It’s called “Hotlanta” for a number of reasons: those gloriously sticky Southern summers, sexy nightlife and a sizzling luxury real estate climate. Debbie Sonenshine and Robin Blass, two of Coldwell Banker Metro Atlanta’s top real estate agents, ought to know. They’ve got over 60 years of real estate experience in “The Big Peach” between them. From see-and-be-seen restaurants to hidden Southern gems and the best places to shop ‘til y’all drop, Sonenshine and Blass share their suggestions for enjoying the A-list lifestyle in Atlanta.
No. 1 advice for buying in Atlanta: Sonenshine counsels buyers to consider traffic problems. Blass, on the other hand, says education is key: “Unlike most cities, where luxury properties are only found in a specific area close to the city center, Atlanta’s luxury homes are spread across the metro. Luxury buyers are looking for the perfect house and often aren’t as concerned about finding something in a specific area, so they don’t limit their search.”
No. 1 advice for selling in Atlanta: “Make sure that the house is in pristine condition—freshly painted with soft, cool colors,” advises Blass. “Update where necessary to get the most bang for your buck, such as updating countertops, replacing dated light fixtures and painting.” Sonenshine agrees, but also tells sellers to make sure they price their home realistically.
No. 1 misconception luxury buyers have about Atlanta: It’s a buyer’s market.“Because it took the Atlanta luxury market a little bit longer to recover after the recession, buyers that are in the high-end market still see the Atlanta market as a buyer’s market, and it is not,” says Blass. Sonenshine adds, “People come here and think everything will be very inexpensive compared to their current home.”
No. 1 real estate trend for 2014: Marrying the indoors with the outdoors, according to Blass.Sonensine agrees: “It’s all about outdoor living areas.”
No. 1 place to build new: Blass says the outskirts of Brookhaven and Buckhead (two affluent city neighborhoods) offer infill land for luxury new homes, as well as people who are tearing down ranch-style homes and rebuilding large homes in their place. Soneshine says “close-in Chastain Park” is another ideal location.
No. 1 high-rise: “The Sovereign,” says Blass, without hesitation. Soneshine agrees, before adding, “And St. Regis.”
No. 1 hidden gem: Both Blass and Sonenshine think it’s Chastain Park. Explains Blass, “It offers so much more than any metro Atlanta neighborhood, such as an amphitheater that hosts the Atlanta symphony and popular bands, a horse park, golf course, walking area, tennis and swim, plus it is less than one mile from the luxury shopping areas.”
No. 1 place for retail therapy: Both point toPhipps Plaza in Buckhead, which is anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, but Sonenshine says Buckhead will be seeing more high-end boutiques coming soon.
No. 1 restaurant in Atlanta right now: “Bones Steak House, located in Buckhead, is my favorite,” says Blass. “It has long been the ‘in’ spot for Atlanta’s movers and shakers.” Sonenshine says she prefers the classic fine dining of Bacchanalia on Howell Mill Road.
No. 1 place to experience southern hospitality: Sonenshine likes Swan Coach House at the Atlanta History Center for its traditional Southern favorites like cheese straw and frozen fruit salad.Blass can’t decide between two “old-time” restaurants; The Varsity, started in 1928, is the world’s largest drive-in, and Midtown’s Mary Mac’s Tea Room has been in existence since 1945.