I wish I would get a nickle for every time someone asks me if we have hit “bottom” in our Lake Norman housing market. The reality is that no one knows. However, what I can do is point out trends I am observing when looking at our MLS data as well as with my clients and current transactions.
So, here we are starting a fresh new year. January is historically a very slow time in our housing market. In fact, last January 2009, Lake Norman home sales fell to a record low of 27 single family residents in the entire Lake Norman Area. The good news is that it looks like we are going to exceed that number this January based upon today’s Hot Sheet:
Lake Norman Real Estate’s Two-Week Hot Sheet 1/7/2010 – 1/21/2010
The above chart is a summary of today’s “Hot Sheet” from the Charlotte Multiple Listing Service for single family homes in all of Lake Norman (area 13). These numbers represent a real time snapshot of the past two week’s activity. (January 7 – 21). As always, I have included the past 5 months so that you can put these numbers in perspective.
- New listings: Darn it, after watching our inventory of active listing drop continually for months, the number of new listings this month versus December nearly doubled and was the highest since June of 2009. At the end of the year we had lowered our inventory of Lake Norman active listings to 1161 but they are now back up to 1254. Since my buyers and I have been complaining about the lack of fresh new listings, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that many of these “new” listings are actually old listings that were taken off of the market for the holidays. A decrease in inventory is the most significant component to our housing recovery.
- The number of properties that came back-on-the-market, most likely due to cancelled contracts, dropped. This decrease parallels the slower home sales this month.
- The number of price changes increased slightly. Most sellers either don’t understand how low the current sales prices are or are waiting for the spring to make significant price changes which is too bad because there are a lot of buyers out looking right now. Our inventory of “bargains” seems to be depleted in some price ranges and the over-priced listings are sitting.
- Pending home sales remaind pretty strong considering it is January. They are 62% higher than the January 2009 Hot Sheet. (See Below). Since these are an indicator of future closed sales I predict our February 2010 sales will be higher than February 2009.
- The number of closed sales in the past two weeks dropped significantly compared to last month AND, they were the lowest since the Hot Sheet in March of 2009. However, it seems very likely that we will exceed January 2009’s sales of 27. I looked at each property that closed so far in January: 6 were foreclosures, 3 were short sales and there rest were all “bargains” most of them selling well below their tax values.
- Contingent and Conditional sales were identical to December 2009’s Hot Sheet. However, they are still 25% higher than January of 2009 which should translate to better closed sales numbers for January and February.
Make no mistake, the serous buyers are out looking. Now, however, I am finding that most of the great bargains on GOOD houses and GOOD lots in many price ranges have sold. Many of our current foreclosures and short sales have issues that make them less attractive to buyers, no matter what the price. My buyers want bargains but they also want good houses on good lots. It is not just about the price, but it also matters whether the homes have good floorplans, are located in neighborhoods that are not saturated with active listings and distressed sales and homes that are not too dated. I don’t run across very many buyers who want to make significant upgrades to a property even if it is a bargain.
To give you a point of reference, below is the January Hot Sheet from January 2009: