According to the Athens MLS, Athens home sales increased in 2015. In Athens and surrounding counties (included in Athens MLS data), there were 4,500 homes sold in 2006. This year, there are 3,310 (as of 12/28/15). This may not sound very encouraging, but in 2010, there were 2,100 sales for the same area. For Athens, Zillow reported that there was a 7.7% increase in prices over this year and predicts 3.5% increase in the next 12 months. For Watkinsville, Zillow reported a 5.6% increase with a predicted 3.2% increase in prices over the next 12 months.
This information, along with excellent interest rates and less strict credit requirements, should make 2016 an excellent time for buyers and sellers. There are still quite a few “underwater” homeowners (Athens 19% and Watkinsville 9.5%), but those numbers should reduce as homes prices continue to increase. I know many homeowners who need to sell but don’t have the money to pay at closing, to sell their homes. This has provided excellent options for renters in the area, since that’s been the best option for people who needed to move for various reasons.
Over the past 5 or 6 years, foreclosure properties caused a lot of the decline in current prices. The average delinquent mortgage rate is 4.8% nationwide, and only 2.5% in our area.
A comparison of 2015 to 2014, shows that we’re on the right track. In Athens, the number of sales in 2014 was 1,289. It increased to 1,457 in 2015. Watkinsville also saw an increase in the number of sales – 598 in 2014 and 713 in 2015. Athens had 49 new home sales and Watkinsville 206. Most of the homes were in neighborhoods that started prior to 2007, but there were a few new neighborhoods in Watkinsville.
We’ve also seen this trend with new commercial development. The shopping options along 316 / Epps Bridge Parkway are sure to attract more and more people. Hopefully this will help to get more “affordable” housing in Oconee County, if public sewer is available to new developments.