Report: Intown Atlanta condo market steadying

The intown Atlanta condo market is still struggling, but there are glimmers of improvement and the stage is being set for a comeback, according to a local real estate consulting firm.

Haddow & Co., which has watched the Atlanta condo market since 1999, says “sales during the first half of 2009 were on par with the first half of 2008.” Active contracts and closings for the first six months dipped 1 percent, to 572 in 2009 from 579 in 2008.

But sales have been spurred recently by auctions and discounts, the report noted.

The report also says the condo foreclosure rate “slowed somewhat,” with 49 in the first half of 2009 versus 57 in the last half of 2008.

The top-selling condo, according to the report, was The Cosmopolitan, a Morris J. Kaplan Communities project in Lindbergh. Next was Element, a Lane Co. project at Atlantic Station. Both condos held auctions in the first half of 2009.

Without the auction, sales at the Cosmo wouldn’t have been as robust, said developer Morris Kaplan.

At the 90-minute auction, 43 condos were sold, more than in all of 2008, he said. Since the auction, more than 50 condos have been sold.

“I wouldn’t have believed in January we’d have sold this many condos at this point in the year,” he said. “The auctions have done a lot to drive traffic and has allowed buyers to set the price for these units.”

According to the Haddow report, the average list price for the Cosmo was more than $273,000, but the average auction price was less than $169,000.

The luxury market, or projects with units priced over $500,000, have been the most challenged, the report says. Fifty-nine such properties had no net increase in sales in the first half of the year.

The report declares “the thawing out has begun ... but condominium demand must rebound more strongly for the market to regain equilibrium.”

“In the marketplace there are buyers out there,” Kaplan said. “You just need to have a good product at the right price.”