Real Estate - Residential

As Home Sales Slow, Luxury Market's In The Eye Of The Beholder

By Cece Nunn, posted Mar 9, 2023
The red tag shows the location of 6 Pelican Drive in Wrightsville Beach, which sold for nearly $4 million in February. (Photo courtesy of Intracoastal Realty Corp.)
Luxury home sale numbers slowed in February, dropping to their lowest point in more than two years, according to a report compiled from the N.C. Regional Multiple Listing Service.

In New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, the MLS recorded 30 home sales in the $1 million-or-more range last month, compared to 39 in February 2022.

According to the report by Wilmington-based Just For Buyers Realty, “The last time the region has seen such low numbers was 25 months ago in January of 2021 when 27 luxury properties sold for $36.6 million.”

But individual brokers and firms are weathering the slowdown.

“My group had a really good month in February,” said Vance Young of Wilmington-based Intracoastal Realty Corp. “I did notice the activity, the phone calls and showings were down quite a bit when the interest rates popped back up.” 

He said the pandemic is still having an impact on the numbers.

“The last few Decembers and Januarys have been really high, and Februarys too, simply because of the COVID effect,” Young said. "So when you compare February of '23 to '22 or '21, yes, you're gonna see it drop off dramatically."

Young explained some of the facets of the COVID effect.

"One is the overall mindset of, 'Gosh, life is short, right? Why are we holding off on moving to Wilmington? Why haven't we gotten our second home that we've talked about for years? Why haven't we retired?" he said. "COVID literally pushed them off the fence and and it pushed a lot of people into off the fence into our backyard. I think more so than in a lot of other areas."

At Wilmington-based Landmark Sotheby's International Realty, the recent opening of an office in the Outer Banks has helped keep the firm's numbers strong, said CEO Daniel Malechuk.

"The buyer up there is typically coming from somewhere north, usually Maryland, D.C. or up into New York," Malechuk said. "And they're still very hungry and eager and they're generally cash buyers that are coming in who know what they want."

But there's also limited inventory in the Outer Banks and the Wilmington area. 

"The things we're talking about with sellers is, 'Hey, if you wanted to sell, now is not a bad time,'" Malechuk said, because of the limited inventory. "There are still several buyers out there ... you're going to be in a pretty good position, if you price it appropriately, to possibly get multiple offers and bidding over asking price and we've seen that. So we actually had a fairly strong month in February."

According to the Just For Buyers luxury report, December to February tend to be the slowest months of the year – especially for the luxury market. But the slowdown is showing.

“What we’re seeing is a nationwide issue,” said Scott Saxton of Just For Buyers Realty in the report. “From coast to coast sales are down, but Wilmington and the surrounding areas are still places where people want to move. This is a very desirable location and that alone brings stability to this market.”

The most expensive home to sell last month, 6 Pelican Drive in Wrightsville Beach, fetched nearly $4 million, the report stated. The four-bedroom home overlooks Lee’s Cut.

"The property is a boater's dream with a covered dock, a newer floating dock and two 50-foot boat slips. Listed by the Rising Tide Team at Intracoastal Realty, the home closed on Feb. 23," according to the report.
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