Local real estate agents say area housing market improved

Two area real estate agents say they think the south Charlotte housing market hasn’t looked this good in at least four years.

“The last four years it has not been good, but I have definitely seen an improvement over the last few months,” Elaine Eschert of Golden Properties Realty said. “Houses are selling, there are more buyers out there. Good houses are selling quicker.”

Eschert, who earned a place in the RE/MAX hall of fame, said she has lived in the south Charlotte area for more than 30 years.

“I have actually run into circumstances where we’ve had multiple offers [on a home],” Eschert said. “I haven’t seen that in four years. If it’s a good house, it doesn’t stay on the market long. Priced right, in good condition and if it shows pride of ownership.”

Melissa Brown, of Helen Adams Realty, agreed with Eschert that south Charlotte is on the upswing.

“It’s definitely seen an uptick from last year and years past ever since things started sliding downward in Charlotte around 2009,” Brown said. “Charlotte was a bit behind the rest of the country then, but we’ve hit bottom and started to come up.”

Brown said demand for houses has increased recently.

“There has been a much lower inventory than in recent years,” she said. “Contracts are way up and demand is surpassing the supply right now. The result of that is we’re seeing many multiple offers.”

Brown said she’s been working in real estate for about six years and had never seen multiple offers for a home until this year, and has now seen about seven or eight instances of multiple offers.

“I can’t really speak to the whole city because I focus on south Charlotte and I live in south Charlotte, but from what I’ve seen, south Charlotte is fairing very well and that’s because the schools in south Charlotte are such a draw,” Brown said. “That’s very helpful at keeping the property values higher. That area has done very well.”

Eschert agreed with Brown that south Charlotte has faired better than other areas.

“I would have to say from what I hear, south Charlotte has held its value better than some of the other areas,” she said. “It’s a better time than it has been for a while for both buyer and seller. But not every house is going to sell quickly.”

Eschert credited much of south Charlotte’s improvement on the low supply, but increasing demand.

“There’s such a limited amount of new construction that it increases demand for resale.”

Eschert said that after her many years in the business and after the recent housing market downturn, she isn’t sure the upward trend will continue, but she’s hopeful.

“I’ll tell you, after these four years I’m not confident in anything,” Eschert said. “It’s going to take a while and I’m waiting to see what happens with the elections. Buyers have to have more confidence in the economy in order for things to improve.”

Eschert said obstacles to improving the state of the housing market in south Charlotte include problems with lenders and appraisers.

“The biggest problems are lenders, appraisers,” she said. “Lenders’ requirements are to the point of ridiculous at times. Appraisers are also difficult. I sold a house and there should have been no problem with the appraisal, but it became a huge problem.  The house had $90,000 in upgrades. It was a beautiful house in a good area but the appraiser came in so much below what was paid, I thought I would die. I could not believe it.”

Eschert said appraisers often come from different areas and are not able to accurately determine the value of a home because they do not see the whole picture.

“I don’t know how they’ll ever bring the prices up,” Eschert said. “Appraisers are not seeing the change in market.”

Brown agreed that lenders and appraisers can often create challenges to buying and selling homes in the area.

“In a lot of cases it’s becoming cheaper to buy than to rent as rent goes up and because of historically low interest rates, but there are some things holding people back from buying,” she said.

Of those factors discouraging people from buying homes, Brown said job uncertainty is common along with how difficult it is to obtain a mortgage, as requirements are stricter now than they have been in previous years.

“Even buyers with great credit are having trouble,” she said.

Brown and Eschert said their advice for sellers is to be sure to make your home as appealing as possible.

“Buyers want to see upgrades,” Eschert said. “That’s what’s going to attract them. It may cost you, but it will be better in the long run.”

“Now is not the time to try to get huge profits because values have come down,” Brown said. “All that matters is what a buyer’s willing to pay and that home has to appraise.”

Both Brown and Eschert said their advice for buyers in the current market is to work with experienced real estate agents and make sure the value of the home is accurate.

“Don’t go in and offer an obscene lowball,” Brown said. “Prices are coming up and it’s less of a buyers’ market now.”

Brown said she thinks south Charlotte is a great place to buy and sell right now.

“I think the values will continue to steadily increase,” she said. “I think we’ve hit the bottom. I don’t think we’ll see rapid increases, but I think we’ll see a very slow and steady increase in home values. South Charlotte is a great place to live.”

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