CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Home sales across the four-county Catawba Valley region began the year down slightly from where they were a year ago, down 1.6 percent with 251 homes sold compared to 255 sold last January. Compared to the rush of activity in December, sales were significantly lower, down 27.2 percent, according to data from Canopy MLS. Residential sales include only single-family and condo/townhome sales in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties.
However, buyer interest is positive and steady, as signaled by the 10.2 percent year-over-year increase in pending sales, resulting in 355 properties going under contract during the month. Pending sales or pending contracts are often seen as a forward-looking indicator and predictor of sales to come, as they generally close 45 to 60 days later. When comparing pending contract activity month-over-month, the metric is up dramatically by 31.5 percent, showing the potential for steep buyer competition building in the market later on this spring. New listing activity was down in January, falling 20.6 percent year-over-year as sellers in the region listed 301 homes last month versus 379 listed in January 2020. When compared to the previous month, new listing activity was greater, rising 8.3 percent over new listing activity in December 2020.
Cory Klassett, president of Catawba Valley Association of Realtors® and a Realtor®/broker with RE/MAX Legendary, said, “Current dynamics show our market will probably be similar to last year’s, with heavy buyer competition amidst critically low inventory and continued price growth. Buyers are being lured by low mortgage rates, which fortunately will offset rising prices. But in a difficult, low inventory market where sales are swift, mortgage preapproval puts buyers in the best position.”
With new listing activity not at a level to replenish supply, inventory across the region continued its downward trend in January, falling 57.0 percent year-over-year to 369 homes for sale at report time or 1.1 months of supply. Home sales were brisk during the month as days on market averaged 30 days in January. The relationship between supply and demand will continue to drive price increases, as evidenced by the double-digit rise in prices compared to January 2020. Both the median sales price ($205,000) and the average sales price ($257,268) rose 27.1 percent and 31.0 percent year-over-year, respectively. The average list price rose 13.3 percent year-over-year to $277,889 during the month as well. The original list price to sales price measure registered 98.1 percent during the month, an indication of sellers getting nearly all of asking price in the Catawba Valley home market.
Klassett added, “With the severe shortage of homes for sale in relation to buyers, sellers are clearly in a position to attain the best possible price and terms for their homes and can walk away with a nice profit. And though opening homes to buyers during a pandemic can be concerning, sellers should know that real estate agents have a number of tools to provide maximum exposure and reach to safely and quickly sell homes, such as virtual tours, virtual showings, and the use of digital floorplans and photos.”
Alexander County saw January 2021 sales in a slump, falling 21.1 percent compared to January 2020 with only 15 homes sold, which is actually typical for the time of year. However, pending contract activity, which represents buyers in the market, shows cause for concern as it fell 17.6 percent year-over-year compared to activity at the start of 2020. Contract activity was also down in December 2020, which means that sales in February could also be weak. New listing activity was down 14.3 percent year-over-year, showing weakened seller confidence. Prices are somewhat volatile, with the average sales price of $214,867 falling 6.5 percent year-over-year compared to January 2020, while the median sales price rose 31.9 percent year-over-year to $211,000. The percent of original list price to sales price ratio remains strong, with sellers receiving 95.9 percent of asking prices in the Alexander County market. Supply is low at 1.3 months of supply, while days on market shows homes moving rather quickly, averaging 38 days in January 2021. This dynamic of low supply, high demand and price increases will likely continue as buyers continue to look to rural communities within easy commute distance to the Charlotte region for increased choice and affordability.
Burke County home sales slipped in January, falling 16.2 percent year-over-year with 57 homes sold during the month. Buyer demand, however, is still strong, with pending sales rising 39.3 percent year-over-year as 78 properties went under contract in January. New listing activity was down 4.2 percent year-over-year as sellers appear to be waiting to list until the spring thaw. Still, the tight inventory conditions in Burke County are similar to other counties in the region. Inventory fell 54.8 percent year-over-year to 94 homes for sale or 1.3 months of supply at report time. The inventory situation in Burke County will likely impact prices this year, as both the median sales price ($180,000) and the average sales price ($203,641) rose 9.1 percent and 6.6 percent year-over-year, respectively. Sellers in the county have a real opportunity, as the original list price to sale price ratio indicated they received 97.7 percent of asking price in January, while days on market until sale averaged only 30 days.
Caldwell County home sales in January 2021 fell 4.0 percent year-over-year as 48 homes sold versus 50 that sold in January 2020. Pending sales were down 4.7 percent year-over-year as buyers drove 61 homes into under contract status. While those sales may eventually close, buyer demand is overall weak at the start of the year with contracts up 3.4 percent compared to pending contract activity in December 2020. New listing activity was also down year-over-year during the month of January, falling 34.5 percent with 55 homes listed versus 84 listed in January 2020. However, prices are rising dramatically, with both the median sales price ($188,500) and the average sales price ($227,078) rising 33.5 percent and 54.1 percent year-over-year, respectively. The average list price rose 11.9 percent during the month to $238,985. Sellers whose homes sold in January received all of asking price as evidenced by the original list price to sales price ratio of 100.2 percent, presenting a major opportunity for sellers in a county where home prices are still relatively affordable. Inventory, which fell 61.9 percent year-over-year leaving 1.1 month of supply, will continue to impact prices. Days on market until sale trended at 32 days in January 2021, another bright spot for sellers who are thinking about listing.
Catawba County home sales were positive in January, rising 11.0 percent with 131 homes sold compared to 118 homes sold in January 2020. Pending sales were healthy and rose 11.9 percent year-over-year as buyers drove 188 properties under contract during the month, ensuring healthy sales in the next 45-60 days. New listings trended negative and fell 21.4 percent year-over-year as sellers listed 154 homes for sale during the month. Listing activity should pick up around March as the spring selling season gets underway. Prices rose dramatically in response to tight inventory in January, which fell 58.7 percent year-over-year to just 168 homes for sale at report time or a little under one month of supply (0.9 months of supply). Both the median sales price ($225,000) and the average sales price ($296,520) rose 33.9 percent and 37.9 percent year-over-year, respectively. The average list price also rose 9.3 percent year-over-year in January to $278,536. The original list price to sales price measure was 97.9 percent, a sign that sellers in Catawba are inching closer to full asking price. In January, days on market until sale averaged 28 days, which means homes are not on market long. As Lincoln County to the south of Catawba County continues to see tighter inventory over this year, buyers will be lured by the ease of commute via U.S. Hwy. 321 north into Catawba, which is just 30 minutes north of Gastonia and I-85.
Canopy MLS, a wholly-owned subsidiary corporation of Canopy Realtor® Association, announced the consolidation of the MLS of Catawba Valley (MLSCV), which was effective on August 31, 2020. For more information about Canopy MLS or for residential-housing market statistics, visit www.CarolinaHome.com and click on “Market Data.”