Dougherty and Lee let housing slump slide on by - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty and Lee let housing slump slide on by

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NAHB Senior Economist, Dr. Elliot Eisenberg NAHB Senior Economist, Dr. Elliot Eisenberg

March 27, 2008

  Dougherty County --  A study concludes that the Metro Albany area isn't as adversely affected by the housing crisis as other parts of the nation.

In fact, the study found that Dougherty and Lee County home builders are among the top employers in the region, and home sales should spur growth in the area.    

Gaston Weeks has been building homes in the metro Albany area for more than 40 years, and says the housing economy has stayed steady, despite the national gloom.

"We never saw the bubble," Weeks said. "It slowed us down some, but not like it has in other parts of the country."

A senior economist who just finished a comprehensive study agrees: Albany is much better off now than areas that saw sky rocketing housing growth from 2001 through 2005.

National Association of Home Builders Senior Economist Dr. Elliot Eisenberg said "Phoenix, Las Vegas, Nevada, Southern California, Florida-- house prices are down dramatically. Ten, 15, 20 percent. Here in Albany house prices, year after year, have gone up about four percent, which suggests to me there is not a problem of overbuilding."

The Home Builders study found that 504 single family homes were built in Dougherty and Lee County in 2007, generating more than $85.5 million to the local economy, and providing jobs. 

"Over one thousand jobs. So they are the fourth largest employer in the Lee Dougherty County area. The only ones who are bigger than that really are Procter and Gamble, Phoebe, and Cooper," Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg's study concludes that relatively low home building costs compared to the national average will make the metro Albany area more attractive to industry and businesses looking to relocate.

"Nice weather, good schools, affordable housing. It puts you at a competitive edge compared to other places," Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg believes the housing crisis will be short, because the U. S. population is expected grow by 30 million in the next decade, requiring more housing.

Dr. Eisenberg's study will be presented to the Home Builders Association of Albany and Southwest Georgia at their March meeting at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds.

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