The number of home sales was up strongly in 2015. There were close to 4500 home sold in 2015, 16% more than in 2014 in New Hanover County. Last year, home sales were flat, going up only 2%, but if you look at the last several years, the upward trend has been strong. Up 9% in 2013, up 29% in 2012. I had predicted a 4 - 7% increase in 2015, I was pleasantly disappointed.
We are still a long way from 2005, when 6500 homes were sold.
I predict 2016 will be another strong year in local home sales, though I can't bring myself to suggest another 16% increase. I'd say 7-11%. There is a great deal of positive news on the economy, consumer confidence is up, and prices and mortgages are still affordable.
At the beginning of 2015 I predicted prices would go up 3 - 5% compared to 2014, and that guess ended up being pretty close. The average sales price for a home in New Hanover County was up 3% in 2014, to around 272k. The Price Per Square Foot, which is probably a more accurate measure of home prices, also increased by 3% to $139.
Honestly I feel pretty darn good about a 3% increase in home prices, and I hope it continues to stay that way every year. When it doesn't go up too fast, it doesn't suffer corrections.
But based on the steady demand and inventory not keeping up, I fear that prices may start to move up faster. I would project a 5% increase in 2016.
Days on the Market
The average number of days to sell in 2015 fell for the fourth straight year, by 17% to 98. More evidence that this is the best time for sellers in several years.
Inventory is always a driving factor for New Hanover County, because it is a small county with little space to build. From 2008-20015, inventory has been on a downward spiral, falling from numbers in the high 3000s down to a low of 1707 in January of 2013. Since that low point the inventory has been steadily building, finally topping 2000 in May 2014. Inventory has stayed right around 2000 since then, flirting with 2100 in mid summer but dropping back down late in the year to under 1900. Then this January the inventory dropped again, back to 1700.
I talk to people all the time who would like to sell their home, but aren't willing to do it for what the market is willing to pay right now. I expect that as prices rise, you will see a lot of this shadow inventory moving onto the market. Still, I don't see the numbers getting above 2500.
I expect that inventory will continue to move up this year. Hopefully confidence has reached the level where existing homeowners sell their homes and move up, which has been largely missing for the past several years.
Random numbers of a somewhat intriguing nature:
The biggest, the smallest, the priciest, the cheapest, the oldest, and much more,
go here to find the extremes of what sold in NH County in 2015