Home sales in parts of Southwest Virginia are starting to pick up as the country continues to heal from the recession.
In the Greater Roanoke Valley the average home in 2007, which is when economists say the recession started, was $213,000.
Last year, the average home price was listed $180,000, according to the Roanoke Realtor’s Association. So far this year, we’ve seen a $10,000 increase.
We are starting to see steady signs of life again in new construction.
Old Mill Plantation is one subdivision in Roanoke County that is starting to see some positive progress.
"We know that the economy went south and the recession caused the slowdown in sales in every market and this was no different," said Roger Simpson. "What we were trying to do is just maintain, try to maintain the sales and keep the market values up and it's worked out well for us."
Simpson saw a second chance in Old Mill Plantation and is now the developer and contractor on the community that sits peacefully along the Blue Ridge Parkway. He signed the line on Old Mill back in 2011 after the bank repossessed it.
"It's hard to find this kind of property, in this price range and it was too good to pass up,” he said.
The multi-million dollar community has a total of 74 lots with 30 homes already built. You don't have to look far to see the aftermath of the recession.
Empty lots and for sale signs are much of what Old Mill is made up of, but realtor Barbara Michelsen said that's all about to change.
"The ones that could build houses and move in they did it,” she said. “But there’s those that are out there waiting to see if the economy improved and they're now getting back into the market."
It wasn't until recently that Michelson and Simpson got a feeling it was time to invest in some model homes.
"It's been a big question and this year we decided this year was clearly the time to do it," said Simpson.
For the first time in a long time, new construction has begun in Old Mill.
"It's very hard for anyone to visualize a house on a lot but when you see a model home you can see what the builder is doing and all the amenities they have but it's not as threatening and scary as buying a lot then having to build on it," said Michelson.
While it's exciting to see homes going up, Hollins University professor of finance and economics Casimir Dadak said the end to the economic downturn is nowhere in sight.
"It will take a good number of years to get back to where we were in 2006 and 2007,” he said. “There's no question about it. I think nobody is expecting a rapid improvement in the economic growth and the rapid decline in unemployment rate."
He said even when things do turn around they won't go back to where they were. Michelson and Simpson are okay with that and are patiently waiting for Old Mill to start a brand new chapter of its own.
"The question was how long would it be for the market return because it’s not what we do it’s waiting for the market,” said Simpson. “It’s going to sell itself."
Michelson and Simpson said it's still a buyer’s market. Interest rates are still low, but things could change as they feel the market is beginning to move in a new direction.