Triangle home sales drop by half

DURHAM "I have had to reduce the price. I've reduced the price twice. And the first time it was a pretty big jump," he explained. "Of course, my timing was not great to be putting a house on the market. But it was the time in which I retired."

Nationally, the number of home sold in February was down about 10 percent from the same month last year. But in the Triangle, home sales were cut exactly in half - from just over 1900, down to a little more than 950.

The number is important because many economists say the first sign of a recovery in the current recession will be a rebound of the housing market.

"You will find no economist disagreeing with this statement. We have to get the housing market healthy. We have to get people buying homes, builders constructing homes for this economy to do better," said NC State economist Mike Walden.

The Raleigh - Durham area's housing slump came later and it's not as severe as the nation at large. But now, early signs of a national recovery are not yet as clear in the Triangle. Walden says it's a sign that buyers are taking advantage of huge discounts which are not as deep in the Triangle.

"There simply aren't as many relative bargains here as there are in the rest of the country," he explained.

The nation's median home price has dropped more than 10 percent in the last year. In the Triangle, it's down a more modest 4 percent.

"A lot of potential buyers are on the sidelines. They can buy. They want to buy. They are simply waiting for prices to get better. I think that's probably contributing to the relatively slower market here in the Triangle," said Walden.

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