2008 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Real Estate Stats in Review

This week our listings saw an average of 2.3 showings each.   Not too shabby considering it is the week before Christmas.   This traffic is a slight increase over what we have seen.   Though it remains to be seen if this increase will result in immediate offers during the holidays.   More likely it is simply a sign of what is to come in the new year.

2008 was without question a challenging real estate market.   Often it take the bad to help us recognize the good.   After a confusing year, I’m not going to try and predict what might happen in the coming year.   But I am comitted to starting the year with fresh energy and excitement to make 2009 great.   An important part of moving ahead is simply not looking back.

With a few weeks left in 2008, I thought I’d present the Mecklenburg County real  estate  data  “Year in Review”.   Here’s a chance to reflect on the year and learn our lessons now, so we can all head into 2009 full steam ahead without looking back.

The following charts summarize the Mecklenburg County real estate statistics as published in my monthly E-Newsletter.   Check out the newsletter itself for definitions.

The decrease in the number of home sales is (in my humble opinion) the biggest challenge facing our market today.   Buyers this year have been simply afraid of getting off the fence.   Its hard to blame them, especially after the collapse of the financial markets in October.   I believe the increased home sales will be the first sign of an improving market.   With interest rates at a historic low, we should start to see some improvement after the first of the year.  

This year the average sales price in Mecklenburg County really didn’t move as much as it normally does throughout the year.   Typically we see a low in mid-winter  and a high in the summer months.   We did still see that pattern, but it was just not as dramatic as in the past.

Time on market has fluctuated quite a bit this year.   It has ended the year significantly higher than it started out but it did see a period of decreasing time during the summer.   It is not likely that we’ll see the time on market decrease significantly until the number of home sales increases.

Housing supply is way up since the beginning of the year.   All across the county we are experiencing a strong buyer’s market.   This pattern is occurring because there are simply more listings coming on the market than their are sales to go around.

Pending home sales is a good indicator of what is to come in the next few months.   Pending home sales are properties under contract, but not yet closed.   It is a predictor of what will close in the next few months.   We’ve seen a decrease in pending home sales over the year and especially in the last few months.   This tells us that the reported sales are likely to be low in January and February of 2009.   If sales are to increase in the first  half of 2009,  we’ll need  to see the pending home sales number increase in our February E-Newsletter.

Hopefully mortgage rates will be our saving grace;  at least that’s what the Fed is betting.   Rates dipped in the first part of the year, then went back up in the summer.   Within the past few weeks, there has been an enormous dip in rates and many people have been able to get mortgages below 5%.   The new, low rates in December are not reflected in the chart above, so you can infer that the trendline above will head lower as the months go on.   With interest rates at all time lows and plenty of homes to choose from, 2009 is sure to bring increased housing affordability getting some buyers off the fence.

So there it is, the year in review.   It was a year for the record books and one that many of us will remember for a long, long time.   2009 could easily be more of the same, but it could just as easily be remembered as the year the markets recovered.   I’m betting on the latter and will do my best to contribute to that recovery as your trusted real estate advisor.

I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a VERY PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!!!!!

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