The turbulent Atlanta spring real estate market arrived early. We expected a tumultuous spring ’18 market, we’ve not been disappointed. Time has condensed; what we expected to happen over the first six months has started early and is moving faster than expected. The impetus for this – strong economy, volatile stock market, fears of inflation and an anxious Federal Reserve. Buyers are nervous – many are rate sensitive and the prospect of rates over 4% is something many have never experienced. Buyers must be educated, well prepared and not trigger happy.
A healthy real estate market is a food chain; everything begins with first time buyers. These buyers are rookies; dealing with a fast moving market, trying to understand the process, facing a dearth of inventory…and…rising mortgage rates. Many of these buyers are rate sensitive; increases will likely result in them having to rent. They realize this and many are jumping in…driving down the time properties remain on the market. Here’s a look at homes $0-$200K, compare Jan ’18 to the previous Januarys…
Steady decreases in Fulton County, the January ’18 climb seems to be peaking below all previous ones.
In Cobb County, the January peak already seems to have occurred, the bottom falls out every spring.
Cherokee County is a bit more chaotic, it will drop again but has already been under 10 days and largely under 20 for about 2 years.
And what are the buyers chasing? Fewer and fewer homes. We examine a few broad markets but the results are surprisingly similar. Each of the markets below are at their lowest inventory points in five years. If potential sellers face higher interest rates than they currently have and there’s not a driving reason to move…why would they? Why would they become buyers and take on headaches?
North Fulton is sitting on the fewest listings in a long long time, perhaps ever. This has been a pretty predictable pattern, but what looks to be the January dip seems deeper than usual.
Forsyth County is similar to North Fulton; same general pattern and also the lowest current inventory in years.
The East Cobb area of Cobb County mirrors the other two, same peaks and valleys and about the fewest listings available…
So what’s it all mean? It means BE CAREFUL if you’re a buyer. It’s going to be easy to get caught up in the emotion of buying a home, add to that the pressure of rising rates. The two most important assets a buyer have are an honest, skilled agent and a professional, experienced loan officer.
Home sellers shouldn’t expect buyers lining up to overpay. The limited inventory is there but remember that home ownership is at 40 year lows. Accurately priced homes, in good shape in areas with buyer demand should get looks. Dismiss the national reports, many markets around greater Atlanta are largely in balance; fewer homes but fewer buyers…
As always, we’re here to answer any questions or provide suggestions.