ann marie quill D.J. Mitchell recently purchased a condo, which he considers “an investment,” in the Sandy Springs area.
ann marie quill
D.J. Mitchell recently purchased a condo, which he considers “an investment,” in the Sandy Springs area.

Local real estate agents say they’re starting to see an uptick in sales for townhomes and condos as potential buyers try to beat rising interest rates, struggle to find affordable rentals and desire low-maintenance lifestyles.

Angie Ponsell, an agent with Keller Williams in the Sandy Springs area, says that inventory is low and median prices for townhomes and condos are up about 18.6 percent from last year.

“I think that shows we are in a seller’s market,” she said. “Buyers are competing.”

Steve Haas with Dunwoody Brokers Realty says he sees units selling immediately.

“Historically [condos and townhomes] didn’t have the same appreciation as houses,” he said, but as the market crashed and houses began to not appreciate, buyers became more interested in lower-maintenance properties, he added.

“There’s a large group of buyers who are willing to have less — they don’t need a half acre, they don’t want to worry about cutting grass. They want better efficiency, and they don’t want to be a slave to the yard,” Haas said.

There are some 89 townhomes and condos on the market in the Dunwoody/Sandy Springs area, with 63 under contract, Haas said, with an average list price of $197,000. He said of 78 sold since January, the average sales price was $161,000, with sellers netting about 98 percent of the list price.

Caroline Gipson, a real estate agent with Keller Williams, said that the condo and townhome market in Brookhaven is “so hot right now.”

She said that the number of days condos and townhomes spend on the market before sale is smaller than it has been in recent years, and that some folks are realizing they can buy a new condo in the same price range as an older detached home.

She said that young professionals, for instance, are traveling a lot and “don’t want to deal with a house,” and are finding that the cost of a mortgage is comparable to the rents now being demanded by landlords.

“They are realizing that they could miss out on a big opportunity as interest rates rise, too,” she said.

Ponsell said that when potential renters realize what they will pay over the course of a year, they “see it in black and white and realize they may be better off buying, as long as they can qualify for a mortgage, and interest rates are low.”

D.J. Mitchell, 25, recently purchased a condo in River Run in Sandy Springs, with Haas’ help.

“I just wanted a place for myself. For just one person, I thought it would be perfect. It’s something that’s still convenient to Atlanta, but not too close. I always thought of the Dunwoody and Sandy Springs area as one of the most appealing suburbs.”

Mitchell says he’s looking at the purchase as an investment. He paid cash for his condo, as he didn’t want a mortgage for something bigger. “I figured I start out small,” he said.

Mitchell said that after renting in Johns Creek, he wanted to move closer to the city.

“Renting doesn’t benefit you in the long run, if you can afford not to,” he said.

He describes his neighborhood as quiet and small. “It’s an older unit,” Mitchell said, “great for the price, and it’s all mine.”