The president of the Atlanta Board of Realtors on Thursday, March 29, told Buckhead’s business community that an economic recovery may be on the horizon.
Mitch Kaminer spoke to the Buckhead Business Association during its weekly breakfast and said the latest statistics make him “cautiously optimistic” the housing market will pick up the pace.
“I do believe things look like they’re getting better,” he said, saying housing prices have leveled off.
The average real estate sales price from December to February hovered around $173,000 to $160,000, according to ABR statistics. The ABR report covers the 11 county metro area.
There were 2,860 Single family residential sales in metro Atlanta in February, according to the ABR report. The report says that’s a 15 percent increase over February 2011 numbers and a 6.9 percent increase compared with January.
The report also says the median sales price for February 2012 was $110,000, saying this an annual decrease of 9.1 percent from the median sales price of $121,000 in February 2011.
Bank-owned sales accounted for nearly half of all sales in metro Atlanta in February 2012, the report says. That’s a slight drop, but Kaminer said it’s not enough.
“Until the bulk of the foreclosures are back on the market and sold our housing … foreclosures will continue to act as competition to regular sales,” he said.
He also said people selling their homes need to price them more reasonably, saying they will move quickly if they reflect what they are actually worth. He said sellers can recoup their losses by moving into another home that is also being sold at a discounted rate.
Kaminer said its a good time to buy. He said people who don’t take advantage of the low prices and interest rates will be kicking themselves 10 years from now.
But he acknowledged not everyone is sure if they’re ready to get back into the real estate market. Job insecurity lingers. Georgia’s current unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, higher than the national rate of 8.3 percent.
The board of realtors president said metro Atlanta needs to do more to attract business to the area. A big part of that is fixing the city’s transportation needs. Like other BBA speakers, Kaminer made a pitch for the passage of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or TSPLOST, a penny sales tax projected to raise $7.2 billion over 10 years for local transportation projects. The sales tax will be on the July 31 ballot.
He said families who move farther away from the Atlanta area to find affordable housing are going to cut into whatever they save buying a home by spending more on fuel and other transportation costs.
Like Kaminer, local realtors repeated one of his key talking points, saying it’s a good time to buy a home.
Rick Hamilton, a Realtor with RE/MAX who attended the BBA meeting, said some buyers have unreasonable expectations. He said when Atlanta buyers make a “low-ball” offer on property, they often don’t consider that they are in one of the most affordable markets in the country. That means competition from outside investors, people who are circling the block looking for foreclosure properties.
“There’s lots of bargains to be had, but its not a slam dunk,” he said.
Necia Kelleher, with Harry Norman Realtors, took copious notes during the presentation.
She thinks interest rates on mortgages may soon increase.
“The Fed sees growth comping faster than originally expected,” Kelleher said. “There is less chance that the Federal Reserve will intervene to help keep mortgage rates low.”