Wow! We finally have normal Highlands temperatures. Nice and cool with overnight lows in the low 60s and great daytime temperatures in the 70s. This has been a very hot summer – a bit out of character for Highlands and Cashiers. Maybe Mother Nature was trying to make up for the extreme cold temperatures we had this past winter. I know, it sounds like we are never quite satisfied – too cold, too hot!! Not really true, although we do tend to complain a bit because most of the time The Highlands Plateau is perfect. I guess we’re just spoiled!!
Enough about the weather. The new housing numbers have definitely been a major news story over the last week. The Dow dropped over 100 points on the announcement of July’s existing sales numbers. Pundits are claiming real estate will never be looked at the same again. National columnists including the Wall Street Journal, which recently posted an article telling investors to forego that second home, don’t help the situation when they continually blame the real estate market for the slow improvement in the economy rather than thumping the real culprit – jobs.
Was the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Existing Home Sales Report tough to read? Yes. Were there any surprises in the report? Just one: the fact that prices have remained stable. And that was good news. All the panic and gut-wrenching revolves around two numbers: The lack of sales in July and the months’ supply of inventory now available. Neither number was a surprise to anyone truly following the real estate market.
The tax credit push created a false sense of hope that a major market comeback was taking place in the spring. It also created this current vacuum of demand during the summer. Just as we should have realized that the great market of the spring could not be sustained, we must now realize that plummeting sales numbers will not continue.
Prices are great, interest rates are at historic lows and the assortment of properties for sale is fabulous. In regard to the months’ supply of homes for sale, we must remember one basic principle: prices will come down if demand is constant and inventory increases. Which ones will sell? Those that are priced correctly for the current market.
Although our real estate season in Highlands seemed to get a slow start and traffic didn’t pick up until the first of July, we have been extraordinarily busy with everyone showing property on a regular basis, now we just need to get those buyers off the fence. A big part of our job involves educating buyers. Most buyers looking to purchase a second or retirement home in the mountains have the same perception of our market as they do of their hometown market and nothing could be further from the truth.
The National Public Radio website has a great interactive map which shows America county by county with foreclosure rates, unemployment rates and median household incomes. Take a look at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111494514. In Gwinnett County (Atlanta) Georgia, 1 in 198 households are in foreclosure; in Jefferson County (Birmingham) Alabama 1 in 565; in Hillsborough County (Tampa) Florida, it is1 in 198 households; in Shelby County (Memphis) Tennessee, 1 in 349.
Check out any of the places where our buyers come from and compare them to our mountain counties. In Transylvania County, the foreclosure rate is 1 in 4357; in Jackson County NC the rate is 1 in 6033; and in Macon County NC, the rate is 1 in 7816 households. I suspect that most buyers believe that foreclosure rates are just as high here as they are where they live and obviously that is just not the case. As the NAR commercial states – “Every market’s different, call a Realtor.” I recently spoke with a buyer from Jackson Mississippi who is looking to buy in Highlands and his comment also needs to be shared with buyers: “You rent at the beach and buy in the mountains.” I think that will be our new mantra.
For more information about Highlands and Cashiers North Carolina, and for access to the Highlands/Cashiers NC MLS, contact Meadows Mountain Realty today, 828-526-1717 or email us today at [email protected]