Looking for a starter home in Charlotte? Good luck - they’re hard to find

A home for sale in Charlotte.
A home for sale in Charlotte.

Charlotte is the sixth-most “mismatched” housing market in the nation, according to a new report from Trulia, with far more buyers seeking starter homes than there are listings.

The report, which compares buyers’ searches of houses on Trulia with the actual inventory listed, found the same trend nationally. While there are more buyers searching for lower-priced starter houses (defined as about $165,000 by Trulia) and mid-priced “trade-up” houses (about $289,000), a majority of listings are in the expensive, “premium” category (about $614,000).

The causes for the shortfall are varied: New home starts have been lagging since the recession, investors bought starter homes to convert into rentals, and more people are able to get a mortgage and afford a home, increasing demand. The effect is straightforward: People looking for starter homes are having more trouble finding them.

“They can find a home, but they’re going to have multiple bids and a lot of competition,” said Felipe Chacon, a Trulia housing economist. “There are a lot more people looking for starter and trade-up homes, while the market is dominated by premium listings.”

In Charlotte, 10.7 percent of houses listed fall in the “starter” category. But 21.6 of searches are for starter houses. By contrast, premium listings make up 68.7 percent of the market.

Trade-up homes are a bit more closely matched than premium: 20.6 percent of listings and 35.2 percent of searches.

The five markets more mismatched than Charlotte were Houston, Grand Rapids, Mich., Dallas, Salt Lake City and Richmond, Va. Raleigh clocked in close behind Charlotte, as the eighth-most mismatched market, while Greenville, S.C., came in tenth.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo