Randy Southerland 2016-12-08 02:54:14
Barrow Living Soars Barrow County real estate is back. Builders are putting up homes and real estate agents are once again selling them at a lively pace. Long a destination for young families and those seeking a charming and well-located place to live, the local market grew at a rapid pace throughout the 90s. That came to an end with the recession of 2008 as the national economy faltered. We’re not where we once were, but we’re so much better off than we were,” declares Jerry Maynard, president of Maynard Realty and a 35-year veteran of local real estate. Since the real estate decline in 2008, the sales numbers have risen back to close to 400 homes a year. In recent years, sales have been driven by an abundance of undeveloped lots left over from the boom times, according to Maynard. “They were taken over by other banks so there was a lot of liquidation of residential lots,” he says. “The price of those lots has continued to go up.” The Barrow County real estate market is diverse, offering something for nearly everyone and at lower prices than can be found in Metro Atlanta. From apartments to condos to the upscale resort homes at The Georgia Club, a wide range of buyers have found homes here. In recent years, the sweet spot for real estate has been starter homes. The greatest number of sales has been in the $125,000 to $150,000 range with most homes priced below $175,000. The upsurge in buying has resulted in subdivisions being sold out across the county and has finally nudged developers into starting an entirely new one near the fast growing Gateway at University Parkway retail development. The development has also attracted a 120- unit apartment complex which is slated for the back side of the development. “With the lower interest rates these homes are very affordable,” says Maynard. “They’re as affordable as I’ve ever seen it.” Appealing to the alumni and fans of the nearby Athens-based University of Georgia, The Georgia Club offers golf course living in an upscale community. In fact, these family-friendly neighborhoods along with their resort-style amenities near Statham, which is managed by Mosaic Clubs and Resorts, was named the company’s 2015 Club of the Year. Priced from $300,000, the development appeals to a wide variety of buyers. These include retirees and those who want to be close for those Georgia Bulldog football games. Homes in this development are selling at average of four-to-five a month. The development first began selling homes in 2000 and was regarded as something of a mecca for University of Georgia alumni who crave the amenities of a college town. Located near Braselton, Chateau Elan, which attracts a steady stream of visitors to its winery and resort, is also experiencing an upsurge in home building. Straddling the Barrow and Gwinnett County lines, Chateau Elan Estates offer upscale living built around four golf courses. Active adult communities have also started to pop up in the area. The Villas at Winder has been one of the most successful of these developments with most units already sold. Condos and townhome developments have been slower to take off in Barrow due to the affordability of single family homes, according to Maynard. “The availability of houses in the $124,000 to $175,000 price range means you can buy a house for as cheap as you can a condo,” says Maynard. When families or individuals want to move up from an apartment they are typically going to choose a home over a condo, he adds. Barrow offers a wide range of apartment units for residents of all ages. The Main- Street Winder development caters to active adults. Farmington Hills, located just off of Highway 316 in Winder, is structured for young families and singles. The old adage that retail follows rooftops is very much in evidence in Barrow. The prime commercial center of the county is located in a region where Highways 316 and 81 intersect near the center of the county in Winder. The Gateways opened in 2007 by selling its first parcel to Chick-fil-A. It was quickly followed by Carmike Theater and now the development includes a number of restaurants, retail stores, medical offices, and specialty shops. “It seems to be a natural retail corridor for serving a 15- mile trade area,” explains Wayne Bartlett, owner of Progressive Realty and a developer of the Gateway at University Parkway. “That area served seven miles north and seven miles south getting into Walton and Gwinnett Counties. There are about 130,000 people living in that 15 mile trade area and this is where they like to come to eat, shop and go to the movies.” The Gateways has continued to attract new businesses including BodyPlex, Friends Sports Bar, Little Tokyo Restaurant, Twisted Taco Restaurant, and others. Across the street from Gateway is Barrow Crossing which is home to another phalanx of retail including Publix, Belk, Target, Petsmart and others. A 60-bed, 38,000 square-foot, assisted living development, Gateway Gardens Assisted Living with memory care, is being developed nearby. Plans are also under way for a hotel and apartment development. Barrow proudly offers many opportunities for seniors and retirees. From assisted living at Magnolia Estates to independent living communities, there are options to meet the needs of each individual. “We needed the rooftops, and we were able to get those rooftops back in the late 90s up till 2007 and 2008,” notes Bartlett. “The missing link for our area has always been entertainment. So once we got the 12-screen theatre, people can stay and eat and shop, and they don’t have to leave the community to fulfil their shopping needs.” Throughout Barrow County, real estate is once again alive and well. New construction is building and houses that have been on the market are being purchased. The quality of life that initially drew so many people and businesses here in years past is still proving to be as attractive as ever.
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