The average price of Charlotte-area homes sold last month tumbled nearly 9 percent compared with September 2007. That was almost double the previous month's loss and was the largest drop in nearly a year of declines.
Based on figures released Wednesday, the average price of $214,927 is the lowest since March 2006 for sales through the Carolina Multiple Listing Services.
Sales also skidded lower, marking the 16th consecutive month of double-digit declines as the region shares the pain of the nation's historic housing downturn.
The housing market has been walloped by tight credit, rising foreclosures and consumer angst about job losses, plunging stocks and higher prices for gas and food.
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The Charlotte market, which held up longer than many, is likely to be further wounded by the impending sale of Wachovia. Two banks are battling to buy Wachovia, which has about 20,000 workers in the city. Either deal would almost certainly lead to hefty local job cuts, including well-paid executive positions.
“This too shall pass, but it's a pretty tough market right now,” said Dot Munson, an industry veteran and president of the Charlotte Regional Realtors Association.
Munson, who owns Home Team Pros, said an increase in foreclosed properties listed for sale probably contributed to lower sales prices. Foreclosures, typically sold at deep discounts, also depress the value of surrounding properties. Mecklenburg County leads the state in foreclosure activity.
Another popular measure has shown accelerated home-price declines. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index compares repeat sales of the same property.
Last month, 2,239 houses, townhouses and condos were sold through the MLS. The service accounts for nearly all existing home sales within a 50-mile radius and about a fourth of new home sales.
The September sales were down 27 percent compared with a year ago. But the decline, while steep, was not as sharp as the record plunge in August.
The number of pending sales last month was down nearly a third. That means fewer people had signed contracts to buy, which signals ongoing weak final sales. Industry experts, including Munson, point to high levels of rentals by newcomers who can't sell homes in weaker markets.
“We've got some pent-up buying out there,” she said.