Real estate works similarly to other markets.

Metro Atlanta home price climb is fourth-fastest nationally

Metro Atlanta’s home prices continue to rise faster than most regions, locking out some entry-level buyers, according to a highly watched national survey released Tuesday.

Atlanta’s average home price has gained 4.7% in the past year. That’s the fourth-largest gain among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas and well ahead of the national average of 3.4%, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.

Atlanta ranks high even though its prices are decelerating: A year ago, Atlanta prices were up 5.6%. But other cities are tapping the brakes even harder.

“A broad-based moderation has continued,” said Philip Murphy, managing director at the index group. “Among 20 major U.S. city home price indices, the average year-over-year gain has been declining for the past year or so.”

Metro Atlanta home prices crashed a dozen years ago as the economy tipped into a steep dive. They didn’t start to recover until 2012. Since then, the average sales price in Atlanta has soared 85%.

But the pace has eased: in the past two years, the average is up 11.6%, according to Case-Shiller.

Overall, the supply of homes for sale has continued to shrink, according to Re/Max.

Last month, the number of homes listed for sale in metro Atlanta represented just two months of sales – about one third of what is considered a market in which buyers would have roughly equal negotiating power with sellers.

An imbalance that favors sellers usually drives prices much higher as buyers compete with each other for scarce listings. But the averages, for both prices and supply, mask the uneven ways in which the market has been growing.

Prices at the bottom of the market, where listings are especially scarce, have surged. In contrast, many areas have an excess of higher-priced homes for sale, so in many cases those prices have not risen much.

That leaves many potential first-time buyers out of the market, said Janis Kirtz, managing director and in-house counsel to Re/Max Around Atlanta.

A decade ago, first-time buyers accounted for about 40% of the transactions. Now it is half that, she said.

While there are many young professionals with solid jobs, most new-home construction close to the city has been higher-priced houses they cannot afford, Kirtz said. “There is lower affordability and also there isn’t the type of home they want – meaning the right location. So they are just staying in apartments.”

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