If you are a first-time home buyer in the United States, chances are you have at least taken a look at the Atlanta area, according to recent market research. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Atlanta now ranks among the top cities in the nation for attracting first-time home buyers, among others like Orlando and Memphis.
The analysis, conducted by Zillow, took several key metrics into account when evaluating the housing markets of major U.S. cities, including median home values, expected one-year appreciation rates and available inventory. The research concluded that many of the most favorable markets are concentrated in the South and Midwest. Other cities topping the list included Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Tampa and Birmingham, while some of the major cities considered more inhospitable for first-time buyers include Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver, among others.
What are some of the contributing factors that make Atlanta one of the prime destinations for first-time home buyers? In addition to the Zillow report, we can also offer some insight as local experts. For example, Atlanta is one of the few business/industry hotspots in the nation where home prices are still modest, making it highly attractive to younger industry professionals who are just starting out. Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages this city offers to first-time buyers.
Lower Median Home Values
Despite being one of the top commercial hubs in the region, Atlanta’s median home values are significantly below the national average ($175,800 compared to $196,500, according to the AJC). This essentially means first-time buyers can either bring lower down payments to the table or get more home for their money. It also means buyers can more easily qualify for a home in Atlanta, compared to other markets. If a buyer also qualifies for an FHA loan and/or down payment assistance, the initial cash needed to purchase decreases even further.
Expected Home Value Appreciation
Good news: Atlanta is currently in an optimal window where home values are on the rise due to the city’s continued growth, but not yet out of reach for buyers on a budget. This reality factors into our city’s one-year expected home value appreciation rate, currently 3.1 percent. In other words, first-time buyers realize they are more likely to “buy low and sell high” in Atlanta than in other cities.
Value of Buying Versus Renting
Contributing to the attractiveness of Atlanta’s market is the “breakeven horizon” — in other words, the time in years required to live in a purchased home to deem it financially more feasible than renting. Currently, if you plan to live in Atlanta longer than one year and nine months, it makes more financial sense to buy a home than to rent one, providing yet another incentive for current renters to look at becoming first-time buyers.
Wide Range of Options
One of Atlanta’s most unique features is the variety of different housing options available to first-time home buyers – consistent with their interests, budgets and lifestyle. This is a city of many neighborhoods and diverse opportunities. For example, young professionals seeking the urban lifestyle can find high-rise apartments and condos in key business hubs. Individuals and families more interested in suburban living can expect to find affordable properties in some of the outlying communities, while others can take advantage of Atlanta’s older revitalized neighborhoods that have emerged as eclectic and artistic hotspots.
These, and many other contributing factors, together make Atlanta one of the nation’s most favorable markets for those looking to become homeowners for the first time. Of course, for those of us who live here, the recent research has merely confirmed what we already knew! If you are looking for a great city to buy your first home, we hope you will consider Atlanta. When you are ready to check out your options, the local experts at Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty are here to help. To make an appointment, call us at 404.948.4812.