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A treatise on the value of a Decatur Townhouse


A request came my way two weeks ago:

Lee, Can you help me find out what our 2 bedroom units are selling for? I am not sure where to look and I thought you may have access to what the last few sold went for…"

I answered with a detailed summary report on values, with accompanying individual property reports with photos.

Here’s my review:

Recent 2/2/1 sales since last Summer.

Decatur Townhouses at 307 Adair Street (my community)

D7 asked $175000 and closed for $159250 in about 60 days July 2012.
C5 asked $147500 and closed for that price in about 40 days in September 2012.
4E asked $142000 and closed in about 60 days for $140000 in October 2012.
All 3 sellers paid some closing costs for each buyer.

H2, our only recent 3/2/1 sale, is an interesting case to consider when positioned against the rest of Decatur’s similar, "vintage" era townhouses.

H2 asked $225,000 beginning August 2011. She was under contract twice and both times resulted in a terminated sale – by October 2012 she dropped to $220,000. Then that listing expired. H2 returned to the market in early December 2012 asking $225,000 and sold in about 3 weeks for $223,000. Finally!

Meanwhile, east of the Decatur Square and nearby, the only 2/2/1 on the market right now is at Glenn Square:

"Exceptional 2-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath townhome, perfectly located within walking distance to MARTA, Downtown Decatur shops & restaurants. A beautiful slate entrance foyer leads you down the hallway to the dining room + spacious living room w/ built-in bookshelves fireplace. 2 sets of French doors open out from the living room on to the stunning private patio! Light-filled galley kitchen features granite countertops stainless steel appliances. Second floor boasts a master suite w/private bath walk-in closet, a guest bedroom, guest bathroom, unique office area."

All that, plus two private parking spaces, but no pool for an asking price of $199,900 with $225.00 per month HOA fees. That sounds like an outstanding value. It’s been on the market for one month.

Meanwhile, over at Sycamore Square, three 2/2/1′s and one 2/2 all sold pretty rapidly in the second half of last year for prices ranging for $218,000 for the 2/2 and for up to $230,000.

That $230,000 sale is described as:

"Celebrate all that Decatur has to offer in this completely renovated townhome a mere 2 blocks from the square! This home has been lovingly rebuilt, and features 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, washer, dryer, and refrigerator included, new roof, new HVAC, updated bathrooms, tile and hardwood floors, and an open floor plan. Enjoy the outdoors in your private courtyard, park securely in your 2 car garage, and enjoy all that Decatur offers a few steps away at the Square. MARTA , schools, restaurants, shops, and more."

That unit is about 1500 square feet, just like the 2/2/1′s at Decatur Townhouses. Sycamore Square has $110.00 per month HOA fees. No pool.

So, what are the reasons that Sycamore Square 2 bedroom units, built in 1968 sell for the same price as 3 bedroom units at Decatur Townhouses built in 1970? Here are some guesses:

* car culture? parking is premium
* maybe pools matter less to busy professionals who work at places like the CDC and Emory where gyms and pools are part of employee culture?
* maybe because Sycamore Square is sited closer to downtown "on the other side of the tracks ?"
* maybe it’s because people like privacy and exclusivity a whole lot?
* fee simple ownership for $110 per month, with no condo controls for landlording and a self-managed, easy association – that’s a big one
* maybe it’s a mix of all those reasons

The new parking lots and landscape / hardscape improvements at Decatur Townhouses will go a long way to boost curb appeal and add value to the community.

I believe that if I wanted to place my end unit townhouse on the market today, I could easily sell it for $175-180,000.

The market is up about 15% from this time last year – that translates to a comfortable range for an average sale of a 2/2/1 at The Decatur Townhouses to probably $160,000-175,000.

I like those numbers and I think we’ll stay in this range for the next 3-5 years.


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