Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Housing Trends Head in the Right Direction

Forecast Shows Housing Making Positive Transition For 2008
By Kathy Stover

Forecasts show that consumers are feeling a little better about buying homes for 2008. That is the message from the 2008 Economic Forecast presented Thursday, Feb 21st by the Home Builders Association of Midwest Georgia (HBA) and SunTrust Bank. More than 150 housing professionals attended the annual forecast event at the Coweta County Fairgrounds

Bob Chapin, Senior Vice President of the Real Estate Finance Group for SunTrust addressed the attendees stating, “Many of our builders actually started to see a little uptick after Christmas.” Chapin, a veteran in real estate finance, manages a little less than 1 billion dollars in real estate over a 21 county area. SunTrust is the 10th largest bank in the country.

Chapin explained that several factors are contributing to the positive transition. Mortgage rate trends are down and job growth has been good. Builders are also exercising caution and have reduced the number of new housing starts bringing excess housing inventories down.

In the metro Atlanta counties, building permits for 2007 were 31,000 compared to a high of 60,000 the year before. “I’d like to see it come down to 21,000 which needs to happen to move through inventory,” Chapin states. Meanwhile, 40,000 new homes have been taken off the market in metro Atlanta in 2007 and 6.5 million houses, both new and existing, sold nationally.

Coweta County and other south metro Atlanta counties are topping the list for positive data. “Coweta County has the best data of any county in the metro Atlanta area,” Chapin said. “Five out of the last five quarters show closings has exceeded starts.”

Fayette County also had more closings than new housing starts as well as Henry, Spalding and Clayton counties. In addition, 14 out of 30 top selling metro Atlanta area subdivisions are located on the southside. The list includes Princeton Lakes ranked at #4 located in South Fulton and Summer Grove #5 located in Coweta County.

Builder Chad Floyd of Chadwick Homes, Inc and attendee of the event stated, “January was a good month. February is shaping up even better. We are looking forward to a very good rest of the year.”

Excess inventory should continue to move in 2008 allowing net inventory to drop to more normal levels suggesting a stronger, more balanced housing market may be right around the corner.

Chapin explains, “Housing and the automotive industry will pull the country into a recession and then it will pull the country out.” However, Chapin cites several key economist do not forecast recession or only a short modest one at best.

In closing, Chapin states, “Every day when you get in your car to go home, we are one day closer to being through this.”

The Home Builders Association of Midwest Georgia serves over 700 businesses in the building industry in Fayette, Coweta, Spalding, Meriwether, Heard, Pike, Upson, Lamar, Butts and Jasper Counties. For information about the association, call Executive Officer Sandy Boda at 770-716-7109.
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