Disclaimer: This post is meant to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. If you are considering a real estate investment in Georgia, HomeLight always recommends doing your own research to determine which investment option is best for your situation.
Georgia has been one of the top five states to gain in population over the last decade. That’s not surprising considering it has something for everyone including major cities, suburbs, farmland, beautiful mountains, lots of culture, and great Southern food. It’s the largest state East of the Mississippi River and it’s home to the oldest state park in the nation. People have been moving to Georgia to take advantage of its relatively low home prices compared to other states.
In terms of real estate, Georgia home prices in August 2022 were up 13.8% from this time last year, with a median sales price of $362,700 and a median days on the market of just 24. These numbers of course vary depending on what part of the state you’re in.
How do you choose a real estate investment property?
When choosing the best real estate investments in Georgia, you will want to consider the following factors that affect the return on your investment:
What makes the area desirable? Is it walkable? Is there a nice shopping district? Are the houses well-kept? Here are some things to consider when choosing a neighborhood to invest in:
- Access to local amenities such as parks, walking trails, shopping centers, and community events
- Condition of roads, sidewalks, and landscaping
- Proximity to tourist attractions (for short-term rentals), public transportation, and city centers
Are any major companies moving to the area that may be beneficial to the economy? For example, in the metro Atlanta area, a lot of film studios are moving in which will provide jobs (and in turn people will need somewhere to live), according to real estate agent Joe Weathers, who works in the Atlanta metro area and sells 99% of his listings.
If buildings are boarded up and people are moving out, it may not be the best time to invest in real estate in that town. Instead, look for signs of population growth such as new schools, new housing developments, and large employers moving to the area. Retail stores and coffee shops that are ‘coming soon’ are also a good sign of increasing population growth.
Average rental rates and vacancy rates
Understanding average rental rates in the area you are looking to invest in is key to determining your budget. Check out resources such as Apartment List to find average rental rates in your area.
You will also need to pay attention to vacancy rates in your area — homes that sit unoccupied for an extended period of time are cause for concern. Low vacancy rates in an area indicate that rentals are in high demand (and your potential rental is less likely to sit empty).
School district ratings
Tenants with children will often decide to rent a place based on the school district rating, so you want to know this ahead of time. Also, know what the public and private school options are.
Top 7 cities in Georgia for investing in real estate
Here is our list for the best places to invest in real estate in Georgia:
Atlanta is Georgia’s largest and most well-known city. It’s home to so many attractions and has seen a huge population surge over the past decade. As of April 2020, its population was 498,602. Besides having one of the world’s busiest airports, hosting the Olympic games, and being a popular movie studio location, Atlanta is also full of important art exhibits, world-class restaurants, and shopping.
Atlanta is a bustling metropolitan city and includes 203 neighborhoods and suburbs with single family homes, condos, townhomes, and apartment buildings. People have been flocking here due to a number of job opportunities, warm weather, a diverse workforce, and relatively low costs of living when compared to other major cities.
Home prices vary greatly as they do in most major cities, but as of August, 2022, the median listing price in Atlanta was $428,500, trending up 7.2% year-over-year. Median rents here are $1,590, with a growth rate of 3.9% from October 2021.
Athens is most well-known for being home to the University of Georgia and its champion football team, The Georgia Bulldogs. This college town also boasts a botanical garden, boutiques, restaurants, museums, and nature centers. As of April 2020, its population was 127,315.
Athens attracts thousands of students each year who need housing in the area. The real estate market is made up of a mix of single-family homes and apartments. Students often rent places for the year and their family members often opt for short-term rentals nearby. The median rent in Athens, Georgia is $1,800. The median listing home price was $335,000, trending up 19.7% year-over-year.
Savannah is a coastal Georgia city, not far from the South Carolina border. It’s a popular travel destination and a popular place to retire. Visitors and residents come for its nearby beaches, beautiful downtown historic area filled with cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and unique architecture. The city has well-manicured parks, cafes, restaurants, and a variety of boutiques and small stores.
Savannah boasts a mix of single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and apartment buildings. There is a sizable population that lives here year round as well as peak season for vacationers, so investors purchase properties to rent out both long-term and as short-term vacation rentals.
As of April 2020, the population was 147,780 and the median listing home price was $335,500, trending up 19.8% year-over-year. However, these prices go much higher in the desirable downtown areas, especially for historic houses with the traditional wraparound porches. The median rent in Savannah is $1,585, with 56% of homes being renter-occupied.
4. Tybee Island
Tybee Island is a popular vacation destination and has been since the 1800s. It has a very small population during its off season, but it gets busy with vacationers during peak seasons. There are almost 3 miles of sandy beaches, a warm climate, and a bustling coastal community full of restaurants and boutiques. You can access the island via ferry or water taxi from Savannah.
Tybee Island’s population is currently growing at a rate of 0.38% annually. As of April 2020, the population was 3,094. Investors mostly purchase properties here to rent to short-term tenants as vacation homes. There are a mix of beach houses, condos, and apartments. In August 2022, the median listing price in Tybee Island was $800,000, up 21.2% year-over-year.
Macon is a small city in central Georgia full of history, culture, and outdoor activities. Macon is home to The Tubman Museum which displays African-American art, history, and culture exhibits. As of April 2020, there were 157,346 people living in Macon.
As of August 2022, the median listing price was $189,900, up 8.6% year-over-year. The median sales price was $201,800, which shows that most homes were selling for more than their asking price. The median rental price in Macon is $1,204 and there’s a mix of townhomes, apartments, condos, and single-family homes in the area.
The area is still considered affordable and people flock here to enjoy relatively low home prices, outdoor activities, The Big House, a museum dedicated to the Allman Brothers Band, and Ocmulgee Mounds National Park. Investors here rent to long-term and short-term tenants because the area caters to both tourists and year-round residents.
6. Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge is a small town in Georgia, with only 1,168 people. It lies in the northern part of the state and is a mountain town. It’s a popular vacation destination for people who live in Georgia and come for the weekend, along with visitors from other states. Top attractions include Chattahoochee National Forest and Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Despite the small year-round population, property values have skyrocketed over the past few years. Most properties are single-family homes and many include some acreage. As of August 2022, the median listing price was $649,900 which is up 26.8% year-over-year, and the median rent is $4,000 per month. Many investors choose to purchase properties in this area and rent them as short-term vacation rentals because it’s a popular vacation retreat.
Augusta is made up of 49 different neighborhoods with varying price points. It lies along the Savannah River and borders South Carolina. In August 2022, the median home price was $215,000, up 22.9% from the previous year. The median rent in Augusta, Georgia is $1,220. It’s an affordable place to purchase your first investment property or to add another piece of real estate to your portfolio. Most properties in the area are single-family homes.
As of April 2020, the population in Augusta was 202,081 — this makes it Georgia’s third largest city. People move to Augusta because it offers some big city amenities like theaters, museums, and a lively downtown area, but it still has the feel of a small town. Additionally, it’s home to a popular minor league baseball team, the Augusta Greenjackets, and it hosts The Masters Tournament each spring. Retirees are coming to Augusta to enjoy the low cost of living, the southern hospitality, and the warm weather.
Do your research and consider the property’s potential over the next three to five years. Be aware of new developments, new construction, and new businesses coming to the area. Don’t just focus on the immediate cash flow.
- Joe Weathers Real Estate AgentCloseJoe Weathers Real Estate Agent at Atlanta Communities Currently accepting new clients
- Years of Experience 9
- Transactions 331
- Average Price Point $316k
- Single Family Homes 308
Tips for finding a great investment property in Georgia
Here is some helpful advice on how to get the best real estate investments in Georgia:
- Partner with an expert real estate agent that knows the area and has experience working with investors.
- Understand your local landlord/tenant laws.
- Know the zoning in the area you’re purchasing a property in. Just because that basement studio is currently rented, doesn’t mean that it is in compliance with local zoning regulations.
- Leave room in your budget for maintenance and repairs.
- Check out the property during the day and at night. The neighborhood may look completely different.
- Know what’s ‘coming soon’ to the area so you can tell tenants about a new coffee shop or any other amenities that will make your unit more attractive.
“Do your research and consider the property’s potential over the next three to five years. Be aware of new developments, new construction, and new businesses coming to the area. Don’t just focus on the immediate cash flow,” Shares, Weathers.
Header Image Source: (Alix Greenman / Unsplash)