Oh, my word, how fast things change



In my book, it's official — the real estate and economic recovery is underway.

In just a matter of months, we have gone from, “No, I can't sell it at that price” to “I can't believe we sold it for that!”

We've seen properties that couldn't beg for an offer nine months ago to multiple reasonable offers on the table.

My sellers no longer have to take what's offered at its face value, but are now weighing the strength and vigor of their suitors.

Every real estate agent I know is busier than ever.

It's a glorious time to be in the “thick of it.”

However, beyond the anecdotal evidence of just seeing the improvement on a day to day basis, there is some factual evidence, as well.

Number one, home values are improving.

According to Smart Numbers, a local real estate research firm, home prices have been on the rise in the Atlanta metro area since the second quarter of 2012. A conservative estimate of value increase since then is around 29 percent.

Nationally, the number of home sales has soared from a low of under 3.5 million in early 2010 to around 5.25 million in early 2013.

Of course, that increase has boosted median home prices.

In just the last six months, national median home prices have soared from $170,000 to just under $210,000.

This increase in home sales and values, has led local builders to scarf up building lots. Locally, residential builders are driving a reasonably prudent buying spree. Land prices aren't out of control like they were.

Builders, learning from the mistakes of their past, are making better buying decisions. This measured response from builders and their lenders has pushed land prices back up to a sustainable value.

Secondly, foreclosures, bankruptcies, and bank closings have slowed a lot.

We've seen a steady, although bumpy, decline of personal and business bankruptcies since August 2010. Of course, foreclosures have followed that same trend line downward. Nationally, bank closings peaked in 2010 to around 150, to a low around 50 at the end of 2012. Unfortunately, Georgia topped the list of states with the most bank closings, but that has slowed down in Georgia, as well.

Thirdly, the stock market and consumer confidence is soaring.

Since it's low in March 2009, the stock market has hit some all-time highs.

Consumer confidence has improved by 65 basis points since its low in 2008.

With increased consumer confidence, car sales have soared from 9 million a year to almost 16 million. Because of this increased confidence and increase in purchasing, retailers are on an upward hiring trend. From their low of 14.3 million, retailers are pushing 15.2 million employees on their payroll.

So, hold on.

It looks like the roller coaster ride we were on, has stopped. We are now on a steady, uphill train ride to an improved economy and a much improved real estate market.

This article appeared in the July 17 edition of the Forsyth Herald.

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