Real Estate - Residential

With Home Sales Down In July, Realtors Struggle To Choose 'sweet Spot' Prices

By Cece Nunn, posted Aug 12, 2022
Home sales are down, prices are up, but Realtors in the Wilmington area say finding buyers isn’t the main thing keeping them up at night.

Their biggest challenge these days is winning a daily real estate equivalent of The Price Is Right.

“We are seeing stuff come on the market and then a price reduction because I think agents aren't sure really what the sweet spot is right now,” said Ea Ruth, president of Cape Fear Realtors. “There are still buyers out there looking, but what's that sweet spot?”

The median price in the Wilmington region (New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties) rose nearly 17% in July this year compared to July 2021, from $310,000 to $362,100, according to CFR statistics. The association uses a 12-month rolling average across all sales in the three-county region to determine that median number.

In New Hanover County alone last month, the median price jumped to $420,000 from $349,000, a 20% increase, according to CFR's latest report.

The number of units sold in the tri-county region in July fell from 1,265 to 1,010.

Increases in interest rates remain a concern, spooking some buyers, particularly younger buyers used to rates of 3% or a little over 

“Just because the interest rates go up doesn't mean it's not a good time to buy,” Ruth said. “In my mind, it's always a good time to buy because when you make an investment in real estate, you're gonna grow your wealth, especially if you hold it 5 to 10 years.”

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said this month home sales are running below pre-pandemic numbers seen in early 2020 and slightly below the 2019 annual total nationwide, but mortgage rates appear to be settling down. In a quote from Yun on Aug. 5, he said mortgage rates the past month were at below 6%, with the past week dipping to 4.99%, “but they are well above the 3.6% to 3.9% rates in the months before the pandemic.”

Responding to a report showing 528,000 net new payroll additions in July, he said home sales are more impacted by mortgage rate changes than jobs. 

“But the recently stabilizing mortgage rates suggest home sales will also soon stabilize and are likely to make steady gains in 2023,” Yun said.

The Brunswick County Association of Realtors this week reported fewer homes sold, fewer new listings, higher prices, an uptick in the absorption rate and homes continuing to sell quickly in Brunswick alone.

“Our market remains highly competitive thanks to strong demand paired with fewer new listings and a historically low inventory of available homes,” said Cynthia Walsh, BCAR CEO, in a news release. “While we saw fewer homes sold in July compared to last year, we have a healthy number of pending listings, and the absorption rate increased for the first time in months.”

CFR numbers show Brunswick’s months of supply for single-family homes in the county increasing from 1.4 to nearly 2.

Other statistics of note for the three-county region when comparing July this year to the same month last year:
  • Inventory was up by 3.9% for single-family homes and 22.3% for townhomes and condos.
  • Months supply for single-family homes were 1.7, up 30.8% from July 2021.
  • Months supply for townhomes and condos were 1.4, up 55.6% over one year ago 
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