Although the dust hasn't quite settled it is safe to say that the month of July wasn't a barnburner for Gatlinburg area real estate sales. In fact, those of us in the business of marketing Sevier County real estate are glad to see July end and are already looking nervously toward August 2008. May's blip in activity was not followed by another up month in June and any chance of saying that sales volume was trending up has pretty much been dashed by the miserable performance of our Smoky Mountain real estate market during July.
Here is the latest summary of residential real estate unit sales for the Gatlinburg/PigeonForge/Sevierville/Seymour/Kodak areas as reported by the Great Smoky Mountain Association of Realtors MLS database which was used to create this summary:
I can best summarize our market's situation like this: Buyers are understandably reluctant to make offers in the face of the media's reporting of the state of the economy and the national real estate market in particular. Sellers are similarly unwilling to give their properties away at fire sale prices which are below recent appraisals and in some cases less than they paid if they bought around the time of the market's peak about 2 years ago. Sadly, many buyers are missing what will no doubt (with the benefit of hindsight) be looked back upon in years to come as the good old days when Smoky Mountain real estate was affordable.
Combine nervous buyers and unmotivated sellers and you get very underpaid and miserable real estate sales people. It has often been said however that you really find what you are made of during difficult times and that is certainly true during this period. Our office is still the number one selling company in the county and we had several sales during the near comatose month of July. Still, it hasn't been easy and I personally know of real estate companies that have closed recently and real estate agents that have already left the business or are making plans to depart soon. When you consider the fact that 650 agents were trying to make a living out of only 104 residential sales in July it is obvious that either sales will have to improve dramatically or the number of agents will have to be trimmed significantly. I suspect that both of these will occur and we will have many less agents (and a few less companies) by year's end to divide up what hopefully will be an improving number of transactions.