Metro home prices continue to improve, but inventory becomes a worry

Home prices in metro Atlanta continue to push higher, mainly because fewer homes are being listed for sale, according to a monthly national report on housing by the real estate company Re/Max.

The median price for homes sold in metro Atlanta in March was $150,500, which was up 11 percent from February and 42 percent from March a year ago, Re/Max said. The company surveyed 52 metro areas using Multiple Listing Service data.

Metro Atlanta’s housing industry has had to make up more ground than many other metro areas hit hard by foreclosures and a housing glut. The MLS data show the metro area led 19 metropolitan areas in reporting double-digit price increases year over year. Atlanta was followed by San Francisco (up 41 percent), Las Vegas (33 percent) and Phoenix (29 percent).

While prices are rising, the short supply of homes on the market could reverse month after month of sales growth, Re/Max Chief Executive Officer Margaret Kelly said. Low inventory is preventing some buyers from closing on the home of their choice, she said.

“Home sales remain strong, and rising prices are a positive trend, but the shrinking inventory is starting to be a concern,” Kelly said in releasing the MLS data. “Hopefully, higher prices will result in more homeowners gaining increased equity and feeling comfortable putting their home on the market.”

Metro Atlanta’s inventory of 21,473 homes is down nearly 15 percent from a month ago and 17 percent from a year ago. While the number of transactions was up 18 percent from February, it was down nearly 13 percent from a year ago, the report said.

Homes on the market, however, are moving faster. The data show metro Atlanta homes averaged 73 days on the market in March, about 15 days fewer than a year ago. Nationally, the average number of days homes remained on the market was 85 days, 16 fewer than the period a year ago.

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