Home prices in Atlanta, like nation, increasing more slowly

Home sales through the winter slowed more than usual in metro Atlanta, even though mortgage rates were coming down. Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com
Home sales through the winter slowed more than usual in metro Atlanta, even though mortgage rates were coming down. Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

Metro Atlanta home prices are up 4.9 percent in the past year, slightly outpacing the national average but still the lowest increase in four years, according to a report released Tuesday.

Nationally, home prices rose an average of 4.3 percent, which, just like Atlanta, is the smallest increase since 2015, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Index reported.

“Home price gains continue to shrink,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the committee that calculates the monthly changes.

The past year’s national increase was 2 percentage points lower than it was a year ago, he said.

The Case-Shiller Index doesn’t include the prices of new homes, only those resold, which is the vast majority of the U.S. housing market. The index is pegged to the price of an average home sale in 2000. According to Case-Shiller, Atlanta’s average home price is now 48 percent higher than it was then. And prices are about 80 percent higher than at the lowest point of the housing crash, in 2012.

Analyzing all homes sold, Re/Max reports a 4.5 percent increase over the past year in metro Atlanta.

"Home sales in Greater Atlanta are starting to pick up as we enter spring, but at a slower pace compared to the early months of 2018," said Jeff LaGrange, vice president of Re/Max.

The market continues to be tilted in favor of sellers, LaGrange said, because of low inventory – that is, the number of homes listed for sale. Those listings now represent just 2.4 months of sales – less than half of what experts say is needed for a housing market where sellers and buyers have equal negotiating power.

Mortgage rates climbed to an average of 4.95 percent in November, but have dropped back to an average of 4.28 percent, according to Case Shiller. But that hasn’t spurred buying.

In fact, the number of homes sold has continued to decline.

Many young people have good jobs and want to buy a home and are put off – not by the monthly mortgage payment, but the down-payment, said Skylar Olsen, senior economist for Zillow, the online housing database company.

“People are seeking affordability,” she said. “All the home prices really, really, really outpaced incomes.”

Yet others think Atlanta’s about to heat up.

"There are early signs there may be strong growth in prices and home sales come spring," said Daryl Fairweather, chief <span id="U41200030665tId"></span>economist at Redfin. "Atlanta homes are selling 12 days faster now than they did last year."

Among the 20 largest metro areas tracked by Case Shiller, Atlanta ranked eighth.

Of those cities, 16 showed smaller price gains than they did a year ago. San Francisco, for example, had just a 1.8 percent gain. A year ago, the city’s increase was 10.2 percent.

Las Vegas, where home prices rose 10.5 percent, was the only city in double digits.

Number of home sales in February, compared to last year

  • Gwinnett: -4 percent
  • Cobb: -5 percent
  • Fulton: -10 percent
  • DeKalb: -10 percent
  • Clayton: -43 percent
Source: Re/Max

Median price homes sold for

  • Gwinnett: $245,000
  • Cobb: $270,000
  • Fulton: $285,000
  • DeKalb: $238,000
  • Clayton: $138,000
Source: Re/Max

Change in average home prices, metro Atlanta

  • Since last year: +4.9 percent
  • Since bottom of market, 2012: +79.9 percent
  • Since previous peak, 2007: +8.7 percent
S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Index

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