Being born and raised on a tobacco farm here in Eastern North Carolina, I grew up hearing some unique English being spoken. Sometimes you really had to listen to what was being said and it was still confusing. However, if you understood what was being said, it made perfect sense. It reminds me of the current state of the real estate market. Whoda thunk it….that the local real estate market would be where it is today, in spite of a global pandemic.
The real estate market is in one of the most interesting places I have seen in my 17-year real estate career. With a severe lack of inventory, homes are hard to come by, yet it is a great time for buyers to be in the market. At the writing of this article, there are only 401 homes on the market for sale in Craven County. Last July we had around 621 homes for sale and the real estate community was already talking about the lack of homes on the market. In comparison, at the beginning of March of this year before Covid-19 restrictions started we had just under 500 homes on the market. To put the lack of inventory in perspective, ten years ago during the recession, we averaged between 1000-1200 homes on the market in Craven County.
It could be a thought that there are less homes on the market due to Covid-19. However, inventory levels were down prior to the pandemic and we have continued to sale homes during these unusual times. We are on pace to sale almost as many homes from mid-March, when local schools were canceled, until now, though inventory levels are much lower. There are 390 properties currently under contract and we have more buyers wanting to move to our area. However, due to the low inventory levels, buyers are unable to find the home they want to purchase, which keeps our numbers lower. Builders will have to start developing new areas as Craven County and surrounding areas have positive growth planned and not enough inventory to keep up with the demand. During the pandemic, we have seen a lot of interest from people moving here from larger cities. Folks have figured out that with internet and a home office, they can accomplish work. It has also been noted that Amazon delivers everywhere and the small-town atmosphere with a lot of outdoor activities like our area offers is becoming more attractive to people.
So ‘what in tarnation’ does all this mean for buyers and sellers in our local market? Overall, the market is great for sellers and also a positive time for buyers….which is highly unusual. How can two opposing parties both have an advantage? With inventory levels reaching historical lows, any homeowner considering selling their home in most price points will have a number of buyers ready to purchase. Regardless of the market, a home still must be properly priced based on the location and condition. If a home is not priced right, the market will tell most sellers within 30-45 days as the average days on the market for Craven County is currently 68 days, which is higher than it has been over the past year. Sellers should try to take advantage of the current market and get their homes priced aggressively as we are unsure how long this market will last with the current uncertainty in the economy.
A buyer must use their current advantage in this market as well. Interest rates right currently at historical lows as I am seeing buyers and current homeowners refinancing get interest rates below 3%. If you currently own your home and mortgage rate is above 4%, you may want to call your lender and see about a refinance. A buyer getting a mortgage for less than 3% can afford a lot more home or just have a lower house payment due to the low interest rates. A buyer must be ready to move in this market as we are seeing multiple offers on some homes and no seller will take a buyer’s offer serious without proof, they have the money or can get a mortgage.
Like some of the conversations I heard growing up, the current market can be confusing and hard to understand. However, if you dig into it, the market makes perfect sense like a ‘Junebug in June.’ Reach out to us for guidance on buying, selling and investing in real estate. We also will be happy to help with recommendations for people we trust for upgrades and repairs to your property, so always feel free to reach out. Enjoy your summer and stay cool since it is as hot as a billy goat with a blow torch!