A recent report shows the real estate market in central North Carolina has a record-low number of available houses and has reached record-high unaffordability. That means it’s difficult for first-time buyers to find a home anywhere from Granville County to Harnett County.

Matt Fowler, director of the real estate group Triangle MLS, said that the housing market is only expected to get less affordable. Values and appreciation rates are only expected to increase, he said.

“On the bottom end of the spectrum, the end where you’re maybe 1,100 square feet or below, you have just zero availability,” he said.

All of the homes on the market in the Triangle MLS service area — which includes Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Nash, Person, Vance, Warren, Wake, Durham and Orange counties — could sell out within about 12 days, according to a new report. As of Wednesday, MLS data shows there were only 1,683 homes for sale across those 16 counties.

The last time the Triangle had a balanced market was before 2014, Fowler said. Ever since then, the Triangle has been in short supply of houses compared to demand in the area. The number of new listings across the 16 counties has dropped by 15% from last year and the average price of those sales has jumped by 19%.

There are a little less than 600 homes on the market in Wake County. WRAL News spoke with realtor Matt Perry about his Wednesday’s listing of a Raleigh home for sale on Pettigrew Street. He said he expects to have multiple offers by the end of the day.

Out of the 596 homes for sale in Wake County on Wednesday, only 215 of them are priced between $300,000 to $480,000. In both Orange and Durham counties, only 28 houses are listed between $300,000 to $480,000.

Fowler said the way to improve affordability in the Triangle is for local municipalities to change their zoning laws pertaining to density. The more homes that developers can build in the area, the better, he said.

“This is the result of a decades-long lack of response from builders,” he said.

“What this is creating is an enormous amount of accessible equity in the marketplace, not just on the houses that sell but the hundreds of thousands of houses that don’t,” Fowler said.

Fowler said one way that more homes are going to enter the market are from people deciding to renovate and sell their existing properties.

John Connaughton, professor of financial economics for the Belk College of Business at UNC-Charlotte, is forecasting a generally stable 2022 after significant post-lockdown growth in 2021.

Connaughton said he doesn’t believe skyrocketing home prices will abate until a recession comes.

“It is absolutely crazy right now,” Connaughton said. “It’s crazier today than it was a year ago, and it was crazy a year ago.”