Five Atlanta Housing Market Trends to Watch

By Guest Columnist and Council Member Seth Weissman with Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco

As our housing market emerges from the great recession, homebuyers are making different choices about where and how they live.

Here are some trends to look for as the market gains traction.

— New single-family home will continue to be a suburban affair.

The reports of the death of our suburban single-family housing markets have been greatly exaggerated. While we are seeing some new single-family home construction in-town, the vast majority of such housing continues to be built in suburban locations. Homebuyers, particularly families with school age children, apparently, still like suburban living just fine.

Over time, new single-family housing will get more “green”, lot sizes will continue to shrink and subdivisions will look more like traditional neighborhood developments with houses pulled closer to the street, sidewalks, front porches and fewer cul-de-sacs.

— Gentrification in older Atlanta neighborhoods will accelerate.

While East Atlanta was likely ground zero for gentrification in the last housing cycle, the older single-family neighborhoods close to Atlanta’s beltline project will be transformed in this next housing cycle. Neighborhoods like Adair Park are simply too affordable, too charming and too close-in for housing prices not to be significantly bid up. As young professionals stake out these neighborhoods, lower income and largely African-American residents will be priced out and move to older suburban areas.

— In-town living will increasingly be dominated by multi-family housing and mixed-use developments.

With the price of single-family homes increasingly being out of sight in established in-town neighborhoods, affordable, walkable, multi-family and mixed-use housing will become the housing of choice. West Midtown, the Old Fourth Ward and even Inman Park are seeing an explosion of such new multi-family housing. This will likely create a population density sufficient to sustain the restaurants, shopping and the cultural activities these new residents expect in urban locations. While most multi-family housing is being built as apartments, look for many of these developments to be converted to condominiums as the cycle kicks into high gear.

— Look for older suburban city centers to become more dense.

As walkable mixed-use communities become more sought after, look for older city centers in suburban locations to become denser and more vibrant. Every suburban city wants to be like Decatur and Roswell. Many have the potential to get there including Norcross, East Point, Hapeville and Douglasville. The problem is that the desired mix of land uses in these smaller cities will depend on whether they can muster the political will to embrace higher density development.

— Our growing diversity and changing demographics will continue to strengthen our housing markets.

Our region is attracting large numbers of residents from other parts of the world. Homebuilders now think about the direction the front door of a house faces, prayer rooms, feng shui, whether the street address includes lucky numbers and housing for multi-generational families. As our region ages, look for many new housing starts to better serve the needs of this growing segment of our population. In particular, expect to see more over-55 condominium developments where residents can “lock and leave” without the headaches of single-family home maintenance.