High-rise condominiums are among the biggest trends in Atlanta’s real estate today, and Zac Pasmanick knows it very well. He sold his first high-rise unit 25 years ago, and now the market is booming. He leads the Zac Team, and publishes “The Guide to Atlanta’s Highrises.”
Pasmanick, a lifelong member of the Atlanta Jewish community and a fixture of the real estate scene, spoke to the AJT about a few of the key considerations for choosing a high-rise condo.
What to Look for
There are numerous perks in any high-rise building, but one feature that tends to capture buyers is actually on the other side of the window.
“What a lot of people in a high-rise want is a view, and so the higher the floor, the higher the price,” Pasmanick said.
While the views play huge roles in first impressions, amenities are also an important factor in picking the right place. High-rises tend to feature 24-hour concierge service, but some also offer room-service, activity rooms and, in one case, a whole grocery store.
“You’ve got buildings like Plaza Midtown, which has a Publix under the main building,” he said, noting that the convenience is the big draw.
Walkability is also a key factor. Local restaurants, shops, and attractions within a short stroll can make or break a property for buyers.
“The biggest thing is the convenience and the things to do, mostly restaurants,” he said. “Zoning within certain areas of Midtown requires retail on the main level of every building, so you can go to different restaurants five nights a week for months before you ever repeat one.”
Cost is also a major factor for those who want to live in town.
“You can’t buy a home for the price that you can buy a condo,” he said. “You can’t buy a $400,000 two-bedroom, two-bath house in Midtown, but you can find a condo.”
Who’s in the Market?
There are two groups who tend to be most interested in high-rise condos in downtown and Midtown neighborhoods, Pasmanick said.
Most condominium buyers are first-time homeowners, so, unsurprisingly, the first group, 28- to 40-year-olds, make up the largest portion of those in the market. “Usually we’re talking about professionals because of the cost involved,” he said.
He added that condos are especially appealing to their busy lifestyles.
“It’s all about not having to deal with a house. You get a single individual who’s working 50 hours a week and travels for work; they don’t want to come home and cut the grass every weekend,” he said.
The added benefits of “lock-and-leave” properties are that one can go away for even several weeks at a time and never have to worry about the property.
He also discussed the choices between renting a luxury high-rise apartment and purchasing your own unit.
“With all of the high-tech jobs that come into Midtown, that’s where young adults want to be, and there’re a lot who don’t have cars, so they can afford $2,000 a month in rent,” he said. “But if you can afford that in rent, you’re smart enough to know that there comes a time when you have to buy.”
As for the second demographic Pasmanick sees most often, he said, “We’re also seeing a lot of suburban empty-nesters moving into town. They’ve raised their families in the suburbs for the school districts and quality of life, but this next chapter is really about their lives.”
Often, the latter work between downtown and Buckhead and are tired of the hassle of traffic, a big consideration in their decision-making, he said. And for this group, as well as others, activities in the area can be very important.
“There’s all kinds of cultural activities in town, sporting venues, the Fox Theatre, the BeltLine and, of course, everyone wants to be near Piedmont Park,” he said.
In addition, Pasmanick also discussed the “kiddie condo,” or a property that parents buy for their children who are attending one of Atlanta’s intown colleges.
“There’re a lot of parents with kids at Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Morehouse or Spellman who’ve bought condos for their kids instead of paying high dorm prices,” he said.
“They may have the property for three or four years and then sell, and for a parent who can afford it, that makes a lot of economic sense.”
In terms of community within the buildings, Pasmanick said that it’s common for people to get home and simply close their doors, and that floors are often key-fob restricted, so it can be difficult to get to know everyone.
“Unless you go to socials in the building or hang out in the public spaces, it can be more difficult,” he said. “But some have activities on a quarterly or monthly basis so the owners get to know each other, and its also very common for there to be a building Facebook group.”
What to Keep in Mind
Pasmanick explained that the overall process of buying a high-rise condo is not significantly different from the ordinary homebuying experience.
“You still have to figure out which neighborhood you like, which price range you’re in, and the size and square-footage you need,” he said. “It’s just that you’re looking at a different product.”
In particular, he noted the importance of finding a real estate agent who is well versed in high-rises.
“That’s the biggest issue, uninformed agents. Agents can’t know everything, and some agents do a lot of condo and high-rise work, and then there are some who don’t even know where to park,” he said.
In terms of what to keep in mind when looking at units, he explained that buildings often have as many as eight to 10 different floor plans, and units can feel smaller when they’re empty.
“Once you’ve seen a dozen different units, you’ll know what you like, what you don’t like and what you wish you could afford,” he joked.
In addition, he said that homeowner’s association fees should certainly be considered, noting that fees change based on square footage, and can affect a buyer’s ability to qualify for a mortgage.
“A three bedroom is going to have a higher fee than a two bedroom,” he said. “Overall, it’s still going to be cheaper than the upkeep on a typical home, but those costs don’t get factored in the same way. When you live in a condo, all the upkeep is taken care of for you.”
When asked how to know if you’ve found the right unit, Pasmanick’s answer is simple.
“You’ll know,” he said. “You’re going to walk in, see the view and you will know.”