The housing market has been through some turbulence this year, to put it mildly. Prices have been rising at record highs, putting affordability at record lows. A recent report from Realtor.com, however, has raised the question of whether now is actually the best time to buy a house.
Despite the website’s report, house hunting remains a hazardous journey for hopeful Georgia home owners.
From July to August, Reatlor.com reported that home prices finally began taking a plunge. National prices dropped from $449,000 to $435,000, marking the most significant month-to-month drop since 2016. Come fall, a season often marked as a buyer’s market, another drop in prices is anticipated.
“It’s the time of year when prices typically slow,” Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale told the website. “We usually see a peak in median listing prices in June, and then prices come down as we move toward the end of the year.”
According to the economist, there are a number of fiscal elements playing in buyers’ favor at the moment.
“This year, in addition to the usual seasonal cooling, we’re seeing a shift in the balance of supply and demand,” Hale said. “After years of demand vastly outstripping supply—forcing buyers who wanted to find a home to bid up prices—supply has increased. And that means price growth has cooled.”
While prices are expected to remain relatively high, she predicts that this fall may be a good time to buy for some potential homeowners.
“Home prices are likely to remain high, which is a con for many,” says Hale. “But if you can find a home that meets your needs and fits your budget, you may be able to lock in a majority of your housing costs with a fixed-rate mortgage.”
While Realtor.com is reporting that things are cooling down somewhat on a national scale in the near future, it is important to reiterate that prices will remain high.
According to an August report by the Atlanta Realtors Association, median sales prices for July continued to outpace last year’s figures. For July, Atlanta homes sported a median $420,000 price tag. While situated $15,000 below Realtor.com’s reported current national average, the U.S. Census latest data (2020) notes that Georgia’s median household income remains below the national average.
“The median and average sales prices continue to trend higher with a 15.1% increase in the median price and a 13.9% increase in the average price over 2021,” Atlanta Realtors Association President Karen Hatcher said in a news release. “We are still seeing multiple offers within a few days for properties that are priced appropriately.”
As inflation continues to affect Atlanta residents’ wallets, demand for homes remains incredibly high.
“Sales are trending lower compared to last year with the rising interest rates being the main factor,” Hatcher said. “Despite this lower trend, the economic activity in the metro area coupled with domestic migration has kept demand strong with median days on the market at 7 and average days at 16.
“We reached our highest inventory level since October 2020 with a 34% increase to 1.9 months, however, we are still well in a Seller’s market. Seller’s still have much to gain with the median sales price above $400,000 and the average price near $500,000 helping Metro Atlanta’s real estate market continue to thrive.”
It’s not just Atlanta that remains in a seller’s market. According to the Georgia Association of Realtors, median sales prices for homes across the state were up 17 percent year-over-year in July. Inventory was down for all homes, except for homes priced at $300,000 or more with two or more bedrooms.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University noted in an August report that households of color are being affected disproportionately during the housing crisis.
“More and more households are being priced out of homeownership and its related benefits – such as the potential to build significant wealth though home equity – at a time when households of color need increased access to narrow wide racial gaps,” Senior Research Associate Daniel McCue reported. “At last measure, the homeownership rates for Hispanic households (48.3%) and non-Hispanic Black households (46.0%) were 26 and 29 percentage points lower than for non-Hispanic white households (74.6%). Higher barriers to homeownership make it more difficult and costly for policy to help reduce these longstanding inequalities.”
While fall is expected to cool down the housing market on a national level this year, prices remain incredibly high. For Atlanta, which the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta ranked as unaffordable, things have remained costly. For Georgia and its capital, the data to support the decision to purchase a home this fall is simply not available yet.