The Upside to the Real Estate Doldrums
Well, it’s been many months since we have posted a blog on our website. As you have certainly experienced yourself, life has had its surprises and priority demands. For me, it is now time to refocus on getting the word out about our business mission and to add our voice – and perhaps yours – to raising consciousness about the environment, especially as related to the world of real estate. Hang with me, if you will, because I’m going somewhere with this blog that is good news. There have actually been some positive effects of the downturn.
An update on the real estate situation here in our High Country area (mountain counties of NW North Carolina: Allegheny, Ashe, Avery, Watauga and portions of adjacent counties): Real estate business has not recovered. It is only slightly better than a year ago. Mostly what is selling is well under $300K and/or steeply discounted properties, the latter of which would include “distressed” sales (short or foreclosure) and sales at any price level where the seller has become frustrated enough to cut the asking price way, way down.
True, there are some mountain properties selling for 80-90% of asking price, but that price is typically well below what it would have been 4 years ago. It is not unusual for us to see “McMansions” going for 25-40% less than what they would have garnered back then.
Mountain land sales are down even more than residential, but, except where lots in subdivisions are concerned, prices have not gone down as much. Landowners generally are not so stressed by the economic downturn that they are anxious to sell. On the other hand, lots in many subdivisions have had dramatic price drops from the often inflated asking prices of pre-recession.
Most of the U.S. real estate bust happened around the country in 2006. It did not hit here until about May-June of 2007, but when it hit, it hit hard – from a barreling locomotive to a weak kitten. From “great” to “terrible” in just a couple of months.
Now to the “good news” mentioned at the beginning of this posting: “terrible” is, from our point of view, good, as well as bad. Although, like any concerned citizen, property owner, home buyer, real estate broker or compassionate person would be, we see the obvious downside to the current market. However, there is truly a bright side to this “terrible” market.
The bright? Consider: the feeding frenzy of mountain development has so greatly slowed that it is creeping. That puts less pressure on the environment, steers some land owners toward land trusts to convey their property, and buys time for conservation organizations to further their invaluable work. The Conservation Trust for North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy have had banner years, since the recession began. See, for example, this article from the Blue Ridge Conservancy.
The stimulus money influx into green-building jobs, including manufacturing and construction, is another bright aspect of this “terrible” situation. Opportunity as well as crisis.
Lastly, the bright side of this market is – pardon the cliché – that it is indeed a buyer’s market. If you want to get a good buy on mountain property to conserve or protect or use in a sustainable, harmonious way – now is the time! For more news about our mountain land trusts’ accomplishments, go to Blue Ridge Forever.
Thought for the day:
“Every creature is a word of God
and is a book about God.”
- Meister Eckhart,
13th Century Mystic and Philosopher