The unseasonably cold weather is over, at least for now. We actually had breakfast on the porch Monday morning, for the first time in November. Most of the color is gone from the woods, and I’m expecting to do my third round of leaf blowing sometime in the next few days. As always, there have been some challenges this year, but I have much to be thankful for, and I hope that you do as well.
We’re about to exit the traditional festival season, but see my previous column for coming events.
Here’s my report on the state of the real estate market as we exit our busy season. Some of this is inherently dull stuff, especially for people who aren’t great with numbers, but if you want to understand what’s happening, this is as good a snapshot as I can present. If you are interested in buying in the next year or so, you should at least read the last line, as it tells the story as well as anything.
At this point in time – two days before Thanksgiving – we seem to have exited the busy season for the year, probably as a result of the cold weather coming earlier than usual. There will be some activity in December and January, but in a normal year, February and March are slow. It’s a good time for bargain hunters, because our sellers are generally a bit more negotiable after Thanksgiving. This is also the time of year that we think about land sales, because with the leaves mostly off, the views and the “lay of the land” can be best evaluated. It’s an old story, but it’s worth repeating that the cabin market has mostly recovered, but the lot and land market remains very sluggish. There have been a number of land sales lately in the $4,000-$5,000 per acre range. In our peak year, 2005, that number might have been around $15,000 per acre. I started selling real estate here in 2002, and I can’t remember land selling any cheaper.
In looking at the MLS-wide numbers for October, our year-to-date totals look like this:
Total active listings are up a bit over last year, at 7,544. Last year’s total was 7,201. But this is about half of the 2008 total, 14,798. Of course, a drop in the number of listings is a classic sign of a recovering market.
Active foreclosures are down year-to-date. The monthly average is 328 this year. Last year’s average was 388. The 2011 monthly average (the earliest year for which I have data) was 672.
The number of foreclosures sold year-to-date is 444, vs. 809 last year and 1,157 in 2012. Since the total number of active foreclosures is roughly comparable between 2013 and 2014, I take this as a sign of declining quality in the foreclosure inventory.
Total pending sales are averaging down slightly at 288 vs. 357 per month last year.
However, average contingent sales (sales awaiting due diligence or the fulfillment of other conditions) per month are up, with 223 vs. last year’s total of 200.
The number of units closed in the MLS year-to-date is 2,606 vs. 3,374 at year end 2013. Given about 300 units closed a month, this looks headed for a wash at year-end.
Dollar volume closed is likely to surpass last year, with a year-to-date total of $391,269,036 vs. last year’s $460,269,036.
Average sold price is trending up. Year-to-date it is $149,959. Last year’s number was $136,489. This reflects some appreciation in the cabin market.
The list-to-close percentage is also up, averaging 93.3% this year vs. last year’s 91.14%. (That is the percentage of the list price at time of sale.) The list to original price (the comparison of the price first listed to the sale price) is also up, averaging 84.6% this year vs. 78.6% last year.
Fannin leads in units sold, with 615 year-to-date. The next closest county is Gilmer with 520. Union ranks third at 488.
Average price in Fannin is up. We’re averaging $191,765 year-to-date vs. $176,765 last year, a very significant increase.