While I certainly don't want to jump on the media bandwagon and beat the tired drum of a "slowing" housing market, it is necessary to confront the reality of hard numbers. And that reality is that the real estate market in and around Jasper, Georgia, wasn't as robust in 2007 as it was in 2005 and 2006. That's not to say that the situation is dire or that there is cause for panic . . . merely that the recent strength in home sales has subsided to levels closer to what we were experiencing a few years back.
Year-on-year on sales declined from 533 total single-family residential housing units in 2006, to 398 homes sold in 2007 -- a drop of around 25%. Or, another way of looking at it . . . sales were still at 75% of the previous year's numbers. People were still buying and selling houses -- just fewer of them.
If sales were to continue at the same pace for 2008, existing inventory of 584 homes would take roughly 17.6 months to liquidate! A very high inventory level in any housing market.
On the positive side, the average home sale price in Pickens County GA still showed gains from 2006, climbing from an average of $215,367 to $226,841, or a 5.3% gain. Days on market (DOM) likewise showed only a minimal increase.
Overall, in my opinion, the underlying weakness still rests not so much in any flawed economic fundamentals of the North Georgia region, but in a domino effect of other housing markets. With much of our home sales resting on second-home buyers and relocating buyers, the inability of many in markets like Florida, Las Vegas and even Atlanta, to sell their homes, is inhibiting local sales. This then is keeping local "move-up" buyers from selling to buy the larger homes they are after . . . and so on. Any kind of improvement in this scenario will likely spark home buying activity once more.
Financing issues are also likely to be playing a role, particularly for first-time home buyers, but this too will likely see improvement as buyers adapt to new conditions, coupled with efforts by government, lenders and sellers to once again find creative solutions to make homeownership a reality. (I see the likelihood of a surge in owner-financing, rentals, lease-purchase homes, and down-payment assistance emerging once more, despite low interest rates.)
The bottom line for sellers is that only 5.7% of all available homes are selling in any given month (on average). As I stress at every opportunity, in order for a home to be among that 5 or so percent, it must be priced better than the other 95%, and it must show better than the other 95%! Buyers have a choice and they aren't going to overlook repairs, garish colors, or most notably, an above market price. Ignore these simple tips and be prepared to have a home on market for six-months, a year, or even longer.
For buyers, the temptation may be to wait for a "bottom", but that is hard to predict, or even recognize. If there is no hurry to purchase a home in Pickens County or North Georgia, remaining on the sidelines may be a viable option. However, interest rates are low, sellers are anxious, and the ideal home may already be out there. (Again, houses are still selling -- those with the best features, condition and price are going to go first!) Trying to guess a "bottom" may backfire, particularly if rates do start to climb or there is a sudden surge of buyer activity.
Jasper is a growing community, with an expanding business and retirement community, and infrastructure improvements are in the works . . . demand for housing and land will continue. No concern there. Just a matter of time . . .
Summary of Active and Sold Homes in Jasper / Pickens County GA:
|Active Listings (January 08): 584|
|Bedrooms||Full Baths||Half Baths||List Price|
|Bedrooms||Full Baths||Half Baths||List Price||Sale Price||Days on Market|
(398 Homes Sold)
|3||2||0||$ 236,836||$ 226,841||120|
(533 Homes Sold)
|3||2||0||$ 224,352||$ 215,367||110|
(502 Homes Sold)
|3||2||0||$ 219,597||$ 211,106||120|
For updates on the housing market in Jasper, Talking Rock and Ball Ground, or even specific neighborhoods like Bent Tree and Big Canoe, in Pickens County GA and surrounding areas, feel free to contact Trent with your specific needs!