BRAC Offers Hope for Real Estate Market
Each of the 10 times that Jeff and Kay Beran moved during his U.S. Air Force career, they chose a home in a town neighboring the base.
“We always enjoyed living off the base because we could get involved in the community,” says Kay Beran, president of Prudential Gouger O’Neal & Saunders Real Estate in Southern Pines.
Beran and other Realtors in Moore County hope that U.S. Army personnel and regular civilians currently employed at Fort McPherson in Atlanta will choose a similar route when they are reassigned to Fort Bragg under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
A September 2011 deadline looms for the Army to complete the transition, which means that some 2,800 people are coming to Bragg in the next year in six monthly “serial” moves.
The stakes are high for Moore County Realtors, because in a market that has been depressed for almost three years, they will be vying for new business with the 12 other counties that make up the BRAC Regional Task Force.
“I think Moore County is going to get its fair share, but the competition is going to be tough,” Beran says. “People are either going to select convenience for proximity to Fort Bragg, or quality of life like we offer here in Moore County.”
Pinky Doyle, owner of Re/Max of the Pines in Southern Pines, has a wait-and-see attitude toward the projected BRAC influx.
“It’s definitely going to help,” Doyle says, “but it’s not going to be a gold mine. We’re not going to get everybody.”
Still, those that come will bring well-paying jobs. The military members have an average annual salary of $93,000, while the civilians average $79,000.
“The military market is consistent and being driven by strong Veterans Administration loan rates,” says Bill Sahadi, owner of Fore Properties in Southern Pines. “The nonmilitary market is softer.”
As of Aug. 31, there were 1,634 active listings in Moore County for residences, including 1,260 single-family homes and 259 townhouses and condominiums, according to the Multiple Listing Service compiled by the Pinehurst-Southern Pines Area Association of Realtors.
“The competition is intense because there are not a lot of buyers out there,” Doyle says.
And homes sales in Moore County have dropped each of the last three years, while the average number of days on the market has increased. From January through August 2008, the numbers were 868 and 149, respectively. For the corresponding time period in 2009 and this year, the numbers fell to 774 and 172, and 742 and 175, respectively.
“The shift in the successful sales for the past two years has been to homes under $300,000,” Beran says. “The luxury homes are more difficult to sell because we just don’t have the buyer base. We’re still showing luxury properties, but potential buyers are having a difficult time selling their current residence.
“They’re hunkering down and holding their cards.”
Sahadi agrees, saying, “There’s a pent-up demand because a lot of buyers are sitting on the sidelines. Their No. 1 fear is that they’re going to pay too much for a home.”
As a result, local sellers who are “smart enough” to price their home ahead of the value curve have a much better chance of increasing the odds of selling their home, Sahadi says.
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