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POSTED: January 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.

If you believe everything you hear, every homeowner is facing foreclosure, sellers have to give their houses away and buyers can’t find a mortgage company that isn’t too scared to underwrite a new loan. If you listen to some tell it, all of our houses are worth about 10 bucks. If buyers wait a little longer and look a little harder, they can probably find one just like it for about five.

However, I heard something a month or so ago that piqued my curiosity. County Commissioner Chairman, Jimmy Burnsed relayed a conversation he had with Re/Max Accent Realtor Angus McLeod. According to Angus, our area was not experiencing the depth of market turnaround touted by the national media. In fact, the area, and his personal business, was doing about the same as it had done in 2005.

Let me make a quick note about the real estate wonderland that was 2006. You can’t compare anything to it. It was a market anomaly. Real estate, like most markets, is very cyclical. It ebbs and flows through a normal course. Occasionally there is a spike or a dip that is a bit exaggerated. 2006 was an exaggeration. Talk to any agent that has been around awhile. They will tell you to enjoy it while it happens. It’s not normal and the opposite scenario happens too.

While we hear every day about the national housing crisis, Bryan County’s market doesn’t appear to be nearly as panicked. The numbers say that the 2007 real estate market is very competitive with 2005. According to my research, there were only about 80 fewer home sales in 2007, but new home sales increased by about 20. The types of homes bought, typically 3 to 4 bedroom homes averaging around 2000 square feet, stayed consistent. While homes sat on the market longer in 2007, about 2 months longer, the average house price went up about $70,000. That value increase is even an improvement from 2006.

All this means that while there is a housing and mortgage correction taking place nationally and the market isn’t quite as aggressive locally, our area is not taking the hit that we hear about on the national scene. We aren’t even as affected as some of our neighbors. It may feel as if we are. The past few years have gotten home owners accustomed to great growths in the value of their property. We have to remember that equity typically accumulates over time. That means years, not months. Buyers also became accustomed to easy loans with great perks. This is not typically the best way to do business either. Therefore, while home equity increases slower and buyers actually have to qualify for a loan, this does not create a fallen market.

Many area real estate businesses and agents will tell you it’s not 2006, but it’s still working the way it always has. Century 21 Ways Station has seen an increase in business from 2006 to 2007. Their sales nearly doubled in 2006 from their previous position in 2005. That growth has continued in 2007 by another 20 percent.

Karen Hewitt, broker of the new Sellstate Coastal Realty, agrees. Her business reflects the same trend as the overall numbers. 2006 was great and 2007 looks fairly typical – real close to 2005. In fact, Karen still chose to make the move from Re/Max Accent to her own brokerage. She did think about it a bit longer, but decided that the current assessment of the market by the media is "grossly overstated." Karen says, "I really believe 2008 is going to be a great year."

 

April Groves covers all things business for the Bryan County News. You can send press releases, tips and questions you’d like answered to agroves@bryancountynews.com.

 

 

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