Citing the recent federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers as a "major help,'' U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith said the local housing market has improved considerably in recent months.
Griffith, R-Huntsville, made the remarks Tuesday at a 15-minute press conference at his Fifth Congressional District office on Clinton Avenue.
The press conference was held after Griffith met with the Huntsville/Madison County Builders Association.
"Over the last several years and months, there has been a lot of dismal economic news,'' Griffith said. "I think we're beginning to see some real change, particularly in the housing market.''
First-time homebuyers had until last Friday to buy a home to qualify for the $8,000 federal tax credit. There was also a $6,500 tax credit for move-up/repeat homebuyers.
Local Realtors and real-estate executives say the tax credits have had an effect on the recent rise in home sales. After record-breaking sales in November and December, there was a 65 percent increase in local home sales from February to March.
On Tuesday, Griffith said there have been similar increases "all over the district."
"If we get the money back into people's hands, they can do more with it'' than the government can, he said.
Griffith also cited a recent improvement in the housing market in Virginia, where some residents are considering a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) transfer to this area.
"A lot of people have been unable to move here,'' he said. "As that housing market is picking up, they're on their way to the Fifth District. BRAC is on schedule. We're happy about the way it is unfolding."
Griffith said the Fifth District "has been a fortunate district" and that the housing market here has "been strong relative to the rest of the country.''
Among the reasons, Griffith said, are skilled management and national and international influence.
He predicts more positive business news over the next 180 days, though he declined to elaborate.
"I would love to,'' he said. "I'll let someone else say the good stuff. We have a lot of good things to come for the next decade. We are attracting business and inquiries."