The Chase: Newlyweds with $350K budget forced to buy outside of Charlotte

The Chase: Newlyweds with $350K budget forced to buy outside of Charlotte

Rendering: Courtesy of True Homes

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Buying a home in this seller’s market is a whirlwind, and these home buyers took us along for the ride. This is The Chase, a new series featuring real Charlotteans and their house hunting stories. Read past editions here.


Newlyweds and first-time buyers Olivia and Steve Schmitt looked for a house in Charlotte for six months before finding the one in South Carolina.

Who: Olivia is an interior designer and Steve is part owner of a painting contracting company. Steve is a Charlotte native and they’re currently renting a 3-bedroom house in Ballantyne before they move into their new forever home.

olivia and steve the chase

The newlyweds and first-time homeowners. Photo: Courtesy of Olivia Schmitt

The house: Olivia and Steve were looking for a three-bed, two-bath under $350K with an open concept kitchen and living area. They also wanted something that didn’t require a ton of work.

  • Desired neighborhoods included SouthPark, Ballantyne, the Sardis area and Raintree.
  • Other features on the wishlist were a two-car garage and neighborhood pool.

Timeline: They started looking in April and finally purchased in October.

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The experience: “It was pretty stressful,” Olivia said. “Every time we would find a house we liked in Charlotte, there were already multiple offers on it before it started showings.”

  • Some homes had 40 showings in a day and appointments were limited to 15 minutes.
  • Olivia and Steve lost multiple bids to all-cash offers $60K+ over asking. Homes listed below $350K initially, often sold for north of $400K, Olivia said.

Where they landed: Olivia and Steve ended up buying a new build in the Edgewater Cottages in Lancaster, SC, 45 minutes from Charlotte. Their realtor told them about the neighborhood one Saturday in October and they took a look that same day, realizing the Charlotte market wasn’t slowing down.

“We saw the model home and drove around the whole neighborhood and fell in love,” Olivia said.

  • The neighborhood has a lake, a pool, and a golf course.
  • They went with The Cyprus floorplan, which starts at $271,900.
the chase edgewater cottages

Olivia and Steve are building their dream. They start the design process soon and hope to move in next summer. Rendering courtesy of True Homes

“We had to move out of Charlotte because of the Charlotte market,” Olivia said.

Ultimately, the couple is excited about their first home because it checks all of the boxes on their wishlist, and more. But they’re disappointed in their experience looking in Charlotte.

  • Not only did homes sell for over asking, but the homes all needed a lot of work, Olivia said.
  • They also noticed some homes were being purchased to rent out.

“My husband was born and raised in Charlotte and said he has never seen his hometown like this, and he’s honestly disgusted by it,” Olivia said.

No. 1 piece of advice: Be prepared to pay in cash and bid over if you plan to buy in Charlotte, Olivia said.

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