Norton sees indication area housing
is bouncing on bottom
Frank Norton Jr.
Special to GwinnettForum
(Editor's Note: Frank Norton closely follows
real estate in North Georgia, and puts out an annual forecast
for this industry. However, because of the housing crisis, he
recently issued a mid-year report on housing, which we thought
would be useful to readers of GwinnettForum. -eeb)
GAINESVILLE, Ga., Aug. 12, 2008 -- For the last 18 months, the
regional real estate market has moved with such downward velocity
that it makes even the strongest person's head spin. While there
are great opportunities amidst the hubris and rubble, the soundings
are at best confusing and sobering as Reality is taking hold of
Single Family Resales
Inventory (FMLS/MLS) peaked for resale homes in November 2007 and
statistically has been in a decline ever since. At mid-year of 2008,
some 19,995 resale homes are for sale throughout the Atlanta and
North Georgia service area or a 10.8 month supply.
Only the most motivated of sellers have their homes for sale (those
that have needs of relocation, family size changes, financial stress
or health issues). Asking prices are for the most part the most
realistic in decades.
Now to the core of real value. Buyers of homes in the last six
months have taken advantage of price concessions and capitalized
on motivated sellers to stretch their home-buying dollar. More house,
more value than perhaps in the last five years. Resale sellers must
price their product against the competing developer inventory or
bank foreclosure down the street. Norton Native Intelligence(tm)
sees the buying window only open for strong capitalistic purchases
during the next two or three quarters, then drying up with home
shortages in some price points surfacing.
New Single Family Construction
Inventory peaked in October of 2007 and builders have been strategically
dumping inventory to reduce the load on their sagging life boat.
Concessions on new product (depending on original offering price
points) range from $17,000 to as high as $70,000. The inventory
of major institutional builders, for example (Centex KB Homes, Pulte,
and D.R. Horton) is surprisingly low at three to four months of
inventory. It's the midsize builder that overshot the mark on supply
and price points.
New homes under $250,000 have moved briskly, while lot inventories
for the same workforce housing are moving to critically short levels.
With very few signs of development life out there, the engine for
this market segment has been shut off and shortages, starting this
month, may last 24 to 30 months.
While North Atlanta foreclosures in 2007 were dominated by builder/developer
take-backs, the individual foreclosures will dominate 2008. We are
a lucky market. The subprime phenomena is largely confined to South
Atlanta and isolated pockets in DeKalb and Fulton.
Stressed borrowers exist in every market. The workforce buyer stretched
their borrowing capacity well beyond their reasonable means. Housing
went from 25 percent of adjusted gross income to averaging 40 percent.
Many borrowers counted on overtime and bonuses to round out their
family expenses. Low interest rates and great housing programs gave
many buyers too much incentive to stretch their home-buying ability.
The market just has to be allowed to digest the foreclosures along
with the other products. Norton Native Intelligence(tm) believes,
barring a catastrophic rise in unemployment, the foreclosure wave
will last no more than 16 to 18 months forward. That means great
buys for 18 to 24 months on individual use homes, second homes and
rental potential investments.
Market Wrap Up
We see the bottom and in fact believe we've been bouncing up and
down on bottom for several months now. Housing led us into this
credit crisis and this downturn. It is likely to lead us out and
that process is underway, right now.
Our market is on a solid firm foundation, our recovery will be
faster because of our demographics and the strength of our fundamentals.
Yes, pain is everywhere, but so is OPPORTUNITY. We must lift ourselves
up, clear our way through the smoke and fog and seek a clear path
to capitalize on those opportunities.
Painful with no Gwinnett section of AJC
in this week's papers
Editor and Publisher
AUG. 12, 2008 -- Well, how did it feel to awaken for the last two
days and be without a Gwinnett section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution?
For me, it was painful.
Granted, during the last few years, the Gwinnett section has seldom
been front-and-center in the minds of the management at the AJC,
or so it seems. We can understand: they had much bigger problems
Yet for 20 years, Gwinnett has been in a special position, the
only community in all of Metro Atlanta with its own daily section
of the newspaper. It was a great boost in its early days, effectively
competing against other media because of the resources the AJC
threw at the county. People of Gwinnett looked forward to it, since
it was full of both news and advertising.
In recent years, with the local New York Times-owned Gwinnett
Daily News no longer around for the AJC to fight, resources
continued to be pulled from the Gwinnett edition. After all, it
had "won the war." Yes, the Home Weekly went to
three days a week, and eventually was purchased by Gray Communications,
and became Gwinnett Daily Post. But readers compared the
new boy on the block with their memory of the Gwinnett Daily
News, and did not get excited about the new daily.
Too, the Daily Post had its own problems of a management
decision, which saddled it with a heavy load. The trade-off was
supposed to work like this: an agreement with a cable TV company
boosted its circulation all the way to 65,000 or so, allowing the
Daily Post to claim big coverage in Gwinnett to advertisers.
The only problem was that half the circulation was effectively "free,"
to cable subscribers. It didn't produce the revenue, nor the readership,
that the Daily Post had hoped. And though the Gwinnett
Daily Post improved its product, and eventually turned a slight
profit, it wasn't the big numbers it needed to fund a battle with
the Gwinnett section of the AJC.
But something was happening at the AJC in Gwinnett, too.
Not so worried about the Daily Post, the AJC began
to pull even more resources from its Gwinnett office, switching
reporters to other beats in Atlanta. On its advertising staff, more
emphasis was shifted to selling the overall newspaper, and less
focus was given to Gwinnett advertisers.
The result: the Gwinnett section became far less vital, with fewer
pages, fewer stories reported by fewer reporters
importantly, with far less advertising. The AJC let it "limp
along," while the real impact of the Internet was beginning
to dramatically affect the AJC's overall product.
It was no surprise when the AJC announced it would eliminate
the daily Gwinnett section. We wonder why they also halted weekly
coverage in suburban areas. We must assume their other weekly products
were also seriously suffering.
So this week we are beginning to see the "new" AJC,
smaller, less coverage, less advertising, and no longer focused
on outlying communities.
Meanwhile, this AJC move should help local community newspapers
become stronger, as they can ramp up their coverage, perhaps raise
advertising rates to make their coverage affordable, and do a good
We feel like we've had a friend yanked from us without the Gwinnett
section of the AJC. We'll be looking at the Gwinnett community
through new eyes of other newspapers. They have a tremendous audience
to cover, which when done well, will reward them. We wish these
newspapers well in their efforts to cover the second largest county
Today's featured sponsor is Gwinnett Community Bank of Duluth,
Member, FDIC. Tom Martin is the CEO of this bank, which has its
main office in Duluth on Buford Highway, near the intersection of
Rogers Bridge and Old Peachtree Road. The Duluth office number is
770-476-2775. There is also a Suwanee location at 3463 Lawrenceville-Suwanee
Road in Suwanee. The phone number for the Suwanee branch is 770-497-5252.
Gwinnett Community Bank also just opened a third branch at 2715
Hamilton Mill Road in Buford (770 271 2715.) The web site is http://www.gwinnettcommunitybank.com.
Forum to hear from local venture capitalists
The August 19 Gwinnett Technology Forum will hear from several
venture capitalists discuss the current investment environment.
It will be moderated by Stephen Fleming, chief capitalization officer
at Georgia Tech .
The panel will include Laurence Olivier, Atlanta-based partner
of Veritas Venture Partners; Braxton Jarrett, CEO of Gwinnett-based
Site is the Busbee Center on the campus of Gwinnett Technical College.
The assembly begins at 7:30 a.m. There is no fee, but registration
is requested by going to www.gwinnettchamber.org/gtfregistration.
New sign proclaiming
Peachtree Corners area now up
The United Peachtree Corners Civic Association last week dedicated
a new gateway to the unincorporated community. The 60-foot wide
stacked-stone sign, is on a triangle of land where Peachtree Parkway
veers from northbound Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The entrance
sign is lit with solar power, and cost $40,000. Half the funds came
from a Georgia House of Representative's local assistance grant,
with the rest funded by local citizens and associations.
officer wins medal of valor for action
The first Medal of Valor in the history of the Gwinnett County
Department of Corrections was awarded to Senior Correctional Officer
Amiziah Smith III of Lawrenceville recently for his life-saving
actions following an automobile accident in February.
An auto accident on Indian Trail Road in February, 2008 resulted
in a vehicle fire. Officer Smith rushed to free two occupants within
the burning car. Smith force opened the driver's door, allowing
the driver to escape. The passenger was injured and was unable to
move on her own. Officer Smith freed the passenger, carrying her
to safety. He then used his vehicle's fire extinguisher and along
with another officer, extinguished the fire, preventing further
This was the first time in the Department's 50 year history that
a Valor Medal has been given. Criteria for receiving the Medal of
Valor award requires the employee perform "A conspicuous act
of gallantry or heroism while risking life or serious injury above
and beyond the call of duty and such act shall be performed in extremely
hazardous or dangerous conditions."
Officer Smith is a four-year veteran with the county Department
for Lawrenceville redevelopment
Lawrenceville redeveloper Emory Morsberger received the Georgia
Cities Foundation's Renaissance Award at the Georgia Municipal Association's
Annual Convention in Savannah recently.
The award came for "the significant impact that Morsberger
has made to the revitalization of downtown Lawrenceville, including
such projects as the Cornerstone on the Square mixed-use residential
project, the Aurora Theatre, the Button Gwinnett Building, the Lil'
River Grill building, and the Morsberger Group Offices building,
The Georgia Cities Foundation is a non-profit subsidiary of the
Georgia Municipal Association. The Foundation's primary mission
is to assist cities in their efforts to revitalize and enhance downtown
areas by serving as a partner and facilitator in funding capital
projects through a revolving loan fund.
Gwinnett Chamber of
Commerce wins two national awards
Gwinnett's Chamber of Commerce won two national awards at the American
Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) meeting recently. The awards
recognized the Partnership Gwinnett Community and Economic Development
Strategy and the Focus Newsletter as one of the nation's top economic
development initiatives and member newsletters, respectively.
Partnership Gwinnett is a county-wide economic and community development
initiative that was launched in 2007 by the Gwinnett Chamber of
Commerce and public and private partners. In its first year alone,
40 companies relocated or expanded major new facilities in Gwinnett
resulting in 2,900 new high wage jobs for the county and two incentive-driven
projects that created $150 million in capital investment.
The Chamber's Focus Newsletter has the largest local circulation
of any chamber newsletter in the state with nearly 10,000 readers.
For more information about the ACE awards visit www.acce.org.
Two join key nursing
positions at Emory Eastside
Two new members have joined the staff of Emory Eastside Medical
Scoggins and Lockridge
Teresa Scoggins, RN, MSN, has been named critical care nursing
director. She has a certificate in forensic nursing and has advanced
training in neuroscience and trauma nursing.
Scoggins received her degree in nursing from Georgia State University
and her Master's Degree in Nursing Education from State University
of West Georgia in Carrollton.
Ken A. Lockridge, RN, has joined Emory Eastside as the Director
of perioperative services.
Lockridge received his associate's degree in nursing from Pensacola,
Fla. Junior College and his BS in Business Administration from Columbus,
Ga. State University. He and his wife live in Loganville with their
Web site: Bruce Hippel Stained Glass
"If your church is considering sprucing up your facilities,
and you are thinking of stained glass windows, consider this web
This artist recently re-installed stained glass he had done years
earlier for Christ Episcopal Church in Norcross. The glass was stored
for several years as the church moved around the corner to Holcomb
Bridge Road. Now the art work graces the nave of the church, welcoming
people. Bruce has a beautiful site, showing off his other original
designs in stained glass.
- An invitation: What
Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your
best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have
read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus
what book you plan to read next. --eeb
studies ecosystem of Savannah River nuclear plant site
In 1951 Eugene Odum, a professor at the University of Georgia,
contracted with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to conduct ecological
research on the Savannah River Site, a 300-square-mile nuclear
production facility located in Aiken S.C., just over the Georgia
border (approximately 20 miles from Augusta). Odum and his students
studied the ecosystems of the Savannah River Site and in the process
set the stage for the establishment of a permanent on-site laboratory
in 1961-the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.
River Ecology Lab
Because ecological research at the laboratory has been funded continuously
since the 1950s, the Savannah River Site is one of the best-understood
land areas in the world. Hundreds of graduate theses, thousands
of scientific papers, and numerous books have been published as
a result of this work. Students have come from all 50 states and
abroad to study at the laboratory. About 150 people are employed
at the lab, which has a total annual budget of more than $8 million.
Work at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory has focused on the
ecological effects of nuclear production activities as well as the
basic ecology of the site. Early studies were conducted on the effects
of radiation on ecosystems and on movement of radioisotopes in these
systems. A dominant research theme of the 1970s and 1980s was "thermal
ecology," the study of the ecological effects of hot water
effluents from nuclear reactors.
Later studies have focused on biogeochemical ecology and restoration
of contaminated sites. The studies that have been concerned with
basic ecology have tended to focus on the field biology of individual
plant and animal species and on old-field succession (the establishment
of plants on abandoned cropland). Organisms from the microfauna
of grassland and forest soils to bobcats and feral hogs have undergone
close scrutiny. The successional studies are unusual because they
have been carried out in the same area for half a century. These
long-term studies have revealed that there is considerable temporal
variation in ecosystems.
The only victory that
really counts is over yourself
"I wanted no part of politics. And I wasn't in Berlin to compete
against any one athlete. The purpose of the Olympics, anyway, was
to do your best. As I'd learned long ago from Charles Riley, the
only victory that counts is the one over yourself."
-- Former Olympian Jesse Owens, following 1936 Games, where
he won four gold medals, via Roy McCreary, Dacula.
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