By: Felipe Rivas
2 min read May 2020—Established in 2015, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate is now one of the top-performing residential real estate firms in metro Atlanta. The firm has plans to expand its presence throughout Atlanta and the Southeast market. In an interview with Focus: Atlanta, CEO Bonneau Ansley talked to Invest: about COVID-19, the challenges in the residential market and the impact from technology on the sector.
Q: How has your recent partnership with Chicago-based @properties progressed?
A: We partnered with @properties to enable our continued growth, and it allowed us to develop the top technology in real estate. We are jointly developing a technology suite called Pl@tform, which is a system that allows our agents a competitive advantage over competitors. Together, we are the 10th-largest residential real estate firm in the country, according to Real Trends. We still plan to focus on the Atlanta market and expand the company across the South. We are lucky in that we have managed to recruit a great, resourceful and determined team. We know our limitations. If we are not an expert in a particular aspect, we are very happy to outsource that to someone who is.
Q: In late 2019 and early 2020, what were the main trends you saw in the Atlanta market?
A: Pre-coronavirus, there was a very strong high-end market in the range of $3 million to $10 million. New homes over $2 million were selling very well, which is unprecedented. It has been very interesting to see how the ibuyers, such as Zillow, are disrupting the real estate market. While they did not impact us at such a high price point, they have now almost disappeared after the COVID-19 crisis. There is something to be said about a real estate agent, especially for an investment such as a house.
Q: What has been the impact of the change in technology from the Pl@tform system?
A: We have a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system that is proprietary, so agents can keep track of follow-ups, be reminded when they should send newsletters out to different contacts and they can produce quick marketing updates. They have a deal management system where they can keep track of amendments under one system. This streamlines the administrative side and our agents can spend more time doing what they do best.
Q: How have mortgage rates impacted demand for luxury real estate?
A: The environment for mortgage rates is fantastic right now. Interest rates are low, so there is more buying power, and this produces a really great rush for buying property. The way we are buying property has certainly changed with the coronavirus. We are doing things differently, communicating a lot more through virtual methods and we are beefing up our online presence and social media. As we try to normalize this change, there has been an understandable lag in our performance, but the industry will adapt, and we will have a lot of pent-up demand.
Q: What are some of the challenges you are keeping your eye on when it comes to the residential market?
A: From a consumer standpoint, COVID-19 has certainly been a challenge. There are two demographics: people with needs and people with wants. For those with needs, it is a bit more of a challenge to get them to go and look at properties, but we are getting there. Those with wants are on the sidelines right now, prioritizing other issues, but it won’t be long before we get them back. It may be too early to tell the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry and on our economy. Having said that, I think it will become more acceptable to have a virtual viewing, which will streamline the market. I think in the end the challenges we have come up against because of the pandemic will be beneficial for us in the long run.
Q: What exciting new projects are you focusing on in the greater Atlanta area?
A: We are seeing people moving back to Buckhead because it is so walkable and well-connected. We are part of a 23-story new build right in the middle of Buckhead, which broke ground about a month ago and we are already over 30% sold. The average property value is over $2 million. People want this integrated environment. We are not the developer, but we are acting as the sales and marketing arm. The live, work and play lifestyle has a lot of value right now. From this development, it is possible to walk to the grocery store, to Starbucks, to work, and this type of convenience has become an essential part of life for many.
Q: What is your outlook for the market in the next 12 months?
A: The fundamentals are still fantastic in Atlanta. We have a steady influx of people and it is still relatively cheap to live in Atlanta compared with other sophisticated cities across the United States and in the Southeast. We are a great hub for technology, construction and manufacturing and I think that will continue to grow. From my perspective, Atlanta cannot be stopped.
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