Metro Atlanta home prices accelerated as pandemic rolled on

The pandemic has made what was already a sellers' market even more of a competition for potential buyers. Metro Atlanta home prices rose 9.6% over the past 12 months, according to a much-watched index. The overall rise nationally was even steeper.  (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)
The pandemic has made what was already a sellers' market even more of a competition for potential buyers. Metro Atlanta home prices rose 9.6% over the past 12 months, according to a much-watched index. The overall rise nationally was even steeper. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)

Credit: Melissa Phillip

Credit: Melissa Phillip

Metro Atlanta home prices jumped 9.6% from January 2020 to January 2021, the fastest pace of growth in seven years, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.

Atlanta was already a sellers’ market. But, in the past year as the pandemic wore on, buyers flowed into the market while inventory — the number of homes listed for sale — fell.

“We are critically low in inventory,” said John Ryan, chief marketing officer for Georgia Multiple Listing Service. “And I can’t see anytime soon where that is going to change.”

Buyers often find themselves competing for attractive homes, bidding against each other and pushing the prices up. “I know of a case in Gwinnett where there were 60 offers on one property,” Ryan said.

Real estate agents say the pandemic caused some who were thinking of selling to delay those plans because they didn’t want potential buyers — and potential virus carriers — traipsing through their homes.

As the months passed, the imbalance between the number of homes for sale and the number of people looking to buy grew worse and self perpetuating.

“If you sell, then look to repurchase, there isn’t enough on the supply side to get good choices,” Ryan said.

Yet metro Atlanta is still far from the hottest market.

Among the 20 largest metro areas, Atlanta’s price hikes outpaced those of only San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and Las Vegas. The sharpest rise came in Phoenix, where prices were up 15.8%, and Seattle, where prices rose 14.3%.

Nationally, the index shows home prices rising at their fastest clip since early 2006. Prices in the country were up 11.2% in the year that ended in January.

“The trend of accelerating prices that began in June 2020 has now reached its eighth month,” said Craig Lazzara, head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones. “The market’s strength is broadly based. All 20 (large) cities rose.”

Even in the region with the smallest increase — Las Vegas — prices were up 8.5%.

By the numbers

Largest rise in metro home prices, January to January

15.8%: Phoenix

14.3%: Seattle

14.2%: San Diego

12.7%: Boston

11.9%: Tampa

*Atlanta ranked 16th, with a 9.6% increase.

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Year over year home price increase, as of January

2021: 9.6%

2020: 4.4%

2019: 4.8%

2018: 6.3%

2017: 5.5%

2016: 5.6%

2015: 4.7%

2014: 16.6%

2013: 13.4%

2012: -14.8%

2011: -6.2%

Source: S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index

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