Sales Remain Down From a Year Ago, but February to March Increase Largest Since 2006

Save

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