Post Properties CEO on Atlanta’s real estate market

David Stockert

Post Properties president and CEO

Post is a publicly traded developer and manager of more than 22,000 apartments in 10 markets. It was founded in Atlanta in 1971.

On new apartments:

There’ve been a lot of announcements. I would say there’s actually still relatively little actual construction of apartments in Atlanta by historical standards. Now, there’s a lot getting talked about. On the one hand, it makes me nervous; on the other hand, it’s about time. It’s about time Atlanta had a deeper inventory of quality high-rise apartments. We’ve arrived. It’s a lot of high-rise apartments that people are talking about. If they all get built, and they all get built at the same time, it’s going to make the market soft. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

On opportunities in Atlanta:

I think our economy’s restructured a lot in the past five or six years. If you look at the Atlanta economy now, it features a lot more wireless technology, health care, IT, and all the stuff you read about. It’s a broader based economy. And so when you add on the fact that Atlanta’s still a very attractive place to come, it’s a low cost of doing business, it’s a low cost of living, people are still going to continue to come here. There’s just good places for young people to be, so I’m very optimistic about Atlanta.

On changing living preferences:

There definitely is going to be an increasing amount of urban housing, which (by definition) has to be high in density. There’s no big tracts of land, so you’re going vertical. There’s always going to be the young families who want a house, who want a yard. They’re just going to have to move out to be able to afford it. There’s going to be this constant tension between commute times and cost of housing. In the apartment world, micro-units allow someone to have a lower absolute rent and live in a really cool place. If it’s one foot less wide and one foot less deep, that takes out a fair amount of square footage. It takes out a fair amount of cost. But if it allows you to afford it, then you’re not going to notice the difference. The other thing that’s really affected our business is the advent of the condo market. (We) are putting granite in everything, stainless appliances. Everything looks like a condo.

On housing and office development:

Housing is going to be a propellant, if you will, for the Atlanta economy for a while, at least. Housing is going to heal. As housing heals, and we build more houses, it adds to the economy, it creates jobs. The office market is tougher. When you look at retail, obviously, bricks and mortar, you have to think about the Internet. And in office, you’ve got a little bit of that, too. Because you’ve got hoteling concepts where people don’t have an office, they just plug in to a desk and then they leave. You’ve got people working from home. And the question is how much office space per worker do we really need? And that’s a question that’s still being analyzed by companies and experimented with by companies.

On how Post has changed since the recession:

We definitely have a much stronger balance sheet. I didn’t feel like we had the flexibility in the downturn to really take advantage of opportunities. And so we’re running with much lower debt today, a lot more cash. We did get in the condo business, we’re not in the condo business (any longer). That’s another thing.

Editor’s note: These comments are edited, condensed and organized to highlight important points.

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