JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The housing market has been mired in the foreclosure crisis, but it looks like the industry has finally found solid ground.
"We see drastic improvements," said Dane Leslie, president of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, adding that home sales are up and inventory is down.
"We saw 20 percent drop in the number of homes that came on the market versus August of last year," he said.
Leslie said the number of foreclosures is steady, and it may be with us for awhile.
"We still have a generous supply of those homes out there. Last August almost 52 percent of sales were lender mediated sale, that number is down to 43 percent, so we're going in the right direction," he said.
At the other end of the housing market are rentals and construction of new homes. Leslie said supply is low and rental rates are up.
John Wells, a custom home builder for Low Country Classic, is keeping his construction business active. "We've been lucky enough we have a good reputation and we have enough work to keep us busy," said Wells.
But he said even so, the economic downturn has nailed his business and he had to downsize.
One of the keys to his building success is to avoid overextending his company, said Wells. "We never tried to overdo it during the boom and we try to be conservative since then."
Wells is optimistic that the economy has turned the corner on that dark end of the street.
"We're already lining up work for next year. This has been one of the best years we've had in three to four years and next year looks like it will continue," he said.
Leslie is also optimistic about the future. "I think the picture is strong; we're not going to get back to the wild days we had for several years in the early 2000s, but I think we're going to get back to a more realistic housing market that we can sustain. I think we're there, " he said.
First Coast News