Uptown 550 at Stonewall

Stonewall Street in Uptown Charlotte is a far cry from what is used to be. There is construction all over the street. With all of the projects in progress, Stonewall Street has the most active construction of any other street. We are excited about the transition of Uptown and Uptown 550 at Stonewall looks to be another great project..

Uptown 550 at Stonewall, a project by Northwood Ravin will have 421 apartments and ground floor retail. Located at Stonewall and Caldwell streets, there are two separate buildings. A 20-story tower with 143 units and a four-story building with 278 units. The four-story building will have three stories of parking and an elevated pool and lounge deck.

The 20-story tower will have first floor retail, a gym on the third floor, a fourth-floor dog park, and rooftop bar. These units will have balconies with great views of Uptown Charlotte.

Units will be a mix of studios, one, two, and three bedrooms. Luxury features will come standard, including quartz countertops, rain shower heads, outdoor gas fireplaces, designer lighting and custom cabinetry.

There is a central courtyard plaza with plenty of green space, urban garden, fountain, and walking paths. There will be many luxury features including Amenities will include full-sized golf simulator, resort style indoor spa and sauna, game room and lounge space.

Just downstairs will be retail and you can walk to bars and restaurants in the area. There are also many other new projects which will have additional shopping destinations including a new Whole Foods which should be finished around the same time as Uptown 550.

Expect Uptown 550 to open mid-to-late 2018. If you are interested in a home in Uptown, give us a call at (704) 525-4045. You can also view listings on our website here.

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Fed Raises Interest Rates Again

Last week, the Federal Reserve again announced that they are raising the nation’s federal funds rate by one-quarter of one percent. This brings it to a range of 1.00 to 1.25 percent making this the second straight quarterly increase.

At this time, the prediction is that mortgage interest may not see a direct increase from this rate hike. In the short term, car loans and bank fees will probably be the first to show an increase. This could also affect millions of borrowers who have credit card debt as it could push their monthly payments higher. The hike could additionally impact borrower’s ability to qualify for a mortgage.

It is not clear at this time if the Fed needed to raise the rate right now. Unemployment is low at 4.3 percent in May. The economy isn’t growing as fast as the Fed would like, nor are wages. The rate hike is unlikely to help either of those causes. It seems that the Fed found themselves in a bind. They said they would raise the rate earlier in the year and they are following through, even though it might mean slowing the economy further.

The Federal Reserve will reassess the market again in September to be sure the projected additional increase is in line with the market at that time.

If you are in the market for a home right now, the hike is not likely to affect you in terms of interest rate. You may qualify to borrow less money if you have significant credit card or other short term debt.

Borrowers who will feel the rate hike the most are ones with an adjustable rate mortgage that is about to adjust as it will now adjust by half a percent. This could mean hundreds of dollars more per month on a mortgage payment. Other borrowers who will feel the pinch are ones with home equity loans or lines of credit. Repayment on those loans will call for steeper payments due to the rate hike.

If you are in the market for a home, call us at (704) 525-4045. We can help you get started on the process today. You can also view homes currently for sale on our website here.

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May Market Update

Home sales were down slightly in May according to data released by the Carolina Regional Realtor Association. New listings and pending sales were up year over year, up 4.6% and 16.6% respectively. This shows that there are buyers out there and they are willing to purchase when the right home comes on the market.

The Charlotte area is still suffering from a lack of inventory. The supply of homes fell again down to a 2.5 month supply. This is down 26.5% from the same time last year. A balanced market between buyers and sellers is considered to be a 6 month supply.

The supply of homes was up slightly from last month. In April, there were 9,525 homes on the market. In May, there were 9,795. This represents a rise of 270 homes or 2.8% month over month. Last May, by contrast, there were 12,268 homes for sale.

Median sales price was up 7.9% to $226,500, and Average sales price was up 6.6% to $274,957. Low inventory drives prices up and we have seen gains in home prices for the past few years with no end in sight.

Homes are staying on the market for less time as well. Days on market from list until close went from 106 last May to 95 this May.

Buyers are also not getting as much of a discount on list price. Last year, they paid 96.8% of the list price for a home, and this year they are paying 97.3%. This could indicate more instances of multiple-offer situations where the highest and best offer wins the home.

We have not seen widespread evidence of homes selling for more than list price. When this happens, there is often a case of a home selling for more than the appraisal value and the buyer having to come up with the difference in cash. This is happening in some cities such as Austin, TX.

If you are interested in a home in the Charlotte area, give us a call at (704) 525-4045. You can also view homes on our website here.

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Is renting or buying the best bet in Charlotte?

Home prices have been rising in the Charlotte region for the past few years with no apparent end in sight. Case-Shiller’s S&P CoreLogic home price index has prices 6.7% higher in March. This is well above the 4.3% year over year increase they reported in March of 2016. It also far outpaces the national average of 5.8% which represented a nearly three-year high.

Unusually low inventory of homes takes much of the blame for the price hikes. People are staying in their homes rather than selling and moving up. Mortgage interest rates are also on the rise which may deter some sellers as a new mortgage would have higher carrying costs. This could contribute to the current trend as it keeps inventory low and prices going ever higher.

With all of this news, you might be thinking that renting might be a better option, but is it? According to home real estate website Trulia, buying remains a more cost-effective option than renting. Trulia’s study shows that purchasing a home in Charlotte is 39.4% cheaper than renting. This assumes that buyers have a 20% down payment, have a 30 year fixed rate mortgage and stay in the property at least seven years.

However, Trulia’s study shows that renting appears to be making up some ground. Home prices have been escalating faster than rental prices. Rental rates from 2016 to 2017 have dropped 0.4% while home prices increased 7.5%.

For now, buying a home in the Queen City is a pretty safe bet. If you are interested in making the jump into homeownership, give us a call at (704) 525-4045. You can also create custom searches of home listings on our website here.

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Market Update

Last week we showed you the local trends for housing prices. This week, we have national numbers as well, released by the National Association of Realtors. They show that housing prices in metro Charlotte rose at nearly double the rate of the national median in the first quarter of this year. Median sales price of an existing single-family home in Charlotte grew year over year 13.4% to $209,600. Nationally, the median rose 6.9% to $232,100.

Low inventory factors into the high appreciation in Charlotte. There was a more than 20% drop in home supply in the Charlotte area, just a 2.5 month supply. This is well below the balanced market of 6 months supply, giving sellers a distinct edge in transactions.

Housing Analysis firm Metrostudy released figures on new home sales this week. They show that new homebuilding rose 16.4% from last year at this time to total 2,695. Additionally, the number of previously vacant new homes that are now occupied rose 23.5% to 2,725. Annual starts increased 7% to 11,372, and annual closings rose 10.6% to 10,922.

At the same time, the unemployment rate in North Carolina came in below the 5% mark in April according to newly released labor data. While this is still higher than the national rate of 4.4%, it is really encouraging. It also means that more people could be eligible for mortgages once they have enough job history in these new jobs.

There are some glimmers of a market correction on the horizon. Rental rates in the Charlotte area have showed a cooling trend in recent months. Housing markets across the nation are showing the same trend. Trulia published their report showing that 12.5% of rental listings had a price reduction to get tenants in. This could be a prelude to upcoming price cuts in the for sale market as well. We will keep you up to date on all of the market trends.

If you are in the market for a home in the Charlotte area, give us a call at (704) 525-4045. You can also view listings on our website here.

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Charlotte Transit Update

Four firms have submitted applications to become the consultants to analyze building new rail lines in Charlotte. The consultation would involve a transportation study expected to begin in July and take 18 months. Budget for the consultation could be as high as $4.4 million, though cost estimates have not been finalized.

The study will analyze building new lines and how those lines will align with existing stops and stations. This is the latest development for the 20 year old campaign to develop the transit system. Busses remain the main thrust of the system, but as light rail is built out, it will take on more of the load.

The first of the lines they will be studying is a proposed 25-mile northern rail line from Uptown to Iredell County. This proposed Red Line would help ease congestion on I-77 especially for people who live in Lake Norman, Mooresville, and Davidson.

The second line in the study is a western route connecting Uptown to the airport and possibly going to the future master planned community River District. This line would be great for travellers of all sorts, business travellers and tourists most especially.

The third piece of the study will be how the new lines would be integrated into center city. This would include the already proposed 13.5-mile $2.5 billion Silver Line extending from Uptown along Independence Boulevard towards Matthews. It will also include the currently under construction 9 mile $1.2 billion Blue Line extension connecting Uptown with UNC Charlotte.

Much has changed since the original transit plan was adopted and there are now new buildings that need to be accounted for in the plan to connect new rail lines. This could mean tunnels to get lines in and out of Uptown like were recently built in Seattle.

Rail advocates propose building all three additional lines simultaneously for an estimated range of $5 to $7 billion. These numbers are rough and are subject to change. Building out the light rail so robustly would launch Charlotte ahead of many other mid-sized cities and help make it more of a destination that it is currently. Many leaders see these lines as necessary as the population in Charlotte is projected to double from 2.5 million to 5 million in the next 20-30 years.

Real estate along the existing corridors has increased in value tremendously after construction completed. If you are interested in purchasing a home in Charlotte and want to take advantage of existing or future rail lines, give us a call at (704) 525-4045. You can also view homes on our website here.

For more information, read the full article in the Charlotte Business Journal.

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April Market Report

The Charlotte Regional Realtor Association released their monthly market report this week. Based on their findings, we are again facing historic low inventory and higher prices, but we are also seeing a dip in closed sales and in new listings from the same time last year.

Inventory for the entire region is now at 9,525 homes. This is up from last month’s 9,212, but substantially down from last year’s 11,919. The rise from last month is a typical trend, as spring goes on, more homes are listed.

Average sales price also rose year over year. Last year, the average price for a home was at $251,290. This year the average is a staggering $275,491. This is up $4,140 from last month’s average price of $271,351 and $38,269 up from this time in 2015.

Days on market time is down year over year as well. This means homes are staying on the market for a much shorter time before they are under contract. This speaks to the low inventory as homes are being snatched up almost as soon as they are listed. 96 days is now the norm from listing until a transaction is closed.

Pending sales are up from last year at this time. This means we could see a bump in closed sales next month. If we don’t start seeing more listing activity, there will be even more competition over the homes that do come up for sale. Buyers need to be prepared to pay higher prices and be prepared in case of multiple-offer situations.

If you are interested in purchasing a home in the Charlotte area, give us a call at (704) 525-4045 and let our experts guide you through every step in the process. You can also search for and view homes on our website here.

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Tips for first time buyers

Are you a first time homebuyer? If so, you may have an unnecessarily long home search. Many first time buyers are looking for their forever home. This means that their eyes are sometimes bigger than their wallets. To help keep your home search as short as possible and get you into your dream home quicker, here are a few steps you can take:

  1. The first step to having the shortest home search is to be honest about how much home you can afford. There are plenty of home calculators online. Zillow.com just launched a new one and there is great one on Realtor.com. These can give you a rough idea of how much home is right for you. Affordability calculators take into account more than just the mortgage you can afford, good ones also look at your current debts such as car loans, student loans, monthly bills, and more. These costs, including the carrying costs of owning a home give you a much better picture of what you can afford.
  2. Find a lender and get pre-qualified for a loan. The lender will be able to give you a pre-qualification letter stating just how expensive of a home you can afford. They will use your financial data to come up with numbers personalized just for you. Armed with the pre-qualification letter, you are now ready to search for homes in your price range.
  3. Figure out which home features you need to have and which ones are only nice to have. If you can be real about which feature are musts for you, you will help yourself and your Realtor find your home faster. Maybe school district is the most important for you, maybe it’s a three car garage, or a pool, or a chef’s kitchen.

Once you are realistic about your home search, it should take the shortest time for you to find your next home. This might mean that your next home won’t be your forever home. Sometimes you need to build up equity in one home before you can get to the perfect dream home. If may mean changing your expectations a little bit first, but a starter home can be a great first investment. It can also be a great learning tool so you know everything it takes to own a home from mortgage to maintenance to upgrading.

If you are ready to search for your new home, give us a call at (704) 525-4045. You can also search listings on our website here.

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School Boundaries can Dramatically Affect Home Prices

There are many factors people look at when purchasing a home. For families with young children, school districts are usually an important consideration. Based on home sale data, the Charlotte Agenda concluded that school districts can mean the difference in hundreds of  thousands of dollars for homeowners. This means that everyone needs to be aware of school zoning when they purchase, not just young families.

These invisible lines that separate districts are important boundary lines that can mean the difference between a high performing school and a low performing one. These lines can be quite arbitrary, or follow main travel corridors. The lines affect people’s perception of the value of a home. This can dramatically affect how much money people are willing to pay for a home, even a home just across the street from one they would pay substantially more for.

We here at The Angle always remind you to verify school assignments as they are subject to change. Some of the changes can happen if a new school is built. Other times the change can come about because of community involvement, persistence, and activism. Boundaries can also change due to political reasons.

It is illegal for a Realtor to steer a client towards or away from a certain neighborhood or school. We can show you homes in a particular area if you direct us, especially if you want to be located in a particular school district. Even if you have directed your Realtor to show you homes in a particular school district, it is still up to you as the consumer to verify the school assignment.

Homebuyers aren’t alone in preferring higher performing school districts. Builders often prefer them as well. Higher profit margins are usually available if they choose those districts. It makes good business sense to go with a sure thing than to improve in a lower performing district with an unknown profit margin.

Student Assignment Plans like the one recently passed in Charlotte are a way cities try and break up areas of poverty. Without entrenched districts, those areas of lower priced homes have a higher chance for rapid appreciation due to increased interest by developers and buyers.

If you are interested in a home in the Charlotte area, give us a call at (704) 525-4045. You can also view homes on our website here.

For the full document about Charlotte area school assignments, click here.

For more, read the full article in the Charlotte Agenda

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New Project Coming to Elizabeth

After a long road and lots of resistance from the neighborhood, developer Faison expects to finally break ground on a new development in Elizabeth this summer. The timeline once ground is broken is about 18 to 20 months to completion. This would put an end date roughly between October 2018 and April 2019.

The mixed use development is expected to contain 60 apartments and 21,000 square feet of commercial space. There will be two buildings on the 1.7-acre site. There could be 5,300 square feet of restaurant space while the rest of the commercial space could be retail or office space.

Located at the corner of East Seventh Street and North Caswell Road, the new development is a short block away from Independence Park. There are many restaurants and businesses within walking distance. An Uptown commute is a quick trip down Seventh Street.

There have been a few different iterations of the project as the community has been vocal with what they need and want. The developer has stated that they are “gearing after more of an empty nester, older demographic”. There is a lot of history in the neighborhood and they are trying to be sensitive to that while providing for the community. They have worked closely with Elizabeth Community Association as they have honed the design.

The residential portion of the project should include 85% two-bedroom apartments, with the remainder split between one and three bedroom units. Units will average 1,300 square feet. Rents have not yet been set, but corner units and units with uptown views will command premium pricing. As they are targeting empty nesters, look for the developer to cater to people who have abundant disposable income.

As ground has still not broken yet, plans are subject to change. The zoning that was approved in July 2016 would allow for up to 100 apartments and 30,000 square feet of commercial space.

If you are interested in a home in the Charlotte area, give us a call at (704) 525-4045. You can also view listings on our website here.

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