02/01/09 — County home sales rose in January

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County home sales rose in January

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on February 1, 2009 2:00 AM


Attorney Farris A. Duncan, center, explains the stack of house closing paperwork to new homeowners William Baron, left, and his wife, Ashely, as Town and Country Realtor P.J. Parraga, fourth from left, and Premiere Home Mortgage agent Steve Grant look on Friday morning at Duncan's law office in Goldsboro.

Wayne County's home sales might have been down in November and December, but some area Realtors say January is bringing good news.

"January is a gangbuster," said Judith McMillen of the Prudential The McMillen Real Estate Group, who has been in the real estate business since 1987.

The market in the first six months of 2008 was stable except for the last quarter, when sales were down, Ms. McMillen said.

Many residents might have been waiting to make such a large purchase until they were more confident in the economy, she said.

For one reason or another, Ms. McMillen said, the inauguration of a new president put some confidence into the market, but that was not the only reason that people are purchasing more real estate in 2009.

The time of the year and the low interest rates also play major roles.

"People don't like to move during the holidays, so many people wait until after to buy a house," she said. "And I can't imagine interest rates lower than 41⁄2 percent. ... Now is a great time for buyers and sellers."

And the 2008 market wasn't as bad as people believed it to be as compared to other areas in the country, mostly because Goldsboro's market is a "microeconomy," Ms. McMillen said.

The big employers in the area -- Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Wayne Memorial Hospital and Wayne County Public Schools -- are companies that are, for the most part, "fairly recession proof," she said.

Plus, many people rave about the weather and the friendliness of people in North Carolina, so the state has a draw that many don't.

Add to that the fact that a lot of retired military buy homes in Goldsboro, even if they didn't retire from Seymour Johnson, mostly because they want access to military health care but can't afford to live by other bases in Jacksonville or Fayetteville due to the high price of homes in those areas.

And the constant inflow and outflow of military families keeps the county's market moving, she said.

"We are very fortunate to live in Wayne County," she said. "In tough economic times, it's a good place to live."

Tim Lail, the broker in charge at Town & Country GMAC Real Estate, said that the market is up considerably in January from November and December.

"Those months were lackluster," he said. "I think that interest rates have a bearing on the rise and, I would venture to say, consumer confidence."

And even though the market wasn't the best in 2008, it wasn't the worst either.

In fact, market numbers were up in 2008, when compared to 2007, Ms. McMillen said.

The average transaction price, or the average amount that people paid for homes in the area, in 2008 was $132,740. In 2007, that number was $130,186.

In 2007, the McMillen Real Estate Group sold $18.9 million in real estate, but in 2008, the group sold more than double that amount.

"It really was a great year here," Ms. McMillen said. "Times are still good in Wayne County. We need to be counting our blessings."

One item that did decrease slightly was the average transaction price from last January to this one -- in January 2007, the average price was $120,293, and this January, the average price is $110,319.

But Ms. McMillen said that a good amount of the home sale closings this January were from "repos."

As for foreclosure sales in the county, Cherry Ngamthonglor of Cardinal Point Realty said that the market is holding steady.

In Wayne County, there are currently 159 foreclosures, 43 of which came about in December, according to www.realtytrac.com. Twenty-four properties in the county are currently in some pre-foreclosure process, the Web site said.

But in the past few weeks, Ms. Ngamthonglor said that lenders are working with people more.

"At the moment, fewer foreclosures are coming to the market," she said.

Although the inventory might be lower in the next few months, Ms. Ngamthonglor said that people will continue to buy foreclosed property.

February might look better for Wayne County than even January has in home sales.

Ms. McMillen said looking ahead at closings scheduled for February, the sales will be significantly higher.