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Charlotte rents, home prices rose by more than 16% during pandemic, report finds

Chris Miller

Just as a global pandemic swept into the Charlotte region, making it more important than ever for people to have homes where they could shelter, work, and live in, the cost of buying or renting homes in the Charlotte region rose to their highest levels yet.

A new report from UNC Charlotte finds median home prices in the Charlotte region went up 16.3% from September 2020 to September 2021 — up to $366,312.

The median price of a rental, too, went up 16.6% — or about $200 a month — over the same period.

By comparison, the price of a single family home in the Charlotte region had been rising an average 6% per year over the past 10 years, and the price of an average rental had been rising an average 4.1% per year.

Those are among the findings published in the 2021 "State of Housing Charlotte" report from UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business and the Children Klein Center for Real Estate. It provides the clearest picture yet of how Charlotte's affordable housing crisis worsened during the pandemic.

The report focused on Mecklenburg County and the seven counties that surround it: Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, and Union counties, as well as Lancaster and York counties in South Carolina. Researchers relied on proprietary data from the Canopy Realtor Association and licensed data from Metrostudy and CoStar, among other data sources, to write the report.

Among the report's other findings:

  • Homes are selling faster than before. Pre-pandemic, the average home lasted about seven days on the Charlotte market. That dropped in June 2021 to an average of three days.
  • Fifty-nine percent of homes in the Charlotte market sold above their listing prices in June and July 2021. By comparison, only 16% of homes sold above their listing price in Jan. 2020.
  • Of all homes sold between January and September 2021 in the Charlotte market, only 4.4% were below $150,000, and only 35% were under $300,000.

  • The median rent in a multi-family apartment complex rose about $198, or 16.6%, from September 2020 to September 2021.
  • The median rent for a single-family home rose from slightly below $1,500 in January 2020 to almost $1,900 in September 2021, representing a 26.7% increase.

The report echoes findings from an earlier report published last month by Mecklenburg County and UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute. That report also found rising rents across Mecklenburg County and a dwindling supply of lost-cost affordable units.

The rising housing costs have also coincided with rising levels of homelessess in Mecklenburg County during the pandemic, particularly among families.

At a Wednesday news briefing accompanying the report's release, UNC Charlotte finance professor and report author Yongqiang Chu attributed the rising costs to "strong demand and an extremely limited supply" for homes in and around Charlotte.

Chu said he believed home prices would continue to rise in the coming year, though perhaps at slower rates, especially if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.

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Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal