SPIRIT OF STANLY: Even during pandemic, Stanly housing market is booming – The Stanly News & Press

Catherine Katen bought her dream home in Albemarle last year: an old property from the 1930s, just a few minutes’ walk from downtown and the new Pfeiffer University health center.

“This will be the biggest home I’ve ever had,” said Katen, who lives in California.

It’s a 2,500 square foot home with four bedrooms, two and a half baths. Her furniture arrived in October and was placed around the house.

Though Katen’s real estate agent Larry McGuire showed her several other properties last spring, the house was always on her mind and she eventually bought it through Zoom / FaceTime that summer.

With an exorbitant real estate market and high population density, Katen wanted to leave her home near San Francisco, where she had lived all her life, and move to a place with cheaper housing and more spacious surroundings. She chose North Carolina and visited it twice before the pandemic broke out.

“I got there and … it was just a breath of fresh air for me,” she said.

Katen was captivated by the small town charm of Albemarle. She also looks forward to visiting the county’s natural treasures such as Morrow Mountain State Park and the lakes.

But there’s a catch: since Katen lives in Northern California and looks after her mother, who was in the hospital, she hasn’t seen the house in person, even though McGuire gave her a virtual tour of the property. She is currently repairing her own house and is hoping to move to Albemarle in the coming weeks. However, with the coronavirus pandemic still raging in much of the country, especially California, it has no set schedule for the likely move.

To feel comfortable buying a home she had never visited before, Katen and McGuire developed such a strong relationship that she trusted him and his expertise.

“I really liked him and I followed my gut instinct to stick with Larry,” she said. “He was very ethical and didn’t want to show me any houses that were out of my budget. He didn’t want to show me any houses that, in his opinion, weren’t what I was looking for. “

Katen’s situation is just one example of how the coronavirus pandemic impacted the real estate industry over the past year. Many clients and brokers use online platforms to collaborate rather than meet in person. Many house tours have also moved into the digital area.

While potential buyers could experience additional loopholes during the pandemic, the housing market as a whole boomed over the past year.

According to the Charlotte-based Canopy Realtor Association, home sales in the Charlotte area rose 5.5 percent through December, which is the most recent data, compared to the same point in time in 2019. The analysis applies to 16 counties across the Charlotte area, including Stanly County.

With the exclusive focus on Stanly, however, the growth was even greater. Home sales rose 12 percent through December last year, with 797 homes sold. A total of 711 objects had been sold by November of the previous year. Pending sales also increased by around 13 percent compared to 2019, while both median sales prices and average sales prices increased year-on-year.

“We have properties on offer, the hottest properties our area has ever seen,” said Lee Allen, agent and owner of Re / Max Town and Country in Albemarle.

Since many people no longer commute to work, home as a place to live and do business has become even more desirable since the pandemic.

Allen said one of his biggest housing demands since the pandemic has been to include an office space for people to work in.

“I would say that is perhaps the most important question I get now,” he said, noting that he was rarely asked about it until last year.

Wallace Crawford, an Oakboro real estate agent who works for Mathers Realty, said the main reason the local housing market was so successful last year was the low interest rates that led many people to look to buy homes.

“As long as these rates stay low, people will want to buy, especially when rental rates are so exorbitant,” said Crawford.

With so many people looking to buy homes, developers in the area who have access to large lots are working fast to develop them, said District Planning Director Bob Remsburg. “Because the demand is so great, they can get a pretty good price for the property.”

The subdivision of Austin Oaks is in Stanfield.

Albemarle City Council approved provisional land and conditional use permit for a cluster subdivision of 52 single-family properties on Moss Springs Road in December. The Stanfield Board of Commissioners has also reviewed a proposed subdivision of 30 homes on South Love Chapel Road.

As strong as 2020 was for the housing market, the online real estate marketplace Zillow predicts that 2021 could get even better.

Zillow said there were more than 160 apartments for sale in Stanly for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom Standard in early 2021, with Albemarle making up the majority of the total with around 80 apartments. The website lists around 400 such homes that were sold in the county last year.

Allen said Locust, because of its proximity to Charlotte and North Stanly because of Pfeiffer University, were the areas where homes really sold last year.

He noted that the only thing that kept sales from being even higher last year was a shortage of inventory.

“In a healthy market, we have about six months’ worth of inventory,” he said. “Right now we have about a month and a half in stock.”

According to data from the Canopy Realtor Association, Stanly County’s homes were on the market about two weeks less (46 days) last year than they were in 2019 (61 days). If you focus specifically on last December home sales, the discrepancy is even more apparent. Homes were in the market for just 28 days before they were sold, compared to 87 days in December 2019.

“We had more buyers than we had houses,” said McGuire.

One reason real estate agents weren’t as affected by the pandemic as people in other industries was because of the influence of the National Association of Realtors, which holds significant power as a lobbying organization, according to Crawford. NAR helped ensure that real estate agents were listed as key workers in the early stages of the pandemic so they could keep working without a break.

“We didn’t have to deal with a lot of downtime and for the first to two months after the COVID outbreak we received constant daily emails about what our protocols were as brokers, what we could and couldn’t do, and best practices we should all follow safe, ”said Crawford.

For much of the past year, real estate agents also adjusted how they interacted with potential buyers. Instead of personal house visits and open days, virtual tours became more and more the norm.

“We found ways to adapt very quickly,” said Crawford.

As COVID-19 spread faster in more urban areas, many residents in cities like Charlotte moved to rural counties like Stanly last year, Crawford said, noting that the county’s low tax rate was a major incentive.

“You can get more dirt under your feet cheaper than anywhere else,” he said of Stanly. “We are no longer the sleepy little place we used to be.”

Although Katen, the Californian, is concerned about driving the country alone, which she has never done before, she is ready for her big move to Albemarle.

“I’m so excited and happy to get there,” she said. “I have a feeling that it will be a great home for me.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller joined SNAP in January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and holds a Masters degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his immigration and culture stories were published in national newspapers through AP.

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