Rowan County’s housing market on the rebound

Published 12:11 am Sunday, March 20, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

The housing market in Rowan County is not quite where it was during the peak of the U.S. housing bubble in 2006, but it is getting there.

Housing sale prices are increasing, foreclosures are decreasing and the housing atmosphere is good for the market to keep improving throughout the year.

The big picture

The significant decline in housing prices that started around 2006 and 2007 is typically accepted as the reason behind the country’s most recent recession. People and companies went into bankruptcy, foreclosures were rampant and many lost their homes and jobs. Now, the market is on the upswing.

Although it happened slowly, national existing-home sales increased to its highest annual rate in six months in January, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing-home sales, including completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million in January from a downwardly revised 5.45 million the month before.

According to January’s data, existing-home sales are 11 percent higher than a year ago.

The median price for existing homes in January was $213,800, which means half of the existing homes were lower than that price and half were more than that price. The median existing-home price for January of last year was $197,600, so January 2016 saw in increase of 8.2 percent. This January is also the 47th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Houses usually sat on the market for 64 days in January, which increased from the 58 days in December but below the 69 days last January. Foreclosures sold in 57 days. The number of homes that were sold in January that were on the market for less than a month was 32 percent.

As far as new residential construction, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, new construction on privately-owned housing last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,178,000. That was a 5.2 percent more than the revised January estimate of 1,120,000 and 30.9 percent more than the rate in February of last year, which was 900,000.

In our backyard

It is happening at a crawling pace and there are still gains to be made, but the housing market in Rowan County is looking good.

Victor Wallace, president of Wallace Realty, said as of the end of last year, the county got back up to about the same amount of single-family unit houses that were sold in 2007, before the housing bubble bursted. And it happened in the last three months.

“There’s still some ground to make up on both the average price per foot and the median sale price,” he said.

The median sales price in 2007 was about $125,000. Today it is about $118,000, but it has been increasing.

The median price per square foot for those newly constructed houses is about $110 to $120. For existing homes, the median is about $72 per square foot.

According to Zillow.com, the median sales price per square foot in Cabarrus County is $89 and the median sales price is $163,250.

The median sales price in Mecklenburg County is $201,500 and the median price per square foot is $107, according to Zillow.

Dianne Greene, broker and owner of Century 21 Towne & Country in Salisbury, said the average sales price for last year was $141,108, and there are 543 houses on the market right now.

In the last 12 months, 521 houses have been sold. The average days a house spent on the market is about 183 days and property values are inching upwards.

Greene said up until last year, foreclosures were still high, but they have now slowed down.

“We will rebound because we always have,” Greene said. “Rowan County has always rebounded.”

Clay Maready, founder and owner of the construction company Built Green, said new construction for the county has increased. The company is working with Wallace Realty to build homes in the Granite Commons subdivision in Granite Quarry.

“(Rowan County) is a great place to build and I think 2016 is going to be a good year for new construction,” he said.

Maready said in 2007, development and new construction came to a stand-still. There were no loans, no incentives for development and the market flooded with older, existing homes as inventory.

Now, Maready’s company is building three spec buildings. His schedule is almost full for the next year; Maready expects 30 houses to be completed. He said new construction has picked up over the last 12 months.

Wallace said banks are reluctant to give out loans for spec houses, and that has slowed down new construction in the area.

The county has also struggled with employment, political factors, quality of life issues and other problems that have slowed down progress, Wallace said.

“It’s led us to a more difficult improvement in housing, but we’re getting there,” he said.

Greene gave the Freightliner layoffs as an example of one of the factors that impact how well the market is doing.

“Our market probably is rebounding, but there are just so many outside forces that really control our market,” she said.

Some of those problems have improved, and the county’s housing market is now slowly, but surely, improving.

With good access to Charlotte, Greensboro and other cities because Interstate 85, Greene said there is a good reason why people might work elsewhere in the area but live in Rowan County.

“I don’t think people realize how important our location is,” she said.

Wallace said with the good leadership the county currently has along with low interest and mortgage rates, things will continue to improve.

“We think this year is going to be substantially better than last year, just judging by the last two and a half months of this year,” he said.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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