Beacham & Company, REALTORS continued its blistering start to 2018 with a 24% increase in homes sold and a 25% increase in dollar volume closed from the firm’s previous all-time highs for the month of February. For January and February combined, the firm increased homes sold by 17% and dollar volume sold by 11% over any previous start to a year.
The firm’s agents, boosted by a marketing team coming off another international award in January, did an excellent job of getting homes listed and sold in the two lowest housing inventory months of every year. For example, nearly 2,000 listings for sale in the Atlanta MLS expired on Jan. 1. This sudden reduction to already perilously low inventory created a perfect situation for Beacham’s opportunistic sellers. The paradox of low housing inventory but substantial amounts of expired or failed listings demonstrated what one Denver real estate company recently called a market in which buyers are “buying off the top,” or predominantly new listings.
Overall, Atlanta real estate sales sagged last month for the seventh consecutive month. Single family detached home sales declined 6.5% from a year ago while attached home sales fell 1.2%. Meanwhile, the average sales price of a single family detached home rose 9.5% to $326,015 from February 2017 and the average sales price for an attached home rose 9% to $264,135. The trajectory of both sales and prices was due in large part to just 17,000 homes on the market in January. Although not as low as the paltry 3,000 homes on the market in Denver, for example, the number is low for a metropolitan area twice the size of Denver with six million residents and 50,000-plus net new residents every year.
Areas of the Atlanta real estate market that fared well in February compared to a year ago included Buckhead, Atlanta Intown (Virginia-Highland/Morningside), the Westside, Sandy Springs, close-in East Cobb, Dunwoody, and Smyrna.
The scarcity of homes in move-in ready condition, reasonably priced, and in or near live-walk-play neighborhoods helped push up home prices by creating bidding wars and multiple offers. However, just as many sellers’ homes lingered on the market. Some sellers realized that with housing market data now so readily available, buyers would not overpay unless poorly represented. Rising mortgage interest rates and the spectre of rising property taxes in the City of Atlanta added urgency for many sellers who went under contract or closed on a home in January or February.
The multiple offer scenarios predominantly involved Millennial buyers who represent the largest generation in human history. Some maturing Millennial buyers acknowledged that the ability to realize tax-free appreciation on a primary residence and the accompanying mortgage interest tax deduction to income posed too great a missed opportunity not to buy. Any perceived risks associated with declining home prices took a back seat to the reality that persistent record low housing inventory, rising mortgage interest rates, and an impending generation of unprecedented housing demand outweighed those concerns.
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Beacham & Company, REALTORS is Atlanta’s top-selling luxury real estate office. The firm was founded by Glennis Beacham, one of Atlanta’s most celebrated real estate agents and the only agent in Georgia to sell nearly $2 billion in real estate. The firm has 100 agents who average $7 million in sales per agent, more than any other Atlanta real estate firm. In 2017, the firm achieved record sales for the 11th consecutive year and remained the top-selling office in the city for single family listings sold for more than $1 million.