I haven't written anything about our local housing market in last several weeks, but I would be remiss as a business reporter if I continued to ignore the "elephant in the room".
If you have been following the national news, then you have seen more than one economist claim that our country is on the brink of a major recession with a crumbling U.S. housing market as one of the underlying causes. Homes aren't selling, and home owners are defaulting on their mortgages in record numbers.
So, as far as home sales go, how is Bulloch County doing? Has Bulloch County seen a slowdown in its residential home sales? It sure has.
Based on property sales information that I have received from the county in addition to sales numbers provided by Shannon Grindler, a local realtor and president of the Statesboro Board of Realtors, it would appear that the number of home sales in Bulloch County in September and October of this year is down approximately 60 percent from September and October of last year. That is a significant decline.
Grindler also provided statistics regarding "days" on the market. Right now, there are 80 houses that have been on the market for six to nine months. There are 22 houses that have been on the market for nine months to a year. And, there are 27 houses that have been on the market longer than a year. To sum those numbers up, there are 129 homes that have been on the market in Bulloch County for six or more months which is one quarter of the homes that are currently up for sale. (Please note that these numbers do not include homes for sale by owner.)
Let's cut to the chase. Are these scary numbers? Maybe and maybe not. The past two years, houses were being built here in record numbers, and common sense tells you that at some point, supply is going to outpace demand. With a total of 537 homes on the market in Bulloch County right now, we have an over supply and are in a period of "correction" which is unsettling at best. How harsh and how deep the correction will be, no one knows.
On the positive side, we are not seeing the devaluation of property here that has been felt in other places. Things are slow, but prices have remained steady, and some people in our state feel the future is rosy.
A residential developer in Atlanta told me he sold a house to a couple recently for 1.6 million dollars. The buyers financed 90 percent of it with an interest only loan. When I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I asked him what the couple's monthly payment was going to be on their 1.44 million dollar interest only mortgage. He said he thought it was about six thousand a month.
Clearly, as this example points out, there are optimists and buyers among us. So, next time you see a realtor, give them some words of encouragement, tell them it is going to be alright and that sunny days are ahead. They just have to be. This is the 'Boro.
Until next week, I bid you au revoir.
Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org