Atlanta home prices jumped again in March

When a nice home in a good area goes on the market at a reasonable price, it sells quickly these days, according to Re/Max Georgia. (BRANT SANDERLIN /BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM)

When a nice home in a good area goes on the market at a reasonable price, it sells quickly these days, according to Re/Max Georgia. (BRANT SANDERLIN /BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM)

The median price of homes sold in metro Atlanta last month exceeded $300,000, 16.6% higher than a year ago, according to a report issued Monday by Re/Max.

The median price of $309,045 in March reflected the market’s unprecedented tilt to the advantage of sellers. It’s 6.5% more than February’s median price.

The pandemic has accelerated preexisting trends, according to Kristen Jones, owner of Re/Max Around Atlanta.

For several years, interest in home ownership has been rising while inventory — that is, the number of homes listed for sale — has been decreasing steadily. In the past year, the imbalance has only grown, she said.

“Demand for housing has soared as more of us continue to work from home and find we need more space,” Jones said. “Meanwhile, inventory continues to decline.”

In a balanced market — where buyers and sellers have equal negotiating power — the number of homes listed is typically equal to the number of homes sold in about six months. But inventory in March plunged to 1 month — down 67% compared to the same month a year earlier, according to Re/Max.

That scarcity of supply is spurring bidding wars as buyers compete against each other for desirable homes.

In the first two months of the year, more than a third of homes for sale had buyers within a week, said John Ryan, chief marketing officer of Georgia Multiple Listing Service.

The worst imbalance is among lower-priced homes that appeal to first-time buyers, he said. “We recently had 60 offers on one property in Gwinnett, something that was listed at about $300,000.”

Not enough new homes are going up to meet the demand. It takes time for builders to buy land, secure permits, hire crews and construct homes.

Meanwhile, many current homeowners who might have considered selling have been reluctant to put their homes on the market. Some fear having strangers traipse through their homes during a pandemic. Some are worried that they won’t be able to find suitable places if they sell.

“I think what’s driving the frenzy is population growth,” with millennials having their first children, said Joe Jarrett, loan officer at Northpoint Mortgage in Roswell.

Fulton County had the most home sales during the month: 1,894. Forsyth County’s average price was the most expensive: $425,000.

“We see the increase in sales as a positive sign, even though we’re facing some real challenges with low inventory levels,” said Cynthia Lippert, president of the Atlanta Realtors Association.

Metro Atlanta housing snapshot for March

Median home price: $309,045

Number of homes sold: 9,103

Most in-demand county: Fulton

Most expensive county: Forsyth

Metro Atlanta housing compared to a year ago

Median price: up 16.6%

Average time a home is on the market: down 42.6%

Number of sales: up 7.9%

Months supply of homes for sale: down 66.7%

Median sales price by county*

Cherokee: $351,880

Clayton: $180,500

Cobb: $345,000

DeKalb: $326,505

Forsyth: $425,000

Fulton: $365,000

Gwinnett: $313,450

Henry: $275,000

Source: Re/Max