Real Estate market pushes forward

  • Home sales have been down compared to the spring of 2019, but the numbers point to bounceback potential for Highlands.
    Home sales have been down compared to the spring of 2019, but the numbers point to bounceback potential for Highlands.

The local real estate market has taken a hit due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but it’s not as bad as people might think. 

With N.C. Governor Roy Cooper’s stay at home directive in March ground the state and local economy to a halt, the Highlands-Cashiers real estate market hasn’t been completely stagnant. 

According to Realtor Betsy Paul, of Betsy Paul Properties, the local market has been busy, but it’s a different kind of busy.

“We’ve had 38 closings this April despite the coronavirus,” Paul said by phone. “We’re down by 20 closings from the 58 closings compared to April of last year.”

Paul said the home sales and homes under contract that have occurred in the Highlands-Cashiers area have involved buyers who already have a home up here. Presently, there are 127 homes under contract in the Highlands-Cashiers market. 

“Most of the properties I have under contract are from people in the Highlands, Cashiers, Glenville and Toxaway market,” Paul said. “For being under a stay at home directive, that’s very good.”

Paul said she’s been busier than she thought she’d be.

“We do have business, but it’s different,” she said.

Virtual home tours are on the rise, but very seldom is a home bought sight unseen.

“The virtual tour sometimes ends in a contract, but home buyers who use the virtual tour to decide they like the home and want it, will come see the house in-person before they sign a contract, or during the due-diligence period after they signed a contract.”

There is movement in the market, according to local Real Estate figures, a slow, but steady growth despite the COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions. 

“We’re down, but it’s better than I thought it would be,” Paul said.

Realtor Brooks Kitrell with Berkshire Hathaway Meadows Mountain Realty, said the Highlands-Cashiers market is experiencing what he called “a little bit of a downtick.” 

In recent years, Kitrell said there are normally around 1,200 listings on the books by this time of the year. 

“This year we have 650 active listings,” he said. “Not as many homes are being listed. The travel restrictions has been a challenge for us.”

Kitrell is optimistic about the stay at home directive eventually being listed. 

“I think when we get back to more normal operations, we are going to see a real rise in activity,” he said. “The market is going to come back strong.”