Real Estate

Hardest-hit Atlanta market is finally on the rebound

Atlanta, one of the cities hit hardest during the housing bust, is also one of the slowest to stabilize. Still, by all indicators, housing is fully rebounding in 2013.

And it seems even Atlanta has hopped on the recovery train, with home prices making a strong turnaround, up 21% year-over-year in April, according to data from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. 

But will this recovery yield permanent changes or is it going to look a lot like the early 2000s?

When taking a deeper look at Atlanta, it is evident the rebound is not evenly distributed. The growth rate variation is much higher than it used to be, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and home prices are still depressed when compared to normal or peak levels.

However, in hot, single-family markets, multiple offers are being made as soon as a property is listed and inventory is low in desirable neighborhoods.

"The data confirms and adds to this anecdotal evidence: Atlanta's strong price growth is concentrated in select intown markets, as well as in many of the areas hardest hit," the Atlanta Fed wrote. 

Before the housing fall, home prices rose at the same pace throughout Atlanta. Even though some areas remained more expensive and other more affordable, prices generally appreciated at the same rate.

Enter the real estate market crash of 2007. Atlanta no longer saw stable appreciation. Before the crash, zip codes with the highest growth rates rose 20% faster than zip codes with the lowest rates. Now, the ratio has risen to 300%. 

During the crisis, the standard deviation in Atlanta home price appreciation rose sharply and continued to widen during the last year of recovery. 

The logical explanation for this is that areas with concentrations of distressed properties saw a steeper price decline, generating the variation. Now that a rebound is occurring, will we see a stronger recovery is areas with a high density of distressed properties? 

Based off what we’ve seen in Atlanta so far, evidence points toward seeing a bit of both. The markets that were most affected by the crisis will see the fastest growth, while many markets that never saw steep declines will recover more slowly. 

Janice Overbeck, an Atlanta Realtor with Atlanta Fine Homes, said she is seeing a very competitive market throughout Atlanta.

"There is very tight inventory, multiple offers on anything that’s priced well and pricing is going up," said Overbeck. "I think its going to be going up for awhile."

In the midst of Detroit filling for bankruptcy, PulteGroup (PHM) announced it's moving the company's headquarters from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., north of Detroit, to Atlanta. Overbeck believes this will only fuel the fire in the Atlanta market. 

"The high end homes aren’t going up nearly as fast they’re just aren’t as many buyers out there to buy them," she noted. 

According to Overbeck, homes in the $100,000-to-$500,000 range have become a very hot market, with many buyers willing to pay over list price. 

"Definitely people will go higher above list price with the more offers they know of or are told are on the table," said Overbeck. "From six months ago to now, more people are going over list price."

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