Triangle housing market faces surge in interest, but a lack of inventory

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Triangle housing market is facing a lack of availability, and rising sales prices.

According to Triangle Multiple Listing Services data, there were nearly 9,000 homes for sale in June 2019; in June 2020, there were fewer than 5,800 homes listed. While new listings are down 6.3% year-to-date, closed sales are up 0.8%, highlighting the competitiveness of the market.

"This market is definitely hotter than others," explained Laura Peed, a real estate agent with Northside Realty.

Peed, who worked as a property manager and in commercial real estate before shifting to residential real estate, said local buyers are also competing with people who live out-of-state.

"Everyone's trying to get to a city that is a little more spread out, but yet offers some of those same things as those more populated cities," Peed explained.

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The Triangle's tech and medical sectors, coupled with strong public schools, are also attractive.

"It's a really competitive market for the buyers. You're seeing a lot of multiple offers on properties that are especially under $300,000. But that is really where the issue is, there is just not enough being listed where we're still having the demand of the buyers," Peed said.

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Another factor playing a major role: historically low mortgage rates.

"Everybody's trying to get a hold of these rates. In regards to purchases, we're starting to see more pre-approval requests again for people that may have been sitting on the fence," said Mike Alberico, the Executive Vice President of Raleigh Mortgage group.

Those rates, now below 3% for the first time in half a century, are significantly down from last year's average of 3.81%. The drop makes it more attractive both for potential buyers, but also current owners who want to refinance. Alberico explained the lack of inventory on the market can make some owners hesitant to sell.

"There's still a lot of sellers sitting on the fence. I think they're looking for more of a sense of normalcy before they list their house. Because one of the problems is you can get top dollar for your house right now, but unless you're leaving the area, you're going to have to find another spot to live at and then you're going to be in the buyer pool," Alberico explained.

Alberico noted the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly limited travel and tourism, has also had an impact on a different sector of the housing market.

"One other thing we're actually seeing is more and more of people buying investment properties," Alberico said. "A lot of people aren't traveling, they may be saving money on that trip to Disney and are looking maybe a beach or a mountain property."

According to the MLS data, the 12-month home sales average price is up about 4% compared to the previous period, with an average price of about $322,902.

Despite the price rise, according to the Housing Affordability Index, homes in the Triangle are slightly more affordable this year compared to last year. In June 2020, the index was 119, compared to an index of 111 over the same period in 2019. An index that is higher equates to greater affordability.

The pandemic has also led to a rise in virtual buying. According to a recent report by Redfin, 45% of recent home buyers made an offer without first seeing it in-person.
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