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Housing inventory low, prices on rise

POSTED: January 8, 2014 12:29 a.m.
Crystal Ledford/

Tim Hopkins, a Cumming real estate agent and former president of the 400 North Board of Realtors, checks out a home for sale in Adair Park. It’s one of only about 900 in the county’s real estate inventory, making for a strong sellers’ market.

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With rising prices and a major reduction in inventory, 2013 was a solid year for real estate in Forsyth County.

And local real estate professionals predict that 2014 likely will bring further good news and stabilization to the market.

Tara Locke, president-elect of the 400 North Board of Realtors, said home prices in the county were on a continuous upswing throughout 2013.

That was due largely to Forsyth experiencing a strong sellers’ market.

“Inventory is at an all-time low,” she said. “But I think that will change in 2014 as sellers see their value coming back. They will then put their houses on the market.”

Tim Hopkins, a former 400 North Board of Realtors president, said due to the low inventory, current sellers are able to secure higher prices for their homes than they have over the past few years.

“Our local real estate market remains a strong sellers’ market,” he said. “Right now, we only have between three and four months of inventory in the entire county.”

According to information from the First Multiple Listing Service, or FMLS, Hopkins said there are fewer than 900 homes on the market in the county.

“As a comparison, at the end of 2008 there were over 2,220 homes on the market,” he said. “Our sellers’ market has also produced an increase in the median sales price. Homes that come on the market near market value often receive multiple offers that drive up the sales price.”

According to FMLS data, Hopkins said, through the end of the third quarter of 2013, median home prices increased nearly 12 percent over where they were at that time in 2012.

By comparison, 2012 saw only about a 5 percent increase in median home prices from the end of 2011.

This past year also brought encouragement in regards to distressed sales. 

“The percentage of those has really been reduced,” Hopkins said. “In the third quarter, only 4.2 percent of sales were foreclosures and the fourth quarter number will be very similar. At the start of 2012, our foreclosures made up 21 percent of the sales.

“So we went from one in five sales being a foreclosure to one in 25.”

Over that same time frame, he said, the percentage of short sales declined from 22 percent of the market to just 8 percent.

“All of these factors helped the number of closed transactions increase by 19 percent from the end of the 2012 to the end of 2013,” he said.

For 2014, Hopkins predicted new construction will be a “strong force” in the market, particularly in the southern half of the county.

“We’re seeing new construction like we haven’t seen in many years,” he said. “There are new subdivisions going up all over the place, especially south of Hwy. 20.”

Locke added that new construction also has helped to raise median sale prices.

“Prices are certainly trending upward and new construction has helped that,” she said. “If you drive around, [developers] are starting to build communities starting in the 400s and we haven’t seen that in years, probably since around 2007.”

Locke predicted that 2014 likely will bring a little more stability back to the market.

“I think we’ll continue to see an upward trend in pricing and I think our prices will come back and interest rates will start to creep up,” she said. “Inventory will then start to stabilize.”

No matter the state of the market, Locke said Forsyth County will continue to draw new home buyers for many years.

“Of course, as always, it’s our great school system that drives people here, and being on the Ga. 400 corridor,” she said. “It’s a good quality of life we have here with the Lake [Lanier] and quick access to the city of Atlanta.

“All of those things lead to a strong market.”

 

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