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Charlotte home prices rise 8.7% over last year

Charlotte-area home prices rose 8.7 percent in November from a year ago, as the region continued its trend of strong annual price appreciation, according to figures released Tuesday.

All 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index recorded annual gains. Nationally, prices rose 13.7 percent and posted their best November performance since 2005.

“November was a good month for home prices,” David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. Since June 2012, U.S. home prices have risen steadily on a year-over-year basis, he said.

In Charlotte and elsewhere, low supplies of homes for sale have helped prices rebound from lows reached in the housing downturn. In December, inventory in the region stood at a 4.8-month supply, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. A six-month supply is considered a balanced market.

With the low inventory, homes are still attracting multiple offers, primarily in southeast Charlotte and parts of the Lake Norman area, said Hadi Atri, president and CEO of Charlotte-based Re/Max Executive Realty. Homes selling for $200,000 to $300,000 tend to draw multiple offers most often, he said.

“If you have three people after one house, the price is going to go up,” he said. “People are getting close to their asking price. In some cases, they get more.”

Some real estate insiders expect the supply of homes for sale to be higher in 2014 than in 2013, in part because more homeowners are regaining equity in their properties as home prices rise. That is motivating some owners to finally sell after sitting on the fence during the housing downturn.

Home prices continue to post sizable year-over-year gains despite rising mortgage rates. According to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage was 4.46 percent in December compared with 3.41 in January 2013.

Blitzer, of S&P Dow Jones Indices, said home price gains are expected to slow in 2014.

Nationwide, prices declined in November from October. Blitzer said home prices tend to drop as winter approaches, when the housing market slows. In Charlotte, prices fell 0.6 percent in November from October. Nationally, prices dropped 0.1 percent.

Joe Rempson, president of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association, said the month-to-month drop in prices is not necessarily bad.

“I don’t think it’s that unhealthy,” he said. “I think a small plateau here and there isn’t too alarming. I think we saw in the past when they kept going up ... that it ended up not being so great in the long run.

“I still think it’s a healthy market.”

According to Case-Shiller data, prices in the Charlotte region are above lows seen during the depths of the downturn and have recovered to pre-downturn levels. Charlotte prices have not returned to the peak they reached in 2007, before the housing bubble burst.

It’s unclear what impact new federal mortgage rules will have on the housing market in Charlotte and elsewhere. The rules, which took effect this month, are intended to make sure prospective borrowers are able to repay home loans.

Phil Mahoney, president and CEO of Charlotte-based American Security Mortgage, a midsize lender, said the concern is that the rules will make it harder for some borrowers, such as middle-class families, to get a mortgage. Anecdotal evidence suggests some buyers are being affected, he said.

The widely watched Case-Shiller figures tracks only repeat-home sales, not sales of new homes.

Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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