Home prices up; inventory down

Home prices are up slightly and inventory is down. And the real estate mantra, “location, location, location” is holding true in the York County housing market, according to an area Realtor®.

“The general outlook for York County is good,” said Jay Rinehart, president/CEO and owner-broker of Rinehart Realty Corp. “Are we back to 2007 levels? Absolutely not. But the average number of days a house is on the market has come down compared to a year ago, and overall prices are up 3 to 4 percent. We call that the new normal. “

The push these days is for homes in the $200,000 to $250,000 price range, he said. And there are pockets around the county that are hotter than others. Fort Mill is “incredibly hot,” he said, adding Rock Hill and Lake Wylie are doing well, too.

Inventory is a problem, he said, adding Charlotte’s inventory also is down significantly. He noted folks who work in Charlotte often look in Davidson, Monroe and Rock Hill for a house that meets their requirements. “It’s a change in the way people are looking for where they live. Quality of life is a big factor.”

Other trends include:

• The average number of days a house is on the marketing has fallen to 140 days from almost 180. Before the economy dropped, the average number of days was in the 130s.

• Location determines if it’s a seller’s or a buyer’s market although it’s starting to look like a seller’s market, Rinehart said. “It’s not completely balanced.”

• People are more often buying within their means. The most pent-up demand is among first-time homebuyers, he said. “First-time homebuyers are saying, ‘We’ll never see the current interest rate again. We need to go ahead and buy now.’”

• Riverwalk along the Catawba River is gaining momentum but needs more shopping and restaurants before it really takes off.

• Many Baby Boomers are downsizing although blended families still need these larger homes. “It will be interesting in the next seven to eight years what happens when kids from blended families move out,” he said. “Do we have enough of a generation coming that will step into these larger homes?”

One plus to the changing real estate marketplace is how agents have become trusted advisors to homebuyers, said Rinehart, who’s active with state and national Realtor associations. “Clients don’t just want a sign in their yard. Folks want us to know so much more about their needs, wants and goals. Recognition of the value we bring to a family as Realtors is one of the best things happening in the industry.”