More homes sold in Atlanta, nationally

The figures reflect the deep gash the recession has inflicted on the metro Atlanta economy, which for years rode the crest of plentiful jobs generated by the sizzling pace of development. But when the credit dried up, the development and the jobs evaporated, leaving the market bloated with unsold homes.

The job losses in Georgia are expected to continue well into 2010 and that will make people wary of buying, said Lauren Holmes, managing broker for the Roswell office of Crye-Leike Realtors.

“People are afraid of losing their jobs,” she said. “Our unemployment is much higher than in other parts of the country, so that’s what’s keeping people from buying here, I think.”

Dan Forsman, owner of Prudential Georgia Realty, said he suspects the 3 percent annual increase in existing home sales is "cautiously optimistic."

“You have to remember the worst two months we had last year were October and November, when looking at year-over-year comparisons,” he said. “So a slight increase tells you you’re dancing around on the bottom, but it doesn’t really say much.”

Nationally sales volume for all homes types, including townhomes, condo and co-ops, increased 10 percent over September 2009, according to the association. The increase year-over-year was nearly 24 percent, when adjusted for seasonal conditions.

“Many buyers have been rushing to beat the deadline for the first-time buyer tax credit that was scheduled to expire at the end of this month, and similarly robust sales may be occurring in November,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the association in a news release. “With such a sale spike, a measurable decline should be anticipated in December and early next year before another surge in spring and early summer.”

The extension of the tax credit, low interest rates and good selection will set the stage for a buying bonanza when Atlanta buyers are ready, Forsman said.

"Those types of conditions make people want to buy," he said. "I also think our year-over-year sales comparisons will continue to get stronger."

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