Triangle home sales rise 4% in 2014, but inventory levels keep falling

The Triangle residential real estate industry enters 2015 facing the same question it faced at the beginning of last year.  Will this be the year when a substantial number of homeowners finally put their homes on the market?


The 2014 Triangle home sales ended with just 6,145 homes for sale, a 7 percent decline from the end of the previous year, Triangle Multiple Listing Services data show. Inventory levels are now 43 percent below the record high reached in June 2010.

There has been some modest appreciation two or three years in a row, which hopefully will bring more sellers into the market and increase inventory levels.

The average sales price of the homes that sold last year was $255,900, a 4 percent increase over sales in 2013, according to MLS. According to data analysis provider CoreLogic, home prices increased 3.7 percent in November in Raleigh but fell 2.2 percent in the Durham-Chapel Hill area compared with the same period last year.

That inventory levels have remained so low for so long is a sign that many homeowners who bought during the boom have yet to see prices recover enough to where they can sell. The levels also reflect the current rate of new home construction, which has picked up in the Triangle but remains below previous levels.

Buyers’ preferences in the years since the housing bust have also shifted, with many now expecting homes to be “move-in ready.” Many sellers are reluctant to spend the tens of thousands of dollars needed to update their homes.

Stacey Anfindsen, a Cary appraiser who analyzes MLS data for area real estate agents, said the health of the region’s housing market – and its inventory levels – will be tied to job growth.

Home sales spiked 24 percent in 2013, but that surge appeared to be tied to pent-up demand, as it occurred despite there being no significant increase in new jobs. In 2014, the market leveled off, with sales rising 4 percent last year.

Anfindsen has a hard time seeing where the Triangle’s additional inventory will come from this year, which means the strange dynamic now playing out in the housing market may be here to stay for a bit longer.

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