Market Report: 2016 Year in Review
Compared to last year, home prices in the NC Mountains MLS service area increased 9.1%. Buncombe County experienced a 10.2% increase and Asheville 13.7%. Buncombe County’s median price is currently $253,400 and Asheville’s is $270,000.
The average person stays in their home for five years. If you purchased a $250,000 home in the Asheville area in 2011, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s housing price calculator says your home would be worth $308,724 at the end of 2016, which is a gain of 23.5%.
Closed sales increased 6% over the previous year. Buncombe County and Asheville accounted for a high percentage of sales increase in 2015, so while sales still increased they were lower as a percentage to other neighboring counties. Buncombe County experienced a 2.3% increase in sales during 2016.
A good sign for our market is that sales may have been higher if not for the lack of inventory. We have plenty of buyers looking for homes, but they are struggling to find the right property. The availability of active listings was down year-over-year in 2016 by 1.6%. One thing we are watching carefully is if low home supply is a drag on the number of sales in 2017. Buncombe County and the city of Asheville have the lowest supply of inventory in the entire MLS. Currently Buncombe has 3.2 months supply and Asheville 2.6 compared to the WNC MLS average of 5.4 months. Four to five months is typically considered healthy. The good news for sellers in this scenario is supply vs. demand will continue to push prices higher.
One word that’s almost vanished entirely from our real estate vocabulary is “distressed.” For the last few years distressed homes, foreclosures and short sales, were an everyday reality in our market. In 2016 the percentage of distressed sales fell 24.2% and made up only 1.4% of total sales.
Looking towards the remainder of 2017, we believe several things will impact our community’s real estate. With the stock market hitting new highs, many investors could look for portfolio diversity in real estate. Since our market is a hot vacation destination, those dollars could find their way here. Experts believe Baby Boomers may take profits from the stock market and buy real estate they can rent and enjoy personally in their retirement. Boomers are expected to make up one-third of all buyers this year.
Another positive is our region’s economic strength. With Buncombe County’s unemployment rate the lowest in North Carolina and our tourism numbers consistently rising, our region’s economy should remain strong for the foreseeable future. Our economic fundamentals are strong so housing prices should remain stable even if geo-political situations arise or interest rate increases put pressure on the market.
All data sourced from North Carolina Mountains MLS (January 2017)