The Athens Condo Market: What You Need to Know

Most of you probably have an idea or at least a decent understanding of what constitutes a condominium, but just in case I will try to clarify it a little bit.  In general, a condominium is a unit or space that can be purchased inside a larger building.  When a person owns a condo they have exclusive ownership of a specific space or unit inside a building while also owning a small percentage or shared ownership in the rest of the building.  All the owners in a condominium share in the cost or upkeep of the entire building or complex. For example, condo owners pay HOA fees that cover building insurance, maintenance, and often the cost of amenities.  They can be attractive real estate because they are often more affordable than traditional homes, they offer low maintenance, and are often ideal second home purchases.  Nevertheless, many condo owners are suffering due to the recent recession.  In many areas condo values have dropped drastically, and while most real estate has appreciated in Athens not every condo development has recovered.  In fact, many areas are still close to the values of 2011. On the other hand, certain developments have seen values grow back quickly.   So why have some condos appreciated while others have not?  To understand why you have to go back to the recession.

Hopefully, you haven’t forgotten what happened eight years ago.  The mortgage crisis devastated our national economy resulting with a sharp decline in real estate values.  We saw massive foreclosures across the country, and condos were a major part of the foreclosure market.   First, you have to understand that many condos are developed to be vacation or second homes.  For instance, many coastal areas are covered with condo developments that are owned by people that do not occupy the units full time.   And if someone owns two propertiessimi_valley_foreclosures-sign when money becomes tight, the second home is usually the first thing they can live without.  As a result, numerous condos went on the market in 2010 when most people could not afford to buy them or were scared to buy due to the recession.  Consequently, property values plummeted, and many homeowners had to let their condo go into foreclosure.  Banks across the county took massive losses on condos, and now many large banks will not finance a condo.  And that’s the problem many condo owners face today. The financing has become more difficult which shrinks the pool of buyers resulting in depressed values.  Here in Athens, we have some condos appreciating and others that are not.  So back to the question, Why?


The answer is simple, and it is almost always the same LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.  You may think I am beating a dead horse, but it is the truth.  All properties are valued based on their location, but condo values are even more dependent on the location.  As an example, look at downtown Athens whereWelcome-to-Downtown-Athens many condos have appreciated over the last couple of years because downtown Athens is a prime location where many condo buyers are looking to purchase.  Meanwhile, the east side of town has an abundance of condos that are valued much less due to location and the overall supply.  For instance, on Barnett Shoals road there are four large condo developments:  The Woodlands, The Summit, Stones Creek, and Brookwood Mill.  All of these developments were originally targeted to investors or parents of UGA students.  They are well built, spacious, and fairly close to campus. However, the supply greatly exceeds the demand keeping the prices low around $100,000.  Conversely, condos at Lumpkin Square or East Cloverhurst are worth around $150,000 for a smaller and older two bedroom unit.  These condos are worth more because they are right next to campus and walkable to restaurants and Sanford Stadium.

Lumpkin Square Condos

So does this mean you should not buy a condo?  Heavens no!  Condos are still a very good purchase depending on the price, the location, and the purpose.  The values on the eastside of town offer a really low price point for investment.  In some cases, buyers can still purchase a three bedroom condo in the low $100s. And remember, a condo in an ideal location will always have value.  Additionally, we are starting to see condo financing improve, and I believe it will continue to get better over the next couple of years.  In closing, if you have a condo to sell or are looking to buy one don’t worry because either is very doable.  But I suggest you find someone in the area that really knows their stuff because you will need help to navigate the market and the current financing climate.

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Real Estate Appreciation in Athens

It is now the beginning of August, and kids are either back in school or getting ready to start.  The summer is almost over, but it hasn’t cooled off in the slightest.  And it probably won’t for a month or two.  Historically, this time of year marks the slowdown of the Athens real estate market at least with regards to residential homes.  However, I will say that this year may be unique because things haven’t slowed down quite yet.  There are still plenty of buyers in the house-prices-upmarket, and a surprising number of homes are still going up for sale.  Long and short, our local market seems to be generally strong despite a few areas here and there or difficult price points.  Overall, we have seen most properties continue to appreciate over the last year.  Especially, when it comes to the in town neighborhoods.  Which is great news of course, but what is causing our values to go up?  Will it continue?  Will it not?  No one has a crystal ball of course, and there are numerous factors that create our market many of which are on a national level.  I don’t know who is going to be President, and I don’t know what will happen to interest rates.  I can certainly make an educated guess, but that would be all.  However, I do know our area market, and I think the best way to understand all this appreciation is to focus on the local factors that are influencing our market.

First of all, let me make it abundantly clear that low interest rates are a MAJOR reason for our strong real estate market and increased values.  Money is cheap right now, and people should take advantage while they can because it will not last forever.    While interest rates are a big factor, they are not the only (2)  For instance, not every real estate market is strong right now even with the low interest rates.  But here in Athens, we have a lot going for us which really helps our real estate.  Earlier, I mentioned in town neighborhoods where homes are achieving the highest per square foot in the area.  This is actually not a new trend.  As an example, 5 Points has always had strong value relative to other areas of town.  It is highly desirable, and land is scarce.  The same can be said for our Normaltown and Boulevard neighborhoods.  Nowadays, Athens is a great place for retirees, families, and young professionals. Which is truly unique for a town the size of Athens.  People are flocking to our small little city because it can offer a high quality of life.  Retirees want to be in town, and many of them can afford to pay for it. Meanwhile, we are seeing just as many young families come to Athens or Oconee from the Atlanta area.  In some cases, they are even willing to commute5 Points Clockeditededited into Atlanta everyday just to live in Athens.  This is all great of course, but I do worry if too many move here we may just become another Atlanta suburb.  Scary stuff!  Another factor that has always helped the Athens economy is the University.  Our local economy is not massive, but thanks to UGA it has some real stability.  UGA is our biggest employer, and it is the primary engine that drives commerce.  The students are wonderful customers to many of our local establishments.  Downtown would likely be a ghost town without them.  Here in Athens, we sell students most of their clothes, gas, entertainment, housing, and food.  Which reminds me of a local business owner who once told me a story about buying a car in Athens.  He said, “the car salesman told me that the university didn’t help his business at all”, to which he replied, “where the hell do you think I got the money to buy this car you dumb@$$? I got it from selling ice cream to college kids!”  To further my point, most of the people that want to move to Athens went to UGA, and love Athens because of the time they spent here in school.  In summary, Athens offers a somewhat stable economy in a highly desirable town.  Meanwhile, land is scarce in most of the in town neighborhoods which creates a demand with limited supply.  Conversely, our neighboring counties have an abundance of land, but also have great schools, achievable home values, and they are right next door to our great city.

To sum it all up, we are really fortunate in Athens.  There many other things I could discuss that influence our market, but I think you get my point.  Besides, I have run on for long enough.  Regardless, this doesn’t mean that you can buy any house in any location and see appreciation.  The same rules will apply to anydownload (1) wise purchase.   First, think about the location which is always the most important factor.  Next, you need to consider the supply in your area and the comparable values.  Lastly, think carefully about the schools, and how many buyers will want your house when you need to sell.  It is much easier to make a bad decision in a strong market.  Thanks for reading, and get excited because we are 31 days away from Georgia football.  Go Dawgs!

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Ranking the Best SEC Coaches as of Right Now

We are right in the middle of July, and the heat is becoming unbearable. Nevertheless, I can sense that fall is around the corner because  football is getting close.  With that in mind, I thought I would get back to talking some college football. SEC media days is this week, and  all the coaches in the league are being interviewed.  Therefore, I thought it might be fun to create rankings for all the coaches.  Below are my personal rankings of all the SEC coaches starting with #1 as of today.  I am sure you will not agree, but that’s what makes it fun.


  1. Nick Saban, Alabama– Without a doubt, Coach Saban is at the top of the list.
    Bama Coach Nick Saban
    Nick Saban, Bama

    Despite numerous national championships and SEC titles his reign at Alabama doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.  Maybe another school in the league will finally step up and do something about it.  Only time will tell.

  2. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State– Well here is my first surprise on the list. I am sure you probably thought #2 would be Les Miles.  But in my opinion, Dan has done the most with the least since he has been at Mississippi State.  Lewis Grizzard use to say, “the best way to get to Starkville, Mississippi is to go to the middle of nowhere and turn right.”  This is not an easy place to win, and he has done a lot of it while keeping his nose pretty clean.  His teams play hard, and don’t penalize themselves which makes him a darn good coach.
  3. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss– I sort of feel the same way about Freeze as I do about Dan Mullen. The only difference is the possible NCAA infractions that have occurred at Ole Miss.  Right now, these are just accusations, but the Laremy Tunsil debacle was embarrassing.  I am not sure Freeze’s success will continue much longer.  But for now, what he has done is impressive even it hasn’t been totally compliant with the NCAA.
  4. Jim McElwain, Florida– He has only coached at Florida for 1 year, but that 1 year
    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 5: Head coach Jim McElwain of the Florida Gators looks on before the SEC Championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Georgia Dome on December 5, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Jim McElwain, Florida

    sure did impress me. He coached a team to the Georgia Dome that had virtually no offense and no kicking game whatsoever. He came back to beat Tennessee, whipped Ole Miss, and then embarrassed my beloved Bulldawgs.  He can even take some of the credit for Mark Richt being fired.  Many folks tried to turn on him when he chewed out his player on the sidelines.  But what I saw was a coach that wasn’t going to tolerate stupid and selfish penalties anymore.   In my opinion, his players responded to that incident which is exactly what he intended.

  5. Kirby Smart, Georgia–  Just solely based on the “G” Day game and recruiting, and I think he is 5th right now.  The man hasn’t coached 1 game, and who knows if Georgia will win, but right now it is obvious that he can lead.  So he is number
    Apr 16, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart talks to running back Sony Michel (1) during the second half of the spring game at Sanford Stadium. The Black team defeated the Red team 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
    Kirby Smart, UGA

    5 because he has no negatives on the resume.  But that could change come Sept. 3rd.  Remember this is as of TODAY, and I am a total homer when it comes to Georgia.  Besides, if you don’t like UGA then why are you reading this blog.

  6. Les Miles, LSU– Finally, here is the “Mad Hatter”. I know you are probably thinking how can a man with a national championship be #6?  He has won a lot games for sure, but his inability to find a quarterback or even have decent QB play is a big strike against him.  It is the
    Les Miles, LSU
    Les Miles, LSU

    most important position on the field, and he just can’t coach it.  He is now the most senior coach in the league at one school, and that probably means he won’t be there much longer.  Maybe he is just suffering from the Saban effect or maybe it is time to move on.

  7. Brett Bielema, Arkansas– This fellow has won in the Big 10, and had some decent success in the SEC. But he just can’t quite seem to put it together for a whole season.  There is no doubt he can coach, but I think he is going to keep Arkansas right in the middle of the league.
  8. Butch Jones, Tennessee– This guy has definitely worked hard to get Tennessee back to relevance.  However, his signature wins are over South Carolina and
    Butch Jones, Tenn
    Butch Jones, Tenn

    Georgia.  And let’s be honest folks, beating UGA under Mark Richt was not a rare occurrence.   Sorry but it’s true.  Lastly, there have been some ugly off the field issues in Knoxville under his watch.

  9. Will Muschamp, South Carolina– This guy is a heck of a defensive coach, and his teams at Florida played hard and were tough. But he failed to find an offense while at Florida.  I think he might give it more attention now that he is at South Carolina.  Regardless, the Gamecocks will be good on defense and play 4 quarters of football.
  10. Mark Stoops, Kentucky– This guy has a tough gig that is kind of similar to coaching basketball at Georgia.  He hasn’t done much while at Kentucky, but I just really wanted to make sure Gus Malzahn wasn’t in the Top 10.
  11. Gus Malzahn, Auburn– Highly overrated! That is all.

    Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  12. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A & M– Possibly More Overrated! That is all.
  13. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt- I really think this guy can coach. But it is just so hard to make a real winner at Vanderbilt.  I use to like that Vandy was in the SEC.  It’s a great school in a great town.  But lately I have met some real arrogant “A” holes from Vanderbilt.  I can promise you that if one more Vandy fan insults my intelligence because I went to Georgia then I am going to show them just how stupid I can be while applying my right hand to their jaw bone.  I’m just kidding, but not really.
  14. Barry Odum, Missouri– This man might be way up the list very soon. He is taking over for a very accomplished coach in Gary Pinkel.  He seems to have a lot of respect from his players.  I hope he does well, but not well enough to beat Georgia or make it to the dome.


53 Days Dawg Fans!

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Home Buyers Are Angry in Athens

If you reside in the Athens area than you are probably aware that our real estate market is generally very strong.  After some real tough years, the local market has come back with a vengeance.   As I have mentioned in earlier posts, our in town neighborhoods are seeing appreciation and in some cases a return to the values of 2005 and 2006.  In addition, many areas of Oconee County are performing well, and builders are experiencing a boom in real estate sales. For many people that depend on real estate to earn a living this all sounds too good to be true, and I am of course one of these people. However, in my job I provide many types of Angry Buyersreal estate service.  Here at 5Market, we assist sellers, buyers, investors, tenants, and business owners because they all have real estate needs.  And while many sellers are very happy these days, there is an equal amount of very frustrated buyers.

Currently, several neighborhoods are highly competitive.  In many cases, properties are going under contract before most buyers get to set foot in the door.  Two prime examples of this are Normaltown and Forest Heights.  Normaltown has many varied and unique properties which appeals to a wide range of buyers.   But it seems now that a buyer needs an insider tip to find something in this area.  Additionally, Forest Heights, which is located on the other side of Hawthorne, offers houses well below $200,000.  As a result, properties have been flying off the market in Forest Heights over the last several months.  These are just two areas where buyers are experiencing

Normal Hardware On Prince Ave
Normal Hardware On Prince Ave

frustration, but they are many more examples throughout the Athens area.   Meanwhile, there are still some areas and price points where the sellers are not always in control.   For example, people that are selling a property in Oconee for over $500,000 probably don’t think it is a “seller’s market”.  This doesn’t mean that no one is buying over $500,000, but that fewer buyers are able to afford this range.  Furthermore, many neighborhoods in west Athens are not seeing the appreciation they probably deserve.  The Timothy road corridor is full of great neighborhoods that still offer a lot of house for a reasonable amount of money.  But in the end, it always comes back to supply and demand.  The trends change from time to time, and right now it is trending towards our in town neighborhoods which is driving up the demand.

All that being said, what does it mean if you are a buyer in this market?  Well it means you should keep the faith, remain patient, and keep looking.  We all know that these property values cannot grow to infinity.  At some point, the market will level off or even come down a little.  But that doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’tdownload purchase.  The biggest reason buyers need to buy now are the interest rates.  If you can find a rate below 4.5% or even below 4%, you need to take advantage.  It is impossible to know what will happen with Athens real estate over the next 20 or 30 years.  But I know that they aren’t making any more land, and rates will have to go up at some point.

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College Football Rant Summer Edition

Well here we are again stepping right into another very HOT and very dull summer. Don’t get me wrong, summer is great in a lot of ways. For example, kids are out of school, the days last longer, people get to go on vacation, and overall it can be a fun time of year. But when it comes to sports, I think it is downright dreadful. In the past, the Braves have offered some quality summer entertainment but not this year. Jiminy Crickets they are awful. Just awful! I know what you are thinking, what about the NBA playoffs? Well to be honest, I just don’t care about the NBA. I understand that many people really do love it, but it is just not my cup of tea. All that being said, it seems like an ideal time to talk a little college football. It is still way too early to discuss predictions and schedules, but I can’t wait to have those discussions later this summer. However, if you have been paying attention to the news lately there is plenty to talk about or better yet plenty to bi*tch about. Before I digress any further, let me remind you that I am an unabashed Georgia fan, I am not a reporter, I do not have sources, and these are just my opinions. So please keep this in mind as you read the rest of the blog. Now that we are on the same page, here are 5 things that deserve your attention this summer:

Baylor Coach Art Briles

1) The Baylor Scandal– Wow this is really bad. So bad in fact, they have already fired the head football coach, Art Briles. In case you haven’t heard, the football program and athletic department at Baylor have been supposedly covering up, failing to report, or generally ignoring numerous sexual assault cases against football players. In general, many Baylor players were either accused, convicted, or charged with sexual assaults. Two players were convicted of rape while many others were accused. And guess what? Baylor failed to report these incidents in many cases for TWO years. Granted, not every person accused of assault is guilty, but this is more about the athletic department’s handling of the situation. Briles is a great football coach, and Baylor has experienced a lot of success lately, but this is just grotesque. If they would cover up or hide sexual assaults, what else would they hide? Regardless, say goodbye to Baylor in the Top 10 of college football. It was awful while it lasted.
2) Ole Miss cheating? Surely, you jest?-  Ole Miss’s athletic department has been under investigation by the NCAA this year. Truthfully, not all of the allegations are related to the football program, but Ole Miss football has suffered a very embarrassing off season thanks to Laremy Tunsil and others.

Oct 24, 2015; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil (78) during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mississippi Rebels beat Texas A&M Aggies 23-3. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi Offensive Lineman Laremy Tunsil

Here in Athens, our suspicion of Ole Miss began way back with the recruitment of Laremy Tunsil. During Tunsil’s recruitment, he was a solid UGA commit for a long time. Then the weekend before signing day he went on a visit to Ole Miss for the first time. Long and short, Ole Miss was able to flip Tunsil at the last minute. This may not be surprising if it were Alabama, Florida, Auburn, or even Tennessee. But keep in mind that Ole Miss wasn’t beating Alabama at the time or many other SEC teams for that matter. So this was a total shocker, and Tunsil wasn’t the only unexpected recruit that Ole Miss landed that year. Needless to say, here in Athens fans suspected foul play from the start which probably sounded like sour grapes at least until this year’s NFL draft. In April, Mr. Tunsil saw his draft stock fall due to the timely release of a video that showed him smoking weed through a gas mask along with some text messages to his coaches asking for money. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Tunsil admitted that he accepted money in an interview after he was drafted. So now it appears that a little bong smoke in Oxford may end up leading to a BIG DAMN FIRE.
3) Satellite Camps– If you follow college football than you are probably aware of all this satellite camp hoopla. Jim Harbaugh already stirred the pot earlier this year withJim H his plans to travel with Michigan to other areas of the country. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but Nick Saban recently had his own rant against these camps. And Jim Harbaugh quickly went to twitter to fire back at the czar of college football. Usually, I get tired of Nick Saban’s act, but I have to agree with him on these camps. If the NCAA allows any yahoo with access to a prospect to host a camp it could damage the game. Baseball and basketball have already been decimated by travel ball and AAU basketball. Can we at least keep football focused on high school development?

4) Jim Harbaugh Antics– Is anyone else starting to think that Jim Harbaugh is a jackass? I was a big fan of his before, but I am starting understand why the 49ers ran him off. I really think he is a good coach, but his bitching, moaning, and recruiting antics are already growing tiresome. Nevetheless, if he keepsbobby-petrino-9ee2140ca5368061 winning than he isn’t going anywhere . Just look at Louisville, who just gave the biggest SOB in football, Bobby Petrino, a raise. Has he even won a meaningful game since returning to Louisville?


5) 93K Day and Ludacris– Ok I admit the Ludacris contract was ridiculous, but I just don’t care enough about it to be embarrassed. It was a small blemish on an otherwise stupendous event. And by the way, if you think Ludacris had anything to do with the 93,000 + that attended the G Day game well than you might be a TOTAL IDIOT. 93,000 people came to see and support the new staff and the players. Georgia has a great fan base that can compete in numbers with any other program in the country. Not to mention that Athens is a great town, and our fans will look for any excuse to come visit. Here is what happened on “G” Day.  Kirby asked for the support, and the fans answered the call plain and ludasimple.  Most of the crowd showed up after Ludacris was off stage which only proves my point.  Having an opening act for the spring game was just a gimmick to try and get people there on time which didn’t even work, but I can assure you that 93,000 were coming with or without Luda.
Now I am going to end with a lame Ludacris reference and “Rollout”.  Have a Great Summer! And as always Go Dawgs!

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Kirby Wants 93k…So Get Your A-S-S to G-Day!

031616 UGA spring practice bs7
Coach Smart at Spring Practice

I am sure that by now you have heard about 93K day, and if you haven’t then you probably aren’t likely to read this blog.  But just in case you didn’t know, Georgia’s new head football coach, Kirby Smart, has challenged the UGA fan base to pack Sanford stadium with 93,000 people for next week’s annual spring game on Saturday April 16th.   At first, this might seem a little ridiculous.  I mean 93,000 people to watch a glorified scrimmage?  But when you think about it, maybe it’s not ridiculous at all.  In fact, it might prove to be a fantastic idea and a new spring tradition here in Athens.  Personally, I’m excited about it, and our tailgate group has plans to tailgate on campus before kickoff.  At this point, we are expecting over 50 people, but I hope to see more.  I know that coming to Athens is not easy or cheap for many families, but if you are a dawg fan then I really hope you can make it happen.  With that in mind, I decided to write a blog on the subject, and identify 10 good reasons people should attend G-Day.

  • Be a Fan and Be a Good One-The first one is easy enough. Just ask yourself these questions.  Are you a dawg fan?  Do you love Georgia football?  If both your answers are yes then what the hell man?  Bring it on!
  • New Life in the Program– There is a new man on the job, and in case you hadn’t noticed, he is working his butt off for you.  He is working hard to change the culture around the team and the fan base.  He needs as much support as he can get.  And now he has asked for the support so let’s give it to him.
  • Tailgating is Fun– Tailgating is one of the great traditions in college football, especially in the south. It is hard to explain why we enjoy it so much, but we just do.  I encouraged my group to tailgate for this game and we are looking forward to it.  I encourage you do to the same.  I just hope the weather cooperates because it sure didn’t in the fall.
  • Athens in the Spring – The game is on April 16th, and April is a damn fine month to be outside. Here in Athens, the azaleas are blooming and the color green has returned.  With a little luck, the 16th will be a great day.  Or as Jeff Danzler would say, “A Chamber of Commerce Day”.
  • Recruiting- Recruiting is crucial to any sport at any school, and recruits want to go where the energy and support are tremendous. There is a good reason the same schools and programs seem to win the most games. It’s because they care the most. I’m not saying that we have to go overboard.  But a little more positive energy can go a long way.
  • The Cost- You know what else is great about G-Day? It’s free to go in the stadium and watch.  It may cost you money to come to Athens, but it won’t cost you anything to get in the stadium.  G-Day is a great chance to take your kids in the game and let them enjoy all the hoopla.   You don’t need a ticket or a UGA student ID.  Just show up.
  • New Head Coach and Staff– There is a whole new staff in charge of the team, and next Saturday will be your first chance to see them and the new look of the team.  Granted, it won’t be the same as a real game, but it will be worth seeing.  In fact, ESPN thinks it is worth televising so why not come see it in person.
  • New Recruits and New Players- G-Day is always a great chance to see some of
    031616 UGA spring practice bs11
    Jacob Eason with Coach Chaney

    the young players. This year many fans will be anxious to see Jacob Eason for the first time.  But there are a lot players that the fans have not seen play.  For example, the rising sophomore class is always important come spring time because come next fall they are expected to contribute.

  • Lots of Things to Do- The G-Day game is not the only activity going on next Saturday. The stadium will open at 1pm, and at 1:15 there will be a UGA alumni flag football game.  The Dawg Walk will be at 2:45, and there is rumor of a short pre-game concert.  Later in the day, the Diamond Dawgs play South Carolina at Foley Field.
  • Get on the Band Wagon or Stay the Hell Off – During the Richt era, we saw some good and some bad. But by the end, too many fans were disinterested and fed up.  But there were also fans that supported Richt no matter what.  Well next Saturday none of that should matter anymore.   It is time for all the fans to get on the same page.  And next Saturday is a great day to start.  Look at it this way.  There is no way that Georgia can lose.

In closing, be a good fan and come have a good time.  Go Dawgs!

Link to G Day Information G Day Information

An Early Spring in Athens, GA

Lately, the weather here in Athens has been downright COLD.  Earlier this week, it seemed like Athens was stuck in a large snow globe.  Sadly, the ground was not cold enough so it couldn’t really accumulate.  Therefore, nobody missed work, and all the kids had to go school.  But despite the chilly weather, the real estate market remains hot.  Traditionally, most home buyers get into the market around spring time.  This makes sense because many homebuyers prefer to move in the summer if possible.  Moving can be a lot of work for anyone, but it can be especially difficult when jugging children and school.  Subsequently, many people don’t place their homes on the market until April.  This has created what we refer to as “The Spring Market.”  And year to year, most realtors see a lot of activity between April & July.  Historically, the market drastically slows down once school starts.  However, there are years when the spring market starts early, and 2016 is one of those years.

There are various factors that can cause an early market.  Right now we have some interest rate risk, an upcoming election, and locally some areas have a shortage of available properties.   Interest rates are still very low, and I download (2) don’t foresee them jumping up drastically.  Nevertheless, they will have to go up sometime.  Furthermore, we have a huge presidential election in November.  At the moment, it seems wide open, and there is no telling who’s going to win.  Those are issues that impact the whole country.  But real estate is a very local business.  So what’s causing our market to start early?  Well there a lot of causes.  Right now in town areas like 5 Points and Normaltown are very popular with buyers.  But there are not many properties on the market in these areas which makes it very competitive.   This popularity has been created by several factors.  First of all, Athens is now a retirement town.  So many people are choosing Athens as a place to retire.  Many of these of retirees went to UGA,retire-early and are coming from the Atlanta area.  And in most cases, they simply want to live at a little slower pace while not sacrificing the amenities of a large town, and Athens fits that description perfectly.  This being the case, many of these retirees want to live “in town”.   Additionally, we are seeing some of the younger generation opt to stay in Athens.   Over the last 20 years, many families have moved to Oconee County for numerous reasons.  More space, more affordability, and the schools.  While Oconee County remains a great area for families, more and more folks are trying to stay “in town”.  This is a great thing for Athens and Oconee because both areas need young families in order to thrive.   Lastly, these low interest rates continue to drive our market.  The rates are giving people opportunities they would not have had back in 2005.  As a result, the banks cannot offer good rates on investment money.  Since rents are trending up, investment real estate is also doing well in our area.

In closing, I would like to briefly mention the housing study that has been in the paper recently.  You may or may not be aware that Athens Clarke County recently paid an outside firm to conduct a housing study.  I have included a link to the article in the Athens Banner Herald for reference below.  I will not go into great detail, but I would like to say that the information in this study is misleading, and it does not represent the market accurately.  It is frustrating that our government has paid for a study that any good real estate broker could have done in a couple of days for much less money.  Oh well, that’s just my two cents.

If you have interest in discussing the market or real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit our real estate brokerage, 5 Market Realty.

Athens Banner Article on Housing Study

National Signing Day:  Energy Abounds in Athens

You may or may not be aware that, February 3rd, is a crucial day of the year for all college football programs.  That’s because February 3rd is national signing day.  I am not totally sure how long this has been this case, but national signing day seems to get bigger and bigger every year.  It should be no secret that I am a huge Georgia fan, and a big fan of college football in general.  But I have to admit that I have mixed feelings when it comes to national signing day. signing day 2  There are positives and negatives to the whole recruiting process, but sometimes the negatives really do stand out.  First of all, let me make it clear that recruiting is vital to the success and longevity of any college sport.  That is the cold hard truth.  I fully understand this, and I enjoy following it to some degree.  But nowadays, it seems we are turning high school athletes into regional and in some cases national celebrities.   I have no doubt in mind that this is not a good thing, and it places even more importance on the young man’s maturity and upbringing.  That being said, please indulge my hypocrisy while reading this blog about some high school kids.  Besides, I am reaching a point in my life where the only athletes older than me are either golfers or bowlers.    And since Georiga just found out which kids are coming to Athens, let’s take a look at Coach Smart’s first recruiting class

Overall Ranking:       7th in Nation

My Ranking:               5 Stars and Well Done

These rankings are really silly, and created by self-appointed recruiting “gurus”.  Regardless, it does create buzz and excitement when a program’s class is highly ranked.  But please understand that I am not a “guru” of football recruiting.  I am just a fan who loves to talk Georgia football.  I know a hell of a lot more about real estate than I do about recruiting.   Well that sounds kind of arrogant. What I should say is that college recruiting is not something I follow closely. In reality, one cannot determine the ranking of a recruiting class until after a few years have past.  What happened yesterday is not as important as what happens with these young men over the next 3 to 4 years.  Nevertheless, I think Coach Smart has done an excellent job thus far.  So let’s take a look

  1. Jacob Eason QB – Jacob is a 5 Star Quarterback from the state of Washington.
    Jacob Eason

    UGA fans have to be excited about this young man.  He committed early to UGA, and only waivered briefly after Mark Richt was fired.  He is ranked by some as the Top QB prospect in the country.  Truly a great addition to this class, and without a strong QB in the class UGA would have failed to fill a big need.

  2. Ben Cleveland OL– Ben is a HUGE kid from Toccoa, GA. He stands 6-6 and over
    Ben Cleveland
    Ben Cleveland

    300lbs.  Offensive lineman are a big need in the class.  This seems like a great get for UGA especially since he is in state.

  3. Chris Barnes OL– Chris is from Leesburg, GA and is another offensive lineman that this class desperately needs.
  4. Julian Rochester DT– Julian is out of Powder Springs. I mentioned earlier that UGA needs O lineman, but they also need defensive lineman.  He is ranked in the Top 100 and already on campus.
  5. Riley Ridley WR/DB– Riley is from down in Florida. I am guessing he will play WR.  He is also already on campus which should speed up his development.
  6. Chad Clay CB– Chad is from Suwanee, GA and played at Peachtree Ridge. He was only given 3 stars, but who cares.  Thomas Davis and Tim Jennings weren’t given many stars either.  Chad is another recruit that is already enrolled.
  7. Chauncey Manac DE– Chauncey is from South Georgia or God’s country. A Homerville boy with 4 stars.  I hope we will be able watch him grow and develop over the next several years into a top notch SEC end.
  8. Isaac Nauta TE Some people have Isaac ranked as the #1 Tight End in the county, and a 5 Star prospect. This was a huge get for Coach Smart because Nauta did not make his decision until after Richt was fired.  Tight Ends are a scary weapon when they are good.  I hope that Coach Smart remembers that because the last
    Isaac Nauta
    Isaac Nauta

    staff sure forgot.

  9. Charlie Woerner WR– Charlie is tall wide receiver out of Tiger, GA. He has family ties to UGA.  Remember Scott Woerner?  His height should be a huge advantage against smaller DBs.
  10. Elijah Holyfield RB– Elijah is out of Woodward Academy and of course has a very famous dad, Evander. But Elijah is an elite recruit in his own right.
  11. Jaleel Laguins LB– Jaleel comes right from the backyard in Watkinsville, GA. He chose Georgia over Florida and Alabama.  Let’s hope this local kid will thrive under the new regime.
  12. Tyler Clark DT – Tyler is from Americus, GA another South Georgia town. A big defensive tackle from Georgia is something us dawg fans are always excited to see wearing red and black.
  13. Javon Wims WR – Javon is transferring as a JUCO wide receiver which could be smart because he may play immediately. I just hope it goes better for him than it did for recent transfers.
  14. Tyrique McGhee CB – Another long time commit from the state of Georgia. Tyrique is a 3 star prospect from Peach County.
  15. Solomon Kindley OT – This guy was a late addition added by Sam Pittman, the offensive line coach. He is a big guy standing 6-4 and 350 plus pounds.  The staff says they want to get bigger and tougher on the line.  Solomon appears to fit that mold and may be a great player.
  16. Marshall Long P – Marshall is a top ranked punter from China Grove, NC. He was another late addition by the new TE/Special Teams coach, Shane Beamer.  This guy has two cool things working in his favor.  First of all, he is from China Grove, NC.  Ever heard of the Doobie Brothers?   Lastly, he is a punter with the last name LONG.   Seldom do I get excited about a punter, but if he can punt well it may help transform the special teams for UGA.
  17. Mecole Hardman ATH – Mecole is another athelete from UGA’s backyard in Elbert County, GA.  He declared on signing day at 8:30 and started off a great signing day for the Dawgs.  A 5 star prospect that can play defensive back or receiver.  A great get for the Bulldogs.
    Mecole Hardman


  18. Michail Carter DT – Michail is yet another prospect that announced on signing day.  He chose UGA over Alabama and Clemson.  He is another Georgia boy coming to Athens, and a 4 Star prospect according to rivals.
  19. Tyler Simmons WR – Tyler was a Alabama commit that flipped on signing day.  Apparently, a fast guy and another great pick up for the class on the last day.
  20. David Marshall DE – David is a 3 Star Defensive end from Thomaston, GA.  He was an Auburn commit until signing day.  He represents another flip from an SEC school.  Exciting to Georgia keep yet another in state player.

Georgia missed on a few recruits later in the day.  Derrick Brown chose to go to Auburn, and EJ Price chose to travel out to Southern Cal for school.  These are often hard decisions for young men.  Of course, I want them all to choose Georgia but that is not realistic.  I wish Derrick and EJ the best except when they play the Dawgs.  Georgia’s class ended up ranked in the Top 10 which is good, but many fans expect UGA to be in the Top 5.  While I do agree that UGA should be in the Top 5, I think what Kirby and staff have accomplished with this class is stupendous.  Not many first year coaches can pull in a Top 10 recruiting class during a transition from one staff to the next.  I am officially impressed, and I continue to be enthusiastic.  The energy around the program is growing fast and becoming infectious.  But the next step is up to the fans.  We all know that fans can impact a program with money, but they can also make impact with energy, support, and enthusiasm.  That being said, Coach Smart challenged the fans a couple weeks ago with regard to the annual Spring Game. (See Below)

Well you heard the man!  Let’s see if we can fill up Sanford Stadium on “G” Day come April 16th.  Go Dawgs!

If you have any comments or real estate needs in the Athens area, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit my real estate firm, 5 Market Realty.

Athens Area Real Estate: 2015 in Review  

Well here we are at the end of another year, and pretty soon 2015 will be over and in the books.  As I get older, I find the old sayings are often very true.  For instance, people often say, “The older you get the faster time seems to move”, and I totally agree.  Maybe it happens because we get busy or maybe we just get accustomed to time.  Regardless, it seems to move faster and faster every year.  Just 5 years ago, I was single with no children.  Now I am married with 3 kids, a dog, and two car payments.  And of course, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but how in the hell did this happen?  Honestly, my 29 year old self would be blown away if he knew how fast his next 5 years would go.  It really does move fast, but it is a lot of fun as well.

I always enjoy looking back at the year.  And the end of the year is always full of TV shows and specials that review what has happened over the past year.  In addition, you can also always find a good amount of best and worst list too.  With that in mind, why not take a look back with regards to real estate in the area.

5 Points Clockeditededited
5 Points Athens, GA

Overall, you could say 2015 was a great year in Athens with the exception of Georgia football.  But that’s a subject for another post.  And you can rest assured I will write that one as well.  This year we saw the real estate market continue to thrive throughout most of the area.  Centrally located areas like 5 Points and Normaltown have become competitive markets.  As I mentioned before, both areas are seeing a lot of renovations and flips.  In Normaltown, you may see prices around $175 to $180 PSF at the top of market.  While some parts of 5 Points may achieve values over $200 PSF.  These prices are of course great for sellers, but can pose challenges for buyers.  I am glad to see this appreciation, but we need to be cautiously optimistic.  Location is

Normal Hardware On Prince Ave
Normal Hardware On Prince Ave

the driving factor for Normaltown and 5 Points and that is not going away.  But the current low interest rates have also played a major role in this market.  While I do not expect rates to go up drastically they will probably tick up a little bit over the next year.  No one has a crystal ball of course, but these two areas will surely remain popular in the years to come.


The Eastside of Athens has also experienced some appreciation, but overall the prices on the Eastside still provide a good value for a buyer.  Without a doubt, there are some areas on the eastside that need to improve.  But many neighborhoods are doing very well, and the Vet School is just another positive for the area going forward.   Moving a little further out is also a good option for buyers.  The west side of Athens has also seen some appreciation, and great older neighborhoods like Kingswood and High Ridge are still doing well.  Lastly, Oconee County continues to grow and reap the benefits of more space and good schools.  Oconee remains a fantastic option for families, but there is still a large supply of buildable lots in the county. As a result, appreciation may move a little slower in this area.  In general, Athens residential real estate had a good year in 2015.  But what about commercial and investment real estate?

Epps Bridge Centre

When it comes to commercial real estate in the Athens area, it’s impossible not to talk about Atlanta Highway & Epps Bridge Parkway.  Most people in the area consider the Epps Bridge corridor to be growing and Atlanta Highway to be declining.  The growth on Epps is great for the area and Oconee County will benefit from the taxes.  However, much of the growth on Epps came at a cost to the Atlanta Highway corridor.  Basically, many big box retailers moved from one road to the other.  While the Epps Bridge area has grown significantly over the last couple of years, we should not be so quick to dismiss Atlanta Highway.  I think this will be a temporary setback for Atlanta Highway because the area has too much traffic not to attract more business.  In fact, there are some projects underway that will bring more customers, and other plans are in the works as well.  In reality, both of these roads are positioned for success. It’s important for everyone to understand that Athens and Oconee are not in competition.  They need each other to be successful, and if we are not smart with growth we may turn ourselves into a congested Atlanta suburb lacking in charm and character.   That being said, downtown Athens is another market to watch when it comes to commercial real estate.  And in 2015, we saw  a lot of changes to the area.

GA Theatre Downtown Athens

Downtown represents the heart of Athens.  It hasn’t always been this way, but in the 90’s we saw more restaurants, shops, and bars come into the district.  Since then it is been a huge asset to Athens and one of the areas that helps make Athens unique.  Nowadays, it seems to be the most popular area for development.  There are so many things going on downtown it is hard to keep up with at times.  Commercial real estate has done well and overall rental rates are up.  However, this is not always a good thing for everyone.  I am happy to see any business small or large be successful in downtown.  But I never want to see Athens lose its local and small town feel.  Recently, we have seen some larger stores like J. Crew and Urban Outfitters come into downtown.  This is good for real estate, but I hope we are able to keep our small local stores as well.  And maybe one day we might see some form of a grocery store for all these new residents in the area.

The Standard in Downtown Athens

Lastly, you can’t talk about Athens real estate and not discuss student housing or investment property.  And it seems all the students want to live downtown, and developers are rushing to fill the need.  Recently, we saw “The Standard” become the first truly high end student housing development in the area.  It has been tremendously successful, and now “The Mark” is underway on the old Armstrong Dobbs site.  ‘The Mark” will be another high end development, but will also include commercial space some of which will be used for offices.  These are just two examples, but there are many more student housing properties that are either already developed or on the way. Only time will tell if there is enough demand for all this housing.  Nevertheless, the new developments downtown currently achieve a very high rental rate.  This has had a positive impact on some other student properties or investment real estate.  For example, Athens has a good bit of cottages or small houses that are dedicated to students. Many of these locations have seen rents go up over the past year.  It is only natural that investors and property managers would try to grow rents.  But the high rental rates downtown seem to have created a “perceived value” at some of the other more affordable locations.  Subsequently, I have seen many investors get back into the market purchasing more properties as a long term investment plan.

In general, 2015 was a good year across the board for real estate in Athens.  However, we are not too far removed from the lows of the mortgage crisis.  Therefore, our gains in real estate may seem a little bigger than they are in reality.  Nevertheless, you should feel good about the current state of the Athens market.  Let’s just hope 2016 keeps us on the same track despite outside factors like the election, interest rates, and health care costs.  Happy New Year!

If you have any questions or real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit our real estate brokerage, 5 Market Realty.

Ecstatic in Athens: UGA Gets Smart

Erk Russel
Erk Russell Coaching at UGA

Well by now everyone has heard the news and it is finally official. Kirby Smart is the new head coach at the University of Georgia.  The rumor circulated for far too long and then the hiring was reported days before the announcement.  I have to admit I was a little nervous that it might blow up somehow.  Being a Georgia fan my whole life, I can recall some other coaching hires that did not go so smoothly.  After Dooley retired, things got a little crazy.  Dick Sheridan, the coach at NC State, had apparently taken the job.  But news got out early, and the next thing you knew he was staying at NC State.  The obvious choice for many was Erk Russell, but he decided to stay in Statesboro for reasons not really known.  Or possibly for rumors that I will not share here today.  Finally, the job went to Coach Goff.  Who is often the subject of criticism, but personally I always liked Coach Goff.  UGA always had skill players in his day, but they remained weak on the line of scrimmage which ultimately cost Georgia too many games.

In the 90s, Coach Goff was fired, and Glen Mason was announced as the new head coach.  Mason later flipped on his decision and went back to Kansas for family reasons.  Nevertheless, UGA bounced back, and made a good hire in Jim

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2000 file photo, Georgia football coach Jim Donnan speaks during the team's preseason media day in Athens, Ga. A prosecutor said former University of Georgia football coach Donnan lured his friends into a fraudulent investment scheme because he was blinded by the enormous amount of money he could make. Prosecutor Pete Peterman made that assertion Wednesday in his closing argument in Donnan's trial on charges including wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. (AP Photo/Athens Daily News, Dot Paul, File) MANDATORY CREDIT, MAGS OUT
Former UGA Head Coach Jim Donnan

Donnan.  Coach Donnan did a good job of elevating the overall talent and level of players here at UGA.  In the end, he was fired as well which led us to Coach Richt.  As you know, Coach Richt was fired on Sunday after the Tech game.  Have you noticed a trend yet?  I hope so.  My point is that most coaches ultimately get fired.  Only a select few get to walk away on their own terms.  And in many cases those departures are still forced.

The firing of Coach Rich has been somewhat controversial in Athens.  Truthfully, to say “somewhat” is an understatement.  I can appreciate people’s feelings about Coach Richt and his departure.  The man always led UGA with class while tirelessly working to help the young men he brought to Athens.  He is a great man and a great coach, but I still feel his time needed to end here at UGA. I am sorry to those that disagree.  In most cases, I have found that many of the people so ardent that Richt should have stayed don’t really know football.  But they know Mark Richt the man.  Mark Richt is a man to admire in many ways, and I really don’t think any can argue that point.  The fact is that Mark Richt lost his job due to 7 years of under achievement.  Call him a victim of his own success, but since 2007 his teams have consistently underachieved.  2012 seems like an aberration and don’t forget that season included a stereotypical ASS kicking from South Carolina.  10 Wins is not what it used to be plain and simple. And if UGA cannot win the SEC East in its current state then change is needed. Ultimately, I think too many dawg fans grew tired of watching their team getricht01wmm embarrassed in big moments on national television.  Regardless, I am not interested in criticizing Richt any further.  But here is the deal folks.  He is not the coach at UGA anymore.  He is the coach at Miami, and it’s time to get over it.  Wish him well, but the past is past, and all Georgia fans need to get excited about the future.

Ok, no more Richt talk.  Only smart things to say from now on.  Did you see what I did there?  Smart’s last name will surely be used in “word play” by many dawg fans in the coming years.  There is really no way to know if this is a good hire, a great hire, or the dreaded bad hire.  Only time will tell, but I am so excited I just about can’t stand it.  I had no idea how ready I was to see something change, but I was apparently desperate for it.  I think it is great that Kirby went to Georgia and is part of our Bulldog family.  But that is not why he was hired.  He was hired because of his resume. First of all, he is a great coach and recruiter.  He’s coached on both sides of the ball, in the NFL, and at the top program in college football since 2008. The ties to Georgia are just a happy coincidence.  Winning is a habit for some people.  And when you work hard, and do the little things well you tend to have success.  Alabama does the little things well.  They don’t shoot themselves in the foot too often, and they are tough on the line of scrimmage.  This is what Coach Smart has been a part of for years, and he is in the habit of winning.  Furthermore, I have no doubt that Coach Smart will bring a new energy to the program, and a much needed toughness.  But we all need to be realistic as well.  Coach Smart has his work cut out for him.  There is still plenty of talent here at UGA, but not as much as in the past.  Coach Donnan made a good point on 960 the Ref this week.  He asked the question, “who had better players in the program when they took over the job”. Did Coach Donnan have more than Smart?  Did Coach Richt have more than Smart?  The answer to both is yes.  Both Donnan and Richt had more talent on the team than Smart.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  There is talent on the team just not as much as other times in the past.  For example, UGA has a QB problem, a lack of depth on the O-line and at receiver. Inconsistent kicking along with an injured running back.  So if you think Jacob Eason and Coach Smart can turn it around in 1 year you might be dreaming.  I think Georgia will win next year, but it may be very similar to this year.  An unimpressive 9 and 3, but I think 2017 could be a truly great year.  This all depends on recruiting of course.  But if you look back to Richt and Donnan, they didn’t really have big success until year 2.  I think that will be the same for Smart.   Generally, I just want Georgia fans to get on the same page and have realistic expectations for next fall.  Kirby will get Georgia heading in the right direction, but he is probably not going to win every game next year. Nevertheless, I think he will win them all one year.  So get excited and get behind your team.  Go Dawgs!

If you have any comments or real estate needs in the Athens area, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit my real estate brokerage firm, 5 Market Realty.