A big drop in supply of homes for sale hits challenging Charlotte housing market

The supply of homes in the Charlotte region dropped significantly in August, as the area continues to struggle with rapid growth that is outpacing the availability of housing.

The inventory of homes for sale fell 17.5% in August from the year before, according to data released Wednesday from Canopy MLS, formerly Carolina Multiple Listing Services. That’s the largest drop since May of last year.

As supply dwindles, the cost of a home is rising: the median sales price rose 5.2% from the previous year, to $257,850. Sales were down about 3%.

Jonathan Osman, a broker and owner of Tryon Realty Partners, said that when buyers come to him looking for anything around or below that median price, the competition is steep.

I pretty much tell them: ‘be prepared to wait and be disappointed,’ ” he said.

The shortage is more severe when it comes to lower-cost homes. An Observer analysis of MLS data earlier this year found that the number of homes under $250,000 had fallen by a quarter in the last year.

A balanced market should have about a six-month supply of homes, experts say. According to the August MLS data, the region had 2.3 months of supply.

The supply of single-family homes declined more sharply than the inventory of condos and townhomes: the number of single-family homes for sale dropped 18.6% from the previous year, while the supply of condos/townhomes fell 7.9%.

Osman said the shortage of homes helps explain why there are so many apartments being built in Charlotte.

The rents are able to go up because its not like there’s an alternative,” he said.

In a news release, Brenda Hayden, president of Charlotte Regional Realtor Association/Canopy MLS said she expects sales to be steady in the fourth quarter as an influx of new residents drives demand. Pending sales, which the group says help gauge buyer demand, increased 18.5% in August from the previous year.

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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.