Spotlight On: Bonneau Ansley, CEO, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate

Spotlight On: Bonneau Ansley, CEO, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate

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.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://ansleyatlanta.com/

 

Spotlight On: William Pate, President and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Spotlight On: William Pate, President and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

2 min read April 2020 — As the full wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic strikes the country, tourism is among the worst-hit sectors. Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau President & CEO William Pate calls the impact “unprecedented” and points to an expected 95% drop in business in May. Pate outlines the actions the bureau is taking to help businesses in the sector and also provides his outlook for the second half of the year.   

 

 

In comparison to where the numbers were last year, what have you seen in terms of drop off from the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism and hospitality community in the region?

The hospitality industry is on the front line of those affected financially, and the impact is unprecedented. We experienced a 70% reduction in business in March and expect a 95% reduction in April and a 95% reduction in May. Smith Travel Research estimates hotel occupancy in the city of Atlanta for March was 33 percent, compared to 81 percent in March 2019 and March 2018. Destinations across the country are seeing similar downtrends or worse. Our priority is now on recovery. Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau is laser-focused on making sure our city’s hospitality industry comes back strong so we are able to spread the economic benefit throughout the city as quickly as possible.

How is your organization working to assist the tourism sector in mitigating the challenges and impact felt from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Many of our 850 members are facing extreme financial challenges. We have aggregated online resources on Atlanta.net designed to help them along with their employees. These include fundraising efforts on behalf of employees in our industry as well as restaurants that are providing pickup and delivery services. For locals and visitors, we list attractions offering virtual experiences as well as updates on event cancellations and venue closures.

How quickly do you believe the tourism and hospitality industry in Atlanta will be able to recover from this pandemic? 

Atlanta has a strong convention calendar in the second half of this year, and our sales team is actively working with the staff at Georgia World Congress Center to optimize space and bring additional meetings to the city. It is difficult to forecast how quickly travel will rebound. This is an unprecedented situation, and the length of this event and the rate at which people will travel again and attend conventions remains to be seen. Atlanta is a very attractive destination for travelers though, and we continue to see substantial activity in booking meetings and conventions over the next five years.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

 

https://www.atlanta.net/acvb/

 

 

Spotlight On: Patti Garrett, Mayor, City of Decatur

Spotlight On: Patti Garrett, Mayor, City of Decatur

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

2 min read April 2020 — The city of Decatur is among the many cities across the United States dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett discusses her city’s efforts to assist the business community and residents in this time of crisis, including the provision of loans to small businesses and an information pipeline for the community.

 

How is the local governance working to assist the business community in mitigating the challenges and impact felt from the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Our Community and Economic Development department has initiated a strategic marketing campaign, highlighting businesses such as restaurants and fitness facilities with links to their websites and information. You can find some examples on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/visitdecaturga/

We also have developed an interactive map showing which businesses are open, such as restaurants that are open for take-out or curbside pick-up and retail locations with on-line ordering. Our Downtown Development manager is checking in almost daily with businesses, holding a Zoom call with retailers and a separate call with restaurants. We also have developed a webpage with resources for businesses: https://www.decaturga.com/ed/page/covid-19-resources-decatur-businesses

In addition, we have now established a small-business loan program with $400,000 from the city budget. Businesses can find more information at our website: https://decatur.civicweb.net/document/3216

What efforts is the city making in terms of assisting those residents who have become recently unemployed? 

The city has extended the grace period for city taxes to July 15 with no penalties or interest. More information on that is available here: https://decatur.civicweb.net/document/3218

Do you feel the city’s efforts toward mitigating the challenges caused by this pandemic are receiving enough state and federal support? 

Georgia cities are asking for additional assistance for cities of all sizes in the 4th Supplemental Aid Package. Our revenue streams and budgets will all be significantly impacted and we are asking for Congress to approve emergency appropriations for direct local budget relief for cities of all sizes. While private sector businesses can qualify for tax credits for wage expenses, the city is continuing to pay employees who are not able to work, such as school-crossing guards, without the same benefits afforded to the private sector.

How can the community best assist the city’s efforts in this time of need? 

We ask that citizens be patient and know that the city is committed to providing high-quality essential services. Support local businesses; practice physical distancing but not “social” distancing – stay in touch with family, friends and neighbors. Residents can also show their appreciation of the city’s front-line employees, including sanitation workers, firefighters and police officers. This can be done with a simple smile, wave or thank you.

What would your message be to the local community that is sheltering in place and waiting for a return to normalcy?

We are a resilient and resourceful community. It’s important to follow the rules as we move through this together. We are #DecaturStrong.

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:


https://www.decaturga.com/

 

 

Spotlight On: Stephanie Freeman, President & CEO, Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber

Spotlight On: Stephanie Freeman, President & CEO, Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

1 min read April 2020 — Dunwoody, a city in DeKalb County and a northern suburb of Atlanta, has faced the same challenges as other cities fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Stephanie Freeman, president and CEO of Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber, whose goal is to advance economic prosperity, relayed to Invest: the chamber’s efforts to assist the business community through this unprecedented crisis.

 

How is your organization working to assist the business community in mitigating the challenges and impact felt from the COVID-19 pandemic? 

 

At this time of social distancing, the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber is working diligently to be the steady voice of reason and reassurance for all businesses and the entire community. While our normal plan of work may be on hold, we are here to help businesses during this time of crisis. As they work to thrive during the current economic conditions, we are here for them; providing education, assistance, resources, and if needed a confidential outlet in which to discuss the future. We have developed a web page, are communicating daily with our members, and have developed an Engage Dunwoody Facebook group encouraging the entire community to communicate during this time. 

 

Do you feel the business community is receiving enough state and federal support? 

While the business community is receiving support from both the state and federal governments, the guidelines and regulations are ever changing. As this pandemic and its affects continue to vary, this is somewhat expected; however, businesses and community leaders look forward to a time when standards become more finalized. 

 

How can the local community best assist your efforts in this time of need? 

During this time, the local community may best assist the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber by communicating their specific needs. While we can’t fix all issues, we are here to provide resources and advocate on behalf of the business community.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

 

https://www.perimeterchamber.com/