Metro Atlanta home prices in April were up 8.7% from a year ago, according to a report from the Atlanta Realtors Association.

The median price of a home sold in the 11-county region tracked by the Realtors during the month was $274,000.

A year ago, the median sales price was $252,000.

The April price at least partly reflected the monthly increase in homes listed for sale — the larger the supply of homes, the less of a seller's market Atlanta is. But the overarching story is still one in which high demand forces potential buyers to compete with each other for a relatively few desirable homes.

In many ways, it is a familiar story for Atlanta housing.

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Demand has been strong because the economy has grown steadily and solidly.

But for several years, Atlanta's inventory — that is the number of homes listed for sale — has been sliding relative to the demand. The result has been higher prices, especially in areas with good homes and schools.

And in April, the number of homes for sale was 11% down from April of last year.

The number of homes for sale represents a mere 2.5 months of sales, according to the Realtors report. In contrast, experts say that inventory is typically six or seven months of sales in a healthy, balanced market.

The mismatch is not spread evenly through the market — either geographically or in terms of price.

Buyers searching for a high-end home have a lot to choose from and relatively few other buyers to outbid. The imbalance is far different for first-time homebuyers at the other end of the price spectrum.

"Healthy economic conditions are creating considerable demand for purchasing a home, but not all buyers are finding affordable choices from the homes that are available," said Bill Murray, president of the Realtors group.

Among the core counties of metro Atlanta, Gwinnett was the most active market with 1,015 sales last month, but Fulton County commanded the highest prices: a median of $380,000 for homes.

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