Burning Questions

Are historic houses more likely to sit on the market?

Not so long ago, buying a house in Atlanta meant mostly hewing to tradition, but with the city’s explosive growth in recent years, and with an influx of residents with different tastes, the Metro housing market has increasingly become architecturally diverse. “In years past, we mostly had traditional homes and traditional buyers, but as the demographic of our great city is changing, we have buyers for different types of houses,” says realtor Betsy Akers of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, who specializes in luxury properties, including some of Buckhead’s most esteemed historical residences. With so many currently popular architectural styles now represented, historical homes are no longer as front and center as they used to be. And unless they have been modified, they also typically lack the kind of floor plan that many buyers are looking for, says Akers. “The open floor plan concept is more popular, and traditional homes don’t have that. These houses were built in the day when people ate in the dining room and did not live in the kitchen.” But despite the challenges, Akers emphasizes that historical houses remain highly desirable, particularly among European buyers and those with classical leanings, thanks to their often solid construction and handcrafted, charming details.

Are celebrity cribs going for millions over asking price indicative of the real estate market or celebrity status?

A few high-profile Atlanta residences have sold over the past year, including the homes of Mariah Carey and Melissa McCarthy, but it was the sale of Elton John’s Park Place condo for over $2 million above asking price that led some to wonder if the condo’s celebrity status may have played a role in boosting the final price. “In my opinion, that condo was a unique product. It was 13,000 square feet in the sky,” says realtor Troy Stowe of The Stowe Group, Ansley Real Estate, who was not involved in the sale. With a clientele that includes athletes, musicians, and other individuals with high net worth, Stowe has deep experience selling homes owned by celebrities. “A celebrity connection does not necessarily help to sell a house,” says Stowe, adding that in Atlanta, celebrity homes are generally priced according to the home’s features and what the market will bear—not the owner’s prominence. What a home’s celebrity connection does affect is how Stowe markets the listing, with maintaining the client’s privacy being a top priority. “My guard has to be up more when selling these properties. I have to thoroughly vet potential buyers, because you get people coming out of the woodwork.”

Do Showhouses retain their value?

  • Home for the Holidays and Southeastern Designer Showhouses have proven to be good investments for their buyers. A sampling of houses from the last six years shows the following:
  • 67% of Home for the Holidays showhouses and 75% of Southeastern Designer Showhouses have increased in value
  • The highest estimated value of a former showhouse currently sits at $6,092,800
  • AH&L showhouses average 8,042-square-feet with an average of $665-per-foot
  • In line with many Buckhead residences, 100% of AH&L Showhouses have an estimated value over $3 million