The housing market has been in a ‘hold onto your hat’ state for quite some time now. And, while national reports indicate that the market is slowing down, we wanted to hear from the local experts about what is happening specifically in the Charlotte market and whether it’s a good time to buy, sell or sit tight.
Interesting Effects of Rising Interest Rates
Interest rates are going up, and some house prices are going down; but what does that mean? Knowing how to guide clients through the current market can only come with experience so we checked in with the experts at Helen Adams Realty who can offer a unique real-time perspective on the CLT market.
“When discussing Charlotte’s changing market with my clients, I present data, not opinions. No one can doubt that we are seeing changes in our market; for the first time in a while, we see price adjustments, fewer multiple offers, and homes are beginning to accumulate days on the market,” says REALTOR® Julie Will.
The increase in interest rates obviously effects buyers and sellers differently.
REALTOR® Anna Fenno recommends:
- Be sure you have an updated pre-approval with your lender. Some buyers are finding that they may not qualify for the same mortgage and purchase price on a home as they did three months ago.
- It’s also true that we are seeing some price decreases, but we are also still seeing multiple offers among the ‘cream puffs’ – houses that are in an extremely desirable location and condition, and are priced correctly. If my clients find a home they love, we need to be ready to go and that means having a pre-approval in-hand.
- It is more important than ever to prepare your home for the market: pre-inspections and necessary repairs, staging to help potential buyers visualize the possibilities, and professional measuring and photography.
- Proper pricing is crucial. Some of the homes where the initial list price was too high are the ones with the price decreases. Overpricing, especially in a market that has slowed down, can result in more days on market.
REALTOR® Marlene Billesdon sums it up “It is still a great time to buy. Yes, interest rates are higher, but they will not be forever. Home prices are leveling and there is a lot of room now for negotiation with sellers and even builders are willing to negotiate. It’s like buying things on sale – you no longer need to make an offer in 20 minutes, at 50-100k over asking with crazy amounts of due diligence. Interest rates will come down and you can refinance and be ahead over time.”
This gets us to our next point – how do you decide what you can truly afford?
Why You Should Let Your Agent Help You Decide What Is Affordable
One thing is for sure, affordability means something different to everyone, and it goes way beyond the list price.
Just like the more than 70% of lottery winners who wind up broke within five years, knowing exactly how much you can afford – not spend – can make for a lifetime of happiness.
Julie has a list of things that she encourages her clients to consider to help determine what they can afford before the list price is even considered.
1. What are your lifestyle requirements? Think: shopping/dining, activities/sports
2. Is there a particular school district we need to focus on?
3. Location: commute to work/ do you need to keep N.C. or S.C. taxes in mind
4. Prefer a planned community, what amenities are important?
5. Is the home move-in ready? If the home needs updating, discuss what they would change and how much they anticipate spending on a renovation.
Julie also pulls a broader list of comparable properties to provide a top-end price for a clients search area.
This is important to consider during the purchase process as buyers could find themselves over-improving a home. (Over-improving can lead to an issue if the market takes a drastic turn and you are are forced to sell.)
Make sure you know how much the house will actually cost you:
Anna says “It’s important for my clients to be able to afford not only their home, but enjoying life outside of their home. That means talking about working with a solid lender who can help them determine what they can really afford, planning for taxes, insurance, and home repairs – because they will come. HOA fees are another aspect of home ownership in many communities, and we always look to see how much those monthly HOA dues are.
Is It a Bull, Bear or Balanced market?
REALTOR® Stevee Baskerville says “We remind buyers and sellers alike that pricing is hyper local within an area and even certain streets. Charlotte continues to grow and demand is strong. There are homes in areas in and around Charlotte that continue to fly off the market at or above list price. While there may be a trend of home prices dipping nationally, home sellers have seen record appreciation over the last few years, so if they’ve owned their home for a bit, they should still have solid equity and will see good returns.”
What’s also important is to consider if the house is a grow into or grow out of purchase. When you factor that in ‘when’ not what the market is doing matters just as much. And cash is still king.
Anna says “For cash buyers, this is a great market and they are out shopping with a purpose. There are fewer multiple offer situations so they know they are well positioned when they find a home they love.”
Everyone knows the market will change again, and while there is less competition some buyers are are weighing the option of getting the house they really love with plans to refinance down from a 7%+ mortgage when the rates come back down.
“My buyer clients are relieved that the frenzy we all experienced has subsided and we have returned to a more balanced market. Some of my sellers are probably wishing we were still back in the ‘wild wild west’ days of the last two years where sellers held all the cards, but we all recognize that was unprecedented, unsustainable and unhealthy in the end,” says Anna.
“We are still experiencing an inventory deficit, and our market remains attractive to buyers” REALTOR® Julie Will.
What Makes CLT’s Housing Market Special?
It’s been reported that 100 people a day are moving to Charlotte. Many major corporations continue to relocate here and their employees and their families need housing.
“There may be some areas of the country where the market is receding, but Charlotte is not one of them. There are so many reasons to love our Queen City – the secret is out and the people are flowing in!” says Anna.
Julie agrees saying “Inventory remains low (2.5 months for all property types), and while our average days on the market have increased (34 days for all property types), it is still on the lower side. These numbers change based on the property type a client is interested in.”
“Sellers need to go into it with the knowledge that their home will likely not sell in 24 hours but rather 24 days,” REALTOR® Marlene Billesdon.
So, Do We Buy, Sell, or Sit Tight?
REALTOR® Jill Miller says “It is a bit of a mixed bag. Nationally consumers are taking a step back and reevaluating prior to making a large purchase. With continued growth and diversification of industry in Charlotte, many people are more confident in the local housing market staying steady due to demand and not seeing the huge declines predicted in other parts of the country.”
Marlene agrees saying “As long as Charlotte remains in the top 10 of places to move to we should continue to see growth. I am seeing a more balanced market and hope it continues into the spring. Once interest rates start to fall, we should see an uptick in transactions.”
“There is little reason a buyer should hold off on purchasing a home if they find something they love today.They just need to buy smart. Historically this time of year has less buyers looking and therefore there’s a bit less competition for a home today versus a spring market. On the reverse, if you have a marketable home, there are still more buyers than houses to buy in our market; listing if your home is show ready and in a desired area is never a bad idea,” Stevee and Jill conclude.
So, there you have it. According, to the experts, Charlotte’s market is hotter than many others in the country. Be ready to buy with a pre-approved letter, and ready to sell with staging and inspections complete. But, it’s OK to sit tight and take a minute too. Ask your realtor about your next best steps, or reach out and connect with the Helen Adams team today.