Cobb housing data improves slightly

By Katy Ruth Camp   MARIETTA — Although residential home building…

Georgia (Aug 19, 2009) — By Katy Ruth Camp


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MARIETTA — Although residential home building is still far below the success it enjoyed just a few years ago, the month to month figures are slowly showing some improvement.

Housing permits issued in Cobb County in July are down 15 percent from those issued in July of 2008, but July’s 40 permits show a 38 percent increase from June’s dismal 29 permits issued.

The gap between 2008 and 2009’s figures also seem to be narrowing, as July 2009’s 40 permits issued and July 2008’s 47 permits issued show a much greater improvement than June’s figures of 29 permits in 2009 and 66 in 2008.

The 2009 year to date figures still show that the housing market has a long way to go, though, as 2009’s year to date figures are down 60 percent from 2008’s figures and 93 percent from those of 2004.

“There does seem to be some improvement in the month to month figures between ’08 and ’09, but you have to remember that 2008 was a pretty terrible year for the housing market to begin with. So to fall below those figures is especially terrible,” Don Sabbarese, Director of the Kennesaw State University Econometric Center said. “It’s hard to tell what’s good and bad with the month to month figures because we think housing is getting better, but new homes are very few and far between, and really almost non-existent. It is really going to be a long, long time before we get back to our 2006 figures, and unlike other industries that can recover relatively quickly, the housing market is going to be extremely slow to recover because there are so many economic forces that come into play.”

In a city and county breakdown, unincorporated Cobb county issued 35 single-family building permits in the month of July, while Smyrna issued four, Powder Springs issued one and the cities of Acworth, Kennesaw and Marietta failed to issue any permits. The year to date total for 2009 comes to 217 permits, which falls short of 2008’s 539 and extremely below 2004’s 3,050 permits.

“The booming housing market we experienced before created this huge bubble, and it just burst,” Sabbarese said. “The only positives are that interest rates are low and housing prices are down, but on the demand side, people are experiencing loss of income or lower incomes than past years, and the credit restraints are far tighter than they should be. People may want to buy, but the wavering job market is and the regulations put on owning a house just make it almost impossible.”

Jame’s Guthrie of East Cobb’s Mortgage Banking Advisors agrees that a positive shift in the economy is key to bringing the housing market back up to par.

“There has to be a demand and money in consumers’ pockets,” Guthrie said. “Until we have some employment stability, economic reform and a re-mapping of lending policies to those who are currently shut out of the market, things are going to remain stagnant with new construction.”

Guthrie said that, although there is a rise in home buying from previous months, very few new homes are being purchased. “Most of what we’re seeing in the market right now is the result of first-time home buyers, and most of those are taking advantage of foreclosures. And, while these homes need to get off the market and a decline in homes standing in foreclosures is absolutely necessary, no surplus is being made in the market because new homes are sitting empty and people are losing a lot of money,” Guthrie said.

Most of the permits issued in 2009 are from unincorporated Cobb county, resulting in a total of 149 permits thus far. Acworth has issued 33 permits, while Smyrna has issued 27, Powder Springs has issued seven and Marietta has issued one. The cities of Kennesaw and Austell still have not issued any new housing permits this year.


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