We braved an unprecedented real estate market that demanded we stay focused on the clients, families and communities that we serve. We entered this year with lines at open houses, multiple offers on listings within days, cash paid over asking and no contingency offers; we’re closing the year with interest rates more than double where we started, creating a normalizing effect even with low inventory on the market. We overcame the tough times by adapting and staying passionate about real estate, our community and giving back to our industry.
At Atlanta REALTORS® Association, our focus this year was advancing our strategic plan through inclusion and making our voices heard on important real estate industry issues. I am extremely proud of our progress. We can now take more significant steps across the inclusion spectrum, expanding our impact beyond the protected classes to include the size and location of brokerages; the multi-sectors of the residential real estate market; leadership roles within our companies and communities; diverse representation of future leaders of our association; and the strength of our relationships with industry multicultural groups and allies, which we maintain by inviting them to have a seat at our table and taking a seat at theirs.
Housing for All
If we take a close look at the shifts in our market, has the lack of diverse housing stock, the absence of new starter homes affected this cooling period in the market? The housing market in Atlanta has seen a lot of growth, with average and median prices hitting record highs this summer. Homeowners enjoyed their equity growth and sellers realized substantial profits. Unfortunately, this growth also has had a negative impact on buyers who are on the lower end of the income spectrum. The rising interest rates have only deepened the problem, leading to disparities in the housing market. With inventory low and demand high, home prices escalated out of their reach, and most did not have large amounts of cash to compete with offers over asking and sizeable earnest money deposits. This bracket of buyers includes our teachers, police officers, firefighters and community workforce. The workforce we need for thriving communities. We must continue to advocate for diverse housing inventory that multiple income brackets can afford.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, metro Atlanta’s real estate market is strong and will only get stronger in the near future. This expansion will take place despite rising interest rates. But it is critical that we get housing right. I am excited about the opportunities this presents for Realtors, builders, developers and nonprofits to collaborate, expand and create new attainable housing options.
We need to build more housing and open up more opportunities for construction and innovative development in order to have sufficient housing inventory in the future. According to the 2022 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers Study, homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes for longer periods of time, partly because they refinanced or purchased their homes when interest rates were low. For first-time home buyers, it jumped to 18 years from 2021 when it was 10. Therefore, new construction will be critical to meeting Atlanta’s housing needs, as resale inventory will not be at the levels we have previously experienced.
If we want to create more homeowners, we need to collaborate with our communities and public officials to establish zoning that is more inclusive. Zoning will be critical to our region’s ability to meet housing needs. Realtors must be involved, attending meetings and taking a closer look at what housing is needed and what is missing. Realtors are the closest to the transaction and ingrained in our communities. So, I encourage you to be included on a leadership level in your communities and at the table for housing discussions. Know what developments are coming or on the planning table. Take a look at how your neighborhood and city are currently planned. Is zoning adequate? Could it be improved? Are there opportunities to increase density in locations that make sense? Maybe in between commercial and residential corridors as a step-down to single family. Are boutique communities an option and more feasible? Get in the conversation so we can ensure we have the right housing stock.
Realtors have the potential to bring about positive change. Our association boasts more than 14,000 members, spanning multiple municipalities. We can advocate and educate to build dynamic communities, champion workforce housing, starter homes and missing-middle housing (you choose the name that suits your preference). We must examine how and what we can do. This way, our neighborhood workforce can live in the communities where it works and plays. Realtors need to be advocates for increasing housing access for all. By working together, we can ensure that everyone has a fair chance of attaining the American Dream of home ownership. This will restore balance to the market, create more housing opportunities and allow future generations to build a legacy of wealth.