Based on data, we have seen a decrease in home and condo prices over the past year. It is a clear indication of what buyers are willing to pay and an indication that prices are adjusting downward. This is not news. Prices in Nelson County are off for the past year about 7. 2% according to the local MLS statistics. I would be happy to send you the CAAR Market Report for 2009 for Central Virginia, including Nelson. Drop me an email at timmerrick@cstone.net.  As Wintergreen makes up the lion’s share of the local market, we are affected. Building costs are also down and that may bode well for folks wanting to build in the spring. Building prices peaked in Nelson County at $206/ sq.ft. in 2006 and were $171/sq.ft. last year. Builder spec home sales are dead. Resale homes are struggling and the standing inventory of brokerage homes has to be absorbed before there is new speculative construction. Obstacles such as excess inventory, overpriced homes and condos, foreclosures, short sales, difficult financing issues, etc. are factors we have seen in one form or another in the past and we will overcome them successfully as we move forward. The realtors within our group are the most seasoned, knowledeable and experienced and by far the dominant force in the brokerage market.

With the added complications of a second home environment and stricter guidelines on financing (low rates but higher loan to values), it is unclear that sales conditions have made the turn at Wintergreen to the same extent that they have in parts of the primary markets for Central Virginia.  However, it feels that it is starting.  Sales appointments are up.  Visitations have increased and general interest is up. When we go on the road to generate business, we saw better and more interested and qualified prospects at the recent Live South show we attended last week in Tyson’s Corner at The Ritz Carlton. In addition, I believe we are seeing a market which has shown some improvement since the middle of 2009 but as mentioned, it is still very much a buyer’s market. Buyers are looking for value. Value exists at Wintergreen and it is a very good time for someone who is looking for a good buy on property in a resort community such as ours.

As mentioned, the resort’s finances and prospects are looking up and there is not the pervasive gloom that permeated the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009.  The beginning of 2010 could be pivotal.  Here are some numbers to consider:

There were 58 single family homes sold in Wintergreen and Stoney Creek during 2009 at a median price of $389,500 with an average 137 days on the market.  This is due in part to properties not being priced correctly to the market in addition to the influence of weak national and regional markets. It is a downward trend from Year 2008 which had 66 sales at a median price of $436,000 and an average of 141 DOM. Year 2007 posted 73 sales at a median price of $510,000 and 94 DOM. The distribution of the sales was also interesting for both single family homes and condos. In the past three years at Wintergreen of the total of 58 sales mountain and valley: 48 home sales were under $500,000; 7 sales were under $800,000; and only 3 sales were above $800,000.  The average cost/sq. ft on resale homes dropped from $218.46 in 2007 to $184.40 in 2009.  Clearly, the market above $500k is thin and all prices are well off their peak.  In regard to condo sales in Year 2007 there were 56 sales in condos at Wintergreen with an average mean price of $245,500 and an average of 125 days on the market. In Year 2008 there were 39 sales for an average of $215,000 and 168 DOM and finally last year 2009, 30 sales with an average of $172,500 and 137 DOM. As a result, sales prices are also well below Nelson County tax appraisals. There is a clear trend of the market readjusting. On the bright side, however, these lower prices are acting to stimulate overall sales coupled with current low mortgage interest rates. It remains to be seen if the market will continue to improve in 2010.

– from Tim Merrick (data primarily from CharlottesvilleAlbemarleArea MLS)

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