By: Barney Watson – Owner Broker / REALTOR® -  RE/MAX On The Lake - Lake Gaston

Fall picture on Lake GastonLake Gaston says, "Good-bye summer and hello fall!" Finally, this week, we got a taste of cooler weather rolling in making it easier to say good-bye to summer and hello fall. Yesterday I was looking out across the lake and could see the leaves are just beginning to turn. Soon they will become multicolored works of art reflecting on Lake Gaston. How blessed we are to witness this beauty.

Lake Gaston REALTORS® have not slowed down much since saying good-bye to summer. In the first nine months of this year we have closed on 198 Lake Gaston waterfront homes totaling $86.1M, an increase of 35.92% in dollar sales over the same nine months of 2016.  Lake Gaston offshore homes have been selling as well with 95 closed transactions totaling $11.3M, an increase of 24.95% in dollars sales.  Lake Gaston waterfront lots continue to increase as well with 46 sold totaling $6.3M, an increase of 20.31% in dollar sales.

The average Lake Gaston waterfront home has sold for $434,721 this year and offshore homes have averaged $118,903. Waterfront lots have averaged $137,080 in 2017.

Our total market, land and homes in the first nine months of this year have totaled $104.2M verses $79.6M for the same period in 2016, an increase of 30.86%.

On 9/30/2017 there were 248 active residential home listings. That number includes waterfront and offshore properties.  Compare that to 298, for the same period in 2016, equals a decrease of 17% in available home listings in the Lake Gaston area. The average days on market (DOM) for Lake Gaston waterfront homes in 2017 is 199 verses 220 in 2016, a decrease of 9.6%. So, we have an average of 17% fewer  Lake Gaston homes on the market with homes selling in 9.6% fewer days than just one year ago.

Applying the law of supply and demand to this information, you’d think that prices would be increasing, on average they have. Statistics show the average waterfront home sold price is up 9.8% in 2017 over the same nine months of 2016. With sales prices up, buyers are cautious about overpaying.  Remember, second homes / vacation homes are a want not a need and usually when a property goes under contract there is an appraisal involved.  If the property does not appraise for the contract price, the buyer walks away.

All sales statistics are from the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and do not reflect private sales.

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) reported Existing Home Sales across the United States are down 1.5% from a year ago. NAR also reports pending homes sales, properties under contract and not yet closed are down 2.6%.  They site inventory shortage in most markets are holding back sales.  We are also short quality inventory here at the lake in some price ranges.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had improved marginally in August, declined slightly in September. The Index now stands at 119.8, down from 120.4 in August.  Despite the slight downtick in confidence, consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains quite favorable and their expectations for the short-term suggest the economy will continue to expand.

I feel certain at the end of 2017 we will say, “It has been another great year for the Lake Gaston real estate market.”

Barney Watson is Owner Broker/ REALTOR® of RE/MAX On The Lake and 2017 MLS President of the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of REALTORS®. His cell: 252-532-3274 and web:



5 Reasons to Hire a Lake Gaston Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling a Lake Gaston Property!5 stars for hiring Lake Gaston real estate professional

Whether you are buying or selling a Lake Gaston property, it can be quite an adventurous journey. Therefore, you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

The 5 reasons you NEED a Lake Gaston real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed, but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the Lake Gaston real estate market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true Lake Gaston real estate professional is an expert in the Lake Gaston real estate market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream of “Living the Lake Life” come true!

We are often asked why there is, so much paperwork mandated by the bank for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today. It seems that the bank needs to know everything about us and requires three separate sources to validate every entry on the application form.

Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.

There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history.

1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank prove beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of affording the mortgage.

During the run-up in the housing market, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again.

2. The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business.

Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.

However, there is some good news in the situation.

The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allows you to get a mortgage interest rate as low as 3.43%, the latest reported rate from Freddie Mac.

The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty years ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990’s and 6.29% in the 2000’s). If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of less than 4%, they would probably bend over backwards to make the process much easier.

Bottom Line

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we can buy a home at historically low rates.

2. Ok, so you found your Lake Gaston dream house, now what?

There are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a Lake Gaston real estate professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

Here is a list of some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
  • The termite company if there are challenges
  • The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
  • The town or municipality if you need to get the COs permits mentioned above
  • The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges on the house your buyer is selling
  • Your bank in the case of a short sale

4. What is the Lake Gaston property you’re buying or selling really worth?

It is important for your Lake Gaston property to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

Why would FSBOs net less money than if they used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids on with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
  • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale” which could bring more money for the home.
  • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.” If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Three conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%.
  3. The sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, FSBOing may end up costing you money instead of saving you money. Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a Lake Gaston real estate professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the real estate market?

There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to help you competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your Lake Gaston home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring a local agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the local market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?


Re/max on the Lake logoIf you’ve been thinking about buying or selling a Lake Gaston property – Give Barney Watson Owner / Broker / REALTOR® with RE/MAX ON THE LAKE a call. Barney has many years of local Lake Gaston real estate experience. Barney believes in continuing education.Designations equal additional education and Barney currently has more designations than any other Lake Gaston Real Estate Agent

He is a licensed real estate Broker in North Carolina and Virginia. He has earned the following designations:

  • ABR – Accredited Buyers Representative
  • ALHS – Accredited Luxury Home Specialist
  • CHMS – Certified Home Marketing Specialist
  • CRS – Certified Residential Specialist
  • GREEN – National Association of REALTORS® GREEN Designation
  • GRI – Graduate REALTOR® Institute
  • RSPS – Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist
  • SRS – Seller Representative Specialist
  • SRES – Senior Real Estate Specialist
  • SFR – Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource
  • SPS – Strategic Pricing Specialist
  • PSA - Pricing Strategy Advisor Certification by the National Association of Realtors®
  • I am also a recipient of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame

You can reach Barney at cell: 252-532-3274 or on the web at and by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



How to Get the Most Money from the Sale of Your Lake Gaston Home 

Dollar Sign and arrow depict Save Money 

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their lake home. But how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their Lake Gaston home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price, but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house. gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Lake Gaston Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would make more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

A new study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

Price your lake home at or slightly below the current market value and hire a Lake Gaston real estate professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.


RE/MAX ON THE LAKE Owner / Broker

Barney Watson 252-532-3274

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 As I have said before, “Lake Gaston is the ideal place for a perfect summertime lake experience. Real estate showings to vacationers is increasing. It is hard to say good-bye once you have fallen in love! That is how many of us locals, myself included, came to call Lake Gaston home.”

 In the first half of 2017 we have closed on 117 Lake Gaston waterfront homes averaging $439,810 each verses 94 in the same six months last year, an increase of 41.45% as measured in dollar sales.  Offshore Lake Gaston home sales have increased sharply as well up 21.14% over 2016 sales with 49 sold averaging $116,663 each.  Waterfront lot sales continue their downtrend with 22 sold in 2017 at an average sales price of $133,932.  Total land and home sales in the Lake Gaston real estate market for the first six months of this year are $60,514,080 versus $45,843,152 in the same period of 2016 or up 32.0%.
All statistics are from the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and do not include private sales.
The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) reports pending home sales, homes going under contract but not yet closed, slipped 0.8% in May and is 1.7% below the level a year ago.  Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says it's clear the critically low inventory levels in much of the country somewhat sidetracked the housing market this spring. “Monthly closings have recently been oscillating back and forth, but this third consecutive decline in contract activity implies a possible topping off in sales," he said. "Buyer interest is solid, but there is just not enough supply to satisfy demand. Prospective buyers are being sidelined by both limited choices and home prices that are climbing too fast."
My Lake Gaston Pending Waterfront Home Index shows 130 waterfront homes went under contract in the first half of 2017 versus 126 in the same period of 2016.  Buyer activity in the Lake Gaston real estate market is good, lack of inventory in certain price levels is holding back sales slightly. 
NAR also reports existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, town-homes, and condominiums, climbed 1.1 percent in May.  The median existing-home price for all housing types across the United States in May was $252,800. This surpasses last June ($247,600) as the new peak median sales price, is up 5.8 percent from May 2016 ($238,900) and marks the 63rd straight month of year-over-year gains.  The median home (waterfront and offshore) sold in the Lake Gaston market in the first half of this year was $311,000.
The Consumer Confidence Index®, which had decreased in May, increased moderately in June. The current Consumer Confidence Index® stands at 118.9, up from 117.6 in May.  Overall, consumers anticipate the economy will continue expanding in the months ahead, but they do not foresee the pace of growth accelerating. 
Now is a great time to list your property if you have been thinking about selling.  Buyer activity is strong, we are lacking quality inventory in some price ranges and interest rates are still at historically low levels.  If you are thinking of selling; you should contact a full-time, experienced REALTOR® and get sales statistics and current Lake Gaston real estate market conditions in writing before deciding.  Homes priced correctly the first time and in good condition should go under contract within the first 30 to 45 days after going on the market.  You may also consider having inspections completed before listing your home so there are no surprises after your property is under contract.  Usual recommendations include: Home, radon, septic, and termite inspections.
Lake Gaston’s current economy is good; we continue steady growth. We expect buyer activity and real estate sales to remain strong going into the second half of 2017.
 Barney Watson is an Owner & Broker-In-Charge at RE/MAX On The Lake and 2017 President of the Roanoke Valley Lake Gaston Board of REALTORS® MLS. His cell: 252-532-3274 and web: