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The 3 trends defining Atlanta’s spring market

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Sales, prices and especially inventory are moving in pronounced directions in Atlanta’s housing market

metro-atlanta-housing-march-abr

The Metro Atlanta housing market is off to a very strong start in 2016, though the market’s underlying issues persist.

That was the big takeaway from the latest Atlanta Board of Realtors report, which looked at the area’s housing market through March.

Here were the three trends ABR’s report spotlighted:

1. Surging Sales Activity – Home sales continue to perform very well in Metro Atlanta. According to ABR, there were 4,530 home sales in March, a 6.9 percent yearly increase and 39.5 percent monthly increase.

Lane McCormack, ABR’s president, highlighted the market conditions that have bolstered home sales.

“Home sales are up by close to 40 percent in comparison to February, which is a great indicator of the robust spring market that we are experiencing,” McCormack said in ABR’s report. “Homebuyers and those who wish to refinance are seeing advantages in the low mortgage rates, unlocking numerous savings. I believe low rates and positive employment forecasts will contribute to active buyer demand, median and average sales prices accelerating and a strong housing market throughout spring 2016.”

ABR also spotlighted home sales at the county level:

County Total Units Sold Median Sales Price Average Sales Price
Gwinnett 945 $203,000 $234,000
Fulton 834 $335,000 $438,000
Cobb 739 $250,000 $292,000
DeKalb 651 $235,000 $290,000

2. Rising Prices – Consistent with sales, home prices continue to rise. Through March, Metro Atlanta’s median sales price was $233,000 (up 7.8 percent monthly, 7.4 percent yearly), while its average sales price was $292,000 (up 7 percent monthly, 6.2 percent yearly).

Housing affordability is not an overarching problem in Atlanta, at least compared to the issues facing Boston, New York and other high-priced coastal cities. At the same time, however, price growth has greatly exceeded wage growth, which could have bearings on the market’s long-term health.

3. Supply Issues – Another month, another decline in Metro Atlanta’s housing inventory. At the end of March, there were just 13,761 units on the market, a decline of 1.4 percent from a year ago. Although new listings were up 8 percent year-over-year (and 26.3 percent from February), inventory is still only at a 3.1-months supply, which is roughly half what the market truly needs; low inventory further posters price, and only ensures more of the aforementioned affordability issues.

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