Despite recovery efforts still underway, the Wilmington, N.C., real estate market seems to have rebounded from Hurricane Florence as November’s number of home sales was the most for the month since the height of the housing bubble.
“Home sales in New Hanover County in November were up slightly but about the same as November 2017. Still, the 371 home sales was the best November since 2005,” wrote Wade Wilson, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, who puts together a monthly newsletter detailing Wilmington’s real estate scene.
The Wilmington region’s home sales were outpacing last year until Hurricane Florence roared through the region, making landfall September 14 as a Category 1 storm before stalling and drenching Wilmington with 23 inches of rain.
“Year-to-date, sales are up just 1% from last year. Sales were up 6% until September, when a hurricane had a big impact on the numbers,” Wilson wrote.
Sales in Southeastern North Carolina, including Brunswick and Pender counties, also weathered Florence’s visit, with sales up 5% year-to-date.
Prices also are bouncing back, with the average sales price hitting a four-month high last month at just over $314,000. Year-to-date, the average sales price at nearly $308,000 is up 2% over last year’s average of $303,000.
But not all key metrics tracked by the tri-county MLS system were rosy in November.
The hurricane is likely to blame for an available real estate inventory of just 1,243 homes for sale, which is the lowest number Wilson has seen since he began tracking New Hanover County’s real estate in 2007, he said.
“The market probably lost a lot of inventory due to damage to homes, so inventory may rise as homes get repaired,” Wilson wrote.
Those losses in inventory seem to register even higher in the New Hanover County beach communities where, based on the 2017 average, Wrightsville Beach was down 42%, Carolina Beach was down 28% and Kure Beach was down 9%.
Another factor is the annual decline in homes on the market, a downward slope that stretches from the end of the year through February.
Still, Wilson said if sellers are thinking right, now is the perfect time to hit the market because the competition is slim.
“Last month we saw 371 homes sell, but there are only 1,200 and some on the market,” he said Monday. “You’ve got to like your odds. This time of year, the buyers that are looking tend to be more serious.”
Overall, Wilson said he foresees 2018 matching last year when the books are closed on December — a case that could have been much worse after a major hurricane.
“We’re going to end up equal to last year, which on the one hand is not great but on the other hand, last year was pretty darn good,” he said. “So you can’t be too upset.”
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