- Robin Andrade is an Atlanta real-estate agent and says she’s getting up to 60 calls a day.
- Market prices have soared 20% this year as people move to the city for tech jobs and more space.
- This is what Andrade’s job is like right now, as told to writer Elle Hardy.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Robin Andrade, a 50-year-old real-estate broker and the founder of Sell Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m a licensed agent who’s worked in the metro Atlanta area since 2007. The market right now is the “Hunger Games” of real estate.
It’s a seller’s market. I have two phones to keep up with all of the calls I receive, and they’re ringing 30 times a day each.
It’s a fairly even split between buyers and sellers calling me. Some experts say that Atlanta is one of the most overpriced housing markets in the country right now. Prices have surged as much as 20% over the last year, while supply issues mean that the average time on the market has dropped by almost half — from 25 to 14 days.
I survived my first full market crash as a real-estate agent in Atlanta from 2007 to 2008. This real-estate bubble isn’t like that. Back then, it was your lenders taking advantage of people and giving them money when they knew they couldn’t afford repayments. It was as though they knew that these homes would come back on the market and they could buy up four of them. And that’s exactly what happened.
There are a number of reasons why the market is so crazy right now
Buyers and homeowners should be aware that some of their competition could be corporations and hedge funds. They’re putting their money together and buying two or three houses on the same street and holding them for rentals. This is putting upward pressure on prices and demand because there’s not enough out there for ordinary buyers. Buyers are also facing other individual buyers.
We have a lot of people relocating from other places that are much more expensive, such as Los Angeles and Boston. This means there are a lot of buyers who aren’t too familiar with the Atlanta market. That’s causing them to go out and grab whatever’s out there. Naturally, sellers are putting inflated pricing on their property. And once it sells for that, that’s the new comparison price that the market works on.
Atlanta property prices have been on the rise since 2017 when the median sale price was $278,00. It’s currently $424,000. As soon as interest rates plummeted during the pandemic, buyers who were not afraid to jump in have been the real winners. The Fed might be raising interest rates, but inventory is continuing to shrink. Cash buyers are still buying, but lower-income people are being priced out.
To put it all in perspective, the average price for a two-bedroom condo in downtown Atlanta right now is $500,000. In 2014, you would’ve paid $350,000 for it. But in Washington, DC, you’re paying $1 million for the same property today.
A large part of the demand is coming from people relocating to the city.
Atlanta is the home of opportunity, especially for people of color, and is now a hub for tech, so we have a lot of new people in town and younger people trying to enter the market. In my Midtown neighborhood, I’m looking out the window at Georgia Tech University and Google. Microsoft has two buildings nearby, Facebook has moved in, and LinkedIn has expanded. We’re becoming the nation’s biggest tech hub.
While the property market is sizzling here, it’s still more affordable than on the West Coast. Buyers coming from places like California are moving from houses to condos. They aren’t bringing their heavy furniture and they want a lighter, more simple life.
Others coming from places like New York are looking for space. A lot of people are working remotely and now realizing that they don’t have to be stuck there. They can come to a city that’s more vibrant yet on the cutting edge of the tech world.
Millennials want to be in the heartbeat of the city. They want easy access and to be able to walk to places. Community is important for them.
Unfortunately, all of this means that there’s no value in the market right now.
Cash is king in this market. The bigger the wallet, the better your chance of winning your bid because properties coming on the market will receive 10 offers on the first day. The highest cash offer I’ve seen win a bid is $450,000, and I’ve seen cash offers sell for $25,000 over the asking price. Sellers will typically go for the one that can close the fastest and the easiest and that’s mostly done with cash. People are even emptying out their 401(k)s to buy property in cash — I had one client use theirs for a down payment.
Brokers are going to extremes to find new properties. I’ve heard of brokers calling homeowners’ adult children to ask them to convince their parents to sell, but it’s not something that I would do myself. It’s funny — I even get calls from agents trying to convince me to sell my properties.
I’m a listing broker and mostly still fortunate to have sellers calling me directly. I haven’t had to change my strategy as I’m still having plenty of success with people finding me through Google and social media. One thing I always have on hand is a box of tissues for buyers on the other end of the deal — they will experience several different emotions as they lose bids, usually anger first and then tears.
Aggressive investors are hoping to catch someone who doesn’t understand the market and make an easy sale by flipping.
For example, if neighborhood homes are selling in the high $400,000s and you have a mortgage of $150,000, someone calling to buy will try to entice you with that $300,000 increase in value. They don’t mention that the property is worth way more than that because they want to acquire it from you and then turn around and sell it for a good profit.
The current situation is about supply. It’s also affecting new construction. Numbers have to make sense for the builder, too. Many are asking if they build, will it be finished while the market is still going up because there’s so little value at the moment?
Eventually, Atlanta’s market is going to level out and cool down.
Real-estate trends tend to last for about 10 years until wider factors cause the market to increase or decrease. We don’t know if interest rates are going to continue to rise, so I encourage people to buy where they are if they can afford to financially. The one thing I tell them is if they see it, don’t sleep on it — it will be gone in the blink of an eye.
Right now, it seems like the Fed is continuing to stop a recession by increasing interest rates and hoping to level things out.
In recent weeks, I’ve seen properties staying on the market for longer — in line with reports that the market is cooling slightly. People are assuming something is wrong with it once it approaches being listed for 30 days because they’re so accustomed to properties flying off the market.
I’m telling them to relax — we just came through something that no one’s ever experienced before, and properties sitting on the market for up to 90 days was normal until recently.