Sales of High-End Homes Show Life
Three years ago, no one in Moore County would have noticed nine home sales valued at more than $400,000 being recorded in one week.
But in today’s depressed market, it’s cause for celebration.
“In this economy, I think it’s very exciting,” says Tammy Lyne, operating principal at Keller Williams Realty. “The higher-priced market is going to take a little more time to come back, but I see things definitely on the upswing.”
Of course, Lyne tempers her enthusiasm with an important caveat.
“Higher-end properties have definitely depreciated,” she says. “I haven’t seen depreciation like this ever in my career in Moore County, and I have been selling and appraising since 1987.”
For example, Lyne expects to close this month on the sale of a $1.38 million residence.
“At one time,” she notes, “it was listed at a little over $4 million.”
That fact underscores the importance of taking the recent “flurry” of sales with a grain of salt, according to Jamie McDevitt, owner of McDevitt Sotheby’s International Realty.
“I really think it’s a case-by-case basis,” McDevitt says. “There’s a lot of inventory out there right now. Are they all going to sell in the next couple of months? Probably not.”
Still, the sales of nine homes valued at between $425,000 and $860,000 were recorded at the Moore County Register of Deeds Office between Nov. 29 and Dec. 3.
“I don’t know that we’re setting a trend, but that market is certainly not dead,” says Kay Beran, president of Gouger O’Neal & Saunders Real Estate. “Not a whole lot has changed in that market, but it was a beautiful moment in time and we’re looking for some more.”
Beran’s firm had one of the sales, a $500,000 home in Pinehurst that the buyer chose late in the game.
“The buyer for that particular home had looked for two years,” she says. “They didn’t leave any stone unturned. They had their eye on something else, but changed their minds after looking at that house last.”
McDevitt Sotheby’s had two of the sales, one for $610,000 and another for $825,000.
“One of the sellers priced their home very fairly, so they sold it quickly,” McDevitt says. “They wanted to move on and buy something else.”
That is why seller motivation is important in a buyers’ market.
“There are so many different motivations,” McDevitt says. “With a lot of inventory out there, certain sellers need to sell. But not everybody does. Sellers that aren’t in a hurry sometimes only let go if the right buyer comes along.”
Beran believes that the resale inventory is “priced beautifully right now,” and the homes are generally in immaculate condition.
“Property investors might want to look there because, in most cases, the foreclosures and short sales may have some condition issues, so the buyers are going to have to put money into it,” she says.
Lyne, whose firm had sales of $860,000 and $425,000 during the period, says Keller Williams is on pace to have a record December.
“We’re very excited about it,” she says. “For me, this year will tie my record year in the business when I closed $17 million in 2005. But I am working two to three times harder than I did then.”
While the recession has adversely affected the industry on the sales side, it has had a positive effect in that Realtors have had to work “on” their businesses to remain competitive.
“We’re working smarter,” Lyne says. “The agents who continue to do business the way they did in the past will not be able to keep up because the technology is changing so rapidly.”
For example, Keller Williams is a paperless office.
“Clients are signing contracts digitally and electronically,” Lyne says. “I’ve got soldiers signing contracts on their computer while stationed elsewhere in the world.”
Beran says her firm has invested heavily in its website and utilized digital technology in its print advertisements.
“If you have the app, you can take a picture of the code in our newspaper and magazine ads with your smart phone and it automatically takes you to our website,” she says. “You have to get people engaged quickly or they’ll look elsewhere.”
Beran also provides clients with a weekly report.
“It tells them exactly what we’ve done, when we did it, and how effective it was,” she says. “Sellers are requiring more accountability.”
Noel McDevitt, who works with his wife at McDevitt Sotheby’s, says people still take home buying seriously.
“They make their decisions based on a lot of factors,” he says. “But no matter what technology you use, including social media, customer service still plays a huge role. You can never discount its importance.”
Lyne agrees that selling homes in today’s market takes a lot of customer-centric work.
“But I love it,” she says. “I feel very good about what our company is seeing. I think the future is bright.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
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