07/21/10 — Realtor: Housing market staying steady

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Realtor: Housing market staying steady

By Laura Collins
Published in News on July 21, 2010 1:22 PM

The local housing market seems to be following national trends and improving, county, city and real estate, officials say.

Nancy Keck, co-owner of Houser Associates Real Estate, said the local real estate market is divided into two subcategories -- houses over $200,000 and houses under $200,000. She said since the recession she had seen the higher end homes staying on the market longer, but added that the homes on the other end of the spectrum were still selling.

Just in the last couple of months, however, she said she has seen that change.

"The upper end market, over $200,000 really slowed down, but in the last couple of months, we sold more homes over $200,000 than we did in all of last year," she said.

She added that the new sales market seemed to come with a trade-off, and now the lower end home sales are slightly slowing down.

"Nothing has crashed. Really we have been fairly good. It's not as good as it was in 2007, though, that was our best year in Goldsboro. I'd like to see 2007 again, but it's not there right now," Mrs. Keck said.

She said the federal home-buying credit helped to stimulate the market, but might also be the reason for the lull since April.

"I think a lot of people who would have bought now jumped in to get the credit and bought before it ended," she said.

Although home buying is up in the area, Mrs. Keck said there is really no good way to estimate how long a property will remain on the market -- some have been for sale for over a year while others have been purchased in a week.

"It's an individual thing," she said. "The better the value, the quicker the house is going to sell. Some (home owners) want to reduce the cost to get it to sell, and some don't."

At the county level, Connie Price, planning department director, said the first six months of the year have been steady.

"The past 18 months has been about the same. The most recent six months have been about the same compared to the previous six months and the first six months of last year," he said. "From what it was two years ago, it may still be down. I think we have bottomed out and are starting to come back."

Price said mostly what officials have been seeing is "minor subdivisions," with only one or two lots. He said new lots aren't being created because there are enough vacant lots in the county for people to build on.

"There are some subdivisions out there where there are lots that were approved and there was never anything built on there," he said. "So what's happening is there is an uptick in building, but not necessarily an increase in subdivisions."

In the first six months of the year, however, the county had four new subdivisions, one with one lot, one with three lots, one with four lots and one with 10 lots, which is located in Dudley.

At the city level, Ed Cianfarra, building inspector, said excluding January, the first six months of the year have seen about a 12-18 percent increase in permits for building. Cianfarra warns to keep it all in perspective.

"Saying it has increased doesn't really mean things are looking up since last year was the absolute worst year in my 30 years with the city. What it does show is that it seems that the economy and building are moving," he said. "People are feeling more confident."

He added that the majority of the permits have been for commercial building and there have only been a small amount of single-family residential permits.