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What? Your home gained value?

May 18, 2010
Brenda Hamstead, North Atlanta, REALTOR®

Brenda Hamstead, North Atlanta, REALTOR®

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It might require a detailed map, flashlight and magnifying glass to find them but last year actually saw property value rise in some segments of Atlanta’s housing market.

There were four ZIP codes in the metro area where median home sale prices rose, when compared to 2008, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s annual Home Sales Report.

The four ZIP codes — Cobb County’s 30080, Forsyth County’s 30024, Fulton County’s 30004 and 30223 in Spalding County — were the scant silver lining of the 2009 Atlanta housing market, according to the data. They were the only ones found in a 20-county survey.

“That’s amazing,” said Jill Huitron, a real estate agent who lives in 30080, located in the Smyrna-Vinings area. “That’s what you want to hear about your neighborhood, but it is kind of hard to believe in this market.”

These ZIP codes stood apart in the AJC’s report, which analyzed data from the Marietta-based real estate research firm SmartNumbers. It looked at home sales and prices in 20 counties for 2009, compared with the previous year, and examined trends among hundreds of metro Atlanta ZIP codes. The report focuses on 166 ZIP codes that saw a minimum of 75 homes sold during the year.

In 30080, the median price rose to $224,964 in 2009, slightly up from $220,000 in 2008. Suwanee’s 30024 saw a small increase in median price from $310,000 in 2008 to $315,000 in 2009. The median sales price in 30004, which is in Alpharetta, modulated from $292,705 in 2008 to $300,000 in 2009. ZIP code 30223, located north of Griffin, had a median price of $92,000, up from $89,101 the year before.

The reasons for scattered increases like these aren’t always easy to explain, said Debbie Palm, lead researcher for SmartNumbers.

“Statistically these things sometimes happen this way,” Palm said. “There really isn’t any other way to explain it.”

There were 10 ZIP codes that lost less than 5 percent in median price, according to the report:

•Fulton 30306 (Virginia-Highland) -1 percent

•DeKalb 30319 (Brookhaven)  -2 percent

•Cobb 30067 (Marietta)  -2 percent

•Cobb 30068 (Marietta)  -2 percent

•Fulton 30005 (Alpharetta) -3 percent

•DeKalb 30033 (Decatur)  -3 percent

•Paulding 30101 (Acworth)  -4-percent

•DeKalb 30341 (Chamblee)  -4 percent

•Fulton 30342 (Buckhead) -4 percent

•Cherokee 30188 (Woodstock)  -4 percent

Palm said the median price, where half the homes sold higher and half sold for less, is the best way to compare a group of sales like this, but results may raise more questions than answers in the final analysis.

In the Smyrna/Vinings area and in Suwanee, which both registered 2 percent increases, new home sale prices drove the year-over-year increases, she said.

In the Griffin area, the genesis was one specific development, Sun City Peachtree, an age-restricted community being developed by Del Webb, a division of Pulte Homes, that pushed the price of new home sales, Palm said.

But in Alpharetta, a reason for the 2 percent increase is harder to pinpoint, she said. There were fewer homes sold over $1 million, but more sold at the $150,000 level, Palm said.

“Sometimes it is as simple as where the median falls,” she said.

With the exception of the spike in Spalding, the median price of homes in the other three ZIP codes was above $225,000.

Dennis Smiser, who sold his Smyrna condo in 2009, was also surprised to hear the 30080 ZIP code’s median price increased at all.

Smiser put his Cameron Place condo on the market “just days before the bottom fell out,” he said. “So I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I never thought it would be as difficult as it was.”

His three-bedroom condo was on the market for nearly a year and he slashed the asking price from $290,000 to $184,000, where it finally sold. Smiser said he didn’t have to sell the condo, but he really wanted to, which is why he continued to list the property.

“There were times when I wondered if it would sell,” he said. “And I thought about taking it off the market. But knew I would have to hold on to it for a while before I could get what I wanted for it.”

Huitron, the real estate agent, said she hopes the economy will continue to strengthen, which would help renew confidence for both home buyers and sellers.

“What I’m seeing now is homes sales picking up,” she said. “I haven’t seen it slow down since the tax credit expired [April 30], which is wonderful. So, I’m hoping and praying that the economy will get stronger, which will help people think of home buying and selling in a more positive light.”

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