Atlanta home prices start year stronger than last; Fulton high

Home prices dropped and the number of home sales plunged in January, as the winter chill hit the housing market, according to a report provided to the AJC today by the Atlanta Board of Realtors.

However, the more important comparison is to a year ago and the trajectory is up, said Lane McCormack, president of the group.

Total home sales in metro Atlanta rose 3 percent, while the median price of homes sold climbed a solid 9 percent from the same period a year ago, she said. “January was a signifier of the healthy home sales and prices that we are predicting in 2016. We are showing signs of entering an early spring.”

Home price

The market typically cools a bit after the calendar turns, then heats up again in the run-up to the spring “buying season.”

And in January, the total number of home sales in metro Atlanta fell 37 percent compared with December. The median price for the region dipped 5 percent from December, the board reported.

The median sales price for homes sold last month in the 11-county area measured in the report was $213,000 compared to $195,000 in January of last year. The average sales price was $275,000, compared to $253,000 a year earlier.

Experts say that the differential between median and average price is an indicator of weakness at the low end, a shortage of transactions especially involving first-time homebuyers. Some of that has been pegged to a reluctance – or inability – of many young adults to buy a home.

But experts have also been complaining for several years that the overall market suffers from a supply problem: there are just not enough homes for sale, especially among the lower price points.

And for the market to become fully healthy, that has to change, McCormack said. “Inventory is still a concern and is continuing to be one of the major hindrances to the overall market.”

Fulton County’s median sale price — $290,000 — was the highest among the core counties, the board reported.

Cobb’s median sales price was $220,000. DeKalb’s median was $215,000.

Gwinnett, which led the region in the number of home sales, also had the lowest median sales price: $195,000.

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