published Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Improving local housing market

It has been painful over the past few years to see millions of Americans lose their homes to foreclosure. It's more painful still to realize that many of those foreclosures resulted from a combination of job losses and irresponsible federal government policies that promoted home ownership and mortgages even for people who really could not afford to buy homes.

But while the housing market nationwide remains weak, with a glut of foreclosed homes sitting empty, it is encouraging that things are looking brighter in the Chattanooga area.

In metropolitan Chattanooga, sales of existing single-family homes rose by 15 percent in the third quarter of this year.

And that increase did not come exclusively or even primarily from people who were buying foreclosed homes at very low prices. Not only the number of homes sold locally but the price of those homes seems to be going up.

The median price paid for an existing home in the Chattanooga area in the third quarter was $128,700. That was up more than $11,000 from the price paid in the same period a year earlier.

In fact, the median price of existing homes sold in Chattanooga in the third quarter increased by more than prices rose in any other Mid-South market, according to the National Association of Realtors.

"We're still going to have more foreclosures, but we're working through those and I'm hopeful our market is going to steadily get better," said Jennifer Grayson, president of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors.

Some stabilizing factors in our local economy -- such as the big new Volkswagen plant at Enterprise South industrial park -- seem to be strengthening the local housing market.

We hope that progress will continue.

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