Crystal Coast Real Estate Report

It isn’t slick or sexy but it is Carteret County by the numbers! Our local real estate market in Carteret County and outlaying areas have slowly but surely made progress towards stability and normality! We are far from out of the woods but the over-all improvements are most noticeable.

Crystal Coast Real Estate

Some of the most notable features of this market come in active listings and price point. Approximately 75 percent of all home sales (not condo or townhouse) are at $250k and under. But this is a unique market with beautiful and sometimes expensive oceanfront properties as well as very affordable inland neighborhoods. Consequently we have a disparity between what price range sells best. For example, the two hottest housing markets are Emerald Isle and Newport. Both represent 12 percent of all sales (24 percent in all).  But the average sold prices are quite different. Emerald isle is averaging at $447K while Newport is two thirds less at $144K.

Another very good feature about our market is that the active inventory, (the number of homes for sale) is at the lowest it has been for almost 10 years. Currently there are 1,615 homes on market for sale. In January of 2006 there were only 1,064. Conversely in January of 2010 we had 2,472 homes trying to be sold!

So why are fewer homes on the market a good thing? Quite simply this area has not been able to handle more than 900-1,000 properties for sale at a time. When there are more homes than that they sit and sit and sit and the overall inventory balloons! Listings go from 6 months to 12 months to 18 on market without getting sold and even longer!

For example, currently we have a 22 month supply of homes. In a normal stable market there is a 6 month supply. It was 10 years ago the last time the Crystal Coast was at a 6 month supply. 10 years since things have been, “normal”! In January of 2011 we had a 36 month supply! In other words, if no new inventory came on the market it would have taken 3 years to sell off all of the existing properties if conditions had not changed! This is called the absorption rate and is a key indicator to the health of a market.

For a time Carteret County and adjacent areas saw up to 40 percent of all sales as cash! This is a phenomenal level of cash sales especially when you consider the norm at around 10 to 15 percent. This past January had 21 percent cash sales. VA and conventional loans represented about 2/3’s of all purchases.

There was one 1033 tax deferred exchange, (sometimes called a “like kind” exchange) last month. These came onto the scene and made somewhat popular during the big real estate boom but have been scarce ever since. A like kind exchange in theory is just as the name implies. Instead of buying and selling a property, a property is “exchanged” for another property that is very similar to it. It’s more complex than that but you get the idea.

The average sold price of a Crystal Coast home has been fairly consistent since 2007.  Sold prices have been averaging around $235K, plus or minus a few thousand dollars. If that seems high consider the sold price in January of 2008. It averaged out at just under $310K!

But to tie everything together here is the reason for the swelling inventory that we have had for so many years. The big real estate boom ended in 2007. No one realized it or wanted to realize it for a couple of years afterwards. The problem was that after an initial price adjustment, home prices stayed at the same level for 6-7 years. So if the prices weren’t going to adjust to the market then the market was going to have to adjust to the prices. The only way that was going to happen was through time, which brings us from 2007/2008 to present day. Of course with home prices stuck at the same level for so long there were going to be unintended consequences. Foreclosures, short sales, desperation sales, attrition and folks who just said, “Forget it!” and pulled the For Sale sign out of the yard and hoped for a better day!

The Crystal Coast housing market has come a long way. It should take leaps and bounds forward this year if all of the key economic predictions come true. Loans are supposed to be easier to get with less strict credit requirements. This coupled with a far less severe insurance rate increase that was once believed should help to increase sales and overturn a lot of this inventory. Pray that prices do not go up and inventory continue to dwindle!

Margaret Hitchcock is a Realtor and owner of Hitchcock Realty. She has been highly successful in representing buyers and sellers with primary, secondary, vacation, investment and foreclosure properties. Contact Margaret today at (252) 269-2893 or email Margaret direct at

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