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Real estate market continues to recover in Cabarrus and Lake Norman region

The Cabarrus County real estate market has seen strong in growth in recent years, and area agents predict an upward trend for sellers will continue in 2015 as consumer confidence grows.

According to data from the Carolina Multiple Listing Services, the average sales price of a home in Cabarrus County rose 9 percent between 2012 and 2014 and closings are up 37 percent.

In addition, the number of homes for sale is down 13 percent and the supply of homes for sale is down from 10.5 months in 2012 to 6.6 months in 2014.

Cabarrus real estate agent Diane Honeycutt said the recent uptick seems to support economists’ predictions that 2015 is going to be a good year for home sales. “Sales for January are up 7.6 percent over 2014,” she said. “In addition, there are (fewer) homes on the market this January, down 15.4 percent over January 2014.

“This means the inventory of homes on the market is down, and competition for those homes is going to be strong. Homes that are priced correctly and available for showings should sell for competitive prices.”

The average sale price of homes in Cabarrus County rose from $189,524 in January 2014 to $194,948 in January 2015, according to data from the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association.

New listings have dropped nearly 13 percent in the last year, and sales have increased by 7.4 percent.

The main driving factor behind the improving market, Honeycutt said, is that consumer confidence is up, but competitive prices and low interest also help.

“We usually look at a recovery from two points of view: pricing and sales,” she said. “Many areas have already experienced the improvement in both areas. … Most have seen at least one area of improvement, and 2015 could be the year where they see both.”

The one sign to watch is the months supply of homes for sale, Honeycutt said.

“A normal market (supply) is typically six months, so if the inventory drops below that, then we could see it drive prices up due to lack of inventory,” she said. “But only time will tell on this statistic.”

A potential downside for buyers, Honeycutt said, is that interest rates are predicted to go up by next time this year.

“So, waiting to buy may cost you money,” she said. “The thing to remember, though, is even if they go up, rates will still be great compared to the overall average rate over the last 30 years.”

Maren Brisson-Kuester, the 2015 Charlotte Regional Realtor Association/CarolinaMLS president, said that while demand for homes across the region continues to be strong, inventory remains a challenge.

“With properties experiencing shorter days on market, today’s buyers are seeing signs of a solid seller’s market, which will probably persist through spring,” she said.

More first-time buyers, more new construction and the potential rise of interest rates are a few factors behind an uptick in the lake-area’s real estate market, real estate agents say.

The Lake Norman region has experienced a 5 percent increase in the average price of a home in the past year, said Stephanie Gossett, area manager of the Lake Norman region offices of Allen Tate, which handles transactions in Cornelius, Huntersville, Davidson and Mooresville.

The average sales price is about $400,000, but prices peaked around $470,000 and dipped to nearly $300,000 in recent years, according to data from the Carolina Multiple Listing Services from January 2010 to January 2015.

“We are expecting the same appreciation in 2015,” she said. “The past two years have seen consistent, continual recovery, and we are now experiencing a balanced market in most of our Lake Norman towns.”

While the market has enjoyed extremely low interest rates over the past several years, Gossett said, industry experts expect them to rise about 1 percent by the end of 2015. “On an average mortgage, that can make a pretty big difference in payment,” Gossett said. “So while prices are on the rise … the cost of money is also on the rise.”

New construction also is making a comeback across all price levels, Gossett said, but finding build-ready lots is a challenge.

“If you are looking to sell your resale home, you will find you are competing with the new homes coming out of the ground more so this year than we have had to over the past five years,” Gossett said. “And that pace will only increase in months to come as builders continue to ramp up construction.”

First-time buyers have a strong presence in the market this year compared to previous years, Gossett said.

“The millenials have been renting or living with parents, and we are now seeing them enter the home-buying market much later than their predecessors,” Gossett said. “Appreciation has also allowed some homeowners, who were underwater in our market, to come back into a positive equity position and, therefore, able to consider making a move again.”

In addition, baby boomers appear to be downsizing but they don’t want to sacrifice quality, Gossett said. Custom home construction and renovations and additions remain strong in Lake Norman, Gossett said.

Attributes that make the area sought after include the lake, a growing economy and job market and the area’s proximity to the airport and Charlotte.

“People want to live here, and often our clients tell us they researched several places across the country and chose to move to the Lake Norman region above all others,” Gossett said.