Is it really the 2nd half of 2020? What a year it has been!
When the Cape Fear Realtors published our Annual Cape Fear Area Housing Report for 2019 in late February, it appeared that the economic outlook and real estate market in North Carolina was going to continue to see record growth. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increases in the state had outpaced the nation, our labor market was growing, and residential construction employment showed the largest increase in January than in the previous twelve months.
Wilmington area home sales continued to grow, rising 4.6% in 2019. With January 2020 sales 6.6% higher than one-year ago, the outlook looked fantastic. Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover County all showed 2019 sales increases over 2018, and the existing home inventory looked to remain tight as demand for homes outpaced housing starts in North Carolina and in the Wilmington area.
And then came March and COVID-19. I certainly didn’t expect when I was installed as the president of the association in January that we were about to face such historic challenges. By the middle of March, we pivoted to assist members to complete pending sales and partnering with our colleagues in Raleigh and Washington, DC to be certain that real estate transactions were considered essential.
Our work resulted in the preservation of vital jobs across the region and state and ensured thousands of families were able to continue critical transactions in uncertain times. Home and construction inspectors, appraisers, code enforcement officials, and the Registrars of Deeds in the area were all able to continue to do their work and keep a significant economic driver moving this spring and into summer.
Our most current market data shows that the key metrics that we track monthly in our region are still showing growth year-over-year in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, and Duplin Counties; only Scotland County is showing a decline, and even this is slight and impacted by limited inventories.
June 2020 is marked by a strong rebound in Pending Sales with an astounding increase of 56.1% over June 2019. New Listings climbed to 1,440 with significant improvement of 12.5% over last month and 8.1% from last year.
Cape Fear REALTORS® has continued to ensure that our members and their clients remain able to continue to pursue the American dream of homeownership while maintaining all of the COVID-19 safety protocols through the Safe Showings Pledge initiative.
Cape Fear REALTORS® are committed to protecting our community from harm every day in the safest way by taking the pledge and following the gudiance of the National Assocation of REALTORS® on how to safely show houses to help end the spread of COVID-19.
Additionally, we’re keeping the community safe by funding a collaborative effort of the Cape Fear REALTORS®, the REALTORS® Commercial Alliance of Southeastern North Carolina, and the Wilmington REALTORS® Foundation to provide more than 1,000 Personal Protective Equipment kits for our members and their clients. The kits contain a mask, gloves, shoe coverings, and a personal size hand sanitizer.
I am so proud of the efforts that have been made to make certain that the nearly 3,000 members of our association are still working to assist their clients. We have had to adapt, but we know as owners and employees of small businesses that we play a key role in the economic success of our region, the state, and our nation.
We also continue to ramp up our “Be the Voice” effort to educate our members, key leaders, and the community at large about policy matters that are important to our community – issues such as housing affordability, diversity and inclusion, economic vitality, transportation policy, land-use policy, and environmental stewardship.
In the coming months, we will use this column to shine a light on these issues and suggest ways that we can work in a collaborative manner to ensure that the quality of life aspects of the region are maintained. In the meantime, please remember to wash your hands, cover your face, and respect social distancing recommendations. We are here to help.
Cape Fear REALTORS® and its nearly 3,000 members are the region’s Voice of Real Estate. Cape Fear REALTORS® through advocacy, education, and community involvement support efforts to protect the rights of property owners, to promote the availability of housing, and to provide resources to guarantee every individual has the right to share in the “American Dream”. For further information on this topic and the association, please visit www.capefear.realtor or contact the Cape Fear REALTORS® at 910-762-7400.
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