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Gainesville metro area housing gains rank No. 2 in the nation
City follows Ann Arbor, Mich., which has 11.3 percent gain
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The Gainesville metro area ranks second in the nation for home value gains last year, according to's fourth quarter Real Estate Market Reports.

The report by the online real estate database listed the biggest year-over-year gains and drops in real estate in the U.S. for 2010.

The Gainesville metro area, which includes most of Hall County, had a gain of 8.4 percent, behind only Ann Arbor, Mich., with an 11.3 percent gain. The average home price in the area is $127,500, according to Zillow.

The area's home values outpaced travel hot spots like New York, California and Hawaii. Honolulu placed third, with a gain of 4 percent.

Atlanta fared poorly, with a decline of 15.3 percent.

"It's clear we're in a much better place than many other people in this country," said Brad Abernathy of The Norton Agency in Gainesville.

There was more good news in Hall County last year for home sales, he said.

As real estate sales slumped across the state, the county saw major gains in the percentage of single family home sales from 2009 to 2010.

Statewide, the sales volume for single family homes was down by 8 percent in 2010. But in Hall County, the sales increased by 9.7 percent, according to data by the National Association of Realtors.

Abernathy said his company saw an increase in home sales of 50.5 percent over the last year.

He said there are a few factors that can account for the region's success, but the biggest is location.

"We have everything anyone would want," he said. "We have a great climate, we're in a great proximity to the mountains and Atlanta is an hour away. Lake Lanier is also a wonderful resource for us."

Other counties in Northeast Georgia also saw sales increases for single-family homes last year.

North Fulton County increased by 3.3 percent, Dawson County rose by 3.9 percent and Forsyth County increased by 4.5 percent.

Though real estate has had a tough few years, Abernathy said he predicts sales will continue to improve in Hall County.

"The National Association of Realtors predicted a drop in home sales last year and we saw that. But when they dropped, Hall County saw an increase," he said. "They predict a 7 percent increase next year over last year, and if the trend continues and we fare better than the national average, this could be a wonderful year for us."