Buying A House In Georgia: Must-Read Facts And Tips
Andrew Dehan6-Minute Read
September 25, 2020
“Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind,” Ray Charles crooned. For many, the beautiful state of Georgia is often on their minds. With a rich cultural history, diverse landscape and booming economy, it makes total sense why you would want a piece of the state.
Let’s break down why buying a house in Georgia is a good idea and where you may want to live.
Why Buy A House In Georgia?
Georgia real estate can be a solid investment. From 2000 – 2020, the population grew by 2.57 million people. Overall, 63.1% of home occupiers are homeowners, leaving about a third of the population as renters.
In 2018, CNBC rated Georgia the 10th best state for real estate investing. This rating notes that home values rose 8.8% in 1 year in Georgia, and there are many affordable residences to buy and rent out.
Stick to the following tips to ensure a good home buying experience.
As the capital and most populated city in Georgia, Atlanta is a place people flock to. It’s known worldwide for its thriving culture and as the unofficial capital of the “New South.” It’s the epicenter of the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s, and has a history of welcoming immigrants, making it a multicultural community.
Atlanta is a transportation hub, with nearby Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport being the world’s busiest for passenger traffic. Atlanta’s economy is diverse, with major television networks (CNN and TBS), tech companies and several Fortune 500 companies leading the way.
The housing market in Atlanta is a buyer’s market. This means that housing prices tend to be lower and they stay on the market longer than average. The median sold price for a house in Atlanta was $310,975 in August 2020.
Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah, is full of history. It was an important port city in the American Revolution and the Civil War. Its Victorian Historic District features homes in the Late Victorian and Queen Anne styles.
Savannah is one of the largest ports in the U.S. for shipping container traffic. Along with the economic pulse of the port, Savannah is home to Gulfstream Aerospace (builder of jet airplanes) as well as many multimedia companies.
Savannah’s housing market is a seller’s market, meaning that prices tend to be higher and houses don’t stay available for long. As of August 2020, the median sold price of a house in Savannah was $211,004.
The Acworth-Kennesaw area is a part of the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. Located in Cobb County about 27 miles northwest of Atlanta, this region has small-town hospitality near big-city amenities.
Acworth and Kennesaw sit in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. Nearby lakes Acworth and Allatoona bring in tourism for rest and recreation. Kennesaw is home to Kennesaw Mountain and the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, which preserves a Civil War battleground.
Acworth-Kennesaw is a seller’s market, with home prices higher than average, and selling quickly. The median sold price for an Acworth-Kennesaw home in August 2020 was $294,982.
Sandy Springs is a city due north of downtown Atlanta. As of 2020, its population was over 110,000 people. This is up from around 94,000 in 2010 – an 18% growth in 10 years.
It’s the location of several major corporate headquarters, including UPS, Mercedes-Benz, Newell Brands and Inspire Brands. Along with these headquarters, Sandy Springs has several large tech employers like IBM, Oracle USA and Cisco Systems.
Sandy Springs is a buyer’s market in August, 2020, but was solidly a seller’s market the same time last year. The median sold price is $451,842, up $64,890 from August, 2019.
Just north of Sandy Springs is the Roswell-Alpharetta area, known for its affluent historic districts, proximity to natural beauty and large suburban homes.
While many people who live in Roswell-Alpharetta commute to Atlanta for work, the area still has some notable employers. McKesson, a large healthcare company, and ADP, a human resources management software company, employ thousands of people in the area.
Roswell-Alpharetta is a borderline seller’s market and has remained a seller’s market since last year. Homes sell quickly and prices are higher. A lot of people want to move here. The median home cost in August 2020 was $432,269.
How To Buy A House In Georgia
While home buying is a huge decision, it can be boiled down to these seven easy steps to buy a house in Georgia.
1. Save for a down payment – The standard down payment is 20%. At 20% you do not have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). For a home in Atlanta at the median sold price, that’s $62,195. If that’s out of the question for you, there are many mortgages where you need from 3-5% down, but you will need to pay PMI.
2. Get mortgage preapproval – Find a mortgage lender and get preapproval. You’ll need a credit score of 580 for FHA loans and 620 for most other loans. Choose A preapproval will be crucial to getting your offer accepted, and is the first step to take to get a mortgage.
3. Decide what you want in a house – Write down your must haves and dealbreakers. This can stuff like what style house, how many bathrooms and bedrooms you need and whether you’re willing to move into a house that needs renovation work.
4. Find an agent – You want to find an agent that knows the area and what’s available in your budget. This person can take your needs and pair them with current listings to find the best house for you.
5. Tour homes – Sometimes the best way to find what you do and don’t like is to see it in person. Get out there, find what’s available on the market and in your price range and decide.
6. Make an offer – Once you’ve found the right place, work with your agent to put together a competitive offer that will entice the seller.
7. Close on the house – Get all your ducks in a row. Have the home inspected and appraised. Get final mortgage approval. Get your homeowners insurance. Bring all the documentation to closing day, close the sale and bring home the keys.
Tips For Buying A House In Georgia
Whether you’re moving to Georgia, looking for an investment property or buying your first home, you need to understand the nuances of this area’s real estate.
Find A Trusted Georgia Real Estate Agent
To make sure you end up with the right house for you, you need to find a trusted real estate agent. The right agent will know the market and neighborhoods, specific laws and requirements and will line up what you need with what’s available. Link up with a Rocket HomesSM Verified Partner Agent
Understand the Georgia Housing Market
In any market, timing is everything. This is especially true in Georgia. Many popular areas that were once buyer’s markets, with plenty of houses to choose from, have had less available inventory. Many areas have become seller’s markets, with houses going for more money than they did last year, and with buyers lining up to put down offers.
Know Your Financing Options
Georgia has a few state-specific home buyer programs. The Hardest Hit Fund reduces obstacles for home buyers in Georgia’s seven hardest-hit counties: Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Muscogee, Douglas, Chatham and Bibb. It assists home buyers with down payment money to make homeowning a reality.
Further financing help can be through the Georgia Dream Hoomeownership Program, which also helps with down payment assistance.
Be Prepared To Pay Hurricane Insurance
One of the downsides of living near the ocean is that you’ll likely need to pay hurricane insurance. This is listed as a hurricane deductible on your homeowners insurance policy
Buy When The Timing Is Right For You
Just like everything, the housing market has it seasons. The busiest seasons are spring and summer, with many houses on the market and a lot of buyers out looking. Fall and winter house hunting can save you some money as prices will be lower, but you’ll have less options.
Include An Inspection Contingency
All offers should have an inspection contingency. In Georgia, a contingent offer lets you back out of the contract if the home inspection finds anything negative. You can also use this as a bargaining chip. Offer to uphold the contract if the seller pays to repair the problem.
The Bottom Line
Georgia is a growing state with a diverse economy. Tech, tourism, shipping and entertainment are all huge industries in the state. Whether you’re migrating to Georgia, buying your first home there or looking for investment property, it’s a great state to own part of.
Georgia and its cities are packed to the brim with culture, history and nearby natural beauty. The housing market is growing, with home values steadily rising over the past 10 years. If you’re looking to buy, do your research, get preapproval and find the right agent. There’s a house out there with your name on it.
Want to learn more about home buying? Check out more home buying articles on the Rocket HomesSM Learning Center.
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