Home sales are up so far in 2015, and so are prices.
It must be getting warmer; the metro Atlanta real estate market is heating up.
Sales, which typically crest in the spring, jumped by nearly one-third from February to March, and prices also rose, according to a report provided by the Atlanta Board of Realtors to the Journal-Constitution.
“We are preparing for a robust spring season in the housing market,” said Ennis Antoine, president of the board. “Consumer confidence levels are rising and more buyers are entering into the market.”
The board counted 3,993 homes sold in March in 11 counties of the region. That compares with 3,014 sales in February. Sales rose in the spring of 2014 as well, just not as much: in March of last year, the board reported 3,510 sales.
The housing market usually warms in spring, with potential buyers looking to land a home before the start of the next school year.
“It started a week or two later than I expected, but when it did, it got hotter than it has been in recent years,” said Scott Payne, a vice president and broker at Engel & Volkers Buckhead Atlanta.
Some areas – primarily the north side of Atlanta and the near suburbs – are seeing a burst of demand, Payne said.
“Sellers are generally getting what they are asking for,” he said.
One reason is that the supply of homes for sale continues to lag. Though up 5 percent during the past year, the board report pegs inventory at 3.6 months of sales, compared to the five or six months of supply in a relatively normal market.
The median sale price in metro Atlanta last month was $218,000. That was a 4.3 percent increase from February and an 8.5 percent bump from a year ago.
The average sale price last month was $279,000 – a sign that a disproportionate number of sales are upper-end homes, Payne said.
“We’ve seen an increase in demand for $1 million to $1.5 million – there’s real support of that.”
Yet eight years after the burst of the metro Atlanta housing bubble, the market remains uneven.
Low interest rates, a growing job market and a rise in corporate relocations are boosting it. But pools of foreclosures in some areas and the unwillingness – or inability – of many young adults to become first-time home buyers are braking it.
Some of the farther-flung suburbs and exurbs have not recovered, while some areas on the south side are likewise still struggling, said Jeanette Schneider, senior vice president, RE/MAX of Georgia.
“There are always two tales to tell,” she said.
The lack of first-time buyers deprives the market of support at the lower end of prices, which makes it that much harder for previous waves of owners to move up, she said.
Foreclosures, which generally hold back the rise of home prices, represent the still-painful damage from the bubble’s burst — which pounded metro Atlanta harder than all but a few other regions. At the height of the crisis, between 2006 and 2014, more than a quarter of a million metro Atlanta homeowners lost homes to foreclosure.
That tide has receded.
As reported by the Journal-Constitution earlier this week, there were 2,277 foreclosure filings in metro Atlanta during April, down 3.4 percent from March and far off peak levels during the crisis, according to by Equity Depot.
By Michael Kanell – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution