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Mid-priced home sales drive market recovery

Buyers quickly snapped up new homes at Fox Chase by Windsor Aughtry. Buyers quickly snapped up new homes at Fox Chase by Windsor Aughtry.

Home sales rose in Henderson County last year over 2013 and the trend for real estate sales looks promising this year, real estate agents said. Home prices, however, still lag behind their peak during the pre-recession real estate boom.

"We actually sold more homes than we did in '07 but our prices weren't back to what they were," said Steve Dozier, a Realtor with Beverly Hanks & Associates. "We've still got a ways to go on market price."
The fastest selling homes are in the low- to mid-range, with buyers quickly snapping up houses priced from $150,000 to $250,000.
"We are starting to see a few multiple offers," Dozier said. Mid-priced homes are in such high demand that many are "gone within a few days or week or so."
The trend is good news for sellers, as inventory drops and prices tick up. Real estate sales agents and others are looking with increasing anticipation at the gain from 2011 to 2015. Why? Because this is a revaluation year and most homeowners will see new values on their homes — up or down — when Tax Assessor Stan Duncan sends out notices of the 2015 assessed taxable value.
Dozier guessed that the overall gain would come in at 6-7 percent — slightly higher than the overall value of closed sales because the tax assessor looks only at arms-length transactions.
"The county does not look at foreclosures or short sales," he said. "They're not allowed to by law. At same time, short sales kept our prices a little lower, because foreclosures were selling at a pretty good discount.

"He's going to look at those and say they do have an effect on the rest of the market," he added.
Dozier put the real estate appreciation at 3½ percent for each of the past two years. Prices are rising "because our feeder markets (Florida, Arizona and California) are having pretty decent recovery."

New tax assessment

Real estate recovery


* Median sales price: $187,000 (up from $179,000 in 2013, 16% lower than 2007 peak)
* Months of inventory: down 20% (indicating increased sales pace)
* Highest number of sales by price range: $200-299,000 (266 sales)
* Lowest number of sales by price range: $800-899,000 (13)
* Sales over $1 million: 35.
* Supply: 893 (down from 1,008 in 2013)
* Cash sales: 33%
* Distressed sales: 11% (down from 16%)
* Most days on market: 346 ($500-$599,000.)
* Fewest  days on market: 163 ($100-$199,999)

Source: Beverly-Hanks Realtors, Multiple Listing Service

During a budget retreat last month, County Manager Steve Wyatt told the Board of Commissioners that the growth in overall taxable value would be a critical part of the board's budget-drafting plans through 2019. The commissioners have agreed to repeat the strategic planning process they adopted in 2011, using a four-year plan to finance capital projects.
Only Duncan knows the number, Wyatt said, "and he's not giving it up." Wyatt walked the commissioners through numbers showing that if it kept the tax rate at 51.36 cents per $100 valuation the county would gain $1.4 million with 3 percent growth, $2.6 million with 5 percent growth and $3.9 million with 7 percent growth.
Under state law, the board must publish a revenue neutral rate — the rate it would set in order to raise the same amount of money as the current year.
"The commissioners survived this long with lower revenues so let's be revenue neutral," said Bill Fishburne, the immediate past president of the Hendersonville Board of Realtors. "Let's continue at this level and let additional growth and additional property value because of the growth take care of the additional revenues they need."

'Tremendous interest in $200,000 houses'

Like Dozier, Fishburne was bullish on the local real estate market.
This year "I think will go another 4 percent but we're not back to 2007 yet," he said. "2007 is the peak of the market, the peak of real values in terms of what will somebody pay. My outlook is oil prices are going down, the cost of building materials should go down and that should generate more building in the community and I think that's great."
A big homebuilder like Windsor Autry "is building just about as fast as they can," Fishburne said. 'There's a tremendous amount of interest in $200,000 houses ... I don't think anybody should jump in there and build a $500,000 spec house because that market's not back yet and I don't know when it will be. You make more money building five $200,000 houses than you do one house for a million. I think that the $200,000 is always going to be in demand."
Tim Ertzberger, the new president of the Board of Realtors, said Henderson County's sales growth of 11 percent is in line with the state's growth.
"In January of 2012, distressed properties – foreclosures, short sales, REOs — made up 35 percent of the national market," he said. "In October 2014, it was 9 percent. It was never 35 percent of our market. We live in an affluent market so our people did not get hit near as bad. As far as projected home sales for 2015, the national association is predicting a 6 percent increase, FreddieMac is predicting 5.8 percent and mortgage bankers association is right at 5.9 percent."
Ertzberger says he as interest rates have inched up, younger buyers moan that they've missed the boat on historically low rates. He reminds them of interest rates of 8 percent in the 1970s and 12 percent in the 1980s.
"We're still better off than we've been in for 40 years," he said.
As for the new appraisal for tax purposes, Ertzberger also predicted that the mid-priced homes would gain the most.
"Here again that's the part of our market that's the most desirable and where you're going to see the most appreciation," he said. "In the high end market, you're going to see some that are flat or even down a little bit."