Local News

Bragg growth boosts area housing market

Posted February 2, 2009 7:05 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Unlike most areas nationwide, Cumberland County experienced a fairly stable housing market last year, and industry observers credit Fort Bragg for that.

Sales of existing homes in the Fayetteville market declined 8.4 percent last year, the second straight down year since the market peaked in 2006. New home sales were down 10 percent last year.

In a normal economy, those would seem like bad news, but the declines paled in comparison with the hits that housing markets took elsewhere. For example, existing home sales were off 47 percent in the Triangle last month compared with December 2007.

"(Last year was) the third or fourth largest year in the history of mankind," said Zan Monroe, executive officer of the Fayetteville Regional Association of Realtors.

Nine homes sold in January in the Anderson Creek golf course community in southern Harnett County, including five in the last two weeks.

"It's like a new day. People are out shopping again. They're out looking, and everybody else I talk to in the business says the same thing – traffic is up tremendously," said Lee Handsel, sales manager for Anderson Creek.

Chely McAninch and her family moved to Anderson Creek in December from Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She said she liked the supply of homes in the Fayetteville market.

"We looked at probably 20 homes, and it had to meet certain requirements," McAninch said.

More military families like McAninch's are moving to the area as Fort Bragg expands under the latest Base Realignment and Closure program approved by Congress several years ago.

"We have a lot of coming and going (with the Army), which gives us a lot of listings and a lot of sales," said Suzanne Pennink, an agent with Coldwell Banker.

Pennink also credits lower mortgage interest rates for driving up interest among home-buyers in recent weeks.

"They were also were waiting to see what the interest rate was going to do. They wanted to wait and see if it was going to come down from 6 or 7 (percent), and it did," she said.

Many banks now offer fixed rates of about 5 percent.