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Bargain-hunting for Atlanta housing: Maybe the data helps

Getting the best deal for a home is often a challenge, especially for first-time homebuyers struggling to put together a down payment.

Metro Atlanta is seen now a sellers’ market – especially in the most popular areas – where prospective purchasers can end up bidding against each other. Wannabe buyers can find themselves traipsing through open houses across metro Atlanta or diving deep into the digital listings.

But some number-crunchers say there are areas where the odds are simply better.

It matters where you look, Sean Black, chief executive of Knock and one of the founders of Trulia, a real estate listing site. And it also matters what price range you are looking in.

“Things really vary,” he said. “The homes that are $200,000 to $400,000 are the most competitive. You get over $400,000 and it is a lot less competitive.”

The real estate start-up Knock has come up with a calculation to help buyers decide which areas are best for home shopping right now. Among other factors, that calculation involves list prices of homes for sale, the price at which they sold and the time they spent on the market.

In many areas, there just aren’t enough homes for sale. For sellers, that can mean buyers bidding against each other, which can mean much higher prices.

Better deals can be found in areas that just aren’t getting as much attention.

They might be in less-trafficked areas. Or they might not be in highly regarded school districts, he said. “We see some houses that are $150,000 to $200,000 that are awesome. But maybe you have no kids or you have young kids and schools are less of an issue.”

In the more modest price range, from $150,000 to $200,000, the cities with the best deals are Cumming, Stone Mountain, Conyers, Douglasville and Decatur, according to Knock.

Somewhat overlapping are the conclusions of Re/Max Georgia, which did it own calculations.

“While lack of inventory continues to strain Atlanta’s market, there are still many affordable options available to first-time home buyers,” said John Rainey, vice president, RE/MAX Georgia.

Re/Max didn’t break out its ratings by price range, but ranked the top five cities for first-timers as Decatur, Kennesaw, Canton, Marietta and Cumming.

Re/Max said it factored in neighborhood amenities, affordability and area trends, as well as the opinions of its agents.