Annexation, cityhood looms over 2015 housing market in DeKalb

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 5, 2015
Photo provided by Atlanta INtown.

Photo provided by Atlanta INtown.

Two local real estate agents say that annexation and cityhood will be on the minds of home buyers in DeKalb County this year.

There are several proposals for creating new cities and adding territory to existing cities. Areas that are unincorporated now could be within city limits by the end of 2015. All of the proposals will have to make it through the state General Assembly this year. The first day of the legislative session is Jan. 12.

Parents with children attending school in existing cities, like Avondale Estates, may face sending their kids to a different high school if Druid Hills High is annexed into Atlanta. Some observers say that living in a new city will likely mean higher taxes in exchange for more local control over services, like policing.

“That’s going to be gigantic,” Realtor Jon Effron said.

Realtor Ben McKenzie said he’s been fielding questions about the topic from his clients.

“I think you’re going to have some people that are banking on these annexations or the proposed annexation areas to take form and they may end up bearing fruit,” McKenzie said. “But there are some people that are going to be a lot more cautious and ready to act once this takes a more definite shape.”

Two cityhood proposals have gotten the most attention: LaVista Hills and Tucker.

A legislative subcommittee recently settled a key boundary dispute between the two cityhood groups. But LaVista Hills is also facing competition from Together in Atlanta, a group that wants to annex the Druid Hills neighborhood, including Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control, into the city of Atlanta. The Together in Atlanta proposal primarily focuses on the attendance zones around Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary Schools. It would also encompass Druid Hills High, which serves several other schools throughout DeKalb County.

Schools within the proposed boundaries of the cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker would remain in DeKalb County Schools. Another annexation proposal would add several hundred students into City Schools of Decatur’s burgeoning enrollment. Much of Decatur’s enrollment growth will come from within the city. There are currently three apartment projects in various stages of development, as well as town homes and rebuilds of single family houses.

Effron wonders what the apartment projects throughout the county will do to the housing market over the next few years. Will people choose to rent long term instead of buying?

“We’ve got a zillion apartments being built right now,” he said. “What happens when they all open up? How does that impact the housing market? That’s one of the bigger trends I think we all need to pay attention to.”

The housing market for the metro area will likely continue improving in 2015. recently identified Atlanta and Sandy Springs among 10 metro areas in the U.S. “ready for significant acceleration across housing metrics” in 2015. Home sales inside the Perimeter are expected to increase by 10 to 12 percent.

“Intown Atlanta is going to continue to be a relatively strong market area,” David Boehmig, President and Co-Founder of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, told Atlanta INtown. “As appreciation continues to manifest itself and more homes emerge from being ‘underwater,’ there will more homes eligible to be sold, bringing needed inventory to market.”

Effron said the Decatur housing market has quieted somewhat.

“The big jump was 2012 to 2013. 2013 to 2014 really wasn’t that dramatic as far as price appreciation,” he said. ” … I didn’t see the last year as this dramatic pants on fire market.”

McKenzie said the Decatur’s housing market “has been crazy” over the last few years. He said redistricting proposals in Atlanta and DeKalb County public schools pushed many parents into the city limits.

“A lot of people found what they wanted in Decatur when there was uncertainty elsewhere,” he said.

Portions of this story were provided courtesy of Atlanta INtown

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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