Gwinnett home sales on roller coaster ride

LAWRENCEVILLE - Home sales in Gwinnett County continue on a roller coaster ride with numbers surging one week, then dropping the next.

The number of homes reported sold in Gwinnett this week, 32, is the lowest weekly figure this year. That low point comes after the county saw 485 homes reported sold last week.

Eight of those 32 homes were priced at $95,000 and less. A townhome on Hidden Lakes Drive in Duluth sold for $79,000.

Experts cautiously predict the real estate market will stabilize, but won't venture to say when, because they expect the up and down pattern to continue for awhile as market prices correct themselves.

"I don't know if this is a short-term or a long-term statistic," Anthony Mitchell, director of the home ownership center at The Impact Group, a Duluth-based foreclosure counseling service, said of last week's surge upward in reported sales.

Great time to buy, experts say

Cody and Stephanie English were afraid their Dacula home would take three months to sell, but five weeks after listing it, they had a buyer.

"We were very scared when we listed it," Stephanie English said. "We priced it at $15,000 to $20,000 less than we would have in an average market. But we did not have to reduce our price."

It's a buyer's market in Gwinnett with a glut of new homes, foreclosures and resales, and increasing numbers of people are capitalizing on those opportunities, said Eugene James, Director of Metrostudy Atlanta, a housing market research firm.

"It's an absolutely, incredibly, wonderful time to buy," James said. "Great deals, good inventory, plenty to choose from, willing builders providing incentives, interest rates at historic lows. Some people are making wise decisions and buying."

Gwinnett County saw a record 1,108 homes foreclosed upon in January, with 921 foreclosures recorded in March.

Those low-priced foreclosures, which Mitchell said represent only 5 percent of homes for sale, are driving the market, said Lin Stadler-Perry, real estate agent with Century 21 All Atlanta.

"Resales just aren't selling, although foreclosures are moving, and we have an overabundance of them," Stadler-Perry said. "The price of foreclosures are usually lower. Some are getting multiple offers. Before, it would take us months to get an offer."

Some homes sit unsold while the market corrects itself

Home owner Amy Rodriguez said competition keeps her from selling her $215,000, roughly 3,000-square-foot home on a basement at 1300 Ox Bridge Way in Lawrenceville's Riverside Gable Subdivision. After working with two real estate agents over a 21â "2-year period, she and her husband are marketing the home "for sale by owner," offering buyers' agents a 3 percent commission.

"There are so many for sale, foreclosures, for rent, new communities," Rodriguez said.

Gwinnett's home sale numbers reflect a national housing price correction following a rapid, dramatic rise in prices that eventually surpassed people's ability to pay, James said. A slow economy, fear of a recession, a bounty of new inventory and a high foreclosure rate contributed to the lethargic home sale market, he added.

But tough home selling times might be almost over, said Mitchell.

"We are seeing the beginning of the end of the economic slowdown," Mitchell said. "But there are still a lot of people out there who are hurting."