By Jesse Wood
July 31, 2012. Though the High Country – Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties – has experienced nearly 250 foreclosure filings this year, the percentage of local foreclosure filings has actually dropped 17 percent during the same period last year – from January through June.
This rate – 17 percent – is nearly double the state average, whereas foreclosure filings in all of North Carolina have dropped 9 percent, according to N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.
So far this year, 130 properties have been filed for foreclosure in Watauga County for a four percent drop over last year; 62 filings in Avery County for a 23 percent drop; and 52 in Ashe County for 34 percent drop.
Watauga County recovered from the foreclosure-filing high of 2010 sooner than Ashe and Avery counties. Whereas Watauga County noticed a significant 25 percent drop in 2010, Ashe and Avery counties are seeing that comparable drop this year.
Last year foreclosure filings dropped nearly 25 percent, and in December, some experts following real estate trends attributed last year’s double-digit drops in foreclosures to backlogged cases – and not because of the health of the real estate market. (See in-depth article on local foreclosures, which was in the last printed edition of High Country Press)
But in recent monthly press releases, the High Country Association of Realtors has been touting the market’s recover and great part of this year’s “boom” in particular “to buyers’ market conditions.” A release in July stated, “[The number of realtor-assisted] listings sold are up 31 percent compared to this time last year, and more than 42 percent compared to the first six months of 2010.”
The association stated that, so far, the listings are on the market for an average 248 days, which is the lowest since 2006. It added that “inventory is staying strong” with 2,079 new listings this year. So far in 2012, 543 listings worth $135.3 million have been sold, all of which has a median price of $199,900.
“After a high in 2006 and a low in 2010, the real estate market in the High Country is recovering nicely,” said Laurie Phillips, executive officer of High Country Association of Realtors.
In December, James Dorman, 70, owner of Castle Rock Realty, Ltd., mentioned that multi-million dollar properties were selling for less than a $1 million and said the down economy was unlike anything he’d ever seen in his life.
But speaking today, he said there has been “little change” over the past several months and that “values have dropped 10 percent in the last year.”
“As far as sales, very little has changed. If anything, you could say it’s held steady,” Dorman said. “As far as an uptick, nothing to brag about. We’ll have a good month, and then three bad months.”
He said a property with a brand new house, never occupied that cost $3.5 million to construct sold in the last 30 days for $925,000. He mentioned a 127-acre development with brand new utilities, 47 lots and a paved road that was invested with $6 million sold for $775,000 in the last two months.
Like the High Country Association of Realtors said, that does sound like a buyers’ market.