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Experts Bring Decatur-Area Price Boom into Focus

Consider this: Houses in Decatur are routinely selling for $50,000 over asking price. The average price of a single-family home in that city — $534,000 — is roughly $70,000 more than a year ago. Wowza! These numbers and many more comprise a thoughtful article published this week by Atlanta INtown Newspaper that serves as a bellwether for places like Oakhurst, Kirkwood, Lake Claire and Candler Park. The eastside market teems with homebuyers who covet intown locations and room to breathe, and real estate agents talk of a bidding warzone. Before the market crashed six years ago, one could expect to find a nice enough house in Decatur in the mid-$300,000s, but these days, that buys a borderline teardown or bare land. While the anecdotes might alarm buyers, sellers are scarfing the fruits of wise/lucky property investments, like one Oakhurst couple who lived in their three-bedroom for 10 months and offloaded it recently for a $67,000 profit, one agent told the newspaper. Cha-ching.

Last year, we sounded an alarm when ramshackle houses around Decatur started cresting the $300,000 mark. It seemed bonkers then, but maybe market forces were simply squeezing out the area's true potential. The desirability of Decatur schools and the rise of Drew Charter Middle and High School, combined with the scarcity of available homes in the area, has translated to plenty of anxious buyers. What's more, each neighborhood offers its own village area with local businesses, a rich supply of historic homes and a collection of parks, a RE/MAX broker pointed out.

In Candler Park and Lake Claire, deals for smaller homes can still be found in the low $300,000s, though buyers seeking new construction should brace for prices tags of more than $700,000. Average sales prices for Candler Park, the newspaper found, are in the high $400,000s these days.

Kirkwood, then, is the outlier. Fully renovated, three-bedroom bungalows are still plentiful in the mid-$300,000s in a neighborhood hugged by Oakhurst, Candler Park and Lake Clare, agents reported, though public schools aren't yet on par with those eastside brethren. One agent seemed giddy with the prospects of a neighborhood that, not too long ago, carried disparaging nicknames like "Crackwood" and "Lil' Mexico."

"If I had to pick the next 'hottest neighborhood in Atlanta,' Kirkwood would be it," Kerry Lucasse, of the Nest Atlanta Real Estate Group at eXp Realty, told the newspaper. "Property values are up almost 15 percent from the same time last year, homes are being renovated everywhere you look, and more and more businesses and investors are drawn to this friendly, intown neighborhood."

· Is The Decatur Area Losing Its Prized Affordability? [Curbed Atlanta]
· Heading East: Decatur, surrounding neighborhoods attract homebuyers [Atlanta INtown Paper]
· For Nearly $1 Million, Oakhurst Abode Brings The Space [Curbed Atlanta]