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Housing market looking better; officials more optimistic

POSTED: June 16, 2009 11:19 p.m.

Recent numbers show Hall County’s housing market may be on the rise.

Building permits are up so far in June, said Hall County Building Official Lamar Carver.

"It looks like they’re gradually, steadily increasing a little. For June, so far this month, it appears this month will be a better month than we’ve had in a while. If the present trends continue it could be 30 percent over the last month or so," Carver said.

Home sales are also up.

Frank Norton Jr., president of the Norton Agency, said business is better than it was a year ago.

"The Norton Agency’s new contracts for May were 27 percent ahead of new contracts (on residential homes) for last year," Norton said. "And our phones are ringing much more than they were ringing in June of last year."

Hall County is not alone however. Markets nationwide are seeing the same trends.

Across the country, construction of new homes jumped in May by the largest amount in three months, a sign that the nation’s housing recession was beginning to bottom out.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that construction of new homes and apartments jumped 17.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 532,000 units. That was better than the 500,000-unit pace that economists had expected and came after construction fell in April to a record low of 454,000 units.

Building permits, seen as a good indicator of future activity, rose 4 percent in May to an annual rate of 518,000 units.

Carver said so far, there have been 11 building permits for single family residences in June, compared with the last few months, where permit requests were in the mid-teens at the end of the month. Gainesville issued five permits in May.

"So far this month it is encouraging," Carver said.

Norton said foreclosed homes are also selling quicker than they did earlier this year.

"Most foreclosures we’re seeing are being sold in 120 to 140 days on average throughout metro Atlanta. Because of those great buys in the market place they don’t last very long," he said.

Norton hopes the numbers from May and early June are a sign of better times to come.

"We are very encouraged that we’re going to have a fairly brisk selling season through the summer," Norton said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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