After years of robust recovery, the housing market in the U.S. is starting to sputter. Recent reports such as these from The Washington Post and Forbes show some sector sales down as much as 14%. Rising home prices, stagnant wages and tight lending at higher interest rates make it hard for homeowners to purchase; for investors, the flood of foreclosures has become a mere trickle and it’s challenging to find a deal. In all, it seems like nobody’s buying real estate like they were.
But don’t tell that to anyone living in Charlotte, N.C. While most of the nation’s housing market is slouching, Charlotte’s continues to surge with rising prices and fast closings. Carmela Hidalgo, a Realtor®/broker with Keller Williams Ballantyne Area in Charlotte, explains, “According to the Charlotte area MLS (multiple listing service) compared to 2013 year-to-date numbers, prices in 2014 have risen more than five percent and average days on market have gone down by over 10 percent. Rental prices are up nearly 19 percent in areas, and new construction is picking up. On top of this, we need to keep in mind that 2013 was a strong year for Charlotte real estate, so this points to a very healthy market. Homes go fast at asking price.”
Hidalgo says that people continue to flock to Charlotte because of the area’s robust economy, affordable housing and attractive quality of life. “Here, the American dream of owning a home is still attainable, especially when compared to the big cities in the northeast like New York and Boston,” she said. “Charlotte is home to many Fortune 500 employers, and the region continues to attract new business. Insurer MetLife now has a significant presence here, and the Publix supermarket chain is making a major push in this area. Duke Energy, Nucor Steel, United Technologies Corporation and the big banks continue to add to the diverse economic base.”
The Charlotte Observer cites zip code 28277, encompassing the south Charlotte area known locally as Ballantyne, as the second most moved-into zip code in the U.S. This hot market creates many challenges for potential home buyers. “Inventory in this area is tight,” Hidalgo said. “Realtors need to get really creative to get listings and find homes for clients. We’re posting flyers around desirable neighborhoods and knocking on doors. Buyers looking for homes in this area need to have realistic expectations in a market like this.”
The most important piece of advice Hidalgo gives to potential home buyers in this market: Be ready to show the money. “Before a buyer even starts looking, he needs to have a preapproval letter from the lender,” she said. “Sellers regularly have multiple offers on homes, and they typically will not even consider an offer unless it is backed by some certainty of financing.”
She added, “If you’re serious about a property, make a serious offer. There are still areas of the country where lowball offers get accepted, but this is not one of them.”