They Want How Much?
By Sarah Max

(MONEY Magazine) – Atlanta Hottie

Lakefront house 20 miles south of Atlanta in fast-changing area

• 4 bed, 3 bath, 3,900 sq. ft. • 1960s house modernized with $150,000 renovation

Listed: $479,997 Time on the market: five months--and counting


Owners Robert and Audrey Watson paid $185,000 for this Lake Jodeco house in 1997. "It was just a little cottage," real estate agent Susan Clowdus says of the original 1969 structure. That was before the couple spent $150,000 on a renovation that (among other things) created a great room in the back, converted a carport to a bedroom, added a swimming pool and deck, gutted the kitchen and installed Brazilian cherry hardwood floors throughout much of the house.


"This house is definitely on the top end of the market for Lake Jodeco," says local appraiser Terry Neese, explaining that most of the houses on that lake are smaller and older. "A lot of the other houses look more like cabins." The neighborhood, however, is changing quickly. At a larger lake across the street, buyers are tearing down $500,000 houses to build new ones. Although the Watsons' house has been for sale since October, they say they aren't planning to drop the price, especially with spring and summer--the busiest home-shopping seasons--coming.


There's a reason agents warn against too much renovation: "If you're the most expensive," says Clowdus, "you don't have homes appreciating above you to pull up your value." Even so, the Watsons may eventually get their price as the wave of teardowns nearby bulks up the neighborhood's offerings. Plus there's the eternal appeal of waterfront property. "Last I checked," appraiser Neese deadpans, "they weren't building any more lakes." --SARAH MAX


NOTES: As of March 18. [1] $359,650 or less. [2] More than $359,650. SOURCE: HSH Associates (


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NOTES: As of March 18. Rates and terms subject to change. [1] Combined loan-to-value ratio (the combined principals on mortgage and credit line divided by appraised value of the house). SOURCE: HSH Associates.

NOTES: As of March 18. Largest REITs by market capitalization. [1] Annualized. SOURCES: Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, Thomson/Baseline.