Kevin Duffy of the Atlanta Journal discusses the North Georgia and Atlanta housing market. See Experts: North Georgia housing market in depression; Banks starting to turn against builders, lawmakers told at hearing.
The housing market is so bad that some banks and builders that had been business partners are now adversaries, and experts are using the dreaded “D” word. “In northeast Georgia we’re not in a housing recession, we’re in a housing depression,” Jim Williams, president of Southern Highlands Mortgage in Blairsville, told state lawmakers at a daylong hearing Wednesday. .. Likewise, Eugene James, head of the Atlanta division of the research company Metrostudy, said the 22 metro counties it covers “are in a housing depression right now.”
James said sales closings were down 44 percent for the third quarter, compared to the same period last year, and housing starts had plunged 67 percent. The metro area also has about 148,000 lots with infrastructure but no homes — a 117-month supply, he said…
Sen. Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville), co-chairman of the meeting, was intrigued by a California rescue plan that Chuck Fuhr, Ryland Homes’ Atlanta division president, described. .. “Almost every small builder I know today has his bank knocking on the door, trying to collect his loan and put him out of business,” Fuhr said. If builders continue to fold, competition will lessen and home prices will escalate, he said.
Kurt Cannon, president of Rabun Builders and the Home Builders Association of Georgia, said at the hearing that worried bankers have turned on builders, even those with good credit, by calling in loans and threatening to sue.
The housing pain may get worse, Cagle said. “I don’t think we’ve found bottom yet,” he said. “Once we’ve reached there, I think we’re going to be there for an extended period of time.”