A brief snapshot of real estate market activity in Pickens County, Georgia, for November and December, 2010, shows continued relative stability in terms of sales volume and price, with no noteworthy signs of improvement, but also with no indication that conditions are deteriorating in any major way at this time. Prices continue to struggle in the face of distress sales, but declines are more limited than we were seeing.
Comparisons for both November and December reflect year-on-year number of homes sold remaining pretty close to level (23 for November and 12 for December). November 2010, average sale price declined to $205,734, from 221,278 in November 2009, while December 2010, improved slightly to $227,837, from $221,435 in the prior year. Median sales prices reflected a similar pattern, with November dropping to a median sales price of $143,000, and December climbing dramatically to $218,750.
Foreclosures and short sales in Pickens County, GA, continue to weigh on the market. Fifty-percent of December's sales were some form of distress sale (up from 40% in December 2009), and came in at 35% of sales in November (up from 23% in November 2009). A quick look at inventory makes it unlikely that this will change in the immediate future. While overall inventory is down--only 464 homes for sale in the Jasper, Georgia, area as of this writing--the percentage of those reported as bank-owned / REO, or pre-foreclosure / short sales, has climbed to almost 15% of total inventory. Based on the number of homes and land lots that were scheduled for foreclosure auction on the courthouse steps the first Tuesday of March, there will be even more distress sales coming to market before long.
While month-to-month snapshots such as this reflect the roller coaster nature of real estate sales, in which it is easy to see sales volume more than double in a month-to-month comparison (and quite often this seems to be the case), and see average prices jump or drop significantly month-to-month, it is always important to keep the bigger picture in mind. While homes sales and prices have definitely taken a hit from their peak 4- or 5-years ago, the last couple of years overall have shown far more stability in the number of homes sold and the average / median prices reached. Unfortunately, while consistent, this now reduced sales volume and high inventory continues to keep number of days on market lengthy, and can create pricing pressure on those needing to sell quickly.
Even our much lower inventory point going into March (which is likely to increase as spring sellers homes are added to the MLS), it would require 21- to 22-months to deplete, versus the 6-months that is considered a "balanced" market. For those wanting / needing to sell, having your home show ready and well-priced will continue to be critical. For buyers, there are plenty of opportunities, but the best deals move very quickly, and it is not unusual to see full price offers and multiple offers, so make sure you are pre-qualified for financing and ready to move swiftly.
Feel free to contact me for more detailed info or data about your neighborhood or area.
(All sales data obtained and compiled from First Multiple Listing Service records and is believed accurate, but is not warranted.)