Metro Atlanta home prices rise more than U.S. average

Metro Atlanta’s home prices were up an average of 6.5 percent during the past year, more than the average gains across the country, according to a much-watched national survey released Tuesday.

Atlanta’s price hike exceeded the 5.0 percent gain nationally, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index, a calculation based on a three-month average.

Atlanta prices also rose more than the 5.4 percent average for the nation’s 20 largest metro areas. Among those 20, Atlanta was the seventh-strongest increase, said Case-Shiller.

”The housing sector continues to turn in a strong price performance,” says David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones.

“The home price increases reflect the low unemployment rate, low mortgage interest rates, and consumers’ generally positive outlook.”

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For the last month, metro Atlanta’s prices were up 1.3 percent – slightly better than the month before. However, when seasonal patterns are accounted for, prices in Atlanta’s during the last month was just about flat, according to Case-Shiller.

Svenja Gudell, chief economist for real estate data company Zillow warned that nationally, “there is also a growing divide between the top and bottom of the market that the Case-Shiller numbers don’t reveal.”

“Home values for the least-expensive homes are growing twice as quickly as they are for the most-expensive homes, and the gap is widening,” Gudell said.

Case-Shiller’s report showed just two metros had double-digit increases during the past year: Portland, Or., where prices climbed 12.3 percent, and San Francisco, which and ad 10.7 percent rise. The slowest rise came in Washington, D.C., where prices were up just 1.9 percent over the year.

Housing prices have been rising steadily, if not spectacularly, for nearly four years.

Metro Atlanta, where the housing bubble was bigger than most – and the bust more painful – still sees average prices about 5 percent below the peak levels of mid-2007. Atlanta’s market hit bottom overall in March, 2012. Prices have risen 57 percent since then.

The region’s foreclosure rate has steadily dropped. Last month, it dipped to 0.56 percent, according to a report issued this morning by CoreLogic.

That compares with a rate of 0.75 percent a year ago.

And fewer Atlantans are falling behind on paying their mortgages. According to CoreLogic, 2.84 percent of mortgage loans in metro Atlanta were 90 days or more delinquent compared with 3.50 percent for the same period last year.

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