Monday, February 16, 2009

Home sales in the Triangle fell by 44 percent in January, new data show.

The Triangle Multiple Listing Service says that 879 housing units were sold in the area in January, down from 1,580 a year earlier.

Prices also fell slightly. The median price of a sold home in the region was $178,500 in January, down 3.5 percent from $184,900 a year earlier.

Residential real estate sales have been falling in the Triangle for more than two years now. While mortgage rates are near historic lows, the credit crunch means that it’s become tougher for some borrowers to get loans. Demand for homes also is soft as joblessness increases; fewer people moving to the area for work means fewer homes swapping hands.

But the market is better positioned than most local housing markets.

Prices haven’t taken the sort of nosedive seen elsewhere because Triangle builders did not build up huge inventories. And the area’s recession-resistant industries – health care, education, government – should help the job market, and thus the housing market, recover when the national economy starts to pick up steam.

For now, though, the market remains slow. There was a 12.8-month supply of housing on the market in January, well above the mark considered healthy. And pending home sales, the best indicator of future sales, fell by 34 percent in January, to 1,364.

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