Friday, March 24, 2023

Housing trends in Cape Fear continue to decline, though prices remain up

Available real etate inventory is being "gobbled up" according to Patrick LaJeunesse, spokesperson for Cape Fear REALTORS®. LaJeunesse said the month's supply of real estate inventory is the lowest he's seen since 2006. (Port City Daily/Johanna Ferebee)
Nearly every home goes under contract when it hits the market, according to 2021 Cape Fear Realtors president Tom Gale, though sales are down 12.4% in the tri-county region from September 2020 to 2021. (Port City Daily/File)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — After a heated year for the real estate market, the Cape Fear region continues to experience a cool-down as first reported in August. Data shows an overall slump in inventory, decrease in number of closed sales and decline in first-time homebuyers. Yet, median sales prices remain higher year over year.

According to a press release from the Cape Fear Realtors (CFR), pending sales across the tri-county region — New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender — are down 12.4% for September 2021 versus September 2020, and the number of first-time homebuyers declined to 29%. According to the National Association of Realtors, this is the lowest level of first-time homebuyers in years, as bidding wars and lack of affordable housing have significantly impacted the market.

READ MORE: The results are in. Wilmington’s affordable housing crisis is as bad (or worse) than you thought

“We continue to see lower listing inventory in comparison to demand, with nearly every home going under contract as soon as it hits the market,” 2021 CFR president Tom Gale said in a press release. “As long as this trend continues, there will be upward pressure on pricing.”

The cool-down isn’t necessarily reflective of a buyer’s market, as inventory continues to decrease and sale prices continue to rise.

Inventory for single-family homes and townhouses/condos was down in the tri-county region by 48% compared to national levels, which decreased by 22% from October 2020 to October 2021. There is approximately one month’s supply in the Cape Fear region, which represents the time it would take for available listings to become unavailable, with no new properties replacing them. Units are being sold quickly, spending an average of 40 days on the market, down from 69 days in September 2020.

While numbers continue to see a downward turn in many areas, average sales prices remain high. The median sales price for homes in the Cape Fear region increased 14.2% year over year, but total sales volumes continue to dip at 19.5% from October 2020 to October 2021.

According to a press release by the Brunswick County Association of Realtors (BCAR), the average sales price for Brunswick County homes has increased 10.8%, up to $432,131 as of October 2021. Total sales volume for October 2021 versus October 2020 decreased 19.5%, with 23 sales equaling more than $1 million and the highest being $2.75 million.

“Even though some national experts think the market may be in the early stages of a cool-down, Brunswick County’s market remains consistent,” BCAR CEO Cynthia Walsh said in a press release. “Prices are up, and homes are selling quickly. We expect our market to remain strong moving into winter.”

Trends of declining inventory and closed sales are mirrored in Pender County as well. As inventory becomes available, it gets snatched up quickly. Available inventory lasts around 25 days on the market versus 65 year over year. According to CFR’s website, Pender County’s median sales price increased 16.4% for single-family homes but decreased 26.3% for townhouses and condos.

The market’s year-to-date numbers remain ahead of last year’s pace, according to the CFR release, with total sales volume, average sale prices and number of units sold up from the previous year.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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