While some aspects of the lake economy are still struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people buying lakefront homes has been skyrocketing in recent months.
Realtors around the lake have been experiencing a surge in home sales since the spring. If the current trend continues, sales are expected to even surpass record numbers that the lake experienced in the early 2000s.
Mary Lou McDonald, broker/owner of ML Realty in Huddleston, said she was preparing for a down year in March with everything coming to a halt due to the pandemic. “At the end of March I was thinking how we are going to make it through the year,” she said.
In just a few weeks that changed when McDonald said “the floodgates opened,” and there was a rush of people interested in buying new homes. She is now working seven days a week showing homes to prospective buyers.
The influx of new buyers is due to several reasons, according to McDonald. The pandemic has made people reconsider living in bigger cities where people are crowded together. Also, more people are working from home due to the pandemic, which allows them to work from anywhere. Along with that, interest rates are at a historic low.
Jada Turner, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate, said so far this year 268 lakefront homes have been sold with another 100 sales currently pending. She said she expects more will be sold in the remaining three months left in the year.
In 2005 when lakefront homes were in high demand, just over 300 homes were sold. If sales continue, this year will likely surpass that record year.
“We haven’t seen numbers like this in 20 years,” Turner said.
Both McDonald and Turner said it is not unusual for multiple offers to be made on a lakefront home within hours of it being listed. Some of the home buyers are even taking virtual tours of a home by video call to quickly make an offer and beat out other prospective buyers.
Barry Bridges, broker/owner of Weichert Realtors Bridges and Co., said home buyers are even making multiple bids on homes, sometimes tens of thousands above the asking price, to beat out other potential buyers. He said he has even noticed buyers putting an escalation clause in the purchase offer to assure they outbid other offers — something he has rarely seen since the early 2000s.
“It has been a very surprising year,” Bridges said. “An amazing year.”
Lakefront homes are selling faster than they can be listed, Bridges said. Most homes previously took around six months to sell on average, but that is no longer the case.
“If you have a listing for a $600,000 home, it is gone,” Bridges said.
Historically, home sales begin to slow down in the fall and winter. Bridges said it will be interesting to see what happens this year. There is also a lot of uncertainty with the upcoming presidential election and ongoing concern over COVID-19.
At the moment, sales are going strong and realtors are still actively trying to keep up. While Bridges said he has seen a substantial increase in lakefront and lake access homes at the lake, he said home sales all over the area have seen a significant increase.