As Triangle housing market slows a bit into the fall, opportunity for buyers pops up

·4 min read

The local housing market is heading into a seasonal slowdown that happens each year as the next autumn approaches and the weather begins to get colder.

But this seasonal change is potentially significant for people looking to buy a home in the Triangle’s nationally competitive real estate market.

According to a slew of monthly metrics in September — the end of 2021’s third quarter — the market is showing signs that may mean it’s the right time period to make an offer on a home.

In September, several metrics were down compared to August: the average price of a resale home was down 2% to $422,000; house showings were down by 6%; pending sales down by 5%; closed listings down by 12%; and resale closed listings down by 14%.

Metrics that were up in September include end-of-month housing inventory up by 32%, houses listed up by 5% and the overall average price of a home didn’t rise from its average of $430,500, according to the Triangle Area Residential Report (T.A.R.R.), a monthly analysis of the market.

Sellers are adjusting to a lower seasonal demand, even in an undersupplied market, says Stacey Anfindsen, real estate appraiser and author of the T.A.R.R.

Housing prices are linked to supply and demand, but Anfindsen stopped short of saying that lower demand could indeed give first-time Triangle homebuyers a significant edge in a competitive market.

Will Triangle house prices level off?

“There are fewer buyers in the market in the third and fourth quarter than (in early 2022),” said Andfinsen. “So, in theory, if your competition is lower, then that should be to your advantage. But the definition of lower competition could be 10 offers instead 20, so it’s still highly competitive.”

Inventory is expected to increase this time of the year, especially since homebuilders will finish building new homes in places like southwest and west Wake County, he said.

“You’re going to see some (house) prices leveling,” said Anfindsen, but he emphasized that does not mean house prices will fall back to what was considered normal.

Prices are expected to continue on an upward trend next year and over the long term as demand continues to surpass supply, particularly as large companies like Apple and Google prepare to open new hubs in the Triangle.

However, Anfindsen notes that since low interest rates have contributed to rising house prices, an increase on the rates will act as a buffer on demand.

With the current 30-year fixed rate mortgage of 2.9% applied to the average Triangle home price points to $1,792 payments, a $322 monthly increase compared to January.

A more optimistic look on supply and home prices is held by Otto Cedeño, the CEO of the Triangle firm Movil Realty, who says this fall is the best time to act as a first-time homebuyer while there is lower sales activity and some housing supply increase.

It’s the low mortgage rates that arguably make the Triangle both a seller’s and a buyer’s market, said Cedeño, also a director of the Durham Regional Association of REALTORS.

“It’s never happened that properties are in their best moment to sell while at the same time, we’re in a buyer’s market where the interest rates are so low,” said Cedeño. “Before, there were not many homes for sale and the interest rates were high, so not just any person could buy (at a good price.)“

High demand has freed sellers to raise prices, but buyers also have a chance to pay a lower mortgage for more expensive homes, Cedeño noted.

He pointed out that housing supply increase is a silver lining of the fact that home foreclosures are up 150% in Durham County and nearly 67% in Wake County from the previous quarter as mortgage assistance programs ended, according to reporting by WRAL TechWire.

United Real Estate Triangle Realtor Camille Malcolm told The N&O in an email that the seasonal cool-down may not be as great as forecast, due to last year’s active fall market.

“Honestly, the sooner, the better (for buying a home),” said Malcolm. “Be sure to look at the home as an investment before a ‘dream.’ Learn about building equity in a home. Go to a few first-time homebuyer seminars! Choose a smart area (more affordable housing is far out from large cities, but our large cities are getting larger daily). Decide. Commit. Follow through.”

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