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Charlotte-area home sales rise 15 percent in December

Charlotte-area home sales rose 15.7 percent in December from the same month a year ago, even as the supply of homes for sale plunged to its lowest level of the year, according to a report Thursday.

The region saw 3,050 closings last month, an increase of 415 sales from December 2013, the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association said in its monthly report on existing-home sales. That was in keeping with last year’s trend in which closings in the region were higher most months on a year-over-year basis.

But buyers continue to see declining supplies of homes for sale in the region, which Realtors say is fueling bidding wars between buyers. Last month, the number of homes on the market dropped to a 4.1-month supply, well below the six-month level that is generally considered a balanced market.

Charlotte has not seen a six-month supply since November 2012.

Low supplies have been cited as one factor in appreciation gains in Charlotte and elsewhere, as buyers competing for shrinking inventory bid up prices. Last month’s average sales price rose 2.4 percent from the same month a year ago, to $229,437.

Even as prices continue to increase on an annual basis, they have been slowing in the Charlotte metropolitan area and elsewhere over the past year or so.

Also Thursday, the association released full-year sales figures for 2014. The region posted 36,191 closings last year, up 4.8 percent from 2013.

The increase came despite tight supplies of homes for sale and new mortgage rules designed to ensure that prospective borrowers are able to repay home loans, the association’s president, Maren Brisson-Kuester, said in a statement.

Rising rents, programs for first-time buyers and a strengthening economy in Charlotte are expected to bring more home buyers to the market in 2015, she said.

“Though low inventory, seller confidence and higher mortgage rates could be factors in 2015, demand continues to be strong while price gains continue to moderate,” she said.

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

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