The “selling season” for residential real estate is here, but metro Atlanta single family home sales lagged 2008 by 11% in March, with the decline a more precipitous 37% in the Beacham Bellwether index (see page 4). Home prices followed a similar pattern with the average prices down 16% in metro Atlanta and 36% in the index.
March did produce a ray of hope. Sales increased from February to March at the highest rate since February-March 2006, when Atlanta real estate sales were at their all-time peak. While still not producing positive year-over-year results, the Atlanta real estate market appeared to gain some strength in March.
For the time being, the year-over-year numbers continue to be in the negative category. Buckhead, which was one of the last areas of metro Atlanta to feel the housing pinch, has taken a hit in recent months with single family home closings down 45% in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2008. March was especially tough for Buckhead, with sales down 48% from March 2008 and down 65% from March 2007. Home prices in Buckhead were down 17% in March and are down 31% for the year.
No area in the Bellwether index showed a gain in sales for March, although single family home prices were up in two areas – Brookhaven (+9%) and Dunwoody (+75%). The average sales price in Dunwoody, which typically is in the high $400s, was helped by one sale for $2,475,000.
Metro Atlanta condo and townhome prices were down 30% in March compared to a year ago, but prices rose in Buckhead (+13%) and East Atlanta (+4%). East Atlanta is the only condominium and townhome Bellwether area that remains up for the year (+4%).
However, drastically reduced home prices, coupled with historically low mortgage interest rates, have set the stage for a rebound in home sales with the February to March increase giving the strongest indication yet that a bottom has been reached at least in terms of sales