Beaufort County real estate still selling briskly, red-hot market into its second year

Published 4:25 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

With demand at a fever pitch and available homes in historic short supply, it’s definitely a seller’s market in Beaufort County.

A steady, upward trending market exploded in 2020, stayed hot in 2021 and has slowed only a little during the first quarter of 2022, mainly because of a lack of homes for sale.

“We have buyers, but there are limited homes for sale right now,” Jerry Evans, owner of Century 21 The Realty Group, said. “Potential sellers are not sure where they would live if they sold their home, so that’s slowing things down a little bit right now. The timing was perfect to redo Main St. in 2020 and people are figuring out that our area has a lot to offer. I think we are headed for another strong year.”

According to real estate transaction records, 590 listings were sold in 2021, including all types of homes plus land. That’s more than one a day and the pace is about the same so far this year.

“Eastern North Carolina has seen increases in properties sold and in the price those properties sold for, Tom Atkins, president, owner and broker in charge of the Rich Company in Washington, said. “We have 250 miles of shoreline and, since COVID, people want to be on the water. I think there has been a lot of pent-up demand and people are using their stimulus checks on second or primary homes on or near the water.”

Atkins said Beaufort County saw a 26 % increase in sold properties and higher sales prices, but Craven County was up 56 %. Pamlico, Washington and Hyde County saw upswings similar to Beaufort.

“It’s a great thing for the East,” he said. “Washington’s downtown is back, batter than ever and there’s been a bit of a cultural shift with some new blood in the area. It’s been good for everybody so far.”

The hot local market mirrors a trend across the country and the rest of North Carolina. The Raleigh and Charlotte markets are among the national leaders in homes sold and average price with videos posted on social media of cars lining the streets in front of recently listed homes and people shouting bids auction-style.

“We’re not to that point yet, but it’s fairly common now to have multiple offers on the same house and for a seller to get above the asking price,” Maria Wilson, broker/owner at Coldwell Banker Coastal Rivers Realty in Washington, said. “2020 was a phenomenal year for us and we didn’t expect it with COVID. I’ve sold several homes after virtual tours and the whole country has prospered. There’s strong interest in Belhaven, Chocowinity and all around the county, not just Washington.”

Interest rates on a 30-year fixed rate loan are around 5.25 percent, double what it was in the fall. Coupled with inflation, that might serve as a yellow caution light, if not a red stop signal. Or maybe not.

“We’ve seen a lot of cash sales, which makes it harder for first-time buyers,” Wilson said. “We’re advising some of our sellers to let their home stay on the market at least one weekend to consider all offers and to not take the first one. This is the perfect seller’s market if they have somewhere else to go.”

Wilson said the common practice of using other homes nearby or “comps” as a way to determine a fair list or sales price has changed recently also.

“It this market, anything that is priced even close to reasonably will sell quickly and there is a good chance that it will go for more than list price,” she said. “We tell our buyers it comes down to what they are willing to pay.”