For several years, the metro area’s condominium market enjoyed robust health, fueled by baby-boomer buyers trading in lawn mowers for concierge services and commuters moving inside the city limits to get closer to work, nightlife and cultural centers. Construction was booming in Buckhead, Midtown, downtown and on the fringes of the Perimeter, as well as in a few spots that previously were considered less desirable.
When the economic downturn took a bite out of that boom, work on many projects came to a startling standstill. The last few years have seen some properties taken over by banks, finished by builders below cost or sold at drastically reduced prices. But for buyers considering a condominium purchase, the opportunities are exceptional.
“There are good deals across the price points all across town,” said David Boehmig, president and founder of Atlanta Fine Homes/Sotheby’s International Realty. His Atlanta-based office includes SkyRise, a division devoted solely to the sales of upper-level, multi-family homes. Last year, about 10 percent of the company’s total business was in the condominium market, despite the fact that new condo construction is at a standstill.
“There isn’t a lot of new product, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a plethora of new homes across all price points, from the high $100,000s to more than $10 million,” said Boehmig. “There is a healthy supply that is part of the market dynamic; it doesn’t mean nobody’s buying condos. There are even penthouses around town in the $5 to $10 million range that have sold.”
The bulk of the active condo market lies inside the Perimeter, with Boehmig estimating 500 units downtown, 800 in Buckhead, 1,200 in Midtown and 800 scattered beyond the city limits. The inventory is gradually beginning to be absorbed, but Boehmig predicts it will still be some time before there’s a better balance between buyers and sellers. Meanwhile, buyers have the advantage.
“Buyers are looking at pricing that’s 25 to 35 percent lower than the initial pricing,” said Boehmig. “As more banks take over projects, the prices meet the buyers’ impressions of value, and that facilitates quicker sales.”
Boehmig also believes that most condominium buyers are making a choice based on more than just price.
“Condominium living is more about lifestyle choice,” he said. “Certain folks are into the freedom that owning a condominium offers. If they’re making a long-term decision, a condo is a good choice. If they like the ability to have ample amenities, security, peace of mind when traveling and really beautiful views, then a condominium is still a good choice.”