The Cabarrus County real estate market has made a steady recovery since 2008 and homeowners are starting to see appreciation again, although interest rates are trending upward, according to data from the Carolinas Multiple Listing Service.Two local real estate leaders expressed optimism for the future of the national, regional and local real estate markets.Pat Riley, president and chief operating officer of Allen Tate Co., has worked in real estate for 44 years and sells homes from Raleigh to Greenville, S.C. Diane Honeycutt also works for Allen Tate in Concord. She has been in the business 22 years and is part of a team of 12 agents who sold more than $60million in real estate in 2006, before the housing bubble burst. “It’s been a nice, steady recovery,” said Riley. “We’re starting to see a little bit of appreciation again, and we’re on track to reach 2008 levels.”At the peak of the region’s market in 2006, Cabarrus, Union and York (S.C.) counties were the fastest-growing as measured in new home construction, said Riley. In Cabarrus County, 2,666 homes sold in 2007; 1,902 in 2008; 1,531 in 2009; and just more than 1,600 in each of 2010 and 2011. Sales climbed just above 1,900 in 2012. So far this year, 1,702 homes have been sold.Homes in Cabarrus had an average selling price of $199,000 in 2007. That average dipped to $177,000 in 2010 and 2011, but prices are on the rise again, and the current average selling price is $180,000.“The recovery time in Cabarrus County is taking longer compared to surrounding counties, because that’s where all the new construction was,” said Riley.A national policy to increase home ownership served as impetus for the 2007 housing market crash, said Riley, as policymakers pushed to increase home ownership averages from 61percent to more than 70percent.“Republicans and Democrats wanted to raise those percentages because they thought home ownership was good for America,” said Riley. “We all thought it was good for America, but that’s how we got involved in loose lending practices. People could afford their mortgage payments, but they couldn’t afford to fix the furnace.”That policy – combined with the lowest interest rates in history and masses of investors leaving the stock market to invest in real estate – was a key ingredient of the collapse, said Riley, whose company closed 12 offices throughout the region during the downturn.Today’s market has shifted.“Nationally and locally, we’ve had two years of nice appreciation,” said Riley. “Cabarrus isn’t appreciating as fast, but it’s still nice.”Since World War II, home buyers experienced appreciation of 3percent to 5percent annually in the value of their homes, said Riley, and Cabarrus seems to be steadily heading in a positive direction.“The counties that went down the most are the counties that are going up the fastest, because they have the most correction to account for …,” said Riley. “But the next couple of years, you’re going to see a 10 to 12percent increase to make up for that 20 to 30percent decrease that happened when the bubble burst.”Riley’s advice to home buyers is clear: “There will be nothing tomorrow that’s going to be better than buying today,” he said. The Carolinas are positioned to thrive, said Riley, as more and more companies move to the area for lower living, labor and energy costs as well as an influx of grandparents and retirees. The state’s education system also helps people prepare for second or third careers.“We are a mega-region to the world, and if you look at all the states in the nation, North and South Carolina have a great, great, great future,” said Riley. “The next 15 years are going to be glorious.”From 2004 to 2008, Cabarrus County and Concord were just beginning to find their way into the luxury home market, Honeycutt said. Before that, there was a strong pool of buyers in the $300,000 range, but as more home prices reached $400,000 or more, the pool of buyers decreased.“With the economy how it was, it kind of set us back, but I can see us having a rebuilding phase of that,” said Honeycutt. “We’ve seen a lot of movement in that area. … ”Honeycutt said her optimism is based on statistics.“It’s not that I think the market’s better. The market simply is better than it was at this time last year,” she said. “That’s a fact.”Making a profit on the sale of your home, however, may still be a couple of years out, she said.Team Honeycutt’s home sales were up 32percent from September 2011 to August 2012, she said, and sales from January to August this year are up 39percent, compared to the same period last year. The pace of sales is still not as robust as it was before the recession. The number of days a Cabarrus home stayed on market ranged from 46 to 64 days between 2007 and 2009. For the past three years, however, the average house has stayed on the market more than 100 days.The average price per square foot has dropped from $88 in 2008 to $77 now, said Honeycutt.“We’re experiencing a surge, but we’re still not sure to what extent,” she said. Honeycutt advised people to consider what it costs to get the money to buy a house. “Costs will be less now, and it’s likely home prices will rise,” she said. “If you’re in the position where you’re healthy credit-wise, you have a job and you have some money to put in the game, now is a great time to buy.” Honeycutt said the area’s real estate market is healthiest it’s been since 2006, which she said was the best year ever for the company’s Concord office. 2007 was its second-best year. “Then in 2008 things went down, and 2009 was ugly, ugly, ugly,” she said. “2010 got a little better, and in 2011 and 2012 we saw decent increases.“It’s definitely moving in the right direction. We’re a healthier real estate market. We’re a more realistic real estate market right now, and hopefully we’ll stay that way.”
Monday, Sep. 23, 2013
Growth expected in Cabarrus real estate sector
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