The lack of homes for sale has tilted the market. At least in attractive areas, those who are selling homes often have a number of buyers bidding. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
The metro Atlanta real estate market continues to spiral in two directions at once: prices headed skyward, the number of homes for sale looping downward.
Last month, the median sales price of a home in the region was $217,000 – up a solid 8.6 percent from January a year ago, an increase slightly stronger than the national price bump during the same period, according to Re/Max of Georgia.
That continued a six-year trajectory from the rock-bottom prices ushered in by the housing crash and the recession that followed.
But, while the prices have kept rising, sales overall have been sluggish and even started to lag. The number of homes sold in the 11-county region during January – 5,039 – was down 1 percent from a year ago, Re/Max said.
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The number of sales was down in all five core counties – Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Fulton.
And that is largely because of an anemic inventory – or, the number of homes listed for sale. Supply has fallen short of the demand and is continuing to drop, meaning the market is tilted toward sellers. Some might even find buyers bidding for their homes.
Typically, when the mercury drops, the housing market too is a bit chillier. The number of homes for sale generally slides between December and January, and it did drop — 30 percent last month.
But even compared with January of a year ago, the number of listings has dipped.flagged.
Experts say that in a healthy, balanced market, the number of homes for sale represents about six or seven months of sales. For example, in a month when 5,000 homes were sold, a healthy market calls for listings of 30,000 to 35,000 homes for sale.
A year ago, that supply had fallen to a very weak, very seller-friendly 3.3 months. Last month, it fell to just 2.3 months.
With demand expected to crest in spring and early summer, a shortage of homes for sale is not good news, said John Rainey, vice president of Re/Max Georgia. “Low inventory continues to be a strain on our local marketplace and the historically busy spring selling season is right around the corner.”
In the core counties of metro Atlanta, the median price of a home was highest in Fulton County: $307,500, which was up a frenetic 18 percent from the same month of 2017. It was lowest in Clayton, where the median of $124,500 was virtually unchanged from a year ago.
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Number of home sales, compared to a year ago
Clayton, down 18 percent
DeKalb, down 16 percent
Gwinnett, down 7 percent
Cobb, down 5 percent
Fulton, down 2 percent
Source: Re/Max of Georgia
Median sales price of homes
Source: Re/Max of Georgia