Bob Strader on July 16th, 2014

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At various times throughout the year we have looked at the year-over-year numbers for single family home sales in Forsyth County. The importance of comparing the numbers to the previous year rather than the previous month is so we can see seasonally what housing is doing in our area. We know that it wouldn’t prove surprising to know that there are fewer home sales in December than there are in July.

Now that we are half way through the year we can take a more encompassing look at the housing market. With that in mind, we have the following chart showing single family sales, comparing the first six months of this year to last year.

Map Search Every Listing in The MLS

The numbers do correlate with what we have seen on a monthly basis, which is that the number of home sales have declined from last year, and a 25% drop is pretty hefty. Asking prices have risen, which has resulted in higher average sales prices and higher median sales prices. Finally, days on market are shorter.

The question most people what to know is what will we see moving forward. Federal reserve chair Janet Yellen is warning that sales have “leveled off” due to higher interest rates and believes this recent leveling off of the housing market is likely to be “more protracted” than they had expected. That is nationally.

Locally, I do believe for the rest of this year we will continue to see sales remain lower than last year. Sales prices will not increase at the same rate as before but will remain above last years numbers. There are no shortage of buyers, just a shortage of buyers willing to pull the trigger.

But, with the further threat of rising interest rates, those buyers may become motivated to find something sooner rather than later. Cash buyers…you’re in the drivers seat.

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Bob Strader on July 11th, 2014

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This home on Lake Hartwell is a steal. A beautiful custom built home overlooking the lake includes single slip covered dock, pine floors, tongue & groove wood walls.

The master is on the main w/access to large screened porch (full length of the house), deck off porch w/steps leading downstairs to the private wooded backyard & fire pit. Basement is unfinished, stubbed for full bath.

This home is conveniently located near I-85 & close to shopping in Toccoa, Lavonia, & Hartwell. This great home is well maintained & move in ready. The driveway can be used as turn around or separated into private driveway. Welcome to your new lake home!

The Details:

  • Offered at $159,900
  • Great front porch
  • Cozy family room
  • Open kitchen
  • 2 bedrooms, 2 baths
  • Large, unfinished basement
  • Short walk to dock (covered, single-slip)
  • Built in 2005

If you would like to see this home, Contact Us right away.

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Bob Strader on July 5th, 2014

On the 5th of each month I post a “Chart Of The Month” on local or national real estate.

This chart shows both the number of Lake Lanier homes sold each quarter as well as the average quarterly sales price, since 2007. While we have been on a very slow but steady climb up with respect to the number of lake home sales, the average sales price has been pretty flat. A clear sign that the number of luxury lake sales has been stagnant. The market is definitely better for the lower end of the price range.

{click on chart to enlarge}

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Bob Strader on July 2nd, 2014

As 2013 came to an end and this year kicked off, the constant refrain I heard from buyers and other agents alike was “there’s no inventory”. It seemed, at that time, that no one could find what they were looking for. Inventory was very tight last year.

The funny thing is, I’m still hearing that comment but it’s not quite accurate. Inventory in Metro Atlanta is up 24% vs last year and in the North Atlanta counties, it’s up 19% on average as you can see in the following chart:

Change in Inventory

Change in Home Sales

North Fulton

16%

-1%

Forsyth

25%

-15%

East Cobb

4%

-1%

Gwinnett

53%

-3%

Cherokee

24%

4%

Hall

-10%

4%

Other than Hall County, inventory is higher year-over-year for the other counties above and the number of homes sold is slightly down or slightly up with the exception of Forsyth County, when comparing May data year-over-year.

A Changing Market and Changing Perspectives

So it seems to be a strange time right now for housing. The sudden surprise last year of low inventory led to swift buyer purchases, over concern of finding anything at all. This was happening both nationally and locally. The problem now isn’t lack of inventory, what we’re finding from our buyers is lack of quality inventory.

Buyers have changed their perspective from last year. Home values went on a steep rise and sellers have taken that as a signal to get as much as they can. Who can blame them. After the extended recession and brutal beating everyone took over the previous 5 years, recovery was just what the doctor ordered.

But buyers aren’t biting and demand has softened. Even new home builders, who jumped on the rising prices bandwagon, are beginning to offer incentives. Our experience is a buyer will wait longer or broaden their search area to find the right home before they pursue a home at top dollar that can’t offer top condition or location.

This is why we’re seeing lower sales numbers overall. In metro Atlanta the number of homes sold in May is down 8% from the same time last year, despite inventory being up 24%

Are We Headed For Another Correction?

The short answer is no. Despite rising prices we’re still off from our peaks in most areas by approximately 6%. Through the rest of this year inventory will continue to rise modestly, demand is likely to remain soft and prices will not rise at the rates they have over the past months, in fact we’re seeing that now.

A sellers challenge is not simply one of pricing, it is more about a sales strategy in their hyper-local market. Buyer demand isn’t dead, they will pay up if it’s what they want. Sellers need to understand what they want.

Next month we’ll look at the mid-year numbers to get a broader view of our housing market.

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Bob Strader on June 30th, 2014

-2%

The decrease in sales, year-over-year, in May for single family attached homes in Metro Atlanta, despite inventory for attached homes being up 14% for that period. A clear sign of a softening market.

On the last day of each month I post a “Big Number” or interesting figure related to real estate in our area.

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Bob Strader on June 17th, 2014

We witnessed a phenomenal housing market in 2013. The number of home sales in Forsyth County jumped nearly 22% over the previous year for single family detached. And while the number of single family attached (condos and town homes) sales only rose 1.5% last year, it was mainly due to the near non-existent number of those properties being available.

So far this year we seem to have a bit of a reversal, where sales of town homes and condos are far higher and detached home sales have been a bit anemic for a spring market; that is until May. May marks the first month since January that we have more homes sold this year than last year, with a year-over-year increase of 11.9%. Slightly higher than the 11% we saw in January but far lower than it should be for this time of year.

The jump in sales of attached homes seems incredible but on average we only see about 27 attached properties sell each month in Forsyth County compared to 300+ detached homes. With sales numbers that low, percentages can tend to jump all over the place. Still, there is less than 3 months of attached inventory available so the market is good if you’re selling a town home or condo in Forsyth County.

What Is My Forsyth County Home Worth?

While the number of sales for detached homes are far lower than they should be, the good news is average sales prices are still climbing year-over-year. For May, the average sales price of all homes sold is up 10.5% over last year. Attached home sellers will be happy to know your seeing sales prices up 17.5% on average.

I think we’ll see these price appreciations wane in the coming months, which is a good thing as we don’t want prices to rise so dramatically that it dampens demand even further than we have already seen this year. Modest price appreciations and healthy inventory levels are good for both buyers and sellers.

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Bob Strader on June 8th, 2014

If you haven’t already noticed, new home construction is back in full swing in our area. Everywhere you go in Forsyth County and North Fulton there are trucks carrying lumber and building supplies to new home sites. This activity is only going to increase as we head further into summer.

According to information from the MLS, approximately 20% of sales year-to-date have been new homes in Forsyth County, 5% in North Fulton have been new. The actual number is quite higher due to the fact that pre-sales don’t get entered into the MLS. Either way though, the percentage of new home sales will continue to rise as more homes are built.

Unfortunately, with all the new home construction many home buyers are priced out of the new home market. The average sales price year-to-date for new construction in Forsyth is $345,920 and for resale inventory the average is $310,445, a difference of 10% which doesn’t seem that significant. However, only 10% of new home sales are under $250,000 compared to 26% of the resale inventory.

In North Fulton the difference is far greater. The average sales price for new homes is $659,651 year-to-date compared to $408,398 for existing - a difference of 38%! And, as if you didn’t know, there are no new homes in North Fulton available under $250,000 but 9% of existing inventory sales fall into that price range.

So, what does all this mean? To the buyer who says to themselves they absolutely want, must have, will only consider new construction; then you know you’ll be buying in a higher than average price range to get what you want. But to the buyer who isn’t sure, you’ll have to ask yourself if having something brand new is worth a premium over an existing home that may offer more square footage, a larger lot, finished basement and mature landscaping for less money.

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Bob Strader on June 5th, 2014

On the 5th of each month I post a “Chart Of The Month” on local or national real estate.

This chart shows us median asking prices (list prices) in metro Atlanta from just before the peak until the beginning of June 2014. Note that asking prices have risen from the bottom by 32% and are only 4.5% down from the peak. This rise has occurred in nearly half the time it took to drop to the bottom. Is it any wonder that buyers are slowing down their offers and being more choosy about which homes the feel are worthy of their bid?

{click on chart to enlarge}

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Bob Strader on May 31st, 2014

46%

The increase in sold lake homes on Lake Lanier, comparing May of this year to last year.

On the last day of each month I post a “Big Number” or interesting figure related to real estate in our area.

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Bob Strader on May 16th, 2014

We’ve seen great improvement in our housing market over the past two years. Right now, we have rising asking prices, higher sales prices and low inventory. Everything you would expect we would see in a recovering / improving market. Except for the number of transactions.

The number of April home sales in North Fulton and Forsyth County are down approximately 15% over last year. With sellers asking top dollar, buyers are looking for updates, features and condition to all be there or they simply keep looking. Here are the top turn-on’s and turn-offs our team is seeing out there today:

Turn-On’s

  • Manicured Landscaping (curb appeal)
  • Hardwood floors
  • Open floor plan (lots of light)
  • Updated kitchen
  • Updated master bath

Turn-Off’s

  • Small back yards
  • Dated kitchens & baths (brass fixtures)
  • Wallpaper
  • Road noise
  • Small bedrooms
Are you searching for a home in Forsyth County or North Fulton? We’re curious, what are your top features?