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Housing market holds steady

Home sales in the Charlotte area “held steady” in September, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association, which owns the Carolina Multiple Listings Services Inc.

Sales were up 3.2 percent over September 2015, to 3,839 properties sold from 3,721 a year ago. Sales were down 8.8 percent from August.

“As we look ahead into fourth quarter, we expect sales to continue to hold steady, even though there could be the possibility of some cooling across the market as we head into the time of year when consumers become less focused on buying and selling,” said Maren Brisson-Kuester, CRRA and MLS president, in a statement.

In light of government employment figures released Friday, National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun indicated that the national outlook looks the same.

“The latest jobs report shows softening monthly trend with 156,000 net new jobs in September,” he said in a statement. “Given no major surprise in the data, the national outlook for the real estate market remains essentially unchanged, with home sales expected to squeak out slight gains in 2016 and 2017 while commercial building vacancy rates should continue to fall.”

The September hiring figures will probably keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise the short-term interest rate it controls by December, economists said. After seven years of pinning that rate at a record low near zero to try to spur more borrowing and spending, the Fed raised its rate modestly in December. It has not acted since.

“The September payroll report was a decent report that shows moderate job growth continues,” Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West, wrote in a note. “In many ways, it was a ‘Goldilocks’ number — not too hot or not too cold — for the market and the Fed.”

Despite low interest rates that may typically attract those looking to move up to a bigger home, many are choosing to remodel rather than sell.

A low inventory of homes for sale continues to restrict activity. In the 12-county area covered by the CarolinaMLS, including York and Lancaster counties in South Carolina, the number of homes for sale represented a three-month supply, based on demand. It has hovered around that figure since December. A six-month supply is considered to be a market in equilibrium.

The number of listings in the CarolinaMLS has fallen 22.1 percent compared with September 2015, to 11,045 properties for sale. In September 2015, there were 14,174 homes for sale, representing a 4.2-months’ supply.

Within Charlotte’s city limits, listings were at a two-months’ supply, down 30 percent from a year ago.

Homes listed at prices under $300,000 are particularly scarce, reduced by large-scale purchases by investors for use as rentals; slow wage growth; and a lack of choices for buyers who may otherwise move up to a more expensive home.

In the submarkets with the highest median and average home prices – Davidson, Lake Norman and Waxhaw – the supply of homes ranges from 3.6 months to 5.9 months.

Listings were up slightly – 2.6 percent – year over year in September, to 4,494. Pending sales rose 18.3 percent, to 3,899, year over year.

The average sales price in September, $256,377, was up 7.2 percent compared to September 2015, and the median sales price, $207,000, increased 9.1 percent.

The average list price, $302,178, increased 7.2 percent compared to September 2015. Home sellers received 96.2 percent of the original list price, a 1.1 percent year-over-year increase.

The average number of days a property was on the market from the time it was listed until it closed was 99 days, which is 13 fewer days on market than a year ago. Days on market, which accrues for “active” and “under contract-show” statuses only, totaled 47 days, which is 14 fewer days on market than last September – a 25.4 percent decline.

The report can be found at www.CarolinaHome.com, under “Market Data.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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