The 2024 Spring Market Begins


By Gary A. Miller

Regular readers of this column will know that we have been living in a housing shortage in southern Orange County for many years.  In fact, one must go back to 2016 or earlier to find anything approaching a buyer’s market, which is defined as having six or more months of housing inventory.

So far in 2024, we have averaged around one and a half months of inventory in southern Orange County, defined here as the zip codes of 27510, 27514, 27516, and 27517 within county boundaries.  As we enter the spring market, historically the busiest time of year for home sales, I would like to examine where things stand with the market.

I’m sorry to report that our low inventory situation continues:  There are currently only 75 homes of any type in “active” or “coming soon” status within southern Orange County in the Triangle MLS.

The combination of demand and low inventory over the past several years in the area has meant an increase in prices, which is clearly reflected in the currently available homes.  The average among the 76 is $1,156,551 and the median is $897,000.

When compared to even the spring market of 2023, these prices seem notable.  The average for homes closing in 2023 between April 1 and June 30 was $724,611, and the median was $665,000.  While we do not know what these numbers will ultimately be for the same months in 2024, it certainly appears that they will end up higher if these starting points are an indicator.

The table below shows a breakdown of the asking prices of the 75 available homes distributed on a curve.

Price rangeNumber of listings
$1 to $199,0004
$200,000 to $399,9998
$400,000 to $599,99912
$600,000 to $999,99923
$1,000,000 to $1,499,99914
$1,500,000 to $2,999,99910
$3,000,000 or more4

Among the current listings, only 19 are new construction, which means there is likely considerable equity built into the sale for their current owners.  While analyzing the prior sales data for all 75 homes is not feasible, the table below shows the potential equity gain/loss for the most expensive and least expensive homes currently available.

CategoryAverage Current Asking PriceAverage Prior

Sale Price

Potential Equity Gain/Loss
$0 to $199,999$157,625$90,062$67,563
$3,000,000 or more*$4,731,666$2,145,000$2,586,666

*only three of the four homes in this category have previous sales data, so these numbers only include those three.

The four homes at the most affordable end of the current listings show a potential 75 percent increase over their last documented sale. The three most expensive homes among the current listings show a potential 120 percent increase over their last documented sale. 

As our area continues to have net-positive migration and inventory continues to be among the lowest amounts seen in recent history, we should expect home prices to continue to rise on average.  The charts below show a 20-year rolling average of home inventory for the entire Triangle MLS region and for greater Orange County.

Given all this, we likely should expect a spring market that brings sellers a lot of positive built-up equity and gives buyers another round of potential competition for available homes.

Gary A. Miller is co-owner of Red Bloom Realty.  He has lived and worked in Chapel Hill off and on since 1994, is an avid musician and traveler, and is a former educator of 25 years.

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