Shattering dreams of an early recovery for the local housing market, October was the second worst month for home sales in Lowndes County since the recession began.
Realtors sold just 19 houses in the county and city last month, a decrease of almost 60 percent from October 2009, when 47 houses were sold.
October”s numbers are the lowest since January 2009, said Century 21 Realtor Andy Kalinowski.
“Right now, the housing numbers are just extremely disappointing,” Kalinowski said. “It”s saying your community isn”t strong, and we know that”s wrong.”
On a national level, September single-family house sales were also significantly less than expected.
About 307,000 homes were sold in September, which is 21.5 percent below the September 2009 estimate of 391,000, according to the Commerce Department.
The numbers are surprising, as interest rates have dropped about a point and a half over the past year, Kalinowski said.
Rates are currently at about 4 percent, said JTS & Co. Mortgage Loan Originator Jimmy McPherson.
“Rates are at all-time lows right now,” he said. “It”s a great time to refinance your house. The problem is, investors are scared to get out there and loan like they used to.”
Investors are demanding higher credit scores after getting burned by unqualified buyers who reneged on their loans, sparking the foreclosure crisis, McPherson said.
“It got into the point where investors went into defense mode,” he added.
Now, investors are slowly loosening up restrictions and starting up old programs to help people buy houses, McPherson said.
Many economists forecast a housing market recovery in 2011, although people will likely see changes over the next few months, McPherson said.
November sales could increase, depending on the outcome of the elections, Kalinowski said.
“There”s a lot of uncertainty right now,” he added.
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