It was a self-proclaimed power breakfast, packed with hundreds of area power brokers; all looking for answers about the economy, specifically the real estate market in our area. With their eggs, they got a hearty helping of optimism from an expert panel, including former Wilmington Mayor, Spence Broadhurst, now a banker in Greensboro. "This area was slower to get into the recession. I think it'll be faster to get out," said Broadhurst. The other panelists shared that view, including the builders. Ken Dull, president of McKinley Building Corp., said, "There are some positive things going on from the commercial side. We still see activity with industrial business." Craig Stevens, president of Stevens Fine Homes, said, “There are jobs here. There are people wanting to move here. So I'd rather be building homes in Wilmington, North Carolina than anywhere in the country." “We're a small market, and it just doesn't take much to pump that up," said Autumn Hall developer, Raiford Trask. A realtor who attended the breakfast said she has not seen much of a drop-off in her business. "It has slowed down definitely, but since we're a destination city, people move here because they want to, not because they have to," added Wendy Shorter-Bridges. Sea Coast Realty president, Tim Milam, said our region is benefiting from people in the northeast who are biting the bullet and selling their homes for less than they expected. "They can sell their home for less value and come south to buy in a much lower value as well," he said. Purchases like that may be contributing to the increase in mortgages less than $417,000. Michael Lopez, Alpha Mortgage president, said, "So the market has shifted dramatically into a kind of start home category." The bad news, Michael Lopez said, is so-called jumbo loans are down dramatically, meaning fewer sales of pricier homes. But he said there is no such thing as a national real estate market, instead it is all local, and here, he said, the market is good. Homes on the market take longer to sell than they did this time last year, and the average price of homes sold has dropped by about $15,000. Still, we're faring a lot better than much of the rest of the country.
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