Housing slump felt here - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Housing slump felt here

November 14, 2007

Lee County -- Home improvement projects are popular, but fewer people are doing them these days.  Home improvement experts say it shows deepening pessimism over the housing market.  Shares of Home Depot and Lowe's Stock hit 52 week lows.

New home construction continues in Lee County, and builders say they know fewer people are doing home improvements, and they plan to take advantage of the slump.

Home builder Rick Rogers said "As a building industry, we are looking at that to be a pickup for us."

Through the housing boom and home price increases, people did lots of home improvement, and Home Depot and Lowe's stock soared. Now the housing slump and their earnings and stock prices have tumbled.

South Georgia contractors say home improvement jobs usually slow down this time of year, but this is the worst many can remember.

Tim Coalson of Coalson Contracting said "Yea, being close to the holiday, slower year, tighter economy. Not as many people borrowing."

Coalson says building material prices like wood and concrete are soaring. "A box of gun nails is up about ten dollars a box. Which is about 25 percent over normal prices."

Home Depot Analysts say there is no doubt the home improvement and housing markets are tumbling, and so is their stock. But South Georgia new home builders say because many people are not improving their homes, they predict buyers will want to move into new homes when the market picks back up.

"Right now what we're building, we're building for the spring time of next year," Rogers said.

Analysts say falling home prices will in turn keep home improvement demand from growing. South Georgia home builders agree, and continue putting up new houses to take advantage of expected growth in the area.

 "I don't fear. We got seven going right now," Rogers said.

Home Depot points out they have opened new stores in several South Georgia cities like Americus and Cordele, sure that the housing slump here will not be a long lasting one.

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