Triangle home sales up 19 percent in second quarter

Though Triangle listings continue to fall, sales continue a steady rise

dbracken@newsobserver.comJuly 12, 2012 

The Triangle housing market continued its upward swing in the second quarter, with sales increasing 19 percent over the same period a year ago.

The results continue a trend that has been in place for months now: While the number of homes listed for sale in the region continues to fall, the number of sales occurring keeps steadily rising.

There were 5,721 homes sold in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties during the three months that ended June 30, Triangle Multiple Listing Services data show. Pending sales for the quarter were up 22 percent, and showings increased 11 percent.

“Obviously, we’re encouraged by seeing the pattern continue,” said John Wood, a Re/Max United agent in Cary. “Some buyers are struggling now that it’s not a full blown buyers market anymore. I think the good homes that are priced fair are moving very quickly.”

The average days on the market for the homes that sold during the quarter was 115, down from 121 during the same period a year ago. Wood said a fair amount of inventory remains on the market that is either priced too high or in need of work.

“Some of (those sellers) are waking up and finally realizing what they need to do, whether it’s price or condition,” he said.

There were 9,495 homes listed for sale at the end of quarter, a 24 percent decline from the same period a year ago. The number of new homes on the market is now less than 1,500 – a startlingly low number given that the Triangle had more than 4,000 new homes on the market just four years ago.

“It just keeps going down,” said Stacey Anfindsen, a Cary appraiser who analyzes MLS data for area real estate agents. “It’s a phenomenon.”

Part of the continuous drop can be explained by the pain that the housing collapse inflicted on custom-home builders. Historically, custom builders have been responsible for a large percentage of the new homes on the market in the Triangle.

But many of those builders either have gone out of business or are having difficulty getting financing. Many of the national homebuilders remain bullish on the Triangle market, as is evident by the number of new communities being announced in recent months.

Late last month, PulteGroup announced that it will begin pre-sales at a 1,275-unit age-restrictive community in Durham in the fall. It’s among the largest new communities to be launched in the Triangle since the housing bubble burst.

“The regional and national builders are going to dominate our market, which they never did before the downturn,” Wood said.

At the current pace of sales, the Triangle has a five-month supply of homes on the market, compared to an eight-month supply during the second quarter of 2011.

‘Cautiously optimistic’

The year-over-year increases in the second quarter were very similar to those recorded in the first quarter. The numbers are encouraging given that most real estate experts predicted that the monthly year-over-year gains would shrink as the year went on, in large part because sales early last year were particularly dismal.

June and July are traditionally the strongest months for home sales. The Triangle recorded 2,167 home sales in June, which was 20 percent more than during the same month in 2011.

Pending sales in June accounted for 22 percent of the total for the quarter, up from 13 percent for the second quarter of 2011.

“We’re getting healthier in certain markets,” Wood said. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

Bracken: 919-829-4548

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