Starter Homes Becoming a Thing of the Past

With the way the market has been for the past few years, people have started staying in their homes for longer than before. This has contributed to the lack of supply of homes on the market. This lack of supply, combined with higher interest rates, more college debt, higher taxes, and more credit card debt are keeping people in their homes. It is also keeping many people out of the market for longer while they save up for their dream home.

Another factor keeping families in homes longer is that the price to renovate/remodel homes is often less per square foot than buying another home. Once a remodeling project is completed, it can keep a family in a home for much longer as the home can meet their changing needs. It can also be a daunting prospect to live through a remodel, then think of moving up to another home that needs to be remodeled.

Many families think that they will buy a small home close in to the city, live in it for a few years, then move up to a bigger home farther out with better schools. This has traditionally how many families have approached home ownership. That model doesn’t happen as often anymore. The average homeowner has been moving less often per the US Census data which shows that only 11 percent of households changed homes in 2017, down from 13 percent in 2007. The National Association of Realtors data shows that families are staying in their homes for 10 years on average down from 6 years.

What all this means is that you need to make sure you are ready and that you take time and do the research with your Realtor. This way you can find the perfect home for you every time you move in case you will be there for at least 10 years.

To read the full article, check out the Charlotte Business Journal or their partnership with The New York Times.

Check Out Summerhouse in Lake Wylie

Out past the Buster Boyd Bridge in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, you’ll find an amazing neighborhood in Paddler’s Cove called Summerhouse. There are great one and two story homes with great amenities and lake living. Summerhouse has small town feel but is still close  to Charlotte so you can enjoy all the city has to offer.

Homes in Summerhouse range between 2,041 to 3,104 square feet of living space with 2 to 4 bedrooms and 2 to 3.5 bathrooms. Homes can have an optional second story guest suite great for hosting out of town guests, or for a teenager to have privacy. These homes are perfect for downsizing as they aren’t as large as some in the area, and they are not part of a 55+ community as many others in the area are.

Homes have two or three car garages and prices start in the low $300,000’s and can go up to the mid-$400,000’s. With six plans to choose from, there is a plan to fit any family’s needs. In the past year, homes have sold for between $249,000 and $444,899 and can be packed with options and upgrades.

Schools are another great draw to Summerhouse. Current zoning has children attending Crowders Creek Elementary, Oakridge Middle, and Clover High Schools. All schools are top rated in the area and are highly desirable. Please verify school assignments as zoning boundaries occasionally cut through neighborhoods.

Amenities include access to Lake Wylie with public and private marinas. In addition, residents can enjoy a large covered outdoor patio and swimming pool bordering the water. This is the perfect community for beautiful homes and a beautiful landscape.

Grant Program to Help Homeowners

There is a new program being offered to residents of Gaston County to help with down payment or closing costs associated with purchasing a new home. This can be a great help for people who have trouble coming up with the upfront costs that are associated with homeownership.

The program is called NeighborhoodLIFT and it provides eligible homebuyers with a grant for $15,000. The grants are available for homebuyers in Gaston, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Rowan and Union counties, and best of all, they are available for first time buyers and those that have owned a home in the past but do not now.

This unique opportunity is made possible by a partnership between Wells Fargo and local nonprofit Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership. They really want to help people who have been longtime renters to get into the homes they want. This grant can be combined with the smaller-scale down payment program offered by Gastonia.

Some professions can get even more of a boost, police officers, firefighters, teachers, emergency medical personnel, and current or former members of the military can qualify for more assistance. If you meet the criteria, you can get up to $17,500 towards closing costs or down payment.

To qualify for assistance, an individual or family income cannot be more than 80% of the area median income. Police officers, firefighters, teachers, emergency medical personnel, and current or former members of the military have an income cap of 100% of the area median income. Grant funds will be made available to qualified applicants who go under contract on a home within 60 days. Recipients will not have to repay the grant if they attend homebuyer education classes and stay in the home for 5 years.

If you are interested, you must attend one of two information sessions in Charlotte during November. The first is on Friday November 16th and the second on Saturday November 17th. Information sessions will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center at 501 S. College street and appointments are recommended. Admission and parking are free for the event. To make an appointment or get more details on the program or to see if you can qualify, call 866-858-2151 or log on to wellsfargo.com/lift.

To read more about this program, check out the full article in the Gaston Gazette.

 

Inclusive Playground Coming to Tega Cay

Children of all abilities are soon going to have a great new place to play in Tega Cay. The All Play Together playground will be a place where all children, regardless of physical challenges or lack of mobility will have a chance to enjoy themselves.

This long-awaited playground was supposed to be in Fort Mill on land donated as part of the Waterside at the Catawba neighborhood. Issues with that site including the slope were taken into account and instead the playground will be the feature of the revamped Trailhead Park in the heart of Tega Cay. The location can’t be beaten as the Tega Cay Police Department and Tega Cay City Hall are just across the road. This years-long effort is going to be a great addition to the community.

Now that the site is official, All Play Together is meeting with engineers to lay out the site. They expect the playground to open in 2019. This is the first playground of its kind in the area.

There have been many local fundraisers to help pay for the project at an expected cost of $500,000. They have about 60% of the funding secured at this time. This price tag includes improvements to the current park as well as playground equipment, bathroom facilities, trail work, and more. There will be a period of time during construction that the current park will be closed to the public.

The All Play Together playground will have structures with accessibility for all people. This means double wide ramps, multi levels accessible by wheelchair. There could be wheelchair accessible gliders, roller tables, roller slides, climbing domes, quiet space, seesaws with seating for four, and a variety of swings. The ground will have cushioned surfacing, there will be shade and fencing as well.

The city and All Play Together will meet in the coming weeks to determine the final project timeline. This playground will truly be a place for everyone to play together regardless of their abilities. To read more about this amazing playground, check out the full story in The Herald.

Mortgage Rates are Rising, Here’s What It Means

Mortgage rates have been on the rise for a while, but what does that mean for the average home buyer? For most buyers that means that they can’t afford as much of a home as they used to. With home prices on the rise, that can mean that homes that last year were within reach could be unobtainable now.

Mortgage rates have been averaging around 4.85% lately (as of 10/18/2018 Freddie Mac numbers). This is up 3.88% from a year ago and is likely to keep rising as the Federal Reserve is expected to continue raising the benchmark interest rate. They meet again in early November and are expected to raise the benchmark rate yet again.

Though this is nothing like the double digit mortgage rates in the 1980’s, affordability is a concern for buyers as rates tick upwards. This can have the effect of keeping many buyers out of the market.

Prices have also been on the rise with the average home in the Lake Wylie area up to $395,183 year to date, an increase of 4.5% over last year. This is per the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association September report. As supply of homes remains low, prices continue to be driven higher by the basic law of supply and demand.

The residential brokerage firm website Redfin has crunched the numbers and they say buyers buying power is weakening as a result of interest rates rising and prices increasing. For instance, Redfin says a home buyer with a housing budget of $2,500 per month and a down payment of 20% could have afforded a residence of up to $473,759 at the beginning of the year. Now with higher interest rates, they can only afford a home of about $444,000, a decrease of almost $30,000.

With rates decreasing nationally, according to residential real estate website Zillow, it remains to be seen if this will at last be the catalyst to swing the market back to a buyer’s market.

To read more about it, check out the full article in the Charlotte Business Journal.

 

New Belmont Middle School Underway

This week the Gaston County Board of Education selected a contractor to build Belmont’s new middle school. They selected Beam Construction out of Cherryville to head the job with a winning bid of $33.54 million. They will build the school which will be about 155,000 square feet of space for kids to learn and grow.

Beam Construction has been around for almost 90 years and they have done many projects in the area. They worked previously on the Pleasant Ridge Elementary School in Gastonia which opened in August of 2017. Other projects include educational and healthcare facilities in both North and South Carolina including Gaston College.

Beam Construction had the lowers of the seven bids that came in by the October 9th deadline. The next step is for the county to sell school bonds in November to pay for the project. The full bond sale is for $60 million to help fund the building of this school and two others.  Voters approved the bond package, a total of $250 million back in May.

The new school will replace the current building which has been in use for almost 80 years (the oldest in the county). The old school will remain in place at least until the new building is completed as they reside at two different sites. The new school will reside on a 78-acre parcel next to South Point High School on South Point Road.

The 78-acre parcel will also be home to many recreational facilities that will also be for the use of the city of Belmont. They are providing $400,000 of the funding in exchange for long-term use of the facilities. This will benefit the entire community.

The school is expected to resemble the new Stanley Middle School which had the same designer as this project, LS3P. The school should support a capacity of 1,000 students. Groundbreaking is expected to take place in March with the school expected to open for the 2021-2022 school year.

To read the full article, check it out in the Gaston Gazette.

New Park Coming to Lake Wylie

Lake Wylie is about to get a new park which will service the entire community. The groundbreaking ceremony was held last Friday after a long process. This sports park dates back to a 2003-2004 land use plan and by next year will be an integral part of the Lake Wylie community.

Lake Wylie residents voted in 2016 to set up a tax district, which along with hospitality taxes will fund the build out of the $9.45 million site.

Located on a 50 acre parcel along Crowders Creek, the park will be adjacent to the Paddlers Cove subdivision on Field Day Lane.

The new as-yet unnamed park is slated to have many different sports fields to accommodate baseball, softball, soccer, football, and much more. According to the plan, there could be shelter buildings, a community center, and connections to the nature trails.

Families will have areas to have picnics, family reunions, or just a morning at the playground. For the sports enthusiasts and players, there will be tournaments, weekend games, and weekly practices. Summer camps are a distinct possibility as well as morning Tai-chi and fitness classes, boot-camps and more.

City Council has been working for many years to make this plan come to fruition, and they are glad that the project is now underway. Build out should take around a year so people of all ages should be able to enjoy the park next fall. As the area is still growing, city council is already working on plans for future parks to support this thriving community.

September Market Report

If you look at the entire Charlotte Region, you get a little bit different picture of the real estate market then if you look at just Lake Wylie. In the entire region, sales have dropped by 15.3% year over year. New listings were down 10.5% and pending sales were down 6.6%. They were down year over year and year-to-date though not as dramatically. The supply of homes is now at a 2.5 month supply, and these homes spent less time on the market before going under contract, just 36 days. The only thing going up were prices, up 5.2% from this time last year.

These numbers are from the monthly report by the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association and are based on the data from the Carolina Multiple Listing Services, Inc. President of the CRRA Jason Gentry said “Without a doubt, sales in September were affected by Hurricane Florence, as local Realtors and community volunteers mobilized to assist homeowners who were reeling from flood and wind damage. The impact of the storm, just off the heels of weakened summer sales, helped to depress sales locally.”

When you look at just Lake Wylie, the picture looks similar, though with a few important differences. Sales were dead even from this time last year with 106 homes sold in the month of September. This is encouraging as Lake Wylie did not see the same drop as the rest of the region.

Pending sales were down substantially as were new listings so we may follow closer with the entire region next month. There were 67 pending sales this September compared with 90 last September. This is a decline of 25.6% and could signal a severe drop in closed sales next month. New listings were down to 107 from last year’s 132, a drop of 18.9%. This at first appears grim, but year to date, pending sales are up 8.3% over last year and new listings are up 7.9%.

The supply of homes in Lake Wylie is down to a 4.2 month supply, down from last year with a 4.3 month supply. Homes have been staying on the market for an average of 55 days before accepting a contract, down from 60 days last year. This signals that there are still buyers out there and that they are acting quickly to purchase the homes that are for sale.

Sales prices are climbing, with the average sales price going up $2,261 from $390,908 last September to $393,169 this September. Year-to-date average sales price is up 4.5%.

Due to the smaller sample size for Lake Wylie compared to the Charlotte Region as a whole, sometimes numbers can appear skewed. It appears that Lake Wylie is following the wider trend that the market seems to be slowing. This could be due to the storm, rising interest rates, or a general cooling of the housing market. It is too early to make this call, though this is generally the time of year when the market cools.

 

Neighborhood Spotlight: Montreux

If you are looking for a recently established neighborhood with grand homes near Lake Wylie, Montreux should be on your list. Built between 2009 and 2017, Montreux has old world estate homes, on large lots in close proximity to the lake lifestyle.

Montreux is located just off Youngblood Road near the Palisades on the North Carolina side of Lake Wylie. There is no direct access to the lake from the neighborhood, but there are public boat ramps and access points close by. There are many options for shopping, dining, and entertainment near to the neighborhood. A trip to Uptown Charlotte should take just over a half hour and a trip to Charlotte Douglas International Airport should take around a half hour.

Homes in Montreux are truly grand with the smallest home around 3,000 square feet and the largest at over 7,500 square feet. Many of these home include custom features such as bars, media rooms, gourmet kitchens, heated salt-water pools and much more. Most homes have a full bathroom for each bedroom. Homes have 4 or 5 bedrooms and from 3 full baths to 5 full baths and 4 half baths. Many homes have covered porches, some of them screened in.

Crown moulding, wainscotting, and trey ceilings are all common in homes in Montreux. In fact, these homes have many different design details and built-in features to please any homeowner. Expect three car garages, and lots of at least half an acre going up over a full acre. This leaves plenty of space for sports courts, pools, outdoor kitchens and much more.

In the past year, homes in Montreux have sold for between $440,000 and $900,000. There are currently two homes on the market representing a 4 month supply of inventory.

Children in Montreux are currently zoned for Palisades Park Elementary School, Southwest Middle School, and Olympic High School. Please verify school assignments as they can change from one school year to the next and zoning boundaries can cut through neighborhoods.

More Transportation Options Coming to Belmont

Last week we told you about the light rail potentially coming to Belmont. This week there are two more options that are coming to the city. The first is the rail trail greenway and the Belmont Trolley. Both of these transportation options should be coming in the next two years and will continue to strengthen the culture and appeal of downtown Belmont.

The new greenway should open in late 2019 or early 2020. The greenway will initially extend for about a mile from Glenway Street to Main Street near Belmont Abbey College’s Sacred Heart Campus. This trail will follow the tracks of the old Piedmont and Northern Railway and has been dubbed the “rail trail”.

There is a bigger plan for the greenway to extend all the way to Belmont Abbey’s main campus and then to north Belmont. The eventual end goal is to connect with and become a part of the regional Carolina Thread Trail. The greenway has been broken up into pieces so that additional phases will come online after road project plans are finalized particularly for the intersection of Main Street and Wilkinson Boulevard and the new interchange on I-85 at exit 26.

The other option coming soon is the Belmont Trolley. The Trolley has been in the works since at least 2015 when a nonprofit purchased a 1912 trolley from a streetcar museum near Vancouver, Canada. The idea is to increase local tourism and connect parts of the city by running along those same unused tracks along the rail trail. The first portion of the track is set to open sometime in 2019. There will be challenges in getting the trolley to cross Wilkinson Boulevard and Interstate 85.

The design phase of both projects is wrapping up right now and bids should come in for doing the work next spring. The construction is expected to take around 12 to 18 months to complete.

For more information on both of these projects, see the full article in The Gaston Gazette.