Home sales increase for third straight year in Kinston, Lenoir County

Home sales increase for third straight year in Kinston, Lenoir County

The numbers don’t lie: We are in the middle of a housing renaissance in Kinston and Lenoir County.

Linda Rouse Sutton, a Lenoir County Commissioner, took a few moments at this week’s meeting to brag on the turnaround, which included:

  • Residential single family home sales increasing the past three years in the city and county
  • The average price of homes sold in the city and county up substantially, from $100,000 in 2016 to $112,900 this year, an increase of 12.9 percent
  • Days on average of those homes sold being on the market dropping by more than a month, from an average of 166 days in 2016 to 135 in 2018

“This means a lot of folks are seeing all the positive things happening in Kinston and Lenoir County,” Sutton told the Neuse News Tuesday afternoon. “When you look at what we’ve got, with our economic makeup, we are so blessed. When you go downtown now on the weekend, it’s full of people and most of them are from out of town.”

The statistics were courtesy of three Kinston realtors – Jess Edwards, Nathan Perry and David Edwards – who were part of a Lenoir 2020 project commissioned by the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce. The trio of realtors shared the encouraging numbers in the “2018 Kinston-Lenoir County Housing Report” with the Lenoir 2020 group last week.

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Some more highlights of the report included:

  • In 2016, 231 houses were sold in Lenoir County (127 in Kinston)
  • In 2017, that number had grown to 264 (144 in Kinston)
  • Through June 30 of this year – exactly halfway through 2018 – 143 homes have been sold in Lenoir County, including 74 in Kinston. That means the city and county are on pace to surpass the strong 2016 and 2017 sales.

Jess Edwards, the owner of ERA Kinston Realty Group, said due to mergers with multiple listing services of surrounding areas was the reason numbers were difficult to gather before 2016.

“That’s as far back as we can go back and responsibly know it’s accurate,” he said of the numbers. “But the past couple of years have been much better than the previous few.”

Another exciting trend for the citywide and countywide housing market is that more outsiders are coming into Kinston and Lenoir County to purchase homes. In 2017, 31 percent of the homes sold in Kinston were to out-of-towners or out-of-staters. In the county, it’s even better – 46 percent of the homes sold were to out-of-towners and out-of-staters.

Jess Edwards said the reasons for this success are plentiful.

“People from outside the area and outside North Carolina are moving here because of retirement, because they want to be closer to family and where they grew up and because of work,” he said. “Some are moving here because of downtown Kinston, too. We have people moving here from California, Costa Rica and Oregon.

“They want to be around downtown Kinston because of the TV show (‘A Chef’s Life’) and because they want to live somewhere they don’t have to fight crazy traffic.”

The absorption rate – the rate at which available homes are sold in a specific real estate market during a given time period – has also improved mightily since 2016. An absorption rate under 15 signals a buyers’ market while a rate over 20 indicates a sellers’ market.

In 2016, the county absorption rate was 12.03 and a year later it was 13.7. So far this year, it’s improved to 15.1.

Understandably, Perry – of Perry Management – said he was happy with the positive numbers.

“From a Realtor’s point of view, Kinston is doing a lot of things right,” Perry said. “Our houses are staying on the market for fewer days and we’re selling more houses than we have in the past. Folks are wanting to come to Kinston and we’re all doing things right to make this an attractive place to live.”

David Edwards, of Malone Realty Group, pointed to the uptick in the local economy.

“The number of people looking to buy homes in Lenoir County is definitely trending up after 10 years of being undervalued,” David Edwards said. “It’s an exciting time for the whole county, not just the city. We’ve got a good, healthy economy and it’s due to the positivity happening, not just here but in Eastern North Carolina.”

Sutton said there is no reason to think the positive trends are going to slow down.

“Things are only getting better,” Sutton said. “When you look at the trends, especially in Raleigh and Greenville, young folks are beginning to move downtown because they want to walk to eat, they want to walk to have a drink and they want to walk to go to the art gallery. … What’s happening there is now beginning to happen here.”

Jess Edwards concurs with Sutton.

“You’re going to see home prices continue to increase and new construction start in the city and in the county,” he said. “Most of the new construction is taking place in the county now because there is space but there is space in town and I know of builders who are planning to build in the city.”

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