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Norton forecast: Housing market complicated
Real estate expert delivers overall positive economic outlook
Bryan Wright and Jessie Carmon mingle after the annual Native Intelligence report at the Gainesville Civic Center Thursday night. Both Wright and Carmon work for The Norton Agency’s asset management division. - photo by HAILEY VAN PARYS

It’s complicated.

That was the core theme of Frank Norton Jr.’s annual Native Intelligence report Thursday night.

“When asked over the last year about the housing industry, the economy, consumer confidence or in business in general, our stock answer has been it’s complicated,” Norton said in his speech.

Every year, the real estate businessman shares his forecast for 2017 with those who attend, including a top 10 events of 2016 list.

Overall, the forecast was filled with a positive outlook on the current economic mood of the country.

For example, there were five main predictions for housing discussed. First, the millennials and baby boomer generations will dominate the market.

Slowing price appreciation is second, which means some markets will see an increase in prices, but it is slowing down. According to the forecast, home prices are forecast to slow to 3.9 percent from 4.9 percent in 2016.

Fewer homes will be on the market, with inventory down 11 percent according to the forecast, and median age of inventory is currently 68 days.

Next, the mortgage rates will rise gradually but stay below 5 percent.

That figure comes from the Mortgage Bankers Association, but comes with a disclaimer in Norton’s forecast.

“The lesson here is that you have to take mortgage and housing market forecasts with a grain of salt. They’re an educated guess, but they don’t always pan out,” the forecast said.

Lastly, the loan limits could rise in some metro areas.

“We live in a remarkable place,” Bob Norton, president of The Norton Agency’s insurance division, said.

Bob also called Hall County the “epicenter of the economic universe of the state,” an accolade he backed up with the accomplishments of the year.

According to Frank, the biggest problem facing the housing market in the upcoming year is the lack of rentable property.

“We look forward to fixing that problem,”

This was backed up by employee Jessie Carmon, who works for the company’s asset management division.

Carmon emphasized that the market itself was offering great opportunities for investment and it would be a year of opportunity.

“We’re excited about the (upcoming year),” Bryan Wright said. Wright also works for the agency’s asset management division.

Kristie Myers was one of around 275 people who attended the annual event.

She came on behalf of the North Georgia 400 Office and was happy with what she heard in the forecast.

“It was all good news for us,” she said. “It’s good to hear positive news.”

Myers has been attending the event for the past 15 years and said it was one of the best in years.