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Housing market conference is like a pep rally
Dozens of people attend conference to discuss turnaround of countys real estate market
County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed addresses the crowd about housing. - photo by J Holthaus

It’s time for something positive.

That was the sentiment at a conference held by Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed and Richmond Hill Mayor Richard Davis to discuss what they say is the beginning of a "turnaround" for the local real estate market.

"Richmond Hill, Bryan County" was recently listed as one of the top five best places nationwide to buy a home and live, according to real estate investor Danielle Babb, who was interviewed on Fox News on May 26. During Thursday’s conference in Richmond Hill, the clip of her interview and a voice clip she provided to the city were both played.

"Bryan County has a strong housing market…You obviously have tremendous job growth which is paramount to having stable housing prices," she said, noting she will continue to highlight Bryan County in the media. "Jobs are going to continue to push demand higher. My job is to make consumers aware of good places to buy and live…You are one of the top five markets in the nation."

Babb said she actually has nearly 30 "top spots" she thinks are good investments for 2008, but said it’s too early to see exactly how they are doing market-wise.

"Right now, nationally, sales are up about six percent. The Midwest and the south are getting the best of that," she said. "I won’t really know until the end of the year how well (my top spots) did."

Babb bases her information first and foremost on whether or not job growth is stable. Then, she said she looks at how well the local market has done over the past 10 years, whether income is keeping up with inflation, price stability and fluctuation, where crime rates are at and what the rates of foreclosures are.

In the future, she sees Bryan County housing prices increasing by 12 percent each year – a "conservative" number she said.

Her positive news is long overdue, according to Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed.

"I do think the drought is over for the housing market," Burnsed said. "The market is picking up steam. It’s not exactly where we’d like to see it, but I think in the next couple months it will continue rising."

One real estate company in Richmond Hill provided information for 42 closings in May at an average listing of $279,000 and an average selling price of $263,000, Burnsed said. He also pointed out of 472 homes on the market right now, 102 are under contract.

"I think this is an indication that the new inventory is coming down," he said, noting inventory seems to be "stabilizing."

Real estate agent Cathy Gregory said she’s been in the business locally since the 1970s and seen the market go through different phases.

"This is just another hurdle we’ve got to get over," she said. "The market continues to get stronger and is improving tremendously…rates are not bad."

Davis said the city can be successful only if the business community is.

"The building industry is the largest industry in the city and we feel like it’s time to rally – and I see this today," he said. "I’m grateful for the turnout; it’s like a pep rally. We’re going to leave here today and talk about positive things. We can turn this thing around."

The other four locations Babb listed during the Fox interview were Lake Mary, Fla.; North Brook, Ohio; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Irvine, Cal.


Richmond Hill to offer deferments

Developers and small home builders with plans to develop in Richmond Hill might soon catch a "deferring" break, thanks to a proposal announced by Davis.

"No one has been hit harder by the housing market than builders and developers," he said Thursday.

In response, the city will be voting on a proposition to defer certain construction fees at the June 17 city council meeting.

"We’re all in this together. Deferring certain construction fees will help stimulate real estate in Richmond Hill."

According to the proposition, builders would pay a $100 nonrefundable fee to get a building permit for a home. All other fees – such as tap, power connection and water meter installation – would be deferred until later in the construction process. Davis said this would not decrease or eliminate any fees.

"New construction of detached single family houses is starting to rebound and this proposal will allow builders to defer some upfront costs until the house is almost sold. That will be a big plus for those builders who are in a bind because of the economy," he said.






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