Atlanta real estate: Peachy keen or sour grapes?

A house for sale in Egan Park, about 6 miles from downtown Atlanta.

Deborah Gilmore is a realtor with Harry Norman Realtors. She's been selling homes in the Atlanta area for more than two decades. Gilmore says people should move to Atlanta because of its fabulous weather, diversity and the wide variety of housing -- everything from a condo to a castle. She says Atlanta's housing market is recovering.

"We do have a heartbeat now. We had flat line for quite a while, but we are beating. That's good news," says Gilmore. "Certain areas of Atlanta, where high-end is predominant, there are people buying."

Gilmore says a three bedroom, two bath home in Atlanta can be found for around $150,000-200,000. While the same type of home in other parts of the county -- depending on whether it's in foreclosure or on short sale -- can cost around $90,000-150,000. In one of her recent sales, Gilmore says she sold a house to a new couple who were thrilled with their new home.

"They got so excited about the house, we got close to closing. And the buyer called and said that he wanted to go and cut the grass. I said that's so very nice. I said we have one problem. He said, 'What?' I said you don't own the house. It's not your house yet. You haven't bought it, so you can't just show up on the property and start cutting the grass and trimming the bushes. That's just one example. Excitement of people that when they want to buy and they have a good experience with the process and they can't wait to get the property, that's what I like," she says. "[If] they have cartwheels from the front door, you know they love the house."

But how are the bankers down South? Are they as hospitable as the people and likely to throw loans at potential buyers?

"Nobody's throwing loans, I'm sorry. You have to check with a lender bank first to see if you're credit worthy. People love to look at the pretty stuff -- the house and dream about where they want to live, but the restrictions are much different now than they were five or six years ago," says Gilmore. "They're looking at credit scores and pattern of payment. This has to be really good and clean."

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About the author

David Lazarus is an American business and consumer columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

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