MetLife could bolster Ballantyne home prices

Homes are selling quickly in Ballantyne. And if MetLife opts to bring 1,300 jobs to south Charlotte in the near future, the few houses on the market in the area could go quickly, according to one local real estate expert.

MetLife, which announced it was bringing a retail business headquarters to Charlotte and a global technology and operations hub to Cary last week in exchange for nearly $100 million in incentive grants from the state, county and city, could pick the Ballantyne Corporate Park as its home. If so, Elaine Eschert of Golden Properties Realty said buyers and sellers should expect to see the prices of homes for sale in Ballantyne increase in the next few years.

“Obviously it would have the tendency to increase the price of the homes if people wanted to live here,” Eschert said on if MetLife picks Ballantyne. “It also could cause people who have been waiting the last five years to put their house on the market to do it cause they think now is the time to sell.”

Eschert thinks employees will want to live close to work, if recent trends are any indication. That could be great news for someone trying to sell their home in Ballantyne, especially if there’s some 1,300 people soon looking for a new home in the area.

“With what’s happening with the increase in gasoline prices, people want to be closer to work; they don’t want to be further out,” Eschert said. She works with real estate in south Charlotte, western Union County and into South Carolina, and is used to people wanting to get as close to Ballantyne as possible.

But if up to 1,300 people are looking to move closer to Ballantyne in the next two years, they’ll have to pay the price. Home listings are edging higher recently as the housing market starts to improve and Ballantyne runs out of homes for sale, Eschert said. So, if you want to live in Ballantyne, you’re going to have to pay the price, she said.

“There is not as much inventory as we were used to having,” Eschert said of Ballantyne. “If it’s a good house, it’s not going to stay on the market that long. … In the last four years, it could take a couple of months to sell a home. But now it’s more like a couple of weeks; in some cases a couple of days.”

Eschert said choices for homebuyers in the south Charlotte area aren’t as plentiful as they used to be, with neighborhoods as big as 200 homes sometimes only having one or two options available.

“What we see right now is people looking and not enough homes for what they’re looking for.”

The 28277 zip code, which covers the Ballantyne area, saw 48 homes sold last month at an average sales price of $351,958. That’s compared to 22 homes at a $381,329 average in February 2012 (which included a $2 million home) and 33 at a $326,939 average in February 2011.

“The last four to five years has been difficult to sell,” Eschert said. “I think people have reached the point that if they want a house, how much more can they wait? They don’t feel great about the economy, but I think they see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

MetLife picking Ballantyne could be a sign of good things to come, Eschert said, as she’s seen more people moving to the area recently due to job relocation. Relocation buying had slowed down, she said, but it’s starting to pick up steam.

“People are making their move now,” she said. “With a large influx of people possibly coming in to Ballantyne, it’s supply and demand.

“Ballantyne basically sells itself. They just fall in love with the area.”

Contact Goldenwith area real estate questions at her website, www.goldenproperties.com.

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