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Realtors group to Atlanta renters: ‘Come on and buy already’

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Analysis: City among top 10 with highest number of renters who could afford homeownership

In the last few years, the refrain has grown louder and more frequent that owning a home, condo, or townhouse in Atlanta is drifting farther out of reach for many. But one new study says, basically, "Not so fast."

According to research from the National Association of Realtors, Atlanta is among the top 10 metro areas in the country with the highest number of renters who could afford a home ... if they really wanted.

Atlanta’s percentage of renters who fall into this category (40 percent) ranks seventh on the list, which is comprised mostly of markets in the Midwest and South. It's worth noting that Atlanta is the largest market to make the cut.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for National Association of Realtors, said it’s no surprise many of the markets on the list are in the Midwest and South.

According to the study, the median existing-home sales price in these two regions continues to be lower than the Northeast and West, and while many of these areas were slower to recover from the recession, improvements in their local labor markets in the past year pushed hiring levels to at or above the national average growth rate.

"Overall housing affordability and local job market strength play a pivotal role in a renter's decision on whether to buy a home or sign another lease," Yun said.

The study's research showed homeownership rates have slowly fallen in recent years to "currently its lowest level since 1965 ..." However, the aforementioned top 10 metro areas (selected from 100 of the largest metropolitan statistical areas in the United States) are in a good position to buck the trend.

Here's how Atlanta fared nationally:

  1. Toledo, Ohio (46 percent)
  2. Little Rock, Arkansas (46 percent)
  3. Dayton, Ohio (44 percent)
  4. Lakeland, Florida (41 percent)
  5. St. Louis, Missouri (41 percent)
  6. Columbia, South Carolina (41 percent)
  7. Atlanta (40 percent)
  8. Columbus, Ohio (38 percent)
  9. Tampa, Florida (38 percent)
  10. Ogden, Utah (38 percent)

According to its website, the National Association of Realtors is America's largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.