Atlanta Housing Market Bounces Back in February

by Peter Thomas Ricci

After a shaky start to 2015, Atlanta’s housing market improved measurably in February.

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Home sales in the 11-county Atlanta area totaled 2,810 in February, a 11.6 percent increase from January and 0.8 percent decline from Feb. 2014, according to new numbers from the Atlanta Board of Realtors.

Those numbers represent a most welcome break from Atlanta’s January market, when sales fell 9.7 percent year-over-year and 37.1 percent from Dec. 2014.

Prices, Inventory Continue to Rise

In addition to February’s positive news on home sales, ABR also reported encouraging details on home prices and, most importantly, inventory:

  • Unsurprisingly, median sales price was up by both monthly and yearly measures, rising 6.6 and 17.2 percent, respectively; similarly, average sales price rose 4.3 percent monthly and 12.7 percent yearly.
  • Such price increases, though, are hardly sustainable over the long term, so it’s a relief that inventory also increased in February; total housing inventory was up 9.9 percent year-over-year to 13,618, and new listings were up 2.8 percent to 3,975.
  • At a 3.6-months supply, housing inventory is still quite low by historic standards.

“The Housing Market is on a Solid Foundation”

Ennis Antoine, the current president of ABR, indicated in his comments that February represented a solid month of real estate for Atlanta, one that suggests good things going forward.

“February was another month of concrete price growth for Atlanta,” Antoine said. “I believe the statistics are suggesting that the housing market is on a solid foundation and ready to progress in a stable fashion. As we move into the spring season, sales continue to show strong improvement month over month. The increase in inventory is due to several factors: seller confidence, low interest rates and higher demand.”

Granted, there remain unresolved market forces that may conspire to keep inventory low this year, as Melissa Morgan, a sales associate with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Metro Atlanta, explained to us.

“There are a lot of people still tight on their equity and can’t afford to make a jump,” she said. “I think this year will be more a year that future seller’s are going to make improvements in their homes in order to prep them for next year’s spring market.”

The issues of near-negative equity, low mobility and rate lock-ins are hardly new – indeed, we reported on them nearly a year ago – but progress in dealing with them will likely be, as with the rest of the economy, slow and incremental.