Charlotte-area home sales climb 2.4% over last year

Charlotte-area home sales rose year-over-year in April even as a decline in supply of homes for sale kept the market tipped in favor of sellers, a report Friday showed.

April sales increased to 2,990, up 2.4 percent from 2,921 the same month last year, according to the report on existing-home sales from the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. That marked the second month in a row of year-over-year increases in sales.

The average sales price rose 2.2 percent to $222,168 as the number of homes on the market fell to a 5.4-month supply. A year ago, the supply was at 5.7 months. A widely accepted definition of a seller’s market is one in which the number of homes for sale is below a six-month supply.

Low supplies in Charlotte and nationwide are seen as a key factor in rising home prices. Supplies are so low in some parts of the region, homes are generating multiple bids as potential buyers compete for properties, real estate agents say.

“Prices in our market continue to be pressured by persistently low inventory,” Joe Rempson, president of the Realtors association, said in a statement Friday.

Nationwide, sales of existing homes have been weaker this year compared with the same period last year.

In the U.S., total existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million in April, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.

That was up from an annual rate of 4.59 million sales in March but is 6.8 percent below the 4.99 million sales in April 2013. The chief economist of the association said a sluggish first quarter will likely lead to U.S. home sales in 2014 being below last year’s levels.

Lower supplies of homes for sale in Charlotte and elsewhere are thought to be discouraging some potential buyers, who might be holding off on purchasing until more inventory comes on line. Potential buyers can’t find what they want amid listings that might be outdated and lack modern amenities, industry insiders say.

“The last 12 to 18 months the inventory has been low around here – but homes are selling so quickly,” said Jeff Lynch, broker with Charlotte-based Re/Max Metro Realty. “If you have a good listing, it’s not unheard of to get multiple offers in the first week right now, which we haven’t seen in a long time.”

With the spring homebuying market well underway, brokers across the Charlotte metro area are “very busy,” Lynch said.

“Everybody is slammed,” he said, as rising home prices entice some people who otherwise wouldn’t to sell their homes. But listings aren’t keeping up with demand.

“We don’t have enough listing inventory at this point to satisfy everyone,” Lynch said.

Industry insiders say potential sellers who still owe more than their homes are worth are waiting for home prices to rise further before listing them. Also, a lack of listings is discouraging some potential sellers from selling, because they can’t find their next home to purchase.

The Charlotte Regional Realtor Association’s report is based on activity in an 18-county area.

The report also showed that preliminary pending sales, a forward indicator, were 3,534 in April, up only 0.2 percent from a year ago.