Jun 7, 2024 - News

Golden handcuffs: Mortgages and low inventory frustrate Atlanta homeowners

Illustration of a handcuff on a keychain in a lock

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Potential buyers aren't the only ones frustrated by this market. Homeowners looking to move are feeling the squeeze, too.

Why it matters: Homeownership's many perks coexist with plenty of downsides — like being stuck with a "golden handcuffs" mortgage when you'd like to move.

The big picture: First-time homebuyers are taking up a growing share of home purchases while current owners stay put.

  • Half of potential sellers are waiting for mortgage rates to come down before they list, per Realtor.com.
  • Roughly one-third of potential sellers have been thinking of moving for multiple years.

Here's how some Axios readers feel:

J.Y. moved into a townhouse in 2020. The day his family got the keys, J.Y. learned the neighbor is an award-winning music producer with a full recording studio in the basement: "We are literally kept awake by the bass vibrations and noise."

  • The HOA won't help, he said, and the police say it's an HOA issue. "It's terrible, and now, originally expecting to be here only a couple years, we are now absolutely stuck."

North Gwinnett County's rapid growth and increasingly bad traffic have B.B. and his wife considering a move to the Midwest — a tough decision, considering they love their neighbors, the mix of restaurants and proximity to the North Georgia mountains.

  • "Moving now is a balancing act of finding a quieter city, more land, a lower cost of living and not blowing up our budget with higher mortgage rates, all while choosing among just a half-dozen homes on the market at a time."

H.R.'s got a well-paying job and his husband is retired. Their $475,000 Roswell home is paid off, and together they have $1 million in retirement savings.

  • They want a nearby single-story house in the same price range, preferably in a 55-and-up community to stay close to their medical provider network.
  • The couple has plenty of assets but not enough income, he said, and lenders won't approve them for a loan that's big enough loan to buy the house that checks the couple's boxes.

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