Good news folks. Results from 2013’s first quarter real estate sales in our area show residential real estate sales are up. Prices are down just a bit and anxious buyers are paying a higher percentage of the final MLS listing price to make sure they get that hard to find house they need.
In many price brackets the market is getting back to a balanced six month inventory where the supply favors neither buyers nor sellers. Some price points are actually seeing multiple offers on cream puff houses that convey real value through their location, condition, features and price.
Looking at the market data from North Carolina counties: Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, Madison, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania; from January through the end of March we see an improvement in every area.
First quarter 2013 total residential sales, pending adjustments, were up 12 percent to $301,884,736 vs. $269,345,072 for the prior year same period. Total residential units (house, condo, townhouse, etc.) increased to 1,336 versus 1,126, a net increase of 19 percent.
Sales as a percentage of last asking price increased from 92 percent market-wide to 94 percent. In the highly desirable 3 bedroom market buyers paid an average of 95 percent of the last asking price.
Finally, before your eyes glaze over, the average Days On Market (DOM) dropped from 204 days to 187, an eight percent decrease.
Looking at the numbers I saw what was expected in every area. I was surprised, however, by the size of the increase in unit sales and the reduction in DOM. In my opinion the election of 2012 took a toll on the economy and on the focus of buyers, sellers, market analysts and the reporters who follow them. We’re like a one-trick pony. We can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, and when we’re all calling each other names we’re too narrowly focused to see that things were happening that would shore up the poor pitiful mess real estate had become in the past four years.
The unreported facts are that most Americans are still working. We’re working one or two or even three jobs at once. I know a lady who waits tables at two locations nights and weekends when she can and has a full-time career in another field (no guessing allowed.) She’s a model of the drive and spirit that got her grandparents and great-grandparents through the Great Depression of the 1930’s. She is America to the core. Tough, tenacious and somehow tender as well.
Another fact that supports a resurgent market is that new home construction has been inching up since early 2012. According to the US Dept of the Census there were 243,000 single family housing units under construction in February 2012. A year later that number had increased 19 percent to 288,000.
What was that increase in local unit sales? How odd. It’s like the stars aligning to signal some cosmic event. But really, it’s just supply and demand.
I won’t even go into the reasons for the housing and real estate slump of the past few years. There has been enough blame spread by all sides to last for awhile. Congressional investigations, meanwhile, continue to be a joke. A Democratic Senate can find no fault with anything except “failed policies of the past.” John Boehner currently leading the Republican House doesn’t have the political capital to waste on a meaningful investigation that might alienate some obscure voter segment or another.
I fail to see how anyone with a pulse can stand to watch any of the current leadership on either side hold a press conference. The only media in attendance are either unfeignedly supportive of the agenda or unalterably opposed. They are held solely to make political points back home.Neither side in either chamber really wants to solve the problem. Elections are never more than two years away and it takes too much time away from the campaign trail to seriously investigate something.
Robert A. Heinlein’s creation, the Fair Witness, would have no place in modern Washington. The Fair Witness was required to speak the truth about what he or she saw. An example of their integrity is given in “Stranger in a Strange Land” when Anne (a Fair Witness with no last name) was asked what color a house was being painted.
“White on this side,” she observed.
Who in Washington would be willing to take the stand and say the same? No one.
Nothing Washington has done has helped the real estate market. Pressure to put unqualified buyers in houses they could not afford contributed to the market crash. The problem was dumped on banks and Realtors while the politicians made political points. Some of the more brazenly corrupt ones among them got suspiciously favorable loans from their buddies, and the boom was on. When everything crashed the finger was pointed at the honest mortgage companies, bankers and real estate agents and firms who only did what the laws required them to do.
Except for the genius market traders who made out like the bandits many of them were. It makes you wonder how poor old Bernie Madoff could have failed to really make money in such an environment. Did he not have a pulse?
Today’s market resurgence is real. People are adapting to the new economy that is poorer than before. It is being kept down by government mandates such as Obamacare and by the unknown power it unleashes when it says, 1005 times, “The Secretary shall…” It was influenced briefly by various tax credit programs that sucked up even more taxpayer money but ultimately failed to change the inevitable tide of market forces. The tax credit bump was followed by the post-credit slump. Bump and slump. That’s about all the influence government programs have.
With the real estate crash, we had slump. Now we’re into the bump. And it’s all about time.
Written by Bill Fishburne, the President of the Henderson County Board of Realtors.