Atlanta home prices up strong, nearly to 2007 peak

Atlanta home prices ended a year of solid increase just 2.2 percent below their peak level of 2007, according to a much-watched national survey released Tuesday.

The average price of a resold home in the metro area rose 6.3 percent, bettering the national average increase of 5.8 percent, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index, which calculates a three-month average of prices across the country, but does not include new construction.

The year ended on sales strength, said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Home prices continue to advance, with the national average rising faster than at any time in the last two-and-a-half years.”

Among the top 20 metro regions, Atlanta tied for the seventh-largest increase.

Seattle’s home price hike was the highest: 10.8 percent, followed by San Diego, which had a 10.0 percent increase. Among the top 20, New York had the smallest rise, just 3.1 percent.

Zillow’s chief economist, Svenja Gudell, said the long-running imbalance in the market – the lack of enough homes for sale – has continued to push prices up.

The result is a growing threat to affordability in some places, but there’s a natural counterbalance coming, she said. “As mortgage interest rates rise, larger, more expensive markets will continue to become more unaffordable, which will cause home price growth to slow.”

Atlanta’s home prices rose steadily, if not spectacularly through the boom, cresting in 2007, roughly a year after the top of the market nationally. But once Atlanta’s bubble burst, the prices here crashed along with everyone else, dropping 40 percent on average – and a lot more in many areas.

Since that bottom, Atlanta’s average price has climbed 61.7 percent.

And while the average price is approaching the pre-recession peak, it would be about 15 percent less when adjusted for inflation the buying power of homeowners has been trimmed about 15 percent by inflation.

Average price increases, past year:

Seattle 10.8 percent

San Diego 10.0 percent

Denver 8.9 percent

Tampa 8.4 percent

Dallas 8.1 percent

Miami 6.8 percent

ATLANTA  6.3 percent

Boston 6.3 percent

Las Vegas 5.8 percent

San Francisco 5.7 percent

Source: S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index