Why Atlanta is an elite luxury home market

by Meg White

It’s not easy to stay up-to-date on the latest in luxury real estate. The true trajectory and intensity of trends in this specialized market can be obscured by noise in the data when sample sizes or time frames are too small. That’s according to the annual report put out by Coldwell Banker’s Global Luxury program, titled “The Report: State of Luxury 2019.” The authors caution agents to avoid month-to-month comparisons and keep a long-term perspective.

Atlanta is one of the many cities identified as one of several “power markets” called out in the report. For Marc Castillo, a global luxury agent at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Buckhead West Paces Ferry, the element that helps the city stand out among other power markets in the report is the relative affordability. “Atlanta has so much to offer as a regional cultural, culinary and business capital, yet our housing stock remains very affordable when compared to other major metropolitan areas,” he said, noting that relocating buyers mention this often. “They’re pleasantly surprised by their buying power compared to the city they’re coming from.”

While the report singles out a number of trends driving the luxury market internationally, from urban migration to wellness to technology, Castillo noted in particular that a growing desire for greener urban spaces is one that bodes well for Atlanta. “Atlanta places a strong emphasis on green spaces and the preservation of trees,” he said. “It has a large tree canopy surrounding its business districts that gives way to a dense canopy of woods that spreads into the suburbs.Atlanta’s main street is named after a tree, and the city has an entire municipal department devoted to protecting them.”

Castillo attributed Atlanta’s inclusion in the report’s list of cities that stand out for their luxury markets to the business-friendly environment here. “Major corporations in various industries continue to choose to relocate their headquarters to Atlanta… In fact, Atlanta ranks fourth in the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered within city boundaries, only behind New York City, Houston and Dallas,” he said. “Those companies are attracting the highly skilled workforce that commands the premium salaries who then take advantage of the luxury housing stock.”

Of course, amenities are an important consideration for luxury buyers as well. Castillo said his clients are looking for features that eliminate hassles. “In today’s busy world, time is the most precious commodity, and luxury buyers don’t have the time to make the selections, interview contractors and live through a drawn-out renovation,” he said, adding that such calculations also bear on where listings are situated within the city. “A premium location is also what a luxury buyer is pining for in Atlanta. A prime location convenient to schools and shopping limits the time lost in Atlanta’s infamous traffic.”

When asked what kind of advice he’d offer to agents looking to break into the luxury market, Castillo suggested doing one’s homework. “Know the current inventory, know the overall market and know the products, finishes, appliances, selections and details that command a premium in your market. Maybe it’s the land value, or the view or the setting that command the premium,” he said. “Steel windows and Calacatta marble cost exponentially more than premium double-hung windows and Carrara marble — Can you tell the difference at first glance? If you’re immersed in it long enough, it will become second nature to you, and buyers and sellers will sense that.”