Charlotte-area home sales increase 8.1% in August

Charlotte-area home sales are continuing their upward trend even as buyers keep encountering low supplies of properties on the market, a report Tuesday showed.

Home sales in the region increased 8.1 percent in August from the same month last year, marking the third month in a row of annual gains, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association’s reporting on existing-home sales.

A total of 3,673 sales closed in August. Those closings likely represent homes that went under contract in June and July.

Sales are increasing despite persistently tight inventories of listings from which potential buyers can choose.

August’s 15,395 properties for sale amounted to a 5.2-month supply, down from a six-month supply in August last year.

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

Supplies continue to be low, in part, as some would-be sellers hold off on listing their properties while they struggle to find their next home purchase amid the tight inventory, real estate insiders say.

It’s also likely that some would-be sellers who owe more than their properties are worth are waiting for home values to rise further before selling. Those homeowners could need to regain enough equity for a down payment to buy something else.

According to the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller report, home prices in Charlotte are back to summer 2006 levels but remain 5.8 percent below their peak in August 2007.

Annual gains in home prices continue to slow in Charlotte and elsewhere. While August’s average sales price of $242,121 was up 2 percent when compared with the same month last year, it was the second consecutive month of declining year-over-year increases.

That slowdown in annual price gains could make it take longer for underwater homeowners to regain equity, which could help keep listings low.

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

August sales were down 2.1 percent when compared with July.

Pending sales, a forward-looking indicator, totaled 3,536 in August, up 30 percent from the same month last year. Pending sales are those that might close in roughly 45 to 60 days.

Joe Rempson, president of the association, in a statement said the rise in pending sales is encouraging because it shows a strong demand for homes.

“Much of this activity is due to the positive mix of housing conditions such as sustained job growth, low mortgage rates and a stable economy that our region is experiencing,” he said.