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Charlotte-area home sales up 5.9% in July

Charlotte-area home sales rose 5.9 percent in July from the same month last year as dwindling supplies of properties on the market continue to give buyers fewer options.

July’s 3,750 closings marked the largest number of finalized sales in a single month this year, according to a Charlotte Regional Realtor Association report released Friday. July closings represent homes that likely went under contract in May and June, during the busy spring homebuying season.

Increasing sales and shrinking supplies are fueling a market that remains tipped in favor of sellers. Listings fell to a 5.3-month supply, down from 5.4 months’ worth in June, the report on existing-home sales showed.

A widely accepted definition of a balanced housing market is one with a six-month inventory. Charlotte has been below that level since November 2012.

Real estate industry officials say low supplies are turning off some potential buyers who have been discouraged by too few options. Sandra Larsh, broker in charge for Charlotte-based Cottingham Chalk Hayes Realtors, said the tight inventories are also dissuading some potential sellers from listing because they can’t find their next home to purchase amid shrinking supplies.

Larsh, who has been in Charlotte’s real estate business for about 30 years, said she has never seen the city’s supplies this low.

“It’s a phenomenon,” she said.

Larsh said Charlotte has not had large numbers of people transferred out of the region for job relocations, which have traditionally increased the area’s inventory levels.

“I think we had gotten so used to people being moved in and out of the city to quite a degree, which would open up the inventory,” she said.

Real estate insiders have also suggested that supplies are being suppressed as potential sellers who still owe more than their homes are worth wait for home values to rise before putting their properties on the market.

According to the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller report, Charlotte-area home prices are 6.2 percent below their peak in August 2007.

In Charlotte and elsewhere, breakneck annual gains in prices continue to slow.

The Charlotte region posted an average sales price of $241,485 in July, up 3.7 percent from a year ago but lower than June’s 7.5 percent year-over-year increase, according to the Realtors association.

A bright spot in July was pending sales, the association said. The forward-looking indicator measures sales that might close in approximately 45 to 60 days. For the month, pending sales totaled 3,902, up 22.8 percent from a year ago.

The report is based on activity in a roughly 18-county region. It generally does not include sales of new homes.

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