So far in 2013, it is a buzzword popping up about major metropolitan areas struck hard by the housing crisis. And even Augusta, mostly insulated from the worst of the downturn, is seeing signs that the housing market is beginning to be more favorable to the home seller again.
Charles and Rikki Scar-borough expected their Kings Wood neighborhood home to sell, but weren’t prepared for it to take just a month.
The couple put their 1,300-square-foot home near Pendleton King Park in Augusta on the market in February so they could buy a larger home for their growing family. The first person who looked at the house in March made an offer.
With a closing date set for mid-April, the family of five could be moving out as soon as May.
“It was pretty fast,” said Charles Scarborough, who bought the house in 2006 while attending medical school at Georgia Regents University.
The home’s location, close to Augusta’s medical community, is probably a main reason why it sold so quickly, Scarborough said.
Roberta Sheehan, a vice president with Blanchard & Calhoun Real Estate Co., said the days on the market have been decreasing for homes in desirable areas, that show good and are well-priced.
And some of those homes have incited a bidding war.
“Four times this year I’ve encountered a multiple-contract (bidding situation),” Sheehan said. A couple of times as the listing agent too.
Years ago, it was commonplace to have several buyers bidding for a desirable house.
“But I haven’t seen that for probably two or three years,” she said. “It seems that every beautiful home that I write an offer for, we end up with multiple contracts that we have to deal with.”
The change from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market is not widespread in the area, just in certain pockets, real estate agents said.
But the entire metro area shows signs of doing well this year.
“Since the holidays, the amount of calls from buyers, the amount of showings on listings ... has definitely increased,” Sheehan said.
The peak sales season will begin after Masters and last until school starts in August.
The houses sold in January and February have surpassed any year-to-date mark going back to 2007, according to data from the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors.
“We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. “Buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory.”
Atlanta is one of the hottest markets, joining previously depressed areas such as Oakland, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Sacremento.
According to a Forbes analysis of market data, Atlanta’s median sales prices were up by 19.9 percent over a year ago, inventory shrunk by 34.1 percent and the median time on the market is only 76 days now.
Last week, the NAR reported that February existing-home sales and prices affirm a healthy recovery is under way in the housing sector. Prices show 12 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases.
The median sales price in Augusta for February was $134,550, according to the Realtors association, up from $129,500 in January.
The Scarboroughs began actively searching for a home about three weeks ago but don’t want to rush into anything. They’re prepared to rent, unless they can find a perfect fit in such a short amount of time.
“We’re not willing to settle on location,” said Rikki Scarborough, who wants to stay in the Forest Hills area and be close to friends from church.