Housing market still in rough shape - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Housing market still in rough shape

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell about 1.5 percent in July. It's more evidence the housing market is still in trouble.

Real estate agents in Thomas County say they'll probably sell more units this year than last year, but the prices are way down.

Real estate brokers in Thomas County say last year's average home sales price here was around $169,000

Today that number is $145,000. "I would say from 2008 till now our business overall, we've dropped 50 to 75 percent," said Broker Mills Herndon.

Owner of First Thomasville Realty Mills Herndon says the market right now is stable. "Stable in the fact that at the end of the year we're going to end up selling about the same if not a few more units than we sold last year, but that's not saying a lot. The last two or three years have been very difficult. We've been on a downward spiral."

Herndon says people are not as eager to move as they once were. "People are holding on to their money. If they're in a house and they can stay in a house and they don't have to move, they're not moving. They're doing home improvements. They're adding on. They're doing things like that to just kind of stay put."

Even with all of the bad news, agents are staying optimistic. "National news and everything you hear is negative about the housing market and our economy and what the next six months or eight months looks like. But even in bad times people have to sell real estate," said Herndon.

Herndon says there is one silver lining. "I've been surprised at how many people are still willing to get out and buy and now is a good time to buy. Interest rates are extremely good. It's the best that I've ever seen."

Herndon says the selling of lower priced homes has never been the problem. What they're not seeing is people making money from the stock market, looking to upgrade to a higher priced house.

Agents say foreclosures and short sales are not driving the market, but they do account for almost 10 percent of all sales.

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