Metro Atlanta home sales in January surged 12.7% from a year ago, according to Re/Max. The median sales price of a home sold was $245,000. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com

Metro Atlanta home sales hot in January

The metro Atlanta housing market has continued to heat up, with sales jumping and pricing rising modestly since the start of the year, according to a monthly report from Re/Max.

January sales increased 12.7% from a year ago, according to the monthly report by the national real estate company. It was the second consecutive month of a double-digit gain, following December’s 15% increase over the year before.

Low interest rates and economic growth have fueled optimism among potential buyers, said Torrence Ford, a broker and owner of Re/Max Premier in Atlanta. “Consumer confidence in Atlanta’s real estate market continues to thrive.”

Home prices were up 4.3% from the same month of 2019, Re/Max said.

Last month, the median price of a home sold was $245,000 in the 28-county metro area tracked by Re/Max.

Among the five core counties, Clayton had the sharpest rise in sales. The 130 homes sold represented a 35.4% leap from a year ago.

However, the other four counties had far more sales. Fulton was busiest, with 1,028 sales, up 11.5% from the same month a year earlier. Fulton also had the highest median price, just $5 shy of $300,000.

While demand was robust, the pool of listings continued to ebb.

In a balanced market, the number of houses for sale at any given time should equal the number of those typically sold over a six-or seven-month period.

But the number of homes in metro Atlanta listed for sale in January represented just 2.7 months of sales — down from 3.4 months a year ago.

For several years, the greatest scarcity of listings has been at the lower end of the price range, making for often intense competition among first-time homebuyers. That has also meant much faster price hikes among those more affordable homes.

There’s been a surge in construction of modestly priced homes and townhouses, Ford said. “Builders are going to a smaller footprint and reducing bedrooms to keep affordability.”

The housing market will keep growing, despite current concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy, predicted Doug Duncan, chief economist of Fannie Mae, in a statement.

However, he said he thinks that demand for lower-priced homes will outpace new home construction for months and that mismatch will dampen sales.

“In the near term, we’re forecasting relatively flat home sales until higher construction activity can be sustained,” Duncan said.

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