Last year is in the history books, ending a busy year for the real estate market in the Lake Gaston area. In 2017 we closed 257 waterfront home transactions, average of $431,262 each totaling $110,834,365 or an increase of 23.23% over 2016 sales just in waterfront homes. Offshore homes showed a steady increase of 12.51% over 2016 sales with 122 closed, averaging $115,597 each totaling $13,653,628. Waterfront lot sales showed an improvement with 61 sold, averaging $138,298 each totaling $8,436,200. Offshore lots sales also improved with an increase of 28.37% from 2016 levels averaging $20,041 each. Total homes and land (lots) all firms all around the lake closed 480 transactions totaling $133,940,143, an increase of 21.66% above the same period in 2016.
Sales numbers are from the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and do not include private sales.
What is the 2018 economic forecast, good question. The economy is improving, Americans ended 2017 feeling good about the future. Consumer confidence is up, fueled by the job market, the stock market, an increase in corporate earnings and the new tax laws. Consumers are starting to spend again. However; the supply of available homes is a drawback for real estate sales. Home inventory supply is not keeping up with demand across the United States. Our local market is seeing a slight increase in sales prices as a result.
A recent article by REALTOR.com predicts in 2018 housing supply will increase which will slow the price appreciation seen in 2017. They also predict mortgage interest rates will rise.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® decreased in December, following a modest improvement in November. "Consumer confidence retreated in December after reaching a 17-year high in November," said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "The decline in confidence was fueled by a somewhat less optimistic outlook for business and job prospects in the coming months. Consumers' assessment of current conditions, however, improved moderately. Despite the decline in confidence, consumers' expectations remain at historically strong levels, suggesting economic growth will continue well into 2018."
National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports pending home sales, contracts signed, but not yet closed, were up slightly in December. NAR also forecast Existing Home Sales in 2017 to come in at an increase of 1.7% over 2016 numbers with sales prices up 5.8%. The prices increase is more then double the average wage growth. Nationally, the current housing supply of 3.4 months is the lowest on record since NAR began tracking in 1999.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says contract signings mustered a small gain in November and were up annually for the first time since June. "The housing market is closing the year on a stronger note than earlier this summer, backed by solid job creation and an economy that has kicked into a higher gear," he said. "However, new buyers coming into the market are finding out quickly that their options are limited, and competition is robust. Realtors® say many would-be buyers from earlier this year, stifled by tight supply and higher prices, are still trying to buy a home."
Interest remain at historically low levels, 3.75% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and 3.125% for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage.
How will the new tax laws affect our real estate market? The best part of the new tax law is more workers should see an increase in their wages because of tax decreases. I do not think the decrease in mortgage interest deduction will make a difference in the Lake Gaston real estate market. In higher-end real estate markets such as New York, Florida, New Jersey, it probably will. I think the increase in the standard deduction will also be good.
We feel optimistic about the growth around the lake and our real estate market going forward.
Have you been thinking about selling your home? There are potential buyers looking for waterfront homes, priced right and in good condition. Don't miss a great time to sell. "Spruce up" your home and get it listed right away! Always, consult a full-time REALTOR who can supply you with written data about the true value of your home.
Barney Watson is Owner/Partner and Broker-in-Charge for RE/MAX On The Lake and he is 2018 State Director for the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of REALTORS®. His cell is 252-532-3274 and website is www.lakegastonrealestate.com.