Thursday was a different kind of day for Wilmington. It was when a real estate research firm said the area’s home prices actually rose, even when counting so-called distressed sales – foreclosures, short sales and bank-owned property.  CoreLogic reported that home prices that included distressed sales rose 0.24 percent in April compared with April 2010. That followed a decline of 1.6 percent in March.

But excluding those homes, prices rose 3.75 percent in April compared with a year earlier.

That was three times better than North Carolina as a whole, where homes prices, excluding distressed sales, rose 1.4 percent in the CoreLogic Home Price Index.  The CoreLogic index includes New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties.  The Wilmington-area figures were part of a national index that showed home prices are still 7.5 percent lower than April 2010, when the first-time home buyer tax credit was in place.  National prices did, however, rise from March to April – the first month-over-month increase since the middle of last year, CoreLogic said.

Where do we see this increase in the Wilmington area?  Take a look at Wrightsville Beach where the increase is evident by the trends of last week on Truilia.   The average price per square foot for Wrightsville Beach was $501, an increase of 12.1% compared to the same period last year. The median sales price for homes in Wrightsville Beach NC for Apr 11 to Jun 11 was $330,000 based on 13 home sales. Compared to the same period one year ago, the median home sales price decreased 51.1%, or $345,000, and the number of home sales decreased 35%. There are currently 196 resale and new homes in Wrightsville Beach, including 1 home in the pre-foreclosure, auction, or bank-owned stages of the foreclosure process. The average listing price for homes for sale in Wrightsville Beach NC was $1,081,349 for the week ending Jun 29, which represents an increase of 0.1%, or $778, compared to the prior week.  The data here shows home prices in this area of Wilmington have indeed increased.

Since most Americans still believe that owning a home is a solid financial decision, and a majority of renters aspire to home ownership as a long-term goal. According to the 2011 National Housing Pulse Survey released today by the National Association of Realtors®, 72 percent of renters surveyed said owning a home is a top priority for their future, up from 63 percent in 2010.  With this information we know that buyers are looking for a great deal and sellers are offering that right now.  Is it time to buy?  Yes, according to the National Association of Realtors® pending home sales rose strongly in May with all regions experiencing gains from a year ago, pointing to higher housing activity in the second half of the year.  Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the improvement bodes well for home prices.  With housing values continuing to fall and mortgage interest rates at record lows, this has to be the best time in decades to buy a property.