Atlanta home prices up in December, but listings are scarce


Atlanta home prices continued to rise, while the number of homes sold kept declining in December, according to a report issued Friday.

The median sale price of a home sold in metro Atlanta last month was $250,000, a climb of 5.5 percent from the same month a year ago, according to the monthly report by the Atlanta Realtors Association.

The key factor – as it has been for many months – is the lack of “inventory,” that is, homes listed for sale: the general rule of economics is that demand for a scarce commodity can only mean higher prices.

Low inventory produces a sellers’ market in which potential buyers often end up bidding against each other.

In December, those listings accounted for less than 2.5 months worth of sales, compared to the six or seven months of inventory in a balanced market, according to Bill Murray, president of the Atlanta Realtors.

“The Atlanta market finished the year much as it began, with low inventory continuing to be an issue,” he said.

The market started bouncing back in 2012 from the devastating recession, and the trend of higher prices – and limited listings – has been the rule since then, he said.

But the market is fragmented. Overall, there seems to be something of a glut of higher-priced homes. Much of the price inflation seems to be at the lower end of the market — which increasingly makes affordability a problem for first-time homebuyers.

Home prices are rising faster than wages.

There were 4,226 homes sold during December, down 6.2 percent from the same month in 2016. The number of sales was down about 1 percent from the month before.

In the core counties of metro Atlanta, Fulton County had the higher prices a median price of $342,000. Gwinnett had the most sales during the month, the realtors said: 839.

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AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

 

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