It’s a month into the spring season in the mountains. Flowers are blooming, days are increasingly warm, and spring green is making its way up the mountainsides. While the entrance to spring is always a gradual transition in our area, the momentum of the local real estate market in our area has been building for months.
Our area has experienced a low inventory of homes on the market for many years. While many states across the country experienced similar trends with home inventory levels in 2020, the Black Mountain and Buncombe County area is no different, and in fact, has reached historically low inventory levels. For example, at the end of the 1st quarter of 2021, there were 489 homes listed for sale in Buncombe County on March 31st, compared to 1,284 in 2020 -- which is a decrease of 62%.
The low inventory has continued to cause price increases as the average sales price of homes sold in the 1st quarter of 2021 was $457,204, compared to $375,968 in the first quarter of 2020, or an increase of 21.6%. The average list to sales price increased from 93.9% in 2020 to 97.4% in 2021.
In Black Mountain, the market trends have mirrored Buncombe County statistics, but have shown even stronger signs. List to sales price was 100% in the first quarter compared to 97% in 2020, indicating that sellers are largely selling their homes at or above their listing price. The average sales price for the first quarter in Black Mountain was $450,159 in 2021, compared to $298,859 in 2020 -- an increase of 51%. There are only 26 active listings in Black Mountain compared to 70 this time last year.
A tightening housing market often leads to an increase in sales of vacant land, and this is exactly what we’re seeing in Black Mountain and Buncombe County. The number of land sales in Buncombe County increased by 64%, or to 272 in 2021, compared to 166 in 2020. Total sales volume was even greater, with $23,444,000 sold in 2020 compared to $45,486,000 in 2021, an increase of 94%. Raw land sales volume in Black Mountain increased from $1,792,028 to $6,812,000 in 2021, a 280% increase.
Neighboring McDowell County is an area that has been increasingly seen as an option for buyers looking to "get more house for a lower price tag." McDowell's low inventory has also driven the median price up by 45% from $147,450 to $214,000. The inventory of homes plummeted 67% from 183 homes in March 2020 to 60 homes in 2021. The Lake James area is also seeing an increase in demand, which is most readily evident in the sharp increase in the sales volume of lot sales. Lot sales in Lake James increased by over 300% from $1,563,000 in 2020 to $6,294,700 in 2021.
I’ve been observing that market trends have shifted since the beginning of the 1st quarter. The number of new listings gives a good indication of total sales volume and it’s clear that listed inventory is selling very quickly. As of March, the total sales volume in Buncombe County was up 18%. Typical days on market in Buncombe County have decreased by 34.7% from an average of 75 days to 49 days. Year to date, new listings are only down by 1% over 2020. New listings were up by 3.2% this March, but it’s important to note that March 2020 marked the beginning of the pandemic. Last year, new listings were down 5.2% overall. Ultimately, it’s becoming increasingly evident that market trends are poised to show an overall increase in total sales volume for 2021.
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