Charlotte-area home prices rose 5.3 percent in December for the year, further evidence the markets rebound is sticking, according to the Standard & Poors Case-Shiller home-price indices released Tuesday.
On a monthly basis, home prices dropped 0.4 percent in December from November.
Locally, last years prices continually climbed compared with 2011 levels. Real estate agents say the market is changing to favor sellers.
Nationally, the Standard & Poors/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 7.3 percent during 2012, surging in the second and third quarters, officials said. Of the 20 cities, only one New York posted a decline.
Home prices ended 2012 with solid gains, said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Housing and residential construction led the economy in the 2012 fourth quarter.
Lower home prices, historically low interest rates and increasing consumer confidence have helped fuel Charlottes real estate market. The number of distressed homes, including foreclosures, have been falling, boosting buyer confidence and helping raise prices. The number of available homes for sale also has fallen, boosting competition.
Homes priced well and in desired locations are especially popular, Charlotte real estate agents say.
Julie Sharpe, area manager with Redfin, said she listed a home in south Charlotte in early February. She said she had a request to see the home within an hour and received three offers within two days. The house is currently under contract.
One promising trend she has noticed: More homeowners are starting to see home values rise above their outstanding mortgages. When the real estate market crashed, many people wanted to sell their homes but found themselves owing more than they were worth.
Its a real game changer for some of the folks who just couldnt sell their homes, Sharpe said.
Average U.S. home prices are back to autumn 2003 levels but remain down roughly 30 percent from their summer 2006 peaks. Home prices in Atlanta and Detroit, however, lag the recovery and remain below January 2000 levels, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller index.
Despite the relatively rosy report, Standard & Poors officials sounded a note of caution: The 20-city composite bottomed out in March 2012. The composite has continued to show both year-over-year and monthly gains, but officials say the data suggest that while housing is on the upswing some of the strongest numbers may have already been seen.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average.