Though Atlanta-area sales are down, prices are up

by Timothy Inklebarger

Sales were down 5.3 percent in September from a year prior, but the median price continued to rise, up 7.3 percent from September 2018, according to a report from the Atlanta Realtors Association.

The ARA report notes that 4,509 homes were sold in the 11 counties in metro Atlanta in September, down from 4,760 sold in September of 2018. The median sales price was $280,000, up from $261,000 a year ago. The average sales price also was up 6.3 percent year over year, increasing to $339,000.

Allan Mintner, a real estate professional and senior advisor with Dorsey Alston Realtors, said the numbers show a return to normalcy in terms of appreciation. He said the 12 to 14 percent increases seen over the past few years is beginning to return to a more gradual 3 to 5 percent increase.

“Inventory is a problem, and we’ve all been wanting to get more inventory,” he said.

The inventory shortage has buyers jumping on properties quickly, but that rush to make an offer has left some with buyer’s remorse, he said, noting that this is prompting buyers to push for more seller concessions.
That echoes comments by Atlanta Realtors President DeAnn Golden. “We need more housing options in [the entry-level] segment to meet demand,” Golden said in a press release accompanying the most recent data.

“The entry-level market [$100,000 to $500,000] remains a seller’s market with many properties selling quickly and some with multiple offers.”

According to the ARA report, housing inventory in the Atlanta area totaled 14,971 units in September ¬– that’s down 0.1 percent from a year ago. There were 4,912 new listings, an increase of 1.7 percent from a year ago, but down 5 percent from the previous month.

Cary Blumenfeld, as associate broker with Compass, called Atlanta a unique market due in part to the influx of new residents. Those new residents come with new expectations when buying a home, he said.

“You have people moving here who are used to living in walkable cities, and they demand that,” he said. “Atlanta didn’t have that for a long time. In Midtown, you can live car-less for the first time in forever. It really is interesting how the city is changing. ”

Rents are at an all-time high, making it a landlord’s market, Mintner said, adding that those conditions will help protect the real estate market against a possible recession.

“With the millennial and the first-time buyer market, if their credit is good and they know they’re going to be in Atlanta, it makes sense to buy,” he said.

Golden also had a positive outlook in the long-term for metro Atlanta, citing population and job growth and historically low financing interest rates as being the driving factors. “The future demand trends will cause home values to continue rising steadily over time,” Golden said. “Now is a great time to buy, sell or invest.”