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Here We Go Again: Those Case-Shiller Numbers & The "Atlanta" Real Estate Market

So Case-Shiller has dropped another double digit value drop on Atlanta home real estate. By now, we’re either numb to the pounding or we’re wiser and understand how the stats are derived and what they don’t mean. The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that values have dropped 17.7 percent from March ’11 to March ’12, 2.5 percent from January to March of this year and .09 percent from February to March. According to Case-Shiller, we are among five major cities to hit new post-recession lows for home prices.

Atlanta housing stats are not lost on the national media; “what’s wrong with Atlanta?” is a fairly common question. The answer is also fairly common; like many other metro areas, Atlanta is far too large and diverse to be considered as a single entity. You cannot generalize real estate trends from Riverdale to Grayson to Buckhead to Gainesville to Canton to Douglasville to Inman Park. Prices are down from the highs, but several areas have stabilized. Looking for a home under $100K? Well strap in, because that price segment has moved to a clear seller’s market, and homes under the $200K segment rapidly moving that way as well.

Looking for a quality condo in one of the nice towers? You have plenty of company. Have you noticed any signs for new construction popping up? What bank is going to lend money in an area dropping 17.7 percent? Is there a better canary in the coal mine for the health of an area than a bank with its vault doors welded shut? Today’s report follows on the heels of Zillow reporting that more than half of Atlanta homeowners are underwater, more hyperbole that endorses the “if it bleeds, it leads” editorial philosophy. In their eyes, the “Atlanta market” is comprised of 22 counties. Really? To their credit, they noted that only 8 percent of area homeowners were actually delinquent on paying. Quite a different story if you look beyond the headline.

Take a deep breath Atlantans, Mad Max is not on the way. Housing is banged up after several years of economic duress but it seems that the worst is in the rear view.

-Hank Miller