Atlanta housing market hot for sellers despite February cold

Outside the Atlanta city limits, Cobb County recorded the sharpest increase in the median price of a home, jumping 21.8% over the past year. Meanwhile, its neighbor to the north, Cherokee County, saw the second-highest boost at 16.8%.

In and around the city of Atlanta, many neighborhoods also have seen strong price increases, according to Bill Adams, president of Adams Realtors.

With the number of homes listed for sale plunging, potential buyers have been competing against each other and bidding up prices.

In the metro area, the median sales price of single-family houses sold last month was $291,000, up a robust 14.1% from the same month a year ago, according to a report issued Wednesday by Re/Max.

At the start of the pandemic, the housing market froze. But, as temporary lockdowns ended, activity quickly picked up, and home sales surged.

But inventory — the supply of homes for sale — has not kept pace with demand.

Slightly more than 10,000 homes were listed for sale in metro Atlanta last month, down 53% from the previous February, according to Re/Max. That represents what typically would be about a month of sales. Experts say, in a balanced market, the number of houses for sale at any given time should equal the number typically sold over the course of six months.

Buyers have increasingly been competing with each other, bidding up prices for desirable homes, said broker Kristen Jones, the owner of Re/Max Around Atlanta. “It’s not uncommon to see 15 or 20 offers on a home as soon as it hits the market.”

In that atmosphere, many offers are higher than the seller’s asking price.

A year ago, it took an average of 57 days to sell a home once it was listed. Last month, it took just 37, Re/Max said.

The county with the most action was Fulton, where 1,328 contracts for home sales were signed last month. Gwinnett was second with 890 sales, and Cobb was third with 855.

However, Forsyth homes were priciest, with a median of $389,900, followed by Fulton at $356,528.

Among the Atlanta neighborhoods with median prices up more than 20% in the past year: Adair Park, Cabbagetown, Druid Hills, East Lake, Oakland City and Summerhill. The median price for all city sales is $571,000 and has breached $1 million in three neighborhoods — Ansley Park, Druid Hills and Morningside, he said.

Metro Atlanta has been a sellers’ market for several years, but this is the most extreme imbalance between listings and demand yet.

Pandemic worries are part of the reason, experts say. Some potential sellers simply do not want strangers in their home. And some of them are worried that, if they sell their homes, there won’t be a good selection of homes to choose from when buying.

Cynthia Lippert, president of the Atlanta Realtors Association, called the market unprecedented and said she doesn’t expect the balance to change soon.

While it’s not permanent, she said, “it could take a year or more to bring inventory levels back up to meet the demand.”

Number of sales last month:

Fulton: 1,328

Gwinnett: 890

Cobb: 855

DeKalb: 793

Cherokee: 327

Forsyth: 269

Clayton: 132

Henry: 119


Median sales price of homes sold last month:

Forsyth: $389,900.00

Fulton: $356,528.00

Cherokee: $335,000.00

Cobb: $335,000.00

DeKalb: $310,000.00

Gwinnett: $299,350.00

Henry: $250,000.00

Clayton: $172,000.00

Source: Re/Max


Highest intown increases in median price in past year:

Adair Park: 25%

Cabbagetown: 29%

Druid Hills: 26%

East Lake: 26%

Great Lakes: 23%

Oakland City: 26%

Summerhill: 21%

Source: Adams Realtors