Close to Home: Not feeling so good in Augusta, Ga.

— -- Augusta's slogan is "We Feel Good," based on the 1965 hit record by James Brown, who grew up in the city.

Unfortunately the song doesn't fit the housing market, as the economic slump has put a cloud over home sales.

"What I'm hearing from Realtors is that they are having a tough time," says Linda Townsend, president of the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors. "Things are not moving."

Home sales are feeling a pinch, but Augusta is hoping for a recovery soon because of its diversified local economy.

Near Augusta is Fort Gordon, which is home to U.S. Army Signal Center and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center and a new National Security Agency facility.

Augusta is the U.S. headquarters of Electrolux. John Deere and Kellogg are among the companies that have facilities there. And it has a growing medical center, including the Medical College of Georgia and the Joseph M. Still Burn Center.

Many people transfer to Augusta for new jobs.

"But now they often can't sell the house where they are coming from and so they can't purchase anything here," says Julie Blalock, an agent at Meybohm Realtors.

And although real estate agents say it's a good time to buy a home — because prices are reasonable and many properties are available — it's harder to get a mortgage.

"If their credit is not good and they don't have a lot of cash up front, they are going to have a hard time getting a loan," Blalock says.

In the first half of the year, Augusta had some job growth because of the health care industry, according to Rajeev Dhawan, economist at Georgia State University Economic Forecasting Center.

But in the third quarter Augusta, like all of Georgia, was losing jobs, he says.

High-end homes are just sitting on the market, Townsend says. And the best price range is $250,000 to $500,000, she says.

But the economic turmoil and declines in the stock market have caused many home buyers to hold back.

"I have a couple of young people who are looking to buy a home, but they are not willing to jump on anything right now," Blalock says. "I think everybody is trying to sit tight and see what is going to happen over the next couple months."

In addition to families who transfer there for jobs, many retirees move to Augusta, attracted by the good weather and the famous Augusta National Golf Club that is home to the Masters Tournament.

Housing officials in the hometown of Brown, who was known as the "Godfather of Soul," hope that the housing market will climb back.

"I think it's a temporary spell for home sales," Townsend says. "We're not knocking them dead, but we're surviving."