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Hall County housing market snapshot: Less construction, fewer foreclosures
Scramble for housing deals is fierce
A small crowd listens Tuesday morning as foreclosed properties are auctioned in front of the Hall County Courthouse.

Residential and “affordable” housing in Hall County is in short supply because of a decline in construction and strong competition for good deals, Gainesville real estate executive Frank Norton Jr. said.

Finding those good deals was the theme of sales Tuesday on the Hall County courthouse steps. Hall County was selling tax-delinquent property as and law firms were selling foreclosed and other seller-financed property. Such sales are just one piece of the overall housing market, but for those with the highest bid, there’s money to be made.

Wayne McLeod of Buford is a regular at sales held the first Tuesday each month. He bids on property in hopes the back property tax is paid at a higher interest rate, or that he can sell or redevelop the property into rental housing.
“Everybody today got a good deal,” McLeod said. “Everybody is happy.”

There is a four-month supply of area residential housing, Norton said, and a one-month supply of affordable housing. Norton defines “affordable” as houses priced at $150,000 or below.

“A teacher married to a teacher, what they can afford,” he said.

Norton expects the residential housing supply to fall to a three-month supply by the end of the year. He said lenders are still cautious about offering credit, thought national builders are constructing new homes.

“Small regional builders are priced out unless they have a private equity partner,” Norton said.

Norton said foreclosed property in Hall County has fallen by 20 percent. Total foreclosures have gone from 121 in May 2013, compared to 347 from the same period last year.

Property values are rising and there is more competition for houses that are priced right. Values have gone up 7 percent in Hall County and 12 percent along Lake Lanier, Norton said.

“Property values are increasing,” he said. “That’s a positive sign.”

Prices based on the market in 2005 or 2006 are considered too expensive today, Norton said.

“Don’t expect to get what you wanted in 2005 and 2006, he said. “It will take a while to get back there.”

There’s a pool of property for rentals, but not much action in new construction, he said.

Hall County saw 2,600 in new construction permits in 2006. It’s now seeing 200 permits annually, Norton said.

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