By the end of November, the number of homes sold during the year in the Wilmington area had already eclipsed a prerecession level.
As of Nov. 30, 9,351 homes had been sold so far this year in the market measured from the N.C. Regional Multiple Listing Service by Cape Fear Realtors. The CFR market region includes New Hanover, Pender and northern Brunswick counties.
The next-highest total of that particular CFR statistic came at the end of 2005 – and that was for the full year – when 9,347 homes were sold, according to CFR records that go back to 1996.
“Obviously the market has been red hot, and we’ve seen it with the absorption rates. Five to six months’ [worth of] supply is considered a normal market, and in the price ranges that are around $350,000 and lower, the inventory is anywhere from one to three months, which makes it a major seller’s market,” said Lake Slacum, vice president of marketing for Wilmington- based Intracoastal Realty.
Tim Milam, president of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, said overall economic confidence is boosting the local real estate market.
“The stock market’s up, unemployment’s down, interest rates are still low. You start factoring in all those things – the consumer confidence is up, and people are buying,” Milam said.
Inventory at most price points has been a concern this year because of the impact a low supply for potential homebuyers could have, Realtors have said. Still, despite the low inventory, particularly in New Hanover County where land is scarce, the activity continues.
“We still have a ton of people that want to move to our area,” Milam said.
The average sales price in November was up to about $261,000, still below the 2007 high for November of about $273,000.
The northeastern U.S. has remained a source of buyers, including many retirees and pre-retirees searching for warmer weather and lower home costs.
At the same time, “a lot of our incoming relocation traffic is really from within the state,” including the Raleigh, Charlotte and Triad areas, Slacum said.
The subprime mortgage lending that led to the Great Recession from around 2007 to 2010 is now just history, Realtors say.
In a report on the Cape Fear region’s third-quarter housing statistics produced for CFR, economist Woody Hall, a retired University of North Carolina Wilmington professor, said, “By most metrics, the local existing single-family real estate market and the market for residential lots remain strong. Although there was not much change between the second and third quarters of 2017 in either sales or prices of both existing single-family homes and residential lots, the third quarter 2017 figures were well above comparable year-earlier levels.”