Home prices rise 9.1%, squeezing more Atlantans

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The housing market has continued its steady march away from being affordable for many Atlantans, according to the latest report from the Atlanta Realtors Association.

The median price of a home sold in the metro area last month was $263,000 — more than 9% higher than in October of last year, according to the association’s monthly report.

In the core four counties of the metro area, Fulton had the highest median sales price at $336,000, while Gwinnett had the most sales during the month, at 888.

On one hand is a constraint of supply: A lack of homes for sale at the lower end of the market and in locations that appeal to first-time buyers.

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The number of homes for sale last month was up from September, but still represented just three months of sales — less than half of what experts believe is needed for a healthy balance between seller and buyer.

On the other end of the equation is rising demand: Meanwhile, the surging economy has continued to add jobs and lure young professionals to Atlanta, adding to the pool of potential homeowners.

For a time, it looked like that mismatch might paralyze the market, but Bill Murray, president of Atlanta Realtors, said he’s more optimistic now.

“The positive economic signs are that the market should continue to be strong into next year,” he said. “These healthy trends, however, depend on homebuilders adding new inventory to keep pace with demand.”

But even so, it has been a sellers’ market with prices rising faster than incomes. The most recent report shows home prices climbing nearly three times as fast as the yearly increases in wages in Atlanta. Moreover, not all jobs are seeing the same increases in pay.

And the number of home sales has been trending downward.

Last month, there were 4,448 homes sold across 11-county metro area, a decrease of 2.9% from the same month a year ago, according to the association.

The data for the association was collected by First Multiple Listing Service in 11 counties of metro Atlanta. It includes only single family homes.

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