By: Felipe Rivas
2 min read August 2020 — Atlanta’s solid pre-COVID real estate fundamentals are placing the city on a swift and steady road to recovery. Jenni Bonura, President and CEO of Harry Norman, REALTORS®, shares her opinion on what awaits Atlanta from the perspective of a nine-decade real estate heavyweight.
How did Harry Norman, REALTORS® tackle the transition to the COVID-19 landscape?
In 2020, Harry Norman, REALTORS® celebrates its 90th anniversary. The market in Atlanta has been great for several years and continues to be so, even in 2020. We continue to break records despite the challenging environment. In 2019, we broke sales records several months back-to-back. We also broke some average sales price records. In July 2020, we exceeded another pending-sales volume record, our highest July in the nine decades of our company. Atlanta is a highly desirable place to be, especially compared to other large cities, for a myriad of reasons. We have launched several new initiatives in the last several months, which make us stand out and are propelling us ahead of our competitors. One is a marketing automation tool that drives speed-to-market. It provides marketing assets on-demand and enables us to promote our homes digitally. In a market where there is low inventory, it has been a game-changer for our agents and our seller-clients as well. We also launched a multi-channel media campaign in 2020, across TV, Print, digital and social media, focusing on our expertise and first-class service. The company also launched an exclusive app that is similar to a dating app in that we match up the needs of buyers and sellers.
What are the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the area?
We are seeing the second-home market explode. People want a change of scenery. One of the beautiful things about Atlanta is that you can drive an hour or two and you are in the mountains, feeling the beauty of nature and disconnected from the city. We have seen in the Blue Ridge, Blairsville and Lake Rabun areas significant positive adjustments in that sense. It is affecting our metro clients. The areas of Gwinnett and Cobb are definitely booming, population-wise. Suburbia is harder to pinpoint as an actual trend but people are already leaning in the direction of wanting a house in the suburbs with more acreage for space and privacy. With the current low interest rates, there is an increase in buying power for larger properties.
Would you say transit hubs and the BeltLine foster in-town development?
The BeltLine will always be attractive. Part of it is the beauty of nature available and the convenience of amenities, restaurants, ease of access to work, all at your fingertips. Coupled with the beautiful outdoors, the connectedness of neighborhoods, it adds significant variety and interest. Even if transit hubs with COVID-19 hit the pause button, there will always be a desire for people to want to make it easy to hop on and explore other parts of the city and yet have those amenities right at home. Our urban core is performing well and our suburban periphery is performing solidly as well. That is why Atlanta is overall performing great in the South in general. Based on the stats, as far as pending sales, the South is the only geography in the country that is on the plus side so far.
What is your take on new construction during this time?
Closings outpaced starts from June to August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. That speaks volumes because in new homes, the inventory is less than it was last year. That remaining inventory is on its way to disappear fairly quickly. Even if the exact checklist a buyer may have is not fully met with the inventory that exists, a lot of builders are looking to pivot quickly. Some of the trends the virus brought to light are making them adjust their plans to reflect some of those changes.
What are Harry Norman, REALTORS® priorities toward 2021?
We are keeping an eye on ongoing trends. We want to be able to pivot quickly. The beauty of our company is that we are very much in tune with buyer needs and seller preferences. It helps us advise our new home builders and developers with highly granular boots-on-the-ground information. It also provides our agents an advantage when it comes to marketing, which obviously benefits our sellers. We are making a point of capitalizing on the virtual offerings we have, while looking for opportunities to help provide inventory and to educate sellers on how to best position their homes. The key to what we are going to see in the next few months is appreciation remaining slow and steady, probably ending at 4 percent for 2020, which will be mirrored in 2021 or at least in the year’s first half. Demand will continue to outpace supply but not necessarily at the same rate. We will move toward a more balanced market.
To learn more about our interviewees, visit:https://www.harrynorman.com/employees/1235-Jenni-Bonura