Published: Aug 10, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Aug 08, 2011 06:48 PM
Home sales take a slight dip
Orange County fares better in first 6 months of 2011 than most of the Triangle.
CHAPEL HILL - Housing sales were down during the first six months of 2011 in Chapel Hill and the rest of Orange County, relative to last year at this time, but only by a couple of percentage points.Some decrease was expected because sales in the first half of 2010 got a big boost from the federal home buyers tax credit, which expired last summer.Homebuyers scrambling to take advantage of the tax credit sparked a surge in sales in the spring of 2010.According to second-quarter data reported by the Multiple Listing Service, 603 homes were sold in Orange County during the first six months of this year.That's barely a dip from last year's 608.By contrast, most of the rest of the Triangle's areas were down by around 20 percent compared to this time last year."We're down a little bit from last year," said Pat Neagle, president of the Greater Chapel Hill Association of Realtors. "But that's really an artificial comparison, because the tax credit last year skews the numbers."We're doing significantly better than a lot of places. That hasn't changed. I'd start to worry if we saw that start to change."Many of the homes sold last year were sold in June, the last month that first-time homebuyers could receive the tax credit.As a result, the comparison between June 2010 and June 2011 shows up as a huge gap: 23.8 percent more homes were sold last June than this, Neagle said."But a big factor in that is the tax credit," she said. "We had an amazing June last year."The rest of year, July through December, the numbers fell of a cliff. I'll be very interested to see what happens during the next nine months."Average sale price of homes sold in Orange County through the first six months of the year was $341,467, up about 5 percent from last year.A total of 1,069 homes were listed for sale in the county as of July 10, down 6 percent from last year.Based on sales thus far, the county has about an 11-month supply of housing.The real estate market in Chapel Hill and Orange County traditionally fares better than many, said Stacey Andfindsen, a Cary appraiser who analyzes market date for Triangle area real estate agents."The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School district is certainly one of the preferred districts in the Triangle," he said. "So there's always a certain amount of demand."Still, he said, the wider economic woes, and especially poor job growth, will prevent the housing market from picking up much steam anywhere."Orange County and Durham County certainly are not immune to what's going on everywhere," Anfindsen said. "When you read that UNC is going to have more cutbacks, that's a big deal for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro housing market. That's certainly a negative moving forward. What we really need is some positive job news."Neagle agreed that we're a long way from boom times. But, she said, if you have to endure a brutal economic downturn, this is a pretty good place to do it."This is a very attractive place to live and work," she said. "People know we have an excellent quality of life, excellent schools, a good location. None of that has changed. I feel blessed to be here."
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