Real Estate Market on Road to Recovery?

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | e-mail | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - "We definitely can say, if you were counting signs three months ago and you were counting them today, there's fewer today than there were three months ago," says ERA Elite Ventures Realty Agent Karl Douglass.

According to Douglass, fewer for sale signs, is a good sign for the local housing market.

"We're starting to see the turn or the hook," explains Douglass.

Associate Broker Ed Grifenhagen of Kennon, Parker, Duncan and Key, Coldwell Banker describes it in a similar way.

"I think that we're on the other side of the bottom curve of the market, on the way up," says Grifenhagen.

According to both men, there are several indicators pointing in that direction, as well as reasons they believe people are starting to buy and sell.

"The incentives that are in the market, the tax credit, the new Georgia tax credit came online, people are buying foreclosures and really moving the market," adds Douglass.

"Just the general activity out there, lots more showings, lots more phone calls, whatever number of listings we've had, the number of calls per listing is up," says Grifenhagen.

According to statistics from the Columbus Board of Realtors Multiple Listings Service, the list price to sale price ratio was 97% for the 12 month period between April 13th 2007 to April 13th 2008.

Fast forward 12 months, it's 96%.  Grifenhagen says that means for the most part, sellers are getting what they're asking for.

"When people think the bottom has fallen out of the prices they really haven't," says Grifenhagen.

As far as median price, for that same 12 month period, '07 to '08, the median price was around $159, 900.  Year to year totals from 2008 to 2009, show the median price at $150,000.

That's a difference of about 6% percent.  Nationally, though, prices dipped nearly 14%.

"We haven't seen some horrific crash in value," adds Grifenhagen.  Another important indicator he says is inventory.

"If our inventory has crept down over the last four, five, six months, then prices should stabilize and start to move back up."

For creditworthy consumers, though, that means it's still a buyers market, an opportunity that some say may not last much longer.

"If you look down, six months or eight months, or 10 months, or a year from now, prices aren't going down anymore," says Grifenhagen.

If that happens, realtors say that means the market itself will be heading in the right direction.

As for foreclosures, according to RealtyTrac, Georgia remains in the top ten states with the highest number of foreclosures.  One in every 344 households received a filing last month, or a total of more than 11,000.

While the number of foreclosures decreased by nearly 14% from last month, it was 22% higher than April 2008.

In Alabama, there were a little over 2300 foreclosures during the month of April.