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Metro area staying stable

As the largest population center in Mississippi, the housing market in Jackson and the surrounding suburbs has traditionally been the strongest in the state.

So how are things now that the national housing market has collapsed under the weight of too many subprime loans and too many lenders with lax credit standards?

“We’ve stabilized here in the Jackson metro area,” said John Praytor, president of the Jackson Association of Realtors.”

Encouraging that stability, Praytor said, is the decision a lot of banks have made to curtail new home construction loans. “That is bringing down the number of active listings (homes on the market).” As of last Tuesday, Praytor said the metro area had 4,229 houses on the market. “A good number would be somewhere around 3,800,” he said.

Figures Praytor provided show the number of homes sold in October 2008 (405) is down about 22 percent from October 2007 (519). What has gone up is the average number of days homes for sale remain unsold.

“The average number of days on market has jumped 25 percent,” Praytor said. “But we’re still on track to sell 6.000 houses this year. That’s a lot of houses.”

That number matches the metro area’s average the past five years.

California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona have had entire neighborhoods foreclosed. Those four states account for half of the foreclosures in the U.S.

Mississippi’s rate of foreclosures due to subprime loans remains low because Mississippi lending institutions did not enter the risky game of writing suspect mortgages.

“That’s really helped us,” Praytor said.

Statistics tracked by the JAR show that, from 2002-2007, Mississippi homes saw an average price increase of 5 percent-9.9 percent. For the same period, homes in the troubled four states increased an average of 10 percent-15 percent each year.

“It would take three to five years (to recover once the market crashed),” Praytor said. “We didn’t see that kind of price inflation.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .

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