Similar Lake Norman neighborhoods show the unequal effects of the housing market bust, based on Mecklenburg County property assessments.
Factors such as whether the property was waterfront and the timing of development were critical in determining where home values settled, area real estate agents and experts said.
Nowhere is that more evident than in two Lake Norman neighborhoods with like-sized homes and comparable pre-bust property values: Abersham in Davidson and the Peninsula in Cornelius.
Abersham was on track to become one of the area's high-end neighborhoods when construction started in early 2008. Its first home, a 5,785-square-foot home at 2838 Abersham Loop Road, was valued at about $1.1 million in 2009.
Developers set a minimum of 4,500 heated square feet on homes in Abersham, and the neighborhood also featured greenway walking trails and open common land.
"Abersham - it was a great idea. It was supposed to be a green community," said Realtor Maureen Roberge of Hines & Associates. "But it was built at the height of when everything started crashing down."
Today, the stucco estate home in Abersham, along with a few paved roads and street signs, are the only remnants of a high-end neighborhood that never bloomed. The undeveloped parcels in Abersham are now owned by Fifth Third Bank and CommunityOne Bank. Lots that were previously valued between $299,000 and $325,000 are now listed at $85,571.
Bailey Capital LLC bought the lot for $325,000 in 2008 that the model home was eventually built on.
Just a few miles away, the Peninsula subdivision in Cornelius has experienced its own share of pain from the housing market bust, but it's nowhere near as damaging as at Abersham.
Although some foreclosures have occurred in the neighborhood, values have held fairly steady. For instance, a home at 16201 Jetton Road valued at about $1,823,500 in 2008 foreclosed in September 2010 for $2,249,000.
Another home, at 18526 Town Harbour Road, foreclosed for $632,000 in July 2010. The 3,879 heated square feet home was valued at $490,600 in 2003.
"A lot of the homes in the Peninsula are pretty much staying around 2005 and 2006 values, before the bust," said Russ Worthen, real property appraiser for the county, who specializes in lakefront properties in the county.
The Peninsula showed resilience because it was established before the housing bust, said Worthen and area real estate agents.
"Anything that's established is surviving: the Point, the Peninsula, Norman Estates," said Realtor Craig LaPage. "They're going to remain fairly stable because they're built out and there's more of a chance that the values are going to stay up."
The Peninsula has 2,550 parcels. Roberge estimated the neighborhood was 85 percent completed. In contrast, Abersham has 25 estate lots and 10 unrecorded estate lots. There is only one home in the neighborhood, making it 2 percent built.
Worthen added that being on the water also protects properties from drops in value during poor economic conditions."Waterfront properties are unique. They're in demand, and they've upheld their value," said Worthen.
And despite the lackluster economy, the Peninsula had 71 qualified sales in in 2010. Qualified sales are those transactions in which both the buyer and seller enter willingly. The sales are not foreclosures.
Amenities such as a golf course also added to the allure of the Peninsula, said Roberge. In contrast, Abersham is two miles off the water and does not have a community golf course.
But area experts said the biggest deciding factor for the fates of Abersham and the Peninsula's property values was timing.
"When the percentage of build out is low, the survival rate is going to be virtually extinct, especially when you're in those high-dollar neighborhoods," said Roberge. "People aren't going to put money on something if they're not sure they're going to get a return."
All Lake Norman residents will receive notification of their 2011 home revaluation early this month. Chuck Hicks, real property appraiser manager for Mecklenburg County, said he expects that most revaluations will not drop below 2003 levels.