The North Georgia real estate market (speaking specifically to the Blue Ridge area) consisting of Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union and Towns counties has navigated rough and even unchartered waters for the last four years. Factors such as being primarily a secondary home market with a high percentage of vacation homes, uncertainty in the economy and a high unemployment rate compared to the state average contributed to holding down sales. All factors caused secondary homebuyers to take a much harder look before purchasing additional housing.
In contrast, exceptionally low interest rates, high inventory and in many cases, some very good deals (from foreclosures, short sales and even traditional sellers) have resulted in steady sales, even slightly positive movement upwards in prices. Nationally, sales increased from 4.860 million homes to a projected 5.369 million at the end of the first half of 2011. Overall prices declined about 1% but prices actually edged up in the South by about .6%. The counties mentioned above along with Dawson, White and Lumpkin counties actually did better than the national average with sales up 13.5% over last year. (Gilmer, Pickens and Fannin up about 7%). source Real Trends and Realist 2011
All areas of North Georgia are experiencing a lower percentage of sales coming from foreclosures, bank owned properties (REO) and short sales than a year ago. This is good news for the local markets since shadow inventory is trending down. Another trend in North Georgia for 2011 is a higher percentage of cash purchases with an all cash record high of 35% of all sales. A few reasons for this are: investors want quick deals, hedge against inflation and/or hedge against a housing shortage in the future since many builders stopped building and some of those builders have not yet returned to the market. We anticipate some pent up demand for new homes and existing homes in the future.
Most segments of the North Georgia markets show improved signs of life. Larger land parcels are faring somewhat better than “improved” lots but are still a small fraction of what land sale levels were in 2006 and 2007. Overall the North Georgia real estate market has had its share of struggles over the past four years but it by far has not had the catastrophic drops in values seen in Atlanta, Metro Atlanta and other parts of the country. Interest rates realistically can’t go much lower, so as employment and financial markets start to stabilize, North Georgia’s real estate market is poised for some serious, sustainable growth.
What better time for buyers who can buy to buy sooner rather than later? We still have a decent inventory of nice lake homes (some priced almost half what they were at the high); rustic cabins or even traditional classics and I can work with buyers to build their custom mountain home. With so many existing homes for sale at great prices and even room for further negotiation, buying a resale or new construction may be the best deal. We’ve seen a huge jump in buyer activity in the Blue Ridge area since Fall 2011 began so I can’t imagine a better time than now to buy when looking back over the past four years and looking forward to a stronger market. I believe we may have come through the worst of it.
When do you think you will be making your next real estate move?
Call, Text or email Donna Today ! 706-633-0644 direct
Donna Yates, Associate Broker, GRI - Coldwell Banker High Country Realty - Blue Ridge, GA
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