Atlanta home sales jump in February, prices up too

Home sales jumped in February as the housing market got a head start on the coming spring season, according to a report that will be released Tuesday by the Atlanta Board of Realtors.

Prices too were up, but that increase seems at least in part to be because the supply of homes for sale was dropping.

Total sales in metro Atlanta were up 14.3 percent from January and were a solid 6.1 percent above the level of February of last year, said the board’s report, which is based on data gathered by First Multiple Listing Service.

“The steady increase in prices is anticipated with the tight inventory supply in Atlanta,” said Lane McCormack, president of the ABR. “We are expecting this upward trend to continue, both in price and sales as we progress through spring.”

Keys 3The metro area is huge and there are still many pockets where home values are depressed – thousands of homeowners are still underwater, that is, still owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth.

But overall, prices have been rising for three years.

In the 11-county region covered by the report, the median sales price during the month was $216,000, compared to $207,000 during the same month a year ago.

But then, prices should rise when demand outpaces supply, and that seems to be what is happening.

Experts have been complaining for several years that inventory – that is, the number of homes for sale – has been inadequate. And in February, the number of homes for sale represented just 3 months of sales – less than half of what experts say is balanced.

The supply of homes for sale was down 4.2 percent from a year ago, the report said.

Of course, that may be great if you are selling a home.

Among the metro region’s core counties, Fulton had the most valuable homes, but Gwinnett led in the number of sales: 687 units sold, with a median price of $200,000.

However, the higher-priced sales were typically in Fulton, where the median sales price for a home was $311,000.

Cobb had 589 sales and a median price of $224,000, the board reported.

DeKalb had 470 homes sold during the month with a median of $220,000.

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 jgetz@ajc.com

According to a separate report from Zillow, the Seattle-based real estate data firm, the city in metro Atlanta whose home prices have rebounded the fastest is Norcross.

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