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A tale of two Intown school districts – Toomer vs. Oakhurst

Single family home sales are down 40% year over year across Atlanta, according to Steve Palm’s recent Smart Numbers report. Knowing that, I decided to get hyper-local, and research my neighborhood, and make some judgments about my specific submarket, and our immediate competition. In doing so, I get to check out Steve’s research and see how it holds up on my streets.

On the bright side, the average sales price for new or newer houses like mine (built in 2003 or later) in my area of Atlanta is up about 6% from 2006 over 2007. I live in Hawthorn Park, a 47 home neighborhood with a 6 acre creekside forest and other common areas, built in 2003 in the heart of Kirkwood, and about 1/2 mile from Oakhurst. I like to say that I live on an island in the middle of Kirkwood. Back in 2003, just about everyone paid less than $400,000 for a minimum 3/2/1 with a garage, maybe a basement, maybe a BIG bonus room, and definitely lots of nice features.

Like nice, big kitchens.

Beautifully appointed kitchens with high end fixtures

And, nice open floor plans with seperate dining rooms.

Gorgeous open floor plans

And, naturally beautiful settings.

Naturally Beautiful Settings with indoor and outdoor living

Well, I let some other Hawthorn Park island dwellers know today that we have some decisions to make about pricing and marketing. Of course, there is a lot of broader market bad news, and I choose to keep my street smarts up, and not let it get to me. As the leader of a real estate agency team, I must work within the market that we serve – good market, slow market, buyer’s market, seller’s market, whatever it may be, it’s my job to help my clients sell properties and purchase properties based on informed decisions.

If you listen to all of the bad news available nationwide, then you may end up being deeply affected spiritually, mentally, even physically.

Use your “street smarts” filter!

So, used my street smarts filter and I validated a market truth today.

I absolutely confirmed that school districts really do matter in a high inventory market. I’ve seen the demand issues in other submarkets around Atlanta, and since we have so few great public elementary school districts, smart buyers know that school districts matter at resale.

The smart buyers are the only ones buying nowadays too!

I’m not saying that my neighbors and I were not smart when we bought new construction houses in the Toomer Elementary School District in Kirkwood in 2003-2004, but, here’s the tale of the tape for 2007, according to FMLS data:

21 houses built in 2003 or later sold in the City of Decatur’s Oakhurst ESD last year for an average sales price of $499,000

16 houses built in 2003 or later sold in the City of Atlanta’s Toomer ESD in Kirkwood last year for an average sales price of $396,000

Only 3 Hawthorn Park houses sold last year – $472,475 with $11,170 in closing costs paid by the seller at 178 Elvan…$459,900 with $7082 in closing costs paid by the seller at 2116 Lanes Lane…$415,000 with $3500 in closing costs paid by the seller at 203 Hawthorn Circle. Many attempted, including one of my listings – the lowest priced listing in Hawthorn Park – but most did not sell! My listing client found a wonderful renter, but after 180 days, we did not sell at $425,000.00.

Tough stuff!

When demand declines, prices soon follow. I don’t know if any specific marketing technique will change things as long as the g – a – p between buyer expectations and seller expectations remains as w – i – d – e as it is.

A lot of new or newer construction inventory in my submarket is simply not priced to sell in a low demand environment. It’s not 2006 anymore, yet, I know that we have something remarkable, valuable and worth making as attractive and distinctive as possible in Hawthorn Park. It just needs to be priced to meet demand.

And, Toomer ESD based sellers need to get real about their relative value diferentiation with the nearby Oakhurst ESD competition – lets face it, it’s a better school district, and that is worth between $50,000 to $100,000 to Intown Atlanta and Decatur buyers right now!

So, it’s 2008, and I have not seen a better time to buy, ever, since I moved to Intown Atlanta in 1998.

Get your real estate on!

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