Annual numbers for real estate sales for 2010 have been released by MLS, and at first glance it's hard to find much good news to hang your hat on. A quick scan down to the percent change shows negative numbers in every category except one---and that one shows no change at all. Those declines hold true for both Buncombe County and Black Mountain.
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A closer look at those numbers, however, does indicate some signs that the market may be stabilizing. In fact, coupled with the slight economic improvements cited by Chairman Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve earlier this month, one can even argue that the real estate market in our area is in a position to start an upward turn in the near future.
In Buncombe County, the number of homes sold held steady from 2009 to 2010 while the total sales volume and average price for home sales both declined at a rate of 4%. That decrease is slightly lower than the 7% decrease experienced in the county market from 2008 to 2009 in average price and significantly less than the 17% decrease in total sales volume from 2008 to 2009. And that's where one has to look at the county market with a bit of optimism. With prices declining at a slightly lower rate than the previous year, the real estate market may be indicating that home prices are stabilizing.
In Black Mountain, the numbers are not as optimistic. First of all, the area experienced a 14 percent decline in number of homes sold. Sales volume decreased 17 percent as well. The average home prices dropped 4% which actually is an improvement from the 11% decline from 2008 to 2009.
Black Mountain's real estate market buyers differ from those of the County because many of them tend to be buying second homes, homes for retirement and vacation homes. There is little doubt that tighter mortgage restrictions on second homes have restricted the number of buyers who can afford to enter the market at this time.
So why, you may fairly ask, do I see signs of hope in these numbers? First of all, it's important that home prices seem to have stabilized. Buyers who have been waiting for the market's home prices to bottom out can see that the numbers seem to be slowing in their decline. With that pricing trend, buyers who have been waiting may see that it's time to enter the market before prices start moving up. Secondly, the stock market reached a two year high this month indicating that some buyers with larger portfolios may now have the funds needed to buy their second homes outright or at least have the money required for a down payment on a second home.
More patience may be required before the area market shows a complete turnaround. I do think, however, that the most recent numbers can be read as showing very slight signs of life. As is often the case with the real estate market, it's too soon to know whether we should tip our hats to the bull market that's just around the corner or pass the hat for the trouble that's ahead. In this case, however, I'm going to tip my hat and hope the economy continues on its change of course. We encourage you to check out our Buncombe County real estate listings, or contact us if you have any questions.