The metro Atlanta housing market rolled into the heart of the spring selling season with prices rising, according to a much-watched national survey released Tuesday.
But the ongoing imbalance of supply and demand continues to bedevil the market – even as it shoves prices higher.
The S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index showed Atlanta prices up 0.9 percent for the month, 5.5 percent higher than a year ago. Atlanta was the 12th fastest-rising of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas.
Nationally, price increases are on their fastest pace in almost three years, and the low number of homes for sale is a key factor, said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices in the report. “People are staying in their homes longer rather than selling and trading up.”
The quickest rise in prices is in Seattle, where prices are up 12.3 percent in the past year, according to Case-Shiller.
Second-fastest is Portland, Or., where prices are up 9.2 percent, and Dallas, where prices have risen 8.6 percent in a year.
In an email, Bill Banfield, an executive vice president of Quicken Loans, said the numbers prove there is “a strong appetite for home buying.” That demand will not abate soon, he said. “This should quell the fears of those who voiced concerns over the effects of rising interest rates on housing.”
But Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow, said the market has tilted dramatically.
Listings in desirable areas are quickly snapped up and buyers find themselves bidding against each other, she said. “It’s undeniably a great time to be a home seller.”
Markets tend to rebalance eventually – but it takes time with housing, where the moving parts have so much inertia. There needs to be capital investment and a wave of building to smooth things out, she said.
“But for now and the foreseeable future, I’m not exactly holding my breath,” Gudell said.
Overall, Atlanta prices are still 1.2 percent below the peak of mid-2007. But they have climbed 21.2 percent since hitting bottom in the spring of 2012.
In the past month, Fulton County had the highest level of inventory among the region’s core counties: 3.0 months. That was 17 percent lower than a year ago, according to Re/Max Georgia. Cobb had only 2.0 months of inventory, but at least it hasn’t lost ground in the past year, according to Re/Max Georgia. (see chart below)
Average price increases, past year:
Seattle 12.3 percent
Portland 9.2 percent
Dallas 8.6 percent
Denver 8.4 percent
Boston 7.7 percent
Detroit 7.0 percent
Tampa 6.9 percent
Minneapolis 6.8 percent
Charlotte 6.7 percent
San Diego 6.5 percent
San Francisco 6.4 percent
Las Vegas 6.4 percent
Miami 6.0 percent
Phoenix 5.6 percent
ATLANTA 5.5 percent
Average for top 20 metro areas: 5.9 percent
Source: S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index
Inventory levels for April, by county
County ......... Level ......... change from last year
Cobb 2.0 months 0%
Gwinnett 1.9 months -14%
Fulton 3.0 months -17%
DeKalb 1.9 months -21%
Clayton 2.1 months -28%
Source: Re/Max Georgia
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AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:
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