Prospects seem to be looking up in the Forsyth County real estate market.
According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Forsyth County had the highest median home value for the metro Atlanta area in 2009.
The report said Forsyth’s median value was $275,200. That’s compared to $250,800 for Fulton, $210,700 for Dawson and $194,300 in Gwinnett.
Forsyth’s other neighboring counties also had lower values. Hall came in at $171,100 and Cherokee at $199,800 for 2009, the most recent year for which data was available.
Tim Hopkins, president of the Georgia 400 North Board of Realtors, said he wasn’t surprised by the numbers.
"As crazy as the market is, it’s still fair and better in Forsyth County than most places," he said. "Forsyth seems to have the most to offer."
James McCoy, president and chief executive officer of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, agreed.
"Forsyth County continues to have a lot of stability and attractive qualities that a lot of communities may be missing," he said.
Among those qualities, McCoy pointed to the county’s low unemployment rate, strong infrastructure and school system, positive business environment and low taxes.
"All that combined makes a really attractive place which translates to greater demand and stable home prices," he said.
Hopkins said home sales numbers have had some drops, but Forsyth is still faring better than the rest of metro Atlanta.
He said the average sales price in Forsyth dropped by nearly 9 percent from second quarter 2010 to the same quarter this year.
"But metro Atlanta dropped 16.4 percent during that same time period," he said.
Hopkins attributed the lower sales price to increased foreclosures and short sales, as well as more first-time home buyers, who he said "tend to buy lower priced homes."
But he added that there are "two very positive indicators" in the Forsyth’s home sales numbers.
"Our number of sales has increased and our inventory has dropped to less than 25 percent over last year … that means we’re selling more homes than we’re putting on [the market]," he said.
Hopkins said Forsyth remains "a buyer’s market," but "it’s getting back to a more balanced market."
The big unknown that could adversely affect a rebound in the market, he said, is "shadow inventory."
"That’s property that the banks have already foreclosed on, but are not on the market yet," he said. "That’s the main thing that could prevent a balanced market."
But overall, the housing market seems to be coming out of its slump.
"The past two quarters have been the first time in the past four years we’ve had solid, positive [home sales] numbers in Forsyth without a [federal] tax credit," Hopkins said.
Added McCoy: "It’s interesting data and when you match it [with other housing information], it paints a great picture for Forsyth."