Beyond the Headlines: Recognizing Opportunities in Today’s Real Estate Market
By Abigail Jennings
It never fails. Wherever I go I am asked, “So, how’s the market?” I always enjoy
answering this question and discussing the “new normal” of today’s real estate market.
Our market today offers historical opportunities rich with possibility.
Perhaps one reason I’m asked this question so often is that news reports have a way of
confusing the issue. Many times we hear sound bites announcing definitively, “Home
prices on the rise,” or, ”Sales were up last month,” only to hear a seemingly conflicting
report the very next week! When evaluating what we hear on the news, it is critical to
listen for the data behind the report. Were the statistics local or national? Did the
numbers refer to units sold or the total volume of sales? Was the report based on the
average or median sales price? Often, the news report is so short it fails to mention these
very important pieces of information, rendering the headlines somewhat hollow to say the
least. The cumulative effect of these often-too-superficial reports is to make the real
estate market seem more volatile than it actually is.
In a nutshell, our real estate market continues to be affected by the Wall Street downturn
our country experienced several years ago. The 100% loans made to homeowners at the
height of inflated home prices, and the job loss created by the ripple effects of the
banking crisis have both been key components defining our current housing market.
Most homeowners who are secure in their jobs and homes do not fully understand the
repercussions of their neighbors’ misfortune on their home’s value. Unfortunately, the
sale prices from these distressed sales become the market comparables for all the homes
in the community and continue to lower home prices. Until the thousands of pending
short sales and foreclosures become finalized, it will not be possible for our home prices
to finally settle.
With that being said, I hope I did not scare any potential buyers or sellers off! Although
this news paralyzes some into steering clear of real estate today, in fact, it is quite the
opposite. Now is truly a phenomenal time to buy. Growing up in the Lake Norman
region, I always heard people talking about missed opportunities to buy a waterfront lot
for a few thousand dollars in the 1970’s. Today, I believe our real estate market offers
possibilities similar in their historical importance. Even homeowners who are waiting to
sell their home hoping for more equity in the future may want to rethink their delay in
entering the market. Today’s money will buy “more house,” and when combined with
interest rates at extraordinary lows, the opportunities are truly historical.
Speaking of history, let’s take a look back in time and see what we could have gotten in
2006, 2008, and 2010 in one of Lake Norman’s finest luxury waterfront communities. In
2006, $1.75 million would have bought a gorgeous home with a total square footage of
around 6500. In early 2008, considered by many to have been the peak of real estate
values, a neighboring home of 5300 square feet sold for almost the same money (just
over $1.7 million). In late 2010, the most recent comparable home on this street sold for
$1.4 million. But this one weighs in at over 7500 square feet, considerably more
spacious than either of the first two examples. And this pattern is fairly consistent in all
neighborhoods and price points throughout our region over the same time period. As you
can see, your money will buy you more in today’s real estate market.
For those of you with something a bit more luxurious in mind, a new property has just
entered our local real estate market which further illustrates my point. Chateau Lyon
offers not only the grandeur of scale, but also lavish attention to details beyond anything
else offered in our region. Built by furniture entrepreneurs Larry and Jane Hendricks,
this home cost over $22 million to build with elements and architectural features from
around the world. Situated on perhaps one of the loveliest sites in Alexander Island, a
cozy and exclusive neighborhood on the shores of Lake Norman, Chateau Lyon’s views
are as breathtaking as the home itself. The Hendricks spared no expense when building,
importing pinion stones hand-carved in the fields of Mexico, eighteenth century
handmade roof tiles from France, reclaimed 250 year-old heart pine plank flooring,
Biblical stone floors from the Middle East, as well as original paintings, gold-leaf
paneling, and fixtures directly from a 1901 reproduction of Marie Antoinette’s summer
home in Lyon, France; and much, much more. Although many of the home’s details are
precious antiques, this home is an astounding modern wonder with every “smart home”
feature you could imagine; creating the ultimate in the best of both worlds.
A rare gem of a home, Chateau Lyon captures the heart and mind of all who enter its
awe-inspiring halls. Its magnificent rooms each embody the spirit of this grand estate,
which feels like a visit abroad and a step back into history. It’s a historical bargain too,
as the once $22,000,000 castle is now offered at $8,000,000. So if you’re considering
calling Chateau Lyon home, don’t let the headlines dissuade you. After all in 30 years,
you don’t want to look back with regret on your missed opportunity to own a waterfront
castle for a mere $8 million.