COVINGTON, Ga. — Median sales prices for homes in Newton County have reached new heights.
According to Georgia MLS, houses on the market in May had a median sales price of $246,000, which is a 27.5% increase from the same time one year ago when the median was $193,000. Median, which is the middle number in a sorted, ascending or descending, list of numbers, should not to be confused with the mean, or the average, home sales price.
Within the last six months, the price had reportedly fluctuated from $225,000 in December 2020 to $233,000 in April 2021 in Newton County. In March, the price reached a median of $240,000.
By comparison, the median sales price of homes statewide is $305,000, a slight increase from last month ($295,000) and a 24.5% increase from one year ago ($245,000).
But despite the increase in sales prices, one local realtor says the market hasn’t been hurt by it. In fact, it’s been thriving — at least from a seller’s point of view.
“Believe it or not, price increases have not had [a] huge impact on the actual number of sales,” said Tami Moody, who is owner and broker of Coldwell Banker GMR in Covington. “This has been a very unusual market over the last year. Inventory has gotten very low, which in turn causes multiple offers on almost every listing out there, which in turn has caused the prices to go up. People are willing to pay above list price and even appraised value. Folks are coming to the table with cash to pay differences. I personally have had up to 19 offers on one listed property and I have heard others have had even more than that. Supply and demand has been the factor. It has been a vicious cycle......Sellers are doing great and buyers are struggling.”
Georgia MLS shows the county’s sales volume has increased by 50% from $30.4 million in May 2020 to $45.6 million in May 2021. However, the sales volume has steadily declined since March’s high of $55.6 million in sales volume and April’s total of $51.6 million.
Statewide, the sales volume was just under $4 billion, a 61.6% increase from May 2020’s mark ($2.5 billion), but a small decrease from last month’s total of $4.2 billion.
The increase in sales volume over the last several months in Newton County could be attributed to lower interest rates, Moody said.
“One thing that has helped with this increase is the interest rates are still low, which is something that always helps,” she said.
Moody also pointed to the county’s overall growth as a potential factor.
“Newton County is growing with new companies and industries, which, in turn, brings new residents,” she said. “Other than the new jobs that are coming in, folks are coming to Newton County because of the charm and lifestyle they can still get here.”
The market appeared to catch fire during the pandemic, which may seem like odd timing to some, but Moody said it made sense when you think about how much time people were being forced to spend at home.
“I believe that while folks were sitting at home when the pandemic started, it gave them the opportunity to look at homes online a lot more, they started noticing what they needed to do in their own homes, realizing they wanted something different and they decided it was a great time to make their move,” she said. “They had not spent as much time in their home as they did in 2020.”
While many people lost jobs and suffered during the pandemic, many people were able to continue working — whether it be in the office or from home. Moody said 2020 has been one of her best years, calling it the “craziest thing I had seen in a long time.”
As sales volume and units sold are up as compared to 2020, Georgia MLS Chief Marketing Officer John Ryan said Newton County has reflected the same three-month consecutive decline in units sold and under contract listings as the “29-county Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area and the 12-county Atlanta core area.”
Month over month statistics show the number of units sold decreased 12.2% from April to May in 2021, sales volume decreased by 9.6%, and under contract listings declined 5.7% for the same period, indicating a cooling down from the red-hot marketplace that led into 2021.
Residential housing supply also remains extremely low in Newton County with “active residential” inventory down by 46% as compared to May of 2020, Ryan said.
“Where six months of housing supply is considered a ‘healthy’ marketplace, there is less than one month’s supply from $125,000 to $275,000 price range,” he said, “and averages one month’s total supply across the entire Newton County market.”
Ryan said rises in median sales price were expected to continue as long as housing supply remains low and buyer demand is strong.
“The next few months will confirm if the housing market will continue to show signs of softening as we approach the historically busy summer selling season,” Ryan said.