Sunday, January 14, 2007

Real Estate Blues!

Happy 2007!

Okay, holidays are over and time to get back to the Scoop. Several hot issues seem to have been carried over into the new year, including the new federal building, the start of a new casino, the fate of downtown Washington Avenue and DRMC's continuing efforts to survive. (Come on Deltans... speak up and let's get a discussion going!)

Like most, I spent the holidays both visiting and hosting friends and relatives. Many were ex-Deltans who had fled the area long ago to seek greener pastures. Many had not been to Greenville since the late '70s and were anxious to see what had become of our fair city. As we toured the downtown area, I tried to explain our city's numerous plans to revitalize and save the once thriving area. Most accepted my explanation in doubious silence, until one member of the tour asked, "What is there to save among these ruins?" "Why can't Greenville just accept the reality that this area is dead and move forward?"

Well, there is some merit to these questions. If we can not develop the downtown area, why not turn our civic efforts toward trying to attract or keep taxpaying residents? Let's face reality. Greenville is never going to attract "tourists" and their dollars for the simple reason that there is nothing for tourists to do or see here. Forget about tourists! The most pressing problem facing Greenville is its shrinking population and tax base.

People are leaving Greenville in droves for five basic reasons:
  1. No Jobs
  2. Poor quality public education
  3. Poor quality health care
  4. Crime & Drugs
  5. Rapidly declining real estate values!

    The first 4 reasons have been around for 30 years have been discussed in numerous forums at length; however, number 5 is a more recent phenomena that foretells a very bleak future for Greenville. A home is said to be one of the largest investments a person makes in his/her life. Most assume that over time, the home's value will appreciate or at least remain stable over the course of ownership. Not so in Greenville. Residents are currently fleeing neighborhoods once considered "prestigious" in order to reduce the financial loss they will incur from selling their home.

    A neighbor of mine purchased his home just 8 years ago and paid $320,000. He made significant improvement throughout the years which increased his total investment by $85,000, assuming that they would "pay off" if, and when he sold. Over a year ago, his company transferred him and the house went on the market. It appraised for $362,000 which was well below what he had invested, but he was at least confident that he would get back his original investment.

    Fast forward 19 months later. After listing the house with 3 different Realtors and getting a total of 4 offers, my neighbor could no longer afford two mortgages and sold the home for the highest bid of $225,000... a net loss of $180,000 from what he had invested. Exception to the rule? Not in Greenville. I know people who are selling their homes and moving into apartments, just to mitigate the spiraling loss they will take as property values decline.

    One of the most telling predictors of an area's economic future is its real estate values. I have friends across the country who have purchased modest homes in mid-sized communities and have tripled or even quadrupled their investment when sold.
So, as a long time resident and home owner in Greenville, I am having a bit of trouble "Believing in Greenville", when my investment of both time and money into this community seem to be reaping a "negative" benefit.
Do I still love Greenville for what it was and what it could have become... Yes! Is my home of 20 years for sale at well below appraised value? Yes it is.


Anonymous said...

As you may or may not know:
Washington County collects an additional 1 percent tax on all hotel rooms rented, all restaurant meals and Nightclub revenues.

This tax is called a Tourism
tax. The money is used to fund the Washington County Convention and Tourism Center and employees.

But the way I see it is:

I have yet to see a tourist much less a convention that has been attracted by the million or so dollars collected.

This money should be directed towards economic development NOW.

I would like to know how much money is collected and just where the money is going?

The CVB has a glossy web site but that's about it.
They also have a new HQ which would have made a better comunity center with indoor basketball courts and all.

I say, Take this money and direct into attracting business and jobs.
Tourism might come when we have something to offer

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm....with all the consolidation moves going on (Arts Council + Bass Foundation, Industrial Foundation + Chamber of Commerce, etc.), I would think that someone might think to merge the WCCVB and Main Street programs. Why DO we have all of these paid positions? Are they paid through grant monies? Could their efforts be better spent working on a concerted effort? HELL-O??? Or are we presently throwing money at an issue that has not yet been defined?

Anonymous said...

Property Blues

Your friend had his house apprasied for $362,000 and sold it for $180,000 less. Just think about the guy that bought the house for $225,000 and has to pay PROPERTY TAX on the $362,000. Where is the justice in declining values.