Atlanta home prices up — but more weakly than usual

Atlanta home prices decelerated into slow growth as the market cruised to the end of the hot-sales summer, according to a closely-watched monthly report.

Metro Atlanta homes, on average, in July were up 0.8 percent from June, according to the index calculated by S&P/Case-Shiller.

Atlanta prices were up 5.8 percent compared to a year earlier, according to the index. A year ago, Atlanta’s average price was jumping at a double-digit pace, but the increases steadily slowed into single digits.

A somewhat concerning note: the data is not adjusted for seasonal patterns. When they are, the Atlanta market showed weakness compared to its usual results.

Seasonally adjusted, Atlanta prices dipped 0.2 percent during the month, Case-Shiller said.


111011 Atlanta, Ga; A for sale sign is shown out from of Jeff and Amy Kassen's  three-bedroom home in the Brookhaven neighborhood Thursday afternoon in Atlanta, Ga., November 10, 2011. They have lived in this house for five years and have outgrown it. The Kassens are willing to take a beating on their sale, hoping to make it up in the value they gain when they buy another house at a bargain price. Jason Getz

Compared to the overall performance of the nation’s 20 largest metros, Atlanta was slightly above average. The top 20 saw an average increase of 0.6 percent for the month and 5.0 percent from a year ago.

“Prices of existing homes and housing overall are seeing strong growth and contributing to recent solid growth for the economy,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones.

The South no longer leads the data parade, he said. “Most of the strength is focused on states west of the Mississippi.”

The national home price index has been rising at a 4 percent annual rate or higher for three years, “well ahead of inflation,” he said.

Eight years after the peak of Atlanta’s housing bubble, the index has not yet returned to those levels.

Because metro Atlanta had repeatedly led the nation in home-building, the supply of homes was ample and prices had never soared quite the way they had in places like San Francisco, where construction was so constrained.

But prices did rise solidly for decades, until the building boom collided with a painful economic downturn.

Atlanta prices fell dramatically and steadily, dragged down by tens of thousands of foreclosures and the massive layoffs that savaged the finances of homeowners.

Many Atlantans lost homes, others struggled to keep making the mortgage and only a minority could think of buying a new house.

Atlanta prices hit bottom finally in early 2012.

The Atlanta average remains about 8 percent below the high of mid-2007, according to Case-Shiller.


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