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Past becomes present for Bulloch real estate
W SGrindler
Shannon Grindler
      Let's just imagine it's the year 2000 again. Remember the big scare surrounding the potential Y2K computer software implosion? Alan Greenspan was nominated for a fourth term as U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 11,722.98 (at the peak of the Dot-com bubble), and Microsoft 2000 software was introduced.
      Also in 2000, the Statesboro real estate market was moving along quite comfortably. A total of 370 residential units were sold, yielding over $40 million in gross sales - a marked increase from just three years prior.
      Fast forward five years to 2006 and the American economy is just going gang busters. A microcosm of the country's record setting financial pace is the Statesboro real estate market. That year, 706 residential units listed through the multiple listing system were sold. Gross sales totaled $130 million, and there were 126 real estate agents registered with the Statesboro Board of Realtors.
      Now it is 2009 and an eerie picture of real estate sales "past" is emerging. All of the data suggests that we are back to the real estate market of 2000 with a few twists.
      "The irony is that in 2000, we thought things were pretty good," said Shannon Grindler, former president of the Statesboro Board of Realtors and managing partner of Coldwell Banker Tanner Realty. "I guess we keep comparing where we are today with 2006, and that just isn't realistic. This market still averages one residential home sale per day, and that is pretty good given our size and what is going on in other parts of the country."
      Grindler said that the problems with today's real estate market, however, are three fold.
      "First, it is getting much more time consuming to get a mortgage with the reduction in the number of lenders and the new regulations that have passed," she said. "It has nothing to do with credit, it is just a much more difficult process."
      "Secondly, sellers haven't come to terms with the new reality that has set in," she said. "Real estate values have dropped, and we have sellers that would rather hand their home over to foreclosure than "lose" money when selling it. They would just rather walk away and let the bank have it."
      "Thirdly, as far as the real estate field is concerned, we have the same number of agents today that we had in 2006. That is far more than we had in 2000."
      According to Grindler, there is 16.3 months worth of residential inventory on the market with the current absorption rate of 30.9 homes per month. Just a year ago we had 24 months worth of inventory. So, that is good news, albeit 170 of those homes were put in the rental market and not sold.
      The question remains. Is going back to the sales trends of 2000 so bad? "In a way, we have a lot to be thankful for," Grindler said. "Maybe, this is the new market reality, selling 300 to 400 homes a year. However, let us not forget that the average sales price of a home is still much greater than it was in 2000, and that is a very good thing."