Despite the barrage of sour housing news, Chuck Smallwood isn't pessimistic about selling his house -- his first time on that side of the negotiating table.
"We seem to be moving in a positive direction. We haven't had our house listed that long. We're beginning to see more and more showings," said the Baptist minister, who has had his four-bedroom home off Furys Ferry Road on the market barely three months.
The Rev. Smallwood also said he's not afraid of losing money on the deal.
The Augusta-Aiken area ranked 26th among 291 metro areas in the nation for house price appreciation in 2007, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. It is the agency that analyzes the combined mortgage records of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which forms the nation's largest database of conventional mortgage transactions.
Its house-pricing index showed that Augusta home prices increased nearly 6 percent in 2007, not only placing it in the top national tier, but the best among Georgia metro areas.
"We've heard prices declining, but what we're really seeing is they are still appreciating," Augusta State University economist Mark Thompson said. "When you do look at what's going on nationally from a price standpoint, we're stable. ... This is good news for the market."
Ryan Brashear, past president of the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors, said the data is an indication of how stable Augusta's market has remained.
"I have not experienced folks falling on their sword worried about the price on their homes. The market has stayed stable. As a result, people are still doing fine when they're selling their houses. There's been enough appreciation in recent years," Mr. Brashear said.
According to the federal housing data, Augusta's houses have risen in value 39.2 percent over the past five years.
Of all cities on the federal agency's list, 192 experienced some sales price appreciation and 99 had declines in 2007.
The top metro area in the nation was Wenatchee, Wash., 50 miles east of Seattle. Home prices in Merced, Calif., declined the most in 2007, nearly 19 percent.
Even in areas where prices are falling, it doesn't necessarily mean people lost money on the house, Mr. Thompson explained. They might be settling for less than what they think it is worth.
For the Rev. Smallwood: "I don't think I need to lower the price or anything like that. I think we'll be just fine."