Toni Itkin: Atlanta Is Growing Steadily Into A Sought-After Destination

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Atlanta is booming. It is that conspicuous. The growth of the metropolis is so steady and promising, that the city has recently claimed the title of “Capital of the South.” It all started, some urban experts claim, with Delta, the airline company headquartered in Atlanta that transformed it into an international transportation hub. Then, the rap genre swept the city, putting it on the map of the music world. Today, Atlanta is also luring in the heavyweights of Hollywood, providing a picturesque setting not only for movies, but also offering high-end homes to actors and producers.

Haute Residence spoke to Toni Itkin, an Atlanta-based real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, about the city and its coveted neighborhoods and the real estate trends that have come to define them this past year.

With Haute Residence, you exclusively represent the high-end markets in Sandy Springs, East Cobb and Vinings. How have they compared this year to the larger Atlanta market in terms of real estate trends?

All three areas – Sandy Springs, East Cobb and Vinings – are thriving. These properties tend to be less in price than the Buckhead area and offer, in general, a better value in terms of schools, proximity to highways and much lower taxes, particularly East Cobb and Vinings, about half the taxes of what one would pay in Buckhead.

A landmark sale in East Cobb this summer was one of my listings originally priced at $5,000,000. If this property were located in Buckhead, the taxes would have been $100,000. But due to the lower tax structure, and quite frankly, a more organized county administration, my listing had only a $45,000 tax bill! I procured the buyer myself who was thrilled with the purchase and the lower taxes clinched the deal. All in all, these areas are still very sought-after and are on par to the larger Atlanta market.

How did prices compare this year to the last couple of years? In some cities like LA, experts are warning of a new real estate bubble. Is this a fear in Atlanta going into 2018?

Prices have inched upwards in the last couple of years. The general metro Atlanta area has always remained a very slow paced, yet consistent growth market compared to the rest of the country. There are no geographic boundaries or natural barriers in Atlanta, so the expansion possibilities are endless, thus creating a largely affordable housing market compared to other cities in the nation. The industry here does not expect any radical changes to this trend and no fear of a bubble is being discussed.

What have been some of the most sought-after types of homes this year?

Some of the most sought-after types of homes this year are definitely new construction. There has been a pent-up demand for this, but because of the fact that there is no vacant land to speak of in my areas, there have been a lot of tear-towns of older homes. Either builders are doing this for spec homes, or individuals are building custom homes on them. Everyone seems to want new, and if it is a resale, it needs to be updated with new kitchen and baths in order to compete.

What is the year-end inventory in the market for 2017 and what does it indicate for the overall health of the market?

Our year-end inventory is varied. In general, homes under $500,000 get snapped up quickly and there is very little inventory. Case Shiller reports that the Atlanta market has 17 months inventory for properties over $1 million and 35 months for those above $2 million. Thus, the lower the price point, the better the market and buyer pool. That being said, there have been more significant high-end sales in 2017 than ever before.

Some areas see an increase in sales during the holiday season. Is this case for these luxury real estate in Atlanta? 

In Atlanta, we are never quite sure what to expect during the holidays. It’s a great time for out-of-towners who are visiting family to check out the market and quite often end up buying a house here. Also, Atlanta is now attracting the entertainment industry. The tax credits have clearly made an impact, so not only are films being produced here in record numbers, but actors and other talent industry associates are moving here because they see the value of what Atlanta and its’ outlying areas have to offer. It’s a much more affordable option to California, great climate, friendly people, excellent schools – both public and private – easy airport access, beautiful landscaping, the positives are endless!

Has there been any major residential developments in the neighborhoods this year? Which ones are you particularly excited about?

Probably the major residential developments are in the more urban type areas. In the center of Sandy Springs, for instance, new construction has taken place to create unique live-work-play environments. Mercedes Benz relocated their headquarters here recently and has had a major impact on the growth of this area. It’s been quite exciting and it’s super close to our MARTA transit system, which provides easy access to Downtown and the airport. East Cobb is super close to the headquarters location, also, so we have had many executives purchase homes here, again, due to lower taxes and excellent schools.

With Atlanta being one of the cities that experts cite as a possible home to Amazon’s new headquarters, is this having any effect on the real estate market in the city?

The “Amazon” effect is not really tangible as of yet, although Atlanta is apparently one of the two top picks, according to those “in the know”. There is speculation on both sides of the topic as to if this is really a possibility. But, no matter what, we have so many other corporations and individuals moving here that we feel that the market will continue to stay stable and grow. However, should Amazon make Atlanta their new home, we will roll out the red carpet and they will be warmly welcomed!

Toni Itkin is the exclusive agent representing the Vinings/East Cobb/Sandy Springs, Georgia real estate market as a member of the Haute Residence Real Estate Network. View all of her listings here.

Image courtesy of Toni Itkin

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