Despite “Stay At Home” Restrictions, Real Estate Begins Rebound
Buncombe & Henderson Counties:
Similar to other counties which deemed real estate an “essential service” yet which remained under “stay at home” restrictions for many consumers, once the complete lock down expired in Buncombe and Henderson Counties in early April, showing activity has rebounded nicely, despite remaining stay at home and travel restrictions impacting some consumers and out of state traffic which normally picks up as spring returns.
Currently, overall showing activity has rebounded to around 65% of last year’s end of April activity, and continues to trend positively. The luxury segment, a bit more dependent upon out of state and second home consumers, has lagged, yet recently begun to rebound up to around 27% of last year’s end of April activity and is trending upward week over week.
We believe both categories will continue this recovery in May, with mid-market activity rebounding to around 90% of last year’s same period, and luxury activity continuing its recovery in the 50-60% range compared to last year, as travel gradually kicks back in. This market should benefit from a possible shift in consumer preferences to living in space, particularly those migrating from more congested areas of the country.
Foothills: Rutherford, Polk, and Cleveland Counties
The foothills counties experienced similar downturns to that of many of the other counties in western North Carolina the initial weeks of “stay at home” statewide requirements. That said, in all 3 counties real estate was considered an essential service, and with much lighter transmission numbers, consumers in need of new housing engaged at levels that quickly rebounded over the 4 weeks of April.
Showing activity in the most recent week ended 4.26, actually exceeded that of last year’s 4.26 week in the price range under $500,000 in the foothills area, the upper end of the market is rebounding a bit more slowly, but overall, this region is seeing showing activity already returning to 90% of last year’s levels and should see similar sell thru activity to last year’s May/June with the exception of a slightly slower to recover high end market.
Overall, given that our state has been under “stay at home” guidelines as well as travel restrictions imposed in other states, we believe the upward showing trend is surprisingly positive for this early stage of recovery. With the lifting of the statewide restrictions being phased-in beginning in the next few weeks, we believe showing activity will display some pent up spring demand and will rebound into the 80-90% range of last year’s May/June, particularly in the mid-market segment. Low interest rates continue to attract earlier stage buyers more engaged in the traditional move up market, while the higher end of the market may re-engage more gradually. With 10 homes over $1 million under contract in Buncombe county, there remain pockets of continued million dollar plus activity and we see this as a bright spot for the luxury market locally. For this reason, we also believe it to be an opportunistic time for listings who’ve delayed or withdrawn from the market to consider re-entering ahead of a May push by buyer consumers. Real estate firms have implemented showing conditions which include sanitary wipe downs, masks, and restrictions on the number of persons entering a house that are extremely stringent in comparison to other permitted activities. Firms are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of consumers and agents.