Barney Watson could not have picked a more remarkable time in the real estate industry to go into business for himself.
With more than two decades of experience on Lake Gaston, the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of Realtors state director has never experienced a variation quite like this before as he embarks on a new business venture.
“I’ve been doing this 21 years and I’ve never seen a market like this,” Watson said. “And everybody I talk to has never seen it like this either. COVID has really changed the world. It’s changed the way we do business.”
COVID-19 has changed the way everyone does business.
For Watson, he’s now adapting to the active real estate business with his own new company Lake Gaston Real Estate LLC after 15 years of work with RE/MAX, where he earned both Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement honors in addition to taking home the Realtor of the Year award in 2017 from the Lake Gaston Roanoke Valley Board of Realtors.
Watson started the new venture in October. If you can believe it, that Lake Gaston Real Estate company name hadn’t been spoken for at least for quite some time and it happens to fit perfectly for Watson, who writes a real estate update article each quarter for the Gazette-Observer.
Licensed in North Carolina and Virginia, the Mechanicsville, Va. native’s focus is Lake Gaston.
“I don’t go to Kerr Lake or Buggs Island Lake,” Watson said. “I don’t know anything about Buggs Island Lake. I don’t go to Roanoke Rapids. Occasionally I will do one or two in Roanoke Rapids. I’ll list or sell. If one of my clients wants to buy something in Roanoke Rapids, I will probably help them. If one of my clients wants to buy something on Kerr Lake, I won’t help them because everything is different on Buggs Island Lake than it is on Lake Gaston.”
Watson was referencing the water fluctuations on Kerr Lake and the inability there to have a permanent boat house, for example.
“If you ask someone on Lake Gaston what a buoy permit is, they’d have no clue,” Watson said. “It’s just way different. It would be like me going to Richmond and selling real estate. It’s not my market. I play in my sandbox, not everybody else’s.”
That sandbox is active with buyers now, as Watson detailed in his last Lake Gaston Real Estate Update. He has had to turn some prospective buyers away because there’s just not much out there right now.
“People have realized they don’t have to go to the office every day,” Watson said. “... The kids are not in school. Some are. Some aren’t. So working remotely from the lake or the beach or the mountains is certainly a possibility and people are capitalizing on that.”
Compared to this time (June 1-Nov. 11) one year ago, the number of waterfront homes sold increased by a measure of 26.9 percent with the average sold price increasing 20.6 percent to $536,361. The number of days for listings on the market also dropped 11.4 percent.
“The stock market is good,” Watson said. “The economy is good. That’s another reason why second homes are selling. And right now we have more buyers than we do available properties. We’re definitely in a sellers’ market which is driving the prices up.”
How long will this trend continue? Nobody knows for sure. But Watson added that if you’re thinking about selling a property, now is the time to get it on the market.