Last year is in the history books, ending a busy year for the real estate market in the Lake Gaston area. In 2016 we closed 222 waterfront home transactions, average of $405,146 each totaling $89,942,487 or an increase of 10.35% over 2015 sales just in waterfront homes. Offshore homes showed a slight decrease of 1.98% over 2015 with 112 closed, averaging $107,173 each totaling $12,003,367. Waterfront lot sales showed a slight decrease with 42 sold, averaging $140,622 each totaling $5,906,125. Offshore lots sales increased 62.21% from 2015 levels averaging $16,012 each. Total homes and land (lots) all firms all around the lake closed 416 transactions totaling $109,965,968, an increase of 8.91% above the same period in 2015.

Sales numbers are from the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of REALTORS Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and do not include private sales.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had increased in November, posted another gain in December, standing at 113.7, up from 109.4 in November. “Consumer Confidence improved further in December, due solely to increasing Expectations which hit a 13-year high,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The postelection surge in optimism for the economy, jobs and income prospects, as well as for stock prices which reached a 13-year high, was most pronounced among older consumers. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, which declined, still suggests that economic growth continued through the final months of 2016. Looking ahead to 2017, consumers’ continued optimism will depend on whether or not their expectations are realized.”

Across the country, The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) reports existing homes sales rose 0.7% in November which is now the highest level since February 2007. "The healthiest job market since the Great Recession and the anticipation of some buyers to close on a home before mortgage rates accurately rose from their historically low level have combined to drive sales higher in recent months," says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, declined 2.5 percent to 107.3 in November from 110.0 in October. The economist credit this to the sharp rise in interest rates postelection and a shortage of available inventory in some markets.

In the Lake Gaston area we had 17 waterfront homes go under contract in December versus 7 in December last year. Despite or low inventory levels in certain price ranges we continue to see potential buyer activity. Listing your home in the winter months will attract the serious buyers with less competition from other properties.

How will the Trump Administration affect the U.S. Housing Market? Since the election, we have seen an increase of roughly one-half percent in 30-year fixed rate mortgages. The average rate now is slightly over 4%. I think this will affect the first-time home buyers more than those who move up or buy second homes. I don’t believe a half point or so rise in interest rates will have a negative impact on our secondary housing market here at the lake. Since November 8th we have seen major indexes trading at record levels with the S&P 500 up more than 5% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 7.8%. Is it overoptimism that President Elect Trump will usher in a new era of economic boom; on the back of higher fiscal spending and pro-growth policies? We will wait and see.

Still optimistic about 2017, I believe we will continue to grow in the real estate market as well as the overall economy of the lake area.

Barney Watson is Managing Partner with RE/MAX On The Lake and he is 2017 President of the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service. His cell: 252-532-3274 and website is www.barneywatson.com.