Development

The Charlotte housing market cooled off in January. Here’s what that means.

Home sales declined 9 percent in January from the year before, according to Carolina Multiple Listing Services data released Monday.
Home sales declined 9 percent in January from the year before, according to Carolina Multiple Listing Services data released Monday. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte’s housing market got off to a slow start in 2019, and some experts say that the government shutdown is partially to blame.

Data from Carolina Multiple Listing Services released Monday showed that home sales declined 9 percent in January from the previous year. This marks the ninth month in a row that the number of homes sold fell from the year before.

Nationally, the housing market has been cooling off since the second half of 2018 as home prices grow at a slower pace.

Richard Buttimer, director of the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate at UNC Charlotte, said rising interest rates have led to some of the slowdown. Mortgage rates fell in January, after rising for much of 2018, but are still up year-over-year.

That’s created some pressure on folks buying homes,” he said. “There’s also been some uncertainty just in the general economy.”

Brenda Hayden, president of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association and Carolina Multiple Listing Services, said some of the Realtors she works with faced delays in closing sales because of the government shutdown. The shutdown caused lending slowdowns at some federal agencies.

Still, Hayden said, the exact impact of the shutdown is difficult to measure.

Inventory also fell, meaning there are fewer options available for potential buyers. That typically drives prices up — the median sale price in the Charlotte area last month was $226,000, an increase of 5 percent from last year.

However, new residential listings rose 13 percent, which Hayden said is a sign that seller confidence is increasing.

“Unfortunately it usually takes the delivery of a message multiple times before people think ‘OK, maybe it is a good sell,’ ” she said.

Danielle Chemtob covers economic growth and development for the Observer. She’s a 2018 graduate of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill and a California transplant.


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