What a difference a year makes! This time last year we had just finished one of the toughest quarters our industry had faced in nearly a decade. While the closing numbers on the attached page indicate an increase in closed sales of 5.8%, it is the written business (pending sales) that is creating significant enthusiasm for many in our industry. While statistics are not accurately available through the North Carolina Mountains Multiple Listing Service in regards to pending sales, I am happy to share that Beverly-Hank written business is up 33.1% in written units and 19.5% in written volume over the first quarter of 2009. My expectation is that other brokers in the region are experiencing improved sales as well. Written business is obviously the leading indicator for future closed sales so expect that closing numbers in the coming months will show significant increases over prior year.
While our market has been on an upward swing since last July, significant questions have yet to be answered. What will happen when the federal tax incentives for homebuyers expire at the end of April? Most all predict rising interest rates in the months ahead, what impact will that have upon housing? Will we in fact see an increased supply of distressed and bank owned properties as many are forecasting? My personal belief is that the answer to these questions will largely be determined by the overall trajectory of the economy and at present it is headed in a positive direction. If the economy continues to improve, and unemployment numbers along with it, we will continue to see improving consumer confidence. Consumer confidence may be one of the most important factors to the real estate industry at present. People simply are reluctant to invest in big ticket items when they are uncertain about the future.
The fact is we should see improved real estate statistics for our region in the coming months. I believe the percentage of sales generated from tax incentives has been less in our area than in many parts of the country leading me to believe that the prospects are very good for continued positive momentum in the Western North Carolina real estate sector. The spring and summer months will be very important in determining the course of this recovery. Inventory levels remain at high levels but are declining in some price points and neighborhoods and interest rates remain at very low levels from a historical standpoint. For sellers, pricing remains a critical component in the ability to consummate a sale. For buyers willing to do their homework, there may never have been a better time to buy. In either case, the advice of a seasoned real estate professional is a key component to successfully navigating the real estate waters of 2010. The expert Broker Associates at Beverly-Hanks and Associates stand ready to assist you and would consider a privilege to do so.