“We’re starting to see some slow recovery,” Harmon said. “Home sales prices are higher than a year ago and the home inventory is low. We’re now seeing more ‘fair market’ home sales.”
It’s still a buyer’s market, with low interest rates, from 2.875 to 3.75 percent, and, according to Harmon, mortgage money available, although the requirements are tougher than in the past.
Harmon is also proud of the West Metro group for the commercial accreditation award that it will receive this weekend at the 2012 National Association of Realtors conference in Orlando, Fla.
“We’re offering additional commercial classes and more benefits to assist our members to better serve the community,” Harmon said.
West Metro Board of Realtors represents Realtors in Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties, with about 230 members and 25 affiliate members and partners.In addition to Harmon, local officers traveling to the national convention this week include Donna Harrison, president-elect; Delores Goldin, past president; and Lisha Coffman, association executive.
Harmon said one of the main goals of the Realtor board is to promote home ownership and stand up for property owners’ rights.
“We’re very politically active, but bipartisan,” he said. “We support political candidates up to the state and national level who show support for property owners’ rights.”
The West Metro board meets monthly, usually at a lunch meeting or after-hours networking. Harmon said the group is also active in local charities.
“We raised more than $600 for the Cops, Kids and Christmas program,” he said. “We also participate with Carrollton Housing Authority in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and have a booth at the annual downtown Mayfest.”
Harmon said NSP is one of the best opportunities for home ownership to people who qualify. NSP provides emergency assistance to state and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties that might otherwise become sources of abandonment and blight within their communities.
Carrollton-Carroll County has received $4.6 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to acquire foreclosed residential real estate. After purchase and improvement, the properties are sold to buyers who are eligible to participate in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
In order to participate in the NSP program, potential buyers must be U.S. citizens, qualified aliens or non-immigrant; be able to qualify for a mortgage; attend an eight-hour HUD class; the home must be their primary residence; and they must meet income qualifications, based on family size. The NSP offers down payment assistance.
Harmon said the inventory of inexpensive foreclosed properties, which have been driving the market prices down, is getting smaller now since investors are buying the homes for cash. The competition for sales is driving the prices up.
Harmon said there’s a lot of short sales now, where properties are sold for a price that’s lower than the amount owed, often as a remedy for foreclosure.
“It involves a lot of paperwork and it’s a very timely process, but we’ve been successful with closing rates,” he said.
Duffey Realty started its property management business only four years ago for people who want to rent their homes, but want help on managing the property and collecting rents. The company now has 550 homes in the management program, he said.
Harmon said many people are now downsizing, moving from larger to smaller houses, after children grow up and leave home.
“It’s not just for cheaper payments, but for less cleaning and lower utility costs,” he said. “We’re also seeing the opposite, where multi-generational families are buying larger houses, families with kids and children with their parents. People often ask for in-law suites in the basement.”
Harmon feels consumer confidence is growing in the West Georgia area.
“We’re seeing a lot more fair market home sales and a lot of movement in the commercial section,” he said. “We have a lot of stability in our market here, with a university system, an active chamber of commerce and people who live and work in Carroll County.”
Harmon said he is also able to help many clients take idle cash and invest it in income producing property.
The West Metro Board of Realtors office is at 154 Bankhead Highway, Carrollton; its phone number is 770-832-0804. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.westmetroboard.com.
The National Association of Realtors, of which the West Metro Board of Realtors is a member, is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1 million members involved in the residential and commercial real estate industries. Its website is www.realtor.org.