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Georgia on My Mind.

Home Mortgage Rates in Georgia

While real estate prices suffered nationwide due to the recession, in Georgia the impact was felt somewhat more severely because of the ongoing housing boom in the Atlanta area, driven by the influx of new residents and the expectation of millions more over the next two decades. Expected sales of newly-built homes failed to materialize, however, and some construction projects were suspended. Housing prices are stabilizing, though, with minor gains being recorded in some areas. Median housing prices in the Atlanta area are depressed from the highs they recorded in the middle of the decade, with the median home sale price at just under $125,000 at the end of 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors. Actual sales vary widely from this figure, though, since many of the sales recorded were for distressed properties (short sales, sales to avoid foreclosure, etc.). This is an ideal situation, though, for investors who are seeking to spruce up and rent distressed housing. In the wider metropolitan area, average prices run from a low of $86,200 in Gilmer County to a high of $194,250 in Forsyth County. These prices compare very favorably with the Realtors’ report of average prices nationwide (just under $175,000) and in the South (low 150’s).

Rapid Growth Leads to Housing Bargains

Savannah, Georgia Skyline.

Home to two of the nation's five fastest growing counties (Forsyth [123%] and Henry [103%]), both of which owe their phenomenal growth to their proximity to the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia is one of the nation's fastest-growing states, with growth from 2000 to 2008 estimated at a stunning 18.3%!

Having such rapid growth is actually a mixed blessing with respect to home ownership. The opportunities for growth, especially in the Atlanta area, were seen in the 1980’s and 1990’s, spurring an unprecedented surge in residential construction. When the bubble burst over the last couple of years, there was an enormous inventory of unoccupied housing in the Atlanta area, much of it foreclosed or in the foreclosure process. While a boon for investors looking for bargains in an area where there’s still growth and a demand for housing, it poses problems for homeowners trying to sell their houses, and investors seeking to “flip” distressed properties would be well-advised to avoid Atlanta for the near future.

Atlanta Skyline.

The vast majority of the state’s growth is taking place in the northwest corner of the state, in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Other areas of the state, however, are working diligently to attract businesses with the promise of hardworking labor (Georgia is a right-to-work state), beautiful climate and low taxes. With ninety miles of Atlantic coastline, mountains in the state's northwest corner, a temperate climate, historic sites dating back to pre-colonial days, and cultural, educational and recreational opportunities sprinkled generously throughout the state, Georgia’s a wonderful place to live and work, a fact recognized already by millions of Americans.

Colleges and Universities

While there are colleges and universities located in all the state's metropolitan areas, the Atlanta area is also notable for the number of colleges and universities it encompasses – currently around 45. These are located in downtown Atlanta as well as throughout the metropolitan region, and attract businesses oriented toward the student population.

Metropolitan Areas

GA Rank US Rank Geography 2016 Pop 2010 Pop Change % △
1 9 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 5,789,700 5,286,728 502,972 9.51%

2

93 Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC Metro Area 594,919 564,873 30,046 5.32%
3 100 Chattanooga, TN-GA Metro Area 551,632 528,143 23,489 4.45%
4 137 Savannah 384,024 347,611 36,413 10.48%
5 161 Columbus, GA-AL Metro Area 308,755 294,865 13,890 4.71%
6 196 Macon-Bibb County 229,182 232,293 -3,111 -1.34%
7 217 Athens-Clarke County 205,290 192,541 12,749 6.62%
8 223 Gainesville 196,637 179,684 16,953 9.43%
9 227 Warner Robins 190,028 179,605 10,423 5.80%
10 272 Albany 152,219 157,308 -5,089 -3.24%
11 291 Valdosta 144,676 139,588 5,088 3.65%
12 292 Dalton 143,904 142,227 1,677 1.18%
13 343 Brunswick 116,784 112,370 4,414 3.93%
14 399 Rome 96,560 96,317 243 0.25%
15 443 Hinesville 81,007 77,917 3,090 3.97%
16 466 Statesboro 74,722 70,217 4,505 6.42%
17 480 LaGrange 70,005 67,044 2,961 4.42%
18 502 Jefferson 64,615 60,485 4,130 6.83%
19 544 Dublin 57,021 58,414 -1,393 -2.38%
20 545 Calhoun 56,904 55,186 1,718 3.11%
21 556 Waycross 54,909 55,070 -161 -0.29%
22 567 Milledgeville 53,784 55,149 -1,365 -2.48%
23 572 St. Marys 53,008 50,513 2,495 4.94%
24 630 Moultrie 45,708 45,498 210 0.46%
25 638 Thomasville 45,248 44,720 528 1.18%
26 650 Cornelia 44,246 43,041 1,205 2.80%
27 663 Douglas 43,012 42,356 656 1.55%
28 675 Cedartown 41,776 41,475 301 0.73%
29 683 Tifton 40,828 40,118 710 1.77%
30 750 Vidalia 36,256 36,346 -90 -0.25%
31 760 Americus 35,487 37,829 -2,342 -6.19%
32 817 Jesup 30,104 30,099 5 0.02%
33 830 Eufaula, AL-GA Micro Area 28,300 29,970 -1,670 -5.57%
34 845 Bainbridge 26,822 27,842 -1,020 -3.66%
35 851 Thomaston 26,335 27,153 -818 -3.01%
36 858 Toccoa 25,751 26,175 -424 -1.62%
37 867 Summerville 24,824 26,015 -1,191 -4.58%
38 879 Cordele 22,721 23,439 -718 -3.06%
39 920 Fitzgerald 17,243 17,634 -391 -2.22%

Park in Columbus, Georgia.

Over 75% of Georgia's population live in ten of the state's twenty metropolitan areas. While they all grew over the last decade, none has approached Atlanta’s phenomenal double-digit growth, instead averaging about 4%. The following list shows these areas, including populations and median home prices as if 2010.

City Population Median Home Price
Atlanta 420,003 $124,800
Augusta 195,844 $183,000
Columbus 189,885 $152,300
Macon 155,447 $105,250
Savannah 136,286 $148,300
Athens 115,452 $165,100

Macon Skyline.

Keep in mind that these figures may be distorted by the inclusion of a significant number of below-market sales due to financial pressures.

Competitive Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates in Georgia are attractive for home buyers, and despite the high number of foreclosures the region’s experienced over the last year or so, those rates are around the same level as national averages. Of course, as is the case nationwide, more restrictive standards are being established for mortgage applicants, but broadcast advertisements in the Atlanta area are boasting that borrowers with FICO scores as low as 640 have been approved. Because it’s a highly competitive market, some of the lenders are offering to absorb closing costs for qualified buyers. In some case, these costs are added to the loan amount, and in others, the loan amount is left unchanged but the interest rate is slightly higher – from an eighth to a quarter of a percent. Some classes of home buyers (based on occupation or disability, see below) may be eligible for preferential rates and subsidies in applying for mortgages.

Augusta Skyline.

Georgia Census Data

As of July 1, 2016 the state of Georgia has an estimated population of 10,310,371 across 57,513.59 mi² yielding a population density of 179.27 people per mi² across the state.

The following table highlights the July 1, 2016 populations of cities, towns & Census Designated Places (CDP) with over 5,000 residents based on United States Census Bureau estimates. For Census Designated Places (CDP) where there was no population estimate available for 2016, the 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates data was used.

All table columns are sortable. Click on the column headers to sort by that column. Click again to sort low to high. Cities with higher levels of population growth typically see the increased demand drive faster real estate price appreciation.

Rank Geography County 2016 Pop 2010 Pop Change % △ Land mi² Pop Den mi²
1 Atlanta Fulton & DeKalb 472,522 420,003 52,519 12.50% 133.15 3,548.79
2 Columbus Muscogee 197,485 189,885 7,600 4.00% 216.39 912.63
3 Augusta Richmond 197,081 198,844 -1,763 -0.89% 324.33 607.66
4 Macon Bibb & Jones 152,555 91,351 61,204 67.00% 249.96 610.32
5 Savannah Chatham 146,763 136,286 10,477 7.69% 103.15 1,422.81
6 Athens Clarke 123,371 115,452 7,919 6.86% 117.8 1,047.29
7 Sandy Springs Fulton 105,703 93,853 11,850 12.63% 37.64 2,808.26
8 Roswell Fulton 94,598 88,346 6,252 7.08% 40.72 2,323.13
9 Johns Creek Fulton 83,873 76,728 7,145 9.31% 30.73 2,729.35
10 Warner Robins Houston & Peach 74,388 66,588 7,800 11.71% 35.07 2,121.13
11 Albany Dougherty 73,801 77,434 -3,633 -4.69% 55.13 1,338.67
12 Alpharetta Fulton 65,338 57,551 7,787 13.53% 26.91 2,428.02
13 Marietta Cobb 60,941 56,579 4,362 7.71% 23.08 2,640.42
14 Smyrna Cobb 56,664 51,271 5,393 10.52% 15.35 3,691.47
15 Valdosta Lowndes 56,474 54,518 1,956 3.59% 35.83 1,576.17
16 Brookhaven DeKalb 52,444 40,456 11,988 29.63% 12 4,370.33
17 Dunwoody DeKalb 48,884 46,267 2,617 5.66% 12.94 3,777.74
18 Peachtree Corners Gwinnett 42,773 34,364 8,409 24.47% 16 2,673.31
19 Gainesville Hall 40,000 33,804 6,196 18.33% 31.93 1,252.74
Mableton CDP Cobb 39,589 37,115 2,474 6.67% 20.57 1,924.60
20 Milton Fulton 38,411 32,661 5,750 17.61% 38.52 997.17
21 Newnan Coweta 37,912 33,039 4,873 14.75% 18.32 2,069.43
Martinez CDP Columbia 36,895 35,795 1,100 3.07% 14.51 2,542.73
22 Rome Floyd 36,407 36,303 104 0.29% 30.91 1,177.84
23 East Point Fulton 35,471 33,712 1,759 5.22% 14.67 2,417.93
24 Tucker DeKalb 35,322 1,827 33,495 1833.33% 19.97 1,768.75
25 Peachtree City Fayette 35,186 34,364 822 2.39% 24.54 1,433.82
26 Dalton Whitfield 34,077 33,128 949 2.86% 20.54 1,659.06
Evans CDP Columbia 33,730 29,011 4,719 16.27% 25.27 1,334.78
27 Kennesaw Cobb 33,627 29,783 3,844 12.91% 9.44 3,562.18
28 Hinesville Liberty 33,577 33,437 140 0.42% 20.37 1,648.36
29 Douglasville Douglas 33,252 30,961 2,291 7.40% 22.46 1,480.50
Redan CDP DeKalb 32,614 33,015 -401 -1.21% 9.61 3,393.76
30 Statesboro Bulloch 31,419 28,422 2,997 10.54% 13.5 2,327.33
31 Woodstock Cherokee 30,929 23,896 7,033 29.43% 11.16 2,771.42
32 Lawrenceville Gwinnett 30,782 28,546 2,236 7.83% 13.39 2,298.88
33 LaGrange Troup 30,771 29,588 1,183 4.00% 39.51 778.82
34 Duluth Gwinnett 29,331 26,600 2,731 10.27% 9.99 2,936.04
35 Stockbridge Henry 28,677 25,636 3,041 11.86% 13.31 2,154.55
36 Chamblee DeKalb 28,306 9,892 18,414 186.15% 3.18 8,901.26
Tucker CDP DeKalb 27,761 27,581 180 0.65% 11.98 2,317.28
37 Carrollton Carroll 26,562 24,388 2,174 8.91% 22.29 1,191.66
38 Canton Cherokee 26,340 22,958 3,382 14.73% 18.59 1,416.89
39 McDonough Henry 23,964 22,084 1,880 8.51% 12.71 1,885.44
40 Pooler Chatham 23,744 19,140 4,604 24.05% 29.39 807.89
41 Griffin Spalding 22,928 23,643 -715 -3.02% 13.92 1,647.13
Candler-McAfee CDP DeKalb 22,835 23,025 -190 -0.83% 7.01 3,257.49
42 Decatur DeKalb 22,813 19,335 3,478 17.99% 4.27 5,342.62
43 Acworth Cobb 22,418 20,425 1,993 9.76% 8.24 2,720.63
44 Sugar Hill Gwinnett 22,197 18,522 3,675 19.84% 10.6 2,094.06
45 Union City Fulton 20,919 19,456 1,463 7.52% 19.11 1,094.66
46 Cartersville Bartow 20,753 19,731 1,022 5.18% 29.15 711.94
47 Snellville Gwinnett 19,738 18,242 1,496 8.20% 10.45 1,888.80
48 Forest Park Clayton 19,731 18,468 1,263 6.84% 9.28 2,126.19
49 Suwanee Gwinnett 19,421 15,355 4,066 26.48% 10.88 1,785.02
50 Milledgeville Baldwin 18,933 17,715 1,218 6.88% 20.41 927.63
51 Thomasville Thomas 18,826 18,413 413 2.24% 14.95 1,259.26
North Druid Hills CDP DeKalb 18,385 18,947 -562 -2.97% 5.04 3,647.82
52 St. Marys Camden 18,088 17,121 967 5.65% 22.51 803.55
53 Fayetteville Fayette 17,519 15,945 1,574 9.87% 10.89 1,608.72
Lithia Springs CDP Douglas 17,246 15,491 1,755 11.33% 13.6 1,268.09
North Decatur CDP DeKalb 17,040 16,698 342 2.05% 4.98 3,421.69
54 Tifton Tift 16,836 16,350 486 2.97% 12.49 1,347.96
55 Norcross Gwinnett 16,787 9,116 7,671 84.15% 4.64 3,617.89
56 Kingsland Camden 16,720 15,946 774 4.85% 42.72 391.39
57 Calhoun Gordon 16,445 15,650 795 5.08% 14.93 1,101.47
58 Brunswick Glynn 16,346 15,383 963 6.26% 17.07 957.59
59 Riverdale Clayton 16,258 15,134 1,124 7.43% 4.53 3,588.96
Belvedere Park CDP DeKalb 16,214 15,152 1,062 7.01% 4.92 3,295.53
60 Perry Houston & Peach 16,200 13,839 2,361 17.06% 26.18 618.79
61 Dublin Laurens 16,104 16,201 -97 -0.60% 15.49 1,039.64
62 Conyers Rockdale 15,919 15,195 724 4.76% 11.66 1,365.27
63 Americus Sumter 15,854 17,041 -1,187 -6.97% 11.24 1,410.50
64 Winder Barrow 15,777 14,099 1,678 11.90% 12.41 1,271.31
65 Villa Rica Carroll & Douglas 15,201 13,956 1,245 8.92% 14.24 1,067.49
66 College Park Fulton & Clayton 15,035 13,942 1,093 7.84% 10.07 1,493.05
67 Powder Springs Cobb 14,956 13,940 1,016 7.29% 7.17 2,085.91
Wilmington Island CDP Chatham 14,781 15,138 -357 -2.36% 8.2 1,802.56
68 Moultrie Colquitt 14,361 14,268 93 0.65% 16.34 878.89
69 Buford Gwinnett & Hall 14,356 12,225 2,131 17.43% 17.01 843.97
70 Fairburn Fulton 14,182 12,950 1,232 9.51% 16.85 841.66
71 Waycross Ware & Pierce 14,089 14,649 -560 -3.82% 11.71 1,203.16
72 Covington Newton 13,977 13,118 859 6.55% 15.46 904.08
Druid Hills CDP DeKalb 13,928 14,568 -640 -4.39% 4.18 3,332.06
73 Monroe Walton 13,478 13,234 244 1.84% 15.12 891.40
74 Grovetown Columbia 13,463 11,216 2,247 20.03% 4.82 2,793.15
St. Simons CDP Glynn 13,287 12,743 544 4.27% 15.94 833.56
75 Dallas Paulding 13,108 11,544 1,564 13.55% 7.06 1,856.66
76 Clarkston DeKalb 12,742 7,554 5,188 68.68% 1.09 11,689.91
Mountain Park CDP Gwinnett 12,702 11,554 1,148 9.94% 5.67 2,240.21
77 Lilburn Gwinnett 12,675 11,596 1,079 9.30% 6.32 2,005.54
Georgetown CDP Chatham 12,600 11,823 777 6.57% 8.23 1,530.98
78 Richmond Hill Bryan 12,482 9,281 3,201 34.49% 14.44 864.40
79 Bainbridge Decatur 12,274 12,697 -423 -3.33% 18.8 652.87
80 Douglas Coffee 11,727 11,589 138 1.19% 13.39 875.80
81 Loganville Walton & Gwinnett 11,674 10,458 1,216 11.63% 7.34 1,590.46
82 Holly Springs Cherokee 11,281 9,189 2,092 22.77% 6.57 1,717.05
Vinings CDP Cobb 11,224 9,734 1,490 15.31% 3.13 3,585.94
84 Cusseta Chattahoochee 10,922 11,267 -345 -3.06% 248.74 43.91
85 Cordele Crisp 10,856 11,147 -291 -2.61% 10.14 1,070.61
86 Vidalia Toombs & Montgomery 10,703 10,473 230 2.20% 17.27 619.75
Scottdale CDP DeKalb 10,672 10,631 41 0.39% 3.5 3,049.14
87 Doraville DeKalb 10,501 8,330 2,171 26.06% 3.58 2,933.24
88 Jefferson Jackson 10,486 9,432 1,054 11.17% 21.67 483.89
89 Braselton Gwinnett, Jackson, Hall & Barrow 10,234 7,511 2,723 36.25% 12.41 824.66
90 Jesup Wayne 10,170 10,214 -44 -0.43% 16.41 619.74
91 Rincon Effingham 9,935 8,836 1,099 12.44% 8.86 1,121.33
92 Fort Oglethorpe Catoosa & Walker 9,839 9,263 576 6.22% 13.89 708.35
93 Cedartown Polk 9,799 9,750 49 0.50% 8.69 1,127.62
94 Cairo Grady 9,570 9,607 -37 -0.39% 9.69 987.62
Panthersville CDP DeKalb 9,367 9,749 -382 -3.92% 3.67 2,552.32
Fair Oaks CDP Cobb 9,109 8,225 884 10.75% 1.97 4,623.86
95 Thomaston Upson 8,962 9,170 -208 -2.27% 9.53 940.40
96 Fitzgerald Ben Hill & Irwin 8,927 9,053 -126 -1.39% 8.86 1,007.56
97 Garden City Chatham 8,900 8,778 122 1.39% 13.7 649.64
98 Fort Valley Peach 8,643 9,815 -1,172 -11.94% 7.49 1,153.94
Country Club Estates CDP Glynn 8,568 8,545 23 0.27% 4.64 1,846.55
Irondale CDP Clayton 8,488 7,446 1,042 13.99% 3.15 2,694.60
99 Toccoa Stephens 8,412 8,491 -79 -0.93% 9.5 885.47
100 McRae-Helena Telfair & Wheeler 8,338 650 7,688 1182.77% 4.34 1,921.20
Skidaway Island CDP Chatham 8,042 8,341 -299 -3.58% 16.46 488.58
Fairview CDP Walker 8,026 6,769 1,257 18.57% 7.51 1,068.71
101 Port Wentworth Chatham 7,933 5,359 2,574 48.03% 16.45 482.25
102 Centerville Houston 7,615 7,148 467 6.53% 3.94 1,932.74
Gresham Park CDP DeKalb 7,607 7,432 175 2.35% 2.8 2,716.79
103 Auburn Barrow & Gwinnett 7,603 6,887 716 10.40% 6.45 1,178.76
104 Hampton Henry 7,532 6,987 545 7.80% 5.61 1,342.60
105 Swainsboro Emanuel 7,486 7,277 209 2.87% 12.58 595.07
106 Morrow Clayton 7,276 6,445 831 12.89% 3.38 2,152.66
Dock Junction CDP Glynn 7,272 7,721 -449 -5.82% 9.41 772.79
107 Tyrone Fayette 7,215 6,879 336 4.88% 12.47 578.59
Whitemarsh Island CDP Chatham 7,202 6,792 410 6.04% 5.65 1,274.69
108 LaFayette Walker 7,159 7,121 38 0.53% 8.17 876.25
109 Austell Cobb & Douglas 7,139 6,581 558 8.48% 5.97 1,195.81
110 Flowery Branch Hall 7,073 5,679 1,394 24.55% 6.32 1,119.15
111 Commerce Jackson 6,788 6,544 244 3.73% 11.71 579.68
112 Barnesville Lamar 6,696 6,755 -59 -0.87% 6.07 1,103.13
113 Thomson McDuffie 6,678 6,778 -100 -1.48% 4.39 1,521.18
114 Hapeville Fulton 6,627 6,373 254 3.99% 2.41 2,749.79
115 Eatonton Putnam 6,555 6,480 75 1.16% 20.51 319.60
116 Dahlonega Lumpkin 6,437 5,242 1,195 22.80% 8.59 749.36
117 Bremen Haralson & Carroll 6,421 6,227 194 3.12% 10.49 612.11
118 Lovejoy Clayton 6,367 6,422 -55 -0.86% 2.6 2,448.85
119 Stone Mountain DeKalb 6,328 5,802 526 9.07% 1.7 3,722.35
120 Cumming Forsyth 6,225 5,430 795 14.64% 6.09 1,022.17
121 Sylvester Worth 6,064 6,188 -124 -2.00% 6.17 982.82
122 Locust Grove Henry 5,940 5,402 538 9.96% 10.67 556.70
Lakeview CDP Catoosa & Walker 5,878 4,839 1,039 21.47% 2.3 2,555.65
123 Waynesboro Burke 5,701 5,766 -65 -1.13% 5.42 1,051.85
124 Sandersville Washington 5,700 5,912 -212 -3.59% 12.72 448.11
125 Dacula Gwinnett 5,632 4,442 1,190 26.79% 4.96 1,135.48
126 Hawkinsville Pulaski 5,409 4,589 820 17.87% 5.04 1,073.21
127 Adel Cook 5,355 5,334 21 0.39% 8.06 664.39
128 Camilla Mitchell 5,170 5,360 -190 -3.54% 6.21 832.53
129 Eastman Dodge 5,157 4,962 195 3.93% 5.42 951.48
130 Byron Peach & Houston 5,133 4,512 621 13.76% 8.63 594.79
Conley CDP Clayton 5,125 6,228 -1,103 -17.71% 1.92 2,669.27
131 Glennville Tattnall 5,098 3,569 1,529 42.84% 6.55 778.32
132 Jackson Butts 5,071 5,045 26 0.52% 6.23 813.96
133 Cochran Bleckley 5,036 5,150 -114 -2.21% 4.59 1,097.17

Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division
Release Date: May 2017.

Types of Mortgages Available in Georgia

In addition to conventional 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, lenders are still offering a wide variety of Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM’s). While these instruments have lost some of their attractiveness during the recession, there are still circumstances where they offer the only way for a borrower to qualify. Properly structured (that is, with strict limits on how much the rate can fluctuate), such loans are still a legitimate way for borrowers to purchase a home and start building equity while establishing their credit so as to qualify for conventional loans upon the ARM’s expiration.

Some lenders in Georgia also offer interest-only mortgages, but usually only for periods of three years.

As of 2017 the conforming loan limit across the United States is set to $424,100, with a ceiling of 150% that amount in areas where median home values are higher. Green county has higher loan limits than the rest of the state.

County Metropolitan Designation 1 Unit Limit 2 Unit Limit 3 Unit Limit 4 Unit Limit
Green Non-Metro $515,200 $659,550 $797,250 $990,800
All Others Rest of the State $424,100 $543,000 $656,350 $815,650

Special Mortgages for Special People

The State of Georgia encourages home ownership by offering special incentives to certain groups, such as veterans, nurses and educators, among others, to buy homes in Georgia. These programs, listed here, are in addition to benefits that might be available from the federal government. In addition, some localities might offer additional incentives to homeownership

Georgia Dream Homeownership Program

The Georgia Dream Homeownership Program offers 30-year, fixed rate, low-interest rate mortgage loans to low- to moderate-income homebuyers. Downpayment and closing cost assistance is also available.

The Georgia Dream Welcome Home Program

Home buying assistance is offered to members of Georgia’s Army and Air National Guards who purchase homes in Georgia, featuring 100% financing, fixed-interest conventional loans at below-market rates, $10,000 interest-free down payment loan and unemployment support for up to six months.

The PEN Program (Protectors, Educators, Nurses)

Registered nurses, certified teachers and others employed by a county school board, police officers, firefighters and military personnel are offered a chance at home ownership through the PEN Program. Down payment help of up to $7,500 is available, with buyers contributing $500 from their own funds toward the home. PEN funds are offered as an interest-free loan in conjunction with the Georgia Dream program (above).

People who qualify for the PEN Program, then, may be able to purchase a home with only $500 from their own funds.

Second Mortgage Assistance

Georgia offers assistance in the form of low-interest second mortgages for homeowners making improvements to enhance access for the disabled, for improvements designed to increase energy efficiency, and for the costs of purchasing a home (down payment assistance and closing costs) for surviving spouses of military personnel or other “protector” groups.

Natural Disasters

Earthquakes

Most of Georgia has a very low earthquake risk, but the northern border of the state has a low to moderate earthquake risk. Here are lists of counties with an earthquake list above very low.

  • Low risk: Bartow, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Pickens, Rabun, Towns, Union
  • Moderate risk: Catoosa, Murray, Walker, Whitfield

Standard rental and homeowner insurance policies typically do not cover earthquake damage, though they usually cover losses caused by fires which resulted from an earthquake. You can supplement your homeowner's insurance with an earthquake policy.

Flood Insurance

Much of the state of Georgia has a low to very low risk of flooding, with the Southeast portion of the state & coastal counties having higher risk levels. Here are counties where flooding risk is above very low.

  • Low Flooding Risk: Bacon, Baldwin, Bartow, Bleckley, Burke, Carroll, Chattahoochee, Cobb, Columbia, Dade, DeKalb, Early, Emanuel, Fayette, Habersham, Hancock, Heard, Henry, Houston, Jefferson, Jones, Lowndes, Lumpkin, Macon, Monroe, Murray, Muscogee, Newton, Pickens, Pulaski, Quitman, Spalding, Stephens, Towns, Treutlen, Turner, White, Wilkinson
  • Moderate Flooding Risk: Atkinson, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brantley, Bulloch, Butts, Calhoun, Candler, Catoosa, Charlton, Chattooga, Clayton, Coffee, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly, Evans, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Harris, Irwin, Jasper, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lee, Long, Miller, Pierce, Polk, Putnam, Rabun, Richmond, Screven, Sumter, Tattnall, Telfair, Thomas, Tift, Toombs, Union, Walker, Walton, Ware, Wayne, Wheeler, Whitfield, Worth
  • High Flooding Risk: Appling, Baker, Cook, Crisp, Dougherty, Jenkins, Liberty
  • Very High Flooding Risk: Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Clinch, Effingham, Glynn, McIntosh, Mitchell, Montgomery, Seminole
  • Moderate hurricane storm surge risk: Camden, Chatham
  • High hurricane storm surge risk: Bryan, Liberty
  • Very high hurricane storm surge risk: Glynn, McIntosh

Homeowner's insurance policies typically do not cover flooding.

Home buyers with mortgages in high-risk areas are required to buy flood insurance. Most flood insurance policies are sold by the United States federal government through The National Flood Insurance Program. Under-priced flood insurance in high-risk areas act as a subsidy to wealthy homeowners.

The NFIP does not charge nearly enough to cover the expected costs of its liabilities. The assessments are not sufficient to build any buffer to cover an extraordinary year, such as what occurred with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Because homeowners don€™t incur the full cost of building in a flood zone we end up with more houses there than if homeowners incurred the full cost of the flood risk, which exacerbates the government€™s costs in the next disaster.

Typically, homes built after 2002, when building code regulations tightened, are subject to lower insurance rates than older homes. On the other hand, homes without hurricane straps, with roofs that do not meet current standards for wind, with older plumbing or with outdated electrical systems may be difficult €“ or very expensive €“ to insure.

Homeowners who live in lower risk areas & are not required to purchase flood insurance heavily cross-subsidize homeowners who are in areas where floods are more common.

Wildfires

The risk of wildfires is considered very high across much of the state. Fire damages from wildfires & other types of fires are typically covered in most homeowner's insurance policies. If you own expensive items you may want to keep an up-to-date household inventory list which lists specific valuables, such as fine art & jewelry.

Tornadoes

The area close to the western border the state is considered to have a moderate tornado risk. A basic homeowners policy should cover financial damages from tornadoes.

Hail

Hail damage is not uncommon across the state. Damage from hail is typically covered by home insurance policies.

Foreclosures

Georgia is one of the few states in the US in which lenders may foreclose on mortgaged property without recourse to judicial proceedings. As part of the mortgage process, the borrower executes a “security deed,” which essentially is a contract transferring title of the property to the lender if the borrower defaults, without having to file suit or go to court.

Non-judicial Foreclosure

While the majority of such mortgages permit the lender to foreclose when as few as two mortgage payments have been missed, in actual practice, most lenders won’t foreclose until at least five or six payments have been missed. This is more or less the same as states where lenders must go to court to foreclose – in those states, they’ll begin the proceedings after the second or third month of missed payments, so that they’ll be able to take possession after six months or so.

The advantage to the parties of non-judicial foreclosure is the reduced cost of foreclosure – while there are legal fees involved, they’re significantly less than if the lender actually had to file suit and make a court appearance. This benefits the borrower as well, because the costs the lender will seek to recover are reduced.

For the investor, the advantage of purchasing property in a non-judicial foreclosure state is related – because there are no court fees and court dates, an investor will have a little more flexibility in approaching and negotiating with homeowners in the process of foreclosure.

Interstate 75 in Downtown Atlanta at Night.

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