Many Atlanta renters’ taste for housing may change over time from apartments to houses, but this change doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll switch from renting to purchasing a home.
“Since the downturn [in the U.S. economy beginning around 2007] many people don’t see real estate appreciation as a ‘sure thing,’” says Mike Nelson, president of Excalibur Home Management, an Atlanta-based company that manages rental homes for individual owners and investors. “Fewer people are buying if they plan to be in the house for less than five years.”
The Atlanta rental and real estate market is particularly difficult to predict because in such a corporate hub, layoffs and interstate job transfers are common, says Nelson. However, these renters may find that their next move is actually to Atlanta’s suburbs.
The metro Atlanta counties with the lowest average monthly rent for a three-bedroom house included Barrow, Douglas, Walton and Henry, according to 2013 real estate information provided by the First Multiple Listing Service (FMLS) and analyzed by Excalibur Home Management. Prices in these counties ranged from $1,015 to $1,155 per month. This is compared to the metro area counties with the highest average rents for this type of home: Cobb ($1,317), Fulton ($1,403) and Forsyth ($1,461).
Suburban rental homes might be a fairly new trend. In fact, Nelson says, many of these single-family homes for rent are actually owned by “frustrated sellers” who decided to rent their homes rather than sell them below their original purchase prices following the collapse in housing prices in Georgia in 2007-2008. However, housing prices have begun to rise, according to Trulia, prompting many of these “frustrated sellers” to again consider selling and attracting large real estate investment firms that seek homes as “rent to own” investment properties.
This demand is being seen widely throughout Atlanta—a continuation of a trend in a market that Mitch Kaminer, president of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2012 would be “really stagnant.”
Single-family home owners who decide to rent out their home instead of, or prior to, selling it, obviously want a well-managed investment, says DD Lee, owner of the Skyline Properties Group brokerage in Atlanta, so that they “can sell it easily and quickly without having to put in large amounts of money to rehab due to neglect.”
Lee says that renters need to “treat the home as their home.” This can include quickly reporting maintenance needs and caring from the look of the home from the street.
“If one drives into a subdivision looking to purchase a house, and notices that most of the lawns are being neglected,” adds Nelson of Excalibur Home Management, “the buyer is less likely to want to live there, and that drives value down.”