The housing market in metro Atlanta has slowed, but home prices have kept rising. (AJC file photo)

Metro Atlanta home prices rise faster than pay

The median price of a home sold in metro Atlanta was $264,000 in February, up 5.6 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to a report from the Atlanta Realtors Association.

As it has for the past several months, higher prices came on fewer sales. The number of completed transactions were down 7.4 percent from a year ago.

The drop in the number of sales reflects a chronic shortfall in the number of homes for sale, said DeAnn Golden, president of the Realtors group.

“Home sales are generally slower right now, due to the tighter availability of listings than in recent years,” she said.

Listings are up, but still fall below where they would be in a healthy market. Last month, the supply of months represented about 2.6 months of sales – compared to the six or seven months of supply that is typical in a healthy real estate market.

With fewer homes on the market, interested buyers have less leverage when negotiating price, experts say.

But a slowdown in sales also indicates a problem on the demand side, as potential first-time buyers watch home prices steadily climbing out of reach. Relative to demand, the supply of entry-level homes is skimpier than the listings for expensive homes, according to the association.

The price of starter homes is typically rising faster than the 5.6 percent increase overall.

Meanwhile, the median pay for workers in metro Atlanta was up 2.2 percent in the past year, according to a Glassdoor analysis. 

After the collapse of the housing market a dozen years ago, metro Atlanta went years with virtually no housing construction. Even when the economy rebounded, home construction — especially of modestly-priced homes — did not return to previous levels.

Geographically, Gwinnett County was the most active housing market last month, with 700 homes sold and a median sales price of $254,000. Prices in Fulton were highest: a median of $311,000.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.