News 12 at 6 o'clock, January 27, 2009
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga.---It's fair to say 2008 was a rough year for the housing market. But 2009 is starting off well at least in Columbia County.
"Housing leads us into a recession, but it also leads us out of it. So yeah, i think it's coming back," says Doug Reese, Vice President of Blanchard and Calhoun.
Reese says the poor economy and the housing market go hand in hand.
Blanchard and Calhoun's 2008 sales numbers were down 21 percent from 2007, but they still sold 5,100 homes, which keeps him optimistic. "We're still selling on an average about 100 houses, or units, a week right now," says Reese.
Reese says the Augusta area is better off than others. He says the military and medical industries keep things moving along.
75 percent of the local market involves homes under $250,000 and those sales are hanging in there. "$250,000 and down is still a pretty good market. The average marketing time for a house in Columbia County $250,000 or less is about eight to nine months," says Reese.
But the problem is, most people don't have that much time, and so those people are forced to lower expectations -- lower the price -- and sell for much lower than the home is worth.
"If your time frame is, you've got to do something in six months, the only way typically you can move that property is by price," says Reese.
So, what about new construction? The Columbia County single family building permits have more than doubled this month. They hope that means they've hit rock bottom and are climbing out of a housing hole.
"There is money available and there is real estate selling, so...we'll survive," ends Reese.
Survive today, and hopefully thrive tomorrow.
Columbia County isn't the only area seeing sales drop. South Carolina is reporting sales down 24 percent in 2008. The average price of homes there also went down 3.5 percent.