Affordability continues to slip in Metro Atlanta’s housing markets

by Peter Thomas Ricci

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The rise in home prices has dramatically outpaced wage growth through Metro Atlanta, and it is beginning to impact the market’s famous affordability, according to the Q4 2016 Home Affordability Index from ATTOM Data Solutions.

As our chart below demonstrates, since the markets hit their respective bottoms during the recession, prices have risen much faster than wages – in markets such as Fayette County, prices rose at 11.5 times the rate of wages, and in three counties, huge price increases are paired with negative wage growth.

Those trends have fundamentally shifted the nature of Atlanta’s markets. In six of the 10 counties listed below, homes are now less affordable than their historical averages, in that it now requires a higher percentage of average wages to buy. Also, in the other four markets, the current levels of affordability are fast slipping past their own historical averages.

County Q4 2016 Median Sales Price Change in Median Sales Price Since Bottoming Change in Avg Weekly Wage Since Bottoming Pct of Avg Wages to Buy Historical Pct of Wages to Buy
Cherokee $184,000 42% 9% 36.6% 40.8%
Cobb $203,000 71% -2% 28.3% 29.6%
DeKalb $162,000 113% -2% 23.4% 22.7%
Douglas $125,000 67% 9% 27.2% 30.5%
Fayette $240,750 207% 18% 46.0% 44.9%
Forsyth $268,000 55% 7% 43.1% 44.4%
Fulton $237,950 98% -9% 25.8% 24.8%
Gwinnett $190,000 94% 3% 28.7% 28.5%
Henry $145,000 68% 5% 31.4% 31.2%
Paulding $150,000 90% 10% 33.7% 33.6%