From commercial properties to multi-million dollar mansions down to small 2 bed, 1 bath cottages, it appears that there are still plenty of foreclosures and thus potential investment properties available across metro Atlanta and the entire state of Georgia.
Using Zillow's handy mapping capability, a search for all properties for sale as foreclosures yielded over 46,000 results. While I have no doubt that some of these entries may be duplicates or multiple listings on a single property done at various times. In any case this is still a hefty number of properties. Homes sales are also down significantly across much of metro Atlanta, as I reported in an article here several weeks ago.
I also checked southernREO.com which is one of Atlanta's premier REO brokerages, and they had 200 listings, many of which appeared to be realistically priced and not surprisingly most of those listings in the preferred areas such as Alpharetta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and other close-in communities on the northern side of town were either under contract or being negotiated. There were still plenty of properties available or coming online soon. The big REO brokers in Atlanta are still very busy and still carrying hundreds of listings on a regular basis.
Paulding and Douglas counties out on the western side of metro Atlanta still show plenty of foreclosure activity. They were both on the national top ten list for home foreclosures back a few years ago. The post-crash glut of foreclosures has waned somewhat but according to data from realty trac more than 50% of the home owners in these counties still owe more than their properties are worth. My sense is that this is probably true across the entire outer circle of metro Atlanta counties including Bartow, Clayton, Fayette, Walton and Rockdale among others.
While prices are up a bit relative to the bottom in 2011-2012, they are still very low compared to other major cities. Among foreclosures I had little problem locating properties that were listed at prices that are as much as 60% below their 2007 market peak.
While some sectors of Atlanta real estate have begun to recover from the extreme market downturn that Atlanta and the entire state of Georgia experienced after the 2008 market crash, there are still many pockets with heavier than normal foreclosure activity. The strongest areas of recovery are located in the better areas, such as the 400 corridor, where higher paying jobs are concentrated.
A review of local legal notices shows that many of today's foreclosures in metro Atlanta are defaults on mortgages that were taken out in 2006 and 2007. It appears that a lot of the borrowers may be "giving up the ghost" and have become disillusioned with the idea of continuing to pay when property values are not rising all that much. Georgia has also experienced a period of prolonged unemployment, and in the far flung metro counties, unemployment is still a major economic problem that is slowing the pace of home sales activity.
While sorting through these listings I noticed that many of the lower priced properties are listed by auction companies. This may be a tactic to attract more bidders but in my experience the better properties tend to get bid up to higher prices pretty quickly. However, from an investment perspective, a lot of properties that do get bid up are often placed back on the market later the same day, when the first winning bidder fails to qualify for a mortgage loan. All cash buyers have a distinct advantage in a market where typical FHA buyers are struggling to qualify.
Metro Atlanta is still prime territory for real estate investors but it is important to understand the wide range of markets and prices that span this enormous metropolitan area. Property values can vary widely within a short distance near the city itself, but become more consistent as you get out into the suburban landscape where property sizes and styles are much more consistent. And there is no question that even though prices have risen here on a year-over-year basis, Atlanta investment properties, especially bank owned foreclosures, still offer strong investment opportunities for smart buyers.
About the author: Donna S. Robinson is an Atlanta native, 18 year veteran of the real estate industry and residential real estate market expert. She is the author of "Real Estate Investing Fundamentals & Strategies". Follow her on twitter @donnaconsults Watch her videos here. read more articles and contact her about real estate business consulting services on her website.