With low home inventory in the Ballantyne area and home sellers already seeing multiple offers during the winter, real estate agents say they’re expecting the spring home buying season to be especially competitive.
“It scares me to think about it,” said Elaine Eschert, broker and owner of Golden Properties Realty of Metro Charlotte. “I know how difficult it has been to find houses. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be when springtime gets here.”
Katrina Richards, broker-in-charge at the Ballantyne office of Allen Tate Realtors, said she expects cumulative days on the market to decline this spring.
According to Carolinas Multiple Listing Services data compiled by Richards, the average days on the market declined between December and January for south Charlotte ZIP codes 28277, 28134, 28226 and 28270. Simultaneously the median closing price went lower.
The average days on the market decreased from 41 to 35 between December and January. Then in February, that figure jumped to 53 days. The median closing price fell from $251,923 to $243,400 between December and January, before rising in February to $245,000.
Richards said days on the market will once again decline and home prices will continue to rise with the arrival of the spring home buying season. She said the market is currently at a lower than four-month home supply in Charlotte, indicating a seller’s market. A balanced market is usually considered to have a six-month home inventory.
“Inventory is down. So when the houses come on the market and they’re priced to sell, they’re getting multiple offers,” Richards said.
Realtors cited two factors affecting the low inventory. Homeowners who bought their home during the peak of the market don’t feel they can turn a profit just yet. And some buyers don’t know where they want to go next because of the low inventory.
“If they want to move up or move down, they can’t find where they want to go,” she said.
Eschert added that a decline in the inventory of new construction homes, especially in south Charlotte, also is confounding the situation.
As a result, for the spring home buying market, Richards said, “We’re going to see a pretty big decrease in the days on the market and we’ll also see some appraisal issues in the near future because people are bidding and outbidding, paying over full price for properties.”
Eschert said she’s noticed the uptick in offers, saying, “It is really crazy right now.”
She said she showed a house recently to a buyer on the first day the home was on the market.
“The buyer wanted to make an offer, but there were already two offers in ahead of us,” Eschert said. “We did ultimately get it.”
But other homebuyers have not been so lucky, real estate agents say.
“We just have so many people frustrated that they have lost out on multiple offer situations that they understand they have to make strong offers,” said Richards.
Sellers such as Kristen Dietz said they’re grateful for current market conditions, which appear to be favoring sellers.
Dietz and her husband, Christopher, moved into a new Ballantyne house two years ago in the same neighborhood as their previous home.
Both of the homes are in the Thornhill neighborhood.
But because of the state of the market back then, they held on to their first home. They said they owed more on the home than they could get for it. They ended up renting that first home.
Recently, the Dietzes decided to list their current home on the market.
When the renter who was leasing their first home recently decided to move out, they listed that property, too.
“We knew we would be able to get out from under it based on how the market was,” Kristen Dietz said.
Their first home sold in two days.
Meanwhile, their current four-bedroom, three-bathroom home has seen plenty of interest.
“When you talk about showings and low inventory, we’ve had 42 showings in 50 days,” she said.
In preparation for the spring home buying market, Richards recommended that “sellers need to be realistic on their pricing and they need to listen to what their Realtors are telling them about what the comps are saying.”
“You can’t be too overconfident because appraisers and banks do play into the pricing ultimately,” she said.
And to buyers who may face a highly competitive spring buying market? Eschert warns that they shouldn’t waste too much time.
“If it’s a good house in a good area with good schools, they don’t last long,” she said. “When you go in, you have to be ready to write an offer if you like the house. If you think about it, it will be gone.”