Guide: Buying a Home in Charlotte

Guide: Buying a Home in Charlotte
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There’s nothing like buying your first home to officially propel you into adulthood. It’s a milestone occasion that can be exciting, confusing, and disappointing all at the same time. The unknowns of buying a home compounded with the current seller’s market conditions in Charlotte could create a frustrating experience for first time buyers. While there are a lot of factors out of your control, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain of the whole experience. Mainly, research and preparation.

Really, the more you know, the better and this guide will help. We’ll go over some facts, data, tips, and neighborhood information to help you along. If you’re new to Charlotte, check out our Axios Charlotte Guide: Moving to Charlotte to help you get settled in. The best way to thank us is to invite us over to your new digs for a drink once you’ve unpacked all those boxes.

Buying A House Tips 1

Fast Facts

  • The median age of homes in Charlotte is 20 years.
  • 50% of homes in Charlotte are owned, 41% rented, and 9% not occupied.
  • In 2014, almost 12,000 properties were sold in Charlotte.
  • The median sale price of homes in 2014 was approximately $208,000 in Charlotte
  • Because of tax deductions, you can make a mortgage payment, including taxes and deductions, that’s approximately one-third larger than your current rent payment. (Assuming a 28% tax bracket.)
  • The monthly payment difference on a $205,000 vs. $200,000 30-year loan in today’s market is less than $6.
  • The average first time homebuyer stays in their home for 4 years.
  • Closing costs usually average 2-5% of your home purchase price, and does not include your down payment.
  • Lenders generally figure a borrower shouldn’t spend more than about 33 to 45 percent of monthly income for housing costs.
  • For a traditional transaction, it takes 30-45 days for a mortgage buyer, and sooner if you’re a rolling in the dough cash buyer.

Buying A House Tips 2 (1)

Current Charlotte Data (June 2015)

Currently, the Charlotte market is rocking and rolling compared to last year. It’s very much a seller’s market, requiring homebuyers to be quick in making offers and patient in getting a home under contract.

June 2015

  • Closed Sales: Up 22.1% vs. June 2014 and Up 18.1% YTD vs. YTD 2014
  • Pending Sales: Up 26.5% vs. June 2014 and Up 22.2% YTD vs. YTD 2014
  • Average List Prices: Up 3.4% to approximately $280.000 vs. June 2014
  • Average Sale Price: Up 0.8% to approximately $260,000 vs. June 2014
  • % of Original List Price Received: Up 0.8% vs. June 2014, to 95.6%
  • Inventory of Homes: Down 23.8% vs. June 2014, Up 1.3% vs. YTD 2014
  • Supply of Homes for Sale: Down 35.6% to 3.9 months

Buying A House Tips 3

Find the Right Neighborhood

charlotte-mls-area-map

 

Population By Age
0-17 * 18-44 * 45-64 * 65+ * % of Family Households * Avg Home Price for Sales YTD 7/15 * *
28202            1,127            8,581            1,937            706 21% $251,000-$300,000
28203            2,330            6,134            3,031          1,105 37% $301,000 or more
28204                848            2,857            1,144            209 31% $251,000-$300,000
28205          10,733          12,602          10,337          4,426 51% $151,000-$200,000
28206            3,184            5,145            3,240          1,170 55% $100,000 or below
28207            2,149            3,033            2,530          1,645 60% $301,000 or more
28208            9,664          13,924            8,679          3,715 62% $100,000 or below
28209            4,429            9,446            5,052          2,649 44% $301,000 or more
28210            9,738          17,902          10,802          6,918 52% $301,000 or more
28211            7,291            9,904            7,825          4,729 61% $301,000 or more
28212          11,126          17,205            8,271          3,196 60% $100,000 or below
28213          11,151          18,929            8,744            984 63% $101,000-$150,000
28214          10,596          15,147            9,802          3,722 72% $101,000-$150,000
28215          16,044          22,392          14,254          5,158 71% $101,000-$150,000
28216          13,755          21,320          12,482          5,319 67% $101,000-$150,000
28217            7,105          12,610            5,518          2,264 61% $100,000 or below
28226            8,818          13,264          11,395          6,427 63% $301,000 or more
28227          13,741          19,033          14,729          6,956 71% $151,000-$200,000
28262            9,271          24,678            7,057          2,254 50% $151,000-$200,000
28269          21,607          33,133          18,720          6,140 66% $151,000-$200,000
28270            8,450          10,910            9,952          4,017 72% $301,000 or more
28273            9,032          16,070            8,570          2,427 62% $151,000-$200,000
28277          17,628          24,117          19,759          6,756 68% $301,000 or more
28278            6,812            9,693            6,159          1,917 76% $151,000-$200,000
* Source: Charlotte Chamber of Commerce
** Source: Helen Adams Realty

Uptown Charlotte

Area 99 |28202, 28204, 28206, 28208

charlotte-mls-area-map

Charlotte’s center city, known as Uptown, is divided into four wards, spreading out from the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets, and consists of Charlotte’s most authentic urban living neighborhoods. This area is populated with condos, lofts, new single family homes, and town homes. Nearly 13,000 people currently reside within the Uptown loop, the area encircled by I-77 and the John Belk and Brookshire freeways. By 2028, approximately 100,000 people will reside here.

Highlights and considerations: The King’s Kitchen, Mert’s Heart & Soul, 7th Street Public Market, Romare Bearden Park, EpiCentre, Dandelion Market, 5Church, BB&T Ballpark, Theaters and Museums galore, non-existent commute into the city, great walkability.

North Charlotte

Area 1 | 28035, 28036, 28070, 28078, 28031

charlotte-mls-area-map

Cornelius – With Lake Norman as the main attraction, Cornelius has become a desirable residential location with 21,000 residents.

Davidson – Just north of Cornelius is Davidson. Davidson is charming and known for its quaint Main Street, tree-lined sidewalk neighborhoods and Davidson College. The town has a little fewer than 10,000 residents. About 1,700 students attend Davidson College.

Huntersville – Fifteen miles north of Charlotte and easily accessible by I-77, Huntersville is home to about 40,000 people. Birkdale, one of Huntersville’s most popular areas, is a 52-acre mixed use development modeled after a New England sea coast town

Highlights and considerations: Downtown Davidson, Kindred Restaurant, Alton’s, The Soda Shop, lakeside living, potential traffic headaches when commuting into the city.

Northeast Charlotte

Area 2 | 28262, 28205, 28204, 28206

charlotte-mls-area-map

University (Parts of University are also in Area 1) – This neighborhood near UNC Charlotte is bustling with attractions, shopping and dining spots. University City, home to UNC Charlotte and University Research Park, began its growth trajectory the late 1980s. The area is one of Charlotte’s largest employment centers, with many technology and banking firms with offices in University Research Park and nearby business parks.

Belmont – One of Charlotte’s affordable up-and-coming neighborhoods, just a stone’s throw from Uptown.

Chantilly – A quaint cottage neighborhood located between Plaza-Midwood and Elizabeth.

NoDa – Just north of Center City, NoDa, or North Davidson, is Charlotte’s Historic Arts District and is home to many eclectic art galleries, live music venues and local eateries.

Plaza-Midwood – This 1920s revitalized streetcar suburb is an emerging area near NoDa featuring an active restaurant and cultural scene.

Highlights and considerations: Central Avenue, walkability, Soul Gastrolounge, IKEA (University), bustling and diverse areas, mecca for food and culture, The Common Market, Pho Hoa, Midwood Smokehouse, The Light Factory, Smelly Cat Coffee House, potential for decent commute from University area, all other areas have no commute issues other than trains that run through Central Ave during non-ideal times.

East Charlotte

Area 3 | 28104, 28105, 28106, 28227

charlotte-mls-area-map

Matthews (Parts of Matthews are also in Area 4) – Matthews offers a small town feel with accessibility to big city amenities. Charming downtown and population of approximately 25,000. The town is balancing new development with the preservation of historic buildings, some dating back to the 19th century.

Mint Hill – On the outskirts of Charlotte, you find the quintessential all-American town of Mint Hill. Mint Hill is primarily a residential community, with about 20,000 residents.

Highlights and considerations: Downtown Matthews, Matthews Farmer’s Market, PePeRo, Carolina Beer Temple, Kabab Je Rotisserie & Grille, commute into city during rush hour averages ½ hour or more.

Southeast Charlotte

Area 4 | 28226, 28270, 28211, 28207, 28204

charlotte-mls-area-map

Providence Road – Area bordering Providence Road to the West and Independence Blvd to the East. Includes popular areas such as Cotswold, Lansdowne, Sherwood Forest, Stonehaven, Providence Plantation.

Eastover – Eastover is one of the finest, and most upscale, historic neighborhoods in the Charlotte metro area.

Elizabeth – Mansions and bungalows comingle in this trendy and historic neighborhood.

Matthews (Parts of Matthews are also in Area 3) – Matthews offers a small town feel with accessibility to big city amenities. Charming downtown and population of approximately 25,000. The town is balancing new development with the preservation of historic buildings, some dating back to the 19th century.

Highlights and considerations: Parts closer into the city offer beautiful tree canopies and easy commutes, some walkability, Vivace, Mama Ricotta’s, Elizabeth Avenue, Earl’s Grocery, Elizabeth Creamery, Carpe Diem, Passion 8, The Fig Tree, Mint Museum Randolph.

South

Area 5 | 28210, 28226, 28209, 28211, 28277, 28207

charlotte-mls-area-map

Myers Park – One of Charlotte’s oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods with mature tree lined streets and unbelievable homes.

South Park (Segments of SouthPark) – South Park is one of Charlotte’s largest business and residential neighborhoods. When it comes to dining, shopping, playing and staying, there’s no shortage of options. Popular neighborhoods include Barclay Downs, Fairmeadows, Foxcroft and Mountainbrook.

Ballantyne – Four stone arches grace the entrance to this beautiful community recently developed to accommodate the city’s growth. What was once the hinterlands is now a hub of shopping, fine dining and upscale housing.

Highlights and considerations: High quality suburban living in Charlotte, shorter commutes from Myers Park and South Park, potentially nightmare commute from Ballantyne, historic charm and beautiful tree canopies in Myers Park, upscale shopping in SouthPark, everything is new in Ballantyne, Montford Drive, Whole Foods, Cowfish Sushi and Burger Bar, Upstream, Good Food on Montford, Park Road Shopping Center, Brazwells, The Ballantyne Hotel & Spa, Ballantyne Village, Stonecrest, Blakeney.

South Southwest

Area 6 | 28134, 28203, 28209, 28217

charlotte-mls-area-map

Pineville – Pineville is a quaint town on the outer edge of the Interstate 485 loop and offers small town charm with accessibility to big city amenities. Pineville has a population of only 6,000 but more than 6 million square feet of retail space.

SouthEnd – SouthEnd is in high demand and development is doing its best to catch up. There’s a vibrant scene in SouthEnd, attracting young professionals, creatives, and families. SouthEnd is just one light rail stop away from Center City. This area is arguably one of the fastest growing sections of Charlotte. Neighborhoods include Ashbrook, Madison Park, Sedgefield, Wilmore, and Selwyn Park.

Dilworth – Dilworth has transitioned into a thriving neighborhood with Freedom Park as its centerpiece. Built as Charlotte’s first streetcar suburb, Dilworth offers bungalow-style homes and stately tree-lined streets with good walkability.

Highlights and considerations: Ability to commute into city on Light Rail, booming art and entertainment scene in South End, tremendous apartment and population growth in South End, Futo Buta Ramen, Downtown Pineville, Atherton Mill and Market, Luna’s Living Kitchen, Price’s Chicken Coop, South Blvd, Rail Trail.

Southwest

Area 7 | 28273, 28214, 28278

charlotte-mls-area-map

Arysley – The Town of Ayrsley is a 5-million square foot, master-planned urban live-work community, located on 180 acres in Southwest Charlotte.

Highlights and considerations: Mountain Island, Steele Creek, City of Belmont, Piedmont Social House, Mac’s Speed Shop, expect at least a ½ hour commute into the city.

West

Area 8 | 28208, 28214, 28216

charlotte-mls-area-map

Airport area of Charlotte.

North West

Area 9 | 28070, 28078

charlotte-mls-area-map

Huntersville – Huntersville is now North Mecklenburg’s largest town with ample waterfront and countryside homes.

Highlights and considerations: Expect long commute times during peak hours, waterfront living, Discovery Place Kids, Carolina Raptor Center, Latta Plantation.

Other Towns to Consider

Fort Mill, Indian Trail, Marvin, Waxhaw, Weddington

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Find the Right Realtor

Wait, what? You don’t already know 5 realtors who are relatives, friends, friend of a friend, or neighbor? It’s probably better this way. A solid percentage of contracts fall through and if you’ve chosen a realtor with whom you have a personal connection, you could find the whole situation awkward. Buying a house is truly a business decision and you should choose a realtor that helps you make the best investment. Here are some tips and a guide to realtors in the area.

  • Ask them for references. You might feel weird asking, but you’re getting ready to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to trust the person you’re putting trust into. You wouldn’t buy a $30,000 car without reading reviews and researching first, would you?
  • Look for an agent who does real estate full time, rather than on the side. They are more likely to be following the market every day and with full time availability, they may be more accessible to jump on homes quicker. This is key in Charlotte’s current booming real estate market.
  • Browse the agent’s listings to see if they are listing homes in your price range, this indicates they are more likely in touch with homes in your budget.
  • Look for an agent with an office in the neighborhood you’re looking to buy in. If they set up shop in the neighborhood, they’re familiar with the market. Charlotte’s a big town, you want this neighborhood knowledge.
  • Consider picking a couple of agents to interview. Working with a realtor is very personal and at a minimum, you want to make sure you’re not irritated by the sound of their voice. More importantly, you want to have confidence in them, a 15 minute interview should help you form an opinion.

Buying A House Tips 4

10 Questions for Your Lender

Typically, real estate agents will recommend a lender with whom they have an existing relationship. The benefit of this is that this relationship can help expedite the approval, communication, and execution process. The downside of going with whomever your agent recommends is that you might not be getting the best deal. Take some time and shop around – even if you don’t have a contract yet, you can call around and get answers to some of these important questions.

  • What are the most popular mortgages you offer and why are they so popular?
  • Which type of mortgage plan do you think would be best for me?
  • What documents do you need for approval?
  • Are any of your rates, terms, fees, and closing costs negotiable?
  • Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance? How much will it cost and how long will it be required?
  • What escrow requirements do you have?
  • How long will this loan be in a lock-in period (period that the quoted interest rate will be honored) and can I get lower rate if it drops during this period?
  • How long will the loan approval process take and how long will the approval be valid for?
  • How long will it take to close the loan?
  • Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying the loan?

Buying A House Tips 5

Contract Process

“Contract” can be a scary word. Legally entering into any agreement instantly creates a legitimacy that can raise your blood pressure. It’s normal to second guess yourself after you sign a contract, but know that until you or your broker have been notified that the seller has signed your offer, you can withdraw it at any time – even if you have given the seller a response deadline. Also know that until the seller signs your offer and notifies you or your broker that it has been accepted, the seller can consider and accept an offer from a competing buyer – even if your offer was submitted first and is for a higher purchase price. A broker is required to deliver all offers promptly.

Contract Process

What the Inspection Should Cover

Unless you have a death wish and buy a house “as is”, never forgo an inspection. We repeat, never forgo an inspection. No matter how sharp you think your eyes, you will not be able to pick up on all deficiencies during your dreamy 1 hour viewing of the house. Get an inspection done during the due diligence period so you can take your earnest money and run away if you have to.

Inspection Checklist

The Final Walkthrough

Make sure your home is in the condition you expected it would be. Ideally, the sellers have already moved out and if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably really close to closing and want to speed through the logistics as quickly as possible. Be sure to take your time and pay attention to details during this step, it’s your last chance to inspect the property.

Walkthrough Checklist

Helpful Links

Guide to Moving to Charlotte – Axios Charlotte Guide to Moving to Charlotte

Guide to Charlotte Area Schools – Axios Charlotte Guide to Education in Charlotte

CharMeck.org – This site is full of information including everything you could hope to know about the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.  Everything from garbage to flood plains to rezoning plans

Charlotte Tax Records and Property Information – A separate area of the CharMeck.org site, you can research property taxes, deeds, look at maps, photos, and generally get lost here for a while and stalk your coworkers home values.

Charlotte Chamber of Commerce – Information about Charlotte’s economic climate, business opportunities, quality of life and more.

Charlotte Regional Realtor Association– help in finding a realtor, accessing information and data.

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Buying a house is a big deal and while some buyer’s remorse is to be expected, major regret is something you want to avoid. Doing your homework is the best way to mitigate regret and we hope this guide helps you along in achieving this major milestone. Charlotte is a great city with amazing pockets of vibrant communities. There’s probably more than one area that’s right for you, and that’s a good thing. House-buying can be an arduous experience, hang in there. Good luck and let us know how it goes, we’d love to hear from you.

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