NC housing market continues to struggle

RALEIGH New figures released this month show there is now a two-year supply of homes for sale, which is four times more than what experts consider ideal.

Records show this January that only 879 homes sold in the seven counties of the Triangle. That is 44 percent fewer than January of last year and the lowest amount of sales in at least five years.

Experts say winter is always a slow time for real estate, but in this economy buyers have gone into deep hibernation.

"A lot of people want to say we're doing fine, we're doing fine. But we're not," List-2-Sell Realtor Cory Barnett said. "It's definitely a different time."

Remax realtor Melanie Osborne has been a realtor for 13 years. She says January was the first month in which she did not close a deal in over a decade.

"It is scary. I'm not used to that in the fact that I usually have two to three closings a month, that's what I'm used to," she said. "So having five kids, and having zero, and being self employed, it is nerve racking."

Osborne says some realtors are leaving the business or taking second jobs.

"I know someone who is working at the Harris Teeter, overnight to get health insurance, so they're doing one graveyard shift a week just for health insurance," she said.

Osborne says she is still hopeful with the new tax incentive coming through the new federal stimulus for first time buyers.

But List-2-Sell Realtor Cory Barnett says he sees more struggles for housing, as long as a large number of people keep failing to make mortgage payments.

"I still think there's a second wave of foreclosure adjustment, unless the banks do something significant with their loan products," he said.

However, there is some encouraging numbers in the Triangle real estate market; values are not falling like in other parts of the nation. Average prices in the area are down only 3.5 percent from a year ago.

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