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How Did 2015 End for the Atlanta Housing Industry?

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The Atlanta housing industry ended the year on a more sluggish note than expected. The Cal-Culator, Atlanta’s residential real estate index, remained stagnant at 6.9 for October and November, then took a slight dip to 6.8 in December. Tight inventory, home sales and a variety of other housing indicators were factors in the end-of-year decline. Although inventory was tight and the index was relatively flat, we did see a consumer, builder and Realtor shift to licensed service oriented mortgage providers.

December2015CalCulator

On December 16, the Federal Reserve increased the Federal funds rate ¼ point for the first time in nearly a decade since the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Based on historical data in Georgia, the start of a tightening policy by the Federal Reserve, signals strong future mortgage growth for a defined period.

While the index holds true for the macro Georgia mortgage market, Southeast Mortgage posted a 99.3 percent growth in December compared to same period 2014.

Tight Inventory

According to Zillow’s November Market Report, the number of homes on the market fell 1.7 percent in November and 7.6 percent from the year prior, marking 10 months of year-over-year inventory declines. However, on a positive note, Atlanta experienced one of the biggest year-over-year inventory increases in the nation ­– a respectable 17 percent.

Home Sales

For the third time in the last quarter of 2015, pending home sales slightly declined due to increasing home prices and inventory, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, pending home sales in the South increased slightly by 1.3 percent in November.

“Home prices rising too sharply in several markets, mixed signs of an economy losing momentum and waning supply levels have acted as headwinds in recent months despite low mortgage rates and solid job gains,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “While feedback from Realtors continues to suggest healthy levels of buyer interest, available listings that are move-in ready and in affordable price ranges remain hard to come by for many would-be buyers.”

RE/MAX’s National Report

RE/MAX’s December National Report, available for download here, revealed a number of stagnant factors about the housing industry:

  • The average Days On Market for all homes sold was up three days, to 65 days, from RE/MAX’s national October average.
  • The average number of home sales in 53 metro areas in November decreased 22.6 percent from October and was 1.4 percent lower than the previous year.
  • The median sales price for all homes sold in November was down 5 percent from October, though this factor can help in housing affordability.

“Moderating prices help keep homeownership more affordable as we approach the end of a year that saw prices reach pre-recession levels in many markets. Even with anticipated rate hikes, mortgage rates are near historic lows, which also helps home affordability. Many home buyers find better availability and affordability in the winter months, before the traditional spring buying season starts,” said RE/MAX CEO Dave Linger.

Home Values           

Despite the dip, a bright spot at the end of last year was increased home values. Home values rose nationally 3.9 percent while many cities experienced double-digit growth, according to Zillow. Zillow also found the values of all U.S. homes grew $1.1 trillion, up 4.1 percent from 2014, though the year’s pace was slower than 2014.

The first Cal-Culator of 2016 will be released February 9, which will hopefully reveal a break in the sluggish performance.

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