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Bulloch housing market begins to pick up
Biz Grindler
Shannon Grindler
     Three weeks ago, the National Association of Realtors reported that the median price for an existing home tumbled by more than 11 percent to $183,300 in October, the largest year-over-year drop on records going back to 1968, and the lowest median sales price since March 2004. I read that news wondering if our local real estate market had seen the same decline in home values.
      My sense was that it had not, so with some hesitancy, because I know you all are tired of me reporting the "bad" stuff, I asked Shannon Grindler to run some statistics for me. Grindler is the managing broker of Coldwell Banker Tanner Realty and the past president of the Statesboro Board of Realtors.
      Here goes. There have been 442 single family residences sold in Bulloch County this year. This number does not include condominiums and multi family residences. Considering the economy, that is a pretty solid number.
      Currently, there are 501 homes on the market listed in the realtor's Multiple Listing System (for sale by owner numbers are not included in this statistic). In November 2007, there were 537 homes listed at this same time. It would appear that we are starting to see a reduction in the number of houses for sale, and that is good, because our local market had become "flooded", so to speak.
      So, homes are being sold in Bulloch County at a decent "clip", and the overall housing inventory of homes for sale has shrunk somewhat. Here is the big question. What are home prices doing to spur the real estate market here? Have they dropped?
      According to Grindler, of the homes that have sold this year, sellers received 95.86 percent of their asking price. Clearly, that is encouraging, but have the asking prices of homes dropped?
      "Right now, people are giving good discounts," Grindler said. "There is no secret to that. I know that I am stating the obvious, but it is a buyer's market, and buyers know that, and they are taking advantage of that."
      Grindler said the asking price of most homes isn't as high as it was last year, but sellers are still having a hard time coming to grips with the new realty of the real estate market.
      "This is the biggest investment that most people have," she said. "I try to tell them that I know their house is special, and they have put a lot of love and personal touches into it, but there are many similar homes for sale, and right now buyers want value, end of story."
      I asked Grindler if she felt that our local real estate market had seen an 11 percent decline in the prices of homes as the national housing market had. "There has been a decline, no one can deny that, but I don't think it is that high. However, I feel like the next six months will be very telling for our market, and I am afraid we may be facing price declines in that range."
      Grindler said there is one irony in all of this. "I have been busier in the last month, than I have been practically all year. You can see buyers that have been on the sidelines think that now is the right time to buy."