Christina Asbury was preparing to put a house on the market last week and she knew what was going to happen.
“I advised my salespeople to get an Airbnb for the weekend because I know we’ll have 10 to 20 shows on Saturday and Sunday,” she said, adding that this will likely result in multiple offers on Monday.
While North Carolina is a hot real estate market these days, Asbury operates in the frothyest of them all. But it’s not the usual suspects like Charlotte or Raleigh-Durham, or potential buyers, who are drawn to the mountain views of Asheville or the desire to live on the coast in Wilmington and are driving the market in those communities.
It’s Jacksonville, closely followed by Fayetteville. And North Carolina’s two largest military cities are not only leading the real estate surge in the state of Tar Heel, they are among the top five hottest real estate markets in the country according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
“I can’t get homes to market fast enough and I don’t have the time to help everyone who calls me,” said Asbury, broker at Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage and president of the Jacksonville Board of Realtors. “It’s very busy out there right now. Extremely.”
Demand exceeds supply
With the end of the school year and the weather warning, spring is widely viewed as the traditional start of the season for home buying. But if you’ve been looking for a home in North Carolina for the past few months, you know the state’s real estate market has been far from normal for a year, leading to a pandemic that is upsetting social and labor norms and buyers rolled into one increasingly tight real estate market to compete.
According to the Realtors Association, the Spring 2021 market starts with the lowest number of homes on the market in nearly 40 years. Asbury said this is especially true in Jacksonville, a market that appears to be selling steroids these days.
“We currently have 645 sales pending in the two major Jacksonville zip codes,” she said. “There are only 92 houses for sale.”
One metric that real estate professionals use to measure demand for residential property in a market is the ratio of outstanding offers (or sales) to active offers or stocks. Anything above 1 shows that demand is exceeding supply. According to the NAR, the Jacksonville market ratio was 5 to 1 in March. This was the second highest value in the nation, coupled with Boise City, Idaho, and the Provo-Orem market in Utah topped the list at 6.9 to the sales are pending for each active listing.
Fayetteville is not far behind with 4.6 to 1. Bremerton-Silverdale in Washington rounds off the top 5 with a demand-to-supply ratio of 4.2 to 1.
Several other areas in North Carolina are also proving very competitive to buyers, with Greenville, Piedmont, and Wilmington all having a ratio of at least 3 to 1.
But around the largest military bases in the state, houses are selling fast and furiously.
“The current market is historically epic,” said David Sattelmeyer, owner of Century 21 Liberty in Fayetteville and president of Longleaf Pine Realtors, which covers Cumberland and 15 other counties in Fayetteville. “We have record sales that we have never seen in this area.”
Asbury said several factors are driving demand – and prices – in the Jacksonville area.
She said Camp Lejeune was on a construction hunt and the military were adding Marines and billions of dollars in new and improved facilities to the sprawling base.
It’s not just the new military personnel looking for homes.
“We have 2,500 or more contractors who are also looking for apartments,” Asbury said.
This is on top of the overall growth seen across North Carolina as retirees and others from the North and Midwest states seek to move to areas with lower taxes and temperate climates.
The pandemic, said Asbury, and the still near record-low interest rates are also helping to revive the market.
“When people realized they could telework and work from anywhere, it really opened their eyes to where they’d rather work if they had a choice,” she said.
All of these factors, plus Jacksonville single-family home prices, rose nearly 20% last month from March 2020 to a median list price of $ 262,000, while inventories declined nearly 78%, according to NAR statistics.
While Fort Bragg has always been one of the biggest economic drivers for the Fayetteville area, Sattelmeyer believes the area’s relative affordability compared to the Triangle and coastal areas, and the region’s central location, draw many to the Sandhills. These include teleworkers who found they no longer need to live near work during the pandemic and Army veterans who choose to stay or return to Fayetteville after completing their military service.
“You can get more for your money here,” said Sattelmeyer. “And we’re convenient, with Charlotte, Raleigh and the beaches a short distance away, and Interstate 95 right there.”
According to NAR, the median single-family home price in the Fayetteville area was $ 215,500 in March, up 13.4% from March 2020 list price.
Preach patience and approval
But as more buyers enter the market, many with deep pockets and lots of equity, many tenants and first-time buyers feel pressured as prices continue to rise.
According to Asbury, the rental market in Jacksonville is just as tight as the sales market. Many landlords are either increasing rents or trying to sell and capitalize on the real estate boom.
“With less than $ 2,000 a month, you’re competing with multiple people,” she said. “There’s just not much out there right now.”
While sellers are obviously sitting in Catbird Square these days, Asbury and Sattelmeyer said buyers can take steps to improve their chances.
One of the most important, both brokers said, is coming to the table that has been pre-approved for a mortgage.
“If you wait after you’ve made an offer, this house will be under contract before you get it back,” Asbury said. “That’s how fast things move these days.”
Sattelmeyer said buyers also need to be open to the possibility of paying more for a property than its price
Most importantly, he said, buyers cannot get frustrated during these challenging times.
“Be patient and stay tuned,” said Sattelmeyer. “There will be something out there for you. It just might take a little longer these days.”
Reporter Gareth McGrath can be reached on Twitter at [email protected] or @GarethMcGrathSN.