Home builders in Georgia are seeing slow, but steady growth and expect strong sales this spring. One expert predicts double digit growth in new home sales for 2013.
Steve Palm, president of the real estate research firm Smart Numbers, says he expects double digit growth in the Atlanta, Columbus, Savannah, Macon and Augusta markets this year.
“Builders have taken advantage of low priced lots that have been foreclosed on by the lenders that they can now buy at a pretty good rate.”he says.
Palm says inventory of existing homes is down, so that means builders are seeing greater demand for new homes.
“The consumer is very hesitant to put a good resale on the market. Our inventories for resale are so low right now, that we don’t know when they’ve been this low. Because we only go back to 1994. The big buzz word out there is we need listings.” he says.
But Palm says Georgia will never see another boom like the one that precipitated the collapse in the housing market.
“That was just an artificial bubble. It’ll never go back. I don’t want it to go back to that. It’s just not healthy for our building market.”he says.
In 2008, there were more than 73 thousand residential building permits issued. Last year, there were just over 23 thousand permits issued. Still that's up by almost 5 thousand permits compared to 2011.
After the housing bubble burst, builders often had to offer incentives like hardwood floors and granite counter tops to get buyers. Mark Konter, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Savannah says that’s no longer the case.
“We’re certainly seeing that prices have stabilized and are continuing to improve. And incentives are significantly down.”he says.
Konter says he’s seeing demand increase for homes at all price-points. He says low interest rates are also spurring buyers to build new homes.
“We’re seeing less foreclosures and distressed sales. And that’s helping the residential resale market as well as the new home market.”he says.
Palm says while still tight, it is getting a little easier for home builders to get financing.