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John Ruch Posted by on October 29, 2016.

Broker: Local buyers line up for farms and sport estates

In the market for a quail-hunting plantation or an equestrian farm? Maybe even a luxury fallout shelter?

Sister Hood, based in the Harry Norman office on East Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, is one of metro Atlanta’s few real estate brokers specializing in such pastoral spreads and “sporting properties.” Her clients include not only old-money traditionalists, but also the northern Perimeter’s influx of well-off younger families looking for elbow room.

Sister Hood

Sister Hood

Those younger clients, Hood said, are seeking a “family getaway, a family compound. They want everybody to come spend Thanksgiving there.” Such families are part of the reason the rural estate market is strong, she said.

Hood was born and raised with a love of the outdoors in Buckhead near Randall Mill Road and attended the Westminster Schools. Her mother Mary was also a Harry Norman broker, leading Sister to join the trade 11 years ago. (Sharing the same name as her mother and grandmother, Sister picked up her unusual nickname “in a lovely Southern tradition.”)

“I grew up hunting and riding horses,” Hood said. “When I got into real estate, that was really where I wanted to focus…There wasn’t anybody doing that at the time.”

Most of the properties she handles are outside of Atlanta, like the 6,000-acre farm and hunting estate in Perry or the 17-acre plantation with a Victorian-era house in Griffin. There’s no particular sales trend in this specialty market based on individual taste, Hood said. Some people are looking for quail hunting below the Gnat Line; others may prefer trout fishing in the north Georgia mountains.

Many sporting properties are well-established or even historic. Less common are specialty subdivisions built around an amenity such as a trout stream. The area around Newnan, southeast of Atlanta, is seeing a boom of such developments centered on horse-riding, Hood said.

Brookfield Plantation in Griffin, Ga., is one of the farm properties brokered by Sister Hood.

Brookfield Plantation in Griffin, Ga., is one of the farm properties brokered by Sister Hood.

“It’s gotten to be quite horsey,” she said.

While some clients in the Perimeter area are interested in such properties as vacation or weekend getaways, others aim to make them main residences. Hood said she recently visited a rural farm she sold to Buckhead residents who moved there full-time.

“They fish. They hunt. They ride,” she said. “They have goats and chickens.”

Marketing the large estates is different from the standard house sale and takes more than a coat of paint and an open house.

“Sometimes you’ve got to go out there and make sure the pasture is mowed,” Hood said. “I have taken [clients] hunting. I have taken them horseback riding. I have taken them fishing.”

A cross-section illustration of the nuclear war survival bunker for sale in Tifton, Ga.

A cross-section illustration of the nuclear war survival bunker for sale in Tifton, Ga.

Sometimes it means studying up on history to sell unusual properties like that nuclear war survival bunker in Tifton in southern Georgia. Designed to “withstand a 20-kiloton nuclear blast,” the underground complex includes everything from luxury apartments to “decontamination showers,” a firing range and a home theater.

Hood’s efforts to sell the property — current asking price, $15 million — recently made national news. Behind the scenes, the work involved reading up on the fallout shelter market. She learned that there are several such luxury survival bunkers around the country that come onto the market from time to time, but most are refurbished military missile silos that weren’t intended as homes.

The nuclear bunker's blast-proof doors.

The nuclear bunker’s blast-proof doors.

“Originally, it was an AT&T communications bunker. They did it during the Cold War,” she said of the Tifton bunker. “There are very few of this caliber in private hands.”

For the more familiar farms and sporting properties, Hood’s asset is the knowledge she already has from hunting, riding and other outdoors life — topics such as land management techniques and conservation easement details. Those are important to her clients, she said.

“These people love the land,” she said. “My homeowners and sellers are very good stewards of what they have.”

For more information, see sisterhoodweb.harrynorman.com.

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