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Richmond Hill to defer builder fees?
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As you may have already heard, Mayor Richard Davis and County Commissioner Jimmy Burnsed held a press conference in the city council chambers on Thursday. If you haven’t heard, here is the recap.

Real estate analyst Danielle Babb appeared on the Fox News channel last month and gave her run down on the top five places to currently purchase real estate. Bryan County was listed as number three. Dr. Babb cited strong job growth and a projected house value increase of 19 percent over the next five years as two of the factors contributing to the selection.

This is not a surprise to many of the local residents. We have known for a while that Richmond Hill is a great place to live. Local real estate agents have long touted the idea that real estate is local and this market is not as terrible as the national numbers would suggest. In fact, our coastal area is hanging better than most any other market in the country. For awhile, some thought this was real estate wishful thinking. Dr. Babb’s selection shows that maybe those in the know were on to something.

And while it is great to be the subject of great national news, it is more encouraging, at least to me, to see that our city leadership is doing what they can to support the local industry. You see, the press conference was not only about Dr. Babb’s accolades of Bryan County. The Mayor also presented a press release explaining a proposal that is going before city council. Actually, by the time you read this, it will have already gone before city council. Unfortunately for me, city council meets on Tuesday night. Makes a column for Wednesday’s paper difficult. But hang with me, and we will do the best we can.

The proposal outlines "a plan to defer certain fees for new construction of detached single family residential units." In layman terms, this means that the city will wait to collect most of their fees from home builders until the house is almost sold. The information given by the city puts these costs at roughly $6700. In the statement, Mayor Davis says, "By deferring the majority of the fees, it will make it easier and more cost effective for the builder. The real estate business in Richmond Hill is the largest industry in the city. We are trying to do our part to help that industry to continue to move forward."

While I can’t tell you what city council will decide, I can tell you what council member Floyd Hillard thinks. "I am only one fourth of the decision," says Floyd. "But I can’t foresee anything keeping it from happening. We aren’t losing any money. We would just be collecting it at a later time. It is important to keep the ball rolling."

Real estate agent Sheila Doney had similar thoughts. "It’s good that the city recognizes that their biggest industry is real estate. They are trying to come up with creative ways to help with the changing times. I hope this increases builder confidence so that when the market does come back, we have the inventory to support it." Sheila also hopes the move is indicative of things to come. "I think the next step is to come up with great ideas to increase industry opportunity and relocation to the area."

It was obvious that builders in the room found the information encouraging. And they should. Doing business in a community that supports their mission is a beneficial thing. The thing that strikes me is the best thing we can do is to remember to stay informed. National media is national. Sometimes it reflects the climate of your community and sometimes it doesn’t. We can look at gas prices to see that we routinely fall beneath the national average. But that is a whole other column for another day. For today, we have plenty to talk about concerning the local real estate market. By the time you read this, city council will have addressed the idea, and I would love to hear what you think about it.

April Groves covers all things business for the Bryan County News. You can send thoughts, press releases, tips and questions you’d like answered to agroves@bryancountynews.

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