Your Atlanta home value is up 5.3 percent — if you’re average

Atlanta’s home prices were up an average of 5.3 percent during the past year, pretty much in the middle of the pack for the nation’s largest metros, according to a much-watched national survey released Tuesday.

Atlanta’s price hike beat the 5.0 percent gain for the top 20 metropolitan areas, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index, a calculation based on a three-month average.

Atlanta – along with other cities in the south and west – continues to slightly outpace the country’s real estate markets, said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones index committee.

But Blitzer said he’s not so sure of a trajectory in which housing prices grow faster than other prices.

The Case-Shiller index tracking national prices is just 0.6 percent below the record high set in July 2006, he said. “Seven of the 20 cities have already set new record highs. Eight of the cities are seeing prices up 6 percent or more in the last year. Given that the overall inflation is a bit below 2 percent, the pace is probably not sustainable over the long term.”

Among the 20 largest metro home markets, Portland continues to see prices rise most rapidly: they were up 12.4 percent in the past year. Average prices in Seattle were not far behind, climbing 11.2 percent during the year. Denver saw a price hike of 9.4 percent.

Slowest growth was in New York, where average prices inched up 1.7 percent, and Washington, D.C., where prices edge 2.0 percent higher.

Among the top 20 metros, Atlanta tied for the 11th-fastest growing, according to Case-Shiller. While one of the strongest markets during the housing bubble, Atlanta burst more painfully than most, suffering an estimated quarter-million foreclosures.

Despite steady growth for more than three four years, Atlanta’s average prices are still just slightly below than their peak. Some areas have seen a long lag in recovery, so there are still many homeowners who might have avoided foreclosure but are still “under water,” their houses worth less on the market than they owe on their mortgages.

Still, average prices have risen solidly, even if the pace of that rise has been slowing.

Experts said the market had split – with a scarcity of sale listings among modestly-priced homes and a surplus of homes for sale at the top end of the market.

And now that surplus at the higher tiers of the market may be trickling down to more modestly priced homes.

Prices in Atlanta were up 0.4 percent in July, according to Case-Shiller. But if seasonal patterns are taken into account, the average price of an Atlanta home sold dipped in July by 0.3 percent.

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