Carolinas’ housing markets are “excellent”

The residential real estate market could be stabilizing, with pockets of the country starting to see home prices appreciate, according to executives with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
Conditions in the Carolinas’ housing market, meanwhile, are “excellent” and “very solid,” they also said.

Around 100 local Realtors gathered at Regal Cinemas Stonecrest Thursday to listen to Wells Fargo executives talk about the housing market and ways they could improve business in 2012.

The event, called CineMeeting, was broadcast in real time to 100 movie theaters across the country. The goal of the event, the bank’s fifth annual telecast, is to educate and inspire agents, organizers said.

The Observer also spoke with two bankers before the presentation to get their feel for the regional and local markets.

Cliff Frohn, Southeast Division Manager for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, said consumer confidence about the economy in general is rising, which bodes well for the housing market. He cited a February survey by Fannie Mae showing 70 percent of those polled think now is a good time to buy a home, down 1 percent from January.

Frohn said foreclosures will continue to weigh on some markets and push prices down. But he also praised the bank’s efforts to reach out to borrowers, saying of the borrowers the bank talks to, seven out of 10 are able to avoid foreclosure because of loan modifications or other arrangements.

“If we can talk to you, there’s a 70 percent chance we can help you,” he said.

Wells Fargo is one of the banks that agreed to a settlement last month with federal agencies.

The deal resolved claims that banks used shoddy servicing and improper foreclosure practices such as signing foreclosure related documents without a notary or knowing whether the facts they contained were correct. North Carolina will receive $338 million of the $25 billion settlement. The money will go to help struggling homeowners. The settlement also sets new mortgage servicing standards.

As for Charlotte’s market, Andrew Misocky, Wells Fargo Mortgage Area Manager, said he is seeing signs the local market is improving.

For example, the median sales price for the Charlotte area is around $185,000, down from $220,000 in 2007, but up from $180,000 where it has been relatively recently.

“I think it’s a sign of new momentum,” Misocky said.

Misocky and Frohn both said they are hearing Realtors talk about receiving multiple offers on houses, something that hasn’t happened often during the past five years.

Asked if the market has hit the bottom, Frohn said: “It feels it not only is the bottom but that we’re starting on the way up.”

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