Triangle home sales, prices rise in first quarter

The volume of Triangle home sales rose 11 percent in the first quarter and was even stronger in March, with sales volume jumping 16 percent compared with a year ago.

The increase in home prices was more moderate, however.

The 6,211 homes sold during the quarter, including both new and resale homes, fetched an average price of $286,000, up 5 percent. The average price of resale homes rose 3 percent to $261,000, according to Triangle Multiple Listing Service data for Wake, Durham, Orange and Johnston counties.

“March was crazy,” said Stacey Anfindsen, a Cary appraiser who analyzes the MLS data. He did note, however, that the month-to-month comparison was inflated somewhat by a soft market in February.

 Although the inventory of homes for sale has been increasing, much of it is priced higher than the market’s “sweet spot” of $300,000, Anfindsen said.

In March, the average list price of newly built homes was $380,000, and the average list price of resale homes that were listed during the month and were still on the market at month’s end was $482,700.

“As long as these trends continue, the demand for resale housing priced below 300k will continue to far outstrip supply,” the quarterly MLS report noted.

“When resales come on the market for less than $300,000, there’s bidding wars for them,” Anfindsen noted. “That’s really a trend that’s going to continue because the cost of new construction … keeps going up.”

“Buyers are very frustrated,” said John Wood, owner of Re/Max United. “It is a true sellers’ market.”

There’s something of a Catch-22 to the inventory conundrum.

Some homeowners who otherwise might be interested in selling their houses are reluctant to put them on the market “until they can figure out where they can buy their next home,” Wood said.

Wood said some resales priced in the $500,000 to $600,000 range are snapped up quickly — if they’re priced right, in the right location and in good condition.

The resale market performed exceptionally well in March, with 67 percent of the homes on the market for no more than 30 days before being sold and 22 percent of the homes fetching more than the list price.

Still, financial concessions, such as paying for repairs on resale homes, were paid on 67 percent of the sales during the first quarter.

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