Carrboro realtors coping with slump in home sales

by Allie Maupin
Carrboro Commons Writer

Real estate in Carrboro has not fully escaped the effects of the deteriorating national housing market, but local real estate agents remain hopeful for 2008.

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Don Basnight, seen working in his office at Weaver Street Realty, is concerned about the real
estate slump but thinks sales this year in the Carrboro market will be strong.

Photo by Allie Maupin

Bronwyn Merritt, a real estate agent with Community Realty in Carrboro for the past two years, said she has seen a definite lag in sales since the beginning of 2006.

“Here in Carrboro, the marketplace is slow,” Merritt said. “There are more homes on the market for longer periods of time.”

She said that Carrboro has seen a significant change in its home absorption rate, a calculation of the average amount of time it takes to sell a home in a given area.

“It is all about supply and demand,” Merritt said. “A home that would usually sell in three months now takes up to seven because the market is flooded.”

Ben Johnson, a UNC-CH junior originally from Valdese, NC, saw this first-hand with the Carrboro home he rents on Ruth Street, off of Laurel Avenue.

“The house I rent now was on the market for a while, but it just did not sell,” Johnson said. “My landlord had to rent it out instead because he could not get the price he wanted.”

Nationally, the real estate market continues to fight its deepest recession in recent years.

On Feb. 7, the National Association of Realtors released a report predicting a further recession in the U.S. housing market through the first half of 2008. They predicted that despite lower mortgage rates, home values are projected to drop 1.2 percent this month.

However, lower property prices in Carrboro do not necessarily mean decreases in home values. Merritt believes that sellers have to lower prices not because the home is worth less, but to get an edge over other homes on the market.

“If you must sell your home in this market, lowering the price is what it takes to make a quick sale,” she said.
Don Basnight, a real estate agent at Weaver Street Realty for over 16 years, said he is also concerned about property sales in Carrboro.

“The challenge now is that sellers have to realize that they are no longer in control,” Basnight said. “They have to be realistic about the property they own.”

Both Basnight and Merritt identify the current crisis in mortgages as one of the factors contributing to the stalled market.

“People that have seen foreclosures are now gun shy and have moved back to renting,” Merritt explained. “They are freaked out and are now waiting for their credit to recover.”

Problems in other markets also influence Carrboro home sales. Merritt identified North Carolina as one of the nation’s top relocation destinations, but problems in other states are hampering people’s ability to move.

Basnight urged Carrboro homeowners not to panic and said he sees hope in the town’s sound business fundamentals.

“Here, we have an educated public and responsible lending institutions,” Basnight said. “If you have the money, now is actually a great time to buy.”

Also, there are unique aspects to the Carrboro market that have protected it from the damage faced in other areas.

“There will always be a demand in Carrboro for homes that are in walking distance to downtown,” Basnight said. “People will sacrifice other aspects of the home for their ideal location.”

Merritt, who hopes people will remain confident in their home values, puts the situation in perspective:

“For the past seven years or so, every year has been a record year,” Merritt said. “Things could not have gone at that pace forever. If sales are down this year that means things have leveled off, but the market is still a good one.”

Want to learn more about buying or selling a home?

Here are some places to start your search. The following organizations were featured in this story.

Weaver Street Realty
(919) 929-5658
http://weaverstreetrealty.com/

Community Realty
(919) 932-1990
http://communityrealtync.com/

National Association of Realtors
http://www.realtor.org/

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