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Best Places to Invest in Atlanta – Overview with Duncan Murphy


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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PODCAST:

1:36 – Introduction to Evernest in Atlanta
5:00 – The perimeter of Atlanta
7:43 – Neighborhoods inside the perimeter
10:20 – Atlanta Braves stadium
11:58 – Roswell and Alpharetta
13:24 – Stone Mountain
14:41 – South of town
16:46 – West of town
17:36 – Top three areas to invest
19:55 – Neal Bawa

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE PODCAST AUDIO:
Duncan Murphy:
I’ve seen that the city is growing outward, especially with COVID conditions. Everybody’s working from home. They’re not needing to report downtown each day. So they’re looking for more space. Yes, there’s still the chances to purchase inside the perimeter, but I’m really seeing the best options outside the 30 to 40 minutes away from downtown.

Spencer Sutton:
All right, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Atlanta Real Estate Investor. I’m one of your hosts, Spencer Sutton. And I’m joined by just my buddy, my pal, my favorite co-host of all time, Matthew Whitaker. Matthew, welcome back.

Matthew Whitaker:
You kind of remind me of Terrell Owens, one time, said “That’s my quarterback, my teammate.” I didn’t get that right, but-

Spencer Sutton:
That’s right. About Tony Romo?

Matthew Whitaker:
Yeah.

Spencer Sutton:
He also said, “I love me some me.”

Duncan Murphy:
Also a good one.

Spencer Sutton:
But welcome to the show.

Matthew Whitaker:
Glad to be here. And we have the resident Atlanta expert, Duncan Murphy, with us. Duncan is our team leader over in Atlanta, and so we’re excited to have you on the show, Duncan.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah. Thanks for having me. I was starting to worry I wasn’t going to get the invite. But hearing all of the resources y’all have had on, I’m excited to be here.

Matthew Whitaker:
It doesn’t make a lot of sense. I mean, now that I’m thinking about it, that we hadn’t had you on sooner.

Spencer Sutton:
Like the first episode with us, right?

Matthew Whitaker:
Maybe we are the Terrell Owens of this podcast, where we just want to focus on ourselves.

Spencer Sutton:
We love to hear ourselves talk.

Duncan Murphy:
Okay. I’m happy to be here.

Matthew Whitaker:
Well, Duncan today’s show is just a general overview of Atlanta and the investible markets in Atlanta and Atlanta is just a huge city and it really is divided into kind of some sub markets. So we’re going to talk a little bit about that, but why don’t you give us an Everlasting overview real quick of what we do there and the number of investors and homes that we manage.

Duncan Murphy:
Yep. So you nailed it there Matthew, Atlanta is just a massive Metro area and something that was really somewhat burdensome as we came in, that we are so spread out throughout Atlanta, but I think it gives tons and tons of options for investors in the area, because it is not a pinpoint small place that you’re looking for deals. We are currently managing shy of 600 properties all throughout what you would call Atlanta. And that truly spans about two hours from North to South and East to West, whichever way you’re going, barring any traffic. So very well spread out. It is definitely one that we see tons of opportunities still, even though it is one of the hottest markets for rental investing, so continues to grow by a massive amount. I think it’s 500 people a day moving to the area. So tons of opportunity, tons of jobs coming in and tons of appreciation still happening. So a great option for folks.

Spencer Sutton:
I mean, you feel that like you feel 500 people a day coming in because you’re in traffic with about 20,000 of them at any one time.

Duncan Murphy:
Right.

Spencer Sutton:
It’s amazing to me, when we drive, heading up to Highlands, North Carolina, we have to go through Atlanta from Birmingham and you’re driving for so long and you’re like, we’re still in Atlanta. So you’re right. Spread out. Great opportunity for a lot of these little sub markets around Atlanta.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah.

Matthew Whitaker:
And I think it continues to grow out, right? I mean, this is not stopping if people are still moving in, if you look at migration, Atlanta is one of the places people are going. I saw John Burns graphic recently that Georgia is one of the hottest places for people to move to. So absolutely things are hot in Atlanta. Also probably jumped a little bit ahead. I think it’s important that we introduce Duncan too. I mean, Duncan, you’ve managed homes here in Birmingham, you lived in Nashville and ran our Nashville business for a long time, and then now you’re running our Atlanta business. So you know what it’s like to be in different markets, deal with different issues and tell us why you think Atlanta is just an awesome opportunity.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah, I think it is a melting pot of a very low barrier to entry type markets, call it your Birmingham type grade of home all the way up to, you’ve got plenty of beautiful condos, town homes, new construction, like we said, that is branching out from the epicenter of Atlanta. So it really fits, what everybody is looking for is just plenty of options that you can kind of make your own whatever your criteria might be, what your buy box is, the opportunity is here.

Matthew Whitaker:
And that kind of think of Atlanta in different pockets, right. And kind of sub markets in Atlanta. You take a big place like Atlanta, any big market, it really breaks down into different sub markets. And you know, the first thing I’d like to talk about is the perimeter. Can you explain what the perimeter is to people that don’t know, Duncan?

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah. So as soon as you move here, if you’re one of the 500 people moving to Atlanta per day, you need to know ITP and OTP, which is inside the perimeter and outside the perimeter. And it’s literally a halo of 285 that incircles, downtown Atlanta. So again, I’ve seen that the city is growing outward, especially with COVID conditions. Everybody’s working from home, they’re not needing to report downtown each day. So they’re looking for more space and they’re getting outside the perimeter. So yes, there’s still the properties and the chances to purchase inside the perimeter, but I’m really seeing the best options outside, the 30 to 40 minutes away from downtown.

Matthew Whitaker:
You know, it’s interesting people in Atlanta pre-COVID, it was not a big deal to travel, to commute an hour and 15 minutes to work. And in some places in the United States, that’s insane. I mean, in Los Angeles, they probably think that’s a quick commute, but it’s just amazing to think that people, that was kind of their reality. And now all of a sudden they’re working from home and they’re realizing, wow, I just got to two and a half hours of my life every day back. And it’s going to really going to change the way people work. And especially in a place like Atlanta, where the traffic is such a big issue. One of the things that shocked me was it is not a bad thing. You’re not looked poorly upon if you are going to an appointment and then you get caught in traffic and maybe a wreck on 285.

Spencer Sutton:
And you’re late.

Matthew Whitaker:
Or you miss the appointment. Like that’s a, that’s a reality in Atlanta.

Duncan Murphy:
Absolutely.

Matthew Whitaker:
That happens, right Duncan? I mean, I used to go to conferences over there and people would miss half the conference because they got stuck in a traffic jam.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah. I mean, my first NARPA meeting I rolled in just red faced and sweating, 30 minutes late thinking, couldn’t find a parking spot because of traffic getting to downtown. Last week, had a new owner meeting. I think I baked in, it was an hour travel, I baked in another 20 minutes, just for the question mark of what’s going to happen between me and the appointment. So definitely.

Spencer Sutton:
That’s Atlanta.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah.

Matthew Whitaker:
Tell us some communities or neighborhoods inside the perimeter, just to give people an idea and give a little synopsis of all of them.

Duncan Murphy:
Yes. So really, if you look, so Atlanta kind of that right in that downtown area, most of the action is going to be on the East side of downtown. So that’s where you’re going to have your mid town, you’re going to have places like Druid Hills, Decatur, East Lake, that are all great areas of town, the Gresham park type area. And then West side is really grown in a big way. So West side is where a ton of good restaurants are moving in. Good gentrification is happening in a big way there, so it’s become a very hip area. So all right there within the inside of the perimeter. And then directly North of downtown Atlanta is going to be your Buckhead area, which is pretty well known of very established, very well-to-do part of Atlanta. And then South of town is where you start getting into the East point, college park down towards the airport.

Matthew Whitaker:
Yeah. The airport, I think is the busiest airport in America, maybe the busiest airport in the world. So it’s a Delta hub and a lot of flights coming in and out, a lot of people coming in and out of there every day. So that’s a great kind of inside the perimeter overview. We’ll probably talk about some areas in the future.

Spencer Sutton:
Inside the perimeter. What’s the mix of, and this may, I don’t want to get too much into the weeds or details, but what’s the mix of single family to condos, townhomes, things like that. I would imagine downtown has a lot more condos.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah, you’re right. It’s going to, tons of the new construction of the apartment buildings, the condo buildings, townhomes, which truthfully, because of all the grade of property has increased so much there, it is really the only place that we consider tougher to rent because of all the competition of amenities, brand new build being on the same block, your condo from 1970 is not really checking all the boxes for prospects. So a lot of that there.

Matthew Whitaker:
Yeah, on that North side of town is pretty hip part of town where they’re just doing a lot of development. And so it makes sense that something that was built in the 1970s doesn’t have all the workout rooms and modern amenities of a new build. All right, let’s keep heading North. And one of the interesting things is the Atlanta Braves stadium has moved kind of North and West of town. So let’s start there and talk about where the new stadium is. And then we’ll talk about some areas around there.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah. So this is really one of my most desired areas or greatest opportunity areas and that’s Cobb County. So that’s going to be in Smyrna, which is where the Braves are located. Super exciting area, tons of food and entertainment, obviously the Braves games. So I love Smyrna. I love Marietta based on the appreciation that’s happening in that area. So median household income over the last 20 years has really spiked there. And then just now, the median house or condo value there is starting to make pace with that. So tons of opportunity there to see your investment appreciate still, obviously new construction’s moving in there as more and more people want to be in Smyrna, closer to the action with the Braves,

Matthew Whitaker:
And Smyrna is just outside of the perimeter. And so you could live in Smyrna and there’s a main artery, I-75, that runs Northwest and Southeast into town. So somebody could hypothetically work in Smyrna or excuse me, live in Smyrna and work downtown. And then just Northwest of that as Marietta that she talked about, which is another hot area that people are always talking about and we’ll dig into Marietta in a future episode. Let’s go further North, like do North of town and talk a little bit about Roswell and Alpharetta. That’s where our office is for one thing, right?

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah. We’re exit 10 off of 400 and Alpharetta.

Matthew Whitaker:
Our new office. So Duncan just moved into a new office. We’re pumped to be there. Talk a little bit about Roswell and Alpharetta. Cause I think these are other areas that people hear a lot about when talking about kind of sub markets in Atlanta.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah. Roswell and Alpharetta, even Sandy Springs, which is closer to that perimeter. They’re all on that Georgia 400 corridor. These are going to be, you will see more of the newer construction, kind of the mid to early 2000’s townhomes and condos. It’s a very easy commute here to just jump on 400 and be downtown. So Alpharetta and South of that is going to be those newer construction A-grade type properties.

Matthew Whitaker:
Always hear, Georgia 400 Georgia, 400. If you’ve been close enough to Atlanta for so long, you hear kind of certain keywords, and Georgia 400 is absolutely a main artery. It looks like a highway on the map, but it’s more like an interstate.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah, it is. I mean it cuts Atlanta straight down the middle. So if you’re ever lost, just look for Georgia 400 and you can get where you’re going.

Matthew Whitaker:
All right, let’s go East of town. Talk a little bit about the Stone Mountain area.

Duncan Murphy:
Stone Mountain and Decatur, they were the first hot investment areas of Atlanta kind of branching out a little bit from downtown. So I still love Stone Mountain. You’re going to see a little more of the kind of C to B grade apartment-condos type construction, but it’s also things that you’re seeing a lot of development and a lot of gentrification of newer construction or updated rehabbed houses coming here. So downtown Decatur is kind of getting a facelift and it’s very attractive to those that are moving to Atlanta for entertainment or kind of in their younger stage of life, there in downtown Decatur.

Matthew Whitaker:
And for clarity, Decatur is inside the perimeter East of town. And then as you get outside of town, Stone Mountains, kind of a famous area that has, I don’t know if it’s a state park or a national park that a lot of people will go to. So definitely a place that, that attracts a lot of visitors and tourists over the years. So let’s look South now and talk about South of town.

Duncan Murphy:
So South of town, I would say most desirable, kind of moving from closest to town and further out, you’re going to look at the College Park, Riverdale, Jonesborough area. Those are all kind of the blue collar type folks that are living in those areas. Those houses are likely going to be the B to C grade. And then it’s really my favorite place down South of town, to look for deals is McDonough. Now, I wouldn’t say too far South of town, but it’s probably 40 minutes and this is really Southeast, but plenty of opportunity there, people are moving there more and more, and it’s kind of taken on its own kind of aura as a Metro being so far away, but great opportunity finding properties from the mid 100s to the mid 200s and easily reaching that $1,500 per month in rent and prospects are flocking to the properties that we have listed there.

Matthew Whitaker:
That’s great. So we’re running houses really quickly down the McDonough.

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah. And we’re telling our owners, “Hey, if you’ve got a number in your head, let’s tack on if it’s realistic, let’s tack on $100 to $200, give it a week and see what happens” because we just did that with, I think it’s a four bedroom or maybe a three bedroom and put it out. And I think in six days it’s had 4 1/2 showings per day, which has great traction. So they are just flying off the shelf there.

Matthew Whitaker:
McDonough, just for anybody that’s listening, is Southeast of town. And in it, even on the map, it feels like it’s a drive. So it’s, as Duncan said about 40,45 minutes SouthEast of town and things start to open up a little bit. Let’s go West of town now and talk about some areas that you think are exciting West of town.

Duncan Murphy:
Yep. So again, this is kind of the South Cobb County. I love the Douglasville area and Lithia Springs. So Lithia Springs is Six Flags is between downtown Atlanta and Lithia Springs. So you get a lot of draw that way. And again, these are going to be kind of that $1,500 range per month in property, but they can easily go above that. And we’re seeing plenty of the newer kind of cookie cutter neighborhood constructions there, down to the properties that were built in the mid eighties, as things started branching out. So great areas to be looking for deals.

Matthew Whitaker:
Talk a little bit, now that we let’s assume back out and just talk a little bit more about Atlanta. If I gave you three areas that you think are super hot, that you would invest your own dollars in, what three areas are kind of your first ones that come to mind?

Duncan Murphy:
My top three areas to be looking would be, I would say Mableton, which is West of downtown. I would say Powder Springs is right there near that Mapleton area and Smyrna. I really am attracted to the West/Northwest kind of corridor of Atlanta there.

Matthew Whitaker:
That’s actually the second time, I think we’ve heard that on the show is that Northwest corridor, and tell us why.

Duncan Murphy:
As you know, Atlanta is growing and in such a way, but I think that it is pulling its growth a little bit West, if that makes sense. So I think, like I said earlier, the Stone Mountain and Decatur areas, I think those were kind of the first areas that really blew up as far as investment property. And now I see things moving or pulling the growth out to the West a little bit more. You said it with the Braves moving out there, it’s obviously going to draw people’s attention there.

Matthew Whitaker:
Yeah. One of the things that I was kind of shocked about, I did some driving through there. I drove through there on the way to Charleston recently. And even as you go East and West, I mean, as Spencer was saying earlier, you start Atlanta really early and you end Atlanta almost, you almost do your next city by the time you leave Atlanta.

Spencer Sutton:
So you got to pack a lunch.

Matthew Whitaker:
You absolutely do. And each one of these little city centers, each one of these municipalities, are great areas to invest and people live and work all in that one community. It’s not like everybody needs to go to downtown Atlanta to work. This is a very Southern town, which means that a lot of people work where they live and, they have retail and commercial in each one of these cities. So I think that’s really important. It’s not like people need to get out and move to downtown. So traffic, while it is bad, you don’t have to get into the traffic. Any other thoughts Duncan, on the great city of Atlanta?

Duncan Murphy:
Yeah. I would love to just plug Neil Bawa, who y’all had as a guest a few episodes ago. You know, I live and breathe managing property here in Atlanta, but he got me truly excited about digging into the minutia of what makes certain areas more attractive. So he uses a tool. It’s a website called city-data.com and looking for new up and coming areas, kind of that speculation of the market, looking at median household income versus median house or condo value. You want to see a difference there. That’s really excited me here recently and kind of given me more tools to offer our investors.

Matthew Whitaker:
And so this is just a kind of getting the whole where to invest in Atlanta kicked off. And I know this was very high level for a lot of people. Anytime you’re investing in from out of town though, it’s always nice to have that 20,000 foot view of what’s going on in the market, but we’re going to dig into some areas, really help use some of that same data and help understand with somebody like you, whose boots are on the ground, what is going on in these communities so that investors can, we’ll highlight these communities and investors can decide whether to invest or not.

Spencer Sutton:
All right, Duncan, thank you so much for being here and listen, if you heard Duncan mentioned Neil bowa, I can’t remember what episode he was probably within the first 10 episodes, but you can go back and listen to that episode and get ready for, as Matthew said, some new ones where we’re going to focus in on some areas, share this with your friends. I think you’re going to get a lot of great information over the next several weeks. So Duncan you’ll be back. We’ll be back. And go ahead and subscribe, leave us a review if you would. And we will see you next week.