Metro Atlanta homes sales inch up in October

The region’s home sales ticked up slightly in October in a somewhat encouraging sign for Atlanta’s residential real estate market, a report released Wednesday showed.

Sales in October were up about 4 percent compared with the same month a year ago, according to the Atlanta Board of Realtors. It also found the median price of homes has jumped about 23 percent, to $141,000, since October 2011.

The board’s Market Brief report compiles residential housing statistics for 11 counties across Atlanta, and it’s seen as a key measure of the health of the local real estate market.

Atlanta is far from in the clear. There’s little new construction and record-low inventory as many families cope with a burst housing bubble that’s left them owing more on their houses than what they’re worth. And a closely-watched national report recently found that Atlanta home prices are still stuck below the levels they were at in 2000.

Another lingering issue is all of the bank-owned property working through the system. The board’s report found that bank-owned houses represented over a third of all sales in October. But that’s down from October 2011, when roughly half the sales involved bank-owned properties.

Mitch Kaminer, the board’s president, said the numbers could herald a sign of better things to come.

“While we anticipate a slow down with the holidays and winter season upon us, we remain encouraged by stabilizing prices and strong sales,” he said.