Housing market finishing summer solid

The housing market cruised toward summer’s end with a healthy head of steam, according to a report issues by Re/Max of Georgia.

Prices declined in August, as might be expected when the supply of homes for sale was edging up at a time when overall demand is typically ebbing, according to the monthly report, which uses data gathered by First Multiple Listing Service of Atlanta.

The median price for all homes sold during August was $210,000, down 7 percent from July’s price.

“Home sales for August were strong,” said Jeanette Schneider, senior vice president of Re/Max Georgia. “We are entering the fall market with good momentum.”

There were 6,575 closings during August, a 4 percent increase from July.

The month-to-month changes follow a seasonal pattern, usually peaking by mid-summer as the start of the school year approaches and families have to lock in their choices – one way or another.

The health of the market is better seen in year-to-year comparisons.

And through that lens, the metro Atlanta market seems to be making modest progress:

— The median price is up 2 percent from August of 2014.

— The number of transactions has jumped by 36 percent.

— The average home sold was on the market for 51 days, down three days from last year.

— The supply of homes for sales was up 6 percent from July. Listings were equal to about 3.7 months of sales, up from 3.5 months in July.

Experts say that inventories in a healthy market should be about seven months of sales. That way the market pressures on sellers and buyers are roughly balanced. Larger inventories let buyers pick and choose, putting the onus on sellers to drop their asking price.

By the same token, smaller inventories give sellers the whip hand – and prices can sometimes rise accordingly.

For two years, Atlanta experts have been worried about a too-small supply of homes for sale. Through the spring, experts predicted a turnaround, but instead, inventories shrank more.

The trend has yet to reverse: August’s supply was 16 percent lower than in August of 2014.

A survey by Zillow this week raised some questions about the market continuing to get the fuel it needs.

Yet the evidence was mixed.

The Seattle-based real estate data firm reported evidence of weakening demand and sagging confidence among metro Atlanta homeowners and potential buyers:

— 12 percent of renters told Zillow they plan to buy a home in the next year. Ini January, 18 percent said they planned to become homeowners.

— 57 percent of homeowners said they think that homes in their area will be worth more in a decade. At the start of the year, 62 percent of homeowners had that optimistic outlook.

— Yet on the upbeat side, the share of adults who think it is a good time to buy a home has risen from 60 percent in January to 69 percent. Meanwhile, share who think it’s a good time to sell a home was up from 42 percent to 52 percent.