Athens, GA Real Estate: The Normaltown Market

As I have mentioned before, Athens is a very unique town for many reasons.  It is a small city but it has a lot to offer.  There are great restaurants, good shopping, great music, and of course there are numerous events in town throughout the year.    But in terms of real estate, Athens is unique because it provides so many options for buyers.  Buyers can choose to purchase in one of several “in town” locations or they can opt for more space and land in one of the many outlying areas that are usually within 15 to 20 mins of downtown.

Normal Hardware On Prince Ave
Normal Hardware On Prince Ave

Recently, I have discussed the 5 Points area and the East Side of town.  Both of which are examples of different “in town” options for buyers.  Another great option for buyers in Athens is Normaltown.  Normaltown is one of the oldest areas of town, and it has a rich history.  In fact, it was the first area of Athens wired for electricity in 1896 or so I am told (didn’t fact check this one).  But in recent history it has seen a lot of positive growth in business and real estate.  So today let’s take a look at the growth and real estate values in the Normaltown area.

First of all, to discuss the Normaltown area you need to define it geographically.  Traditionally, the Normaltown area has been considered the area or neighborhood located in or around Athens Regional Medical Center on the South side of Prince Ave. armc  Meanwhile, the nearby Boulevard area is located on the other side Prince either on or around “Boulevard”.  If you have not visited Boulevard then I highly suggest you take the time to drive down the street.  Many of Athens’ oldest homes are located in the area.  So for the purposes of this blog, we will refer to Boulevard and Normaltown as one general area even though they can be defined separately.

I have talked about the importance of location numerous times already.  But the Normaltown area serves as yet another example of where location raises value.  The 5 Points area is centrally located, but one could easily argue that Normaltown is a superior location. t-27756-005 For example, Normaltown is very close to downtown and in close proximity to a major hospital.  With the recent opening of UGA’s Health Sciences Campus, it is right next to an area of UGA. Additionally, when you head west on Prince Ave you will arrive at I-85 in about 20 mins or so.  Not to mention, that most of Normaltown is zoned for Chase Street Elementary which has become a very desirable school district.  Lastly, the area has seen an increase in places to eat and gather for a drink.  As a matter of fact, many Athenians now prefer to grab a drink in Normaltown and avoid the crowd downtown.

However, every area has its ups and downs so to speak.  But much like 5 Points, the disadvantage of Normaltown could also be seen as an advantage.  Due to the age of the area, many homes are older and not up to date.  Nevertheless, this creates a lot of charm and character in the neighborhoods which many buyers are looking to find.  Furthermore, both builders and home owners are updating the homes and floor plans which is similar to the current trend in 5 Points.  Surprisingly, it may cost you a little less to purchase in Normaltown than it would in 5 Points.  It really all depends on the property of course, but in general the price per square foot (PSF) in Normaltown is less than 5 Points.  The most recent comps in Normaltown support a price up to $175 PSF for a newly renovated and well located property.  This is a good deal lower than the current prices in 5 Points which can exceed $200 PSF.   Nevertheless, you can find homes in the area with a much lower price tag.  But if you find a good house to buy in Normaltown be sure to act fast.  It is currently one of the most competitive areas in town.

We are definitely experiencing a strong market right now.  This is true for many areas in and around Athens, but you should also understand that “trees do not grow to the sky”.  This doesn’t mean that values will suddenly fall, but you cannot expect a property value to go up indefinitely.  On the other hand, if you buy in a well located area that is desirable to many buyers your value should hold up better over time versus other locations. And Normaltown is a prime example of a well-located and highly desirable area.

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

Location, Location, Location!

Most everyone has heard that the three most important things when it comes to real estate are location, location, location. In reality it is true, true, true. We all understand that real estate in Beverly Hills or Manhattan is generally worth athensdtmore than real estate in Nebraska. But this principle usually applies to even the smallest cities or towns. In the Athens area location and school district directly affect the value and desirability of a residential property. For example, the two strongest residential markets in Athens-Clarke County are the 5 Points Area and the Normaltown/Boulevard Area. Both of these neighborhoods are close to many in town amenities, the university, and are located in strong elementary school zones. In 5 Points we are seeing values above $200 per sq. foot and in Normaltown values are around $170 per sq foot in some areas. There are many factors that can contribute to value but most can be traced back to location

For example, the Watkinsville area has some of the best schools in the state and it is in close proximity to Athens, GA. This creates a strong residential market in Oconee County and makes it desirable. The land can be purchased cheaper and therefore buyers can see a value to living in that area because they can have more house for less money. So if the schools are strong and the location is good why can someone buy more house for less money? Because land is more abundant in that area. The availability of land is directly correlated to the location. There is just not as much land to build or own in Clarke County as there is in Oconee. For example, a condo in the heart of Downtown Athens will be worth more than one located on Epps Bridge because in the downtown location land is scarce. Basically, it comes down to supply and demand. With little supply demand can grow.

Real Estate values are returning in our area and confidence is up with consumers. It is not likely that the market will crash like it did in 2008 but the reality is that trees do not grow to the sky. At some point, the local market will have to slow. It doesn’t mean it will fall but it will not grow to infinity. The best thing to do is to be aware of all the factors in location when buying a property. Make sure the location has a value and will remain valuable in good times and bad. Please understand that popular interior features are always changing when it comes to real estate. There is no way to know what will be the hot new look of a kitchen in 15 years but one can make a reasonable prediction on what locations will still have a high value. In closing, a well located property will sell in a good market or a bad market. So always make location the TOP priority when purchasing a property. Do not get too wrapped up in granite, tile, or other interior features interior. Remember location always wins.

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