Development

A pleasant surprise hit Charlotte’s housing market last month. But challenges remain.

Charlotte’s housing market saw a welcome spike in sales in September — but the lack of supply of homes continues to worsen.

Sales jumped 8.3% in September from the year before, the largest increase in more than 2 1/2 years, according to data released Friday from Canopy MLS, formerly Carolina Multiple Listing Services.

Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and a slew of companies like Honeywell and Lowe’s are adding jobs in the region, bringing more residents.

The economic expansion is fueling demand for housing, but buyers have increasingly fewer options: the inventory of homes for sale in the region dropped 19%.

That’s put pressure on prices too, as demand outpaces supply. The median sales price was up 10.4% to $259,479.

The supply crunch has become a “new reality,” said Jonathan Osman, a broker and owner of Tryon Realty Partners.

“When something does come available, (buyers) are willing to fight for it,” he said.

Driving higher sales

New construction is not keeping up with the influx of people looking for homes. Housing starts, the number of new houses on which construction has started, are down 4% year-over-year, according to research firm Metrostudy.

Still, Osman said one reason behind the increase in sales could be some of that new construction hitting the market.

“When they come online, they come online at once,” he said. “It can be a nice little shock to the system.”

Lower interest rates are also driving sales, Brenda Hayden, president of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association/Canopy MLS, said in a press release. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.57%, according to Freddie Mac, down from 4.9% a year ago.

The data also show one bright spot in the supply shortage: a 12.1% increase in new residential listings, a finding that Hayden said the organization was “pleasantly surprised” by.

“This is a strong signal of seller confidence that we’d like to see continue, and it will certainly help buyers with more choice in their home search,” she said in the release.

Osman said buyers can typically get a better deal on a house in September, which is a slower month than the busy spring and early summer buying season.

You always have a seller that’s wondering when their house is going to sell, and a buyer that can swoop in and get a deal for themselves,” he said.

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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.
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