Temperatures may have been colder than normal, but house hunters were hot on the trail in Charlotte, North Carolina. Closed sales in the city in February rose nearly 27 percent from a year ago, according to the Carolina Regional Realtors Association.
"A lot of corporate companies have moved in," said Bonnie Papandrea, an agent with Wilkinson ERA in Charlotte. "I'm so busy that doing this interview was a challenge for me."
Companies like Pepsico, MetLife and Sealed Air are moving workers in—workers who need housing. Big demand, however, has pushed supply down dramatically. The inventory of homes for sale dropped 29 percent to a barely two-month supply at the current sales pace. That imbalance between supply and demand is pushing prices higher, up over 8 percent in February from a year ago.
"I think we're going to see prices with no limit, and that's an unusual situation for Charlotte to be in because it's always been a conservative city," said Papandrea.
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She does not, however, see the Charlotte market approaching any kind of price bubble. Even though values are rising, appraisers are not keeping pace with the market, she said. Sellers may be able to get their asking price, but they're not getting commensurate appraisals to close the deal with mortgage-dependent buyers despite steep competition and bidding wars for the listings.
Charlotte has been a favorite among investors, who mostly use cash, but that has been on the low end of the market. This may be another reason that despite higher prices, Charlotte is not in danger of being in a bubble. Spring will likely bring more sellers to the Charlotte market, but with so many new residents as well as an influx of retirees, it will likely remain highly competitive.