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WilmingtonBiz Magazine

Residential Real Estate: Trends To Watch

By Cece Nunn, posted Mar 24, 2022
Competition for homes in the Wilmington area has been steep for a long time, reaching a fevered pitch in the past few years. This ongoing story is playing out in home sale statistics throughout the Cape Fear region of New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, as Realtors continue looking to reach sellers and buyers throughout the market and developers find ways to capitalize on the area's demand for housing.
 
1. Expanding Companies
Residential real estate firms in the Cape Fear region continue to grow their footprints with additional office locations.
 
For example, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage opened new offices in 2021 in Boiling Spring Lakes and St. James in Brunswick County.
 
Another example: Nest Realty’s Wilmington branch recently opened an office in the Pender County community of Hampstead.
 
Construction on the office, located on the second floor of the April Jones Insurance building, 15 South End Court in Hampstead Village, wrapped up in January.
 
“Hampstead is in high-demand for people willing to trade the conveniences of living in Wilmington for a bit more space, water access and affordability,” said Ryan Crecelius, principal broker at Nest Realty in Wilmington.
 
2. Low Inventory
Brunswick County’s residential real estate market saw fewer homes sold in January because inventory is at an all-time low, according to the county’s association of Realtors.
 
The number of units sold in Brunswick declined 17.4% during the first month of 2022, from 465 to 384, compared to January 2021. New listings dropped nearly 30%, from 552 to 387, BCAR noted, citing statistics pulled from the N.C. Regional Multiple Listing Service.
 
But the total sales volume last month was only down 1.5%, thanks to higher average sale prices fueled by low inventory, strong demand and strong luxury sales, according to the report.
 
BCAR CEO Cynthia Walsh said, “Inventory is extremely low, which makes it harder for buyers to find the right home ... The market is positioned to remain in a seller’s market for the foreseeable future."
 
3. Higher Prices
Also in the BCAR report for January: The average sale price increased a little over 19%, from $352,452 to $420,409, compared to January 2021.
 
For the tri-county region of New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, “Sales prices reached new heights, inventory remained record low, and homes sold in record time, often for well above asking price,” officials with Cape Fear Realtors said in a January release.
 
With fewer single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums on the market, prices were up, Cape Fear Realtors reported.
 
“Median sales price continued to increase in the double-digit territory … throughout the year, ending 2021 with another record-breaking high of $325,000, an increase of 14%,” according to CFR. That compared with a national median sales price of $375,000, a year-over-year increase of 10%, according to realtor.com.
 
4. More Mixed-Use
Plans to build mixed-use projects with residential and commercial space continue to remain on the list of upcoming construction in the Wilmington area.
 
Just two of those are Paseo on South College Road (read more about Paseo and developer Mariana Molina on here) and The Proximity, planned on vacant land in the New Hanover County beach town of Carolina Beach.
 
On property that at one time was supposed to hold a Harris Teeter grocery store, developers want to build apartments, office space and commercial areas, including retail establishments and restaurants at Lake Park Boulevard and St. Joseph Street.
 
The Proximity “will contribute to the town’s tax base and is a unique opportunity to enhance lifestyle offerings in the Carolina Beach community with a thoughtful blend of residential, retail, office, and live-work, all of which will be in keeping with the coastal design and the fabric of Carolina Beach,” according to officials with the project’s development firm, GHK Cape Fear Development.
 
5. Finding More Housing
With housing of all types in high demand, especially affordable housing (see more on the topic here), some developers are coming up with creative ways to provide it.
 
A California-based firm in December paid $11 million for 4903 Market St. in Wilmington, a property with 8 acres and two motels. Vivo Investment Group is turning the motel rooms into more than 230 efficiency apartments.
 
Vivo will upgrade the property with amenities seen in class A apartments, including new kitchen appliances, a gym, a tenant-amenity lounge, coworking space, high-speed internet, laundry facilities, a pool and green space.
 
The property was rezoned to a multifamily designation in October, and Vivo agreed to designate 10% of the units as affordable housing.
 
Vivo, headquartered in El Segundo, California, has developments throughout the U.S., including another one in North Carolina, in Winston-Salem.
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