Charlotte Mortgage Rates

Living in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The city had an estimated 872,498 residents in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, an increase of nearly 19% since 2010. A big reason for its popularity: jobs. Forbes ranked the city fifth in the nation on its 2018 “Best Big Cities for Jobs” list.

Home prices in Charlotte are below the national median, another attraction for new residents. In May 2019, the median sales price in Charlotte was $259,900, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. That’s lower than the national median sales price of $277,700, per the National Association of Realtors. However, median home prices in Charlotte rose 5.7% year-over-year as of May, which was higher than the national price increase of 4.8%. Home sellers in Charlotte received an average of 97.3% of their asking price when their homes sold. These data indicate that Charlotte is a competitive market for buyers, and sellers are less likely to offer concessions.

Finding a home in Charlotte may be a challenge as the city’s inventory of homes for sale was 10% lower in May than the previous year. Homes are selling in an average of 41 days (from time of listing to time of sale), which is slightly longer than last year when homes stayed on the market for 39 days. Buyers in Charlotte will likely need to decide quickly when they’re ready to make an offer and be ready to compete against other buyers for the limited number of available homes.

The rules and costs of buying a home in Charlotte

Homebuyers in Charlotte have some protection against buying a “lemon” because sellers in the state are required to disclose possible defects — ranging from a faulty furnace to a leaky roof to radon gas to noise from a nearby commercial or industrial site. In addition, a homeowner who defaults on a loan must typically have at least one hearing before their lender can foreclose. Here’s what else you should know about real estate laws in Charlotte if you are considering buying in the city.

Home seller and buyer laws

Real estate property disclosure forms: Home sellers in North Carolina must complete a disclosure form for buyers that indicates any defects they know of in the property, including any damage to appliances, systems and the roof. In addition, homeowners must reveal any knowledge about radon, asbestos or other hazards, as well as any noise or odor coming from a nearby commercial, industrial or military site. Homeowners must provide buyers with the disclosure form by the time the buyers make an offer ⁠— otherwise, buyers may be able to cancel the contract.

Judicial or non-judicial foreclosure state: North Carolina allows either a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure after a homeowner defaults on their mortgage. A judicial foreclosure requires the process to go through the court system; a non-judicial foreclosure is handled by the lender. Most foreclosures in the state are non-judicial and follow the procedure established by the “power of sale” clause in a mortgage. However, a preliminary hearing is required to authorize the “power of sale” foreclosure. If the foreclosure results in a loan payoff for less than the full amount owed, the lender can typically sue the borrower to repay the remaining balance. One exception is when the purchase mortgage was financed by the seller.

Community property state or equitable distribution: North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which means a couple can decide how to divide their assets, including property, in the case of a divorce. Equitable distribution doesn’t necessarily mean everything is divided 50/50. The decision about how to divide assets acquired during the marriage can be made by the couple or by the court.

Attorney vs. escrow state: In North Carolina, buyers typically hire a lawyer to represent them at the closing, according to the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. That attorney may also represent the seller and the lender. Attorneys are required to handle all the legal closing paperwork, but non-attorneys can help with administrative work during the closing process.

Taxes

Summary of real estate transfer taxes: Real estate transfer taxes in Charlotte are typically paid by the seller, but that must be stated in the purchase contract and possibly negotiated. The state excise tax rate is $1 per every $500 in property value. In addition, in Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, a fee of $64 for the first 35 pages and $4 per each additional page is charged for recording a deed of trust. Your lender will disclose the amount of transfer taxes that will be due once you identify a specific property you want to purchase.

Property tax exemptions: Charlotte homeowners may be exempt from paying some of their property taxes, depending on their income level, age or whether they are a veteran. The homestead exclusion allows homeowners who are 65 or older, or totally and permanently disabled, to exclude $25,000 or 50% of their home’s assessed value from property taxes, whichever is greater. This exclusion currently applies to households with an income of $30,200 or less.

In addition, the “property tax circuit breaker” deferment is available for homeowners who meet the above conditions, have owned their property for five years or more and have a household income of 150% of the homestead exemption limit, or up to $45,300 in 2019. This provision postpones the tax bill until the property is sold, the applicant dies with no surviving spouse or the property is no longer the applicant’s primary residence. Disabled veterans and their spouses may be eligible for an exclusion of up to $45,000 of their home value from property taxes.

You can read more about these property tax exemptions here.

Typical property taxes: While North Carolina has among the lowest property tax rates in the country, Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, has one of the highest. The median property tax paid is $1,945 on a property valued at $185,000, for an average tax rate of 1.05%, according to Tax-Rates.org.

Conforming loan limits

The conforming loan limits in Charlotte are $484,350 for a one-unit residence. Conforming loans are conventional loans that are backed by government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Each year, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) sets the conforming loan limit. The limit is generally $484,350 for a one-unit across the country, but some more expensive areas have higher limits.

Programs for homebuyers in Charlotte

Homeownership initiatives provide down payment assistance, closing cost help, low-interest loans and homeownership education for buyers in Charlotte. Some down payment assistance programs can be combined. While some programs are limited by income or home price, or reserved for first-time buyers, homeownership education can be helpful to any buyer.

HouseCharlotte Program

What they provide: This program provides funds in the form of a five-,10- or 15-year deferred-payment, forgivable loan to be used for down payment or closing cost expenses or to lower the interest rate.

Who qualifies: The HouseCharlotte program is limited by household income and property values. To receive up to $10,000, borrowers must have a household income at or below 80% of the area median, which means a maximum income of $44,250 for a one-person household and up to $83,450 for an eight-person household in 2019. Those income limits also apply to public service employees. Households with an income level of 110% of area median, or between $60,850 to $114,750 depending on household size, may be eligible for up to $5,000 in assistance. A pilot program currently provides up to $17,000 for buyers with a household income of 80% of the area median who are buying in a high-cost neighborhood.

The home purchase price must be a maximum of $230,000 for new construction and $200,000 for existing homes. All borrowers must be purchasing a home within Charlotte that will be their primary residence, and they must take a homeownership education class.

Borrowers must have a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 45% overall and maximum housing expenses of 33% of their gross monthly income. Some exceptions may be made to the ratio if the borrowers have compensating factors, such as a minimum credit score of 620, 12 months of good rental payment history and three months of cash reserves.

Learn more.

NC Home Advantage Mortgage program

What they provide: This program provides down payment assistance of up to 5% of the loan amount and allows 100% financing for VA, FHA and USDA loans. The program also provides down payment assistance of up to 3% of the loan amount for borrowers financing their home purchase with conventional loans. The program is a zero-interest, deferred-payment loan that will be forgiven in full after 15 years.

Who qualifies: Borrowers can be first-time or repeat homebuyers and must be ready to occupy the home as their primary residence within 60 days of the loan closing. Household income must not exceed $87,500, and borrowers must have a credit score of 640 or higher.

Learn more.

NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment program

What they provide: This program provides up to $8,000 in down payment assistance in the form of a deferred-payment, forgivable loan. Borrowers can finance up to 100% of the purchase price with any type of loan program.

Who qualifies: To qualify, borrowers must be first-time buyers, defined as not having owned a home within the previous three years, a military veteran or buying in a designated area targeted for redevelopment. Borrowers must have a credit score of 640 or higher and occupy the property as their primary residence within 60 days of the loan closing. In addition, homebuyers in Charlotte must have a maximum income of $79,000 for a one- or two-person household and $89,500 for larger households. The loan amount and sales price of the home is capped at $275,000.

Learn more.

Rate shopping tips

When you’re buying a home in Charlotte, you can save money in the short and long term by shopping for your mortgage. A recent LendingTree study found that borrowers who get five offers for a loan can save more than $2,000 in fees. Shopping may also get you a lower interest rate, which could lower your mortgage payments and save you money over the life of your loan.

Contact at least three lenders on the same day

The more lender quotes you can compare, the better your chances of finding an optimal interest rate. Even a small difference in your rate can save you thousands over the life of your loan. Because rates are so volatile, it’s best to contact at least three (more if possible) lenders on the same market day, in order to get a fair comparison.

Provide the same information to each lender

To get comparable loan estimates, it’s also important that you share the same financial information with each lender. This includes paystubs, W-2s, tax returns and bank statements. If your potential lenders don’t all have the same information, the quotes they give you can’t be accurately compared.

Add up all the lender fees to confirm the costs

When looking at a loan estimate, fees are listed individually throughout the document and totaled at the end. Do the math to make sure all the numbers are correct, so you can understand what your actual price tag will be.

Know when to lock in the rate

Because interest rates are so volatile, the great rate you are quoted today could be gone by the time you’re ready to move forward with your home purchase. To avoid having your quoted rate rise along with overall interest rates, you can lock it in to ensure it will stay the same throughout the homebuying process. Some lenders may offer a float-down provision that protects you if rates fall.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.