Updated 10:59 p.m.
GREENSBORO — Home sales: Up but variable.
Home prices: Growing slowly.
Home bidding wars: What’s a bidding war?
It’s something that has started popping up in Greensboro, among other depressed markets, where, at one time, sellers couldn’t drop prices enough to sell.
Now, in some attractive neighborhoods, people are willing to fight for the house they want, paying thousands above the asking price.
“I am seeing a significant change on a local level,” said Chris Young, a certified mortgage planner with Benchmark, a mortgage company. “Within the last three weeks I’ve had probably a dozen clients that have been in bidding wars on homes.”
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The average price of a house in Guilford County has grown from $153,000 in the first quarter of 2011 to $171,000 in the first quarter of 2014, an improvement of nearly 12 percent, the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association reported Tuesday.
LeAnne Brugh Miller, a real estate broker with Missions Realty, said she knows how demand is heating up around that $170,000 sweet spot.
She has sold houses for clients who have had multiple bidders and helped clients buy houses where they were competing with other offers.
“That was pretty awesome, and it was shocking as well,” Miller said.
It has been nearly 10 years since she has seen that.
“Right now I have buyers that are just watching everything that comes on the market because we know you have to jump on it, or it could be gone,” she said.
Miller worked with Teresa and Barry Talbert to help them sell a house in the Aycock Historic District and buy another in northwest Greensboro.
That process turned into a bidding war — the Talberts had two people who wanted their house very badly.
The had listed their house at $175,000. And when two offers came in, they asked for “the highest and the best,” Miller said. That involved the offer with the best combination of such factors as a buyers’ credit strength or offers to pay closing costs.
When the second round of offers came in, Miller said, they were neck and neck again.
Finally, the Talberts chose an offer with terms that best fit their needs and sold their house for $4,000 above list price.
Teresa Talbert said she believes in the strength of prayer, which drew her family to a particular house in northwest Greensboro. She said that was a home they felt was perfect for their children, Kevin and Caroline, and they were able to save $8,000 when the sellers paid closing costs.
“I really believe the Lord wanted us here,” she said.
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One house sells above asking price, one sells below, and bidding wars are breaking out, but home sales in Guilford County are not consistent.
In the first quarter of 2013, 1,252 houses sold, according to the Realtors’ report, prepared by economist Don Jud.
In the first quarter of 2014, the number was lower, at 1,111.
But there’s reason for hope on another front: the number of “pending” home sales, or those under some sort of contract but not yet closed, is rising nationally and locally.
Statistics from the local Realtors show that houses in the pipeline in December 2013 numbered 853. In March 2014, that number was up to 1,385 — close to last year’s peak season numbers of about 1,450 in June and July.
Damien Raba, 42, is in the process of buying his first house. He said he expects to close the deal on May 29.
Raba said he crunched some numbers and realized it was a better idea to buy a house and build some equity than to keep renting in the Walker-Elam neighborhood, where he has lived since attending UNCG.
He said the chance to put down roots there and belong to a real community was the final draw, even if it’s scary to make that long-term mortgage commitment.
And he said he sees other houses in that older neighborhood selling quickly.
“The houses I’m seeing come up for sale now — the ‘for sale’ signs are not up very long ,” Raba said.
He said two houses on South Elam Avenue were listed for less than a week before they sold.
“My Realtor was shocked — they don’t even have time to get listed on these websites like Zillow,” Raba said.