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Area real estate market again on the move

Realtors say prices are up, houses selling well in Hall

POSTED: July 19, 2014 12:10 a.m.

Kathline Collins drops by one of her listed homes Friday in Hall County. Despite some fluctuations in the market, housing prices are continuing to rise.

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A few fluctuations in the local real estate market in recent months haven’t changed the positive trend lines in home sales, according to brokers.

With inventory shrinking, sales prices rising and a slight easing of lending restrictions, Hall County has fully emerged into a seller’s market.

For all price points in June, there were 974 houses on the market, with 168 selling and another 178 going under contract, according to the Georgia Multiple Listing Service.

And the average sales price last month was $234,000, up from about $195,000 in May.

Throughout 2014, sales prices have largely hovered above $200,000, whereas they remained below that mark in 2013.

The brightest segment of the local real estate market remains affordable homes, said Tommy Howard, a broker with the Norton Agency and president of the Hall County Board of Realtors.

While sales have dipped slightly this month — Howard said summer vacations and school being out play a role — anything priced under $200,000 is receiving lots of interest.

Howard said there also is some indication that homes priced in the $400,000 to $600,000 range are starting to sell better.

Kathline Collins, an associate broker with Keller Williams Realty in Gainesville, said she is seeing positive signs in the market across Hall County, not just the southern part that is expected to grow as metro Atlanta pushes north.

“New construction has exploded,” Collins said, adding this has delivered more competition.

Collins also operates a property management company, and she said while lower-priced homes are quick to sell, they are also quick to rent out.

“The rental market is still very strong,” she said.

Howard said he also is seeing strong sales across the county.

“... We are seeing a lot of activity in the city limits of Gainesville,” he added.

In recent years, investors have swooped into housing markets across the nation to buy distressed and foreclosed homes in bulk. They typically pay with cash.

But the deluge of investors has begun to subside, as have sales of foreclosed homes.

“For some reason, even in a traditional buyer’s market, we’re still seeing all-cash closings,” Howard said.

The reassessment of lakefront property values this year by Hall County has raised concerns home sales on Lanier might be negatively impacted.

But Collins cautioned that assessed values may not be as important as an appraised value, and that differences in the two could halt any price increases.

“I don’t think it will impact sales that much,” she added.

Moreover, once the appeals process concludes, there is likely to be some significant downward adjustments on assessed values.

“I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact long term,” Howard said.

Both Howard and Collins said they expect interest rates to trickle up in the coming months, but they don’t expect this to have a significant impact on sales.

Howard said the continued improvement of the local housing market is largely dependent on job growth in the region.

“That’s the biggest indicator we look at to see what the housing market is going to do,” he added.


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