Homebuyers in Charlotte face brutal spring market, as available inventory plunges

Buying a house in Charlotte will be tough this spring, as the inventory on the market drops and prices rise.
Buying a house in Charlotte will be tough this spring, as the inventory on the market drops and prices rise. Observer archives.

There's more bad news for potential homebuyers in Charlotte this spring: You're likely to find fewer houses that cost a lot more than last year.

That's according to the latest data released by the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association, which showed prices rose rapidly again in March.

The median price of a home sold in the Charlotte region was up 7.2 percent from March 2017, reaching $235,000. The average sale price, a measure that puts more emphasis on higher-priced properties, rose 4.6 percent, to $326,754.

The number of houses for sale, on the other hand, continued to plunge in March, dropping almost 24 percent from the same month a year ago. And the number of homes sold fell as well, declining more than 11 percent.

"Unfortunately, sales declines are a natural result of too few homes for sale, and we’ve been talking about persistently low inventory for the past three years," said Jason Gentry, president of the Realtor association. “Our hope is that more sellers will start to list and take advantage of the ready and willing buyer base.”

But a small number of houses on the market can have the opposite effect, as most sellers plan to buy a house themselves.

If there are few options on the market, more people might decide to stay put rather than sell and risk not being able to find a new house, which leads to a cycle that only further lowers inventory.

The latest figures, compiled by the Carolina Multiple Listing Services Inc., show there are about two months of supply on the market in Charlotte, down from almost three months at the same time last year. That's well below the four to six months considered a healthy, balanced market.

The tight inventory heading into the heart of homebuying season means buyers are likely to face a lot of competition for the properties that are available. The number of days a house spent on the market in March fell by a full week compared to March 2017, dropping to 50 days, an indication that houses are being snapped up quickly.

The falling number of homes sold in Charlotte could be a sign that despite strong demand, potential buyers aren't able to find a house that meets their needs or falls in their price range. There were 3,866 houses sold in the Charlotte region during March, nearly 500 fewer than last year.

Despite that drop, the number of pending sales deals inked in March rose 7.2 percent from the same month last year, indicating that buyers are still eager to purchase houses, despite the rising prices and tight inventory.

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