Triangle home sales surge while inventory levels continue to fall

dbracken@newsobserver.comJune 12, 2013 

Triangle home sales jumped 34 percent in May as buyers plowed into a market that continues to offer a limited supply of inventory.

There were 2,615 homes sold in May in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties, Triangle Multiple Listing data show. The spike in sales compared to May 2012 happened even as the market experienced a 21 percent decline in the number of homes for sale over that same period.

The numbers reinforce a dynamic that has remained stubbornly in place for months: while demand has been rising, the increase in activity has yet to entice more sellers off the sidelines.

The shortage is creating intense competition for those properties in the best condition and in the best neighborhoods. The average days on the market of the homes that sold in May was 77 days, down 34 days from the same period last year.

Frank DeRonja, owner of Frank DeRonja Real Estate in Raleigh, said he’s now finding owners who are hesitant to sell their homes because they fear they won’t be able to find a suitable replacement.

“It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing,” he said.

DeRonja said this is mostly the case in the hottest markets, which he said included homes priced up to $400,000 in many areas of Raleigh and Cary.

“It’s certainly not all segments, but some segments are so hot that you’ve got to be there Day 1 and ready to go,” he said. “ ... Anything single-family in Cary that’s priced correctly and in good condition is selling very, very quickly.”

The lack of inventory is putting upward pressure on prices, which have been rising slower in the Triangle compared to some other markets around the country. The average price of the homes that sold in May was $251,000, up 5 percent from the same period last year.

Buyers who have been frustrated by the lack of inventory aren’t likely to get any relief soon.

The Triangle isn’t expected to see a surge of homes come on the market in the second half of the year. Historically, inventory levels here peak in the first quarter, said Stacey Anfindsen, a Cary appraiser who analyzes MLS data for area real estate agents.

With pending sales up 29 percent in May and showings up 20 percent, that means buyers can expect more of the same in the coming months.

“For the next three to four months there’s going to be pricing pressure, the choices for buyers are going to get fewer,” Anfindsen said. “ ... Conditions are going to get harder for the buyers in the next two or three months.”

Bracken: 919-829-4548

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