Triangle home sales increased 4 percent in April compared to the same month last year as the market’s inventory levels continued to tumble.
The April numbers from Triangle Multiple Listing Services show a housing market that has experienced a remarkable reversal in just the past five years, with inventory falling 52 percent over that period while sales rose 56 percent.
The Triangle now has a three months supply of homes at the current pace of sales, down from nine months five years ago.
“Demand is so tight at some point prices are going to rise, and they’re going to rise up to the point that more people can get into the market,” said Steve Nicewarner, a real estate agent with Better Homes & Gardens Go Realty.
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But the market doesn’t appear likely to reach that point anytime soon.
While the number of showings in April were up 8 percent compared to the same month last year, the number of homes on the market was 17 percent lower. The number of new homes on the market fell 10 percent while listings for existing homes plunged 19 percent.
The competition among sellers is helping to boost prices and reduce the amount of time it takes to sell a house in the region.
The average price of the homes that sold in April was $262,000, up 5 percent from April 2014 and a 13 percent increase over April 2011. The average days on the market of the homes that sold was 59, down from 73 days a year ago and 127 days five years ago.
“What I’ve been seeing is if you have a place that is properly prepared and properly priced it will sell very quickly,” Nicewarner said. “Sometimes if you’re a little short in one of those two it might sit for a while.”
For buyers in the market, it has become imperative to talk to a lender and line up financing before they begin seriously looking at houses.
“When you walk into that house, if it’s the one, you’ve got to be able to pull the trigger almost immediately,” Nicewarner said.
Speculation about why sellers remain so reluctant to get off the fence has become the dominant talk among real estate professionals in the Triangle. But most admit they’ve long ago given up trying to understand the dynamics of this particular housing recovery.
Nicewarner said a fair number of homeowners may still be underwater – meaning they owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth. Still others may be scarred from the bursting of the housing bubble and reluctant to reenter the market.
He’s also been running into people who don’t realize how much the market has improved over the past year.
“It’s kind of the two steps forward, one step back recovery, which we don’t see all the time,” Nicewarner said.