This blog hasn’t been up for very long, but if you have read even a couple articles you should be able to tell how much I love the city of Athens, UGA, and especially Georgia Football. While this blog is officially dedicated to Athens real estate, it is already apparent that Georgia athletics will always be a major topic for many posts. For me, it is impossible to live or work in Athens and not care about the university and its future. Here in Athens, we are so fortunate to have this great university right in the heart of our town. Small college towns are often unique and vibrant communities throughout the entire country. I am of course somewhat bias, but I don’t think there are any better than Athens, GA. The university brings so much to our town it is hard to really quantify. It impacts our entire economy, and therefore it also impacts our real estate and its value. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to explore and discuss some of the ways UGA impacts Athens real estate.
First of all, the university brings stability to our local economy. UGA has an enrollment of around 35,000 students. That doesn’t include all the staff, and professors employed by the university which makes it an incredible employer and engine to the area. The university isn’t exactly the kind of employer that is going to pack up and leave either. If the University of Georgia goes out of business we will likely have bigger problems in the world than a lack of jobs. So it brings people and jobs, but how does that effect Athens real estate. Well obviously, it has a positive impact. There are so many ways that UGA influences the real estate market that it is hard to cover entirely. Maybe the best approach is to discuss UGA’s impact on residential, investment, and commercial real estate throughout the area.
Residential property is generally any property where people reside. This could include your house, a condo, or an apartment complex. But for the purposes of this discussion we will classify residential property as a house in a residential neighborhood. In previous posts, I have discussed residential markets in Normaltown and 5 Points. Both areas of town are seeing a good bit of renovation and growth in value. The driving factor behind this is location, and what makes their location desirable is their proximity to the university. On the other side of Athens, the university has a similar impact on the east side of town. As I mentioned earlier, the east side provides buyers with a different type of value. Basically, more bang for your buck. In addition, the east side is now home to the Veterinary Medical Center which is yet another example of the university impacting the area. UGA is the heartbeat of Athens. So many things center on it like employment, education, and entertainment. It is only natural that people would want to reside in close proximity. This creates a demand which in turn can increase property value. Nevertheless, residential neighborhoods that are located a little further out benefit as well. Just look to the growth in Oconee. The Watkinsville area has become a very desirable place to live thanks to the new homes and good schools. Many of the people that purchase homes in Oconee either work for UGA or have businesses that benefit from the school. So whatever the value of your home is today just be glad it is in proximity to UGA because if not it would likely be worth less.
In many cases, commercial and investment property can be thrown into the same category. Commercial real estate involves properties that are used for business purposes like retail stores, restaurants, or office space. Almost every business owner in the area has to have a commercial space to operate their business. For example, Athens is blessed with a unique downtown filled with bars, shops, and restaurants. Downtown Athens is located right next to UGA’s north campus which is a major reason the downtown area does so well. Every restaurant downtown depends on students, professors, and parents to make money. Every retail space downtown needs students to shop in their store. Every bar owner needs students to hang out in their bar to be successful. If you think about it, without UGA downtown Athens would likely have a lot of vacant space. In fact, how do think local retailers feel about Georgia football? If they are smart they want Georgia football to succeed. The better UGA does in sports the more people come to visit. Consider a restaurant owner or bar owner during the football season. They need that business to thrive, and without Georgia football many local businesses may not be here. But downtown is just one example of UGA’s impact on commercial real estate. Go a little further out, and look at the Alps road area or the development around College Station. Those are more examples of thriving commercial locations thanks to UGA. So remember the next time you are eating in your favorite restaurant that it is probably still in business thanks to the university.
While most commercial properties are often investment properties, many residential properties are used for investment as well. When it comes to rental or investment property the correlation with UGA is fairly evident. The student population provides a huge rental market in the area, and many people purchase residential properties to rent as an investment. This market can be a little tricky from time to time because rental properties and their income are more sensitive to outside factors. For instance, a property’s income will change over the years based on its age and the overall supply of housing. In the end, the same old rule applies. The better the location the more likely a property will have a higher return and higher value.
Here at 5 Market we are no different. We work with residential, commercial, and investment properties that all benefit from UGA. Truthfully, this information should be fairly evident to most people. But sometimes we all need a reminder of how lucky we are here in Athens. So be thankful to UGA, and be excited a new coach is coming. Because even Georgia football is important to our real estate.