Atlanta home prices up 6.7% for year

Home sales picked up as 2019 ended, according to a report by Re/Max this week. Bloomberg photo by Ty Wright.

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Home sales picked up as 2019 ended, according to a report by Re/Max this week. Bloomberg photo by Ty Wright.

Credit: contrib

Credit: contrib

Home prices in metro Atlanta were higher in 2019 than the year before, but that didn’t deter buyers in the month of December.

Just the opposite: A lot of people decided to ring in the new year with new digs.

More than 7,700 homes were sold in the 28-county region, up a resounding 15.5% from the same month a year earlier. It was the largest year-over-year jump in sales during 2019, according to a report Wednesday from Re/Max.

The median price of a metro area house sold in December was $255,000 – a 6.7% increase over 2018, the report said.

"Demand for housing is still high," said Kristen Jones, a broker at Re/Max Around Atlanta.

The hottest of the core counties, as usual, was Fulton, with 1,465 sales compared to Gwinnett’s 1,145 sales in December.

Fulton also had the highest median price among the core counties: $325,000. Fayette's median was higher, at $330,000.

Usually, spring is the time for house-hunting. But, more and more, would-be buyers in metro Atlanta and many other markets are now looking during the winter months.

The market continues to shift in favor of sellers.

In a balanced market, the number of houses for sale at any given time should equal the number of those typically sold over a six- or seven-month period.

But the number of homes in metro Atlanta listed for sale in December represented just 3.6 months of sales — down from 4.8 months a year earlier.

Of those for sale, higher-priced homes are in abundance. That means buyers often have leverage when it comes to haggling. In contrast, the most affordable homes are drawing the largest crush of potential buyers, making “entry-level” housing a seller’s market, where buyers often bid against each other.

“We still are in a moderate buyer’s market in most price points,” Jones said.

Metro Atlanta has been drawing new residents as it has added tens of thousands of jobs each year since the Great Recession. Many of those newcomers are young professionals who are first-time buyers.

Prices have been consistently rising faster than average incomes, creating a mismatch for many young wannabe homeowners.

At the same time, in many areas, especially in the city of Atlanta, land values are too high for builders to make a profit putting up modestly-priced homes

The need for more modestly-priced residences has spurred builders to find ways to construct lower-price housing, Jones said. While the number of single-family homes for sale dropped last year, the number of townhomes being sold was up dramatically.

"So, 2020 will probably be similar to 2019 with prices increasing and (a) lack of affordable housing," she said.

Median sales price, December 

Gwinnett: $255,750

Cobb: $286,750

Fulton: $325,000

DeKalb: $274,900

Clayton: $143,300

Fayette: $330,000

Coweta: $291,141

Source: Re/Max

Number of home sales, December compared to a year ago

Gwinnett: up 12.7%

Cobb: up 13.4%

Fulton: up 21.8%

DeKalb: up 12.1%

Clayton: up 42.1%

Fayette: up 41.4%

Coweta: up 12%

Source: Re/Max

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