Triangle home sales were flat in August compared with the same period a year ago as the market continues to level off after experiencing double-digit gains last year.
There were 2,444 homes sold in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties last month, Triangle Multiple Listing Services data show.
Sales through the first eight months of this year were up 2 percent compared to the same period last year. That’s a sharp contrast from last year when sales surged 24 percent and remained strong throughout the year.
“I really do think we’re seeing a return to a more normal seasonal market where it tends to slow down in the fall, it’s kind of dead in the winter, and busy in the spring,” said Jason Graves, an agent with Triangle Real Estate Group.
Graves said the Triangle is not creating enough jobs to sustain the level of sales activity that the region experienced last year.
“I just don’t think we’ve seen the hiring we need to see,” he said. “Fortunately the market has returned – absolutely it’s returned. But it’s like we jumped off to this great start and kind of stopped.”
One of the defining characteristics of the recovery has been a lack of inventory. Many homeowners remain reluctant to sell, either because they owe more than their house is worth or they are simply not satisfied with what the market will bear.
The number of homes on the market in August was the same as it was a year ago. While new listings jumped 22 percent, the number of existing homes for sale fell 5 percent. Existing homes now account for 77 percent of the total homes listed for sale in the Triangle.
Carol McCormick, a real estate agent with Allen Tate Real Estate, said although home prices have been rising in the Triangle the movement hasn’t been significant enough for many owners.
“There’s been some improvement but we need a lot more appraisals that afford higher prices in order to be able to have our prices move up significantly,” she said. “ ... It’s something you have to educate sellers about. It’s a tough message sometimes because some times the right price is not the price they want to hear.”
The average price of the homes that sold in August was just under $260,000, up 2 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Most other price measurements show Triangle home prices rising anywhere from 2 to 6 percent, although price fluctuations vary depending on a property’s location, price point and other factors.
The lack of inventory has created a market where sought-after properties are scooped up within days, often after receiving multiple offers.
“You price it right, you market it right – put it in the right place at the right time – and it will fly off the shelves,” Graves said.
Conversely, homes that have sat on the market for some time probably need work or may not be priced correctly.
“Imagine trying to buy something for less than $200,000 in North Raleigh right now,” Graves said. “Good luck with that. Because if something’s sitting there, it’s sitting there for a reason.”