Real Estate News

Triangle home sales up 4 percent as inventory levels keep falling

Triangle home sales rose 4 percent in November compared with the same period a year ago as limited inventory continued to help push prices higher.

There were 1,767 homes sold in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties last month, Triangle Multiple Listing Services data show. November was the 19th consecutive month that Triangle home sales increased on a year-over-year basis.

Through the first 11 months of the year, sales are up 10 percent compared to the same period in 2014.

“Obviously, it’s been a great year and it would probably have been a better year had we had more inventory,” said Mark Parker, vice president of sales for Fonville Morisey’s Stonehenge office in North Raleigh.

The number of homes listed for sale in the region fell 13 percent in November to 5,932. Inventory levels are now down 40 percent from the same period four years ago and have fallen for 15 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis.

This is typically among the slowest periods of the year in terms of sales activity, with many buyers putting off their search until the spring.

“There’s still some built up anticipation for what comes in the new year,” said Van Fletcher, a real estate agent with Allen Tate. “Folks that are looking at homes with me now are a little disappointed in the inventory and I just remind them what you see now is not going to be what you see in a month. The picture changes almost weekly because there’s not enough so things get snatched up faster.”

In addition to needing more homeowners to list their properties for sale, agents are also waiting for the pace of new home construction in the Triangle to pick up.

Fletcher said he has been seeing more speculative construction by homebuilders, particularly inside the Beltline and in North Raleigh, which should help with the inventory shortage. New home listings increased 15 percent last month compared to November 2014 while existing home listings dropped 22 percent.

Parker said while the inventory picture is likely to improve somewhat next year, it will take several years for it to catch up to demand.

The good news for sellers is that the tight inventory is both raising prices and shortening the time it takes for many people to sell their home. The average price of the homes that sold last month was $278,000, up 9 percent from same period last year.

The average days on the market for the homes that sold in November was 52 days, down from 90 days a year ago.

“We’re still seeing multiple offers on homes that are listed and priced right from the get-go,” Parker said. “That’s still occurring but sellers have got to be realistic and price their house right.”

We’re still seeing multiple offers on homes that are listed and priced right from the get-go.

Mark Parker, Fonville Morisey

Despite the lack of supply, sellers are still offering financial concessions to buyers on the vast majority of transactions completed in the Triangle. Concessions were offered on 70 percent of all sales completed in November, up from 63 percent during the same period last year.

One question hanging over the housing market is what potential effect a rise in mortgage rates will have. The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday for the first time in nearly a decade.

Fletcher said he doesn’t expect the Fed’s actions to change buyers behavior in the near-term, both because the threat of a rate hike has been talked about for months and the central bank has made clear it expects to raise rates gradually.

“It may be too much crying wolf,” Fletcher said. “When they do it’s not like it’s going to be a huge rate hike.”

David Bracken: 919-829-4548, @brackendavid