There seems to be a lot of development in Guilford County and a pretty healthy real estate market buzzing right now.

However, the number of real estate documents filed with the county’s Register of Deed’s Office has fallen off greatly in recent years.

Between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, the county’s deeds office handled 542,733 real estate documents, while, in that same time period from 2022 to 2023, the number of documents handled was only 335,517.

Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen said this week that the precipitous drop was actually the numbers returning to normal after the pandemic.  That may surprise some people since, during the pandemic, just about everything seemed to shut down.

“When Covid hit in March 2020, we initially thought real estate transactions were going to go down significantly,” Thigpen wrote in an email.  “We were wrong.”

That seemed a reasonable assumption since it was even hard for real estate agents to show houses at that time.

However, the deeds office turned out to be very busy during the pandemic.

   “They ACCELERATED significantly past pre-pandemic numbers,” he wrote of real estate documents being processed by his office at that time, “based on favorable interest rates, housing availability, and demand. In addition, Register of Deeds transactions came from consumers paying off their homes or refinancing due to low interest rates during that period. This acceleration was good in the short term, created additional county revenue, but was unsustainable.”

Thigpen added that the extra business three years ago is now known as the “Pandemic Acceleration.”

He noted that there are a number of reasons why area housing sales are down since the end of the pandemic.  Home values in the county have gone up a lot in the last three years and, while higher prices are great for sellers, the new interest rate for mortgages can be around 8 percent, more than twice what many people were paying.

  “This housing supply/interest rate dynamic has been problematic to home sales lately,” Thigpen stated. “Demand is still high, but supply is still low.”

The Register of Deeds added that, currently, home sales are moving back to pre-pandemic transaction numbers – along with Register of Deed’s document volumes.

“Looking forward things appear to be setting down,” he stated.  “Interest rates are beginning to drop, and the overall economic forecast is getting better, so this may be an ‘X’ factor for housing transactions in the Spring and Summer. Hopefully housing markets will see positive movement this year.”