Light Rail Plan Includes Gaston County

Looks like current and future residents of Gaston County have more hope that light rail will extend into the area easing congestion. Charlotte Area Transit System Ceo John Lewis Jr. said “We’ve heard strong support from Gaston County, so we’ve agreed to explore extending the line not just through Mecklenburg County but continue west into Gaston.”

As part of the 2030 plan, CATS has been exploring extending to include an east-west line connecting to the airport. Officials are now pitching having the line extend across the Catawba River into Belmont or possibly Gastonia. This would be a boon for residents of Belmont and would be a way for college students at Belmont Abbey College to be more connected to the city.

There are only a few major roads that cross the Catawba River so they are and will remain congestion points for traffic commuting into Charlotte. The new light rail line would ease the traffic on those congestion points by reducing the number of cars on the road during peak times.

The line would be part of the Silver line which would then extend from Matthews in the east to Belmont in the west, mainly following highway 74. The entire plan hinges on the state DOT project to widen the U.S. 74 bridge over the Catawba River. If the bridge design includes allowances for the light rail, then the project is a major step toward fruition.

What all this means is that now is the best time to get a home in Gaston County as once everything is totally official, prices will most likely rise.

Schedule a private tour of homes in the area by calling 803-831-8588. View current listings and create custom searches on our website here.

To read more about light rail, check out the full article in The Gaston Gazette.

 

Explore Rustic Trails

One of the best kept secrets in Belmont, North Carolina is the small family-friendly neighborhood of Rustic Trails. This idyllic location is secluded and private while at the same time just minutes to downtown Belmont. There is no HOA, low county taxes, and great Belmont schools. What’s not to love.

Rustic Trails is located between The South Fork Catawba River and the the Catawba River directly south of downtown Belmont. The neighborhood is just off South Point Road and has easy access to grocery stores, restaurants, churches, parks, outdoor recreation and more. There is nearby highway access taking residents to Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Uptown Charlotte. A quick trip will have you at community events in Belmont, Gastonia, or Uptown Charlotte.

Homes in Rustic Trails don’t come on the market often, so they are worth watching out for. These affordable homes were built in the 1980’s and have tons of character. There are many different styles of homes from one story to split-level to two story. Many sit on lots over an acre in size which leaves plenty of room for outdoor living spaces. Some home have pools, wooded lots, decks, detached garages and workshops and much more.

Homes here typically have 1,300 to 1,600+ square feet of living space with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Some of the homes have been updated since they were built, however there are opportunities to update homes yourself. In the past year, homes in Rustic Trails sold for between $171,500 and $203,000 which makes it really affordable for many families.

Children in Rustic Trails are currently zoned for great Belmont schools. Assignments are for Belmont Central Elementary School, Belmont Middle School, and South Point High School. Please verify school assignments as they can change from time to time and boundaries occasionally cut through neighborhoods.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Catawba Heights

Just North of Belmont Abbey College sits the amazing neighborhood of Catawba Heights. The homes come in all shapes, sizes, and ages for an eclectic mix where there is sure to be a home to suit any family.

The location is perfect for this neighborhood, close to downtown Belmont giving access to restaurants, shopping, and community events. There is nearby highway access taking residents quickly to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and Uptown Charlotte. There is possibility of light rail coming through the area in the next few years making the location even more attractive. The US Whitewater Center is nearby for watersports, biking trails, and much more. There are many options nearby for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Some of the homes are small and are perfect for students. Some of the homes are larger, perfect for families. There are new construction homes as well as older homes with character. Many of the homes have been updated, remodeled, or have additions. There are also many homes that are in original condition just waiting for you to add your personal touches.

Homes in Catawba Heights range from 672 to 2,600 square feet of living space. They range from a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom homes all the way up to a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom home. There are many ranch style homes as well as two story homes for some of the larger plans. Lots range from a fifth of an acre up over half of an acre and many lots are wooded and feel really private.

In the past year, homes in Catawba Heights have sold for between $52,500 and $319,000 with an average sold price of $142,500. There are currently 6 homes on the market in Catawba Heights representing a 4.2 month supply of inventory.

Check out Amity Acres in Belmont

Just southeast of downtown Belmont you’ll find the sweet little community of Amity Acres. Featuring midsize homes, Amity Acres has reasonable prices, a variety of architecture, and great Belmont schools. These desirable homes are worth a look.

Built from the late 1950’s to the 2010’s, Amity Acres has many different styles of homes from Tudor to ranch to split-level, you can definitely find a home for your family here. Many of the homes have add-ons, or been remodeled since they were built. Some of the additions provided garages, while others provided additional living spaces. There are a few newer construction homes that blend in well with the neighborhood.

Amity Acres is located just off South Point Road, at the intersection of Stowe Road. There are many options nearby for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Highway access is nearby and connects you easily to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, or for a trip of commute into the city. Planned light rail should be coming to the Belmont area in the next few years which makes this location even more desirable.

The neighborhood is adjacent to the Catawba River and features old growth trees, sweeping lawns, lush landscaping, and large lots with plenty of privacy. Most of the homes have 3-5 bedrooms and 2-4 full bathrooms and span between 1,700 to 3,500 square feet of living space.

Children in Amity Acres currently attend Belmont Central Elementary School, Belmont Middle School, and South Point High School. Please verify school assignments as they can change from one school year to the next and boundaries occasionally cut through neighborhoods.

In the last year, homes in Amity Acres sold for between $218,000 and $312,000 with an average sale price of $250,000. There are currently two homes on the market in the neighborhood representing an 8 month supply on inventory. This is in comparison to the 4.9 month supply of inventory for all of Belmont.

Explore Adams Bluff in Belmont

If you are looking for a great neighborhood with affordable homes in the Belmont area, look no further than Adams Bluff. You will get a wonderful home at a great value in a perfect location with desirable schools. What’s not to love?

Located just to the east of downtown Belmont, Adams Bluff has a great location close to shopping, dining, and community events. There are multiple parks close by and residents can walk to Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park right on the Catawba River. There is nearby access to Highway 74 and I-85 for a quick trip to Uptown Charlotte or Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Homes in Adams Bluff were built between 1905 and 2001. The original homes in the neighborhood are mostly craftsman and bungalow in style with great architectural details and tons of charm. Many of the newer homes mimic the style of the original homes. Some of the newer homes are larger in size as some of them have second floors.

Adams Bluff features homes that have between two and three bedrooms and two to two-and-a-half bathrooms. Most homes have square footage between 900 and 1,600 square feet. Lots are small and easy to maintain. In the past year, homes have sold for between $157,000 and $212,500 with an average price of $192,225. There are currently no homes on the market in Adams Bluff, but there are typically almost 12 homes per year that sell in the neighborhood.

Children in Adams Bluff currently attend Belmont Central Elementary School, Belmont Middle School, and South Point High School. Please verify school assignments as they can change.

Exciting changes are underway for the Belmont area making it a very desirable place to live. Light Rail plans are in the works which means an Uptown commute will potentially be easier in the future. When the project is officially underway, prices could soar.

Renovation in the works for Belmont Bar

A vacant storefront is soon to become a new Bar in downtown Belmont. The property is located at 101 Kenwood Street and it is currently under construction being outfitted to become a great venue. Opening of this space is expected sometime in 2019.

The space did have the same owner for more than a decade, but is under new management. Jimmy Smith owned and operated Belmont Food and Beverage in the space from the middle of the 2000’s until 2015 when he renamed the space Supply. He chose to end his lease and close down almost a year ago and the space has been vacant until now.

One of the people behind the new bar is Chuck Craig, operating partner of Mayworth’s Public House in downtown Cramerton. Mayworth’s Public House features a great menu of made-to-order food using the freshest ingredients available. They complement the bar selections which include a rotating selection of craft, draft, and local beer. If this new space is anything like Mayworth’s, we’re excited.

The style and configuration of the new space have not yet been made public, but the building was built in the 1950’s and has around 7,500 square feet of space. The location is about a block away from Main Street close to City Hall and other bars and restaurants. We don’t yet know if the restaurant will be open for lunch, but expect at least dinner and most likely weekend brunch. We should know more about the space and the direction the new concept will go after the first of the year.

To read more, check out the The Gaston Gazette.

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.

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.

 

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.