The following contribution comes from our own Harriette Doggett, Assistant Manager at our Fonville Morisey Falls office in Raleigh. Harriette attended the NCAR summit last week. Thank you for sharing your insights from the day!
The ‘inaugural’ North Carolina Association of REALTORS Real Estate Summit was held in Greensboro on July 31st at the Grandover Resort Hotel. The event was a huge success with over 250 attendees. As the Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS Regional Vice President to NCAR and Assistant Manager of our Falls office, it was my pleasure to attend this event.
Sponsored by the NC Association of REALTORS, BB&T, Time Warner Media and Piedmont Natural Gas, the day-long event began with a warm welcome from Lou Baldwin, current President of NCAR who introduced the first speaker, Keith Crisco, NC Secretary of Commerce. Crisco shared with the attendees the state of commerce in North Carolina sharing that NC has moved from a manufacturing state to a technology-oriented state, although agriculture exports for our state grew by 20% last year. So, agriculture still plays a large part in the economy of North Carolina.
North Carolina Economic Update
Economists who spoke to the group included, Dr. Mike Walden with NC State, Dr. Don Jud with the School of Economics at UNCG and Mark Vitner with Wells Fargo. The sentiment of all was that uncertainty in the market place was playing a large part in our economic recovery All echoed that the real estate market is slowly turning around, but all also spoke of the need for the mortgage industry to loosen up a little on lending requirements so that more buyers could take advantage of home ownership. All shared that the rental market was very tight right now in that some consumers were being forced to rent rather than to buy. They also shared that investors are taking advantage of this market and were using cash for their purchases.
Housing on a National Scale
Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Research for the National Association of REALTORS was the keynote speaker during a luncheon. He spoke about the state of the housing economy, that from 2008 through 2011 annual existing home sales had remained flat. However, in the first six months of 2012, NC sales have been the strongest they’ve been in the last five years, up 17% over this time last year. The median sales price in NC was up 1% over this time last year. He also reported that a REALTOR member survey indicated that buyer traffic was up substantially while listing traffic is trending downward. He further reported that REALTOR membership was down from an all-time high in 2006 of 1,300,000 members to currently just at 1,000,000 members. Dr. Yun shared that while we are constantly hearing about how many homeowners are ‘under water’ if you take into account those homeowners who own their homes outright (no mortgages), there are actually on 15% of the homeowners in America that are actually ‘under water’.
A Few Words From HUD
The afternoon sessions featured Bob Ryan, senior advisor to the Secretary of Housing Finance, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development who shared that the number of mortgages going into distress was decreasing. Additionally, there remains an increase in refinances due to the historically low interest rates, although a number of homeowners who were attempting to refinance were finding it extremely difficult to do so. He also shared information about the streamlining of the HARP program, which allows current homeowners who are not behind on their mortgage payments, but who’s income has been impacted, to qualify to work with their current lenders to attempt to have their currently mortgage interest rate reduced, thus lowering their mortgage payments.
Some Additional Speakers and Topics
Zan Monroe of The Monroe Company shared information about the current absorption rates in various areas of North Carolina showing that the Raleigh area currently is showing a 6 months absorption rate, with new home absorption rates at 4.2 months. Sue Cole of Sage Leadership shared information about why NC was a great place to live, work and play. There was a round table discussion regarding politics and the upcoming elections in NC featuring Brad Crone of Campaign Connections and Chris Sinclair of Cornerstone Solutions. The day was concluded by closing remarks by North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Burger.
We all left with a better understanding of the real estate market, the economy and future of North Carolina.
To see a comprehensive recap of the inaugural real estate summit, including individual speaker notes, please visit the official NCAR press release.