No, it’s not South End. Nope, not NoDa either.
The share of first-time homebuyers is still at very low levels compared to the past 50 years, thanks in large part to millennials and their inability to afford a down payment, as well as changing lifestyle preferences. But a number of the millennials who are buying in Charlotte right now, like me, are heading to a south Charlotte neighborhood that you may have never heard of: Starmount.
“A majority of my first time homebuyers – young singles, young couples – I’d say 90 percent of my first time homebuyers are considering or have looked in and around the Starmount neighborhood,” said Cullen McNulty, a real estate agent with The David Hoffman Group.
To understand why, take a look at the macroeconomic real estate trends: Millennial buyers prefer more urban locations close to center city versus the added square footage buyers can get if they buy a home further out. Millennials are also waiting longer to get married and when they do settle down, they say they plan to have fewer children than previous generations. All of these factors are minimizing the need for bigger houses, and these trends will likely impact real estate for decades to come.
That’s where Starmount comes in.
In February, real estate firm Redfin named Starmount Charlotte’s hottest neighborhood of 2015. Why?
Tucked between the light rail and SouthPark, halfway between uptown Charlotte (10 miles) and Ballantyne (8 miles), Starmount is in the middle of a massive transformation fueled by those millennial buyers.
60s style, with an upgrade
Most of the neighborhood’s nearly 1,400 homes were built in the early 1960s as ranch-style or split level brick bungalow homes. Some properties even have basements, a rarity in Charlotte but welcome news to many of Charlotte’s northern transplants.
Over the past couple years, flippers have come in and redone several of the homes HGTV-style, keeping the original 60’s character but adding the upgraded amenities of 2015. The benefit of a lack of HOA helps owners on a budget, too.
Affordability has been the key driver. With nearby Madison Park/Sedgefield neighborhood homes hitting the $300,000+ mark, the short trek south a few blocks into Starmount is worth it for millennials with young or no families looking to own their first or second homes at a decent price – anywhere between $175,000 and $275,000.
“Starmount is the best option out there is terms of appreciation,” McNulty said. “The same house that is $300,000 in Madison Park is way more affordable in Starmount.”
Student debt burdens, rising health care costs and a still-recovering job market are key reasons millennials are opting to rent versus buy. But millennials who are taking the homeownership dive are turning back the clock to an old Charlotte neighborhood: Starmount.
Art: Google Maps; Zillow