Viewpoints: Debra Johnston, Berkshire Hathaway, Buckhead

by Atlanta Agent


Debra Johnston is a luxury collection specialist with Berkshire Hathaway’s Buckhead office

Every week, we ask an Atlanta real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Atlanta real estate.

This week, we talked with Debra Johnston, a luxury collection specialist with Berkshire Hathaway’s Buckhead office. A member of Berkshire Hathaway’s Chairman Circle Platinum designation, which represents the top 1 percent of agents companywide, Debra had two sales in Atlanta that were the second-highest sales in Buckhead in 2012 and 2014, and this year, so far, has been a career record in terms of sales volume. Debra works extensively with the film and entertainment industry here in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and she is the exclusive real estate agent in Georgia for Haute Living and Chic Metropolitan magazine.

Atlanta Agent (AA): What are the top items on the luxury buyers’ wish list?

Debra Johnston (DJ): The top items on client’s luxury lists vary as you go up in price. Between the $2 and $3 million price point, for instance, there are some requirements, while between $3 and $5 million, and $5 million-plus, there is a different set of requirements.

For the $2 to $3 million client, they are looking for a great location, newer construction, interesting architecture and added features, such as upgraded finishes, home automation, and outdoor living spaces with a pool.

As you go higher, buyers get more particular with finishes, land and privacy, especially the $5-million-plus buyers; they want a premier location and larger lot. They also want the latest in finishes and features, but there is one exception – if you find a fantastic lot with great architecture that may need some renovation, that is starting to trump brand new construction, because great lots in excellent locations are in short supply.

AA: What luxury markets are most in demand, in Metro Atlanta?

DJ: There are a few areas depending on the client’s lifestyle. Buckhead is one area, especially streets that are quieter with less traffic and near schools if the client has children. These include neighborhoods such as Tuxedo Park, Peachtree West and the Paces Civic Association over on the West side of Buckhead where lots are zoned 2 acre minimums. Ansley Park is another very popular smaller neighborhood for those that love Midtown and Piedmont Park.

Parts of Sandy Springs and Vining’s are also popular. They have beautiful lots, and homeowners enjoy lower property taxes.

AA: Finally, what is your overall strategy when marketing properties?

DJ: Whether it’s a $1 million property or $5 million-plus, my strategy is develop a custom marketing plan for the property that will deliver maximum exposure for the property, both online on real estate websites, social media and online magazines as well as in print. I always use the very best photography and video and I have virtual tours for all my properties. I include the property’s address in the url so that they are easy to find. I am also a premier member of Zillow as well as my brokerage, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Georgia Properties whereby we as agents have maximum exposure that ultimately benefit our client’s property exposure.

In magazine exposure, I am the exclusive agent for the Atlanta market for Haute Living magazine on the East coast and Chic Metropolitan magazine on the West Coast. My client’s listings and my contact information are in the magazine and directory each month. I am the exclusive luxury real estate representing the Atlanta market. My overall marketing strategy is to reach as many consumers as possible and to provide maximum exposure for my clients property.

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