NYT examines Atlanta’s grim housing sector

In today’s blog post about the latest Case-Shiller data, I bolded the particular bad data for Atlanta, which has seen precipitous home price declines in recent months.

From the NYT’s In Atlanta, Housing Woes Reflect Nation’s Pain:

A sprawling Southern metropolis, Atlanta has become one of the biggest laggards in the economic recovery. In November, prices of single-family homes were down close to 12 percent compared with a year earlier, the largest decline among major metropolitan areas, according to data released on Tuesday in the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Home prices regionally are now below their levels of 2000, making Atlanta one of only four metro areas to have experienced such a slide. The price of entry-level housing in the area — the lowest tier of the market, valued at just under $96,600 — fell by close to a third last year.

The role of a steep decline in in-migration:

Atlanta has suffered greatly from a contracting pool of home buyers. The number of people moving from within the United States to Atlanta peaked at 100,000 in 2006 and plunged to just 17,000 by 2009, the latest census figures available.

And on the foreseeable future:

According to RealtyTrac, Atlanta has a nearly 12-month supply of foreclosed homes, about 70 percent of which are sitting on the books of servicers and lenders, waiting to go on sale. The release of just a chunk of properties can push down prices.

Atlanta arguably has more to gain than any other city in the U.S. from a dramatic expansion in the ability of underwater homeowners to refinance, which was one of the few policy suggestion worth noting in last week’s State of the Union speech.