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Conyers developer Crown Communities building in Newton

Located off Brown Bridge Road in Covington, Crown Communities is building out a community called Riverstone Estates. Vice President of Marketing Phil Corley said eight homes in the subdivision have already sold. (Staff photo: Jessicah Peters)

Located off Brown Bridge Road in Covington, Crown Communities is building out a community called Riverstone Estates. Vice President of Marketing Phil Corley said eight homes in the subdivision have already sold. (Staff photo: Jessicah Peters)

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Crown Communities, a builder based in Conyers, is the largest residential builder to construct in Newton County in the last two years, according to Newton County administrative coordinator Crystal Dooley. Riverstone Estates is the second subdivision Crown Communities is developing in Covington. (Staff photo: Jessicah Peters)

COVINGTON — Crown Communities, a Conyers-based developer, has two new subdivisions underway in Covington, which may be may be a sign that the housing market in Newton County is on the path to recovery.

Crown Communities is the largest residential builder to construct in Newton County in the last two years, according to Newton County administrative coordinator Crystal Dooley.

Dooley said in August the builder opened Silver Ridge Farms, which is a more than 200-lot subdivision located off Harold Dobbs Road near Newton High School.

Crown Communities also purchased lots off Brown Bridge Road and is now building out a community called Riverstone Estates.

The homes in Riverstone Estates will be sold between the low-$200,000s and low-$300,000s, according to Tina Ulmer, an associate broker for Crown Communities. Eight homes in 31-home Riverstone subdivision have already sold, according to the company.

The official grand opening of the community is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

Crown Communities Vice President of Marketing Phil Corley said the company was persuaded by two key indicators before making the decision to build in Newton County.

“We look at all the key indicators when looking for a site. When we looked at economic development, that engine is running strong in Newton County,” Corley said. “And we realized that the school systems are providing good education. Those are two key indicators that really led us to Covington. Newton County has a vision and the leadership is supporting that vision. So we decided to be part of that by providing this new community.”

But Crown Communities isn’t the only one building in Newton County. According to Dooley, Newton County issued 58 building permits in 2013, a significant increase from the 10 permits issued in 2012.

“Prior to the downturn in 2007 and 2008, the housing industry was a significant part of our local economy. Newton County averaged almost 1,850 new residential housing starts annually for the five-year period of 2002 through 2006,” County Manager John Middleton said. “The 2013 permit numbers appear encouraging compared to last year and hopefully this upward trend continues.”

While there are indiciations of a turnaround, the housing market rebound is still slow according to RE/MAX Real Estate agent Marshall Ginn.

Ginn said there are 390 homes on the market in Newton County, a lower inventory than he’s used to seeing. Associate broker Scott Alexander, who works with Ginn, said there are 336 single-family homes on the market in Rockdale County and 11 of those are in foreclosure.

“We’ve got buyers, but the house values haven’t come back up and there’s a small amount of inventory,” Ginn said. “We’re not in a declining market anymore, but it’s more of a flat line. We’re just not having the run up in price or appreciation like we saw years ago.”