Demand grows for transit-oriented homes: A Q&A with Tina Wiggins

by Rincey Abraham

As millennials in Atlanta begin to enter the world of homeownership, one trend they are looking toward is townhomes close to major transit hubs. Walkability is not a feature that Atlanta may be well-known for, but there is an increasing number of neighborhoods that are more accommodating of a car-free lifestyle. And many first-time homebuyers are looking at townhomes as their first foray into real estate because they are more affordable.

Tina Wiggins, division sales manager at Edward Andrews Homes, recently talked about the move toward transit-oriented homes and the lifestyle trends that she sees many homebuyers moving toward.

 

Q: What trends have you seen in terms of interest of homes near transit hubs?

Having access to public transportation is a deciding factor for a lot of young homebuyers. Specifically, we are seeing an increase in demand for housing developments in close proximity to transit hubs across the metro area. As Atlanta continues to grow and expand, we are seeing more buyers commit to public transportation and walkable living. In fact, some buyers at our in-town townhome community Broadview Place are ditching their cars completely and instead filling their garages with kayaks, bikes and storage.

People in Atlanta increasingly want to live the auto-free lifestyle that people in other major cities like New York have, where they don’t depend on their car and can get around town and experience just as much — if not more — without it. It also speaks to the fact that transit demand is here to stay. These people aren’t just renting near MARTA to try it out; they’re committing to a walkable, connected lifestyle.

 

Q: What is the demographic of buyers who are interested in these homes?

As far as the demographics go, we’re seeing a true mixture of buyers. It’s difficult with townhomes in Atlanta to say that you’re targeting a specific demographic because they are becoming so popular for all age groups and different types of families.  But overall, we’re seeing that younger millennials are more drawn to the transit-oriented, walkable lifestyle. Many of them are first-time buyers who aren’t ready to give up city living but want to make a smart investment in the urban core.

One consistent thing we’ve noticed with Broadview Place is that we are seeing a lot of millennials and professional, middle-aged women without families moving in town or choosing to stay in town instead of moving to the suburbs. We continue to see downsizers coming from East Cobb and other metro areas known for unpleasant commutes, as well as professionals who work from home and want to make their home base in Buckhead where they can do all their errands on foot.

 

Q: How have you seen Atlanta residents react to being able to buy homes versus renting homes near transit hubs?

Yes. Due to high demand, renting has become so expensive in Atlanta that a lot of our buyers are discovering that they can buy and own a home for the same price — if not less than — as renting. Continued low interest rates are also making buying a home a more appealing option for young professionals who are ready to make smarter financial choices but still enjoy their vibrant, urban lifestyle rather than resigning themselves to the suburbs for affordable options.

Right now, we are seeing a lot of millennials specifically wanting to purchase in town because of access to public transit, walkability and general connectivity. It’s about lifestyle for them, being able to walk to dinner or the grocery store and being able to head to the airport by walking across the street and hopping on a train. It’s very urban and actively fights the sprawl Atlanta has always been known for.

 

Q: What are some of the other amenities that you are seeing Atlanta residents seek out?

Buyers who are looking to live near transit hubs are increasingly interested in walkability. More so than gated pools and fitness centers, today’s buyers want access to restaurants, shopping and urban trails. Walkability is a huge selling point for millennials, and access to public transit is in high demand.

It’s also about having places to walk or run for fitness. For Broadview Place, it’s being in close proximity to PATH 400, but across Atlanta, we’re seeing buyers flock to the Beltline and similar public paths and urban trails that bring a natural element into the city. They can enjoy the outdoors but still go home and be able to walk to the coffee shop or a cool new restaurant.

As we see our buyer demographics shift to young professionals, we are also seeing an increase in demand for townhomes with work spaces. Professionals working from home want to see a dedicated office space in their homes, great internet connectivity and flexible spaces as their career paths evolve.