Halfway into a fiscal quarter is always a good time to take stock and review market data. I feel the early part of this year in particular is a critical data snapshot as the figures will reveal to us not only indicators for the season to come, but will also speak to the overall continued market recovery in our area. Therefore, I was eager to get a barometer reading on the market and did some research to see what the 2014 sales-to-date activity tells us.
I was most pleased by what I saw.
To date in 2014, there have been 45 closings in the Highlands-Cashiers market: 21 residential sales, 17 land sales, 6 townhouse/condo sales, and 1 commercial sale.
First, the purchase prices and property locations were across all price points and market areas. This suggests that investors are not favoring one area over another, nor are they focused in a certain price range. Further, entry-level properties sold, as well as luxury properties. I like this broad range of sale types and prices as it signals organic and healthy market activity/continued recovery.
Second, take note of the land sales. In an earlier column I predicted that land sales would pick up considerable steam this year, and the return of building would ensue. I am delighted to see these land sales figures, especially so early in the year. This indicates to me that my reading of the tea leaves is most likely on track, and that we will continue to see momentum increase around land buys and interest in new home construction as we head into the second quarter.
Finally, I have an interesting data point to share that may be the most telling of all. As you know, last week we had significant snow fall in the area, making many roads impassable for days. Typically, winter brings a slowing of the pace of activity, and when winter weather comes, (again, typically) activity all but stops. Not so last week! In fact, right after the storms hit, I had requests from buyers to see property. During the week, I worked with multiple sets of buyers and also accompanied several showings of my listings. Each of the buyers I showed shared the same sentiment: we are serious about investing – right now – regardless of the weather.
In addition, when I scan our page views (on all of our online marketing outlets), I see a significant uptick in our first time visitors, return visitors, and time visitors spent viewing listings. Therefore, investors are shopping both onsite and online – indicating that showing appointments will rise sharply in the coming weeks, with sales to follow.
While I still consider the market overall as a Buyer’s market, I believe the early data indicates we will see a shift in the Highlands-Cashiers market to become more of a Seller’s market in 2014. Timing often is everything. I definitely see blue skies for investors this year, yet the window for the great deal is narrowing.