Posts Tagged ‘State of the Real Estate market’

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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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REALTOR® and Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty agent Suzanne Close quoted in AJC article

May 25, 2010

Taken from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Finding the right location, price and size all in one package can be rewarding for a home buyer.

If one of those elements is missing however, the experience can be equally agonizing for a home seller.

Geoffrey and Brenda Smith have been trying to move their two-bedroom, one-bathroom Mountain Park home off and on for two years. They had no idea it would take so long to sell the home.

“The saving grace for us right now is that we have a fantastic renter in there right now,” Geoffrey Smith said. “It is a little frustrating, but having the renter does take the edge off.”

Even with historically low sale prices, there are still some properties that remain harder to sell than others, regardless of price, veteran agents say. And there are challenging properties on the extreme opposite end of the size spectrum, as well.

“The one-bedroom home is hard to sell in any economy and any market,” said Jill Huitron, an agent for Harry Norman Realtors.

Huitron has a one-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath home in Marietta listed for $53,000. The home, which was originally listed for $83,500 in April 2009, hasn’t attracted much traffic.

“I thought surely this last price cut would bring more interest, but it hasn’t,” she said. “Right now it is almost like price doesn’t matter.”

But price does matter, countered Brenda Allred, managing broker for Crye Leike Realtors in the Smyrna/Vinings neighborhood.

“It is all about price,” she said. “The question is, has the price gone low enough to sell?”

Median homes sale prices have fallen in the first few months of 2010, when compared with the same period in 2009, according to reports from the National Association of Realtors. For the first three months of the year, metro Atlanta’s median home sales prices ranked 124th out of 152 metro areas across the country, according to the NAR’s latest quarterly report.

An average of 25,000 homes were for sale in metro Atlanta during the first three months of the year. Those homes averaged 122 continuous days on the market, according to data from Prudential Georgia Realty.

But those days lingering on the market can be considerably longer for cottages and castles, Allred said

“Some mansions can easily be on the market for well over a year,” she said. “The same goes for small homes, unless the property’s price is that magic number. But the trick is only the buyer knows that number.”

Smith hopes $214,000 is the magic number for his Mountain Park home.

“It is a steal at that price,” he said

With only one bathroom, the home is a hard sell, even in a desirable community, said Smith’s listing agent, Suzanne Close, an agent with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty.

“The air is really thin on both ends of the spectrum right now,” said Close, who should know. She is also the listing agent on Dean Gardens, a 58-acre estate in north Fulton County and priced at $13.9 million.

Dean Gardens has been on and off the market for better than 15 years and has never sold. The asking price for the estate, which includes an eight-bedroom pink mansion, 18-hole golf course and wedding chapel, has been as high as $40 million, but it has been drastically reduced, Close said.

“For an estate this size, the pool of potential buyers is international, but it is also very small because you need a buyer who wants all of this space,” she said. “The same with my Mountain Park listing. The pool is likely local but very small because you need a buyer who will be OK with a one-bathroom home.”

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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.


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It’s a pleasure to do business in Atlanta, and pretty cheap too!

May 24, 2010

From Atlanta Real Estate Forum.com

Atlanta is the crown jewel of the Southeast. It’s a vibrant city full of lovely people, and now it is being recognized as a bargain city to do business in.

The KPMG Competitive Alternatives study ranks Atlanta as second on the list of most cost-competitive cities. Atlanta’s cost index is 96.3, which is about 4% less than the national average. The ranking was based on the city’s competitive operating costs in office leasing, transportation, labor, employee benefits and a favorable corporate tax rate.

The entire study measured 26 cost components such as labor, taxes, utilities and real estate, applied to 17 different industries. The study also examined many non-cost competitive factors. The study ranks the following 10 cities as the most inexpensive, in order beginning with the least:

  1. Tampa
  2. Atlanta
  3. Miami
  4. Baltimore
  5. Dallas
  6. St. Louis
  7. Houston
  8. Phoenix
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Detroit

The most expensive cities in the study were Los Angeles, New York and San Fransisco. In addition to being one of the most cost-effective cities to do business in, Atlanta is also one of the most affordable cities for real estate.

Our wide and varied topography makes this state perfect for local builders to flourish and stand out. It also gives home buyers their choice of home designs, styles and layouts. If you’re looking for cookie-cutter neighborhoods with never-ending rows of similar looking houses, this is not the city for you. However, if unique homes with charm and character, small builders who not only know your name, but the names of your children and future dog and southern charm and sophistication appeal to you, then Atlanta is the perfect city for you to call home.

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More Good News for Atlanta… (Jay Bailey)

May 14, 2010
Jay Bailey,Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

Jay Bailey,Buckhead 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.

 Policomis an independent research firm that focuses on economics and specializes in analyzing local and state economies.

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Existing Home Sales Rise 3.6%

July 23, 2009
David Boehmig, President/Founder

David Boehmig, President/Founder

Submitted by David Boehmig, President/Founder Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty

Americans are finding it a little easier to sell a home these days. The National Association of Realtors reports that existing home sales rose 3.6% in June to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.9 million homes. That’s up from a 4.7 million rate in May.

The association cited tax credits for new homebuyers and low interest rates. The rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 5.42 percent in June from 4.86 percent in May; but that was still down from 6.32 percent in June 2008. An NAR survey in June showed first-time buyers accounted for 29 percent of transactions.

Total housing inventory at the end of June fell 0.7 percent to 3.82 million homes, which represents a 9.4-month supply at the current sales pace. That’s down from a 9.8-month supply in May. The total inventory is 14.9 percent below a year ago.

“The increase in existing-home sales occurred in all major regions of the country,” the association’s chief economist Lawrence Yun said. “This is another hopeful sign – if we can keep the volume of sales above the level of new inventory, prices could stabilize in many areas around the end of the year.”

The stock market thought so too. It is up today.

For the entire story, from Business Week, please click here.

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Buckhead Market Stats March 2009

April 10, 2009

For all single family homes in all price ranges Buckhead (Atlanta, Georgia) during March 2009:

The average sold price was $758,000.  This is a 28% decrease over March 2008.

The average active listing price was $1,412,000. This is a 4.5% decrease over March 2008.

There were 874 homes for sale (5% increase over March 2008 ).

30 homes sold and 40 homes went under contract.  One year ago, 64 homes sold (53% decline) and 65 homes went under contract (39% decline).

For single family homes over $1 million:

The average sold price was $1,529,000 (down 23% over March 2008 ).

The average listing price was $2,342,000 (up 1.8% over March 2008 ).

There were 397 homes for sale (14% decline over March 2008 ).

6 homes sold and 8 homes went under contract. One year ago, 23 homes sold (74% decline) and 19 went under contract (58% decline).

Information provided by Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty with the Source: Trendgraphix.