After six years of living in her first home, in a suburb northwest of Atlanta, Keeva Haynes was ready for a bigger and better place — preferably one zoned for the high school that her eighth-grade daughter, Jaida, wanted to attend.

Ms. Haynes, 44, a divorced single mother, had tired of her house in Powder Springs, Ga., especially after shelling out thousands of dollars for repairs.

“It was an older home, No. 1, so there were a lot of issues that I had been uncovering, like plumbing and septic-tank stuff that was costing me so much money,” she said. “No. 2, my daughter really wanted to be in a more diverse school district.”

Ms. Haynes longed for a recently built four-bedroom house with a fenced backyard for her dog and cat to enjoy. A senior manager at an accounting firm, she works from home and hoped to find a two-story house with enough space for separate living and working areas.

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“In my old house, my daughter could hear my phone calls,” she said. “Now she’s a teenager; she needs to have her own space.”

It didn’t take long for Ms. Haynes to receive an offer on her house, but that meant she was in a hurry to find a new one. It was already late September 2023, and her closing date for the sale of her home was Nov. 1. With a budget of $450,000 and a Federal Housing Authority loan, she set out to find a house she could live in for a good 20 years or longer.

Her deal-breakers were polybutylene pipes, which were the subject of a class action lawsuit decades ago and cost $6,000 to replace at her current house. She didn’t want a septic tank, either.

“For Keeva, this was all about getting something a little bit bigger than what she had,” said her agent, Pat Arzet, who works with the King Team at Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage. “The first house she bought was a modest three-bedroom, two-bath with a basement.”

Among her options:

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