In regional real estate industry news, the South may be the first to rise from the ashes of this housing disaster. If Savannah, Georgia is any indicator, good news for the rest of the region may be right around the corner. Though industry professionals there and elsewhere across the South have been hog tied to stagnant business at every turn, real estate property listings - supply and price - are having their positive effects.
In Savannah, as elsewhere, the recession has sent any number of banks to the brink along with real estate brokerages. In 2010 a hand full of real estate companies handled the majority of transactions, a couple seeing record sales due to the lack of competition. So it can be said that economic levelers combined with some growth in other sectors has left Savannah at a "tipping point" perhaps. Put simply, the industry hit bottom and is about to rebound. In Savannah and the area real estate property listings should contract, and price in 2011 will probably climb steadily.
Chatham County's Historic District is a good example of how such initiatives as tax incentives can positively affect the market. The "first time buyer" tax credit offered in 2009 for instance, spurred real sales in that wonderful district of town. And on the commercial side of the equation, supply and price there have had a similar "leveling" effect as that sector appears ready when recovery goes full swing. Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Savannah reports some 12,297 vacant properties in the area, and a median price of $112,852 - for this city, obviously prime investment time for those in the know and with the cash.
Ben Bluemle of Seaport Real Estate Group is the agent for this former bed and breakfast turned back to its homey self.
Of course there are negatives to spotlight too. Prices need to stabilize, and probably will as inventories shrink. Foreclosures still loom ominously for many people, just as banks suffer stagnation under the weight of unprofitable or untenable loans. But selling off of repossessed properties will surely stabilize the banks and reduce residential inventories too.
One example of premium inventory in the Historic District of Savannah is the 4,800 square foot mansion above via Trulia. For those of you who know Savannah, the map below shows this showplace in the heart of the most expensive district in town - priced at $799,000 - well, someone will get a palace cheaply it appears. The tax value on this house is $1.3 million, which is about where its real value will be after any economic turn around.
With industry picking up, and especially tourism, Savannah appears to need only a little push to get started in the opposite direction. That push may actually come sooner than later if legislators decide to fork over funding for deepening the Savannah River to accommodate larger cargo vessels. A boom in cargo handling there would certainly go a long way toward infusing the job market as well as commercial real estate values - and in the end all values.
Meanwhile, across the rest of Georgia a slow recovery seems to be in progress too. The Atlanta Journal called the banking industry in the state "one of Georgia's hardest hit industries," but as the recession has weeded out weaker real estate players, so has the economy separated banks too - leaving fewer but more stable players afoot.