Triangle home sales up 1 percent in July

08/15/2014 5:04 PM

08/15/2014 5:05 PM

Triangle home sales inched up 1 percent in July compared with the same period last year, as the housing market continued to level off after experiencing big year-over-year gains in 2013.

Through the first seven months of the year, home sales in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties are up 2 percent compared with the same period last year, Triangle Multiple Listing Services data show. By comparison, home sales surged 24 percent last year.

Most housing analysts expect the Triangle to post annual sales growth this year in the low single digits as the region is not experiencing the kind of robust job growth needed to sustain such double-digit increases.

“I think we’re going to flatline for the rest of the year,” said Stacey Anfindsen, a Cary appraiser who analyzes MLS data for area real estate agents. “It will just be 2 percent. We won’t see much movement in these numbers. The market we’ve had for the past six months will be the one we finish up with.”

The number of homes listed for sale continues to rise slowly, increasing 4 percent in July compared with the same month a year ago. The uptick in inventory is being driven largely by new home listings, which were up 23 percent while the number of existing homes on the market declined 1 percent.

The average price of the homes that sold in July was just over $260,000, up 4 percent. The average was the highest for July since 2010.

The housing market in Orange County continues to struggle compared with other Triangle counties. Orange was the only one of the four counties that experienced a decrease in closed sales and an increase in both the months of housing supply and the average days on the market of the homes that sold.

Closings decreased 13 percent while the supply of homes on the market rose from 3 to 5 months. The average days on the market of the homes that sold rose from 98 days to 115.

A number of factors contribute to the struggles in Orange County, said Lynn Hayes, owner of Lynn Hayes Properties in Carrboro.

The biggest is that places like Chapel Hill and Carrboro now face a lot more competition from the housing markets in places such as Durham and Cary.

“A lot of the younger people are choosing to live in Durham now,” Hayes said. “Durham has so much going on; the whole revitalization of the downtown has really drawn the younger people over there.”

Meanwhile, the opening of the Triangle Expressway extension of Interstate 540 in western Wake has made the commute from Cary to Research Triangle Park much more appealing to buyers.

“The prices in Chapel Hill are so much higher than Cary, you can get so much more house for your money,” Hayes said. “And if you’re coming to work at RTP, then Cary is just as viable an option in terms of commuter time.”

The housing stock in Orange County is also much older than in other places in the Triangle. The average year built of the Orange County homes now listed in MLS is 1987, compared with 2004 in Wake Forest, 2000 in Chatham County and 2000 in northwest Wake County.

“There are still people who want a college town and still want what Chapel Hill and Carrboro has to offer,” Hayes said. “But we have a lot more competition than we did.”

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