Real Estate Market: Charlotte, NC’s Rebound to Outpace Nation

MOORESVILLE, N.C. – The Charlotte region, including the Lake Norman area, will rebound faster than the nation as a whole from the economic downturn – although Charlotte area home prices will continue to drop until March, a leading economic forecaster predicts. “The employment base is more diverse, and this is an area people and businesses want to move to,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo in Charlotte. “We are the best alternative to Atlanta in the Southeast and, for some, the only alternative” because of proximity to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. “This is still a desirable place for people to do business,” Vitner said, after a construction and real estate financing symposium at the Charles Mack Citizen Center on Thursday. Vitner was the keynote speaker at the Lake Norman Home Builders Association event. Vitner cited various major corporations that call the area home, including Ingersoll-Rand in Davidson, Lowe’s Companies Inc. in Mooresville and such new arrivals as Electrolux Major Appliances North America, which began a move in July to bring nearly 750 jobs to the University City area. The region offers a high quality of life at comparatively low-cost, he said. Its roads aren’t as congested as other metropolitan areas, he added. It may just take until next spring for the national economy to get back on track and the housing and commercial sectors to improve, said Vitner and other panelists at the forum. Panelists also included Lake Norman-area bankers, William Nurney of the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, Va., and Jim Felds, managing principal at Focustar Capital Group LLC, which manages about $975 million in projects in North Carolina and four other states. Vitner cautioned the 100 or so builders, real estate professionals and others in attendance that “the era of cheap and abundant credit is over. We’ll never see it priced the way it was.” He said housing prices won’t improve until the traditional spring buying season. “We’re expecting a very sluggish recovery for housing,” he said. And while the Charlotte area will have added at least 16,000 jobs this year, 71,000 jobs were lost during the recession and many of the new jobs don’t pay as well, he said. Still, he said after his talk, the region is better positioned economically than many other areas. “People and companies are still moving here,” he said. “We’ve seen positive industrial announcements this year.” (Report by Joe Marusak of Charlotte Observer 8/2010)

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