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Dealing with Atlanta's Low Housing Inventory?

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It was bound to happen at some point: Atlanta's oversupply of homes has for the most part been devoured, and now buyers are finding that the search isn't as easy as they'd expected. Finished housing inventory is down an impressive 30 percent from this time last year. Heck, there's even news of a condo building being planned for Midtown — an almost unfathomable idea just a couple of years ago. To be sure, the dearth of listings is happening in Atlanta's most desirable neighborhoods, not in the exurbs or dicier parts of town. But there is hope for those on the hunt in these hot markets. It just requires a little ... creativity.

The most obvious place to start would be expanding your territory. Especially if you're focusing on the city's more popular neighborhoods (Morningside, Virginia-Highland, etc.), expect the pickings to be slim. You can either wait it out, or move outside your comfort zone. Or you could just build yourself a house, but that's going to involve finding another one to tear down.

Next step should be rethinking exactly what you want out of a home. Are you being too picky? Do you have realistic expectations? By no means should you invest in something you can't stand, but don't expect to find that one perfect dream home when inventory is what it is. If you have to move, you might also have to settle.

Don't forget to check out rental listings. There's a chance the landlord could be leasing out his/her house because they couldn't sell it in recent years. Little do they know they have the perfect chance to unload that asset. Hey, it never hurts to ask.

Be prepared to act quickly and confidently when you find a winner. Having your ducks in a row means having your finances in order, so by all means be pre-approved before you do anything. If you're not ready to commit, then don't bother the potential frustration when a bump presents itself in the real estate road. Just don't make any rash decisions; we're not saving babies at Grady here.

Lastly, don't expect to get the amazing deals that were happening a few years back. It doesn't take an economist to realize that low inventory means sellers have the advantage when it comes to pricing. For the most part, we're over the days of slash-and-burn listings.

And for that we should all be grateful.

— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Jonathan Carnright