Numbers indicate Augusta's housing recovery continues

Numbers indicate Augusta's housing recovery continues



The numbers say the housing market has recovered.

In 2013, real estate agents in the Augusta metro area sold 5,600 homes, nearly identical to the performance in 2007, before the national housing meltdown that started the dominoes falling toward the Great Recession.

“We are definitely seeing a market recovery. Our area will continue to improve,” said Teresa Tiller, of Re/Max Partners and the president of the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors.

Not only were home sales 9 percent higher than 2012, the number of foreclosure filings dropped by about 20 percent.

Houses sold for an average of $154,100 in 2013, according to the association’s data, which is 2 percent higher than 2012. Home prices have not matched the numbers of 2007, but prices before the recession were inflated by the housing bubble.

“If it becomes a seller’s market, the prices will come up,” Tiller said.

Right now, buyers have the edge over sellers, as there is a lot to choose from in housing.

“We still have over four months of inventory available in Columbia County,” Tiller said.

It is eight months in Richmond County, based on the absorption rate of homes between $100,000 and $250,000. That means it would take four to eight months to sell every home available without more homes being added to the inventory.

“We could see a balanced market in Columbia County if things continue like they are,” Tiller said.

Nationally, home sales were in a decline at the end of 2013 because of higher mortgage rates, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“Home sales are hurt by higher mortgage interest rates, constrained inventory and continuing tight credit,” said Lawrence Yun, the national association’s chief economist.

In the South, existing-home sales declined 2.4 percent to an annual level of 2.01 million in November, but are 1 percent above November 2012. The median price in the South was $168,700, up 7.7 percent from a year ago. In the Augusta area, October, November and December finished stronger than 2012.

New-housing construction
continues strongly, Tiller said.
There were permits for 1,921 new
homes in Columbia, Richmond and Aiken counties in 2013, according to data from Construction Week. The trend should continue through 2014. “I think a lot of developers are anticipating the Fort Gordon people coming in,” she said, referring to the coming Cyber Command.

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The Mortgage Bankers Association lowered its forecast for mortgage originations in 2014 by $57 billion, based on declining mortgage application activity and increasing interest rates.

“Despite an economic outlook of steady growth and a recovering job market, mortgage applications have been decreasing – likely because of a combination of rising rates and regulatory implementation, specifically the new Qualified Mortgage Rule,” said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for MBA. ‘‘As a result, we have lowered our expectations for both purchase and refinance originations in the first half of 2014.’’

The organization thinks there will be $1.12 trillion worth of mortgages taken out this year.




2013: 5,606

2012: 5,135

2011: 4,838

2010: 4,734

2009: 4,745

2008: 4,419

2007: 5,657


Source: Greater Augusta Association of Realtors