Even with declining mortgage rates, increased demand amidst tight inventory signals another challenging year ahead

January 24, 2024

Contact: Kim Walker, 704-940-3149

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At the end of 2023, home sales across the 16-county Charlotte region were down 17.3 percent compared to sales in 2022, with 41,546 properties sold during the year. The Charlotte region had approximately 8,600 more sales in 2022 than this past year.  Since January 2022, the region has sustained 24 months of year-over-year declines, with 2023 closed and pending sales activity falling to the level of activity the region had in 2015.

There were 2,715 closings during December 2023, which is down 15.3 percent compared to closed sales in December 2022. Sales compared to November 2023, were off by 4.3 percent, as buyers motivated by falling rates in November, hurried to close on homes at yearend. Canopy MLS data included in this report is for single-family, condo, and townhome sales only.

Pending sales or contracts, which signal buyer demand, totaled 41,801 last year, representing a decline of 11 percent when compared to contract activity in 2022. Contract activity throughout the first nine months of 2023, has been down year-over-year as rising rates dampened buyer activity throughout most of the year.  However, contract activity rose consistently year-over-year during the last three months of 2023, once mortgage rates started falling.

In December pending sales rose 9.8 percent, as 2,526 homes went under contract during the month, compared to 2,300 contracts written during December 2022. Month-over-month contract activity was down 8.3 percent compared to November 2023. December’s showing activity indicated buyer foot traffic remains strong in Mecklenburg County, with listings in the county averaging five showings (potential buyers) per listing. Areas like Matthews (6.1 showings per listing) and Waxhaw (5.9 showings per listing) continue to be a draw for buyers. Other areas where buyer interest was strong were the City of Charlotte at 5 showings per listing, Concord at 4.9 showings per listing, Huntersville at 4.8 showings per listing, and Davidson and Union County at 4.7 showings per listing. 

There were 48,741 new listings brought to market by sellers in 2023, a decline of 15.7 percent year-over-year. Seller confidence as displayed by new listings has been down throughout most of last year, only rising during the last two months of 2023. In December new listings across the 16-county region rose 4.5 percent year-over-year as sellers listed 2,551 homes for sale, a difference of 110 more homes listed than in 2022.

“Buyers and sellers are motivated by mortgage rates, which declined from November through December, and fourth quarter sales activity reflects that,” said Charisma Southerland, 2024 president of Canopy Realtor® Association/Canopy MLS and Realtor®/broker with Allen Tate Company. “Last year’s sales activity was hampered by rates, which increased throughout the year. Recent rankings from companies like U-Haul and United Van Lines, continue to show the Charlotte region as a top draw for buyers and continued growth this year. Lower rates and increased demand, amidst our tight inventory, signals another challenging year ahead.”   

Inventory throughout the 16-county region continued to fall, declining 15.2 percent compared to last year, leaving 5,836 homes for sale at report time or 1.7 months of supply. In December 2022 there were close to 6,900 homes for sale or 1.8 months of supply.  Both supply and inventory have declined since November 2023, when the region had 6,500 homes for sale and 1.9 months of supply.

Yearend figures show prices have held steady throughout the year. The 2023 median sales price of $377,500 is roughly unchanged, down 0.7 percent compared to the 2022 median sales price of $380,000.  The 2023 average sales price of $461,000 increased 3.6 percent over the 2022 average sales price of $445,197.  The 2023 average list price was 6.7 percent higher than the 2022 average list price, which brought the original list price to sales price ratio down 2.5 percent to 97.2 percent, which still shows the strength sellers have in the market.

December’s median sales price softened a bit to $370,000 compared to $372,000 in December 2022, while the average sales price increased 5.4 percent to $459,631 last month. The average list price in December rose 13.5 percent to $460,500.

“Rising mortgage rates reduce buyers purchasing power, so the moderation of home prices we’re seeing helps to offset some of the decline in affordability. If rates continue to fall as predicted, we should see more new listing activity, which will also be an encouraging sign for buyers, said Southerland.”

Homes continued to sell quickly last year and yearend figures indicated that homes averaged 36 days on market until sale compared to 22 days on market in 2022. In December the average number of days a property was on the market from the time it was listed until close (List to Close) was 85 days compared to 100 days in December 2022, while the “Days on Market” metric, which accounts for both “Active” and “Under-contract-show” statuses, indicates homes averaged 34 days on market before selling compared to 41 days in December 2022.

A closer look at the breakdown of sales by property types indicated that the region had 34,573 single-family homes sold in 2023, which is down 18.4 percent year-over-year; 5,167 townhomes sold, which is down 3.6 percent compared to 2022, and 1,806 condo sales in 2023, which is down 26.8 percent compared to last year.  

The inventory of condos priced from $300,000 to $400,000 increased 10.3 percent year-over-year in December 2023, while the inventory of townhomes priced from $400,000 to $500,000 increased by 14.7 percent year-over-year, presenting buyers with additional opportunities this year.

Mecklenburg County home sales, which accounted for nearly 37 percent of the region’s home sales last year, had a total of 15,326 homes sold in 2023, which is down 20 percent from the previous year when slightly more than 19,100 homes sold.  Contracts for the year totaled 15,393 a decline of 13.5 percent in buyer activity compared to 2022.  New listings showed sellers listed approximately 17,300 homes for sale last year, which is down 19.9 percent compared to 2022 when nearly 21,600 homes were offered by sellers.

Both price indices increased at yearend.  Mecklenburg’s 2023 median sales price was $425,000 an increase of 2.4 percent year-over-year while the 2023 average sales price was $545,319, an increase of 6.9 percent compared to 2022. The 2023 average list price was $581,100 which is up 10.5 percent compared to 2022. Sellers in Mecklenburg County received nearly all of asking prices as indicated by the original list price-to-sale price ratio of 98.2 percent at yearend 2023.  However, this is down 2.5 percent from 100.7 percent sellers received for their homes in 2022.

Mecklenburg’s inventory and supply remain challenged. Inventory at report time showed 1,573 homes for sale, which is down 29.4 percent compared to December 2023, while months of supply declined 20 percent to 1.2 months of supply compared to 1.5 months of supply a year ago in December. Buyers seeking homes in Mecklenburg County face a faster-paced market, as homes averaged 31 days on market until sale in December 2023 compared to 42 days on market in December 2022.

Closed sales in the city of Charlotte for December were down 7.1 percent year-over-year as 855 homes sold during the month, compared to 920 that sold in December 2022. Contract activity rose 11.1 percent over last year, as 733 homes went under contract during the month. New listings also increased, rising 3.2 percent to 672 homes for sale compared to 651 that were listed in December 2022. Prices were mixed during the month.  The median sales price dipped 2.3 percent to $391,000 while the average sales price rose 3 percent to $511,253. This brought the original list price to sales price ratio to 97.7 percent, while days on market showed homes sold quickly and averaged 30 days on market until sale compared to 41 days a year ago.

2023 yearend figures for the city of Charlotte showed the median sales price for the year at $405,000 and the average sales price for the year at $527,989. Both indices were up 2 percent and 6.9 percent year-over-year respectively.

Southerland added, "With supply and inventory much lower than previous years, it is a positive sign to see prices continue to hold steady throughout the region. However, buyers seeking homes in Mecklenburg County or Charlotte, where supply is tight, can expect to see larger price fluctuations monthly, especially as demand continues to increase. With a challenging market, buyers should engage a buyer’s agent now to strategize for the competitive spring market.”

Canopy Realtor® Association provides monthly reports on residential real estate market activity for the Charlotte region based on data from Canopy MLS. The Charlotte region, which this report is based on, includes 12 counties in North Carolina (Alexander, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly, and Union) and four counties in South Carolina (Chester, Chesterfield, Lancaster and York).

For more residential-housing market statistics, visit www.CarolinaHome.com and click on “Market Data.” For an interview with 2024 Association/Canopy MLS President Charisma Southerland, Realtor®/Broker with Allen Tate Company, please contact Kim Walker.

Canopy Realtor® Association owns and operates Canopy MLS, the region’s primary source for accurate and timely property data in a multicounty service area including the Charlotte MSA, Asheville MSA and Catawba Valley region spanning across North Carolina and South Carolina to outside the Carolinas. Canopy MLS provides the latest technology, tools and analytics that Realtors® utilize to support consumers with their residential real estate transactions.