Charlotte-Area Home Sales Rose in December

Charlotte-area home sales rose 4.5 percent in December over the same month last year.

And while the pace was not as big as the nearly 20 percent jump in sales logged in November compared to a year earlier, the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association is predicting 2017 home sales will remain steady.

In its monthly report released Tuesday, the association, which tracks sales of existing homes in the local housing market, said 3,482 properties sold in December 2016, compared to 3,332 the previous year.

Sales for all of 2016 totaled 44,386, an increase of 8.4% over 2015 closings, which totaled 40,934.

Roger Parham, the Charlotte association's president, said in a statement that while a low supply of homes for most of last year posed challenges to home buyers, he expects sales to remain steady throughout 2017 due in part to demand.

"As we move forward into 2017 buyers may face limited choices, faster days on market and rising mortgage rates. However, positive job growth over the last year and a healthy local economy continue to boost consumer spending and housing demand," said Parham, who is with Allen Tate Realtors.

Sale prices in December rose 14.2% from last year, for an average price of $285,747.

Average sales prices for a home in the region in 2016 was $257,701, up 6.5% from 2015.

November's surge in home sales coincided with the rise in mortgage rates over the past couple of months, as homebuyers scrambled to lock in lower rates. Last week, long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell after nine straight weeks of increases.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Jan. 5 the rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans declined to an average 4.2% from 4.32% last week. That was still sharply higher than a 30-year rate that averaged 3.65% for all of 2016, the lowest level recorded from records going back to 1971. A year ago, the benchmark rate stood at 3.97%.

Economists predict mortgage rates will continue to climb next year, just one of the trends that suggest 2017 could be a more challenging year for homebuyers.

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