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Real estate outlook encouraging
Expert: Market showing improvements
House WEB 1
Real estate agents Corey Milford, left, and mother Gail, show a property to client Pam Derin on Tuesday. Officials say the local housing market is making steady improvement in several areas. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Forsyth County continues to see improvement in its real estate market.

Tim Hopkins, an officer with the 400 North Board of Realtors who works for Keller Williams, said the local market is showing steady improvement in several areas.

Among them is number of sales of single family detached homes, which he said has increased by 11 percent since this time last year, going from 2,216 to 2,461.

In addition, inventory is down by nearly 16 percent compared to a year, falling from 1,429 homes in 2011 to 1,214 in 2012.

Hopkins also noted stabilization in median sales price and distressed sales.

“We’ve actually seen a modest 5 percent increase, going from $220,000 last year to $232,000 in 2012,” he said.

“The percentage of distressed sales, foreclosures and short sales, has decreased slightly, but there are now more short sales than foreclosures.”

But perhaps the most encouraging news for the Forsyth housing market, he noted, is in the area of new construction.

“Unquestionably the biggest story in our local real estate market is the resurgence of new construction, predominantly in south Forsyth below [Ga.] Hwy. 20,” he said. “Virtually all the developed lots have been bought up by builders.”

According to Hopkins, most developers aren’t building “inventory homes,” but rather “pre-sales.”

“Those are not recorded in our MLS system, so this means the 11 percent increase in sales is understated,” he said.

Hopkins also noted there have been 1,809 single family home permits issued in the county through October.

All this is good news for Keller Williams real estate agents Gail Milford and her son, Corey, who form the Milford Team.

Gail Milford said in the past eight months in particular she’s noticed stabilization in the local market.

“We’ve not seen any drop in prices at all and the inventory in Forsyth County is now so low that if anybody has thought about selling their house within the last four to five years, they need to do it now,” she said.

“It’s like if it’s listed and it’s appraised to sell, it’s going to sell.”

Corey Milford added that inventory levels are the lowest they’ve been in several years.

“We’ve only got five months total inventory for the whole county for all price ranges and we used to carry 15 to 20 months’ worth of inventory,” he said.

“Anything below $300,000, if it’s priced right and in good condition, it’s gone typically within the first week on the market.”

As for its neighbors, the Milfords said Forsyth “wipes other counties off the map.”

“Dawson doesn’t even register. Once you put something on the market in Dawson County, even if it’s priced right, it just sits on the market,” Corey Milford said.

“Hall County is about the same. It’s got some spots that move, but it’s probably got 20 months of inventory and Dawson County has probably 30 months of inventory.”

He said northern Fulton County is “the most comparable” to Forsyth.

“They’ve got seven months of inventory and we’ve got five,” he said.

The Milfords said attributes such as high quality schools and low crime rates continue to be a draw for Forsyth.

“The most things we find is people with children in schools and then the convenience of having Ga. [Hwy.] 400, having the Avenue [Forsyth shopping mall], having basically anything you want within 15 minutes,” said Gail Milford, also noting the county’s “lower taxes … and low crime rates.”