Midstate home sales showing signs of rebound

hgoodridge@macon.comSeptember 30, 2012 

As Middle Georgia -- like much of the rest of the country -- continues to emerge from the housing industry collapse, real estate leaders here remain cautiously optimistic.

“We had pending in our Middle Georgia MLS (multiple listing system) 164 pending sales in the month of June,” said Dale Washburn, principal broker with Washburn & Associates.

“In July, there were 180 (pending home sales), an increase of 9.7 percent. Our local trend would be the same” as what’s being experienced nationally.

The Middle Georgia MLS includes Bibb, Jones, Monroe, Twiggs and several other midstate counties.

The National Association of Realtors reported in August that Americans signed the most contracts to buy homes in July than at any other point in the last two years, pointing to evidence of recovery nationally in the housing market.

The association’s index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes jumped 2.4 percent in July to 101.7. That’s higher than June’s reading of 99.3. It’s also the highest reading since April 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The index is 12.4 percent higher than July 2011. It bottomed out at 75.88 in June 2010 after the tax credit expired.

Contract signings indicate where the housing market is headed. There’s generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed deal.

Washburn said it’s also important to gauge the housing market by looking at actual home sales and not just pending sales.

Numbers of closed sales were also up in Middle Georgia.

“Closings in 2012 are up 17.4 percent from 2011 and 8.9 percent from 2010,” Washburn said.

In 2010, 902 homes were sold in the Middle Georgia MLS. That number dipped to 837 in 2011 and was up to 983 through August.

Those positive numbers, however, are a ways away from what they were before the housing collapse in 2007.

“In 2007, the number of units closed for the same time period was 1,608,” said Washburn. “In 2012, we are 38.8 percent below the same time period five years ago.”

Washburn said potential homebuyers are still finding it difficult to get loans.

“Lending continues to be extremely difficult,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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