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Atlanta home prices down for month, up for year

Atlanta home prices started 2017 with a dip, although not as much of a decrease as in most years, according to a much-watched national survey released Tuesday.

And despite edging down 0.2 percent in January from December, the average price of a resold home in the metro area rose 5.9 percent during the past year, mirroring the national average, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index.

Nationally, the price index hit a 31-month high.

“Housing and home prices continue on a generally positive upward trend,” said David Blitzer, the chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The Federal Reserve’s recent boost in benchmark interest rates — which can affect mortgage costs — was too small to dampen growth by itself, Blitzer said.

“If we see three or four additional increases this year, rising mortgage rates could become (a) concern,” he added.

Atlanta’s yearly rise was the 12th highest among 20 metro areas, Case-Shiller reported. The fastest rise was in Seattle, where at 11.3 percent over the year. The slowest was in New York City’s metro area, at 3.2 percent.

The Case Shiller index tracks repeat resales but does not include new construction.

Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, a real estate data company, said the market is being driven by “familiar dynamics.”

There are not enough homes for sale to dampen the rise in prices, she said.

“What inventory is available continues to fly off the shelves. Nobody should expect these overall market forces to shift meaningfully overnight.”

Cheryl Young, senior economist for online residential real estate site Trulia, said that will keep some buyers out of the market or force them ratchet back purchase plans.

The problem is most acute for first-time buyers, she said. “There is little sign of relief from high home prices as we enter the spring home buying season.”


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