In the past year, the median price of a single family home has moved up at a 7.5 percent pace, according to the number-crunchers at Zillow, a Seattle-based real estate data firm.
The median value of a home sold here was $174,200.
That compares to a median of $162,000 a year ago and $147,900 at the start of 2015. Going back five years ago, right around the time the Atlanta market was bottoming out, the median was just $120,100 – and it’s risen a hefty 45 percent since then, according to Zillow.
Of course, as the cliché has it, the real estate market is about location – and the experience of buyers and sellers does differ from zip code to zip code, from neighborhood to neighborhood.
But the overall picture is clear and clearly moving in one direction: higher prices. Experts believe that the rise is largely because of an imbalance – there just have not been enough homes for sale to soak up all the potential buyers.
And why is that?
For a variety of reasons, the experts say. Partly because there remain in many areas the drag of homes that have still not risen in value enough for the owner to pay off the mortgage – or have barely gotten to that point.
According to Zillow, 13 percent of the homeowners in Atlanta are still “under water,” that still owing more than their home could fetch.
That means those owners are effectively pinned to their homes. Meanwhile, many of those with only a little bit of equity may see so little profit to be made that they are inclined to keep waiting.
But mostly, experts say, the reason for the imbalance because the construction of new homes has never come back to the frenetic pace of a dozen years ago, when land was cheaper, loans were easier to come by and the lion’s share of builders were local.
And that shift – from small to large builders -- translates to the market balance. Local builders need to build here. Big builders can pick the market where the profit is highest – and with land prices of late, that has not always been here.
A year ago, the experts were concerned about a lack of first time homebuyers. Without them, the market might stall out.
But here we are in 2017 and, while there’s been no flood of first-timers, there have been enough to keep the prices keep. Now, the experts worry that the increases at the lower end will just make it harder for a first-time buyer to get in.
A year ago, Atlanta’s home price was still 7.9 below the previous crest, which was reached in mid-2007. That price is now just about back to the previous peak.