BizWorthy: Charlotte-Area Home Prices Jump Again

Aug 15, 2019

Home prices in Mecklenburg County last month saw their biggest jump in at least a year. The median sales price in July was $350,000, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. That’s up more than 10% from the same month last year.

For more on this and other business news, Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter joins WFAE's "Morning Edition" host Marshall Terry for our segment BizWorthy.

Marshall Terry: So, Tony, what's driving this increase in prices?

Tony Mecia: Well, Marshall, this has been going on for some time where you have a low, relatively low supply of housing but you have a lot of people who are looking, and when you have that the dynamics of supply and demand would suggest that the prices would rise and that's exactly what they're doing, that, you know, you really don't have a lot of housing inventory and so you have a lot of people looking and so that's driving up the prices. And incidentally you're seeing this in a lot of cities. This isn't just Charlotte. Throughout the country you're seeing this dynamic at play.

Terry: Well, staying on the subject of houses for just a moment: You've written about the increasing trend of redeveloping golf courses for homes and shops.

Mecia: Yes. This is something we're seeing a lot. You often think of the Carolinas as being a premier golf destination. You have Pinehurst — you know, historic spot right in the middle of a state. You have the beach, Myrtle Beach — you have a lot of nice courses down there. Charlotte of course has a bunch of courses.

But what you're seeing and what you've seen over the years is that golf is not as popular as it used to be and you see a lot of these golf courses closing, I believe in the last 10 years or so. You now have 40 fewer golf courses in North Carolina than you did 10 years ago.

People aren't playing golf as much. And so these golf courses are occupying a lot of times prime real estate so you're seeing developers come in and convert those golf courses into shops, into homes.

You see this going on most recently in Ballantyne where Northwood Office has proposed redeveloping part of the golf course. There's a golf course out at Albemarle and 485 that's being turned into homes. Fort Mill, Charleston, Myrtle Beach — this is happening really all over the place.

Terry: OK. Let's move on now for a second to what you're calling Charlotte's least known building boom — warehouses. How many are being built and what are they being used for exactly?

Mecia: Well, Marshall, this is not one of those areas that you hear a lot about — warehousing and logistics and distribution. You know, you start talking about these things and people's eyes start to glaze over. But it's really a big area for Charlotte. Charlotte's traditionally been known as a distribution and logistics hub.

You got the two interstates — 77 and 85 — that crisscross here. You've seen this boom in e-commerce. And so these are really the places that when you go online you go onto Amazon or wherever and you order something to be delivered to your door, they stage them here and they move them out.

This is a growing industry in Charlotte. It actually added more jobs in the second quarter on a percentage basis than some of the bigger, better known industries here like banking and health care. There's about 6 million square feet of warehousing space under construction right now. That's the most ever in Charlotte.

And it's really sort of interesting because it's moving out of the traditional warehouse area in Charlotte on Westinghouse Boulevard in the southwest part of the county and moving out into York County, Cabarrus County, out by the airport. If it's possible to have exciting warehouse news, we do, and that's what's going on.

Terry: Well, I love how you described this warehouse building boom as the Rodney Dangerfield of Charlotte's economy. I think that's the first time I've ever heard anything in Charlotte be compared to Rodney Dangerfield.

Mecia: Well, it gets no respect, I think. It gets no respect. You hear a lot about restaurants and breweries and banks and health care but warehousing and logistics — big industry but you don't hear a lot about it.

Terry: All right. A federal judge in Texas this week ordered members of American Airlines mechanics unions to stop slowing down the airline's operations. Charlotte of course is America's second largest hub. Have there been delays at the airport?

Mecia: If you look at the number of delays and cancellations from American, they're very high compared to other airlines. American for years has ranked among the worst in terms of baggage complaints, canceled flights and delays.

And it has actually gotten worse in the last few months as American and its mechanics unions have gone into these contract negotiations, and a judge ruled this week in Texas — a federal judge in Texas — this week ruled that the mechanics union is staging slowdowns, which he said are improper and illegal and he ordered them to knock it off and to try to turn things around and, you know, chop chop — let's move a little quicker.

Terry: So, could this make a difference then?

Mecia: It could make a difference. Again these are sort of longstanding problems. And one of the experts I quoted in the Charlotte Ledger this week told me that it might improve things at the margins but really there are much more fundamental issues with American besides its mechanics and what they're doing and how they're approaching these labor negotiations.

Terry: The Panthers take the field at Bank of America Stadium tomorrow night for their first pre-season game at home and it will be a little different getting into the stadium than in past seasons because the league is switching to fully digital ticketing. So, is this a way to stop scalpers?

Mecia: I think it is a way to stop scalpers and what the team and what the NFL say is that this is going to enhance security crackdown on counterfeit tickets. It's also I think going to create a little bit of a headache at least in these initial games, Marshall, because people are not used to this and any time you make a big change there could be some hiccups... Say you have 30,000 people there. If 95% of them do it flawlessly that's still about 1,500 people who have problems — is it people without smartphones, people who aren't comfortable with technology?

I've played around with some of this technology, and it's not difficult if you're comfortable with technology but it does take a little bit of time.