At this point, the “bottom” of the housing market in Atlanta is more elusive than anyone could have imagined. The latest news is that December 2011 saw the third straight month of decline in metro wide housing prices, to the tune of 1.8%. The decline from the previous December was a meaty 12.8%. Ladies and gentlemen, that means home prices in Atlanta are at a 14 year low; the 1990s may be trendy now, but we were hoping those prices wouldn’t be part of the revival.
But for the sake of everyones‘ sanity, let’s not focus solely on the doom and gloom. Atlanta real estate consulting company Haddow and Company’s 2011 Q4 market report is highlighted with some glimmers of hope. For starters, the inventory of new single family homes has been whittled down dramatically from its peak in 2007, from 33,370 to 7,599 units. The condo market has likewise improved when it comes to new unsold units, for a low not seen since 1999. And the frequency of the “f” word (foreclosure) was down sharply in 2011 compared to the two previous years.
On a more micro level, some interesting things are happening right now. The Atlanta Public School redistricting process has plenty of people questioning whether some of the more popular intown neighborhoods will continue to attract buyers. As I wrote about earlier, some very cool developments that were stopped in their tracks by the Great Recession are seeing new building activity at the hands of new owners. Construction continues in hot spots such as Buckhead, the Perimeter area, and East Cobb, but the product tends to be more in tune with the realities of the new economy. Seemingly polar opposite markets far out (the fringe suburbs) and close-in (Vine City, Pittsburgh) have one thing in common: they’re probably not going to see any real improvement any time soon. No matter what happens, this should be an exciting year!