Charlotte-area home sales fell again in April

-Charlotte-area home sales fell again in April after ticking upward the month before, the latest sign of continued challenges in the market, a new report shows.

About 1,880 houses, townhouses and condos sold in the Charlotte region last month, down 1 percent from March, according to data released today from the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. That number was down 16 percent from April 2010.

Pending sales — signed contracts that haven’t yet closed, one of the best measures of current housing activity — remained virtually flat from the month before, falling just 0.1 percent. But they were down 25 percent from April 2010, when the government’s homebuyer tax credit drove a surge in sales.

The latest report marks a change from March, when home sales improved. Local real estate experts attributed that to heightened consumer confidence and increased hiring. But prices that month remained weak, signaling lingering housing woes.

The closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index also suggests a still-struggling market. It showed recently that home prices in Charlotte and nine other areas hit a new low in February since their 2006 and 2007 peaks — for the third straight month — in part because of inflated unemployment and persistent short sales and foreclosures.

But the Realtor association data show Charlotte-area prices performed better in April: The average selling price was $203,466, up about 1 percent from the year before. That number was up almost 5 percent from the March average.

The data come from the Realtor association’s Carolina Multiple Listing Services. The MLS accounts for nearly all sales in the Charlotte area.

By Kirsten Valle Pittman, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.

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