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By, J. Scott Trubey

February 2015

Home prices increased at an accelerated rate in metro Atlanta in December, according to a closely watched index, but signs were mixed nationwide.

December prices in metro Atlanta were up 5.1 percent over December 2013, the second-strongest price appreciation on the East Coast behind Miami,

according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. Compared to the prior month, home prices were up 0.2 percent in metro Atlanta.

On a national level, the benchmark 10-city and 20-city composite indices reported year-over-year gains of 4.3 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively.

But the news is not so good on a national level, when factoring in new home starts.

“While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home sales remain weak,”

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at the S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a news release.

“Before the current business cycle, any time housing starts were at their current level of about one million at annual rates, the economy was in a recession.”

Metro Atlanta home prices are now back to about those seen in Spring 2004, according to the report.

Atlanta reached peak prices in July 2007, but then values crashed when the financial crisis hit, along with a glut of foreclosures.

Home values bottomed out locally in March 2012 at levels not seen since the mid-1990s.

Last week, a report by the Atlanta Board of Realtors found that total sales fell nearly 10 percent in January compared to the same month a year ago,

but prices climbed 13.4 percent as traditional purchases made up a bigger proportion of regional sales.

Traditional sales — those in which the buyer plans to live in the home — tend to come at higher prices.

Sellers also started coming off the sidelines, with new listings picking up.

Read more about home price trends later today on our premium website,,

or in Wednesday’s print edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.