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Atlanta has earned many nicknames throughout its existence — “City in a Forest”, “Hotlanta”, “Hollywood of the South” — and each of them describes a different aspect of this unique metropolis. As the state capital and the most densely populated city in Georgia, Atlanta is also the economic and cultural capital of the state. Its 136 square miles are situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Its topography includes rolling hills with the most dense urban tree coverage in the nation. Temperatures in summer average 80°-90°F, while winter has about 36 freezing days per year, with occasional snow.
The city was founded in 1837 as a railway terminus for the Atlantic & Western Railroad providing a link between Savannah and the Midwest. Soon multiple rail companies tied into the terminus and a settlement grew up around the depots. The city was incorporated under the name Atlanta in 1847.
During the Civil War the railroads made Atlanta a hub for supply distribution. In September 1864, the Confederacy surrendered the city to Union soldiers. Rather than bequeath anything of use to the Union, Confederate General John Bell Hood ordered that all public buildings be destroyed. Six days later, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman ordered that the rest of the city be destroyed. Thus, Atlanta is the only city in the US that can claim to have been burned to the ground as an act of war.
During Reconstruction, Atlanta was promoted as the center of the New South. New residents arrived from all southern states seeking employment. City fathers promoted a modern economy, less dependent upon agriculture than before the war. The skyline began to rise and several institutions of higher learning, including Georgia Tech and the Atlanta University Center, an association of historically Black colleges, established Atlanta as a center for education.
The first decades of the 20th century brought unprecedented growth to Atlanta. As a major rail hub, it was instrumental in moving troops and supplies during both World War I and II. In 1939, Atlanta hosted the world premiere of “Gone with the Wind,” the epic tale of the South, written by Atlanta native Margaret Mitchell. During the 1950s, the highway system was constructed and families began to move to the suburbs, creating the Atlanta metro area. “White flight” changed the city’s demographics, and for the first time, Black residents became a political majority. This paved the way for Atlanta to become a hotbed of the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s and the election of the city’s first Black mayor.
Today, the presence of 15 major colleges means that much of Atlanta’s workforce holds advanced degrees. This wealth of education has attracted more than 1,250 multinational corporations, and 75% of the Fortune 1000 conduct business operations here. Coca Cola, The Home Depot, Chick-fil-a, Delta Airlines, and UPS all have headquarters in Atlanta. Job opportunities draw employees from around the globe, so Atlanta has become a multicultural melting pot. It has also become a national center for the arts, with permanent opera, ballet, symphony, and theater companies. Through the decades Atlanta has seen the emergence of various music genres, including country, southern rock, punk, hip hop, crunk, and trap music styles. There is an energetic live music scene throughout the area. And let’s not forget professional sports – Atlanta is proudly represented by the Braves (MLB), the Hawks (NBA), the Falcons (NFL) and Atlanta United FC (MLS). There are a healthy number of college teams as well, so it’s safe to say that sports are an integral part of the culture.
Atlanta hosts a plethora of home styles. There are prime examples of Victorian and plantation homes in the historical neighborhoods, such as Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward.
Atlanta contains three high-rise districts surrounded by low to medium density neighborhoods of mostly single-family homes. Here, the Craftsman and cottage styles dominate. Realm’s data analysis confirms that most of the homes in the city were built in 1950 and that there are a number of common popular features in the Atlanta housing market. Wood floors, a perennial favorite among homeowners, topped the list, with 3,217 recent real estate listings mentioning this feature. Atlanta’s climate, humid subtropical with four distinct seasons, lends itself to outdoor living much of the year. So it’s fitting that decks were the second most popular feature, with 3,028 mentions. Fencing came in third, mentioned in 2,626 recent listings.
The area has high humidity and receives a great deal of precipitation — so it’s not surprising that Realm’s data analysis showed that no homes in the area were within a wildfire perimeter from the past five years. Realm’s data analysis also revealed that only 2% of homes are in a designated flood zone. Protection from moisture intrusion is of primary importance, so a well-maintained roof — another popular feature, mentioned in 1,761 listings — gets attention in the housing market. Of course, paint work is another update often seen in housing markets and Atlanta is no exception. Painting was the fourth most popular feature, noted in 1,836 listings.
What is the status of the real estate market in Atlanta?
According to the Atlanta Realtors Association (ARA) the demand for homes in the city of Atlanta decreased in September 2021 by 10.1% from the previous year. As a result of the pandemic and the continued work-from-home trend, experts predict that homes in the suburbs (greater Atlanta metro area) may be favored over homes within the city proper.
With that being said, there is no depression in the Atlanta housing market. The median sales price of a single-family home in September 2021 was $359,000, an increase of 15.8% over the previous year. Inventory in the Atlanta housing market was just 1.3 months, continuing the seller’s market that has existed in the region for several years. Realtors consider the market balanced when the number of listings is equal to about six months of sales. When there are fewer homes and more buyers it is considered a seller’s market, and prices escalate accordingly.
Is rental property a good investment in Atlanta?
As of September 2021, approximately 50% of households in the Atlanta area were rentals. Atlanta rental prices plunged during the height of the pandemic, but there has been an unexpectedly quick recovery, with average rents jumping up 14.7%. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 285,000 people moved into the state during 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available). This population growth has had a tremendous impact on the rental market. A favorable business climate has led to the creation of jobs, and coupled with an affordable cost of living, new construction is struggling to keep pace with the Georgia migration.
Many leading real estate sources agree that Atlanta is one of the best areas in the country for real estate investment. Median home values have appreciated anywhere from 83% - 137% during the past decade, depending upon the factors used to calculate the average. Regardless of how the figure is calculated, most sources agree that Atlanta ranks in the top 10% nationally for real estate appreciation. Atlanta has a solid track record of being one of the best long-term real estate investments in the US, and this trend is expected to continue.
Is it expensive to live in Atlanta?
It is relatively affordable to live in Atlanta. The cost of living here is 2% below the national average. Georgia has also been ranked as the best state in which to retire, surpassing Florida, which has had a lock on the top spot for years. Lower costs for goods and services, a “lighter tax burden,” and a diverse population (including high ratings from the LGBTQ community) all contribute to Georgia’s top ranking. In addition, the median home price in metro Atlanta was approximately $30,000 less than a comparable residence in metro Orlando.
We currently cover most standalone, single-family homes