REAL ESTATE: A look back, a look ahead

Published 8:26 pm Saturday, February 22, 2014


Last year (2013) was another real estate success story for our region. Unit sales for all property types (residential, land, commercial) was up 16 percent over 2012, marking the fourth year in a row that numbers have risen. There were 421 homes sold in our area in 2013 compared to 385 the previous year, an increase of 9.35 percent. However, the average selling price of the homes sold dropped by 2.79 percent to $141,048. Waterfront home sales were robust with 67 homes sold in 2013 compared with 56 in 2012. The average price of the waterfront homes sold dropped to $261,227 in 2013 down from $335,374 in 2012 (28 percent).

While the numbers are not particularly encouraging to sellers from a valuation standpoint, buyers should seize this great opportunity to buy. For sellers who are also looking for a replacement property, take heart in the fact that, likely, your purchase will offset any loss that you’ve incurred by selling. Also, interest rates continue to be good, currently around 4.5 percent.  One year ago, the average rate for a 30-year loan was about 3.75 percent.

Inventory levels are still strong with 579 homes available. There are currently 147 waterfront homes available. The average list price of the waterfront homes is $398,191. There are currently 194 waterfront building lots available at an average price of $100,253. In 2013, there were 39 waterfront building lots sold at an average price of $66,563. There are currently 290 non-waterfront building lots available at an average price of $40,143. In 2013, 47 non-waterfront building lots sold at an average price of $20,360.

Internet real estate syndicator Zillow reported that home values rose by 5 percent nationwide in 2013. Zillow also reports that home values will generally not increase much, if any, in 2014 due to rising interest rates. Zillow also predicts interest rates will increase to the 5 percent range in 2014. They predict home loans will be easier to get in 2014 due to decreased demand for refinancing.

In eastern North Carolina, our market recovery continues to be negatively impacted by rising flood insurance rates and homeowner’s insurance rates. Your local realtor’s association (The Washington Beaufort County Board of Realtors) is among several groups that are actively lobbying our legislature to keep these prices down.

As a final word of advice, especially to sellers, price is the single most important component in getting a house sold in this economy. If the house is priced above the market value, likely, banks will not lend money to a prospective buyer due to the bank appraisal coming in lower than the sales price. Many other factors are important, but in the end it’s about the price/value relationship.

Tom Atkins is general manager and broker in charge at a local real estate company. He can be reached at 252-644-1205 or