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Strategies for Selling Luxury Condos (MHN)
By Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor

Atlanta-It seems that condos have definitely made a comeback. Karen Rodriguez of Dorsey Alston Realtors recently led the sales of luxury condos at The Residences at Mandarin Oriental in Buckhead, which is located in Atlanta. MHN talks to Rodriquez about her sales strategies and her predictions for the luxury condo market in Atlanta.

MHN: Tell me about The Residences.

Rodriguez: The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta, are situated in the heart of Buckhead in an iconic 42-story limestone building designed by renowned New York architect Robert A.M. Stern. With only 30 to 35 total residences, these grand homes in the sky make up the top 23 floors of the building, with only one to two residences per floor.

The new residences are designed and finished out by one of the nation’s top architectural firms, Harrison Design Associates, and consist of the most current, exquisite contemporary finishes that aren’t available anywhere else in Atlanta’s luxury condo market. Finishes include Miele appliances, quartz countertops and large oversized balconies that are at least 300 square feet and include large Viking gas grills and fireplaces. Given the location on top of the second tallest building in Buckhead, homeowners have premium skyline views of both Buckhead and Downtown. Residents can enjoy convenient access to the area’s top restaurants and retail including Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, as well as cultural attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium and the High Museum of Art.

Managed exclusively by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, The Residences provide owners with the luxuries of a five-star hotel while maintaining a level of privacy from hotel guests. Homeowners have private elevators and parking, as well as their own concierge, doorman and a private entrance.

MHN: What was your sales strategy, and why do you think it was successful?

Rodriguez: My sales team brought our proven fine-tuned sales strategy to the property in 2014, which directly contributed to our tremendous success of selling $16 million in property within the first two quarters of this year. My team takes a hands-on approach to the high-rise projects we take on by carefully evaluating every detail from the customer experience and sales presentation to the most important item, messaging. We leave nothing to chance or open for interpretation. My decisions from pricing to collateral are extremely calculated. After 11 years in the Buckhead condo market, and more than $100 million in luxury condo sales since 2012, I have become pretty good at knowing what this type of buyer is looking for and expects.

MHN: Why do you think luxury condos are regaining popularity in the Atlanta market?

Rodriguez: Buyers began to reenter the market in 2012 as financing guidelines started to loosen, which led to the first wave of previously vacant luxury Buckhead condo buildings selling out. By 2013, it was not uncommon for buyers to compete in bidding wars, with many resale properties going under contract within hours of hitting the market.

Buyers are regaining confidence in Atlanta’s condo marketplace, which had been plagued with unfavorable press for years. Additionally, continued population growth in Atlanta is contributing to an already congested traffic situation, which is raising the desirability of in-town living.

MHN: Do you think this is indicative of a nation-wide trend, or is it Atlanta specific? Why or why not?

This trend is occurring in most major cities in the U.S. America’s aging population continues to downsize from large single family homes to maintenance-free condominiums that not only provide the “lock and leave” lifestyle that has grown increasingly popular, but also the ability to live somewhere that allows them to walk to the best restaurants, shopping and the arts. This is especially true of Atlanta, given our dire traffic situation that continues to get worse as population growth continues to expand.

Rodriguez: What are some challenges you’re seeing concerning luxury condos?

Financing is still an issue, as dated regulations and Fannie Mae guidelines still remain from the housing crisis. These guidelines prevent many large well-known lenders from being able to provide conventional financing to buyers looking to purchase in luxury projects that contain more than 25 percent commercial space or hotel space within the same building. This applies to almost all of the newly construction luxury condo projects, which are usually located on the top of office towers or luxury branded hotel buildings. In many instances, despite most interested buyers of luxury condominiums being extremely well qualified, banks will deny based on where the buyer wants to buy rather than on the qualifications of the purchaser.

MHN: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Rodriguez: Currently, there are a ton of new luxury high-rise apartment buildings under construction around Atlanta and across the country due to the ease in financing readily available to developers, much more so than condo project financing. As these apartment buildings fill up, it is important to remember that today’s apartment renter is tomorrow’s condo buyer.

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