Triangle home sales edged up 1 percent in January, but the market continues to give little indication that inventory levels are finally poised to rise.
At the end of January, 6,018 homes were on the market in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties, down 12 percent from the same period a year ago, Triangle Multiple Listing Services data show. The number of existing homes on the market declined 17 percent, while the number of new homes for sale increased 3 percent.
January was the sixth consecutive month that the Triangle inventory levels declined on a year-over-year basis.
“Inventory’s just very, very tight,” said Frank DeRonja, owner of Frank DeRonja Real Estate in Raleigh. “The list of people who are looking, for me and my folks, is getting longer and longer. There are buyers out there who are just waiting for the houses to come.”
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DeRonja said multiple offers on properties in desirable neighborhoods of the Triangle have become fairly commonplace. He’s even started to see more backup offers, where a seller negotiates a second contract with a second buyer in case something happens and the primary deal falls through.
“It’s great for the sellers, but the sellers may or may not let the primary contract know that they’ve got a backup,” he said. “It gives the seller a lot of leverage in negotiating repairs and the contract-to-close.”
While having informal backup offers has occurred in the past, it is unusual for buyers to draw up a formal contract, DeRonja said.
“Actually putting pen to paper, it’s never been that common,” he said. “The reality of it is I can only imagine we will see more of this unless there’s a huge influx of listings coming on the market.”
Agents hope that rising home prices will eventually entice more owners to list their properties for sale, though some assumed that would have happened by now. Many homeowners who bought during the boom have yet to see prices recover enough to where they can sell.
The average sales price of the homes that sold in January was $244,000, down from $250,000 during the same period in 2014.
DeRonja said speculation in the industry is rampant about what other factors might be playing into the dearth of homes on the market.
As expected, showings began to pick up in January as the spring selling season gets closer. Showings were up 14 percent in January compared with January 2014, and up 58 percent compared with the prior month.