just for housing, but for the entire neighborhood,” said Sibet Freides, president of Idea Associates Inc., a marketing and consulting firm with a real estate development focus. Idea Associates clients include Reynolds Signature Communities, The Settings Development Companies LLC and Urban Land Institute.

“You might have some builders who have been in the industry for a long time who are thinking this is a passing fad, but people have bought into the concept of sustainability,” Freides said. “Younger buyers have now come to expect it and I don’t think the industry, as a whole, thinks it’s a fad anymore.”

According to a report by Carson Matthews, a Realtor with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, in the first quarter of 2010, green homes comprised 8.4 percent of the new homes on the market, which compares consistently with the 2009 total of 8.5 percent,

Matthews is a certified EcoBroker and the author of a blog, www.GreenToTheScene.com, which delivers news about green residential building in Atlanta.

In April, Matthews launched the Green MLS Toolkit, a resource that can be used by any Multiple Listing Service to track green activity.

In the first three months of 2010, Matthews reported that the median selling price of a certified green home was $494,000, which is 133.5 percent higher than a conventional new construction home; however, the report shows green homes are fetching more at closing.

“In the first quarter, green houses sold at 98 percent of list, whereas standard new construction homes sold at 92.5 percent,” Matthews said. “In the custom home market, that percentage is much higher.”

“Green building is here to stay,” said Les Stumpff, president of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association (GAHBA) and regional manager for Texas-based Standard Renewable Energy, which provides energy audits for homeowners, businesses and government entities.

“There is a growing awareness of how much energy and water and, therefore, money can be saved by owning a home built to some level of green-building standards,” Stumpff said.

Other benefits, such as better indoor air quality and overall comfort, will increasingly propel demand for green homes.

“The housing recession has made it more difficult to adopt building standards that increase new home prices, but builders who were building green in good times will continue to build green as housing starts return,” Stumpff said.

Although they cost a little more, the formula for building green houses is not very complicated, said Matt Hoots, founder and CEO of The Hoots Group Inc., a full-service green contractor, and co-chair of the GAHBA Green Building Council.

Together with the GAHBA, Hoots helped develop the EarthCraft House residential green-building program in partnership with Southface Energy Institute, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable homes.

“You start with a good design,” Hoots said. “You can save 30 [percent] to 40 percent in operating costs right there.”

Every aspect of the design is critical, from sighting the house on the lot to putting windows in the best location to ease the load on the HVAC system and limit the cost of blinds.

“If you only build to the standard energy-efficiency code, you’re almost building an EarthCraft-certified house,” Hoots said. “Unfortunately, a lot of builders build around the code or to barely meet code.”

As materials, utility and appliance manufacturers jump on the sustainable bandwagon, the expense gap between building green and building traditional housing is diminishing — resulting in more reasonable pricing for higher- performing homes, experts say.

Currently, Freides’ clients are building two new showcase green homes, one in The Settings of West Point Lake near LaGrange, and one at Achasta, a golf community near Dahlonega. Both houses are being built by Johnna Barrett of SUSTAIN house, the residential division of Atlanta-based architecture and interior design firm Barrett Design Inc.

“We started with a budget and we’re learning that it doesn’t have to cost that much more to build green,” Freides said.

Among other products, the green houses incorporate a radiant barrier sheathing that reportedly reduces monthly air conditioning bills by 17 percent, green bedding products, and tile and wood components made from recycled materials.

“A lot of this stuff is common sense and people need to be educated about the products and building practices that are available,” Freides said.
Read more: Sustainable homes no longer seen as just a fad – Atlanta Business Chronicle

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St. Regis obtains new financing

July 29, 2010
Jenny Pruitt, CEO and Founder

Jenny Pruitt, CEO and Founder

From Atlanta Business Chronicle

 The developers of the St. Regis Atlanta have obtained new financing from blue chip investment bank Morgan Stanley, a rare sign of confidence in Atlanta’s commercial real estate market.

 The deal replaces $176.5 million in financing from Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Holdings. The loan was originated in October 2006 to develop the St. Regis Atlanta, the 16th hotel for the historic chain, which was founded by John Jacob Astor in New York City.

The debt that financed the construction of the St. Regis Atlanta would have come due in October, according to Databank Inc., a firm that tracks real estate transactions in Atlanta.

 The development team behind the St. Regis declined to discuss the Morgan Stanley deal, but partner Kent Levenson said the original debt secured by the 26-story building involved “extremely complex financial structures.”

 The new financing involves an undisclosed investment of new equity into the St. Regis, which includes 53 high-end homes and 151 hotel rooms overlooking West Paces Ferry Road, near the intersection with Peachtree Road.

 The deal was struck despite deep problems facing the country’s luxury residential and hotel sectors amid a slow recovery from the Great Recession.

 Developers have seen real estate prices collapse since the peak, putting their buildings under water. At the same time, much of that financing is coming due amid a much stricter lending climate, forcing borrowers to put significant equity into their projects to refinance, or risk seeing those properties go back to the banks.

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Atlanta home prices up 4% in May (Natalie Ransom)

July 19, 2010
Natalie Ransom, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

Natalie Ransom, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

From Atlanta Business Chronicle

For the second month in a row, home prices in metro Atlanta increased.

CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX) on Tuesday published its Home Price Index (HPI), which shows home prices, including distressed sales, in metro Atlanta rose 4.03 percent in May 2010 compared to May 2009. This compares to April’s year-over-year HPI, which was 1.11 percent.

Home prices in the United States also rose in May, marking the fourth-consecutive month with a national increase. American home prices, including distressed sales, increased 2.9 percent.

The top five states with the highest appreciation in May were Vermont (5.1 percent), Rhode Island (5.5 percent), Massachusetts (5.7 percent), Virginia (6.8 percent), and California (7.9 percent).

The five state with the biggest price losses were Idaho (-6.6 percent), Alabama (-5.3 percent), New Mexico (-4.2 percent), Maryland (-3.1 percent) and Wyoming (-3.1 percent).

“Home price appreciation stabilized as homebuyer tax credit driven sales peaked in late spring,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, in a statement. “But given that the labor market and income growth remain tepid we expect prices to moderate and possibly decline the rest of the year.”

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Braves remain America’s third-fave team

July 14, 2010

 Taken from Atlanta Business Chronicle

Brenda Hamstead, North Atlanta, REALTOR®

Brenda Hamstead, North Atlanta, REALTOR®

America is the home of the Braves… and Yankees and Red Sox.

According to a new poll from Harris Interactive, the Atlanta Braves are the nation’s third favorite team in 2010, behind only the No. 1 New York Yankees and No. 2 Boston Red Sox.

The Braves were the nation’s favorite team in 1999 and has spent every year since fluctuating as either the second favorite or third favorite. The team was the third favorite last year.

Rounding out the top 10 after Atlanta are the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals.

Some 36 percent of Americans say they follow Major League Baseball, down from last year when 41 percent said they followed baseball and 40 percent said so in 2008, Harris Interactive said. Men are more likely to do so than women (46 percent versus 27 percent). Also African-Americans are more likely to be followers of the sport, compared to both Whites and Hispanics (41 percent versus 36 percent and 34 percent).

There is also a regional divide, as almost half of Easterners (48 percent) say they follow baseball, compared to 34 percent of Westerners and 29 percent of Southerners.

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Atlanta is 9th Best City for Young Professionals (Jay Bailey)

June 29, 2010
Jay Bailey, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

Jay Bailey, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

Metro Atlanta is the ninth-best American city for young professionals, according to Forbes.com.

Forbes created its rankings based on factors such as cost of living, the number of large companies an area is home to, the number of elite graduates the city has, the city’s average income and the city’s unemployment levels.

Here’s how Atlanta fared:

Cost of Living rank — 16
Large Companies rank — 9
Elite Graduates rank — 10
Average Income rank –18
Unemployment rank — 29
The top 10 cities for young professionals, in order, are Houston, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis- St. Paul, New York, Boston, Dallas, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta and Austin.

From Atlanta Business Chronicle

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Atlanta economy still among strongest (Brenda Hamstead)

June 11, 2010

Submitted by Brenda Hamstead; extracted from the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Brenda Hamstead, North Atlanta Office, REALTOR®

Brenda Hamstead, North Atlanta Office, REALTOR®

Metro Atlanta has the 18th strongest economy in the United States, according to a study released Wednesday by Policom Corp.

The top 10 are Seattle; Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria; Denver; Houston; Sacramento, Calif.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Des Moines, Iowa; San Diego; Madison, Wis.; and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington.

So what constitutes a top area in terms of economics?

“The top rated areas have had rapid, consistent growth in both size and quality for an extended period of time,” said William Fruth, president of Palm City, Fla.-based Policom. “The rankings do not reflect the latest ‘hotspot’ or boom town, but the areas which have the best economic foundation. While most communities have slowed or declined during this recession, the strongest areas have been able to weather the storm.”

The study focused on 366 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta. The firm considers a metropolitan area to be at least one urbanized geographic location that has a population of 50,000 or more persons.

To determine how these areas are performing, Policom measures 23 different economic factors.

The data company followed 20 years of data covering 23 economic factors to create the rankings. The most recent study focused on a 19-year period stretching from 1989 to 2008.

Policom is an independent research firm that focuses on economics and specializes in analyzing local and state economies

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Existing home sales jump 7.6% (Natalie Ransom)

May 25, 2010

Taken from the Atlanta Business Chronicle

Natalie Ransom, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

Natalie Ransom, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

Sales of existing homes in April were up 7.6 percent in March, led not only by the homebuyer tax credit, but by improving consumer confidence and favorable affordability conditions, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Compared to a year ago, existing home sales were up 22.8 percent.

In the NAR’s South region, which includes Georgia, existing home sales increased 8.6 percent and were up 23 percent from a year earlier. The median price in the region was up 1.2 percent to $150,000.

“The upswing in April existing-home sales was expected because of the tax credit inducement, and no doubt there will be some temporary fallback in the months immediately after it expires, bit other factors are supporting the market, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “For people who were on the sidelines, there’s been a return of buyer confidence with stabilizing home prices, an improving economy and mortgage interest rates that remain historically low.”

While sales rose sharply nationally, the number of homes on the market also rose, with total housing inventory at the end of April up 11.5 percent.

The NAR also notes rising prices, saying median existing home prices were up 4 percent from April 2009. Foreclosures and other distressed sales accounted for 33 percent of sales in April.

The biggest jump in April prices was for condos and co-ops, up 9.1 percent from the previous month, according to the NAR.

The biggest month-over-month increase in sales regionally was in the Northeast, surging 21.1 percent.