Hattiesburg realtors hold press conference

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Realtors, bankers and builders held a press conference Monday to discuss the state of the local economy and how it impacts their profession.

More than four months into the new year, and national reports show the economy is recovering slowly but surely.

In fact, some are predicting it to increase about 3.5 percent this year.

Mortgage Division President at The First, in Hattiesburg, Hayden Mitchell, said that's a good sign for the nation, when it comes to home buying and building.

"Currently, rates are about 4.75 percent for 30 year funds, and 3.75 percent for 15 year fixed rates. that's very affordable."

The issue remaining is consumer confidence and the fear of not being approved for a loan. Mitchell said new federal regulations have changed underwriting requirements, making it a little tougher on consumers,

"There is much more documentation and loan quality issues, than there were five years ago," but it's not impossible, at least here in the pine belt.

If you ask local realtor, Don Nace, the economic downturn is a lot worse in other parts of the country. So far this year, median property values in the greater pine belt area are down about 8 percent, which he says, is good.

"The greater Hattiesburg market never experienced a bubble build up like that, so we didn't have too far to fall, and our situation is just so much better."

For home builder, Craig Flanagan, cautious consumers have changed the way his industry operates. The slow moving pace of the economy is the new norm for construction companies.

"March and April, we've seen a really good increase in interest, interested people with new home sales and a lot of that was due to them selling their existing homes that had been on the market."

Folk's in the Mississippi housing industry are optimistic the market will continue to rebound, as long as consumer confidence kicks in, and people get more into the home buying mode.

They met at The First bank located along Old Hwy 11 Hwy 98 in Hattiesburg.

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