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VA buffers area housing market

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POSTED: July 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    While the number of foreclosures in Liberty County is traditionally high, the area has a layer of insulation that most of the rest of the state doesn’t.
    So, while many area’s economies are being buffeted by the damage wrought by the housing market crisis, Hinesville’s connection to the Department of Veterans Affairs is dampening damage here.
    “We have a lot of insured loans here, primarily by VA,” said Brian Maike, sales manager at Coldwell Banker, Holtzman Realtors.
    At Maike’s estimate, 90 percent of the loans made in Hinesville are insured by VA, and, since the federal government controls VA financing, “there are underwriting guidelines that have to be met for a loan to be given,” Maike said. “That’s the big difference between our market and other markets.”
    Additionally, in a national economy that propagates and is weakened by continual layoffs, Hinesville’s military population is safe from job loss.
    “You’re not going to get laid off when you’re in the Army,” Maike said.
    According to www.foreclosures.com, a web site that lists foreclosures and generates statistics based on those listings, more than two million foreclosures have been filed in Georgia just this year, which makes the state rank eighth in the country for states with the most annual foreclosures. Of the counties listed on the site — Liberty County is not — Fulton County had the highest number of foreclosures at 5,969, compared to Bryan County’s 52 foreclosures.
    The number of foreclosures in the state and the country continue to rise, and Maike believes that while Hinesville is insulated there will be effects.
    “There could be tremendous amounts of foreclosures here,” he said. But because of local banks’ willingness to work with VA-backed loans, Maike said that those foreclosures could easily be recovered. “I’m not going to say that foreclosures aren’t going to happen here,” he said. “But I don’t think it will impact our market as much as it has impacted others. We’re kind of like our own little island here. We’re fortunate.”
 

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