The real estate market at the Lake of the Ozarks is on the road to recovery.
That was the message shared by Re/Max Lake of the Ozarks CEO Frank Christensen before a packed house at the sixth annual Re/Max Real Estate Symposium Thursday afternoon. It was a far different outlook from a three-year period in the late 2000s that Christensen called the worst real estate recession since the Great Depression.
"The first symposium we had was in 2008, and real estate was really good," he said at the opening of the symposium at Osage National Golf Club. "We had robust sales, but we were totally ignorant of what was to come."
The bottom of the real estate market at the lake came in 2009 when the number of transactions fell to 1,340 from a high of 2,477 just two years earlier, according to Jeff Krantz, Re/Max Lake of the Ozarks vice president. The sales volume for 2009 was $250 million, less than half the volume of 2007 of $535 million.
But those bleak days appear to be history, according to information compiled by the Re/Max team from the Bagnell Dam Association of Realtors and the Lake of the Ozarks Board of Realtors.
"Last year we saw some improvement, and this year we'll see a little brighter picture," Christensen predicted.
Krantz presented a detailed slide show on all segments of the local real estate market including lakefront homes, off-water homes, condominiums and commercial/lands and lots.
The numbers provided throughout the presentation were for the first three quarters of each of the years examined to provide an accurate comparison to the first three quarters of 2013.
In 2012, there was a 13 percent increase in the number of transactions over 2011, and a 12 percent increase in volume of sales over 2011.
So far in 2013, the number of units sold has increased 16 percent over last year and the sales volume has increased 25 percent.
All segments of the market have shown increases from previous years, but the off-water market has seen the largest increase in both the number of transactions and dollar volume. The number of units sold increased 20 percent from the previous year and the sales volume has jumped 40 percent through the first three quarters.
In the first three quarters of 2011, there were 474 off-water sales totaling $46,582,621. In 2012, units sold moved up to 517 for $58,180,081 in volume, and so far this year there have been 620 units sold for $81,131,622.
By comparison, there was a 5 percent increase in number of waterfront units sold and a 20 percent jump in sales volume. There were 434 waterfront units sold in the first three quarters of 2011 for $129,415,478 in sales volume; in 2012 there were 506 units sold totaling $139,485,372; and so far in 2013 there have been 533 units sold totaling $167,910,953.
Page 2 of 3 - Foreclosures
One of the barometers in determining the health of the real estate market is the number of foreclosures.
Waterfront foreclosures have been relatively steady the last three years, while off-water foreclosures have declined considerably, according to figures provided by Krantz.
Waterfront foreclosures in 2011 were 9.5 percent of total sales (41 units), in 2012 were 7 percent (34 units) and so far this year have edged back up to 9 percent (46 units).
Off-water foreclosures for 2011 were 39 percent of sales (183 units), in 2012 fell to 31 percent of total sales (159 units) and so far this year are at 25 percent of sales 153 units.
The number of homes on the market is another indicator of real estate health. It's simply a matter of supply and demand, noted Krantz. The more homes on the market, the lower the average sale price; the fewer homes on the market, the higher the average sale price, he explained.
In 2009, there were 7,426 real estate units on the market. Today, there are 5,874. That represents a 22 percent decline in the number of units available to sell, he said.
Reason for hope
Krantz listed several reasons there is optimism among Realtors that the market will continue to improve:
•There are increased sales and increased volume
•There is decreased inventory
•The is decreased foreclosures
•Home construction is more visible
•Values have stabilized and this year have shown signs of appreciation in some sectors of the market
•Slightly decreased inventory
•Flat but stable sales and volume numbers
•Majority of sales are resale units
•Many stalled out/bank-owned projects being cleaned up and sold
•Little new construction coming on line
•Commercial interest is on the rise
•Area growth projections are strong
•Lake lot sales and interest are increasing
•Quality lake lot inventories are low
•Farm and acreage market has doubled over units sold
•Acreage prices are flat but inventories are low
"I'm optimistic we will see continued improvement in the real estate climate," Christensen said in concluding the symposium. "Real estate is on the road to recovery."
He noted that lake-area real estate survived the challenges posed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on lake boundaries, survived the negative publicity surrounding the closing of public beaches due to goose droppings, survived four years of recession and most recently survived the government slowdown.
Page 3 of 3 - "What doesn't kill us will make us stronger," Christensen declared.