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Where We Parse Recent Atlanta Housing Data For You, Conferring Valuable Knowledge

No one is ready to call the Atlanta real estate market healthy, but data shows one segment that appears to be. Data indicates that sellers now have the upper hand in the under-$100K market and most of the under-$200K market as well. This is due primarily to the influence of "distressed sales" (i.e. foreclosures and short sales), the return of investors and continual low interest rates.

Chartmasters Services, LLC reports that distressed sales comprised 42.5% of all transactions for 1st qtr 2012. For 2011, they ranged from 38.9% to 42.5%, the latter being the same for both the '11 and '12 Q1's. Dunwoody had the lowest presence at 8.1%, followed by Buckhead at 14.6%. Highest honors go to SE Gwinnett County at 66.1% followed by NE Forsyth County with 58.0%.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, almost 58% of Atlanta area sales under $100K were distressed. Between 100K-199K, 41.8% of sales were considered distressed. But every price point was affected, 20% of sales over $1M were distressed. The $100-$200k market is most active with first time buyers- 70.4% of ALL sales that occurred in the 1st quarter of 2012 were under $200K. This is likely due to increasing rents and exceptionally low interest rates, which are leading some folks to cautiously enter the market.

Lower prices make for increased activity and sales in Q1 2012 were up 17.1% from the same time last year, and up 23.3% from 2010. The sub-$100K segment increased 30.6% as buyers focused on distressed inventory. This, however, is a double-edged sword, as an increase in the lower-priced sales results in a continual drop in median sale prices, something the national media loves to remind us of.

Data shows that we have moved into a “seller’s market” sub-$100K for both distressed and “normal” homes and for distressed homes under $200K. This is where the majority of activity is with multiple offers, over-list price contracts and quick closings the norm. The major advantage that opportunistic Atlanta home buyers enjoyed over the last several years appears over, at least at this price point. Whether or not the stability at the ground floor can jump start other positive movement remains to be seen, but this seems at least a move in the right direction.

- Hank Miller