Appraising Real Estate Appraisals

“Appraise” and “praise.” These words have common linguistic roots and both deal with perceived “value”. However, there is not much praise for appraisals when they scuttle your real estate deal. This has happened a lot in Atlanta lately, so much so that word that the buyer’s appraiser is coming to visit can strike fear in the heart of even the most confident home seller. But the more you know about appraisals and how they work, the better off you are (and the less you have to fear) as a buyer or as a seller.
In 2008 the real estate market crashed. Hard. Then it started recovering – until in 2015 Atlanta home prices were up to about the same levels they were before the crash. While the real estate market has gone up and down since then, as it always does, we have had a continuing problem with appraisals ever since the 2008 crash. This is understandable, since part of the cause of the 2008 crash was artificially high appraisals. Prior to 2008, real estate prices rose rapidly and appraisals rose right there with them, fueling the real estate frenzy. Then the mortgage meltdown and the resulting fall. After the market crash, banks looked much more closely at appraisals and at the appraisers that the banks were hiring for valuations. Lenders, now burned, gave the mandate that appraisals should be much more conservative than they had been in the past. Appraisers who over appraised no longer received work from the lending industry.

In addition to the tightening of the appraisal industry due to the crash, there is also the problem that in a rising market there is a natural issue with appraisals, and here is why. An appraisal looks at past sales as an indicator of what a property is worth today; appraisals are backward-looking. So if I have a property under contract today, my appraiser for the deal is looking back at sales that occurred in the past, and will base the appraised value on homes that sold at a time when the market was lower than it is today. You see the problem. This “look back” to a time when values were lower serves as a natural governor that prevents prices from rising, or at least from rising very rapidly, but can cause a problem even if the current deal is a fair one, if the homes that sold recently don’t support the current price.

In fact, the definition of “fair market value” is this: fair market value is what a reasonable purchaser acting in their own best interest is willing to pay, and what a reasonable seller acting in their own best interest is willing to accept. So by definition a contract at a certain price, entered into by reasonable parties acting in their own best interests, should be evidence of fair market value. And that’s why in real estate transactions you often see appraisals coming in exactly at contract price – not above and not below. But when the market is rising, appraisers can have difficulty finding sales to support the contract price, even when that contract price is fair.
Let’s take a closer look at how an appraiser comes to determine value in a home purchase transaction. (An appraisal might also be ordered for a refinancing or to value a property when the mutual owners are splitting up, but for these purposes we are considering appraisals in the context of a real estate deal.) When there’s a real estate contract to purchase property and the purchaser applies for a mortgage loan for the purchase, the appraiser’s job is to determine if the property supports the price agreed upon in the contract. The uniform appraisal standards, which appraisers must follow, require that the appraiser pull comparable properties (”comps”) that have sold in close proximity to the home being appraised. The appraiser will typically start with homes within a one mile radius of the property being appraised that have similar size and with similar features and that have sold within the past three months. If there are not a sufficient number of comps three months old, the appraiser can back in time further but generally cannot go back more than twelve months. The appraiser can also go out farther geographically if necessary. The appraiser compares the square footage and features of these “comp” homes with the home that is being appraised. If there are good comps that are close in geography and time, the appraiser must use them first. Then the appraiser must use these facts and numbers to come to the right value for the house being appraised. There is some, but not a lot, of subjectivity in the process; the objective standards are designed to lend stability and uniformity to the process.

So given that, consider this: more information results in a better ultimate decision. So the more information the appraiser has, the more accurate the appraisal will be. That is why the buyer, seller, and agent who have superior information can help an appraiser in the task of valuing the home. And it is most likely the agent who will have helpful information. What caused a home (a potential comp) that sold low to sell low? Perhaps the agent knows that the basement flooded, that it was a stigmatized property in some way, that the kitchen while listed as renovated was not in fact renovated. Information that the appraiser may not know can be helpful. Agents have often visited many of the homes that previously sold while the appraiser likely has not, and so can offer information that is not part of the public record. The buyer who has looked at other homes that have since sold can offer information about those homes: were they superior (or inferior) in some way that may not be evident to the appraiser (who has probably not visited those homes)? A seller might supply accurate square footage to the appraiser if the information in the tax records is not correct. Most appraisers welcome additional information, whether or not it is factored into the final report. (Note that the information should be filtered through the agent – the parties should not themselves approach the appraiser. And the agent should offer, but not insist, that the appraiser consider the information).

In the end, the appraisal must be unbiased and the result of the appraiser’s own research. The parties have (and should have) little influence over the appraisal, and in the end the parties’ only recourse for an appraisal they disagree with is to contest the appraisal or ask for another appraisal. Still, knowing how the process works – and how decision making works – can help the agents and parties be a valuable part of the appraisal process.

Note, too, that appraisals are pertinent in other stages of the transaction, not only at the contract phase. For instance, when an agent first meets with a seller, the agent should tell the seller about the appraisal process and potential problems involved. You may think your home is worth a million dollars, but if it will only appraise for $800,000 you likely are not going to be able to sell it for a million. One potential safeguard is to order a pre-listing appraisal. While we real estate agents view, price and sell property every day and know what the market will bear, it can be helpful to have a professional appraiser apply the appraisal standards to determine what price is possible to defend. I find it most helpful to ask the pre-listing appraiser to give us the largest number that would be supported by the guidelines particularly in a rising market. That way we know the upper outside amount we are going to be able to support, even if we decide to list at a lower number after taking other factors into account.

Know that while a pre-listing appraisal can be helpful, after contract the buyer’s lender will order their own appraisal and will never agree to rely on the seller’s appraisal, which the lender views as potentially biased. After contract, if the appraisal is below contract price the buyer will quite reasonably argue that if the seller does not agree to a price reduction and the buyer walks, the seller may have the same problem with the next buyer or, even worse, the next appraisal may be even lower.

In recent years we have had a rapidly accelerating market and in some areas of town hot properties with multiple offers would even get contracts removing or limiting the appraisal contingency through a special stipulation to the contract, typically worded something like this: “if the property fails to appraise for full contract price, the buyer agrees to pay up to $10,000 above the appraised price to meet the contract price, but under no circumstances will the buyer be obligated to pay above the contract price.”
These removals of appraisal contingencies are much less common in the current market, when prices are stabilizing and there are fewer buyers out there vying for available properties. For both buyers and sellers, understanding how appraisals work can help all parties feel comfortable with the deal that is ultimately struck.

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Robot Real Estate Agent?

It is sometime in the not so distant future.  You see an open house sign and balloons, and decide to stop.  Instead of a living breathing real estate agent, a sleek white ROBOT greets you at the door: “Hello, welcome to 123 Main Street.  Can I show you around?”    A ROBOT?  Where’s the Realtor?  But you want to see the house – so you answer.  “Ummm, sure…” you say.  “This way,” says the robot, wheelie legs turning to lead you into the house.  “And by the way, my name is Roberta.  Robot plus “r-a” …. Clever, huh?”

As your first encounter with Roberta, the robot real estate agent shows, artificial intelligence (“AI”)  has entered the real estate market, and we are likely to see more and more manifestations of it in the future.

In our open house scenario, you are confused but dazzled by the technology.  The novelty of it definitely has your attention, and as you proceed through the open house Roberta seems to know everything about the house and answers your questions impressively.  But will novelty and technology sell you the house?  Can you get the information you need from a robot?

It seems inevitable now that there are robot trade show hosts and even police officer that one day robot real estate agents may be commonplace – programmed to answer all your questions and to point out the key features of the house, taking out the “human” element in part if not altogether.

While robots are not yet ubiquitous, there are many changes to our traditional real estate model brought about by technology that ARE already widespread.  We already regularly show property via Facetime to out of town clients.  And our now commonplace property videos often include 360 degree viewing capability with drone footage, allowing a client to truly explore a property virtually from the comfort of anywhere – and to view the video as many times as they wish (and to show it to as many people as they wish).  And while not widespread yet, the popularity of virtual reality video games and glasses will make it possible for any buyer to walk through a house by donning those glasses, no matter where the client may be at the time.

In addition, the days of having to sign real estate paperwork in person are actually long past.  Electronic signatures are now the norm.  Blockchain – online transaction processing – is becoming more and more popular also around the globe – in Dubai, it’s the norm for real estate transactions.

There are other examples of AI intrusion into real estate.  Real estate agents are now able to monitor properties at all times – not just via cameras, but also via connectivity systems that allow the agent to turn on lights, adjust temperature, monitor usage, and yes, even watch and listen to buyers who are visiting the property.  Agents in the past might spend an hour in a large property turning on all the lights and adjusting the thermostats prior to a showing – now it can all be done remotely, which saves the agent time and ensures that the property is always in optimal condition for showings.

There will always be a place for the flesh and blood Realtor, but only those Realtors who have the expertise necessary to expertly guide and advise clients.  The days of the realtor who is merely a door opener is long over.   So welcome Roberta – but be sure your “real” Realtor is in the know and guiding your purchase.  There is not yet any substitute for human judgment and advice.

WILL YOUR ATLANTA RENOVATION ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOME?

One reason for purchasing a home is that it is YOUR home – you can make changes to it, make it your OWN.   And many homebuyers DO renovate – it may be something as simple as replacing a faucet or something as major as adding a new wing to the house.  According to a survey by the website Houzz.com, homeowners who renovated in 2017 spent an average of more than $60,000 on the renovations (a lot more than the cost of the faucet….)

Some renovations are made necessary by our life circumstances and by the aging population, like a chair lift or elevator.  Others are purely for enjoyment – like adding a swimming pool or a man cave (or she shed).   But in every case, we will typically choose what appeals to us personally in terms of finishes and space since after all, its our dwelling we are talking about.

No matter how unique your taste, however, you would probably like to think that the renovations you make will add at least an equivalent amount of value to the property as the renovations cost.  (in other words, if you spend $10,000 you expect that your property will be worth at least $10,000 more when you go to sell).  But that is by no means guaranteed.  Property is a very personal thing.  What appeals to you may not appeal to the person looking to purchase the home when you go to sell.

In addition, fashions are by definition time sensitive.  What is in vogue today may be passe by the time you go to sell.

In other words, cost does not equal value. The cost of the renovations does not necessarily equal the increase in value for your property as a result of the renovations.  In fact, sometimes there seems to be very little correlation at all.  And sometimes the renovations you choose may actually decrease the value of your property.  Say, for example, a very unusual and vibrant tile that you LOVE, but which few others would want.  Or even if they love it, they wouldn’t want in their home because it is so unique and it sn’t chosen by them.  In these cases your renovations may actually result in a net loss of value.  If what you have done is personal, or has become dated, or just simply isn’t to the purchaser’s liking, that purchaser will devalue the property by the amount the purchaser feels they will have to spend to take out those renovations and redo the property to their liking.

For instance, our buyers Jill & Brian had been looking in Ashford Park for quite some time for a new home for their family of four.  They have two young children and were drawn to the neighborhood by the number of families, by the walkability of the neighborhood, and by the elementary school.  When the house that seemed exactly “right” for them – one that checked all their boxes – came up for sale we ran over there to check it out.

The home WAS exactly right for them – except for one thing.  The kitchen had been redone in dark, masculine shades.  The cabinets were a dark brown, almost black, and the granite countertops matched the cabinets.  While cabinets can be repainted, the granite would need to be replaced to suit Jill & Brian.  So for them, the home was worth less than it would be otherwise, because they needed to factor in the cost of the renovations they felt were necessary to make the home theirs.

So if you are planning to renovate your home, unless you are not worried about resale, you probably want to consider whether or not the renovation will add value when you go to sell.  The renovations that are shown to add the most value upon resale are those of master bedrooms and kitchens, and the most popular renovations, at least at this time, make space lighter, brighter, and bigger.  Buyers also like open kitchens which become more a part of the living space.

One thing you can do in your research is head to a popular new home development in your area to examine the standard finishes the developer is installing.  This can indicate what buyers like and are purchasing in today’s market.   So that might be a good place to start if you’re determined that your renovations must add value to a subsequent purchaser.

As a general rule, such finishes are more neutral.  Think whites, beiges, greys…. A more neutral palette that a subsequent purchaser can then individualize through unique furnishings, artwork and the like.

If you are renovating YOUR property, why not do simply what appeals to you?  That certainly seems to make sense if you’re not worried about selling the property in the near future.  But consider this also: many a homeowner has renovated a home in a unique and personal style, thinking that they will stay in that property for years to come, only to find that they are forced to move for some unforeseen reason.  Or perhaps they discover that what was in vogue the year that they renovated no longer appeals even to them just a few short years later.

For all of these reasons, it makes sense to consider carefully the future impact of what you are doing to your property.  You may then make the conscious decision to do something bold, even crazy, with your house – that’s your prerogative, of course, and who is to say that there’s not a buyer in the future who will love exactly what you’ve done?  But getting other opinions and thinking carefully about the future of your home cannot hurt… and may increase your profit down the road.

 

Know Your Nonhuman Atlanta Neighbors

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You can find the PERFECT property at an amazing price if you don’t mind that the house is:

Next to the nuclear power plant, on top of the pet cemetery, behind the Superfund site, under the high voltage power lines, adjacent to the transcontinental oil pipeline, catty corner from the slaughterhouse and down the street from the 24 hour casino.

Joking aside, what about adverse neighborhood conditions?  How much should you worry about the neighborhood (and what surrounds the neighborhood) when you purchase a house?

In Georgia, generally speaking, the doctrine of caveat emptor, or BUYER BEWARE, applies to real property, meaning that the onus is on the buyer to investigate and discover adverse conditions pertaining to a home if those conditions can be discovered through reasonable inspection of the property.  The seller does have disclosure obligations if they know of adverse material defects that are not easily discoverable by the buyer.  Those seller disclosure obligations DO NOT, however, apply to conditions that are not present on the property itself.  In other words, Georgia courts so far have not held a seller liable for failure to reveal information about adverse neighborhood conditions even when those conditions are not easily discovered.  And the Georgia real estate contracts also put the burden on the buyer to investigate the neighborhood.  As the official Georgia Association of Realtors contract states:

In every neighborhood there are conditions which different buyers may find objectionable.  Buyer shall have the sole duty to become familiar with neighborhood conditions that could affect the Property such as landfills, quarries, power lines, airports, cemeteries, prisons, stadiums, odor and noise producing activities, crime and school, land use, government and transportation maps and plans.

Therefore, when considering the purchase of a home, you should definitely investigate not only the houses that surround the home, but also the neighborhood and the immediate environs.  Personal drive arounds at various hours of the day and night (and on different days of the week) as well as examination of Google maps is a good place to start.  In addition, you may want to check with the municipality and county to see what sorts of businesses are within a mile or so radius of the home.

You can research whether there are registered sex offenders in the neighborhood by reviewing the Georgia Violent Sex Offender Registry at www.gbi.georgia.gov, and you can search for reported drug laboratories or dumpsites at the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration website (www.dea.gov/clan-lab   – the national clandestine laboratory database).

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has information about landfills, medical waste treatment sites and the like at www.epd.georgia.gov.  You can also find information about some, but not all, closed landfills on the EPD website (that vacant lot across the street may be an old landfill; something you will want to know when you buy the house.)  On the subject of landfills, note that in Georgia previously many builders and homeowners created “inert landfills”, or landfills composed of concrete, rocks, bricks, yard debris and the like while building or renovating.  This is no longer allowed legally, but of course inert landfills still exist and may be difficult to find (this is something the seller would be required to disclose if present on the property you are purchasing, but not if it is elsewhere in the neighborhood.)

And do not forget the obvious – simply doing a Google search of the address and looking past the real estate listings to see if there are any news stories or other hits for the address can give information, as can googling the neighborhood and the houses which surround the house you are planning to buy.

Ask your Realtor to help.  And ask the seller what they know (even if they are not legally obligated to tell you something, they are often willing, especially if asked outright).  Ask the neighbors.  Drive the neighborhood, stop your car, and greet those you see.  Most will be happy to talk to you about the neighborhood and what they know if you smile and are friendly.   And the bonus will be that not only do you know what is happening around the house you are purchasing, you will also know your new neighbors – the human kind.

 

 

 

DISC-overing an Important Tool in Atlanta Real Estate

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One of the most important things your real estate agent does for you is to NEGOTIATE on your behalf.  Even if you yourself are an expert negotiator, chances are that you are not expert in real estate negotiations, which have unique nuances.  In addition, it is better in a transaction to have someone else (not you) negotiating on your behalf – having a proxy helps by taking emotion and possible personal affront out of the equation.

One of the interesting and powerful negotiation tools that your agent can work with is the DISC personality assessment.  We have always known that each person looks at the world in different ways, but in 1952 William Marston introduced something that was revolutionary in psychological circles.  He identified the four most common ways in which people approach the world (and negotiation) and explained how they work.  His four categories have evolved in the DISC Profile.  The beauty of DISC, and why it is so often referred to in business, is that it is a very simple system and one that can be applied without extensive testing.  You can often tell a person’s primary “category” by simple everyday words they use and actions they take.  For example:

D –for “DOMINANCE”, these personality types talk fast and unemotionally, are task oriented and “get the job done”.

I –for “INFLUENCER”, the “I” personality is outgoing and friendly, chatty, and extroverted.

S –for “STEADINESS”, “S”s  are other/people centered, loving, take time to think.

C –for “COMPLIANCE”, these people are task oriented and numbers focused.  They know data.

Thus, if we can identify the primary or two primary profiles of the other party, we can determine what is important to them psychologically, which can in turn help us to come to a deal more easily, with everyone more likely to be pleased at the closing table.  If you are a high “D” you may not care that the other party be “pleased”, but think of it this way: a deal in which everyone is happy is a deal that is most likely to actually stick – more likely to CLOSE and not fall apart.  Here’s how you would use the DISC knowledge to better come to resolution with each personality type:

D-a “D” wants to WIN, so figure out a way that helps the D personality feel that s/he has won.

I-the “I” wants to feel good about the process; a win/win works best for them.

S-the “S” wants everyone to get along.  A win/win without too much bickering and argument will work best for them.

C-the “C” wants everything done correctly and wants to be sure that there is enough data upholding the result.

By knowing the other party’s psychological “DISC” profile, we can negotiate more effectively.

DISC also, of course, helps us in other facets of real estate.  If a client is a “C”, for example, we know that providing lots of data is important.  For a “D”, it is important to be quick, smart and effective.  And so on.

From you, the client’s perspective, it is important to have an agent who has all the tools necessary in his or her toolbox.  The “DISC” information is just one of many tools we use to craft deals that work.

And please remember to contact our team for all of your needs with respect to real estate.  We believe in continuous training to always supply the utmost service and benefits to our clients.

QUICK JOT OF THE DISC PROFILE

Quickly jotting the DISC categories can help during a negotiation.

Listings in Our Pocket

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2015-08-04 13.50.33In Atlanta, there are many agents who tout “pocket listings” which, simply put, are listings that are never put on the open market.  They are sold without ever being put into the Multiple Listing Service.  It is said that the listing is “in the agent’s pocket” because only the agent and those she or he tells about the listing ever knows that it exists.

There are some instances when this makes sense.  If both buyer and seller agree to a pocket listing for their individual purposes, or prefer the listing not be made public, then it may never go into the Multiple Listing Service.  But it is important or all parties to consider carefully before taking this route.

Here are the PROS for this particular method:

  • From the seller’s point of view, there are limited showings, which can be very disruptive.  There are more limited numbers of people traipsing in and out of the home.  There is more privacy; for when the home is listed, the pictures and price are out on the internet for all the world to see.
  • From the buyer’s point of view, they are gaining access to a home that might otherwise be unavailable for them to purchase (if not listed, they might not know about it otherwise).  They do not have to face competition or get into a bidding war.

The primary potential CON that both sides must consider is PRICE.  The law of supply and demand tells us that when supply decreases, demand (and therefore price) goes up.  If the home is not available to the open marketplace, how does the seller know that they are getting the absolute most that they could get for their home?  From the buyer’s side, how do they know that they are getting a good deal, or are paying more than they should?

If the agent sells a pocket listing themselves, they will get double (or at least more than standard one half) commission.

All parties need to be AWARE of the various considerations and consider them carefully before proceeding as a “pocket listing” so as not to be caught with their pants down (forgive the pun).  The Georgia Real Estate Commission prohibits keeping a “coming soon” sign up in front of a house for too long prior to listing the home in the multiple listing service, but there is no prohibition against keeping a home out of the multiple listing service, and plenty of homes get sold that way.  If you are planning to participate in such a sale, however, carefully consider the pros and cons before you do!

Do Not Shoot the Photographer

When you are listing your home for sale, it is extremely important that you use professional photographs – and that you are READY for the photographer.  Your part is to have the home ready – meaning your home should be clean, neat and staged for photos.  We help you stage your home and can provide references to cleaners and handymen and will help you through that process.  Then (and this seems obvious, but it is important, as you will see) you must be aware of when the photographer is coming to your home.

We are always extremely careful to be sure you know exactly when the photographer is coming and what you can expect.

Recently in the Atlanta area a real estate photographer was actually SHOT (with a gun) by a homeowner when the photographer arrived to take photographs of the home for a listing.  In February 2018 the photographer, Whitney Morris, entered the Douglasville home through the lockbox (as photographers often do), but the homeowner was surprised by his entry and shot Morris through her bedroom door.  The homeowner says that she did not know the photographer was coming.

Morris survived, but is severely injured.  On a gofundme.com page, many have donated to help Morris, including multiple other photographers, one of whom wrote: “You don’t know me but I’m a re [real estate] photographer out of California and this is a worst nightmare of mine.   Knowing you’re going through this leaves my stomach in knots.  Knowing it is about to be our busy season where we make the bulk of our income is horrifying.”

Having your home on the market can be disconcerting – you will be letting lots of people into your home; the photographer, then agents and buyers.  Be sure you have a strong team on your side keeping you informed and ready for what is to come.   And know when your photographer is coming, of course!

PHOTOGRAPHER

Every home going on the market ought to be photographed by a professional.

Atlanta’s West End – the Wren’s Nest

I love playing tourist in my hometown. Living in Atlanta, it is easy to forget how much there is to enjoy here – until someone comes to visit from out of town and you take them to the usual places like the Civil Rights Museum, Martin Luther King Center, the Beltline, the Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, etc.   I have vowed to check into a few more of the hidden and less visited treasures that are right under our noses.

I had mixed feelings about one of those – the WREN’S NEST, also known as the Joel Chandler Harris house.  It’s right smack dab in the bustling West End of Atlanta, a very vibrant and racially diverse area.  But I thought of the home’s past as racist.  The famous and now deceased owner, Joel Chandler Harris, was an Atlantan who wrote more than 190 books, the most famous of which were the Uncle Remus books.   Harris was a shy person who stuttered, so rather than speak he wrote – prolifically – and put to paper the stories told to him orally on a plantation near Atlanta when he was a young boy working for a plantation owner.  I have always thought of the Uncle Remus books as a vestige of the Old South and racist, perpetuating racial stereotypes.

And indeed, there is a lot of controversy over the Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit stories that Harris wrote.   Uncle Remus and the stories he tells perpetuate racial stereotypes.   While the preservation of house dating from the 1800s is rare treasure in Atlanta, should we even be focusing on who lived there, if racism is what his works reflect?   The staff here does a great job of answering those questions and of presenting a whole picture of both the man who lived here and the house he inhabited.

I mean, what if Uncle Remus, long reckoned by many scholars and readers to be a racial stereotype and a sad vestige of Old South nostalgia, was instead a nuanced character who consistently subverted white authority and Old South social codes?

from a pamphlet at the Wren’s Nest by Lain Shakespeare, Former Executive Director at the Wren’s Nest

The house and the stories written here are a fascinating part of Atlanta’s history.    I urge you to see for yourself – and would love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Atlanta’s Tallest Residential Tower Rising

Opus No 2

Project rendering for Opus No 2, to be built in Midtown Atlanta.

A glimmering jewel is set to rise in Midtown – one that will reach upwards toward heaven while connecting arts venues here on Atlanta Midtown’s earth.  Opus No 2 will be Atlanta’s highest residential tower at 53 stories and 688 feet and will be built near the Woodruff Arts Center, the High Museum, and the MARTA Arts Center Station with pedestrian access to all.

The renderings are beautiful, and according to descriptions, the building will feature a pinwheel effect with the glass that will shift with height.  The building is designed by Perkins + Will’s Atlanta office.  The  project is team led by Design Director Manuel Cadrecha, who states on the project’s website, “we see No.2 Opus Place as the new centerpiece of Atlanta’s most exciting neighborhood.”

Atlanta’s tallest building overall is an office tower – Bank of American Plaza – at 935 feet.   Opus No 2 will be purely residential, and so will hold the “tallest” title in Atlanta for residences, not for buildings in general.  But it will tower ten stories above the nearby Four Seasons tower and is “the” new place for would be sky dwellers willing to dole out twelve million dollars for a penthouse in the ether.  Those of more limited budgets can purchase a smaller unit on a lower floor for closer to half a million dollars.

I am excited about this Atlanta milestone.  While Atlanta does not have the tall towers of New York or Chicago, this high rise will add a certain air of sophistication and elegance to Midtown, particularly with its artistic nexus.  Opus No 2 will be quite cosmopolitan – a vertical city, complete with hotel style amenities, including infinity edge pool overlooking 14th street, club level (named “Mozart’s 41st” on – you guessed it – the 41st floor) with demonstration kitchen, fitness rooms, an indoor/outdoor yoga area, an IMAX theater, a library, several guest suites, and other perks for residents.

Why OPUS?  Here is my educated guess.  In the classical period, opus, which is Latin for “work”, was used to identify and catalogue works of art.  So if the tallest residential tower is No 2 Opus, where is ONE Opus?  In fact, it will be an adjacent art gallery space designed by Richard Meier that will front 14th Street.  So Opus One and Two are Midtown’s catalogued first and second new works of art in the form of architecture, and that’s something to look forward to.

Is Atlanta’s West End the “Best End”?

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Curbed.com is a cheeky but informative website about real estate.  It covers a number of different cities, but you can specifically choose “Atlanta” for local news about all things real estate.  It is fun, full of information, and the comments from other subscribers can be quite amusing.
Every year CURBED runs a “Neighborhood of the Year” contest awarding the “Curbed Cup”, a self proclaimed “prestigious, nonexistent” trophy.  For 2017, the WEST END won again (having won for the first time in 2015).  What’s with the West End?  Well, for starters the Beltline is there.  Breweries and other development are taking shape along the new Beltline (of course).  There are lots of historic homes that are still available below half a million dollars.  According to Wikipedia, “It would be difficult to find a neighborhood more closely linked to the city’s, state’s, region’s, and nation’s historical development than the West End district of Atlanta.”  In the 1880s, many wealthy people had large estates in the area.  While the area fell in and out of hard times, today it is among the most culturally diverse and heritage rich areas of Atlanta.  There’s even a popular hashtag, #WestEndBestEnd.  The young and hip know about it, and the rest of us should, particularly if interested in real estate investment.
If you have never been to the West End, take a ride to the Wren’s Nest, the home of Joel Chandler Harris and Atlanta’s oldest house museum (Harris created Uncle Remus and B’rer Rabbit).  And take some time to see the Beltline and eat at one of the downhome restaurants nearby, like Harold’s Chicken Shack
Property values are climbing in the West End, but it is not too late.  There is much more development planned and there are still great investment opportunities.  If you are interested in purchasing investment property or your own home, now is a great time.  Contact us for more information!