IS THE HOTTEST Spring housing market season in recent history expected for 2021? It’s certainly Atlanta’s peak real estate season, says Shanna Bradley, a real estate agent with Ansley Atlanta who notes that Atlantans consider their homes more marketable “when the flowers are blooming and it’s green outside.” Here, Bradley weighs in on current market conditions.
Curb appeal Outdoor amenities continue to be a top selling point, a holdover from the pandemic keeping families at home. “Everyone wants a pool right now, at all different price points,” says Bradley. “Pool houses and guesthouses are nice to have because people want space for their family to visit.” Other outdoor spaces and activities like built-in firepits and sports courts also boost appeal. While finding space for those amenities is nice, having them on-site is better. “Pool companies have a backlog with waiting lists, and the permitting process can take awhile,” notes Bradley.
Demand drivers In addition to outdoor living spaces, homebuyers are looking for “flex” areas and gourmet kitchens. “People are still working from home and some kids are going to school virtually,” explains Bradley. “I think people will continue to need those spaces in the future.” She adds that kitchens, which are always a key selling point, have become even more important. “People are cooking at home even more, and they want those high-end appliances, nice finishes and big islands. Walk-in and butler’s pantries for storage are huge as well.”
Inventory forecast Atlanta’s real estate boom is driven, in part, by out-of-towners drawn by Georgia’s affordable cost of living and temperate climate. “We’ve had a 50 percent uptick in people relocating to Atlanta, year over year,” says Bradley. As of January, metro Atlanta had just 1.6 months of inventory (a balanced market is six months). While she doesn’t expect prices to dip anytime soon, buoyed by low interest rates, she expects the market to stabilize. “Sellers will try to get higher prices because of the low inventory levels, but buyers are pretty realistic about what they’ll pay for a house,” she says.
Sales prep Contractors are in high demand. “People are at home more, so they’re noticing more of what needs to be done,” says Bradley. For would-be sellers, she recommends planning for twice as much lead time to get on a trusted vendor’s calendar. She encourages sales clients to plan for the standard fresh paint and maintenance, going heavy on landscaping upgrades and staging “flex” spaces with desks to show versatility.
Tech savvy Since the advent of online home searches, technology has played a key role in real estate marketing. Professional photography has been joined by video tours, virtual reality, detailed layout plans and more. COVID-19 has made some buyers more cautious, so it’s not uncommon for Bradley to give them a FaceTime tour first and, if the property resonates, schedule in-person viewing. “I used to do that for out-of-town buyers, but now I do it for local buyers too.”