SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — If you’re wondering whether it’s a good time to buy or sell a house you are not alone.

Inflation, fuel prices and supply chain disruptions and mortgage rates have left the real estate market with a lot to contend with and buyers and sellers with a lot of questions.

For example, just last year Georgians faced a shortage of lumber due to COVID-19, which resulted in homebuilders briefly sending prices to $1,711 per thousand board-feet, an amount that implied a typical 2,000-square-foot house would require more than $27,000 in framing lumber alone.

Which was relative to a lumber bill of about $7,000 before the pandemic. This year, lumber prices have fluctuated, with the highest in February at $1,336.7 and down to $663.30 in June. 

New home under construction in the Savannah area. Photo by Hollie Lewis

Georgians have also faced increased mortgage rates. Historically, Savannah’s mortgage rate has fallen along the lines of the national average which is currently in the 5% range for a 30-year fixed rate. However, according to Jarad Brown, Loan Officer at Certainty Home Loans in Savannah, the city has seen tougher times.

“Even though rates are up, they’re still at a median historically. We saw in the 80’s rates were at 13%. In the 70’s they were around 9%. In the early 90’s they were around 8.5%. So, historically speaking, rates are on the lower end of the historical average. They’re up from where they were a year or two ago,” said Brown.

When it comes to purchasing a home, Brown said it’s beyond just rates, and it’s more about getting the loan that the buyer can afford to pay monthly.

“It’s not always how much they qualify for on paper, but more importantly, we want to set them up for success in the future. It’s about figuring out what they feel comfortable with from a monthly standpoint. Most people can qualify for more on paper, than what they can actually afford on a month-to-month basis. It’s beyond just rates.”

He continued, “Inventory is low, home prices are higher, and what you get for your monthly payments is less because interest rates are higher. That’s kind of the situation that most homebuyers are in right now.”

However, Brown said it’s still better to buy than to rent. According to Rent Data, the fair market for rent, this year, the average cost to rent a 3 bedroom in Chatham County is $1,466 which is slightly more than last year’s average which was $1,442.

Concerning homebuying versus renting Robin Allison, a Licensed Real Estate Agent Realtor at Bocook Realty brokered by eXp Realty said, “As a buyer, you can buy a home and your mortgage payment is significantly lower than rent and you are generally in a much nicer home than what you could rent”

Allison also weighed in on home buying and selling in today’s market.

Robin Allison, a Licensed Real Estate Agent Realtor at Bocook Realty brokered by eXp Realty. Photo provided by Allison.

“There are some nuggets of good news for buyers out there. Because of the shift, resale homes are sitting on the market a little longer than before. Six months ago, four months ago, a house was listed and it was going to have 17 offers in the first day. People were paying over asking prices, sellers weren’t doing anything. Things have shifted a little bit. Homes are starting to sit on the market longer.  Sellers are starting to negotiate, offering closing costs for buyers, maybe doing more repairs than they initially were before because they’re having to, to get their house sold.”

Allison recommends considering new construction offers in the Savannah and regional area that may include incentives going on right now.

“Builders are offering incentives to buyers. They’re offering to cover most of, if not all of their closing costs, some of the bigger builders even have their own mortgage companies and those mortgage companies have bought up mortgages at lower interest rates and are able to package those and sell them now.  So, there are some builders out there that are offering as low as 3.99% interest rates on a 30-year loan.”

Allison also has some advice for those interested in selling their homes.

“Do go in with some expectations that are different from the past 6 months. It’s definitely not going to be a million offers unless you price it right, don’t go in greedy. A lot of sellers are being greedy. 

She continued, “Go in with a realistic expectation that you might have to pay some closing costs to the buyer, you might have to make some repairs to your house. Set your house up and stage it so it’s beautiful and ready to present to sell. If it’s not in tip-top shape, people might not be as excited about it.”