Georgia home sales up, against national trend

Existing home sales in May dropped nationally but climbed in Georgia along with prices, according to two new reports.

The National Association of Realtors and the Georgia Association of Realtors monthly sales reports indicate more stability in the housing market compared to last year, when sales and prices reached decade-long lows.

The National Association of Realtors report says U.S. sales dropped 1.5 percent from April to May, though they were nearly 10 percent higher than May 2011.

Median sale prices nationally were up for the third month in a row, the first time that has happened since 2006 before the recession. Median prices rose nearly 8 percent to $182,600, said Walter Molony, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. Shrinking levels of inventory and more high-priced sales are pushing prices up, he said.

Low-priced homes have made up a large percentage of home sales in recent years, pulling the median price down.

In Georgia's major metropolitan areas, sales were up 3 percent and inventories shrank from 71,511 in May 2011 to 49,049 last month, said Georgia Association of Realtors spokeswoman Brandie Miner.

"Inventory levels are shrinking and prices are stable or increasing. Everything seems to be pushing toward a correction at this point," she said.

The state association numbers show the median sale price increased from $105,000 in April to $109,900 in May. Prices have typically risen during spring, even during the recession, before spiraling to new lows through summer and winter.

The peak of the market in 2007 saw the median sale price in Georgia about $175,000, the association's report says.

Miner said real estate workers are very excited about the numbers they are seeing.

Broad-based figures from across the nation indicate housing prices have hit a floor and begun creeping back up, though the experts warn that new tremors in the economy such as rising U.S. unemployment numbers or another dip into recession in Europe could reverse that.