Banks may be selling more Atlanta housing

The housing market’s slow march back toward health has continued — partly because more lenders are ready to put foreclosed homes on the market, according to two separate reports just issued.

Home prices in metro Atlanta held steady in July, while the number of sales is up from a year ago, according to a report from RE/MAX and First Multiple Listing Service.

The median price for homes sold was $225,000.

That is no change from June, but it is 6 percent higher than the median price of a year ago, according to the report.

There were 6,336 closings during July, up 19 percent from the same month of 2014. Sales dipped slightly from June, which is typically the crest of the selling season.

But one of the key obstacles to a recovery in housing has been a weak pool of inventory – that is, the number of homes for sale.

That number was up slightly in July, but remains dramatically lower than experts think would constitute a healthy supply: Listings in July equaled about 3.5 months of sales, up from 3.3 months in June.

That is down 15 percent lower than the supply a year ago.

For more than a year, supply of homes for sale have been a concern for experts.

A separate report from RealtyTrac may hold some hope for padding those listings: more lenders seem ready to put distressed and foreclosed homes on the market.

During the housing crisis, banks took possession of many thousands of metro Atlanta homes when owners could not make mortgage payments. But the lenders often hesitated to put the homes back on the market quickly and many chose to wait until demand was stronger and the economy healthier.

As the economy and the housing market continue to improve, they are increasingly moving to sell the properties, said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

In Georgia, foreclosures are up, but the number of foreclosures being started is down 24 percent from a year ago, he said.

So a jump in foreclosures is not a sign of another collapse, it “represents banks flushing out old distress rather than new distress being pushed into the pipeline,” Blomquist said.