Local home sales remained on an upward trajectory in April, with a 16 percent increase from last April in the number of single-family homes sold in the region, according to Cape Fear Realtors data.
Realtor Harold Chappell, broker/owner of The Harold Chappell Team of NextHome Cape Fear, said rising mortgage rates might be part of the reason for the rising numbers.
The average 30-year fixed-mortgage rate was 4.52 percent Wednesday, according to an article on Bankrate's website
, an increase of 5 basis points from last week.
"People are finally believing that the rates are going up and they're trying to get in before they get too high," Chappell said. "We've been preaching for a year -- rates are going up, rates are going up; you need to do something -- and people didn't believe us because they continued to stay down until this year."
Prices are also going up. In the tri-county region of New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, the average price of homes (including townhomes and condos) rose in April to $286,586, a nearly 7 percent increase from the same month last year when the average was $268,077. For just single-family homes, according to the CFR data, the average rose in April to $316,109, a more than 6 percent jump from April 2017's average of $297,100.
The supply of single-family homes dwindled again, according to CFR data, to a 4.2-month inventory, down from from a 5.3-month supply in April 2017.
"We have a real supply issue for anything under half-a-million dollars. . . . It's tough. Demand kind of pushes demand; when there's a shortage, people get more interested," Chappell said.
The Brunswick County Association of Realtors reported an even bigger jump in units sold for Brunswick County alone.
"The unseasonably cold, rainy weather in April wasn’t enough to cool down Brunswick County’s residential real estate market," said BCAR CEO Cynthia Walsh, in a news release. "Average sale prices, total sales volume and new listings are up, while available inventory remains tight, with nearly 29 percent more sales than April of last year and an 8.5 percent increase in new listings—all signs of healthy, sustained growth."
Jean Harwell, a Realtor/broker with Wilkinson ERA Real Estate's Oak Island office, said national exposure about Brunswick County being a top value in terms of vacations and its previous use as locations in feature films has helped lead people to visit. Those visitors, she said, sometimes decide they want to stay there.
"It's almost like going back in time," Harwell said. "I first came to Oak Island in '74 and bought my first house here in '84 and moved here in '99. I've seen quite a change. We just have a lot of people coming and looking at Oak Island. Some come and look for the first time and they say, 'Oh my goodness, I really love this,' and they want to come back."
They've also paid attention to recent price increases throughout the region, Realtors say. According to BCAR statistics, the average sales price in Brunswick County in April rose 2.6 percent compared to April last year, from $263,274 to $269,999.
"With the market values increasing, people are beginning to realize that if they want to get something they need to go ahead and come down and purchase," Harwell said. "We see a lot of people buying homes now and maybe using them for vacation rental properties but plan to retire here in two years or three years or even five years. I've seen that quite a bit."