If a real estate market where the median listing price of a home is near $100 per square foot sounds too good to be true, you probably haven’t looked at the housing market in Augusta, Georgia.
According to the most recent report from Realtor.com, the median listing home price per square foot in Augusta is just $106. However, investors are advised not to wait too long before making an offer. There are half as many homes on the market for sale as there were a year ago, and nearly all of them are selling for full asking price.
Augusta, Georgia is on the central eastern border of the state and lies just across the Savannah River from South Carolina. The area boasts a warm climate, pleasant Southern living lifestyle, and is home to The Masters golf tournament at the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club.
Founded a generation before the Civil War, Augusta is now home to a thriving economy centered around medicine, biotech, and cybersecurity. Job seekers are attracted by the diverse employment opportunities, families love the nearby suburban towns, and retirees are attracted by the warm weather and low cost of living.
Keep reading to learn why investors should consider Augusta in 2021.
A couple of years ago, Forbes wrote that Augusta may be the South’s best kept secret. But judging by the recent population growth in Augusta, it looks like the secret is out. In fact, over the next five years, about 13,000 new residents are expected to move to the Augusta area, helping to keep the real estate market strong and steady.
Key Population Stats:
- Augusta is the 2nd-largest city in Georgia (just behind Atlanta) with a population of about 200,000 in the city and more than 600,000 residents in the Augusta-Aiken metropolitan area.
- Augusta MSA includes Richmond, Columbia, Burke and McDuffie counties in Georgia and Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina.
- Population growth in Metro Augusta is 0.89% year-over-year.
- Over the last ten years, the population of Augusta has grown by 8.5% with about half of that growth arriving in the last five years.
- Unemployment rate in Augusta has decreased to 3.8%, according to the BLS (April 2021).
- Industry sectors showing the fastest signs of recovery include construction, manufacturing, and government.
- Employment growth in Augusta was 7.61% last year with a metro area cost of living 8% below the national average.
- Median age in Augusta is 38.2 years with a high concentration of millennials.
The economy in Augusta continues to grow, with workers attracted to the region’s low cost of living and businesses finding a ready, willing, and able labor force. A little more than 50% of the workforce resides in Richmond County where Augusta is located. Nearly 30% live in Columbia County, with a high volume of commuters coming from neighboring Aiken County in South Carolina.
Key Employment Stats:
- GDP of the Augusta-Richmond County MSA is nearly $30 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and has grown by more than 42% over the last ten years.
- Nonfarm wage and salary employment in Augusta is growing each month, with employment growing 7.61% year-over-year.
- Median household income is $55,143 and per capita income is $28,711.
- Forbes gives Augusta high rankings for cost of doing business, job growth, education, and #156 in the U.S. as the best place for business and careers.
- Growth industries in the Augusta metropolitan area include cyber security and IT, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, chemical manufacturing, customer service centers, logistics and healthcare services.
- Tech and cyber-related organizations such as Unisys, ADP, Raytheon, and the U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Gordon Army base help drive the high-tech industry in Augusta.
- Fort Gordon has a workforce of more than 15,600 military and more than 10,300 civilians and creates an annual economic impact of about $2.4 billion in the local economy.
- Major manufacturing employers in the Augusta metropolitan area include golf cart and utility vehicle manufacturer EZ GO Textron, Cardinal Health, Kellogg’s, Augusta Coca-Cola, and Dart Container.
- Augusta University, Richmond County School System, University Hospital, and Augusta-Richmond County are a few of the biggest public sector employers in the metropolitan area.
- Major colleges and universities include Augusta Technical College, Augusta University, Paine College, and Georgia Military College.
- 89.2% of the residents in Augusta are high school graduates or higher, and 27.4% hold a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree.
- Interstate highway I-20 connects Augusta with Atlanta to the west and Columbia, South Carolina to the east.
- Ports of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina are less than 150 miles from Augusta.
- Augusta Regional Airport provides direct service to Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Washington DC via Delta and American Airlines.
Real Estate Market
Augusta is home to one of the top five counties for remote real estate investors. According to HousingWire, about 56% of the real estate buyers in Richmond County (where Augusta is located) are from out-of-state.
Taking a quick glance at the key real estate market stats of Augusta, it’s easy to understand why so many investors are coming to this secondary market in Georgia.
Key Market Stats:
- Zillow Home Value Index $139,492 (as of May 2021).
- Homes values in Augusta have increased by 19.4% over the last year.
- Since 2016 home values in the Augusta metropolitan area have increased by more than 42%.
- Median listing home price in Augusta $169,900 based on the most recent report from Realtor.com (May 2021).
- Median listing price per square foot $106.
- Median sold home price in Augusta $167,300.
- Days on market (median) 46.
- Sales-to-list price ratio has increased to 100%.
- Of the 45 neighborhoods in Augusta, Forest Hills is the most expensive neighborhood in Augusta with a median listing price of $415,000.
- Harrisburg is the most affordable neighborhood in Augusta with a median listing price of $99,000.
Attractive Renters’ Market
The real estate market is booming in Augusta. As WJBF News recently reported, multiple bids are now the norm with 50% fewer homes listed for sale than one year ago.
While a tight housing market may not be good for owner-occupants, it’s the ideal situation for rental property investors. Buying bigger rental property in Augusta could be a smart investment, since more people and working and schooling from home.
Key Market Stats:
- Average rent in Augusta is $975 per month according to the most recent research from RENTCafé (as of May 2021).
- Rents in Augusta have increased by 11% over the past year.
- 38% of the households in Augusta are renter-occupied, leaving plenty of room for potential growth of the rental market.
- 50% of the rental units in Augusta have rents between $701 and $1,000 per month.
- Neighborhoods in Augusta with the highest rents include Laney Walker, May Park, and Old Town where average rents run $1,130 per month.
- Neighborhoods in Augusta with the lowest rents include Albion Acres, Greggs Mill, Summerville, and Harrisburg where average rents run $721 per month.
- Most popular neighborhoods in Augusta for renters include Belair, Highland Park, and National Hills where rents average $941-$967 per month.
Historic Price Changes & Housing Affordability
Two important data sets that real estate investors analyze before investing in rental property are the historic change in home prices and the affordability of housing. Pricing data is used to help forecast the potential appreciation of a home, while affordability is used to gauge the current and future potential demand for rental property.
Each month Freddie Mac publishes an updated house price index report. The most recent Home Price Index (FMHPI) from Freddie for the Augusta-Richmond County MSA shows that:
- April 2016 HPI: 132.7
- April 2021 HPI: 189.2
- 5-year change in house prices: 42.6%
- One-year change in house prices: 14.5%
- Monthly change in house prices: 1.4%
Kiplinger recently published a report showing the affordability of housing in the top 100 metro areas of the U.S. The firm’s affordability index is on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the most affordable place to buy a home and 10 being the least affordable.
The affordability index report for Augusta shows:
- Since the last real estate cycle market peak in May 2006, home prices in Augusta have increased by 6.8%.
- Since the last real estate cycle market bottom in March 2012, home prices in Augusta have increased by 25.3%.
- Augusta has an affordability index of 1 out of 10, meaning that Augusta is one of the most affordable markets in the country to buy a home.
Quality of Life
Augusta is rated by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best places to live and retire in the U.S. The city receives strong ratings for desirability, value, job market, quality of life, and net migration.
Key Quality of Life Stats:
- Cost of living is 8% below the national average, according to Forbes.
- Climate is humid subtropical with short mild winters and hot humid summers.
- Golfing is a year-round event at the area’s 15 public and 20 private golf courses, and the Augusta National Golf Club is home to The Masters golf tournament.
- Opportunity abounds for outdoor recreation along the Savannah River and Augusta Canal.
- Augusta Downtown Historic District includes most of downtown and its pre-Civil War area.
- University Hospital-Augusta and Children’s Hospital of Georgia are among the top 14 best hospitals in Augusta.
- Petersburg boat tours, Historic Trolley Tour, and the Black History Trolley Tour are a few of the most interesting ways to get to know Augusta.
Get Out the Map
Where to begin your search? Roofstock created a heat map of Augusta based on our Neighborhood Rating, a dynamic algorithm that enables you to make informed investment decisions by measuring school district quality, home values, employment rates, income levels and other vital investment criteria.
DARK GREEN: 4-5 star neighborhood
LIGHT GREEN: 3.5-4 star neighborhood
YELLOW: 2.5-3 star neighborhood
ORANGE: 2 star neighborhood
RED: 1 star neighborhood
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