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PROGRESS: Housing market on a turn-around

File Photo, New home construction

File Photo, New home construction

One of Gwinnett’s biggest industries took quite a hit in 2008, when the housing market crashed in the Great Recession.

Not only was development stagnant, but the county experienced the most foreclosures in the state, and prices dropped, leaving many local residents underwater on the their mortgage.

But the numbers have been climbing — well, the number of permits have been rising while the number of foreclosures have dropped.

In 2013, 2,336 single-family permits were issued. While the number is still well below the 2004 high of 8,291. But it is four times more than the 446 issued in 2009 and well on its way to the 2007 number of 3,525.

Jason Delaney, an assistant professor of economics at Georgia Gwinnett College, said he saw signs of the improving housing market when he bought a house last summer.

“There’s much more competition in the market,” he said, adding that more bidding wars are happening.

“As the labor market starts to loosen up and you see people feeling more secure about their future, you will see the housing market return,” Delaney said.

With many people’s personal wealth tied to their home, much of the doldrums set in due to the drop in housing values, he said. “It became very difficult for people to sell their house and move somewhere else,” he said.

According to Gwinnett County’s assessor’s office, the average home price in Gwinnett dropped dramatically. The number experienced dramatic growth until reaching a high in 2008 of $213,000.

By 2012 that number dropped to $157,000, a decreased of about 25 percent. The number was lower than 2003’s average of $174,000.

But things are beginning to look up.

Not only are Gwinnett officials expecting a 2 percent increase to the tax digest in 2014, the first upward trend in five years, Realtors are seeing signs of increases.

According to reports from Georgia MLS, the average sold price in Gwinnett County increased almost $20,000 in January 2014 from the same month last year.

“The market is turning around. Foreclosures and Short Sales are on the decline and the low inventory is pushing the price of resales up,” said Tom’Rourke, CEO of the Northeast Atlanta Metro Association of Realtors. “We just returned from the Georgia Realtor Convention and the market seems to be moving in the right direction all across the state.”